Archive | November 2004

Premature Review of Holden Caulfield

I’m reading Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger, and I’ve been reading it without end for the past 2 weeks or so… the characters and the storyline are just not compelling enough for me to finish reading it in one night. Usually, with any assortment of SF or thriller novels, I’d finish them in days.

At first, how Holden Caulfield, comments on his life and those around him, and how he views everything in life, was somehow that maybe most of us could identify with, going along through the story, I can’t help but think that this kid has no clue about what life is really about. Why there is school. Why you should save money. Why you should generally be nice to people.

Maybe it’s my age; if I read the book way in high school, maybe I would of identified with it more. I guess now my priorities, my ideals, have changed, have traversed to values that in many views may be called as ‘mature’. The striking thing about Holden is he tends to do everything without even considering consequence. As in his vernacular, “That kills me”.

Otherwise, the book is an interesting window to the vernacular of the era, a window of the cultural background and habits of those people. I still want to finish the book, although Holden is frustrating me by the minute, just to see if he wises up a bit somehow. No spoilers, please. And… this could take me another week or so.
One last thing… he refers to almost everybody over his age as “phonies”. I’m familiar with the intent of the phrase… I just can’t help wondering if I would also count in that category. Nobody wants to be a phony.

Working Over The Weekend

Ok… work is eventually starting to overflow into the weekend. Well, most of the time, I do other stuff on weekends anyway. This time, I had to make a Flash presentation for a client, who wants to spread the program to about 250,000 clients, and the material submission deadline is Monday. Damn. There goes the weekend.

There were supposed to be 2 weddings of my high school friends on Saturday, in Bogor, no less (about 60 km from Jakarta), so if I went, it would of been a whole day affair. So with utter regret I scrapped that plan, and had to stay home until I could finish the project. Mom and Dad had to stop by anyway, because they had a wedding in Jakarta to go to after Dad’s lectures, and it would of been a waste of time to go from Serpong, Jakarta, Serpong, then back again…. so Mom hung out at my place while Dad went to campus, and I gave her a dose of Monsters Inc. on the laptop while I worked on the Mac.

When at about 6 pm, Mom and Dad were ready to go to the wedding, I felt I had sufficiently finished enough to leave it for a couple of hours, and I needed to get out. Coki and Tanti had been smsing me anyway about later plans, so I went with Tanti to Plaza Semanggi, to give her the IKEA thing she wanted (a CD rack), grab a bite, and browsing at QB World, before we joined Coki and a couple of others at Hotel Mahakam. Eventually, I only got home at about 12.30, and went straight to bed so I could start early the next day.

I spent almost all of Sunday at home, finishing up the Flash presentation, and at about 5 pm went to Ratu Plaza to plug in my laptop at the cyber cafe there. Unfortunately, I did not manage to send the 5 emails that I really needed to send because of the slow connection; I only managed to post the previous blog posts and a bit of browsing and chatting.

The good thing is I managed to finish the Flash presentation in good time, with certain limitations to the program and graphics, of course, because I did not see making more advanced graphics possible considering the time limit.

Somehow, there’s a ‘feel good’ spirit hanging in the air.

Occasional Disconnection

Sometimes I hate it when I’m home. A large part of my life has a big dependence on the ability to go online, to be able to browse the internet, to chat with friends who I’d otherwise never meet, to post something on my blog… maybe the occasional dose of porn… but at home, hardly any of those points could be done.

I mean, it is possible to connect to the internet at home with either of my cellphones, but the signal strength and the data speed have become increasingly unreliable…

So again, I have to look for another solution. Not just for my addiction, but also for some work stuff I can only do over the internet.

With the internet… even if I’m alone in my room, I’m never actually alone… so when the occasional disconnection happens… it’s a real drawback.

Damn, I really am addicted to the internet. Oh well. I can live with that.

I Left My Heart In Petaling Jaya

Petaling Jaya is an area about 10 km from Kuala Lumpur, with a pretty hilly landscape, but relatively developed, with high-rise buildings dotting the landscape, but not as closely packed as central Kuala Lumpur. This area is where my company’s office in KL resides, and also where the hotel that I stayed at, the Eastin Hotel.

It’s a pretty decent hotel, nice facilities and all, and since I was booked into the executive rooms, there was complementary use of broadband internet and swimming pool (well, I only got to use the internet, as it is my primary food group). But then I realized, after passing through Central KL, there’s the upscale Westin Hotel.. urm, as opposed to the Eastin hotel. Well, names aside, it got me thinking twice about the hotel. Well, anyway, the hotel was good, the staff were nice, although they couldn’t exchange rupiah to ringgit, forcing me to spend the first 2 days with only about RM 180 in my wallet (that’s about USD 47 or Rp 400.000).

I did not manage to reach the hotel until well into Tuesday night, however, because I was stuck in meetings then a late dinner. I checked in, went to my room, and attempted to connect to the internet, while sorting out my stuff. I only managed to log on close to midnight, as there was a verification page first before logging on to the hotel network, and that page took ages to load. So after a bath and change, and watching useless TV, I made my last post, before turning in.

I started our early the next day to catch up on my emails, before going down for the complimentary breakfast. I stayed at the hotel with my associate from HK, so we had breakfast together. The funny thing is, I came to KL with some of my better shirts, and also my unique homemade suit denim jacket (Mommy dearest made it a couple of years back).. and this guy from HK, who technically is my boss, and I assumed to be older… looked like a kid (not that I don’t look like a kid) and wore t-shirts to the office. This always happens to me. When I started my previous job, I always wore these ultra-neat shirts, occasionally with a tie, when everybody else was wearing standard day-to-day clothing like t-shirts, jeans, sneakers etc. It just never felt right going to the office without at least some degree of neatness, so I always go to the office with casual shirts. And there goes my boss in his t-shirt.

Anyway, Wednesday was also filled with meetings here and there, punctuated with lunch at a restaurant called Madame Kwan’s, in an upscale area called Bansar. The food was pretty good, some tasting relatively familiar, as most Malaysian food is similar to some traditional Sumatra food in Indonesia. The thing that surprised me was if in Indonesia, girls would eat only half a portion of rice and be satisfied, in KL they’d eat 1.5 times the amount and never think it was too much; another thing is that KL folk (like Singaporeans), if they have had enough to eat, they would leave any leftovers just like that, without any qualms of unfinished food. Compare to Jakarta, where virtually everybody finishes their meal, the portions are smaller, and food going to waste is generally frowned upon.

After going back to the office, and having good chats with everybody, I went back to the hotel, as I had a 6.30 appointment for dinner with a couple of other friends, people I knew from previous projects, but never had the chance to meet. They took me out to a Mediterranean restaurant still in the Petaling Jaya area; the food was fabulous! Except for the liver pate. Ugh, I hate liver. The rest of the food was great, especially dessert…

Afterwards, they took me for a drive around KL, so I could sightsee and take the tourist-standard photo of the KLCC (also known as the Petronas Towers). I’ll spare you most of my pictures in KL, just this one would suffice as representative.

The next morning, I got up early, finished some work due to be sent to the Jakarta office, and finally went to the one place I had been wanting to go to since I arrived: IKEA!

It’s not that I am a big IKEA fan, but I always find they have well-designed products at relatively cheap prices, so off I went… and browsed there for about 2 hours, before I finally got together a couple of things to buy, either for myself or some friends back home. Unfortunately, I did not manage to take any pictures.

The bummer of the trip back to the hotel was, it was really hard looking for a taxi, and all you could do was wait around in a designated taxi zone… I tried walking to the main road and getting a cab there, but it didn’t look like standard procedure there, and I didn’t want to get into trouble or anything for getting a cab. Finally I got a cab, almost missing my check-out time at the hotel, so after some quick packing, I checked out and headed straight for the airport for another appointment.

I have to tell you, KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) is one of the best airports I’ve been in, design-wise and function wise. But well, I haven’t been in to many other airports anyway…

Anyway, I had another meeting with someone who works at KLIA, and we chatted on work and anything else till it was time for me to board…

I have to say, everything that the Lebaran holiday didn’t give me, I think I got during this supposed work trip… feeling much more refreshed, I have a lot of ideas to expand the business I’m in charge of… and, I guess I can’t complain about the opportunity that I had going overseas, which a lot of people do not have.

Now, you know what I’m thinking? KL is a nice place to live.

Sudden Trip

I had to stay late at the office yesterday, until 9 PM, as there was a layout that I had to supervise and distribute to the other partners on that exact day, as promised… because, the next day, which is today, I had a sudden business trip to Kuala Lumpur.

Originally it was planned for Wednesday, but suddenly, Monday morning, they bumped it up to Tuesday; the original plan itself I only knew last Friday. So I had to quickly finish my work for the week, as the journey got extended to 3 days, Tuesday to Thursday, packed with meetings, discussions and such.

In the midst of a near-panic on not being ready, leaving work behind, and so on, I still had time for a late-night discussion with a trusted friend. A much needed discussion, and a well-timed one as well.

I needed to borrow a small suitcase for the journey, as mine was still in Serpong, but I couldn’t manage to find someone who could lend to me in such short notice. Actually, there was someone, but I don’t think it would be appropriate given recent conditions…

Anyway… after not succeeding looking for a money changer in the morning, I finally had to convert some money into ringgit at the airport (at a rip-off rate, I might add) before finally departing to KL.

Often when I go alone to strange new places, I always wished that I could share the experience with someone… share those fleeting moments looking out the window on the plane, those moments of slight confusion when you lose your way in the airport or in the strange city itself…

I’ll have more on Kuala Lumpur later, when I get the chance to take more pictures.

The Coin

The seemingly endless and exhilirating sensation called human experience; the actual physical sensations, the emotions, and the psychological adventures; all the virtues of our mind and body. The strange train on the railroad that never plots a straight course, but always seems to go somewhere, always has purpose.. God forbid the train to seemingly stop, or seem to go without direction. Also, the human experience seems to introduce us to two entities of constant conflict, neither of them having a name, or rather, named differently by different people.

My entire life has always tended to be based on bipolarity, two extremes always at odds with each other. Everything broken down into two extremly different solutions, everything diluted into two inherently different aspects of view. Such is the coin, the multi-faceted one, if you will, not just consisting of two sides, but always seemingly so for a human.

The dualism of the human mind must be something very intrinsic, very instinctive to us, since whenever we can, we try to process the information that comes into our minds from the universe into two discreetly seperate pools, at least seemingly seperate, when in fact the contents of those pools always trade with one another. It has a lot to do with the symmetry of man, the subconcious drive to divide everything into two parts, and not necessarily with physical objects, but metaphysical as well. Those two parts must have some sort of opposition; right and left, good and bad, God and Satan, black and white, yin and yang, happy and sad; and with equal opposition of forces, a state of balance is achieved. Thus being human, is a constant struggle between two opposing forces to attain balance. Issac Newton couldn’t of said it better.

Thus, sadness, or happiness, are just two sides of a coin… depends what side you are looking at. The actual concepts themselves are abstract at the least, of course, because it would depend on how you see the matter at hand. Success, failure is an illusion, is only a concrete concept of events differing in point of view, differing only, at the flip of a coin. Emotions, however real, or vague, are illusions, because they are the product, not the process. Emotions can also be a process, but as with everything else, it can all be different, at the flip of a coin.

The nature of the human psyche always strives to strike a balance of basically two opposing forces, depending on the person. The conflicts are usually chosen by us, either conciously or subconciously, the ‘actors’ of such conflicts, and the matters of opposition, all illusions created by us to attain a state of balance.

Alas, balance must be the true illusion.

Have you ever tossed a coin, and see it land on its side, rather than one face or the other? It’s virtually impossible. Almost always, one side faces you, the other shuns you. That is real, that is not the illusion. But then, what you can do to change your reality is, flip the coin again.

Then what would the purpose of the inherent instinct to achieve balance in humans be? It sometimes feels sad that we all are victims of our own illusions, but then again, flip the coin, we should be glad that we are the victims or our own illusions. Better that then become slave to other people’s illusions, or having no illusion whatsoever. Our goal in life is to chase the illusion, to maintain the illusion… but as they say, living is not a result, it’s a process. Who cares if you reach balance or not. That’s not the point.

Lives can change just like that, at a flip of a coin. Attitudes can change, perspectives altered, insights revelated to other insights. At the flip of a coin. Failure can be Success, with the same terms, with the same conditions, only differing from what the eye of the mind sees. Happiness and Sadness, Pain and Joy, are just more of the same thing. Opposition is the illusion.

Thus everything is virtual, everything is a non-entity, nothing is real. Everything is in your head, in your heart, and in your gut, everything you just know is real and true, is your own figment of your imagination. On the other hand, everything is real and true, but you live in your own illusion, convincing yourself that nothing is real. Always two sides. Always, two opposing forces. And, again, always, humans will try to find common ground, neutral ground, the middle path. So the two poles exist to define the middle path, yet the middle path also defines the two poles.

So everything is nothing. Nothing is everything. Only one thing remains real; your mind, and the analogy of your mind, and heart, as a coin. Your mind is and illusion of dependency as well, when everything is defined by our subconcious. Thus, only the subconcious is real, what else is there, before getting into utterly metaphysical discourse?

I know what’s real. I know that the mind that writes these words is real. I know, that the heart beating inside my chest, although I have never seen it, is real. I know, the sensations, the feelings I feel, are real. I am human for what I believe to be real, whether it be an illusion or not. What actually is real, for humans, is irrelevant, because we live on so much planes of existence we never realize it.

Illusion or not, I always keep a coin in my pocket to remind me. Life is what you make of it.

Random Thoughts on Sunday Night

Some say, you never get what you want. Well, sometimes, you never want what you get, either. Talk about human nature, never satisified with what they already have. Vanity at its best. Thus, vanity may well be my undoing.

Every step of my life, I’ve always tried to do everything based on what I think is right, what I think is the correct course of action. (Once again, with emphasis. I do a lot of that too.) What happens when you don’t know what’s right anymore? What do you do when the reasons are all gone? What do you do, when you know nothing anymore?

This blog may well be on to becoming a place of my exaggerated fears, wants and worries… just look what I’ve been writing the past few weeks. Ah, who cares. Read it or leave it.

It always helps when you know that everybody else has their own problems. Or not.

Pain came by this afternoon. Joy was nowhere to be found… I’ll look for her tomorrow. At least, somebody’s keeping me company. That and a dozen of useless DVDs.

I watched It’s All About Love, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Claire Danes. Rather morbid and dystopic, set in the year 2021. Cheered me up a bit, because it practically said the whole world is going to hell anyway. In the context of the movie, the whole world wass turning to ice, as in another Ice Age. Everybody dies. Some fly. Well, wouldn’t want to ruin the story for you, although you’d get the drift as you watch (actually, from the first 5 minutes). Still a compelling story. Watch it… it might cheer you up as well. If what they say in the movie really happens in 2021, well, forget about all the money you’d have piled up by then, would be meaningless.

Dystopia is in. The whole world is on a Prozac binge (well, at least where they have it sold). I remember everytime I was in a bad mood, I’d just pick up one of those news magazines, and I’d feel better right away. There are a lot of people having worse of a time than I am; like in the US… four more years. Well, you asked for it anyway. Let’s see where that gets you. Anyway, I just bought the latest edition of The Economist, after a straight run of strictly fiction for a couple of weeks.

Fiction is my escape from reality. Movies are my escape from reality. Hmmm… get the drift? Got any other bright ideas? But that’s easy, and fleeting. Reality’s not so bad I guess. They’re making more TV out of it lately. Maybe many people feel their lives are so fake, they need a prod of reality coming from the place that usually spouts fantasy and fiction. It’s either that, or the human race has truly run out of original ideas. Or money. Oklah. I just have to pinch myself to stay awake, or I’ll sleep forever.

Justice for all, they say. We’ll just have to wait and see. But I guess, everybody feels that justice is going the wrong way on the street. You know what I think about that? Justice is overrated.

I just noticed, I always have a crush on these strong-jawed females… like, Diane Kruger, Sharon Stone, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner… Sophia Latjuba. Haha.

Hey, are there any chili afociandos out there? I am too. You know why I like it? Well, other than the taste, it’s the sensation. Drowns out everything else because it’s so damn hot. (FYI, I never could elicit such a sensation from alcohol… not to mention the taste! I hate Bitter!) Drowns everything out… another escape from reality? What’s with all this escaping?

I think everyone takes an escape from reality, at least once in a while. When they’re doing their hobbies, taking a dip, going to a club for drinks or dancing, browsing the internet… What’s wrong with reality? Are our lives so routine, so tiring, so boring and so … so… BAD that we have to escape from it? Ever wonder what the people did in the Middle Ages? Stare at the sheep, I guess. Or the rice paddies. Well, nowadays, especially in the cities, they’re making all this money, just to save up and get away from it all. Pointless, right? Or maybe buy something useless. Let’s just save money and stare at sheep. But then, what do you do with the money? Buy sheep I guess.

I can’t help feeling utterly weird and stupid. For good reason, I guess. For both points, with no explanation I guess. But I hate it when they say I’m unique; I know it and it’s one thing I wouldn’t like to be reminded about.

Trying to uphold pride, honor, and dignity is a very male thing. Maybe because… we lose it so easily all the time.

Ah, let’s stop. I could write well into the morning. I’ve got work to do.

Once the waves subside, once the rainclouds go away, usually a sunny day awaits. I’m waiting for the sun to come up, but in the meantime, somebody lend me an umbrella. Mine’s broken.

Back To Reality

After spending a week at my parent’s house, and hardly logging any time on the internet (one reason is because the signal strength for my mobile is very weak). I finally returned to my place at Dharmawangsa. Return to Jakarta, return to reality, and shortly, return to the demands of work and life in Jakarta.

So Friday, morning, Mom and Dad dropped me off at my place, because there was a ton of stuff I carried to and back from Serpong; among them, I finally brought along my beloved acoustic bass guitar. And then there’s the assortment of clothes and food, hallmark of the Idul Fitri holidays.

Not long after, I prepped to leave again, for Friday prayers, and after, meeting an old friend that I haven’t seen for more than 6 months. Yeah, I know, the past weeks have been filled with a lot of ‘meeting up with old friends’… I guess at times like this, I need to be reminded of who I am, what I stand for, and who better to do it than old friends; because friends that I meet everyday would not recognize the constant flux going through my head.

There is one reality that has hit me squarely in the jaw, and to quote from another blog: “the true lesson of love, is to let go.”

Another fact that hit me again is… as most readers of this blog might know… I’m not like a lot of other men.

Another thing good about meeting old friends, is that you know that they actually want to see you, and make the effort… not just use you or take advantage. (Hey. let’s not jump to conclusions. You know how I play with words).

I just pray that this will get easier somehow, because I just know there will be a tough week ahead…

Renewed Wisdom, Of Old

Not to sound cliche, ungrateful or condescending or anything, but I’ve come upon some sort of resolution or discovery. There are two companions that have always been with me from the beginning, loyally staying at my side through the strange journey called life.

One is called Pain/Suffering.

The other is called Joy/Happiness.

Both of them have always been around, although, through some sort of arrangement, taking turns in accompanying me. Depending on how I look at it at a certain point in time, one tends to invest more time than the other.

Both have always been there, as undeniably reliable companions, and all this time I have taken them for granted. I should, at least, give them the credit of my true, lifelong friends, if I ever knew such a thing.

Here’s the strange thing: even they have somehow disappeared, or appear unconcerened, lately. I’m sure they’re busy, as with namesakes like them, they should be accompanying everybody in the world, with varying degrees.

I think they forgot about me. It’s that, or I’m becoming as deranged as ever…

Idul Fitri, and the Aftermath

Idul Fitri is the day celebrated by Muslim people to mark the end of the Ramadhan fasting season, to symbolize our victory over our humane drives, and, accordingly, to open a new leaf of life, as we are born anew. We forgive each other for the mistakes of past, and hope the cleansing of the body and mind, that supposedly took place during Ramadhan, would make us out into better people.

I have to say, the fasting season for me, this month, was depressingly meaningless. Most people think that during the fasting month, you should get more religious insight, or do much more contemplation on yourself… well, that can happen if you’re not trying to hold up your job all month, and for that matter, trying to hold up your life.

Too many days went by only waiting for logging off time, too many weeks yearning for the weekends to come, and thus I forgot to look for the meaning and wisdom that supposedly Ramadhan would give me. On the other hand, if I say that the season went by uneventful, and not gaining any new insight on anything, that would be a lie.

Here are the insights gathered:

A person once very close to me said, and often said, I might add, that I tend to be very ungrateful for what I have. I think I have to change that. I think I have to be grateful that I can go online with this laptop through a CSD connection on my handphone, connected by Bluetooth, because not many people can use their phone for bluetooth, not to mention browsing (or blogging!) with the laptop connected wirelessly to it. I think I have to be grateful that I am sitting at my parent’s house, both in relative good health and spirits, in an air-conditioned room in a city that some people swear has more than one sun. I think I have to be grateful that I have clothes on my back, food to eat, a roof over my head (at more places than one, I might add), and money to spend for unnecessary stuff like hair gel or um, gadgets. Touche. I think I have to be grateful I have family, although most of them I only meet a few times a year. I think I have to be grateful that I have friends, good friends, and even enemies (God forbid, but well, we all have our share), even if I tend to be a pain in the ass at most times and a nuisance at others. I think I have to be grateful for this nation I live in, because, despite it being always precariously on the edge at times, it’s… still here, with hope of a better future. Most importantly, I have to be grateful that I, myself, am in relatively good health physically (mentally? I’m not so sure… haha), have a brain that people tell me is smart (well… sometimes), and have a good job and position at the office. Also, last but not least, I don’t know why, but I’m grateful that I have the capacity to love all those who are important, or maybe even not that important, to me, never mind the fact that sometimes it’s misunderstood or taken for granted.

Another thing about occasions like this, you tend to contemplate (yeah… only 2 days to contemplate, when you’re supposed to use the whole month for it) what and who is the most important to you, to whom to you feel the most gratitude, to whom do you feel the most love, to whom do you feel the most affection, and all that mushy stuff. At the times where everybody tends to send mass SMSs to each other with a general greeting, I spent the most of the first day of Idul Fitri writing up personal messages to those who are important, and replying personal messages to those who did send me and SMS greeting, personal or not. I felt that I had enough of those SMS blast greetings, because they tend to be very impersonal; and the recipient would treat them as such anyway. I spent time making long, personalized messages to those who are really important to me, because even though the recipient may not realize it, I felt that the extra effort I put into it marked my sincerity.

The one thing that I did feel missing this Idul Fitri, was that there was usually someone special I called, to ask for forgiveness, among other things… this time… it just feels different.

And of course, the regret, the guilt, sometimes tend to wash over you. But it wasn’t particularly anomalous, because I tend to feel guilty about everything every time… so, Idul Fitri, breaking from tradition, had become a reminder that I’m not responsible for the world, I’m not responsible for everyone I love (although I do my darnest to be), I’m just responsible for my own actions (or inactions). This Idul Fitri has more become a reminder of; stop worrying, start living!

I wish it were that simple.

Sometimes, holidays can get kind of lonely. Good thing books by dead guys can keep my mind busy, to keep it from thinking so much in that area.

So, just to sum up the activities of Idul Fitri: first day we gathered with my Dad’s family, the second day, with my Mom’s family. That should be enough information. Oh yeah, it involved a lot of eating, and the occasional relative asking what grade I was in. Yeah, still happens.

I just wish…