Friday, 15 July 2011

i take that back

Remember when I said I didn't want to have more tattoos?

Well, I take that back. Ha! Talk about mental instability.

Contrary to what people say (that the pain of getting inked is addictive), it is actually not the pain, but the art and the end result that have made me yearn for more permanent body adornment. Only this time, I'm thinking of getting something smaller and on a less painful place.

I'm thinking of getting a rose... I still have to do my Bast head and Bell Jar, though. The Bell Jar is small while Bast is rather big... I guess I have to prioritize.

That being said, it is already two weeks since I got inked and my tattoo is still healing. It's not scabbing but it's been flaky and really itchy.

I'm going to dance this Sunday and I'll be wearing my new, backless costumes to really show off my tattoo.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

the essence of time

It won't be like this forever.

When I was in the car with Danang, something led us to talk about how we used to be twenty years ago. I remembered talking to my elementary school friends during the break about how it would've been in the year 2000: we'd have been teenagers, that's for sure, but most importantly, there would've been hovering cars, robots, and advanced technology.

It's year 2011 now and from my point of view, we are advancing in some fields, and yet destroying ourselves in many.

Then again, I'm not here to blog about the world in general, so I digress. I'm here to blog about the many moments of my life. After all, I'm *coughing hysterically* years old, so that means I have enough things to cherish, ponder about, and perhaps regret, although a bit. I know, when it comes to regret, even the bad things I've done or have had, have contributed to who/what/where I am right now. However, I can't lie that I do have some regrets of my own.

I remember measuring my height and comparing it with my parents. I used to be shorter than Mom, then I outgrew her and was shorter than Dad, then I outgrew both of them.

I remember painting my whole body with red paint (the kind of paint to use on walls) and my Mom had to scrub my skin so hard with turpentine. I cried the whole time.

I remember crying and being hugged by Mom so tight after an awful Sunday mass where the priest said that homosexuals would go to hell.

I remember going home after a hell trip in England (it was a homestay program and I went without Mom. I was bullied during the whole two weeks, including by my own fellow Indonesians) when I was twelve years old. I was ill for the last seven days and almost got hit by one of London's black taxis. In an assignment, I was asked how I would describe the best way to die (again, I was twelve years old) and I wrote: dying while being hugged by a loved one. In the car on the way home from the airport, Mom cradled my feverish body. I cried silently.

I remember losing a kitten I just met. A very, very peculiar kitten: black and white, with a face that resembled another cat I had lost before that. I called the first cat I had lost Mimi, and because of the new kitten's resemblance to the first Mimi, I also called the new kitten Mimi. Mimi II was so shy but I could finally convince her to come from time to time to eat. One night, I saw Mimi II perched on top of our brick fence. When I approached her, she was so passive, which was very much unlike our previous encounters. I then realized she was very ill. She died in my arms in less than an hour. She had just been sitting there on the brick wall. If she had been that ill, how did she get up there? Had she been waiting for me? I cried violently that night. It was two days before Christmas eve. At church, during the Christmas eve mass, I cried again. Later I found out that Mimi means bitter in Hebrew.

It seems like all my life, I've been crying a lot. Perhaps it's true, and the tears that I last shed won't be the last. It seems like I remember all the negative events in my life - all the events that make me cry. That's true, but that doesn't make me a sad or negative person. I love life. It's just that I have received so much joy and happiness, that I've lost track and gave up counting my blessings long ago. Meanwhile, I can still count the heartbreaks and the laments.

I'm keeping these sadness close to my heart, to remind me that even the smallest drop of joy can ease the suffering of being human, of knowing that someday, time will outrun me, like I've outgrown my parents.

Although I know that someday, if I'm good, I'll die the way I want, have true friends who will wait for me until their dying breaths and let me do the same unconditionally.

It may not be like this forever. But I'm ready to cry, and hopefully ready to move on afterwards.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

the strolling dancer

It was a hot day, as if Denpasar was under a giant magnifying glass that multiplied the sun's rays exponentially. My boyfriend and I drove out of the house to take care of his work. The AC in the car was blowing cool air, surrounding us in some sort of cooling cocoon that protected us from the outside heat. On the way out, we saw someone walking.

"Isn't that a traditional artist?" my boyfriend asked. The true meaning of "artist" has somehow lost its gritty and unglamorous definition. Justin Bieber is an artist. Those who has one hit song and can jet around the world is an artist.

I looked at the person walking outside our car. He was wearing a traditional Javanese suit from head to toe. The traditional suit is, indeed, a suit: a shirt, a jacket, a sarong draped around the hips covering the lower body all the way to the ankle, a headdress called blangkon (blung-kohn), and traditional slippers. Anyone who could walk under the heat in that costume really earned my respect.

What amazed me even more was the fact that he wore full-blown make-up (the way traditional Javanese artists do when performing). The color of his decorated facial skin contrasted the worn-out and sun-burnt skin on his hands that poked out of the long sleeves of his jacket. His make-up could hide his real age, but you could tell the things he'd gone through by looking at his wrinkly hands that clutched a wooden box.

"Is that a Balinese suit?" I asked my boyfriend, unsure of my own knowledge.

"No. That's Javanese," he replied.

"What's a Javanese traditional artist doing in Bali?" I asked again. I honestly didn't know. Bali is rich with its own art, culture and tradition. It already has many dances. These dances are one of the reasons why people flock to the island. Of course, nowadays it's almost about the sun, sand, surf, and sex (and tattoo), but people still ask to see shows of Kecak and Barong dances. It just baffled me that a Javanese artist would go against the current. To me, he looked like fish out of water, like he didn't belong.

My boyfriend shrugged.

"Does he get any audience?"

My boyfriend shrugged again.

I got lost in my own train of thoughts. I could identify myself with him, the strolling dancer. We are both males, we wear make-up and costume. When I had gigs in places where I had to change and do my make-up in the toilet or had to dance in front of indifferent crowd or with inadequate sound system, I bitched a lot. This strolling dancer was walking in his full regalia, under the sun, on stony paths (literally and perhaps figuratively), carrying his own music. I mean, imagine walking on a hot, rough surface, wearing thin slippers.

My mouth clamped shut for a while. Then my boyfriend said, "We should've given him a lift."

I felt pity for a split second but replied, "Hmm... well, he could be a strolling dancer carrying a stereo set inside his wooden box... Or, he could also be a loon with knives and weapons inside that box."

My boyfriend looked at me. "Wow, you've become as paranoid as Americans," was his reply.

I cringed.

I don't want to be that heartless. I don't want to be like those who took naked pictures of me spread-eagled for the purpose of making sure I didn't carry anything dangerous on the plane. I don't want to be like the obnoxiously rude immigrant officers, who were obviously of Chinese descendants, at SFO. I don't want to be like the people of Westboro Baptist Church, or like Mel Gibson. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to be like Osama bin Laden either, but you get the point.

Later on, as I'm writing this entry, another thought ran across my mind. Bali has a significant portion of Javanese people living here. Those people may benefit from the strolling dancer's artistry.

I pray, for his sake and mine, that his walk under today's scorching sun was not unfruitful, and that his walk was a walk, tired but relentless, a determined walk and not a wandering.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

it hurts like a mutha: let the healing begin

I need to tell you how painful the tattoo process was. At least to me.

A couple of my friends told me that getting their tattoo was a breeze. I didn't believe them, obviously. I'm afraid of needles (the medicinal one, I love sewing, on the other hand) and so aside from the Abdomen Ultrasonography (USG), I also dreaded getting my blood taken during last year's medical check-up.

I've read many websites for tattoo virgins (first-timers), the fears of getting inked, the aftercare, etc. Now it's time for me to share my own story.

First, I gotta tell y'all: it hurts. It *#$&@#!(* HURTS. There were moments when I felt like I almost fainted from the pain. Call me a wuss, call me hypersensitive. I don't care. It was so painful that I almost told Froggy, the tattoo artist, to stop for a while, but I held myself and had the job completed in approximately one hour. It felt like a knife happily slicing my back. I remember the needle drilling into the skin of my back - the worst moment was when the vibration of the drilling machine reverberated all over my skin.

So, yeah. The slicing sensation was dreadful.

Also, despite my boyfriend saying that he didn't see any blood, I felt Froggy repeatedly wiped something away from my back. I've seen YouTube videos and I know that the act of wiping must have something to do with blood.

When the tattoo was done and I was shaking from the pain (yup, I really was shaking from the pain), it was covered with Saran and I was told to take it off after one hour. The place was out of tattoo aftercare lotion but the front desk guy told us that we could buy an ointment called Bepanthen (an antiseptic). A friend told me to purchase Bioplacenton. So off we go to the nearest drug store to buy the two of them.

"Do you have Bepanthen?" my boyfriend asked the lady behind the counter.

"Yes, yes we do," she replied and turned to her friend, "Could you pass me Bepanthen?" her friend quickly walked to the shelf to retrieve the ointment.

"Bepanthen is good for rashes and skin irritation, it is also used for tattoo aftercare," said the countergirl's friend.

"How could you tell I just got a tattoo?" I jokingly asked. The friend didn't say anything. She just stood there, poker-faced, looking at my boyfriend as if I weren't there.

Oh, well. At least the ointment works (I'm using Bepanthen). I think. So far there has been no blood. Now I have to make sure that there's no scabbing.

After all, I don't want to have a polka-dotted tattoo. I mean, it's not that it's going to look awful, I also don't think I can afford (financially, physically, and psychically) getting a touch-up.

ADDENDUM: I also read somewhere that you should treat a new tattoo like a third-degree burn. That is: no swimming, no bath-tubbing, absolutely no sea water (unless you're a hardcore masochist). When we finally arrived home, my boyfriend gently peeled off the Saran wrap, washed his hands, rubbed his palms with alcohol, and washed the wound with soft cotton balls dipped in warm water. Finally, he generously applied the Bepanthen ointment.

It's day two now and although I can still feel the pain at times, it's greatly subsided.

Again, I hope scabs won't appear.

Friday, 1 July 2011

it hurts like a mutha

"Mom, I never, ever want to be tattooed, ever again."

Message sent to Mom.

Thirty seconds later: Incoming call: Mom.

"So did you or did you not get a tattoo?"

"I did, and I'm never going to get another one!" I said, that made Mom laughed really loud. It was not just an amused laughter, it was triumphant, filled with victory.

"I told you. How big is it anyway?"

"Eighteen centimeters (that's about eight inches)." UPDATE: apparently, the tattoo is 23 cm (about nine inches).

"Okay, well, it's good to know that you've had enough."

Then the phone conversation ended.

I always backtrack, and I'm going to backtrack this post yet again, because I just think I should blog about it after writing my conversation with Mom. This one is with my boyfriend.

"So, the picture doesn't have orange or red, while the real eye peacock feather has that red and orange and yellow hue. You have to make sure I get those colors. I don't want the tattoo to be too bluish," I told my boyfriend.

"What? I thought you were going to come too."

It took me about five seconds to realize that he was joking.

"Geez. Since it's my skin, of course I have to be there, duh? But I can't see behind my back, can I? I need you to tell the tattooist to make sure he gets the colors right."

In the end, my boyfriend did play a significant role in taking the pictures, cleaning the new ink when we're home, and applying the antiseptic lotion.

Froggy, the guy who did my tattoo at Bali Ink was supernice, superfunny, superartistic, and superprofessional. There was almost zero drop of blood.

Every time I saw people walking with their tattoos, my scar pounds mercilessly on my back and I feel that stinging sensation from the piece of jewel I will never ever see with my own eyes.

It hurts like a mutha and I'm scarred for life now. Literally. But at least it's a pretty scar. A pretty, peacock-feather-shaped scar.