Friday, 10 August 2012


For this one, Mr. Tenorio challenged us to write a shorty in three paragraphs. Here's the prompt: an aging professor is recently denied his tenure in a small university in a small town, and the professor is now sitting in a bar, thinking about it. The first paragraph must have at least five sentences and must cover a maximum of ten minutes of his life, the second paragraph must not have more than five sentences and must cover a minimum of five years of his life, and the last paragraph must show him hailing a taxi to go home.

The idea is to stretch time like in Raymond Carver's short "The Cathedral".


Tom Willis fingered the rim of his glass. It was his third milkshake. His first one was chocolate. “I need the happiness,” he said to the bartender, “And nothing else gives me bliss like a healthy serving of chocolate.” The second one was strawberry. “Because pink is such a lovely color. Like my bedroom,” he said to a man who sat beside him. The man moved two bar stools away after an awkward silence. And now it was vanilla. “Like most aspects of my life.” Tom ran his right middle finger around the mouth of the tall glass, tracing it. With his right thumb and index finger, he held the white bendy straw that jutted out of the snowy top of the milkshake. Tom slowly pulled it out, concentrating on the lush squishing sounds that the straw made as it slid out of the calorie fountain. He had asked for whole milk. He needed to binge, at least tonight. Some of the vanilla goodness stuck to the straw. Tom put the straw near his lips and licked it clean, the sweetness transferred to his tongue. He grasped the cold, hard, clear acrylic glass and put its mouth to his and began to swallow the icy content. He needed to binge. At least tonight.

After twenty years of teaching, nay, dedicating his life to that dismal Liberal Arts College, in that dismal, provincial town, Tom’s tenure was denied. As soon as he got to his apartment he had been renting on a monthly basis, he packed his bags and took the first plane to Reno where his parents were. As the plane made a descent to Reno-Tahoe International Airport, he felt himself waking up from a nightmare. No more close-minded students, no more pesky colleagues, and no more board of ungrateful school directors smelling of cheap colognes. He smiled as he remembered his exact words to the members of that board when he announced his resignation.

Tom looked at his third glass of milkshake. It was half empty. He was smiling now but it was a different kind of smile from the one on the plane. That one had been a smile of small victory. This one was a smile of great defeat. Tom lifted his head and he caught the eyes of the bartender. The bartender couldn’t be more than thirty. He had red hair that matched his neatly trimmed beard and eyes that had that proverbial sparkle. But he was only a bartender, Tom thought. A bartender wouldn’t know Moby Dick if he sat on one. But he was so full of life, unlike Tom, who, by now, was wasted and drowning in unforgivably high amount of calories. But Tom couldn’t care less. Let those years of working out be damned. He would stop dying his hair to hide the silvering lines. The bartender was still smiling at Tom, but Tom couldn’t read his smile. Was it an ironic smile? Tom couldn’t tell. In a week, after daily visits to the bar, after sitting on the same place every time, the bartender would strike a conversation with Tom and Tom would learn that his name was Jerry and they would laugh, and that would be Tom’s first real laugh in six years. In a month, Jerry and Tom would kiss, and Jerry would tell Tom how he had fallen in love with a sad-looking man who looked like Ernest Hemingway and had three milkshakes in a row and Tom would cry on Jerry’s chest and they would talk about The Old Man and the Sea. But for now, Tom only smiled back at the bartender, finished his milkshake, paid the tab, and walked out of the bar to hail a cab that would take him back to his parents’ home.


Monday, 6 August 2012

shopping for silver

Mom has a thing for bags... And brooches... Well, and flower seeds and gardening. She tried to resist my offer to buy her something from Bali, but then she said, "Well, if you INSIST, then a silver brooch," to which I replied, "But Mom, I bought you a silver brooch when I came to Bali two years ago and you never wore it!"

"Says who? I wear it often! The thing is, it the pin was bent, so I'm worried it'll break," she said.

So off we went to Ubud, where silver jewelry (the highest quality in Bali) abound. If you're looking for silver jewelry or silver artisans, Bali and Yogyakarta (central Java) are famous for silver. The designs and the craftsmanship are exquisite (this was the word I kept muttering when I saw the silver collections).

Our search began in several artisan shops in an area called Celuk. They sell exquisite jewelry from rings, brooches, hair pins, to earrings, and bracelets and bangles, and decorations made of silver and or gold. We went to one artisan shop and there was this exquisite (see, I keep repeating that word) brooch. The price tag was around USD 600. The seller saw that we were locals, so he gave us USD 300. When we were about to leave, he gave us USD 100.

We went to other artisan shops, including one called UC Silver. Their collections are beautiful, but too crazy contemporary. Too modern for my taste. I was looking for something more local, more traditional, more Indonesian, and definitely not that expensive (Ruby encrusted brooch for USD 1,200? Really? I guess they have to pay for the billboards, the shops, the personal assistants for shoppers (yes, kidding I am not), the display, the decor, and the renovation for the new parking lot).

Then we began our search to smaller silver boutiques in Ubud, and I found the perfect brooch for Mom. Strangely, it was at CV Utami, the store where I bought Mom her first silver brooch.

Isn't it just exquisite? I couldn't find a cat, so I chose a peacock. Hopefully it'll remind her of my tattoo and give her subliminal messages to allow me to get more ink.

Finally, we had lunch at Tutma, a cozy open-air restaurant in Ubud. I had Vegetarian Platter (seriously overpriced and not even tasty) and iced tea (which had an icky aftertaste), and Cinnamon Roll (this one is crazy good. It was big and warm, picture attached). 

Sunday, 5 August 2012

fabric frenzy

Whenever I'm in Bali, I always go to Jalan Sulawesi / Pasar Badung. It's an area that sells all kinds of imaginable fabrics: Batik, solid satin, charmeuse, taffeta, velvet, stretch velvet, organza, to Balinese golden ceremonial and traditional cloths.

I felt I needed more pantaloons, so my boyfriend drove me to Jalan Sulawesi. I've been looking for either charmeuse or stretch print velvet, but I found better ones.

As I was paying for the two Indian print fabrics (I had a hard time deciding which color, they were all so beautiful, but I only had a budget for two prints), my eyes brought me to another section and I found it: print taffeta. The fabric was soft and drapey, the motif was perfect, and the color... I tried my best to take photos, but I just couldn't capture the color.

When the fabric was cut and the roll was placed back to the section, I still couldn't take my eyes off of it. I guess it meant I really loved it. It's the top one in the picture on the left. It's ridiculously cheap: only about USD 4 per meter! The Indian prints are even half the price.

Friday, 3 August 2012

dining in bali

When I went to Bali last year, my boyfriend took me to a vegan restaurant called Deity of Miracle. We had a few lunches there, and most often than not, we were the only customers there. It was a big, big restaurant with two seating sections: the upper floor had tables and chairs while the garden offered several patios where diners can lounge.

Yesterday evening, we went there again. To my surprise, Deity of Miracle was still open for business. I helped myself to a plate of Sweet & Sour Mushroom (pure and epic deliciousness) and Bean & Tempe.

My tummy had never been happier.

So please, for the sake of this restaurant (that always seems to be empty), please eat here.


For this assignment, we were challenged to write by borrowing a "template" in Sabrina Murray's short story "The Caprices". The elements that need to be there are: "This could be any...", "What you are witnessing here is...", and "It is a/an ... (time of the day) in ... (year)".

And here's what I came up with. 


This could be any concentration camp. The dank and dirty smell that fills any newcomers’ eyes with acrid water and grants the nose a sense of cherished numbness could be scented in any camp. The big door swings open and soon the inhabitants of the camp are roused from their meandering dreams and daydreams. One by one, their cell doors are opened and they are led outside. Some, the youths and the elderlies, are celebrating in their hearts, hoping for freedom, but others know better. Outside, a grave has been dug. This is the last time they are going to see the rays of the sun. Still, no one fights when they are placed inside a chamber, bones pressing against one another. They are too tired, too weak, too ready to give their last breaths away in exchange of a momentary release, for a little peace. Their rib and hip bones stick to their skin as if they were bosom buddies. The gas seeps in, an apparition that brings more than terror, but some of the prisoners don’t mind. Maybe at last this is their release, their little peace. 

What you are witnessing here is just a day on the job in a kill shelter. 

A gangly old man in a blue jumpsuit and a gas mask that hides his face opens the door of the metal chamber and shovels the bodies of the dogs inside a brown burlap bag. His assistant, a young man still in college, as lanky as the older man, has dug a big hole in the ground in the shelter’s vicinity. It is his first day there and he didn’t ask why. He just did what he was told to do and now he has a million feelings inside his head, and heart, and gut. The older man has been doing this for ten years and he can’t remember what he felt when he first assisted the execution. He remembers the thrills of chasing after strays, and this he tells his young colleague like a parent telling bed time stories to a child. 

He sees the young man’s knees shake but he doesn’t scoff. Instead, he puts a gloved hand on the assistant’s shoulder and gives it a squeeze, quietly acknowledging the uneasiness. We still have the other room to do, he says, but let me take a cigarette break first. 

It is an afternoon in 2012.   

The younger man nods as the senior hands him the burlap bag, heavy with bones and skins and blood, but devoid of life and emotions and breath. The older man opens his gas mask and his blond beard springs to life, catching the light as he walks outside. As soon as the older man turns the corner and vanishes out of sight, the younger man runs to the other room, the one next to the dogs’. 

It takes him a moment to open the door, a longer moment to process what he is looking at, and an even longer moment to know what he feels he has to do. Then he sees a little cage dead right in front of him, of a white cat nursing a black and white kitten. And he feels his feet move toward the cage. 


Moral of the story: Adopt, don't buy. Hopefully this photo of a caged dog will change your mind. 

Thursday, 2 August 2012

coffee time

 If you're in Bali, if you're a coffee or tea drinker, if you love Indonesian coffee and tea, if you're looking for cakes, or free and fast Wi-Fi, visit Coffee Revolution. It's my little coffee shop in Kerobokan. 

At Coffee Revolution, we believe in serving you authentic Indonesian coffee and tea, acquired directly from local coffee and tea farmers. The beans and leaves are processed manually, with love, so every cup tastes slightly different and unique, not generic the way one gets when one drinks machine-processed coffee or tea. 

Also, there are delicious cakes and fresh pastries, bagels and croissants (it's all-day breakfast, Baby!) and free Wi-Fi. Trust me, the Wi-Fi is free and fast. I'm using it right now!

We serve 100% Indonesian coffee from all over Indonesia: Aceh, Mandheling, Toraja, and Papua, as well as a variety of teas (peppermint, lemongrass, Javanese tea, and green tea). 

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

good news

My latest blog entry was in February 2012. Amazing. I have to remember to post my mediocrity writing to the blog just so you guys can understand why I'm going to just focus on dancing. 

Now on to the better things. 

A few years back, when I was still in college, I had a crazy idea. On November 30 that year, I made 100 HIV red ribbons using superglue and double tape and distributed them around campus the following day. My knowledge of HIV/AIDS is very limited, but I know that I want to live to 100 years old and a day and to be able to do so, I must not play around, and by playing around I mean having unprotected sex or any kind of sex with someone else. 

Even until now, I firmly believe that the safest form of sex is masturbation. That is if you're not into asphyxiation or extreme masochism or scat. Also, I believe that if I were just slightly any cuter, or with better skin and less scars, I'd be such a slut that I'd go spread my love (and legs) around town, contract VD and STD and die before 30. So, in a way, I guess it's good to be ugly? 

Anyway, I'm in Bali right now, visiting my boyfriend. When he and I got together three years ago, we decided to do HIV test. Unfortunately, in Jakarta, one needs to have a doctor's recommendation letter before one gets tested (I guess this is for consultation purposes or whatnot). It was too much of a fuss for us, so we didn't do it. 

Then, a couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend said he started getting headaches and decided to get his blood checked, for cholesterol level and such, and while he was at it, for HIV. The doctor who did the test was a friend of his, and so he didn't need any recommendation letter. My boyfriend's HIV status was said to be "non-reactive" (that means "negative"). 

Yesterday, I got myself checked and guess what? 

My result came out as "non-reactive" too. 

So, yay!

Here's my take on Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love".
Found in Ubud, Bali.