real life

Don’t Interrupt Me

I’m taking my time and energy back. Instant gratification will slowly be the death of me. I have actively decreased my activity for the past couple of months in order for more time to breathe, think, and relax. I have even turned off my phone sound for the last six months. However, its vibration is still too loud for my liking.

Therefore, I’m turning everything off. I will only check my messages, emails, and social media during lunch and after work. If it’s urgent, call me. I don’t silence my phone for calls. If you want to talk, meet me. I’m not a huge fan of texting anyway.

I admit this is still an experiment phase. We’ll see how I fare in the first week. I’m hoping to get more time to write, read, and work out of this. But most of all, I’m hoping to be dragged in less drama.

Let’s call this digital minimalism. I want more quality in my face-to-face interactions with you.

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The Wild Angle (of Writing)

Willy Pramudya taught the whole staff how to write popular articles today. As an exercise on angles, he asked us to draw our water bottles as we saw them in front of us.

I knew I didn’t want to draw it standing up, because that would be boring. My guts told me to draw the bottom of the bottle, but I couldn’t find the reason immediately. Would it be pretentious? Would people even recognise my drawing as a bottle? I shelved that thought and drew it upside down instead.

I was one of two participants who drew the bottle upside down. The others drew the bottles with a glass, different bottles, even a discarded bottle. I told him I wanted to ignite the readers’ curiosity, why is the bottle upside down? He appreciated the thought, but he was disappointed no one drew the bottom of the bottle, because that would be a wild angle. Then I realise that I could draw the bottom of the bottle because people rarely pay attention to it.

Oh, dear. As someone who writes, no one was more disappointed about it than me. I should have dared to take that wild angle.

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Who is That Girl I See: Makeup and Hating My Own Reflection

I have to admit, the first time I consciously made the choice to touch makeup was to spite my ex-boyfriend. Make him regret for breaking up with me. It may not be healthy or politically correct, but it’s the truth. Ever since then, I’ve started a (possibly permanent) relationship with makeup.

Though it’s true some people wear makeup to lie cover their true self, I think the main purpose of makeup is to give your face dimensions. It’s not always about false perception. If you got it, flaunt it. Makeup will enhance your greatest assets. Though in some cases makeup can be a misrepresentation of yourself, in many cases (like mine, for example), makeup is a weapon tool I use to represent my true self. It doesn’t compute to me that people are okay with putting on clothes, but they go mental when it comes to makeup. It’s essentially the same.

Like any acquired skills, it took me a long time to be able to wear decent makeup on my face. There’s no such thing as pulling off a winged eyeliner at the first attempt. I also went through many phases of lip color craze. I have them all colors: nude, pink, red, vamp, black, you name it. I have more than 30 lipsticks, I’m too scared to find out the exact count. Then there’s the obsession of flawless complexion. I tried everything: primer, foundation, bb cream, loose powder, so many technique you need to apply to look camera ready. Then the Kardashians flaunt their sculpted cheekbones, and I just had to painstakingly contoured my face.

One time my guy friends asked me why I put on so much makeup (this was when I was experimenting on vampy looks). I told them that I wore it to represent myself. Much like the clothes you wear, I put on makeup based on how I want to be perceived that day. Do I want to look cute? Steal attention? Intimidate people? I even have this policy that when I’m meeting clients, I put on dark red lipstick, because it makes me look older. I don’t want them to dismiss my opinion because they think I’m an inexperienced child. But when I dated this younger guy, I made a point of not wearing red lipstick (nudes and pinks only!), so it wouldn’t look like he was dating a sugar mama. I wear the same soft colors when I want to look less intimidating (than I usually do).

From top left, clockwise: full makeup, vampy phase, no 'makeup' makeup, literally no makeup. I look the same yet different.

From top left, clockwise: full makeup, vampy phase, no ‘makeup’ makeup, literally no makeup. I look the same yet different.

Recently, I’m too lazy to put as much makeup as I used to, so I keep to the basic. Fill my brows, thin eyeliner or dark eyeshadow (because I’m too lazy to draw my eyes), blush (to look fresher), and soft lipstick. But even such little makeup is enough to alter the dimensions of my face. I look more awake and generally healthier. It reaches a point I don’t like seeing my bare face in the mirror. Bare faced, I look pale, like I haven’t slept for days. I don’t like it. I feel like my presence is gone without it. I know it’s not healthy. Like any relationships, you gotta maintain a healthy one.

This article funnily enough confirms what I have always suspected (and practiced). Makeup does matter in your career (and dating rate). Men tend to think makeup-wearing women are more prestigious, and I never fail to wear makeup on dates. My success rate hasn’t been bad with it lol. Females tend to think makeup-wearing women are more dominant. It’s funny thinking that wearing makeup gives you more credibility, but I personally think that those who wear makeup are competent, because I know makeup takes skills. At the very least, it shows that one has a basic skill of coordination :)) You cannot be lazy when you wear makeup (zits!). But then the article talks about how women assessment of makeup is closely related to jealousy, and it only confirms my anxiety even more. Here’s one that talks about makeup and mental health.

In another article, a study concludes that women’s biggest competitors are other women. I know that today we’re moving towards a world where women should unite and help each other. We say that we doll up for ourselves, not men. But let’s be real. In our daily life, that’s not always what happen. Call me shallow, but I have to admit there’s a little bit part of me that take the effort to gain approval from both men and women. I rarely go out without my makeup, no matter how little. It’ll feel like going to battle without my armour on.

Now I’m still looking for reading material on makeup and mental health, because I’m getting attached. I’m not at that insane level yet, where I never wash my makeup ever. But I’d like to feel good about myself, with or without makeup. Most importantly, I want to feel like myself, even without products on my face. Here’s something that Zara wrote, “Magic’s in the Makeup”. The experience is of course different, but you can see the red thread.

For the avoidance of doubt, I’m not saying that I should entirely leave makeup. It’s the love of my life. However, it’d be great if makeup and I can grow together and fill each other. I want it to be a friend that makes myself better by supporting me, but I’m still ok even when it’s away, because I know it loves me. Does that even make sense? I do think makeup is a gateway to an extraordinary self-discovery.

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The (Un)examined Life: Things I Learn in My First Month of Going Freelance

To those who wonder, I’ve finally resigned from my 8-to-5 job. I didn’t resign so I could apply for a higher-paying job. I risked leaving it for the sake of pursuing a career out of my interest and hobby, which are entertainment law and writing. I spent the better part of the year saving money. Once September ended, I thought I’d immediately jump to a new lifestyle of self-scheduled productivity. I wasn’t prepared to find myself struggling instead. Now that October’s ending, here are a few things I’ve taken notes off.

1. Health is super important

I got sick the first couple of weeks into my freelance life. I had to take antibiotics for a week, and it made me nauseous. I felt like vomiting so bad, I didn’t want to get up from bed, nor did I eat enough because of it. It affected my mood and my concentration to work. When I finished the medicine, my physical condition improved. I also made a point of eating on time (morning, afternoon, evening) to make sure I don’t get hungry and distracted when I’m supposed to be working.

It took some time, but I’ve managed to set a relative pattern on my sleeping schedule. I make sure that I sleep and wake up at the same time every day. It’s easier now that I don’t have to go to an office anymore. I don’t do any extreme (or regular) sport, but maintaining this habit makes me feel healthy. I feel healthy and have energy to work on my tasks. The only downside is I also have more energy when I’m mad at something. LOL

2. Tests are everywhere

I’ve always known that my biggest challenge would be my own self-doubt. Will I pull it off? Looking at my saving dwindling every day also makes an effective combo to send me into anxiety. On the other hand, a former boss is offering me a job. Until today, that offer still stands. I’m certain I’ll be taken care of in that office and I wouldn’t have to worry about anything else in my life, but I must take it (under my personal principle) at the expense of leaving all of the projects I’m pursuing right now. I’ve promised myself that if I ever apply for an office job again, it means I fail whatever I’m doing now, and I will not pursue it any longer. Currently, the only motivation I have to take that job is my fear of not being able to pull it of. No insightful conclusion on this one. I know this is inevitable and I have to make up my mind about it.

3. A house is a commitment

It finally dawned on me that a house/roof/home is the biggest commitment you’ll ever have to make in life. It’s your biggest expense. It’s where you sleep and safe-keep everything that you own. I have never made any housing decision lightly. It’s important for me to know everything about a house before I move into it. Where is it? How big? The price? What’s the living terms and conditions? Will I share it with anyone? What are the sharing terms? It becomes even more important when I have roommate(s). The terms, do’s and don’t’s, and boundaries with each other must be crystal clear before we decide to share this space. We have to be committed to it. And I can only live with someone who shares the same respect I have about housing. I’m so glad to have Sasha as my roommate for the last few years.

4. A clean space = a clean mind

Cleaning and tidying up the whole apartment was my priority during the first days of being unemployed a freelancer. I didn’t force myself to work immediately. I gave myself a couple of weeks (which stretched to a month, because struggling) to clean up and settled old debts.

I started with the closet, took out anything that wasn’t useful there, put them in the storage. Got a huge container to store my handbags, too. I gave away unused clothes and threw away expired make up and skin care. Now it’s clean and smells good. I even have a space to put a desk and a comfy chair in the corner. I can have a work space that is not my bed!

I did the same thing with my bedroom. No more cluttered junk on the floor! I brushed the bathroom vigorously, and I’ll try to do it every couple of weeks. We also got ourselves a carpet and we rolled it in the living room. I swear it’s so soft and comfy, you can nest there. Our living room is finally cozy and habitable. The only room left to clean up is the storage. But I have a bigger tolerance in keeping it messy, because it’s not somewhere I frequent to. And oh, clean your dishes every time you finish your meal. This is the most helpful tip for a lazy ass like me.

I didn’t execute all this cleaning project in one go, of course. One day for one room. Now that everything’s done, it’s made me more comfortable to stay at home. I don’t have to worry about dust (I’m allergic) or getting sick. I don’t have any smells or mess that distract me from my work. Most importantly, I like how my home looks.

5. A work space is just as important

In the beginning, I thought I would enjoy working at home by myself. Besides, it’d save a lot of money, rather than working at Starbucks or a co-working space. Turns out it depressed me. I woke up and spent my day alone, because every one was away at the office. I didn’t meet anyone. If it continued, I’d go insane. Suddenly that co-working space rate doesn’t look so expensive anymore. I realise it’s not about the space, but about meeting other people and interacting. I’m still a social person after all and I need to have conversation with people daily. I also need a work space that is far from my bed. It’s too easy to lie down and turn on Netflix instead of working. I’m still figuring out where and when to go to that work space though.

6. Don’t be too hard on yourself

I’m starting to think I may have a slight obsession with productivity. I read every article on productivity hack. I’m seriously considering to consult a shrink about this. Nearing my last day at the office, I made a mental note of what my new schedule would look like. It was a pretty strict picture. I would wake up, write, eat, work, relax, hang out, and a sleep at specific time. And I would track my time for accountability. Then I found out that it’s not an easy schedule to follow.

I tell myself again and again that everything takes time. I don’t have to put myself together now. I’ve learned that it’s ok to take it one step at a time. So I threw away my mental schedule. Now I spend the days how I want it, and hey, I’m starting to see a schedule/pattern that seems to work with me!

In the past, I would’ve been bored to death by the first month of being unemployed. But I’ve been enjoying this process, especially knowing that I’m doing this to make a new work for myself. One that is dictated by me. Come November, I should hold myself more accountable. It doesn’t have to be about a lot of stuff. Reduce the workload, keep it down to a few manageable and accountable ones. Then pat myself on the back for doing a good job. I also need to put more effort in the sustenance department. Gotta pick up the ladle and cook myself more elaborate meals again. Coincidentally, next month is also time for NaNoWriMo. The best month to test your discipline.

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Tattoos, Mothers, and Twitter

My friend and I were talking about tattoos. We both want one, but what if our mothers find out? We may not fear God, but we both fear the wrath of our mothers. My mother keeps me more grounded than religion ever could. There are some decisions I don’t dare to make because of my mother, such as permanently inking my skin. There’s also the issue of marriage. It’s not that I don’t want to get married, because I do. But how much of that wanting to get married is because I personally want to, or because my mother wants me to?

She asked me what kind of tattoo I want to get. For a while now, I’ve wanted to ink the sentence “the enemy’s gate is down” from Ender’s Game across my collar bones. I imagine it will hurt badly, so let’s reconsider the placement of the tattoo later. Not to mention it would be very big and visible there. But I want those words on my skin. It’ll be an homage to my favorite book. It’ll also be a reminder of optimism, strategy, and victory.

All of a sudden, I thought of another tattoo I want to get. A tesseract tattoo. Or ‘warping’ for Trekkies. Check this out:

An excerpt from Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time" regarding tesseract.

An excerpt from Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” regarding tesseract.

I want a tattoo of an ant, tesseracting from my forearm to my bicep. The tattoo won’t have to be big. I can have a small ant on top of a thin line or a small dot on my forearm. Then the end of the line or the other small dot would be on my bicep. To show the ant tesseracting, I just have to fold my arm and voila! Damn it, now I want that tattoo badly.

It’ll be another homage to my favorite book ♥ and at the same time, it’ll say a lot about me, summarized in a group of tiny pictures. It’ll tell my love for SFF, my muse of and neverending hope in science, and my faith that we’ll travel the stars one day. That we will reach far beyond our eyes can see. It’ll be great to pair it up with the Ender’s Game tattoo.

As for my friend, she wants a tattoo of a cage and a bird. I joked about it being a bird out of its cage and she got mad lol the interesting part is, she wants a silhoutte of a bird as a symbol for many things. I didn’t expect one of them to be Twitter.

I think all millenials would agree that Twitter has not only changed our lives, but it has become a part of our lives. I can’t imagine not having a Twitter. I have retired most of my Twitter accounts, but I don’t delete them. Twitter is a part of my identity, and it’s one of my streams of self-expression. It doesn’t show a full picture of me, but it still shows a lot. It is there where I make and interact with a lot of friends. It’s my number one source of lightning news update. It’s a constant pool of discussion and debates. And you get to share your piece with the rest of the world, through different communities. Twitter is a social magic. It is how we connect these days. It also serves as a micro diary as well as a personal announcement platform. Out of all of my social media accounts, Twitter is the only one I have consistently maintained. It’s not an overstatement to say that it has shaped me into the person I am today, and I believe I’ll still be using it in decades to come.

My future biographer would have a hell lot of material from my Twitter alone.

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