lambda literary reading

It was an absolute honor to be selected as one of the Fellowship recipients at this year’s Lambda Literary Foundations Writers Retreat. Here’s a piece about why we need gay clubs in Indonesia. 



luna pleina tuanakotta

The white fur that used to be so soft was now under this turned earth. My stomach turned. A scream. The white fur, with patches of black. The pink, moist nose. She never bit me. Never. She never scratched me either. She slept on my chest, her breath on my cheek. Just a sweet white thing with patches of black on one ear. Sweet white thing with a black tail. Her name meant full moon. Just a kitten. Just a year before. Then I didn’t see how it ended. The asphalt, the tyre, was there a screech, a halt, an acknowledgment of a mistake, a crime, a sin? She was left there, breathless, lifeless. It was just this morning as I left for work, her sitting on the green porch, green eyes lit and ready to roam the streets. It was just this morning.

luna pleina tuanakotta***

“Fragment sentences” prompt from Marilyn Abilsdkov Time & Character class, St. Mary’s College MFA program in Creative Nonfiction Writing.

i dance, therefore i am

Dancing with Lilith the Sword at Gedung Kesenian Jakarta & Dancewave Center's event for Jakarta Anniversary Festival on Saturday, June 15, 2013 . The show is called "Nyai Dasima" and I was the shaman / professional hit man.

Dancing with Lilith the Sword at Gedung Kesenian Jakarta & Dancewave Center‘s event for Jakarta Anniversary Festival on Saturday, June 15, 2013 . The show is called “Nyai Dasima” and I was the shaman / professional hit man. Yes, that’s a blindfold. Photo by Putri Soesilo. 

I started going to the gym after a heartbreak back in 2006. Then in late 2007, the gym opened a belly dance class (I was one of the people who requested it). The instructor happened to be teaching belly dance outside of gym, so I began taking classes from her.

Now I’m part of her troupe called the velvetRAQS in Jakarta where I specialize in Tribal Fusion belly dance. I’m also a member of Taksu Tribal, an American Tribal Style® troupe based in San Francisco.

Dancing keeps me on my edge. It’s a therapy. Whenever I am unable to translate my thoughts into coherent words, I dance. It is through dancing that I found my passion in antique textiles and jewelry. It is through dancing that I found my passion in make-up, which becomes my saving grace. Whenever I feel depressed, I’ll just paint my face and the world becomes a happier place.

thesis? what thesis?

Turns out, I’m a full-time procrastinator.

Kitty sitting on a pile of books and notebooks. These are just a few books that I brought to Bali for my thesis project. I'm traveling to several cities in Indonesia to document the lives and communities of drag queens and cross-gender performers.

Kitty the Doll sitting on a pile of books and notes. These are just some of the things that I brought to Bali for my thesis about the lives and communities of drag queens and cross-gender performers in Indonesia. 

Thank you, Daily Post, for reminding me that instead of my thesis, this is how I’ve been spending my time in Bali:

Stubby toes vs. the waves of Canggu Beach

Stubby toes vs. the waves of Canggu Beach

It’s a good thing this project isn’t due until next year! Whee! Let’s get naked!

the abundance of silence

It’s funny how we both opt
For a slow ease of death
Instead of a fast, quick blow

The boats on your bedsheet
With their one-two-threes
The smokes billowing

If you accepted silence for an answer
Then you’d find it in abundance
As proof of my feelings for you

poetry in motion

These are some sample images from my Postcards from Bali collection.

Arja (cross-dresser) doing Bondres (Balinese comedy)

Arja (cross-dresser) doing Bondres (Balinese comedy)

Kebyar Duduk

Kebyar Duduk

Baris Dance

Baris Dance

Fisherman Dance

Fisherman Dance

Legong Trance Dance

Legong Trance Dance. Yes, they closed their eyes half of their performance without tripping nor bumping into one another. 

"Nyamar" ("Masquerade") Dance

“Nyamar” (“Masquerade”) Dance



In other news, my submission of “Arja” made it to Toemailer’s WordPress Blog.

eat eat eat: union plaza senayan

Ah, Union. Where to begin.

Really courteous servers and hot alternative-looking bartenders (yay for tattoo and piercing visibility in Jakarta! Oh, and there was one server who looked like an older, shorter, but hotter and more muscular version of Joseph Gordon Levitt), and I love, love the Dammann tea called L’Oriental that they have. It’s green tea with such a sweet fragrance. The place itself is far from pretentious, although the crowd is more of an upper-class (of course, just look at the food prices. A tad of a rip-off if you ask me), and I love their floor-to-ceiling windows that let in some light (thank goodness the sun was pale today). There are booth seats with sofas, and the tables are well-spaced.

Union Plaza Senayan

It was very crowded, which was unsurprising since today is the first day of the Eid and people dining out to either celebrate or because their maids and cooks had already gone back to their villages. We were asked to wait at the bar for our table (they take phone reservation). I didn’t mind. Like I said, the bartenders were hot (fresh juice, cocktails, coffee, and tea available).

They have very few vegetarian dishes, and again, I had to settle for pasta (I hate salad). I ordered Spaghetti with Roasted Mushrooms and White Truffle Cream. The portion was small (or perhaps I was just hungry), the roasted mushrooms were delicious, but the cream was a little too heavy. My friend ordered grilled salmon and we had to wait for about twenty minutes before ours arrived, while my other friend’s Salad Romaine arrived in about ten minutes.

Roasted Mushrooms, Spaghetti, and White Truffle Cream

The menu said “Roasted Mushrooms, Spaghetti, and White Truffle Cream”

Salad Romaine

Salad Romaine

My friend said the salad was not as good Kitchenette’s (Plaza Indonesia).

I used my sheer will power again to resist desert temptation, but my friends ordered these:

Chocolate Praline

Chocolate Praline

Crunchy Chocolate Tart

Crunchy Chocolate Tart

Now you know why I’m so proud of my will power. I have been and always will be a sugar and chocolate whore, and just looking at these cakes made my mouth water. Furthermore, my friends didn’t even finish their desserts (they said the cakes were too heavy). I had to double my efforts to stop myself from reaching and gobbling down the leftovers.

Crunchy Chocolate Tart texture

Crunchy Chocolate Tart texture

These two chocolate cakes contained liquor.

No further complaints, except for the location of the bar which is in the smoking section (yuck) of the restaurant. Oh, and an obnoxious  girl next to us who loudly greeted her friend by saying, “Oh my God, you’re fucking fat!” (Verbatim quote. Her friend (a guy) was not fat). She continued to be obnoxiously loud (despite our tables being very well-spaced), but thank goodness we were done eating and had enough time to gossip and chat and laugh.

Oh, and Union serves foie gras. Seriously, what kind of backward, monstrously cruel restaurant uses fattened duck liver these days?


Their pasta section is quite limited.

Dress code: Casual
Price ($ to $$$$): $$$$ for main course, $$$ for dessert, $$ for drinks
Vegetarian friendly: Yes, but very limited vegetarian options, nothing vegan on the list
Atmosphere:pinkstarpinkstarpinkstarpinkstar  (family friendly, yet romantic enough)
Location: Plaza Senayan (inside Sogo, next to Starbucks on the ground floor).