holding onto anger and the art of burning bridges

Now let me tell you something, when you burn your bridge, you don’t just burn it.

For a small bridge, I’d soak it with benzene then stick at least fifteen lbs of TNT on each end of the bridge. Then I’d press the button and watch the spectacle as I sit down and eat a cinnamon roll. Or two.

I’d stand close so I could feel the heat of the blaze and the deafening sound of explosion and the windy blow of dust and debris would kiss my face.

I’d completely annihilate other sub-bridges that branch out from that main bridge.

Here’s the tricky part: don’t go on and pretend like it didn’t happen. No. The other person (or people) at the end of the bridge(s) will notice. They will send messages. “You haven’t visited in a long while,” or, “We miss you,” or, “What the hell happened to the bridge? I thought we could remain friends.”

But it’s your choice. It’s your choice to answer them (if they ever ask questions) or to ignore them.

If the person(s) at the end of the bridge do(es) not care, then your heart will fester in anger and in pain.

Do not let that anger and pain go. They are not poison. Keep them within you. Harness their energy. Use it to fuel yourself. No energy is bad energy, unless you use it to destroy yourself. Destroying others is fine, but you’ll need to learn of the consequence. Calculate. Is it worth it?

If you think you’ve burn that bridge and yet you still feel that anger and pain and yet you believe you don’t want the person(s) at the end of that bridge to care, then it can only mean one thing: regret.

You should’ve detonated the bridge with more glory. With more power. More TNT. More fire.

You wish you could’ve built it again and destroyed it again and again and perhaps, perhaps tie that other person(s) on that bridge and watch as they burn while you eat that cinnamon roll and make a toast for life. Ha. A toast.

Still, whatever you do, hold on to that anger. Hold on to that pain. Releasing them is useless if you can’t. But remember, use that energy for your own good.

Now go and listen to Alanis Morrissette’s Jagged Little Pill.

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even if i could

They just sat there. Empty plates and full stomachs. They just sat there. The two of them. He and his friend. His friend fumbled with the glass tea pot and poured jasmine tea into his white cup.

“Sometimes,” he said, “I wonder where it all went wrong.”

His friend looked up.

“I wonder if I could pinpoint that very moment when I made that mistake, you know? Just to know when and with whom.”

His friend reached over the table, over the empty plates, over the glass pots and white cups of jasmine tea, to his hand.

“But even, even if I could, it wouldn’t be useful now, would it?”

His friend squeezed his hand. That was the only thing his friend could do at this moment. That was the only thing his friend could ever want at this moment, to be with him and no one else.

there, there, sad little bird

Someone I used to know once told me, on the fourth night of us sleeping together, that he knew why I didn’t want to write sad stories.

“Why?” I said.

“Because you’re afraid of being sad,” he said.

That just showed how much he didn’t know me, that I did (and still do) write sad stories, and that writing happy, funny stories, doesn’t mean that I can automatically be happy. At that time, however, the best response I could come up with was, “Don’t try to analyze me.”

It was a red flag for me, but I chose to ignore it. Several months later, he said I was too exhausting for him, that meeting me was unhealthy.

It was a red flag for me, but I chose to ignore it.

***

In part prompted by this Prompt.

the time has come

Now listen to me, I have thought this over. I have thought this over long and hard.

At first I was going to release a bottle into the sea. There would be a piece of paper inside the bottle, my wishes would be written on that piece of paper. It would contain everything, but cryptic enough so that no one, not even those closest to me would understand what I was trying to say. Yes, I can be that secretive. Surprise, surprise.

But then I had this great epiphany: releasing a bottle into the sea would be the same as littering. As polluting.

I thought of using glass bottle instead of plastic, but it still felt the same.

“Why don’t you just etch your wishes on a plank of wood?” he said.

That sounded like hard work. Too much work. So maybe not.

It’s difficult to be an environmentalist and drama queen. Decades ago, people released bottles filled with wishes into the sea, balloons filled with wishes into the air, without any sense of guilt. But today, oh no no. I don’t eat meat nor support the meat industry for environmental reasons. And yet I pollute the sea? Won’t someone think of the fishes!

Maybe I should end my life. For some people, life begins at thirty. For others, it’s the end. One less human to worry about. Just throw myself into the sea and let the fishes take care of me. Hey, that rhymes!

But this was what I thought: I thought, on my thirtieth birthday, I would stare at the open sea, ruminate on my life, my failures, my accomplishments, my love lost, found, lost again, heartbreaks, heartaches, those whom I’d hurt and nurtured, those who had become my friends and my foes, my allies and my enemies, the bridges I’d detonated as I watched from afar and sang and played my harp, and I would write my wishes down.

I would list my wishes down on a piece of recycled paper, or on the back of a used paper, or perhaps a shopping receipt, then I would throw it into a trash can. Why? Because wishes are trash.

Ancol Bay, photo by yours truly.

Ancol Bay, photo by yours truly.

Then I received another great epiphany. there I was, sitting on the side of the beach, the breeze from the sea kissing my face and the pale sun was hanging there, shining but not too harshly, and the tropical Jakarta air was not too moist and not too dry. There I was with my wishes and I thought how superficial they were. How shallow they were. How unworthy and pretentious.

Why? Because my life, as ruined, as destroyed, as damaged as it was at that point of time, felt absolutely perfect in the sense that I didn’t need anything else.

I realized it ought not be the end, and I have to believe in it. And I do believe I am right, because I have thought this over. I have thought this over long and hard.

* This post was supposed to be published on my birthday several days ago, but I placed it in my draft and posted a haiku instead. I felt something was missing. Then this prompt from the Daily Post came and I remembered I had the second epiphany. I put it in, and it all fell into place.

ah, islam

If this post is vague, it is largely because it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly is Islam in Indonesia. In several parts of this country, the teachings of Islam have been adapted (diluted?) with ancient animism and mysticism, and Hinduism.

My mother converted to Christianity from Islam and so I still have relatives who are moslems. My best friend from primary school is a moslem, my best friend from junior/senior high is a moslem (the first gay friend I had and we still see each other until now), I’ve moslem friends from college and I’m close to several of them, I’ve moslem colleagues and business partners, I’ve dated moslem men.

In my life, I’ve been taught tolerance, and it is not an exaggeration if I say I’ve challenged it time and again, both with and without my knowledge. I think being gay and Christian in a country with the biggest moslem population in the world (approximately 250 millions) has taught me that tolerance, even as I’m living a rather charmed and guarded life, is not an easy thing to have and exercise.

Maybe I’m helping perpetuate the myths of and prejudice towards Sharia, the religious law and formal code of Islam. However, apparently there are moslems who don’t understand what complete Sharia is (this includes chopping off hands for thieves and stoning to death). There are good aspects of Sharia, such as its laws on money and economics, and these are the ones that most people like (obviously). The other more extreme aspects such as death sentence, not so much.

Thing is, there are 282 of 491 provincial districts in Indonesia that are based on Sharia. I’ve no idea to which extent this law is upheld, but considering that headscarf (hijab) is imposed in the province that started it all: Aceh (yes, the same Aceh that was hit by tsunami in 2004) even on women who aren’t ready yet to wear it, I smell religious oppression. Which makes me glad I don’t live in Aceh.

I’m not a mathematician, but 282 out of 491 is uh, more than half, right?

My question is this: what about the minority groups?

I’m not a Christian anymore, but every time I read news about Christians having to hide, to struggle just to pray, while moslems close down roads for Friday prayers and therefore cause traffic deadlocks, my heart weeps with despair, disappointment, and rage. In 2009, Islam hardliners sealed Beth Shalom, the last synagogue in Java. The building, a designated heritage site, was demolished in May 2013. This is not surprising, since the world-famous Borobudur (an ancient Buddhist temple that was once the greatest seven wonders of the world and a UNESCO heritage site) suffered an attack by a moslem called Ibrahim aka Mohammad Jawad aka Kresna back in 1985. Nine stupa domes were destroyed.

However, again, it is hard to define the Indonesian Islam. Hardliners take their cues from Arab countries (and then some), without realizing the Arab countries are on their rise against Islamic forces. I’m not a Lady Gaga fan (oh God, I’m an embarrassment to the gay community!) but it was the ultimate facepalm moment when her concert was cancelled just because some Islam hardliners went gaga and staged a protest (was it even legal?) against Gaga.

Going Gaga Against Gaga

Sign says: Say No to Lady Gaga the Devil! Click here for more photos and article (Indonesian)

The more peaceful Islam adapted to mysticism and animism and the ancient religions is considered musyrik, a heresy, and needs to be abolished. These hardliners are the ones that set Indonesia back to the ancient times, mar the beauty of Islam (as some of my friends have testified), whilst being the ultimate hypocrites.

Tifatul Sembiring. Would someone please fuck this guy with a 15-inch dildo?

Case in point: the people of Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (Prosperous Justice Party), who successfully championed the blocking of porn sites (I miss my Rule34, you assholes!) although, you know, they can’t block them all (yay!). Tifatul Sembiring of this political party is the information minister responsible for this censorship, and he’s a frigging bigamist and alleged corruptor. It’s a well-known fact that Islam allows poligamy, but to an extent. This is not the case with Luthfy Hasan Ishaaq, whose youngest wife is eighteen years old.

Oh yes, the things I could tell you about Islam in Indonesia, or whatever and however this religion has been corrupted by people of power and by people searching for power, because apparently, religion is still power here in Indonesia.

Talk about power fuck in its truest, most literal form.

i watch you fly

The Flight

The first thing you said when I said I agreed with you that I’d rather see humans (including us) slaughtered, more than I’d rather see animals killed was, “Marry me now.” Our first date and you proposed. I said, “I do,” then we laughed. It was in a Chinese restaurant in Castro. We ordered tofu and vegetarian fried rice.

The first time I kissed you was at Church Street Station. I wish I’d remembered what you said that prompted me to lunge forward. I wish I had written it down somewhere. On a paper. On my palm. In my brain. In my heart. All I could remember was bending my knees and we kissed.

The first thing you said when I told you where I went to for my grad school was, “Sounds religious.” It was in an Indian restaurant in Castro. I said I wanted to jump on you. You said you wanted to fuck me right then and there. The place was empty except for us and a plate of samosas.

You’re bitter, you’re a Type-A, you don’t believe in organized religion, you’re shorter than I am, you have a long probing tongue, you hate Apple, and you talk dirty in bed. Perfection. I’ve always wanted to date a well-hung pilot with a soft spot for puppy and kitten videos.

“If only you were American,” you said. If only, I thought, as I sat sideways on your lap on your reclining chair at your house near Ocean Beach, your arms tight around me like a tourniquet. But I’m not, and one day I’ll have to fly back to my land, to my people. One day I’ll have to say goodbye and never see you again. One day all I’ll have are memories of you, of us, of the miles we walked, the foods we tasted, your hand that I held in mine, the time we both cried when we watched Pippin sang as Faramir rode out to defend Osgiliath, my head on your naked chest, and all the first-times with you.

I refuse to remember the last-times. I refuse to acknowledge their dormant existence.

“If only you were American.” If only, I thought. If only indeed.

***

This was written as an assignment for a class, before DOMA was ruled unconstitutional.

i dream of satan

This is getting frequent, too frequent, he thinks.

He can’t remember exactly what the dream was – he’d remembered it when he woke up right after the dream, but he was too tired and dozed off again.

All he can he remember is that in the dream, there was a figure sitting in front of him, veiled under opaque white fabric, and then that fabric was yanked off and he saw the figure, he saw the face, the skin wrinkled and droopy and sagging and almost red, but maybe that memory is tainted by the images of the devil he’s seen in movies and paintings.

All he can remember is the realization that there’s something familiar with the face: that face was also his, with the skin wrinkled and droopy and sagging. That face was also his.

Then there was a sense of dread when he woke up, but as he dozed off again, he half-wished he could dream the same dream again, or the continuation of the dream.

His other satanic dream was two weeks prior. It involved falling down a rabbit hole. Like Alice. Down, down the rabbit hole. He was clinging to a figure. The figure was wrapped in opaque white gauze. As they were falling down, he unwrapped the gauze in panic, he unwrapped it and unwrapped it and unwrapped it until the thing beneath the gauze was uncovered and he was clinging on to it, and he woke up screaming and crying. He woke up alone.

When one dreams, one dreams alone. And that dread, the dread that comes from dreams, it can never be shared.