An Abnormally Perfect Fall.

Aku masih saja dibuat takjub akan sekian pertemuan yang nyaris terlewatkan–tetapi tidak. Seperti malam itu; ketika aku merasa nyaris putus asa dan tak lagi berharap akan menemukan (si)apa-(si)apa–kemudian langkahku memotong langkahmu secara tak sengaja dan kita bersua, begitu saja, seperti sudah seharusnya.

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Kau merupa segala yang kuimpikan dan lebih. Terkadang membuatku takut, ketika hal-hal yang sudah lama kuangankan diam-diam kau jatuhkan tepat di atas pangkuanku, satu-satu: seperti jawaban atas doa-doa yang bahkan tak berani kuucapkan keras-keras. Jujur, terkadang aku meragu. Juga menunggu kapan semua ini akan berhenti pelan-pelan. Sudah lebih dari 100.000 kata kini, dan kita masih saja terhubung pada saat-saat yang bertepatan, seperti hari ketika aku berdiri di tepi pantai di Uluwatu dan mengirimkan sebongkah rindu pada ombak yang bergulung-gulung pergi; dan malam harinya, hujan turun di atasmu, 16.849 kilometer jauhnya dari sini. Kau katakan padaku saat itu bahwa kau bisa merasakan hatiku dalam setiap rintik yang menetesi kepalamu. Malam itu, kau sengaja membasahi dirimu meskipun biasanya kau lebih suka menikmati hujan dari dalam ruangan.

Lalu aku teringat malam ketika kita duduk di beranda untuk yang terakhir kali. Pada saatnya, aku luluh dalam tatapmu–dan tiba-tiba saja kata-kata menghilang dari kepalaku. Jadi kita terdiam berhadapan, lama. Rasanya tak seperti jeda yang harus diisi apa-apa. Kita tersenyum. Tertawa. Memandang ke arah yang sama.

Sepertinya kita bercakap dalam diam malam itu–tetapi entah bagaimana, kau membuat hatiku merasa bahwa untuk pertama kalinya, aku tak perlu ragu membiarkan diriku jatuh.

On Finding Old Family Treasure

I know I am an old soul, and probably that’s one of the reasons why I am always drawn into anything vintage. Not to mention the fact that I can’t find the joy (yet) of reading books on my gadgets. I know it’s not that environmentally friendly, but I still love the real deal (would be better if it’s a second-hand book or a gift from someone): appreciating the cover, touching the edges, flipping the pages, reading the messages or underlined quotes someone had written inside… and don’t you think the smell of old books should have been bottled to be sold in supermarkets and sprayed in bookstores and libraries?

Thus, finding several old books from my grandfather’s collection was a bliss! A beautiful French dictionary (love that pocket-size thing and it’s vintage blue stained-cover!), a small Thai dictionary & phrase book, plus a Teach Yourself Chinese book! I know my grandfather (from my father’s side) loved books and that he spoke a little bit of Chinese and Dutch, but at the time he was still alive, I was still a little kid–and I didn’t know that he had this extensive interests towards learning foreign languages.

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I glanced at my bookshelf where my phrase books were stacked neatly on top of each other. French. Greek. Arabic. Spanish. Hindi and Urdu. Russian. Wow. Now I know where my fascination for foreign languages originated from!

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I also found this holy treasure, Highroads of Literature (1927), and let out an excited shriek every time I looked at the beautiful paintings inside the pages–accompanying Tennyson’s The Lady of Shallot and Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

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Another amazing finding was this Robinson Crusoe’s book, because there’s a purple stamp from the bookstore where the book was bought… and it was a pure bliss to find the word Buitenzorg stamped on it! Buitenzorg was the name given to my hometown, Bogor, during the Dutch colonial era. It meant something close to “a worry-free town”, where the summer residence of the Dutch East Indies Governor-General was located. This city of rain, that was surrounded by mountains, became a ‘resort’ town where the Dutch escaped from the bustling (then, and still bustling until today) Batavia (the Dutch name for the country’s capital, Jakarta).

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From my grandmother’s side, I actually bumped into this amazing thing: Madame Wong’s Chinese Cookbook. And look at those hand-written chicken-feet recipes on a piece of paper tucked inside the pages!

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Not to mention that the book has these beautifully breathtaking hand-drawing illustrations to show you the final look of the meals and the cooking steps–instead of photographs that you usually find in modern cookbook!

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Have you ever found an old family ‘treasure’ lately?

Life-lessons that are hidden behind a series of heartbreaks.

Yes, they hurt. But no matter how much they hurt, I realize that my previous relationships–even when they didn’t work out the way I wanted them to be, have taught me some valuable life-lessons, and I won’t trade these with anything. There were times when I was young and didn’t know any better, but looking back at what I have experienced in life so far, I realized how much I have learned. And I am thankful for that. These are some life-lessons I learned from my previous relationships; things that are hidden behind a series of heartbreak, and I want to share it with you.

1. Do not jump into a relationship with a guy just because everyone else thinks he’s cool. Jump into a relationship with a guy because you think he’s cool–even if everyone else thinks he’s not.

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Do not choose to live your life based on other people’s expectations on you. And you won’t be happy comparing what you don’t have with what other people have. What makes them happy may not be something that will make you happy. Find your own thing. Your own calling. Your own way to live your life. I know it’s hard. I’ve been there, too. It’s hard to ignore people who tell you to live your life a certain way, especially if these people are those who are close to you–or your heart. But you owe yourself your life. This is your life. Make sure that you live a life without what-ifs.

2. Do not break up with a guy just because everyone else thinks he’s not cool. Break up with a guy because you think he’s not cool–even if everyone else thinks he is.

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Don’t let others determine what you should or should not like. Don’t let others tell you what’s edgy, what’s mainstream, and what’s quirky. Don’t let people put you into boxes and give you labels. Think for yourself. Stand to what you believe in. Some people will judge you for this. But that’s fine. You’re better off without listening to their judgement. And because we know how terrible it is to be judged, the least we can do is to not turn ourselves into the people we don’t want to be. Let’s stop judging other people, too. Like something because it feels nice to you. Love something because it warms you up inside. Do something because it’s fun and it makes you laugh–even when other people think it’s stupid.

3. It may not be as painful when people break up nicely. But you will still cry. And it will still hurt. And you’ll still have scars.

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And it’s okay to cry or to feel sad or to feel angry. Don’t ever think that you should be happy all the time. People will say, “Cheer up!” or “Come on, forget about it!” but if you know that you need time to embrace that sadness, by all means, take your time. Tell your friends that you don’t want to go partying or getting drunk. You just want them to sit with you and hold your hands and give you a silent hug. Sometimes our friends don’t know how to handle us when we’re hurting. They just don’t want to see us going through that pain because it hurts for them, too. So tell them this. And cry if you need to or if you feel like it. Because those tears: they heal.

Feel that pain, that sadness, that anger–but don’t indulge yourself in it. Your body knows when it’s ‘gone’: you no longer feel that cold sensation in the palm of your hands, that burning feeling behind your eyelids, that aching emptiness from somewhere between your chest and your stomach that you can’t really pinpoint or describe with words (but you do feel it, don’t you?). You need time to let these feelings out. You need time to heal. When you try to repress it, and force yourself to go out partying, getting drunk and faking a laughter, what needs to come out does not come out–but they are still there. They don’t get the chance to heal.

So embrace that feeling. Try letting it in instead of letting it go. And then shine again, beautiful! Wear that scar with pride, because it shows how courageous you’ve been to love someone or something so deeply. And you don’t live until you have scars.

4. If it doesn’t feel right somehow, maybe it’s because something is wrong.

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Listen to your gut feeling. To your heart. To that little voice inside of you. To that urge to do something that seems like comes out of nowhere. Listen to that tinge of doubts at the back of your mind when you’re about to do something you are not really keen to. Don’t shut these voices down, because the more often you shut them down, the fainter they become, and when you need to hear this voice again one day, you will find it difficult to hear anything. So listen to that voice attentively. Let them talk to you. They will talk to your more often if you listen to them more often.

5. When you walk into a relationship, make sure that the guy is someone you love to be with, and someone you are crazily in love with.
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I heard this a lot: that you can’t have it all. You can’t be successful in your career and be healthy and have a passionate marriage and raise two kids and be a wonderful parent and be a millionaire and do good things for the world… you need to choose. You can’t have it all! I refuse to believe that. I believe that I can have it all. I won’t let other people’s limiting beliefs distract me from what I believe in.

When it comes to relationship, for instance, why do you have to choose on whether you want to marry your ‘best friend’ or marry the guy that makes you burn with passion and desire? Why can’t we have both of them in one guy? I know there are happy couples out there who found both qualities in each other. And I want to have both qualities in one guy, too. I want to believe that this guy exists in the world, no matter how naive it sounds or how other people will mock me for this and tell me to be realistic. I don’t want to settle for less just because I want to have someone by my side. That won’t be fair for me and that won’t be fair for him. We won’t have space rockets if we only aim for the sky. There’s a vast universe out there. Why can’t we aim for it? And space rockets–they used to be a dream. Now look at how real they are!

6. Don’t waste your time waiting for someone who doesn’t even know that you’re waiting for him. On a second thought, don’t waste your time waiting. Full stop.

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Funny that we don’t know how much time we have in this life, but we keep on delaying things. We wait for something to happen, for someone to come, for a certain situation to play a certain way. Don’t wait. Just act. If it works out, good. If it doesn’t work out, the faster you know, the faster you’ll move on. Don’t spend your life ‘just’ waiting. Don’t ask yourself, “What are you doing?” and answer that with, “I’m waiting for something.”.

There are so many things that you can do while waiting. Reading a book. Singing. Talking to strangers. Dancing barefooted. Playing guitar. Learning a foreign language. Traveling. Making funny noises. Doing volunteer works. Creating arts. Swimming. Falling in love. Make the most of your waiting time. Go out and see the world, meet people, experience things. Life is short but it’s full of surprises. You’ll never know what will happen. You may meet someone new or bump into something exciting that will make you forget that you’re waiting for something. And when the time comes, you’ll know that maybe what you’ve been waiting for is not something that you really want anyway.

7. Don’t stay in a relationship just because you love the guy. Be in a relationship because you love the guy, and because you like the guy. It’s possible to love someone you don’t like–that’s why a lot of people are trapped in abusive relationships.

beradadisiniSet your boundaries. Respect yourself. You are beautiful. Don’t let people abuse you–physically or emotionally. Both are unacceptable. When someone calls you a “fat-whale” when you gain weight or “you are such a bitch” when you’re involved in a heated argument, know that you don’t deserve that and you won’t let people treat you that way. When it’s possible, walk out from a relationship, a job, a circle of friends, or any environment that drags you down and sucks the energy out of you. Sometimes other people can’t save you no matter how hard they try. Sometimes, you need to save yourself and stand your ground. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Reach out.

And then remember to be kind. Be generous. Don’t say the things you do not mean. Don’t do the things you know you may regret later in life. Don’t inflict pain on others because you know how much it hurts. Lastly, don’t forget to give the best of yourself in any situation, and know that you deserve the best as well. You’re gorgeous, inside and out. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Love,
H.

Painting pictures with words.

Last month, my publisher held a talk show and photo exhibition for another omnibus, JIKA (my story is on the 69th page!). In this omnibus, 13 female writers & photographers worked on a short story with the premise “what-if”, combining their words with a series of photographs they had taken to paint the story. During the talk show, a girl asked me about how to work (write) with pictures. You can find my answer below.

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I love working (read: writing) with pictures. They provide me the opportunity to look deeper into details, textures, and colors. These are some of the approach I use to paint pictures with words:

1. Descriptive Details.

Look at the pictures/photographs/objects and record as many details as possible—throwing everything into your writing journal. Red door. Rustic red door. Blue walls. Aqua blue. Sky blue. Bright blue. Chipped paints. Exposed bricks. Wooden window. Red window frame. Wild plants. Locks on the door. These will become the word-pool from which you can develop your sentences to describe the photograph later on.

2. Magnifying Memories.

Our memories are such a wonderful source for stories! Look at the pictures/ photographs/objects and try to remember something from your past that reminds you of this particular scene. I looked at the chipped blue paints of the wall and remembered one time when you scolded me in front of my friends because of my chipped nail polish. Came to think about it now, I should have known by then that you were such a jerk.

3. Familiar Feelings.

Look at the pictures/ photographs/objects closely, then try to recognize the feeling that is rising up inside of you. Desperation? Loneliness? Pity? The feeling of missing someone? Fear? It seemed like a long time ago since anybody walked in through that red rustic door, and a tinge of sadness ran through me—because I knew how people could get lonely at times. I meant, really lonely.

4. Intensifying Imagination.

Think about the things you can create; things that are non-existent in the pictures/ photographs/objects, and play with your imagination. You can do this by asking random questions. Are you going to tell a story about the guy who painted that door red? What kind of people live behind that kind of door? Is this a picture from that part of the town where a little girl got murdered last week? Why do they paint the walls blue?

5. Raining Romance.

If you’re writing a lot about love, romance, or relationships (like me), this will help. Look at the pictures/ photographs/objects, and think of a scene that is taking place/had taken place right there and then–for one or more of your characters. How do they end up at that particular scene in the photograph, and how does this particular place/object affect their relationship? Are the things/objects in the photographs represent something the character tries to repress?

Have fun with pictures, and have fun with words! Keep writing! :)

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photo credit: Ava Babili via photopincc

It’s Right.

I was running late for work. So I didn’t change my shirt. The evening’s drinks left a lingering taste in my mouth.*

You know it’s right because it’s light. You know it’s right because your heart is clear. You know it’s right because your mind is free from fear. You know it’s right because you stop worrying. You know it’s right because you can just take it all in or let it all out–and both feels equally satisfying. You know it’s right because you don’t really think about what can possibly go wrong: chances are, things can actually go right.

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And when I left. You were fast asleep. Tangled in the sheets. And on the bus I could have sworn it was all a dream. And it didn’t happen to me.*

You know it’s right because it’s bright. You know it’s right because it feels so damn good. You know it’s right because you’re happy. You know it’s right because you feel pretty. You know it’s right because when you’re standing in front of a mirror, you really like what you see. You know it’s right because wherever you go, whatever you do, and whomever you’re with, you keep on seeing the best in you and the best in them.

And then I felt the scrapes. From the slippery subway grate. Oh, how you laughed. At my complete lack of grace.*

You know it’s right because you can simply be–without the need to even try. You know it’s right because you always mean what you say. You know it’s right because you do not say the things you do not mean. You know it’s right because when you mean it, you feel it. You know it’s right because you are who you are. You know it’s right because you never need to question ‘what-did-I-do-wrong’. You know it’s right because the other person does not give you a reason to ever doubt yourself. You know it’s right because you live in the now.

But I could not recall. A more perfect fall. Cause when I looked up into your eyes. It didn’t hurt at all.*

You know it’s right because it doesn’t feel like a fight. You know it’s right because you don’t have to worry about winning or losing. You know it’s right because the two of you are equally bad at playing games. You know it’s right because you say and hear thank you. You know it’s right because you say and hear sorry. You know it’s right because each word carries the same weight, meaning, and importance for the both of you. You know it’s right because when the other person looks into your eyes, you let your feeling shows.

And I thought, be still my heart. This could be a brand new start, with you. And it will be clear. If I wake up and you’re still here with me in the morning.*

You know it’s right because the other person appreciates the great little things you do–when all the while, you only think of them as ‘little things’. You know it’s right because though the circumstances may not be ideal, that doesn’t bother you the least. You know it’s right because you can talk to the other person for hours and be silent with the other person for hours–and none feels even close to awkward. You know it’s right because it feels effortlessly nice. You know it’s right because it feels like gratitude.

——–
*the lyrics from The Postal Service’s Be Still My Heart–a wonderful song :)

{Our first rain of the season is here, he said. And it smells beautiful. And if you were here, I want to give you a kiss. Upside-down. Spiderman-style. She chuckled to that and the world continued to shower her with glittering pixy dust.}

I’m Carrying ‘The Beach’ Inside My Pocket.

Have you ever fantasized about your ‘paradise’? Like where it would be, what the surroundings would look like, what kind of people would be there with you, what kind of activities they would do on a daily basis, what kind of a ‘perfect life’ you would experience there? I came across a paradise last month. It was very close to the paradise I had always imagined: a stretch of beautiful beaches, an island where the sun shines all-year long, a place that is both culturally and spiritually rich, a bunch of wonderful people who radiates positive energy and beams with smile and enthusiasm.

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Experiencing ‘paradise’ is fantastic. I could say that it was the most magical thing I have ever experienced in 30 years. But do I want to live there?

That paradise came to me by end of August through an event called Awesomeness Fest. I wouldn’t explain further about the event here, because you could actually go to their site and check it out if you’re interested to know more. To make the long story short: the experience was life-changing.

Imagine this: you are stranded in a beautiful place, surrounded by beautiful people–inside and out. People who are constantly trying to make the world a better place to live. Everyday, you eat delicious healthy meals, work out through a series of wonderful activities (involving mind, body, and soul), hang out by the beach from midnight until dawn, pour your hearts out to the people sitting next to you, write some love-notes to appreciate other people’s kindness. Everyone is genuine, friendly, warm, and open-minded. You dance. You sing. You laugh. You cry.

Awesomeness Fest Awesomeness Fest Awesomeness Fest It’s like a dreamland where you’ll feel so loved and liberated because you can simply be yourself. Because no one will judge you. The positive energy flows so strongly–that even in your down times, you can’t help but feeling much better in an instant because an overflow of wonderful people is always around to hug and comfort you, hold your hands, crack some jokes to make you smile, or simply sit there in silence with you.

Awesomeness Fest Awesomeness Fest Do you know the movie The Beach–from Alex Garland’s novel with the same title? If you’re not familiar with the novel or haven’t watched the movie, you can read the summary (spoiler alert) by clicking here, but in one and other way, Awesomeness Fest feels like The Beach to me. Well, not to that certain extreme, but it felt like I had found my beach. My paradise.

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However, just like all the characters in The Beach, we all needed to go back home–wherever that is. It was hard to do so after experiencing such a blissful moment. I had to confess that a part of me wanted to ‘stay’ there forever, but one of the things I learned in paradise made me decided to leave that place with happiness and gratitude.

I have had my fair share there. As tempting as it would be, for me, once is more than enough. I have been lucky to experience something so profound, and now it’s time to share the paradise with others, and it’s time for me to extend that bliss and touch more lives. It doesn’t matter where I am today, because I have carried the paradise inside of me. It is no longer a place. It has manifested into a feeling. I am carrying The Beach around, now, inside my pocket. And I want to share it with you.

Because reality is wonderful, too. And I do want to live there.

And me, I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it’s not some place you can look for, because it’s not where you go. It’s how you feel for a moment in your life when you’re a part of something, and when you find that moment… it lasts forever.

- Richard, in The Beach

*)written with love and gratitude to my fellow AFesters. you are all wonderful souls. I am honored to have crossed path with all of you. I see you. I am here.

 

What if you already know all there is you need to know?

I guessed it was around 9.30 pm. I had just refilled my glass with another dose of gin and tonic, then stood there near the pop-up bar for a while, examining the room while adjusting the green snake around my neck. In front of me, Gods and Goddesses–as well as Devils of all kinds–were dancing happily and conversing loudly, as if that evening Heaven and Hell opened up their gates for each other. That was when I noticed a guy standing alone, fifteen steps away, with a wooden fan. He didn’t seem like a God or a Devil. So I walked into his direction to find out. Turned out, he was a God slash Devil in disguise.

I wasn’t high. I didn’t imagine this thing.

This was exactly how I met Len Branson, in a costume party in Nusa Dua, Bali, during an event called Awesomeness Fest (I know, the name of the event may sounds a little bit odd and peculiar to you, but bear with me for a while on this one, and I’ll write more about Awesomeness Fest in a few days!). That evening, I simply walked up to Len and smiled. “Hey, we haven’t met!” I shouted to beat the thumping music at the background, and introduced myself. This was something I wouldn’t do two years ago. Walk up to a stranger and introduced myself would give me the creeps. I could have done it, but I would have chosen not to. I realized how much I’ve changed since then.

During my conversations with Len, I found out that he had produced a spiritual-experiment documentary called Superwise ME!, where 9 ‘gurus’ from various backgrounds and 9 ‘witnesses’ spent 9 days in a monastery in Andalusia, Spain, in an attempt to answer 9 important questions in life. “Watch it and let me know what you think,” said Len. “I really want to hear your opinion about it.”

Superwise MeI watched the documentary this morning, on my dining table, with a cup of white tea. My eyes welled up with tears at various scenes. It was such a profound way to begin my Sunday. The documentary Superwise ME! posted some questions I should have asked myself more often; questions I wish to discuss more openly with my closest friends when we spend our time together, lazying in a coffee shop:

  1. Who am I and what is God?
  2. How do I deal with illness and mortality?
  3. How do I get rid of my fear and handle the negativity in me and around me?
  4. How do I know what I really want?
  5. How do I become happy and stay in balance?
  6. How do I love myself and others?
  7. How do I forgive myself and others?
  8. How do I let go and release?
  9. How do I get in touch with my inner wisdom?

What if we already know all the answers to these questions, because we are all superwise? :) I can’t remember the last time I asked you to do something for me, but this time, I am asking you to please, take your time to watch this documentary and spread it around to those you think would benefit from watching it*. I believe it will evoke something that has lain dormant inside of you for quite some time. Let’s go back to the times when we were young, when we were still questioning things while enjoying life’s simple pleasures.

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*)I know for some of you (especially if you’re in Indonesia), watching this movie in YouTube sounds like a nightmare, considering the Internet connection and all. If you’re in Jakarta and are interested to watch this movie together with a bunch of friends, probably we can arrange a movie night :)

And don’t forget to also check out Superwise Telesummit if you’re craving for more (sign up from that link), where you can listen in to a bunch of great speakers online, for free! Each speaker in this event has traveled the road to self-discovery, been where you are, and have lovingly agreed to join together in creating ripples of awareness, giving you a look, into the world of possibility. This free virtual event is featuring one speaker each day, who will share their own personal experience, tips, tools and techniques that you can begin applying immediately, as you step into your own personal power and discover what has been within you all along.

Be Gentle With Yourself.

Imagine a friend of ours coming over. When we saw her, we realized that she has gained some weight. Do we tell her: “You’re so fat. You’re so ugly. You’re lazy. You don’t work out. That’s why you’re fat. You’re fat and there’s nothing you can do. You’re hopeless!” 

Another time, maybe our nephew is having problems with his math homework. Do we tell him: “You’re so stupid! You are never good in math or in anything else! You’re just stupid and no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to grasp it!” 

Or our friend, who is struggling with his music career. Do we tell him: “Just give up. You’re not talented. You’re wasting your time.” Or a colleague, who is struggling with her relationship. Do we tell her: “You’re pathetic. You’re always unlucky in love. There’s no way for him to love you. Of course he doesn’t love you. You don’t deserve love. Nobody loves you. You’re worthless.”

Do we tell them these things? I guess most of us would say, “Of course not!”

So, why don’t we say those things to them? “Because those words are just mean,” we may say. “Because it feels heartless to do so. Because we’re afraid that these harsh words will hurt their feelings and make them feel worse. Because we know words are that powerful.”

The thing is, if we don’t say these things to our friends or our colleagues or a little kid, why do we say these things to ourselves? Some of us even repeat these words to ourselves way more often than others. Why do we say I can’t do this or I am not good in this or I am fat or I am ugly or I suck at this or I’m such a failure?

If harsh words that we say to others can hurt their feelings, what about those harsh words we say to ourselves? When we say harsh words to others, there’s still a distance. A distance between us (who said those words) and the others (who received those words). Even with this distance, we know our words can hurt their feelings deeply. Imagine the time when we say those harsh words to ourselves. There’s no distance whatsoever. Imagine how much more it hurts. Imagine how severe the impact could be.

So be gentle with yourself. We know how nice it is to hear others saying good things about us; or giving us compliments, support, and encouragement. Let’s do this to ourselves more often from now on.

*) inspired by a conversation I had with my friend Eva a long time ago. photo credit: D. Sharon Pruitt from Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc

Missed Connections.

Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Woman on Subte D, 11.30 am on Friday 7/12, got off on Facultad Medicina
Location: Capital

We shared a couple of stops together this afternoon on the subte. The subway was crowded and you were crammed next to the door and I was standing (awkwardly) in front of you. You have blondish/brownish hair and had a blue knapsack on. I have short brown hair and was holding a green umbrella, not that you should have noticed. Anyway, I had about four stops to say something–anything–but didn’t. If by some random act of God Almighty you find this, hello. I would love to hear from you.

***

Some people asked me where do I get the ideas for my stories or writings. Usually I replied with, “Everywhere.” And it’s entirely true. Everything I have experienced in life and everyone I have crossed path with will become a story, a poem, a novel, or a blogpost. However, lately, I was drawn into Craigslist‘s Personals section to find story ideas.

The reason on why I ended up on Craigslist is a different story altogether and it will appear somewhere in my next book (wink), but all in all, I am amazed with the sparks of inspiration I could get from the site! These past few days, I got high just by reading Craigslist’s Missed Connections ads from different parts of the world. This section inside Personals carries ads from people who had the chance to connect with someone, but did not act on it; or did not act on it bold enough. Reading the ads reminded me of a Saturday when I spent 10 hours in Casa with Ollie, writing 50 poems each, around the similar theme: missed.

Craigslist’s Missed Connections has been my guilty pleasure, successfully keeping me up several nights in a row, curling in my bed with a cup of hot chocolate, clicking random cities, reading random ads and being mellow. I have selected some of the most interesting ones in this post. Hopefully they could spark some inspirations in you–not only to write a story, a poem, or whatever, but also to seize the moment, and to take that one chance in life: to live a life without what-ifs.

***

Singapore.
Malay Lady with Pink Lipstick Color on MRT towards Marina Bay
Location: MRT Bukit Batok – Yew Tee

Today afternoon around 4 pm, you were wearing a hijab and pink lipstick color and I was wearing blue. You boarded the MRT at Bukit Batok with your friend and I was sitting beside you. I fell asleep for a while but during the ride we looked at each other several times and I looked away because it was awkward. We both looked at each other when I finally alighted at Yew Tee. So if you happen to see this and want to make friends, just get back to me from here. Yeah?

Indian Lady on Bus 851 This Morning
Location: Bus 851

Our eyes met as I boarded Bus 851 this morning. I think we had a connection when we were glancing at each other repeatedly as you were waiting to alight at the bus stop at Little India station. I wish I had alighted with you just so I could introduce myself. Hope to see you again, or hear from you via email.

Barcelona, Spain.
Nice Conversation on L3 Line on Friday Night
Location: Diagonal station – L3 Line

It happened on 26th of July, Friday evening around 10 pm. When I was at Diagonal metro station, I asked you if the L3 train stop at Liceu. You were very kind and helped me with a nice smile. We had a nice conversation on the train and you got off at Catalunya. While you speak very good English, you told me that you speak Italian and French better. I wanted to ask you for a drink but couldn’t, since you were off to meet a friend. I regret that, because that was my last day in Barcelona. You seem like a very cool person and I want to talk more. I never tried this, but I’m just hoping you will read this. I’m that Asian guy traveling from New York.

Beautiful American Girl I Should Have Spoken To
Location: The metro

You were one of three American (or maybe Canadian) girls I stepped onto the metro with at Ciutadella – Vila Olimpica. We all got off at Passeig de Gracia. The entire ride I could not stop looking at you, and I noticed that your eyes, similarly, kept finding me. I was hoping we would both end up on the next train together, but you and your friends left the station and I was left on the other side of the crowd walking towards L3. I doubt you will ever read this, but, if so, I just wanted to tell you here (because I was too slow to tell you there) that you are genuinely the most beautiful human being I’ve ever laid eyes upon, and that, if it would be at all possible, I would not hesitate to fly to whatever American city you live in just to buy you dinner one night.

Santorini, Greece.
California Girls on the Bus to Oia
Location: Santorini

We talked briefly on the way to Oia yesterday. I’m the German guy with the T.C. Boyle book. Get in touch in case you read this, would be nice.

Rome, Italy.
We met on Omegle.
Location: Rome

Tell me what game we played: we had gone through three songs, the first one I showed you was blurred lines. You were 23, I was 19. Theory, dude, I hope you find me.

Paris, France.
Antoine Virolleau
Location: Joinville-le-Pont

I asked you for help at a metro station in Paris on July 13th. We both got off the train at Joinville-le-Pont and chatted a bit. You said I was the first person from Texas you had ever met. We said we would try to go together to the Eiffel Tower to see the Bastille Day fireworks the following day. I wasn’t able to get in touch with you because I could not find you on Facebook!

Asked You About Iced Tea
Location: St-Ouen Flea Market

You were working at a cafe at the back section part of the flea market. You gave me the recipe for the delicious homemade iced tea. You were so nice and had such a sweet smile. I saw you while you went on break and we both smiled and waved. I’d love to stay in contact. Long shot. Worth the try?

You Were 60 Something and You Were So Pretty!
Location: Paris

I was in the rain on my way back to Paris when I saw you get into the wagon, I think at Veneux-les-Sablons. You were 60-ish, so gorgeous, a perfect figure that could put the 20 something to shame. Your face was simply a sublime image of a Greek statue. The jeans you wore fit you just so perfectly. You kept looking out the window and I kept looking at you. I have your face imprinted in my mind. Your eyes, your lips, your body, your style… will I ever be able to see you? Meet you? Who knows… I am trying and will surely meet you. You had something in you, something so magnetic that kept pulling me towards you. Well, a lot of women could do that, but you were so special. Really, I would like to cycle with you somewhere around Fontainableu or around Paris. Sit with you, look at you, maybe share a cigarette and some conversation. Contact me, please!

Melbourne, Australia.
I Couldn’t Believe It. There You Were.
Location: Airport

K,

There I was sitting in the wrong gate at the wrong terminal at 7 am chowing down on McDonalds, when you walked past wearing your school sweater. It took me 30 seconds of being frozen to jump up and try to catch you up, but you had disappeared into the crowd. Long way from London… but it’s a small world. I hope your adventure is everything you hoped it would be!

G.

Blackburn Train 3.45 pm Today
Location: Spencer Street

You are around 50. You got on at Spencer Street, two handbags and you were wearing a brown coat which you seductively unbuttoned. Short brown hair. The sexiest legs I’ve ever seen. You were reading some stuff on employment contracts, which you were organizing in a folder. I was the young guy sitting opposite. Love to meet you.

SriLankan Stripper
Location: The Men’s Gallery, Melbourne

I met you at The Men’s Gallery. Every girl that approached me, I told them I wasn’t interested. Then, I saw you. I sat down in front of you straight away. I got a lap dance and we started talking about meditation and spiritual things. I fell in love. You told me you lived in Melbourne, close to me. I said, “I don’t usually do this, but would you like to grab a coffee?” You told me you had a boyfriend. I wore a clam shell around my neck. I am tall and wear glasses. For some reason, I think I met you for a reason. I am not sure why. I still would love to have a coffee with you.

Cairo, Egypt
June 24 Flight
Location: Cairo

We started chatting on the flight to Cairo, but I guess you couldn’t continue as you had your family with you. I couldn’t help being attracted to you, though. So please contact me if you ever read this.

Johannesburg, South Africa.
Der Salem KLM Flight
Location: Johannesburg

To the nice man who let me read his newspaper and carried my luggage into the terminal: you are a real gentleman. Thank you so very much even if it is somewhat after the fact.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
US Airways Flight 800 on Friday, July 12
Location: Rio de Janeiro

We met on our flight from Charlotte, NC, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil–on US Airways Flight 800 on Friday, July 12, 2013. I was traveling for work, you were going back to Brazil for a month vacation. We both live in NYC. I gave you my number but I never got yours. I really want to get in touch with you. Please write back or call/message me.

Beijing, China.
Your Name is Shane
Location: SFO Airport

Hey.

We talked at the airport on July 7th, when Asiana crushed at SFO airport and our plan got cancelled and delayed. I wore a Cal shirt and you thought I was from Berkeley. You worked in an IT company at San Jose. I don’t know if you can see this… but I had really good time talking to you. But I guess you didn’t feel the same way, otherwise you would’ve asked my number. You were going to Beijing as I was, and I guess you would have been back to the States now.

Istanbul, Turkey.
Flight From Hong Kong to Istanbul
Location: Istanbul

We spoke briefly, and I was hoping to see you at baggage claim but never did. I know there is no chance of you reading this, but I thought what the hell. I’m here for a few days and would love to hang out. Anyway, if you read this, tell me the color of the jacket you were wearing, and let’s chat!

Montreal, Canada.
You Passed Me on Bannentyne Street in Verdun
Location: Verdun

Tonight at 9:50 pm, you passed me. Then you turned into Ave Desmachais. You were a white mature man. You were so sexy! I was walking behind you :)

Cute Guy at McDonalds, Late Breakfast
Location: Masson and Iberville

Cute guy, this morning at McDonalds you came back to the counter for a missing McMuffin. You winked at me when I smiled at you. By the time I got my food and sat near you, you were done and getting up. You were wearing black shorts and a black top. Wish I could have figured out how to say hi :) Maybe a coffee or drink later?

The Shortest Train Ride
Location: Train from Vendome

The moment you spoke to me, I melted. Your soft English accent. You asked me if I knew how the ticket machine worked. Unfortunately, I was there with my mother and felt awkward, but lent you $6 for the ticket since you only had American money. We rode the train and you sat next to me. We talked about a lot of things. I learned that you were originally from London, now living in New York, working for a magazine. You were on your way to visit your grandfather at a hospital in St. Anne de Bellevue on Saturday and then you were off to a wedding on Sunday. I was in awe of your beauty and would steal glances whenever I could so as not to be a complete creep and stare at you. I wanted to talk to you more but was to shy to ask for your number. I regret that. I keep wishing that train ride was just a little longer, Mia :(

San Fransisco, US.
Bag Didn’t Blow Up
Location: Gate 80

It was just a bag of dirty socks and laundry apparently. I thought you were super cute and I wish(ed) you luck on your law career before you walked off to Gate 89 to Dulles. I regretted not being able to talk to you longer, it seemed we had a natural flow there for a moment. If you want any contacts in the bay, feel free to email me back here, and we can meet up in the future. Thanks, Stephanie.

Griffin.

I Got A Parking Ticket
Location: Oakland Lake Merritt/Grand

I was standing outside my car, frustrated at my parking ticket which happened to be WRONG. I noticed a few people standing outside their cars as well, looked over at you and we made EYE CONTACT. I don’t think I held in my excited smirk to well.

You shouted over the noisy traffic. “Did you get a ticket?”
Me, “What?”
“Did you get a ticket?”
Me, “Yeah!”
You told me you once got one that you didn’t deserve either.

I went back to my business of taking pictures of the ‘scene’ and you walked north down 19th St. with what looked like a bag of laundry and said, “Well, have a good day!”

You were parked with a small red SUV, you have curly hair, khaki pants, dirtied white shoes, a backpack, and I mentioned bag of laundry.

Rooftop Metropolitan Mus. of Art on 8-3-13, Around 7-8 PM
Location: Upper East Side, 5th Avenue at E82nd St.

I was sitting on a wooden bench on the right, alone, rimless spectacles, blue shirt. You have been standing 3-4 meters away, together with your mother (?), blond hair, wearing a white-gray/black-stripped top and gray Adidas sneakers. We had eye contact for 2-3 times, lasting multiple seconds. We smiled at each other, and I loved your smile! You two went away. Later, we met again near the bar when I was strolling around. Wanted to say hello to you, but then you were gone and I could not find you again. This was between 7-8 pm on 8-3-13 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, rooftop). Still thinking of you. Please get in touch with me. Hope you will read this.

New York, US.
I Rejected You, You Rejected Me Back
Location: New York

We met last week. I had too much to drink, which is unlike me. I enjoyed kissing you and from the bit of talking we did, we seemed to have some things in common and I liked your personality. I left abruptly–I was a bit embarrassed and thought it best to go home. I didn’t mean to tease you or reject you, I just had too much to drink. After a few days, I found you online and sent a friend request. I was hoping to see you again, kiss you again, and let you meet the real me. I should have said this in a message then, but I felt awkward. If you rejected my request because you’re not interested, I understand. But if hearing any of this changes your mind, send me a friend request. That night we met, I stupidly said, “If we’re meant to meet again, we’ll meet again.” I’d like to meet you again, if you’d like to.

Clark Street 2/3 Violinist 6 pm Yesterday
Location: Brooklyn Heights

You were playing the most beautiful reel as I passed you on my way to catch the 2/3. We made eye contact, I grinned like a teenager, and went on my way, and kept listening to you play as I walked down the stairs. I’m a musician, too. The playing was so beautiful that I made my way back up the stairs and put a dollar into your violin case. I wanted to leave my phone number, too, but there was something sacrosanct about the beauty of what you were playing that I didn’t want to ruin it.

So I just left the dollar, which was definitely not enough. I’m a poor musician, though. You MUST have a girlfriend or wife, as handsome as you are. But even if you are married, well… real recognizes real. You’re a beautiful musician. And if this somehow finds you and you happen to be single, which is not likely, my name is Abby. And I was wearing a strapless long leopard print dress. I’m an opera singer who now has a massive crush on a violinist whose name I will probably never know.

Dublin, Ireland.
Missed Connection on Flight from Dublin to JFK
Location: Dublin

This is completely out of the ordinary for me, but I thought ‘why not’. This is a long shot, but just in case, I am throwing this out there, otherwise I would wonder ‘what if’. I was on Delta Flight 198 with you from Dublin to JFK on July 18th. I thought you were very attractive and tried to begin a conversation with you about the book you were reading, “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell”. As you were leaving you asked me if I was in Dublin often, and I replied ‘no’. The truth is I can go to Dublin whenever I wish. If you are interested and happen to come across this posting, please reply and include what I was wearing and how many little milks you had in your tea ;) This way I know it is really you replying. I hope this finds you.

***

Distance is not so much
like walking a thousand miles
or being separated
by concrete blocks.
Distance is like
when we caught each other’s eyes
on a crowded train
and looked another way,
pretending to be interested
in electric poles.

(one of the poems I wrote with Ollie in Casa)