Random Sketch from Japan #1

4 years of undergrad, 4+ years of full-time work (and being in front of classes and interpreting in panel discussions in front of hundreds of people), this is still happening.

…yes, I went all the way to Japan to become like this…

Random Story #9

“I just want to shut down.”

There was a long silence in the room until the professor finally spoke, “I thought you’d be happy now that you’ve seen the outside world for yourself, Nina.”

Nina, to whom the professor was talking, avoided the professor’s gaze deliberately.

“It’s… It’s different from what I thought it would be,” Nina finally answered.

“How different?”

Nina was again silent, and she took a deep sigh before she finally continued,

“Well, humans… People weren’t like what I thought they would be. They’re… they’re just so… confusing.”

The professor did not say anything and retained his gaze on Nina.

“Well…,” Nina continued, noticing the professor was waiting for her to continue her sentences. “There were so many different types of people. Some were nice at first, and some were not. And I thought… Well, it wouldn’t be a problem, because then I’d just hangout with the nice ones. They were be very helpful at times too; whenever I was confused with something, they would help me. I mean, I read a lot of books–you programmed me that way, and I can’t help but to love reading books. And because of you, everything that I have read all these time is stored in my memory and they never left. I never forget a thing nor I miss a thing. So I know how to behave like humans. But there were also times when something confused me–simple things that even books sometimes forgot to describe, so I asked some people about it, and they kindly helped me.

“I made friends, too, Professor. Some were becoming closer while others took their distance, and we simply became acquaintances. But I enjoyed the whole experience up to that point.”

“So what went wrong, Nina?” The Professor asked.

Nina sighed again.

“Well…, it’s just that… Up to a certain point in their life, there would be a time of conflict and disagreement, and when that time happens… They just changed completely and turned against each other; only very shortly after previously showing their love and care for one another. Even the nice ones, too. And it got me really confused… How can they be so affectionate at one second, and so full of hatred the next second? If they genuinely love their friends, why would they speak so many bad things about them behind their backs instead of confronting them directly? Or if they hate their friends instead, why would they pretend to be so nice when they meet each other? Was there even an ounce of sincerity when they smile or was there real resentment when they speak ill of others? I just don’t understand them.”

The professor smiled.

“And the more I tried to understand it…, the more I don’t understand it. And now I’m not even sure I want to understand. The more I tried to understand, the more despicable they seemed to me, and the more I want to stay away from them. Why do they do that? Why can’t they just be honest and show their feelings to those they call friends? Or if they hate them instead, why still call them friends?

“And… when I finally got away from them, shut myself from them, doing just like what you did here, exiling myself, I… I found myself feeling depressed.”

The Professor, previously bowing his head while listening to Nina, now lifted up his head. His eyes showed grief and sadness.

“Why are you depressed, Nina? Those are the creatures, the very beings you’re very excited to meet with, aren’t they?” asked the Professor. He approached Nina slowly. “Don’t say you’re depressed, Nina. Please don’t say that,” he added.

“I don’t want to feel depressed anymore, Professor. Just shut me down.”

“Don’t take the easy way, Nina. Don’t you always aspire to be like one of those people that you love?” the Professor asked.

“Yes…, but that was before I met them and actually lived with them for some time,” answered Nina. She looked at the Professor and continued,

“Tell me the truth, Professor. Was that the reason why you live here all by yourself, with only your inventions–your robots to accompany you? Was that why you exile yourself so far away from other people?”

The Professor seemed to be at lost for words. He avoided Nina’s gaze this time.

“Tell me honestly, Professor,” Nina insisted.

The Professor still didn’t look at Nina.

“Professor. I’m right, am I?” asked Nina.

“Yes, Nina. You’re right,” the Professor finally answered. “I got scared. …and depressed, just like you right now. I felt so frustrated and also felt so much hatred seeing how people can be so full of love for others and the next second… they just seem to declare war against one another. I didn’t like that. Plus, there were other people–people who I disliked–who wanted me to invent something I didn’t want to invent to aid their war and dispute. I didn’t want to do it, but they were very persistent, so I ran away. I built this place as a place for my exile, to shelter myself from the outside world. And I cut the ties of communication with other human beings–I only met them or contacted them when necessary. I invented many, many things here, and built many robots. I perfected the imperfect ones, hoping that one day, each of my creation could do much good and be useful to other people who are in need. But I never got out. So they stayed here.”

“Why did you never get out of this place?” Nina asked.

“I… I got too comfortable inside here, and… And when I finally decided to go out, I got scared. What if the world out there has become an even scarier place? What if people become even more and more despicable? So… I stayed in. And so did all my inventions.”

“But Professor… does that not mean that you’re… you’re being a coward?” asked Nina.

The Professor didn’t answer right away. This time, he avoided Nina’s gaze, and after some time, he finally answered, “Yes, Nina. I am. I’m a coward.” Then he sighed, and turned his look back to Nina. “That’s why… That’s why, Nina… Don’t be like me. Don’t just choose the easy way. Don’t tell me you want to shut down.”

Nina was speechless for some time. “But… But weren’t you so strongly against me going out there, meeting people? Didn’t you oppose it in the first place?”

“I did. I did, Nina,” the Professor answered. “I was trying to protect you from harm. I didn’t want you to be disappointed, so… so I was afraid for you when you asked to be permitted to explore the outside world. But then… when I saw you returned and depressed… That’s not what I want for you, Nina. When you were gone, I was partially hoping that you would eventually return, telling me that going out there was a mistake, but at the same time… I hate to admit that deep down, I also wish that you’d find the outside world has become much a better place. That people have become kinder and more honest toward each other. I want you to return here, but not like this. I’d prefer you stay out there and be happy than returning here, sad and depressed. You always long to be one of the people you usually read in books. You want to be… You want to be one of us.

“I did. It was before I finally see them for what they actually are.”

“Don’t give up hope, Nina.”

“Well, you did.”

“Yes, I did. Don’t be like me.”

“Professor, I’m no more than a mere creation of yours. Surely shutting me down shouldn’t be a big problem. I want to shut down and you could do that in a single click of a button.”

“Not like this. I created you because I got bored here, having no one to talk to. I didn’t create your brothers and sisters with the ability to think and feel like humans, so I created you. And when you aspire to become like real people, I was happy and afraid for you. I programmed you as my companion, and I become very protective toward you. But even that couldn’t stop you from going out there.”

“And I regret it so much,” said Nina bitterly.

The Professor sighed.

“You know, in reality, it’s not so easy for us humans to just shut down like you. In real life, we have to deal with it–I know, I didn’t deal with it very well, and I’m  not proud of it, but shutting down could mean suicide. And it can be very, very painful.”

Nina didn’t say anything and stood still.

“And Nina…, you do realise that in life, there are more complicated problems than this. We humans are despicable–we can be so many times, but there are much more good in us as well, you know. And sometimes… Perhaps we’re just confused about choosing to do better things when we’re faced with reality. And that’s how we ended up doing something bad. That’s how hatred was sow and grew, Nina. But it doesn’t mean that the kindness and goodness altogether disappear.”

Nina looked at the Professor this time.

“Perhaps some of them were bad. Perhaps they were all confusing, but maybe that’s simply because they themselves were confused, you see. And that keeps happening all the time as long as we live. Eventually we did bad things, and we regret them–or not,” the Professor quickly added. “But remember, Nina, there are still more goodness out there.”

“If that is so, then how come you’re still afraid? And how come you’re still here?”

The Professor was silent for a while.

“Well, you know what? Maybe I’ve finally decided to go out,” he said.

Nina was stunned this time. She looked at the Professor, searching for signs of lies. But the Professor was looking at Nina resolutely.

“I’ve told you that there are still a lot more good out there. We just haven’t discovered it. And now that I think about it, at the same time, we also need to be good as well. That way, perhaps we could attract more goodness around us. It all need to start from ourselves as well. Who knows, perhaps that way, we could find new hope as well.”

“Yes, let’s go out there once again,” said Nina.

Random Story #5

I think I shall have a mental breakdown very soon. I don’t know what the hell keeps me sane all these time, but I can barely contain myself any longer. I’ll probably explode anytime soon.

“I’m gonna have another bath,” she said, as she raced towards the bathroom, not wanting to hear further arguments or protests from her partner.

Then she poured the hot water into the bathtub while she let her mind wander.

“Perhaps I should have just drowned myself while I bathe later.”

Then after the tub was filled, she took off her clothes and jumped in.

She felt the warmth of the water and she felt surprisingly comfortable. So she closed her eyes for a while.

Then she opened her eyes.

She stared blankly at her legs as she sat on the tub. She wrapped her hands around her legs in the water as she lay her chin on her knees.

Then suddenly all the emotions she’d been keeping inside flowed uncontrollably as tears ran down her cheeks.

She made sure she didn’t let out a single sound while she let her tears out.

She washed her face, hoping that the tears would be mixed up with water, and as she felt the water dripping from her face, the tears were still pouring out, still distinguishable from the water.

So she splashed some water on her face again.

She sat there for a while, trying to calm herself down, as well as making sure that there were no tears left when she left the bathroom later.

After the tears finally stopped, she drowned herself for 5 seconds in the water before she finally stepped out of the tub and drained it.

She looked at her reflection in the mirror as she dried herself with the towel.

No tears left. And her eyes–as well as her facial expression–looked normal. As normal as anyone who had just bathed without crying.

She let out a sigh and stared intently at her reflection. Would she cry again when she left the bathroom? Could she contain herself if she heard something painful after this?

After she made sure that she wouldn’t cry anymore she opened the door.

Although the pain didn’t leave, she could ignore it now.

Painful, yes, but she could live with it. She’d borne it all this time, after all, and she did it on her own.

Yes, on her own.

   “Like God never exists. If He did, He never seem to care anyway.”

Twinkle, not Ciki, A Dog With A Vampire Teeth

Or maybe I was just exaggerating, since I don’t really know what the exact term would be for this dog’s teeth.

But before you read further, let me make this clear: I’m afraid of dogs.

Yes, yes, you might be confused, or you might not believe it at all, really, how could there be anyone on earth who hate dogs?

Well, I do.

I like looking at dogs pictures, especially if they are cute, and I love some movies with dogs as the main character. I know how loyal they could be–or at least, I’ve read that somewhere–and how adorable they really are, but  their presence alone intimidates me.

Yes, I’m serious. As serious as a heart-attack.

I’m afraid of dogs, with their fangs, and their barks, and it really makes me insecure whenever they’re  running or jumping towards me. Hell, they following me around already makes me feel like running away as far as I could, but I never really do that. They say dogs can smell fear. And once, I’ve almost got bitten by my cousin’s dog, for she smelled my fear and anxiety whenever I’m around her.

In my country here, I’m not the only one who’s afraid of dogs, fyi. There are many here who are just like me.

I know, perhaps it still puzzles you.

One of my American friends once told me that it took her some time to get used to the idea that there are others, out there,  who really are afraid of dogs, since most people she knows never really had any problem with dogs. So the idea of this fear of dogs was like a brand new thing for her.

Not that I’m offended, really. But soon I learn that I ought to stress how the presence of dogs alone could really distress me, to anyone who own dogs.

The only time I’m not afraid of dogs are only when they sit in silence, and simply watch me walking pass them. As long as they don’t bark, and as long as they don’t follow me everywhere I go–including running and jumping towards me when I enter the house, I’m cool.

I’m getting quite used to my cousin’s dogs for some time now, for they only keep the nicest and tamest dogs inside the house, and soon they also got used to my presence in their house, so they never really bark when I came.

Like today, when I visit my aunt and uncle, I was actually terrified that they might have new dogs who are not  acquaintance with me yet, and that they might bark and run toward me. But instead, I found this little dog, simply looking at me while she sat near my aunt.

Since shehe didn’t bark, nor did shehe run toward me, I found myself completely… unalarmed with herhis presence. As a matter of fact, I noticed one unique thing about herhim as I observed herhis back: herhis teeth.

I don’t know what people called herhis teeth, for it’s unusual to see dogs with that kind of teeth. Abnormalities? Nonetheless, it’s really cute. And the way shehe was so calm and quiet while shehe was observing me, only makes herhim even more adorable than any dogs I’ve ever encountered. The name is CikiTwinkle, by the way.

Hi everyone, I’m CikiTwinkle.
Oh, in case you haven’t noticed, I have the cutest teeth in the world.
And this is how my teeth looked like from the left side.

P.S. I’m still afraid of dogs, btw.

*edited August 30th, 2011. I wrote this post as “Ciki, A Dog With A Vampire Teeth” since my cousin tipped me by saying that the dog’s name is Ciki and that the dog is a she. Apparently, after he saw this post, he later texted me to correct the misinformation. Turns out the dog’s name is Twinkle (God knows why he’s named Twinkle) and that she is actually a he. Dear Twinkle, I’m so sorry for giving public a wrong information. I hope you wouldn’t mind being mistaken as a female-Ciki for several days!

Rice Fields on The Way Home

I was on my way back to my hometown yesterday, sitting in the  train and looking out the window when I saw a vast view of rice field on the way. I’m quite a fan of nice pictures of… mostly anything, really, including rice field, although walking on it is quite a different matter. Perhaps it was the sun, or the idle state I was in which make me think that the rice field looks very green and even more beautiful than any rice fields I’ve ever seen in my life, so I thought I ought to take some pictures with my lame 2 MP camera phone–really, that’s all I have for now–to preserve the view.


Random Story #2: A Fresh Start

   T looked at her new room and told herself that she had been very lucky, indeed. At least compared to friends’ experiences. Most of them who sought for jobs in places far away did not even get an accommodation as fine as the one she had. For that, she reminded herself, she ought to be grateful.

   Well, she was thankful, indeed.

   She got a nice place to stay, and her new workplace was also very nice. She had meet her co-workers the previous day, and got a tour around her new office. She had not yet met her boss–or her boss’ boss, but she saw him walking out from his office yesterday while touring her office, and he smiled at him. Well, at least her boss showed some courtesy. He was not one of those horrible tyranny bosses, at least. That was good enough as a starter, she thought to herself. It was her first day, anyway, sure she could not expect too much. Besides, she was getting fond of her new workplace already. She had been worried that her office might be one of those dreadful offices where everybody were so busily engaged with their works that they might even be too busy even to say a simple “Hi” to the newbie. But no, thank Heaven, her office did not give her any single impression of those horrible things. At least, it had not given her that impression. Again, it was her first day, wasn’t it? And she was already in love with her new job, and her new office. Her co-workers all gave her warm welcomes and made sure she made herself comfortable in her new environment. Her boss (not her boss’ boss) was so down-to-earth and hospitable that she wondered now what she had done exactly to deserve such a kind boss. She was truly thankful for this. Her new office did not at all intimidate her just like she had imagined before. And everybody, knowing that she had come all the way from her hometown which took almost 8 hours for her to get to the city–her new workplace, to be precise, tried to make sure that she had not come for nothing. Their warm reception had made her wondering whether she had met the most agreeable people on earth. They expressed her worries about her coming from far away, and whether she had managed to find a nice place to stay, and tried to inform her about places where she could get nice food and other stuffs, should she needed any. What had she done to deserve all these, really?

   Then she reminded herself, that she should not be far too excited, yet, for it was her first day. Then again, she was reminded that she had chosen to find jobs far away from home. Away. Far-far away from everybody. And most people tend to find things like this difficult at first. The first days/months/years of adjusting are always the hard ones. But not for her. So once again, she mumbled a ‘thank you’ to God, if He does exist, and if not, to whatever supernatural powers out there which had made this easier and nicer for her.

   Yes, she had decided to seek jobs located far away from places she knew. Places where familiar people stayed. She had told herself so many times before that she wanted a fresh start. Without family connections. Without interference from those people who–she knew it by heart–only wanted to help her out. People who thought that their connections or powers could help the a fresh-graduate who were–at that time–desperate for a job. And the offers were all tempting, really, but she decided she wanted to shape her own future. She thought that if she could not do this alone, that she never could. Ever. She hated the idea of relying her future on others’ hands, already. So she hardened her heart and said a firm “No” to every offers and opportunities that had come to her through the hands of relatives. No, she told herself. No matter how tempting those offers were. No. She should make it on her own. At least she ought to try. If she failed, than maybe she was not as good as thought she was. Then maybe she could turn to those relatives who had been dying to offer her thousands other opportunities. But she shivered only to think that she might be a failure after all, and that she then would have to rely on others after all.
Fate was not so harsh, it turned out, as she finally got an opportunity to get the fresh start that she always wanted. In a new place. Meeting new people. She thought her chance to finally prove herself worthy, were she worthy at all, had come after all. So she accepted the offer. Of course she intentionally failed to mention this “fresh start” and “a brand new beginning” to her relatives when they responded negatively upon hearing the news. Why ever the job should take her far-far away? Too bad she was not so lucky to get a job nearer to home, indeed. And all she said in response was a nod, a smile, or a simple “Yes,” with a sorry-look and a sorry-smile. Yes, she felt sorry indeed, to leave her comfort zone, but then she reminded herself that she ought to give herself a try, indeed, for if she did not leave her comfort zone, she might never be able to leave at all. She ought to. She ought to give it a try.

   So, after a final glance around her room, she smiled and felt content already. Yes, she was truly grateful. Then she unpacked her stuffs and arranged it comfortably in her room.

   A fresh start.

   She took a long deep sigh.

   A fresh start.

Random Story #1: True Love

   “Do you believe in true love?”

   I laughed, if not snorted, upon hearing such question being addressed to me.

   “Is this a trick-question?” I asked him, sarcastically.

   “No, of course not. What makes you think so?” He asked me back with a confused face, as if I asked something incomprehensible.

   “Because it sounds wishy-washy, and cliche, mind you,” I answered.

   Now he looked even more perplexed.

   “What?” he said, expressing surprise and disbelief.

   I decided to shut my stupid mouth with a smile, trying to look smart.

   It didn’t work, as he didn’t avert his gaze on me.

   “What?” I asked him, with a sarcastic smile on my face.

   “How could you say so?”

   I gave a snort of laughter, expressing–this time–my own disbelief.

   “Well, if you’re so sure of the notion of true love itself, do enlighten me, sir, the idea of this… so-called ‘true love’.”

   He stared at me in astonishment.

   “Well…,” he paused, struggling for words, as my previous request seemed unexpected to him. “Eeeerrrr, true love is…,” he paused again, but then continued, “…is an unconditional love. When you love someone despite his or her faults and past errors, I shall say. …or vice versa, I guess.”

   “Hmmm,” is all I say in response.

   “What? Are you telling me you don’t believe in that kind of thing?”

   “Well, I do believe in true love, if I live in fairy tale,” I answered, then quickly engage myself in papers that I need to grade, in order to avoid further questions.

   “Excuse me?”

   Fuck, it didn’t work.

   I pretended that I didn’t hear that.

   “Whatever do you mean by that?”

   Fuck, he’s not gonna give up easily, wasn’t he?

   “I mean, sir, I live in the real world, in a jungle called reality, where, I believe, the so-called ‘true love’ really is a scarce thing.” I explained after I took a long deep sigh.

   His eyes widened as he heard my explanation.

   “Wow,” he muttered. Whatever that means.

   “Have you had bad experiences in love or something?”

   God, please, I pleaded in my mind, while sighing again and rolling my eyes.

   “No, I have not, but the idea of ‘true love’ seems ridiculous to me, is all.”

   “Geez, why are you so negative?” he asked me, at the same time amazed.

   Why, oh why can’t I just shut my bloody mouth up?

   “Because I’m being realistic,” I said, trying to put a final tone in my answer, hoping this guy would take the cue.

   My answer was stupid, and thoughtless, of course. But I can’t seem think of anything else to shut this guy’s mouth and mind. Cursed me, I thought to myself.

   “Realistic? That is you being realistic!? Have you been mistreated or something in the past?”

   “My God, what does it take for you to quit?” I finally grew impatient and decided to show my annoyance. “No, sir, I have not been mistreated. In fact, I have been loved, if not too much, perhaps overwhelmingly.”

   “I’m quite fond of romance, actually, but I believe they ought to stay in books, novels, and movies, and I like it if they maintain their existence there,” I added quickly, before he managed to say anything further.

   And now he laughed sarcastically in return.

   “My God, you’re strange,” he finally said.

   “Yes, I am,” I decided to respond with a smile before I finally turned back to grade students’ papers.