Both Sides Now

“They’ve all been translated by you,” was the response I got when I asked my editor for another chick-lit to translate.

“What? Am I that workaholic?” was my first reaction, before thinking, “Now, WHAT am I going to do?”

I continued reading the rest of the email and found out that I had two options:
a. Translate a book from another genre (in this case, romance), or
b. Edit a translated material.

Hmm.. Tough choice.. 😀 First of all, I don’t (really) like romance books. Nothing wrong with them, it’s just personal preference. After all, I did start out with translating three romance books. Second of all, I don’t know the first thing about editing. Well, of course I always edit my own work, but that doesn’t count.

After some thinking, I told the editor that I wanted to try both. “Opportunity doesn’t knock twice” and all that.. (“All that” being I need a distraction from some personal issues and yes, I admit, I AM a workaholic :D)

All I can say right now is: editing is hard. I don’t know if it’s the genre (again, romance), the fact that I’m a newbie, or, well, the quality of the translation, but I’m frustrated with my own speed. I’m so used to accomplish 20 pages (of the source) a day when doing a translation whereas with editing, 10 pages (of the translation) a day was all I could manage in the first week. It’s also my first time to actually use “Track Changes” feature and I was so disoriented by all those red marks until I found out how to hide them (and then, of course, I had to check the document again from the beginning because apparently those marks made me look like I don’t know how to use spacebar properly). I’m still doing the editing. Faster now, but I still wake up every morning worrying about the deadline. I thought this was supposed to be romance, not suspense! 😀

While waiting for me to finish the editing, why don’t you just sit back and enjoy these articles I translated for Tiger Tales Indonesia and wish me luck? 😀


The Tortoise and the Hare

I am one of those people who like to move and do everything fast. On a typical day, I’d like to get many things done in an efficient manner. For example, if I am working upstairs and have to take out the garbage later that day, I will make sure the plastic bag needed for the garbage is upstairs with me so I can start collecting the trash from the bins upstairs and work my way down. If I have to go out, say to the supermarket, around the same time, I will get myself ready first before heading downstairs bringing everything I need… including the trash. Well, you get what I mean :p

An invitation to come along on a friend’s epicurean adventure arrived at 9 o’clock in the morning yesterday. It was for dinner but my mind started to work even before I had my breakfast. I checked out the venue which, later I found in Google Maps, was located on Jalan Pantai Kuta, somewhere between Beachwalk (mall) and The Stones (hotel). Hmm. Quite ‘far’. The invitation was for 6:30pm, so combined with sunset-at-the-beach traffic, it would be an expensive trip, too, if I were to go by taxi. I racked my brain and found this stored in one of my memory cupboards:

Kura-Kura Bus Route Map

Kura-Kura Bus Route Map

Kura-Kura Bus is a shuttle bus service operating in popular tourist areas (Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Ubud, Sanur and Nusa Dua).

“Ah! It seems like the perfect time to check this out,” I thought. So the plan was to go by taxi to Seminyak area and start from there. I perused their website and decided that, although Fave Hotel Umalas [SM 03] is the nearest bus stop from Kerobokan, where I live, it would make more sense to start from Seminyak Square [SM 01/LG 01/KT 08] which also serves as an interchange. Besides, I would have to buy a coin/card for the ride and both can only be obtained at SM 01 along the Seminyak line (See that person wearing a cap icon? It’s telling you where the ticket booths are). I planned to take the Kuta line bus to Beachwalk stop [KT 04]… then walk to where the restaurant was.

Considering the unpredictable beachfront traffic and every-20-minute bus schedule, by 4pm I was already on the road. I arrived at Seminyak Square [SM 03] 18 minutes later. A bus, I didn’t know which line, was already waiting by the entrance. I hurried to the ticket booth and was greeted by a female officer who asked me kindly where I was heading. When I told her my destination, she suggested that I take the ready bus, which turned out to be a Legian line bus, to Lippo Mall Kuta [LG 05/KT 02] and change lines there rather than wait for the Kuta line bus at Seminyak Square. Consequently, I had to pay double for the trip. Well, between money and speed, you know which one I would choose, right?

Since this is my first time and I didn’t know when I got to ride the bus again, I chose coin over card. After exchanging my IDR20,000 for two green coins worth IDR10,000 each, the officer took me to the bus and told me to put one of the coins into the box at the front of the passenger cab (passengers using card should tap their card to the reader by the bus door).

At 4:20pm the bus departed (yep, the ticket buying was that fast). I happened to be the only passenger on that particular bus so I could choose to sit anywhere I liked from the 12 seats available. I chose to sit right behind the driver, on one of the molded plastic chairs. The AV system reminded me to buckle up and I did, though I found the seat belt was too big, even for a big girl like me, compared to relatively small seat (again, for a big girl like me). Although (thinly) upholstered, the seat was still too hard for a long ride… especially when the bus shook along the bumpy streets. I eventually moved to the next seat so I could rest my head on the window.

I noticed there were several power outlets along both sides of the bus, allowing passengers to recharge their gadgets during the ride. There was also supposed to be free WiFi on board, but too bad the connection was unsuccessful (although detected). I do hope it was just having a bad day. On a normal day, you just need to type in the username & password stuck on each window to connect.

Dutifully, the bus dropped by every bus stop though there were no other passengers picked up until I hopped off the bus at Lippo Mall Kuta [LG 05/KT 02] at precisely 5 o’clock. I didn’t have to wait too long for the Kuta bus as it arrived 8 minutes later. This time there were two other passengers traveling with me and I chose to sit at the very back, trying out the fully upholstered seats. Much, much better. There was not enough leg space, but considering it was only a short trip, it’s nothing to complain about. The WiFi, once again, didn’t work. My device would detect the WiFi from the venues we passed by but no signs of life from the sought-after. Oh, well.

At 5:30pm the bus entered Beachwalk and that marked the end of my journey.

Total damage: IDR50,000 for taxi ride (Kerobokan – Seminyak) + IDR20,000 for bus rides (Seminyak – Kuta) = IDR70,000 (about half the fare I had to pay if the trip was entirely done using a taxi. Yep, so expensive I’d rather treat you lunch at my feel-good eatery.)

Total time: 18 minutes taxi ride + 62 minutes bus ride + 10 minutes waiting = 90 minutes (though, to be fair, I still have 1 hour to spare before the dinner starts).

Would I use this service again? Definitely, for the value of money. Speed? Not so much. In fact, I think I know why they call the bus “Kura-Kura” (tortoise). Because the speed drives the hare (read: me) crazy. Haha. Naah, all in all I would still recommend this quite excellent service to my friends, tourists and locals alike. It’s a superb alternative to Bali’s expensive taxi fare as long as you’re not in a hurry. I hope more and more people use Kura-Kura Bus to ensure their existence in the long run.

P.S. Excuse the blurry images. Told ya it was a bumpy ride.

[Not] A Suicide Note

image (2)
After a while, finally depression caught up with me. I thought I left it when I left the crazy big city life, but right when I thought I was safe and beginning to feel alive again, it arrived.

I should have seen it coming. The manic episode. Everything was exhilirating. I was having the time of my life. I was indestructible.

Then one by one the feeling’s gone. I’m disappointed with a lot of things. People. But most of all, I’m disappointed with myself. I’m hating myself. I hate that I’m helpless. I feel empty and so alone. I try to reach out but again, it brings me another disappointment when people I reach out to don’t respond the way I want them to. I lose hope, and most of all trust, in people. And myself.

And so it begins. The depression. I feel drained all the time. Sleeping is hard, waking up even harder. It’s like my bed is a black hole and I’m struggling to swim out of it. My hands and legs are trembling when I’m finally able to get up. I’m not ready to face the day, let alone the world. Anxious. Panic attacks. Shortness of breath.

I am aware of all of these. I’ve been there before. Twice, to be exact. And I’ve seen my mom going through this before, too. Problem is I keep thinking that I have to function. I need to stop feeling. I need to shut down ‘me’ and let the autopilot take control.

Wrong move, especially when you meet someone who can finally turn the tap on. It feels great to be able to express your thoughts, your fears.. But at the same time I’m repressing other feelings because I know I’m not ready to get hurt. That’s what happens when you open up to someone, isn’t it? You become vulnerable because you let all your guards down. Before I can get hurt, I start to push people away. Feelings are dangerous creatures that I can’t tame. I lost a battle before and I don’t think I’m ready for another one.

And there I go. Spiralling down deeper into the abyss, all dark and alone. Countless times in a day I think of countless ways to end this. End this altogether.

I’m thankful to the small part of my brain that tells me to speak up. Let someone know where I am. I tell my mom and she’s being very helpful. Maybe because she’s been there herself. Although I cannot explain what I really feel fluently, she seems to know and asks all the right questions. She gives me suggestions, a book to read, and she takes me out to our feel-good eatery.

I’m not floating yet, but I’m glad I seek help before it’s too late. I can feel that the negativity starts to fade. I’m beginning to see where the surface is and I’m swimming there with all my might. Writing, doodling, and taking pictures help, like before. They’re my safe channels of expression.

I don’t know if I can fix the human relationships I’ve broken during the episode. Maybe it takes longer, but I hope time really does heal. If you are among those people, I hope you can forgive me.

Having said that, trust me when I say that this is NOT a suicide note. On the contrary, this is a pledge to LIVE. I’m sure there will be stumbles and setbacks but with you, my dear friends, at my side, who have been helping me to see that this life is worth living, I believe this is possible to achieve. Thank you for always being there.

Originally written on May 8, 2014 at 11.34pm GMT+8. About 8 hours later I was rushed to the hospital due to severe tummy pain. I remember thinking to myself it would be ironic if they found me dead in the bathroom and found this draft on my phone. Thankfully, the worst scenario didn’t happen. I’m still alive and feeling much, much better–even without painkillers. Cheers to life! 😉

Näkemiin, Puss!

The last time she threw a tantrum in December, we made a deal that for every instance she complains about having not enough toys or having no one to play with while we are working and then keeps nagging about it and cries–in other words, being difficult–she has to give away one of her toys.

For the next two weeks, during the holiday, she managed to be nice. Probably because she had no school so she was not too exhausted. She seemed to have developed an appetite but still she needed 3-4 hours to finish a meal. Nevertheless, there were no tantrums and no ‘volcanic eruptions’ from my side.

Yesterday she started school again and despite the nap she’s taken after she got home, she started to be difficult again toward the end of the day. Long story short, the minute she cried she realized she had to give away her toy.

And she chose to give away Puss. Not because it’s her least favorite toy, but because it’s her most beloved. After all, she’s a drama princess.


Puss, as shown here, is a cat. It’s a gift from my sister & brother-in-law so you could say Puss came all the way from Finland. It is also a toy that she’s wanted for a long time. When we still lived in Jakarta and went to Bali for holiday she always brought Puss along. Once, she found Puss’s twin at Bali Zoo and insisted I took a picture of her and the cat together so later she could show Puss. Recently she also bought, with her own money, a kitten that looks a bit like Puss and named it Kitty. Both cats sleep with her at night.

Between you and me, I don’t have the heart to actually give Puss away so I just put it in a box (away from her so she wouldn’t look for it) for the time being; hoping that the act of handing it to me would be a good enough lesson. But before bed tonight she asked me if I have given Puss away and said to me that if I haven’t then on Saturday or Sunday we should go and find a homeless kid to whom she would give Puss. Of course she has to go all the way, doesn’t she?

So is this goodbye? I’ll keep you posted.

Up, Up and Away

The last month of 2013 was a bit depressing for me. It rained a lot so we rarely went to the beach. My daughter had problem eating up to the point we had to take her to the ER. Suspected she has ADHD and finally told her teachers at the end of the term. Got a translator’s block for the first time in my 10+ years in the field and had to return an assignment. Bad haircut (and too expensive I felt robbed). Fell sick on New Year’s Eve. *sigh*

Well, there are a couple of good memories, i.e. my daughter got to be one of the angels in our church’s Christmas play, I got to get together with my close friends and see The Hobbit 2, and managed to fly a paper lantern on the beach. Not bad.

But now that last year is so, well, last year, change is in the air. Started the first day of 2014 learning French. Then nailed the Macaroni Schotel recipe. Got news that my new assignment would be a book by C.A. Finally went to the beach again. Good haircut. The latest translations for Tiger Tales Mandala have been published here (shown here in the gallery). Aaaand my birthday is coming up this week. Not that I have plans or anything (both for my birthday and this year in general), but I believe–when I managed to fly up my lantern at the end of 2013–that life is going to take me far and to high places in 2014. 🙂

Happy new year, everyone!

Flying Tiger, Re-enter the Dragon

What I like about living here is that it feels like there are 25 or even more hours in a day. I get to do everything that needs to be done and still have time to do things I wanted to do but didn’t have the time back then. For example, I only spend 5 minutes walking my daughter to school and back whereas in Jakarta it took me about 1 hour on a motorcycle every morning (and still she was almost late every time). By the time I got home from dropping her off, I was tired and almost always needed a nap. Here, after dropping her at school, I can sit down, have a cup of tea, and warm up my machine before taking a shower and work.

With all this “spare time”, I decided it’s time to make an online portfolio and sell my services. After 11 years in the field, I finally feel confident to say that I’m a LITERARY TRANSLATOR (considering I was originally trained as a graphic designer). I have yet to design, prepare the content, and publish it, but well, one step at a time and all that, right? Last month I already bought the domain. This month I hand-made a set of business cards. My translated books are all still inside the plastic boxes from relocating, but they will come out eventually one of these weeks. I will also need to put aside some money for the hosting service and time to figure out the technical parts.

Speaking of portfolio and spare time, last month I managed to spice things up a little by translating articles for in-flight magazine. So while waiting for the whole online portfolio thing, please enjoy my recent work for Tiger Tales Indonesia (October 2013). 🙂

Check out the complete published version here.

The Heart of the Matter/The Matter of the Heart

Have you ever wanted something so bad but then decided to walk away because you thought you were not worthy to even want it? I have. Years ago, under different circumstances, there would be no stopping me from getting whatever I want. Then what’s stopping me now?

The last time I wanted something for myself, something really bad happened. There.

This is actually an act of self-punishment.

But then I walked away so far I didn’t realize I have traveled all the way back to the point of origin. What I thought I have left behind is now, once again, in front of me. It made me question my decision, retrace my steps. Am I meant to have it? Am I even allowed to want it twice? What is this, some kind of joke? A test? What is this? WHAT THE F IS THIS?!

Syntax error.

Tried to cancel. Pressed delete but nothing happened. F!

System shut down.

Couldn’t get out of bed for days.

“See? Look what it’s done to you. Just a glimpse of it and you go all the way down. Leave. LEAVE NOW!” says one.

“See? You’re no good without it. This is exactly the reason why you should go for it. Go. GO GET IT NOW!” says the other.

Maybe when I walked away, it was partly because I needed to know if it wanted me as much as I did. Maybe if I stay put now, I will see clearly which one of us is actually walking closer or away.

And maybe, this entry will make more sense if it feels the same way too.

Achievement Unlocked

For 30-something years I’ve always managed to steer clear of the kitchen. Most of the time because there’s almost always been a cook in our house that we didn’t need to do the dirty work ourselves. My mom doesn’t cook, so she can’t teach us, her daughters, the how-to. My first real encounter with the kitchen was when I was about 9 or 10 when my friends and I would wake up early every Sunday and jog around the neighborhood. Afterwards, we would go back to our place and, hungry from all the running, try to find something to eat. One fine Sunday, we found some leftover rice and the oldest girl in our ‘runners’ circle’ came up with a brilliant idea to turn it into fried rice. I helped her find the other ingredients in our fridge and watched her ‘cooking show’. After a couple more Sundays, she let me do some of the easier parts. This first experience left a pretty vivid recording in my head because as I’m writing this I can see clearly the step-by-step of making that Sunday Fried Rice.

Later on, I realized that I’m one of those people who cannot read recipes. I do maps, alright, but not recipes. Funny, considering I deal with a large amount of text everyday. I bought a recipe book once and tried to do a no-bake cheesecake. FAILED. Well, okay, maybe I was too ambitious at the time. But on the contrary, I managed to cook chicken teppanyaki (and misoshiru) at home by simply looking at it being cooked in the restaurant’s open kitchen. (I skipped the middle part of this story which consists of me throwing chicken parts–unseasoned–into the wok from afar because I didn’t want to get burnt by the hot oil AND actually hoping they would taste like proper fried chicken, leaving my instant noodles in the water for an hour only to find they have grown larger than life, and other misfortunes during my years living away from my parents when going to college.)

Anyway, I’ve come a long way since those days and still, I never considered myself as ‘a person who can cook’. True, I sometimes (read: when the cook went back to her hometown and I couldn’t buy a take-out) cooked for my daughter; things like cheese scrambled egg, chicken nuggets, spaghetti. But it’s a no-brainer, anybody can do that. Well, anybody who has passed the embarrassing phase like I did. Or never have to, more like. So when we planned to move here, I promised myself that I would learn to cook, among other things. Especially because we really want to start a new life, without the interference (and drama) of a live-in cook/housekeeper.

8 weeks in, I can proudly say that I’m getting the hang of it. I’m still recipe-illiterate but thanks to the Internet and those people who post step-by-step photos, so far I’ve managed to spice things up in the kitchen and fed 3 people daily in this household. As my friend Mike, who also contributes a lot to this process, puts it: I have gained one more survival skill. But the real ‘achievement unlocked’ moment for me is when Freya takes the first bite of my cooking and says, “This is jillion*–no, KILLION**–thumbs-up!” and then adds, “Killion is greater than jillion, you know.” 😀

*jillion: An indeterminately huge number. (Definition from here.)
**killion: A made-up word, not found in the dictionary. Probably greater because K is the alphabet after J.