About Me

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Jakarta, Indonesia
I lose important items constantly, and am a failed teetotalist.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Holiday in Cambodia

Right now I am at the cheapo terminal in Kuala Lumpur, killing time before my flight to Phnom Penh. Due to bad weather conditions, it has been delayed by almost two hours.. so I have almost three hours to kill still, along with Anne, my laptop and book (which Anne has currently stolen!). I guess I could get some headway on the article I need to finish by the end of tomorrow. So very tired tho. Haven't been sleeping well lately, and just feeling generally run down. Hoping to catch a couple more hours on the next flight so I can be relatively fresh... we're meant to be meeting Doc's "husband", Doll, tonight -- it's his birthday. Anne met him a couple of months ago, when she was first in Phnom Penh, but its my first time.

The excitement over returning to my childhood home for the first time in four years hasn't really sunk in yet. I guess its trying to fight the exhaustion and disorientation. I have a lot to look forward to over the next two weeks... my favourite bits of Phnom Penh, the relative cheapness compared to moneysuck Jakarta, the relatively fresher air, the relative lack of traffic,the best part of a week on a beach, seeing Doc, focusing on my writing, taking a break from long days of copy-editing and commuting, seeing Devil and Pooh's mum and dad at their apparently beautiful new home in Kampot... just taking a break. I don't have high expectations this time. I just look forward to it generally and hope I come back feeling refreshed, with enough renewed spirit to slog out another four months at work, before my parents' three-week 25th anniversary cruise in December, and then another 3.5 months to see out my current contract.

Anyway, I actually don't mean to be so down on my job anymore... it's just been a long year so far, one thing to the next, and little chance to properly relax yet. I actually feel really grateful that I'm employed in a relevant field, particularly as a lot of my friends are struggling to find any kind of job at all. It's not a nice job world out there. I do know that I won't renew tho, Jakarta really isn't the place for me.

And unfortunately... the battery on my computer is near-dead and we can't seem to fit it into Anne's "universal" adaptor... so I better finish here.

Sunday, 12 July 2009


Miss Anne Throp'ist has gone some way to assuaging my black mood, via the wonders of J2... not some Japanese boy band (altho they'd make mad money doing such a thing), but Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki of Supernatural, which is about two demon-hunting brothers. I haven't even watched a whole episode yet and I feel I am already a convert.

Seriously, who wouldn't want to watch these guys for 44 minutes at a time, no matter what they were doing? (first Jared, then Jensen)

Sigh, I think what I like best about television is that I get to gorge on eye candy. That's why no British soaps, and only programs with pretty people. No reality programs tho, thanks. Pretty people PLUS intriguing storylines.

So now I have to watch all the episodes ever. Right now, we're waiting to watch the rest of the pilot, but being prevented by various obstacles, like bad internet, slow downloads and bizarrely acting TV websites.

More waiting! But I can live with it. In the meantime, I'm going to rewatch the 70 seconds that changed my life and converted me to the cult of J2:

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Wait, Loss

I'm feeling rather crabby at the moment, likely for hormonal reasons. But I also feel the world is seriously trying to test me and push me over the edge temper-wise, in lots of little, irritating ways.

For one, I am having to be incredibly patient at the moment, more than I think I can have the capacity to be, for lots of different things.

I am waiting to hear about my MA results, and have been for about 7 months now. In relation to that, I had to wait more than a month to hear back from my favourite professor and six weeks later, am still waiting to hear back from the History Dean. I am waiting to hear back from supposedly good friends who keep promising they'll respond, but weeks have already turned into months, and may even turn into years at this rate. I am waiting for my mother and little sister to be back in Indonesia because I really miss them (they're spending the summer in the States). I am waiting for the roster at work so I can figure out how long I can blag staying in Cambodia (yes I'm going in just over a week!!). I am waiting for my new HSBC bank card, which was supposed to be ready on Wednesday -- I need it because the machine INSIDE the branch swallowed the original one. I also had to wait a week to get my most recent salary, and now I am still waiting to be paid for an article I wrote over a month ago, along with one from last week. I am waiting to receive a copy of Jerusalem, Patrick Neate's latest book, that I need to review for the Post. The postal service here takes a ridiculously long time.

Plus, today when I checked my bank balance, I saw that some money had come out, related to an ATM transaction that hadn't actually dispensed the cash. So I have been debited, but I never got the money. I had to call Natwest and they said as I am in Indonesia I should contact the ATM machine people here, and that all they could do was send me a form, that I will need to send back, and that will probably take about 6 weeks if I'm lucky, so yet more waiting!

I'm all about instant gratification... and this is just adding up to be far too much waiting. It concerns almost everything that's important to me right now: my education, people I care about, improving my finances.

The people thing is particularly galling. These days, we are so hooked up. You can email, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, text, Skype or call someone. Even write a letter if you're feeling oldfashioned. Yet, in my view, it actually seems to be making people even worse at keeping in touch. Obviously face-to face is preferable, but not always possible. I've moved around a lot in my life, and constantly have to bid adieu to dear friends, but its made tolerable by the thought that at least we can still keep in touch. However, it seems out of sight out of mind for some. I can relate, I'm not completely on top of my own correspondence -- mainly Facebook, which I have lately abanded for the newer, shinier, less-efforty, more interesting Twitter... and I've been through several stressful periods where I just couldn't write to people, especially because I didn't want to depress them... but I feel that everyone's who's within my closest circle of friends, I'm on top off correspondence-wise, at least on my side of things. I feel really hurt by allegedly good friends who keep promising they'll message you when they have time, saying they're really busy... and even months later, they still haven't, altho you can see that they're on social networks a lot, doing quizzes, writing status updates about how much time they have... it's not like they're not on the internet or completely without time, and it just shows that you obviously aren't that important to them, that they're lying to you, and maybe to themselves. And if keeping in touch is the only way to maintain your friendship, doesn't that imply that you aren't really friends anymore?

The more time that passes with these people, the less I care. So I guess, in the end, the waiting becomes it's own cure... you wait so long, until you're not waiting anymore.

On a slightly more positive note, my productive unexpected-day-off reaped some rewards. The Features editor sent me to two seminars on Thursday and Friday, concerning graphic design. The first speaker was an animator and the second was a (very attractive) "motion designer" (think Michel Gondry). I was enraptured by both talks... now I have to write them up this weekend!

PS: After this ranty rant I decided I needed to address my own hypocrisy. So now I am on top of everything -- correspondence wise. And it took less than an hour to write to several people! Work-wise... not so much! Better get on it.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Curriculum Vitae

I can't sleep. I blame the way I've overwhelmed my stomach the past couple of weeks, either eating very rich food like oyster and foie gras or junky food like KFC and Dominoes or MSG-laden treats like Indomie (instant noodles, helped SBY get re-elected!). Must detox. Must eat more fibre.

I've been a bit (read: exceedingly) whingey about my job of late, mainly because of the vampire hours (was 6pm-1am the past month, now its 4pm-11pm if my boss hasn't ridiculously understaffed us) and because I wasn't doing as much writing (either articles or creative or even blogging) as I would like to have been. I realised the latter was entirely my fault and nothing to do with the job I currently have -- if anything, my present job facilitates writing more than any other I've had post-uni, especially as I can get things published in the newspaper pretty easily (they're desperate for content). The former still stucks. But after reading articles about the scores of unemployed people all around the world... I am damned lucky to have a job at all, and in a field that is relevant to my ambitions. I'm certainly better off than these young Americans, although they are not as bad off as the article makes them out to be. Plus, I'm here for other reasons too, which have to outweigh these negatives in the end... family and paying off debts.

I've actually had quite a lot of different jobs since I first entered the workforce way back in 2001, when I was 16. My first paying job was a sales assistant at Laura Ashley's. I quit after 3 months, couldn't stand finger-spacing the hangers anymore, or having to get up early every damned Saturday (oh how hard my life was back then!). Also, I felt I was getting disturbingly addicted to twinsets and florals -- I would spend my shift mulling what I would spend my meagre paycheck on. Awhile later, I landed a job as a sales assistant at a haberdashery. Made a bad impression my very first day as Amber Eyes had invited me to a party the night before and I had gotten incredibly drunken and sick and made out with his twin sister (luckily for her the making out was between the drunkenness and vomiting). I had to go straight from the party host's floor to work, slightly caked in my own sick. They didn't fire me, but I kinda sorta just left without coming back at all, because it felt like they didn't have anything for me to do beside look at yarn. I semi-stole the uniform too, as I thought it was the coolest thing -- a huge, dark green cardigan with large gold buttons. We were really into our granny chic back then. I eventually returned it, as I had left my favourite pair of black jeans in the locker there. I cowardly got my beloved Barbie to go in and conduct the exchange, as I couldn't face the benevolent, motherly types who worked there.

The next job I got that I actually somewhat committed to, was as a waitress at a pub near my house called The Hungry Horse. We had to wear bright greenshirts with a slobbering horse, wielding cutlery emblazoned upon it. The pub was also notable for its huge plates, also decorated with the greedy horse. Every shift, at least one genius would either ask if they could have one of the plates or a shirt. I told them sweetly, you can have a shirt as long as you work here. I think working as a waitress went a long way to improving my confidence, as well as giving me lots of chances to people-watch. It's a cliche, but you really can tell a lot about a person from the way they treat a person serving them.

I worked there for about 6 months and then walked out/got fired. It was when I was in the midst of crazy-eating, so working in a pub, surrounded by greasy food was probably not the best idea. I got really irritated with the new manager type I had to work under and just left. When I came back, I found they had imagined I'd quit and didn't want me anymore. Didn't really care...

My next job was in a bakery, the summer after I finished college. Again, a really bad job choice considering I was still a crazy eater. Had I known that working as a baker required starting work at absolutely ridiculous hours (more so than now even), ie 4am, I would never have bothered. But the manager was super nice, this young woman with a throaty voice and liked how colourfully I dressed for the interview. The perks included grotesque amounts of leftover pastries and pasties at the end of the day, free pastries and pasties for lunch and being able to sneak free food and drinks to friends who popped in. Basically a carbs-free-for-all. I think the best day ever was when the freezer broke down and I was going to a friend's barbeque afterwards. My boss left me take about 200 servings of cakes with me -- including entire cheesecakes, carrot cakes and boxes upon boxes of brownies and flapjacks. I think everyone on that party was sick on glucose rather than booze for a change.

Following the summer of sugar, I moved to Tanzania, and interned for a month on the daily newspaper there, which turned into a long-term thing. I started off as Cholera Girl, writing about how many people had died that day of Dar's endemic disease, until my contact at the Ministry became highly lascivious and tried to imply I could only get the "really good stories"(about cholera?!) if I spent the weekend with him out of town. I immediately asked to be moved to the Features desk, where I assisted the Features Editor with proofreading and copyediting. It was during this time I built my journalistic confidence, with features on local artists and environmentalists, as well as a weekly movie review column. It was a fairly cushy lifestyle -- as I was only being paid for the content I submitted, it didn't matter what time I came in every day, and it was fine when I wanted to go travelling for a month. And the little I earned for the content (about $50-100 a month) was more than enough for me while I was there, particularly as I lived with my dad and didn't have to contribute to anything (how I miss those days!).

I got my next job the summer before uni, shortly after returning from Tanzania, as an admin assistant in a learning centre. I paired it with working at events at the evenings and weekends, as I wanted to have a cushion of savings once I started uni (I really did try to start out right). During my first year at uni, I continued to do the events when I could -- either if they were in London or if I returned home for any length of time. I think I tried a few other events companies and bars but they were a lot more stressful than the one I had first signed with, really treating staff like cattle. What I'd really wanted was a bar job when I first arrived in the city, hoping to get great tips. I quite quickly was offered one at this cocktail bar -- the manager just told me to come back on a certain day for a trial shift. Unfortunately I was so new to London that I had absolutely no idea how to find the bar again... so I just never went back. Shamefully, it was actually in Leicester Square, one of the most obvious places in Central London! Ah well.

The summer after my second year (2005), I interned on The Phnom Penh Post. I hadn't been back to Cambodia since my family had left hurriedly in 1997, due to the imminent coup. I had been aiming to intern on the Post ever since I had become more comfortable at the Tanzanian Guardian. The experience temporarily put me off journalism tho, mainly because of the vibes I got from the managing editor and the other interns, who were mostly Berkeley journalism graduate students. I was significantly younger than everyone else (19 to their mid-20s-30s), and I think most felt that I was only there because I had a rich family (so not true!) and connections (I was staying with my one of my best friends, whose mum is a prominent politican and human rights activist). I guess it didn't help I also dressed very girlishly, in vintage dresses and Fly sandals, while the others wore khakis and string vests. However, I still ended the summer loving Cambodia, although I think was irrationally disappointed that going back wasn't the same as going back in time at all, and in fact served to emphasize that the past would always be just that... memories.

After Cambodia, it was back to uni and waitressing, this time at a swish restaurant near the London docks, frequented by the likes of Delia Smith and Graham Norton. The former of which's dining partner I thwacked in the teeth with a plate, but that's another story. I actually really enjoyed that job -- the food was amazing, the clientele was interesting (I liked to banter with them), the tips were decent and it was a brisk 5 minute walk from my house. In my cigarette breaks I could cross the road and sit on a bench, staring at the rainbow-lit Thames. Even when I gave up smoking for awhile, I still pretended I did, so I could get in some Thames-ing. The only shitty thing was the management, as usual in the catering industry -- the manager I had for the most of the time was a terrible womanizer who once cornered me in the changing room, demanding that I not think he was sleazy. (I had made the mistake of agreeing with my workmate that I found him to be so, and she had obviously told him without saying she thought it too!) I can't remember how I left things there... I think I actually got fired, because I'd come to work following a cycling accident in Hampstead Heath, covered in blood, and it was the final straw. I didn't really care much about anything at that time, the second year of uni was full of so many ups and downs (mainly to do with wars between my housemates), its kind of amazing I managed to keep the same job throughout all that. I just did some work for the trust events company I had signed to before I started uni to keep the funds coming in, instead of just flowing out, particularly as Sketchy was making me to go to India that summer -- despite all my money problems and exhausted state of mind.

When I returned from my bank-breaking, Sketchy-enforced Indian summer, I really needed to focus on getting my life in order, particularly in terms of academia, so I moved back home and survived on my loan. After the first term, having achieved getting back on track at uni, I felt like I had way too much time on my hands, plus definitely wanted a bit more money. It was really hard getting a job in my hometown, as they seemed to have an aversion to uni students. So I began downplaying my student status, saying I was one, but mainly a research one, so only had to go once a week (which was almost true, more like 1.5 times a week). I landed a job as a Publications Officer, for the education sector of the county council. I really enjoyed that job, mainly because I got paid for doing very little, and that was actually what I was meant to do. I learned that working for the county council (in Hampshire at least) means not being too efficient. If you do the job at your natural working pace (ie reasonably quickly), you'll only freak your manager out and create more work for them. So I just dipped in and out of my actual assignment and spent most of my working day on Facebook, which I was newly addicted to, as well as regaling my workmates with Crazy Lady and Guitar Boy tales.

They would have kept me forever, as my manager said I was their Office Jester and kept them all amused (no comment on the work I did), but I didn't end up going back, as I needed to take time off to go to Indonesia to visit my dad (the first time I went) and then focus on my exams.

After the exams were over -- and with it, my BA -- I fully intended to bum around, revelling in all the options now open to me. Unfortunately, I over-efficiently found myself a job within about a week of my last exam. And it was a seriously pointless job too! Again for the county council. I was ostensibly a Secretary. My job was to sit there and wait for people to ask me to do things. However, most people had no idea what my job was, so didn't ask me to do anything. When they started figuring it out, sometimes people would ask me to photocopy or fax something. I actually got some decent headway on one of my novel ideas, so boooored was I at work. I know it sounds ridiculous, that I would actually get tired of turning up to work and being paid quite well to do nothing, and even get paid to write my novel... but I did. It eroded my sense of self-worth to make the commute there and back to a meaningless job every day, so after about a month of this nonsense, I told the woman who most often asked me to fax things for her that I'd be leaving. (The person who had hired me in the first place had apparently ran off to Switzerland to run a chalet and make lovely cupcakes.) She seemed very concerned the office would fall apart without me, but I reassured her that the agency would let me know if they really did me again.

Plus, I had been unexpectedly accepted for an internship at Amnesty International, in the Southeast Asia department, and was also trying to decide for sure if I would do the Masters I had already accepted, and therefore planned to move to London shortly... I wanted to get in a few weeks of lazing/sorting time at home before then, especially to assist my family before they all made the big move to Indonesia.

And all that takes me to the various employments I've had since I started this blog: Copywriter for a romantic gifts website, Publishing Assistant for a finance publisher, Research Assistant for Doc (really imbibing a lot of red wine and eating chip and dip for a month), Personal Assistant to the Archbishop of Canterbury's Secretary of International Development and now finally, Copy Editor at The Jakarta Post.

The array of jobs over the past 8 years have been just as educational and character-building, if not sometimes more so, than my actual education -- particularly when I was at college (I barely attended, spending most of my time smoking or daydreaming). It brought me into contact with a wide range of people -- at any place I spent a decent amount of time at, I befriend great people I still (admittedly tenuously in places) keep in touch with today. They've also reinforced what I really do what to do -- which is to write write write and earn my money through my writing, whether journalistic or creative. I most want to be a novelist. Right now I'm mainly working on journalism. I'd also like to write for TV and film. But the variety of experiences I've had also have made me want to continue trying new jobs -- like maybe a camp counselor in the States, a volunteer for VSO, an overseas English teacher. Luckily, my main ambition to write pairs well with that desire for new experiences... its always worth having more stuff to draw on in your writing, whatever format it is.

I tend to excise all the catering/sales assistant stuff from my CV, following the recommendations of various agencies, but I still wonder if my CV impresses or perturbs potential employers. I've got a lot of varied experience, but I'm sure I seem rather fickle. Which I am. Hence the recent whingeing -- I've really not had to focus on any one thing alone for more than a few months (even with my degrees, they had many varied components and I did them alongside some of the aforementioned occupations), and I am pretty much locked into my contract until next March (unless I feel like paying them $2000, no thanks).

I also long for the jobs I never got, which now number into the hundreds, following my two months of gainful unemployment. There are a few that particularly haunt me. Of course, there's the big one at the Guardian, previously mentioned in last year's entries, as a trainee journalist. Publishing Assistant at the London Review of Books. A research assistant for a celebrity sex psychologist, writing up transcripts of erotic fantasies and researching international sexual practices. A sales assistant at Waterstones and at Thorntons. Funnily enough, while the first three were near-misses (warranting detailed feedback), I didn't get anywhere close with the latter two, altho I applied repeatedly, respectively going on about my love of books and my passion for chocolate. I even told Waterstones about the special shelf I had with "recommended reads" for family and friends, and wore brown to the Thorntons interview, so they could better visualize me behind the counter.

So anyway, I've decided I really need to focus on the good things about the job I have now, and adapt myself to even the parts I really don't like, like the hours. Come December it will be time to apply for new things, and I can likely add more titbits to my schizophrenic curriculum vitae.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Who will be the HIMYM mother?

I have an unexpected day off today due to the presidential elections. I knew it was a national holiday tomorrow, but doubted we'd get it off, as its so newsworthy. We usually get the day before the national holiday off, as that day doesn't need a newspaper. But topsy-turvy land in Indonesia, as usual!

Anyway, I am going to use this day to finish the profile I did on Patrick Neate (my first author interview!) and hopefully get some headway on "my" sections of Doc's Southeast Asian women's dictonary. But first, I want to actually DO the thing Miss Anne Throp'ist and I talked about last night, instead of it just being another of my things that never ever gets done!

We were watching How I Met Your Mother from the very beginning, which is probably my current favourite TV show. It has everything -- a cute lead, plenty of irreverent comedy, mystery, mythology and NEIL PATRICK HARRIS. It's essentially about a late 20something (by now 30something) architect, Ted, who is on a quest to meet the One, prompted by the engagement of his two best friends, Marshall and Lily. The story is told retrospectively by an older, middle-aged Ted (voiced by Bob Saget), who is explaining to his two teens how exactly he met their mother, with all the details included. But its also about friendship, personal development and the power of storytelling. The casual viewer can dip in and enjoy, the hardcore obsessives (like me and Anne) can watch and rewatch and squee at the call-backs and interlinkages. Like the first episode has a scene where Ted meets Barney (NPH!) for the first time, and they revisit that scene throughout the next four seasons.

Obviously, the main mystery is who the mother will be, and we still haven't got the slightest idea. I'm a bit worried about how exactly they will execute it. Will we get to know the mother? Will it all be over once he meets her? I guess it probably has to be. Then again, they could change the rules once he does meet her, and become more straightforward, Friends-style. It might lose a lot of its charm though. But we'll see! I'm thinking we have to Meet the Mother by Season 6. Ted's getting on in age... and by 2030 he has two teens.

Anyway, Anne and I thought it would be fun to each make a list of what actress we thought would play the Mother, and later see if we managed to get anywhere close. The casting will certainly be very crucial, I feel that they'll use a familiar face from television. They might even use a movie actress, depending on the commitment, plus movie/tv has a lot of blurring these days, in terms of star quality. If HIMYM maintains its popularity, I'm sure many actresses would be thrilled to land of the coup of being the Mother.

Who would be a great match for Ted?

The list of possibilities isn't as endless as one might think. First there's the age thing -- someone from Friends would be cool, but they're already a decade too old. No one from any teen shows like Gossip Girl, obviously too young. No one remotely ethnic, as its been made clear his kids are purely white. And it likely won't be anyone who's already guest-starred on the show, unless they can find some incredibly creative way to justify that -- like Jayma Mays (Heroes, Ugly Betty) as the coat check girl in a S1 episode. And no one who looks too much like Robin -- ie Carly Pope (Popular) or Caroline Dhavernas (Wonderfalls) because visually that wouldn't work. I also think its really important the mother is funny. Ted himself isn't that funny -- he's definitely the straight man to his kooky friends, and I think he would be nicely balanced out by someone that at least approached the hilarity of Marshall, Lily and Barney. (I'm still not sure if I always think Robin is funny, but I like her more and more as time goes by.)

So here we go, in no particular order, except the first:

1. Alicia Silverstone
I'm currently most convinced about Alicia Silverstone, particularly as I heard that she was the orginal choice for the role of Stella (Sarah Chalke), Ted's most serious non-Robin love interest, but she dropped out, supposedly because she didn't want to be overshadowed by Britney Spears, who would be sharing the episodes with her. I think it was a good call in hindsight, not because of being overshadowed by Spears, but because Stella proved damned annoying. I was glad to see the back of her.

2. Felicia Day
I think it would be cool if the Buffy connection kicked in again (as with Alyson Hannigon and Alexis Denisof -- altho could be cuz those are married!), hence the inclusion of Felicia Day, Eliza Dushku and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Plus I think all these ladies work physically, complementing Ted and not looking too much like either Robin or Lily. Felicia Day's career seems to be gathering steam, with Dr. Horrible (starring NPH!) and guesting on House and Dollhouse

3. Sarah Michelle Gellar
Anne doubts that Sarah Michelle Gellar could be funny -- she was also the straight man type in Buffy, but I think with the right sort of writing, she could work. She deserves some decent romantic comedy action (Simply Irresistible was simply a watered-down Like Water for Chocolate).

4. Eliza Dushku
I think the Mother would be a diversifying role for Eliza Dushku. I don't actually like her that much, but Anne does, so I'm vaguely influenced by that (shhh, don't tell her).

5. Alyssa Milano
I'm very fond of Alyssa Milano -- I think she's very pretty and she was far and away my favourite sister on Charmed, which, once upon a time, was my favourite show. I've seen her in quite a few things, and I am sure she would work as a funny, romantic lead.

6. Anna Friel
I never used to like Anna Friel, due to the Brookside connection (I despise all English soaps) and her overshadowing of Calista Flockhart in Midsummer Night's Dream (who I also used to like). Now I find Calista more annoying than Anna, who I really really liked in Pushing Daisies. (Also, they look about 2 decades apart in age now!) She was amusing and adorable, great qualities for the Mother.

7. Kristen Bell
Kristin Bell would be another cool bit of meta-casting, having played Jason Segal's (Marshall) titular ex-girlfriend in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. (Oh look it even has his HIYM's characters name in the title! Maybe the Mother will be called Sarah.) Plus she seems to be guest-starring on every show every at the moment, ie Heroes, Gossip Girl and Party Down. Ok, that was quite an exaggeration, but it seems to be a big deal when she lends her name to a show these days, so I imagine there would also be fanboy squeeing from several directions should she turn out to be the Mother.

8. Zooey Deschanel
I LOVE Zooey Deschanel! She's definitely more of a movie star these days, but she has a smattering of primetime sitcom/drama under her belt (Weeds, Frasier, Veronica's Closet) and her quirkiness and doll-like beauty would complement the HIMYM cast veeeeery nicely. She's due to star in (500) Days of Summer, alongside Joseph Gordon Levitt (who gets sexier every year, weirdly), as an elusive romantic heroine, and altho I haven't seen it yet, that's getting a LOT of kudos, which bodes well for Mother-suitability.

9. Becki Newton
Becki Newton, along with Michael Urie, as bitchy best friends Amanda and Marc, are the best things on Ugly Betty. Becki is increasingly hilarious, but also manages to provoke pathos. She was a little dull in August Rush, but that was probably the writing. I think the HIMYM writers could do great things with her.

10. Julie Gonzalo
Finally, Julie Gonzalo. Like Bell, she is a Veronica Mars alumnus, and like Day, I feel her career's gathering steam. It was seeing her once in now-cancelled Eli Stone that led me to consider her as a possible Mother. She was very endearing in that show, I liked her much better than I had in Christmas with the Kranks and Must Love Dogs.

Agh, I just thought of an 11th.... Keri Russell, former Felicity.

Am I allowed an 11th? Anne says no, including a no to Keri Russell in particular. She's guested on Scrubs (Sarah Chalke's show!) and is traversing into movie territory, albeit via a few clunkers like Bedtime Stories and the aforementioned August Rush. She tended towards the drippy in Felicity (which I was unavoidably addicted to at the time), but I liked her in Scrubs and think she definitely has romantic heroine chops. I don't want to swap her with anyone on my current list tho, either out of laziness or whatever, I'll let you decide.

Anne and I, in true HIMYM fashion, have a bet (not a slap one tho, Anne veto'ed that immediately)... there's definitely going to be crossover (she's tapping away right now), but whoever has the person the other person didn't have be the Mother (eh?), wins. The prize is a dinner. I suggested 50 pounds, but Anne claimed poverty, despite probably have two years to save up.

Here's her contenders.

(Btw, in the middle of this blog, I was suddenly forced to complete the Neate profile I'd been dawdling on, as the Features Editor needed it for tomo! So at least that's done. And so is this...)

Saturday, 4 July 2009

The Skinny on My Fat

I've just spent a wodge of my web-time reading about plus-size issues, in Indonesia and beyond, mainly due to coming across the blog of a new acquaintance, who sometimes writes about such things and posted links to other articles. I also came across a sad story I wrote when I was 18, about the eating disorder I was recovering from, in an attempt to win 1000 pounds and match the standards of the previous winners who ate rabbit foetii and lost their fingers climbing Everest and having miscarriages etc etc. The story was totally sincere though, despite its monetary motivation.

Like many girls/women, I've had all kind of self-esteem and body battles. The only time I was "thin" was when I was 5. That was because I was incredibly picky with my food, and only liked eating noodles and peanut butter. I also had a special magic trick where I would throw most of my meal under the table and pretend I had eaten it, much to my parents' irritation. When I was 7, my parents left me in England with my grandmother (on my request, I wanted to stay at my then school), who set about changing my eating habits. I didn't like milk? She ordered chocolate milk. I didn't like vegetables? She baked them with cheese. She fostered my enduring love for roasts and other English delights. And every weekend, she and my great-aunt would take me to McDonald's and treat me to a Happy Meal. Sometimes I could even have two, they didn't mind. By the time she returned me to my parents in Cambodia, about half a year later (not sure really), I was a relative butterball. My ribs no longer poked through my skin, and I had a double chin when I shoved my usual one chin down. Not at all unhealthy tho, when I recall my parents' response to me at the time, I had the idea I was horribly tubby, but really I was pretty average.

But now, in my parents' eyes, and thus my eyes' too, I was chubby, on the path to becoming fat. It was frustrating because altho they would make a big deal about my weight, they didn't really give me an idea of how to do anything about it, except not eat as much. And that I couldn't do, because I was constantly ravenous. I now realise that was because I always had worms (sorry, TMI). So I think my parents were worried the vast amounts of food I was chugging would lead to extreme obesity when, due to the little parasite buggers, it only resulted in a bit of chub.

I have Filipino relatives, who are incredibly blunt and constantly teasing, about anything they can possibly mention, and around this period, they dubbed me "Porkita". They considered me the female version of my very tubby cousin, "Pok-pok".

My parents' continued to be their self-esteem boosting selves, telling a 9 year old me, that if I didn't lose the weight now, "it would be much harder later on". Basically they told me when I hit puberty all the baby fat I had now would become a permanent part of my genetic make-up or whatever. Pressure! All this finally got to me, and from then on, I was totally neurotic about my body, altho not doing anything "productive" about it. I felt self-conscious when we had formal events, because I didn't think anything would look nice on me. Swimming, once one of my most frequent and favoured activities, became a nightmare, particularly the path from the changing room to the shallow end. I surreptitiously compared the circumference of my thighs to those of my friends. I sucked in my stomach and tried to count the calories I was consuming.

I remember I had a few freak-outs at sleepovers, because I desperately didn't understand why I was fat, and wanted to be like Betty and Veronica and Barbie. My patient friends (all about 1-2 years older than me, as I'd skipped a grade, and thus hitting puberty and getting enviable figures) would comfort me, and remind me that no one could possibly attain those cartoony body shapes. Despite their reassurances and sage words, I continued to cling onto the ridiculous idea that when I became a teenager (i.e. 13), my childish chub would magically tranform into an hourglass figure. Talk about setting yourself up for a disappointment!

I returned to England when I was 12. My dad tried to cheer me up, telling me that most of my peers in England would probably be fatter than me, as they were bigger there than in Asia. So I would fit right in. I actually looked forward to that, but I can't remember if he was right anymore, from my 12-year-old perspective. I think I did feel average. I was so used to my neurosis by then that it became pretty much tolerable. Plus we had hideous uniforms that did no one's body any favours, so I think I resigned myself to being dumpy and unattractive for the foreseeable future.

The summer after my first year at school, I finally decided to take action. I began taking a lot of walks and watching what I ate. The weight came off incredibly quickly. My parents were full of admiration, and bought me a bicycle. My mum treated me to new clothes. I was not thin, but I was finally "normal", especially according to my parents.

Normal was what I strived for from then, until my late teens. When I was 15, at college, I was quite happy with my body. I felt I was about half a stone overweight, but that it was a fair trade off for being able to eat what I liked. I could be the right weight, but not eat everything I liked, which seemed too much of a sacrifice.

Then I went on the Pill (for hormonal issues rather than birth control), and I began to become fat again. I hardly even noticed it myself. My dad had to point it out to me one family holiday, and said I should probably consider coming off the Pill, as it was obviously having a detrimental affect. So I did, but the weight stubbornly refused to come off. Until my mother decided to put me on a carbs-free diet, and then, after a few months I was normal again.

All this bouncing about in size reinforced to me the power of figure control and beauty. When I was slimmer, everyone treated me much more nicely. My parents were prouder of me, my girlfriends complimented my clothes, I had more male attention. When I piled on the pounds, I was a failure. I was by now very obsessed with what I ate. I stuck to the carbs-free diet religiously. After about six months, I noticed I was no longer losing any weight, and might even be putting a bit on. So I decided to take it further, trawling the internet for nutrition information. I decided I should go on the raw food diet, which I did, for 2 months. And lost drastic amounts of weight. I was still not thin (I don't think I'll ever be, unless I starve myself for longer than that), but I was smaller than anyone had ever seen me. Some of my friends were worried, saying I resembled a doll, but most were very flattering, saying I looked amazing. Even the worried comments about me being "doll-like" were pleasing, harking back to my childish adulation of Barbie. Who wouldn't want to look like a doll?

However, this messing about with my body exacerbated my hormonal issues, and I *had* to go on the Pill again. It was that or deal with six week periods, with only two weeks in between each one. I was determined not to let it affect my weight, but it immediately sharpened my appetite painfully. Like when I had worms, I was constantly ravenous. I cringed, because every time I succumbed to my uncontrollable hunger, I felt I could actually see myself getting bigger. The only thing I could think of doing what throwing everything up I was eating. That way, I could give in to the urge to binge, but not suffer any of the effects. Or so I thought. As most people are (or ought to be) aware, bulimia is a particularly damaging activity and it isn't actually an effective way to maintain your weight (funnily enough).

I'll end the bulimia story here, because I already dealt with it in detail in that story I mentioned. Basically, I eventually got through it, and that period represents the time in my life when I reached the peak of my neurosis regarding weight and body (or so I hope!). The extremes I experienced during that time, taught me that I never want to be that in control ever again, because really I was completely out of control. It taught me I'd rather be chubby that totally dictated by a desire to be thin.

It's also a bit sad reflecting, because I feel that I'm not naturally a person that would be neurotic about these things, but I had it forced on me by my parents and relatives. Or maybe that's the case for every person ever! I actually confronted my dad once, when he was teasing my getting chubby littlest sister. I told him to stop and asked him why he said stuff like that so much. He said the reason he went on at us about our weight, was to protect us from the wider world's harsher comments, and that it had obviously worked for me, as I was no longer chubby (this was during the carbs-free period). I told him that it was only my parents and family who had ever made me feel bad about my weight. No one at school had ever teased me -- all the worries came from home. I think from the look on his face, that was a revelation, and he seemed ashamed.

Anyway, since the beginning of this year, I haven't been happy with my body (as I'd piled on the pounds yet again, particularly following being fired and then getting stressed by Sketchy), but in a measured way, and my attitude has actually been improving, likely as other factors in my life have been improving (like making more friends in Jakarta, feeling a bit more at home here etc). I was pretty apprehensive about how huge I would feel moving to Asia. And the articles I was reading -- that spurred this meandering rant in the first place -- were mentioning how hard it was. Maybe the life I'm leading is too sheltered, or perhaps my skin has become thicker than I thought, but I've neither felt too white or too fat here, so far. People often think I'm Indonesian (I'm half-Filipino) and no one has said anything about my size, and I haven't noticed anything more subtle than actual out-loud words. I spent a year in Tanzania where I felt both of those things, acutely, and it was while I was recovering from eating like a crazy, so I was likely more sensitive. Everyone shouted about the color of my skin (thinking me either white or Japanese), and people often remarked on how fat I was, altho I know they meant it as a compliment or simply descriptive -- i.e. "You are so fat and beautiful!" "Your friend who is fat like you came to the office today" etc etc. The only problem I have here is buying clothes, if I find anything in my size, it seems to make my body look rather obscene, usually in the chest and thigh area. Nothing is high-cut or long enough, which is odd because this country has the world's largest Muslim population.

Fat is a funny issue. It certainly crosses over into health issues, but I also feel for a lot of people, fat is a state of mind, inextricably linked to other emotional matters. People often waste a lot of time worrying about their body and beauty, in proportion to how much they should -- not that anyone should, per se... but how many times in your own life, have you felt really down on yourself, and then when looking at pictures of the time, realized you didn't need to feel that way at all? That the only problem with the way you looked is that sad expression on your face? (Miss Anne Throp'ist has remarked that the reverse is also true, ie you find a picture of yourself with a ridiculous grin, in perverse proportion to the hideousness of your hairstyle).

For myself personally, I've accepted I'm over the ideal size, and I'd like to change that, but until I'm doing something genuinely productive about it (gym, watching what I eat), I won't get too frustrated. I've also found that going to the gym doesn't make you thinner, but it makes me feel more energetic and I get a lot of useful thought-processing done while I'm doing something monotonous on the treadmill. It encourages me to eat healthier too. The key is really sadly, eating less calories (but not necessarily less overall), more than exercising more.

Anyway... I could probably talk about this forever, but luckily for you, I need to get my fat ass to a gig.