Breaking up: it’s not as painful as I thought

A month ago or so, my girlfriend and I decided to call off our so-called “long distant relationship”. We ended it peacefully. We had a video call and discussed what worked and didn’t work. Despite giving me a greenlight for a polyamorous relationship, we agreed that the intimacy was just not there from start. We became a long distant couple naively after three dates. If I think about it now, it felt like a social pressure. Both of us were single, and we just needed someone to validate that we had a value in the dating market. But I anticipated that the relationship would have never worked out and I told my ex-girlfriend that please don’t post anything on social media because I didn’t want our relationship to focus on social media. And boy I was right, the relationship lasted less than a year and it was really a fiction we wanted to believe.

However, my ex-girlfriend and I, we still maintain a friendly relationship. I told her, the intimacy was just not there and we were more suitable to be a friend. Was it hurt? Maybe it was, but it was not because of rejection, but it was hurt because it took so long for both of us to believe the fabricated lies we agreed upon. However, the relationship was not meaningless. It was my first relationship with a girl, and I did learn something.

The craziest part, I am still thinking about my high school crush. The girl who was not interested on me and prompted me to date guys. I keep thinking and thinking, what would have happened if only we could become a couple? Will I stop dating guys and have a happy public heterosexual life?

Then if I think about it, any relationship with her just won’t work. She came from a relatively conservative catholic background. I don’t think she will accept a bisexual boyfriend. To this date, she seems still single. The day she announces her marriage probably the day I finally could move on completely.

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Crisis is over: I got a new job

Yes you read it right. I wrote last time that I was laid off by my company, and I had a panic attack because the last time I was fired, it took me 7 months to find a new job (I got 7 months of severance package though). Somehow this became a silver lining indeed. I received a generous severance package that is roughly 8 times of my last monthly income.

I LEARNED A LOT from this process. Here’s what I learned from the past two months if you are laid off:

  1. Live frugally. This is absolute. You don’t know how long you will be unemployed, so you must cut down all your entertainment and eat at restaurants during the weekends.
  2. Don’t update your linkedin work history just yet. This is critical: one of my biggest mistake was that I thought I should immediately update my status as soon as I got laid off. That’s what happening last time and it made me unemployed 7 months! The thing is, you are less attractive when you are unemployed. Employers will look down upon you and you have less leverage. And naturally, don’t say you are laid off when you are being interviewed. You have no obligation to do that. A company will not inform how much revenue they get to you, and they will not inform whether their company is healthy or not. Use the same logic: you are not obliged to be completely honest to them.
  3. Be confident of yourself. If you haven’t had any recollection of what you did or what you achieved in the past few years of your tenure, you are in a deep trouble, because those are the technical details that prospective employers want to see. They will ask you: “what’s your experience with X?” “how did you do Y?” if you generated a list of project and what you accomplished there, you will remember everything you do. You want to rewrite your LinkedIn profile to make sure it reflects your latest skills and expertise and feeding it with the right keywords.
  4. Ask your network / friends / co-workers. One of my most fatal mistake I did during my unemployment period was that I realized I had a limited network. I only had like 300 linkedin connections, and after I was unemployed, I added people randomly and got 2000 connections, it did help a bit, but I didn’t know most of them. Now, after I got a job, I slowly build network with people whom I met on linkedin, and yes, it does work. I reached them out and some of them offered their help. Your ex co-workers and your college friends are very valuable here.
  5. Perception is a reality. I don’t know about candidate’s background checking in your job market, but here in Indonesia, employers tend to ask your current salary and expected salary on the employee registration form or during the initial interview. I really don’ like this practice, because it’s basically a psych-war. Anyway, in Indonesia, salary information is a secret information, and people don’t disclose their salary. Once the employer knows what your current salary is, they probably will try to give you an increase of 10% at maximum.

I admit that I was overreacting, turned out all I need was a confidence.

I lost my job

As you read it right, today I am officially unemployed. I have a mixed feeling about this. I have been working at this PR firm for two years three months. Prior working at this company, I was fired from a media company because I couldn’t follow their corporate culture (it was the weirdest phase of my career).

However this time it’s different. My firm’s ENFP CEO apparently siphoned fund to his own company in the past one year (or more), he also had an adultery with one of the office worker. The latter is actually not our problem despite he’s breaking the company’s policy, however the former hit the firm really hard.

After he got sacked almost immediately in the January, the company went downhill. I had so many idle days at my office that I virtually could spend all my day doing nothing but browsing facebook (and applying jobs on linkedin). I work at this firm as a researcher, and my role is to provide the right data to support business growths, I thought I was quite important at my firm since hey, I helped the business! Unfortunately, after months after months, I realized that we had so many pitching but no win at all, and we didn’t have any paid projects since January. I immediately thought there was something wrong with the firm, and started applying jobs.

The problem? I overestimated myself and only applied overseas jobs, thinking that I will be “safe” from any layoff. Unfortunately, no prospective employers ever got back to me, since most of them probably didn’t want to sponsor a work visa. However, as my sister had a wedding last week, and house’s rent was due, my parent’s sister offered my parents to move to one of their empty house (hooray!). I thought it’s the time for me to leave this rented house and move to my own place after a year of delay, effective from August 2018. Unfortunately my salary was not enough to support my expense since I have to pay the mortgage, and that’s when I decided to start applying jobs locally.

That’s when the shit hits the fan. Yesterday I peeked my in-box around 11 and noticed the HR invited me with another two co-workers for a meeting that lasted only for 30 minutes. My heart skipped. There cannot be a meeting that lasted only for 30 minutes. I immediately suspected I was going to be fired today, and I was right.

The HR explained that the firm was struggling financially. The firm only had $33,000 cash to cover their operation cost. To prevent further mass layoff, they need to downsize the workforce, and unfortunately, I was axed as well. I got a severance package around 8 times of my monthly salary, which is not incredibly bad. Combined with my equity and saving, I still could pay my mortgage for 31 months, assuming I am living in my parent’s basement. The scenario is brighter if I can find someone to rent the apartment ASAP, so we don’t need to pay the mortgage for few months.

I have a mixed feeling but calmer as I have been laid off before, but it was a traumatizing experience. It took me 7 months before I could find the right job. I got VERY lucky to get my last position at this firm because I only graduated from a master’s degree and I got fired after 5 months. My CV looked so horrible. When I applied at this firm, I applied for consultant position, as I wanted to get back to reputation management again. But my last manager saw my CV and saw me had an experience of crunching a lot of data, which is ironically, an activity that I only did two weeks before I was fired from the media company.

The good thing about this firm, it has a big name in the public relations industry since it’s an American company, and I worked with so many projects that helped me to grow my expertise. After two years, somehow I ended up developing a personal brand as a mixed methodology researcher who is expert in designing research. But at the same time I feel it really restricts my career move since I strictly could only work as a researcher.

My English skill has been improving a lot too. That last op-ed published on the diplomat actually undergone a minimum editing, to my surprise, and even my native Australian friend said the grammar was okay (yay!).

But the most important part is, I met the most helpful co-workers in my life. I have been working at 4 different companies, but this company was the first experience I felt everyone was so helpful and always watched your back, and they will do their best to support you instead of ruin you. The company culture is incredibly good, that’s the reason I haven’t had any thoughts to move to another office despite the irregular situation that happened since the beginning of January.

I am really sad at the moment that my relationship with this firm had to end this way. I had no remorse, and I really proud that I was part of this firm, but unfortunately everything has to end. But at least I know everyone else is affected.

What do I want to do next? Aside from applying jobs in Jakarta, I probably will start applying PhD again.

To be honest I feel more prepared this time as my CV looks more polished, I have enough saving, I have been living frugally in the past two years, I have no debt (excluding the mortgage), and I have no children! Being laid off like this make me feel I shouldn’t procreate any human beings. I am sure my misery will be doubled if I had any child now.

 

Call me by your name (2017): A beautiful unrealistic fairy tale.

So, recently, my Italian friend who shared a similar name with the character of this movie recommended me to watch this movie. At first I tried to read the book, but I couldn’t continue because the introduction was ridiculously slow. The first chapter basically filled with Elio’s fantasy of Oliver, and I feel like reading a chapter from twilight. I will continue reading the book sometime when I have the right mood, but at the moment, I want to write my thoughts about the movie itself.

Okay, let’s talk about the premise of the story. The story is about two (white) jewish guys who had a summer love story. Please let me grab a description from tvtropes:

Set in Northern Italy during the 1980s, Elio (Timothée Chalamet) is an average teenage boy expecting to spend another summer with an unknown American academic coming to study with his father, a professor (Michael Stuhlbarg). When their guest turns out to be Oliver (Armie Hammer), an attractive college graduate who shares his Jewish heritage, Elio finds himself falling for a man, and learns the attraction may be mutual.

To cut the story short, Elio and Oliver were basically attracted to each other, but they were quite oblivious with their feelings and finally they had sex, and then sex again, after that Oliver must return, and Elio received a news that Oliver would be engaged, and the movie ended he was watching a fireplace, brokenhearted.

The premise is very simple, no? About two bisexual men who had a good friendship and had a physical attraction and had a good time during their summer vacation. The story ended tragically because one of the guy must return and the dream ended there.

One thing noticeable from the start, the story is a very classic homoerotic relations rooted from pederasty and a typical sexual relations you can find in daddy and boy pornography. Obviously it’s erotic as Oliver has a typical “muscular”, “masculine”, “hair-chested” body, and contrasted with Elio’s “lean”, “slender” body.  The director is trying so hard to oversexualize their body: so many shirtless scenes in this movie shoving the audience to worship the actors’ well-sculpted body.

Call me by your name
We are too sexy for shirts

Now, maybe because I have a different background, but I cannot really relate to this movie, because so many reasons:

  1. All the casts are so privileged. Granted the place is in Italy. They supposed to be Jewish, but these days, I feel Ashkenazi Jews are no different than typical Europeans with white privilege too. Both Elio and Oliver come from a fantasy land where there is no problem with their racial issue. Ask non-white people about this movie, their perspective may be different. I just have a hard time to relate the characters’ in the movie because of their racial background.
  2. Oliver looks so perfect. A dominating taller guy, killer smile, smoking hot body, sexually appealing, etc etc. and he likes Elio back, unconditionally. Try to find this unicorn in this real life. He’s every gay boy’s daddy fantasy (he’s supposed to be 24??).
  3. It’s erotic because it’s taboo. The story’s homoeroticism relies heavily in the setting that it was in 1980s where homosexuality was not as tolerated as it is now. But if the story is happening in a contemporary situation, it may be less erotic than it is.
  4. Most of us probably haven’t met a person as nice as Oliver. I don’t know about you, but I first came out as a bisexual man in 2015 after 12 years hiding in the closet. I missed an opportunity to explore my bisexuality during my study in New Zealand (fortunately or unfortunately). I first explored my bisexuality in Jakarta through gay dating app, and most people I met were assholes who ghosted me. I had my first sex experience during my trip in Europe, I met some people there, which gave me a mixed feelings: Should I cherish those memories or should I dump them? In Jakarta, I could count by fingers how many good people I met here, but mostly took you for granted. I feel Elio’s beautiful experience during his summer vacation is redundant as it’s unrealistic.
  5. Embrace a broken heart? seriously? I had three guys broke my heart as they took me for granted, and this movie over-romanticize broken heart.
  6. Straight-washing. Both of the actors are straight, not bisexual at all. Where’s the empowerment? Had I known the actors are straight, I probably would have watched this even more critically and with a more dosage of cynicism.
  7. Cheesy. That title: call me by your name. So you call your loved one by calling your own… name? What the hell? Even my sister who enjoys romance thinks that idea is ridiculous and gimmicky at best.

Final verdict:

Call me by your name is a beautiful, unrealistic fairy tale which only happen to privileged people. The movie’s straight-washing is the biggest middle finger to the LGBT scene. You will love it, but don’t overrate it or think it as universal story between two bisexual men. At least we have some representation, but sheesh, cannot it be more inclusive?

What’s your judgement over this movie?

How come someone still has a compassion after she lost everything? A memory of my grandmother

13 years ago I lost my grandmother on this date. Her sudden departure left a hole in my heart that only partially recovered after 13 years of loss. My grandmother was a very special person: she was an ethnic Dutch Indo people (eurasian). She was special because she displayed traits that were unique and almost non-existent in my big family: compassion.

TMP62
My grandmother and my sister ca. 1982 as I didn’t have any picture with her during my childhood

I only discovered her unique background after she passed away. A lot of dutch indo people trapped in a systemic poverty. A lot of them losing their properties, their family members and suffered war trauma. My grandmother was born in 1932, the Dutch East Indies occupied in 1942 by Japan, and Indonesia proclaimed independence in 17 August 1945. She was around 10 when japan destroyed the colonial structure of Dutch East Indies and turned it into a hell for the dutch citizens (see: Buitenkampers).

I admit, I only knew one side of my grandmother. During her old age, she was the sweetest person we ever knew. Everyone who met her told all the same: your grandmother was the sweetest person they ever knew. Somehow, my grandmother was able to show a compassion to everyone she met.

If I think about, it’s amazing. Like really amazing. She technically lost everything: her country, her social status, her parents, her education, her family members, and her culture. She assimilated quickly to her husband’s chinese indonesian culture, never finished her formal education due to lack of money, and her petition to repatriate to the Netherlands was rejected in 1963 because the Dutch government suddenly found out my grandfather had a good job at Heineken, so there was no reason for them to accept another refugees.

But as more I think about her, the more perplexing it seems.

it’s amazing how someone who lost almost everything during her young age still has a compassion and remembered as one of the most beloved person by people whom she met when she passed away during her last moments.

Unfortunately mental health has never been an easy issue in Indonesia and stigmatized. I am sure my grandmother was still sad, and kept her war trauma to herself, and her children and her grandchildren only knew one side of herself without ever thinking about her childhood and how loss of parents and everything affected her well-being.

My aunt said… during her last moments, she “saw” her father. when I heard the story, I never thought about her father and her other family members and what they have been through during the war. Our grandparents maybe smiling to us, but deep down inside, I think there so many unresolved pain they didn’t want to open to anyone because they just wanted to share their happiness of being grandparents, not the pain of being a war trauma victims.

I am sure my grandmother was not the last victim. Most of those who were born in DEI probably will pass away in 10-20 years or so, and will bring their pain to their coffin, and never be discovered.

If you still have your grandparents, hug them for me will you?

I lost mine, 13 years ago.

Is is a beginning of another depressing year?

In the past one month, my mood has been swinging greatly. Okay I am affected by the recent bitcoin crash, and my investment crashed to 60%, and my gain in the last year? it’s gone. Fantastic, I am back to my principal again. stupid me, but oh well, I know the risk.

However, it’s not about money that I makes me sad in the past one month. Indonesia has been the poster boy of anti-LGBT movements in the past few months. As the parliament is revising the penal code, it aims to criminalize the gay sex. Some politicians even say publicly, LGBT should be stoned to death, LGBT people should be killed, LGBT people should jailed for life. Is my home country turning into Daesh’ caliphate?

Tomorrow, I will visit my psychologist. I don’t know what should I say to her to be honest. My suicidal thoughts have been increasing lately and I just cannot tell it to anyone.

I actually have started to reading information on asylum seekers, but it seems almost impossible to seek an asylum as a bisexual since hey, I am still attracted to the opposite sex!

But hey, maybe I can just play along with their tune? Bisexuals are undecided and a closet gay right?