Friday, January 31, 2014

Fortune Cookies: A question to all your answers

Here's a short story that I wrote on a whim at 5 AM in the morning. Though, it's somewhat inspired by the recent Chinese New Year, it's also a reflection on how cultures marry and produce subcultures. The fortune cookie, one of my favorite snacks of all time, symbolizes the human tendency to place meaning where it doesn't necessarily exist, in order to get through life. Whilst writing the piece, I began with a love story of a fortune cookie writer and cracker, then moved on this notion that a tiny piece of paper could hold so much answers when seen under a certain light, only to stumble into, what I perceived to be, controversial territory. There's a lot to be said about the fortune cookie, the relationship between the East and the West, and our tendency to put too much undeserving meaning. Enjoy!

Can you sense the meaning behind this key?

"You will find your way..." It read. A small piece of paper, ready to cut you on the finger and bruise you both physically and mentally. 

        "What does that even mean, find a way?" I ask the friend I had sitting beside me. His head bowed down as he continues to sip the ridiculous looking balls in his tea. 
        "Why are you so mad, dude?" he glances back, pausing from his, otherwise disgusting activity. 
        "Why do people even make fortune cookies?" I crumple mine into a tiny knot and proceed to push into a straw. 
        "You will find your way, hmm... Think of it this way, man," he responds, his eyes blurry and his speech weary, "My old man, used to say, just think of it as a message from whoever wrote this shit. Wouldn't that be more poetic, man?"

I went home that night thinking with his words circling in my head. My friend had continued to explain how, perhaps, fortune cookie messages are actually cries for help. 
         "Imagine, these people in China or some other third world country and imagine the factories that they work in. It's hot, it's stinky, it's damp. Imagine that you have to make these stupid messages and send it out to the haves, like us. And they are trying to send signals of how bad their lives are. It could be total bullshit, but it could also be the truth," he went much too far. 

None of it made sense, did it? The fortune cookie is an American invention. And anyways, they would not write English messages if they weren't fluent in it. Who would have thought that obsessing over a message, one that is meant to define our lives on some term, would lead to this superfluous analysis of the world? Fuck. I cracked that fortune cookie to find answers, not questions. 

*Author owns the right to use the photo above

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Am I Supposed to Celebrate Chinese New Year?

Happy Chinese New Year, to those who celebrate.

The most I have done to celebrate Chinese New Year: Make a creative project out of it
Rabbit Year 
Each year, beginning from grade school up till high school, I'd spent the day after Chinese New Year staving off questions about yesterday's profits. As my friends wave around their red packets, I stand on the side and listen. Crazy numbers pop up, perpetuating me to open up my slanted (apparently, Chinese) eyes into big, round balls of awe. Suddenly, they'd turn and ask me how my Chinese New Year went and how much I obtained. At the beginning of this cringe-worthy tradition, I'd admit to getting a minute amount or none at all. But as the years pass on, I reserved to announcing that I did not celebrate Chinese New Year, nor does my family or my extended family. My friends would gasp, each and every year. They'd immediately focus on my complexion, eyes, and hair. Once, a friend concluded that my fair skin is perhaps, an indication of the lack of connection I experience with the Chinese culture.

I celebrate Chinese New Year, like I do Thanksgiving.

Whether or not I have the Chinese genes in me is, I think, besides the point. Instead, allow me to propose the impact of culture and years of dilution into the equation. Out of all four of my grandparents, all four communicate in Dutch, whereas only one understood a tad, bit of Mandarin (of course, I only found out about this two years ago, years after I listened to them yapper in Dutch). All four had black hair and milky, white skin, except for one who apparently stood too long under the sun. All four have black eyes, except for one, who had grey. All four do not have clear documentation of where their ancestors are from, except for one, who managed to create a family tree and trace his lineage to a province in China. Even though, I am confirmed to be a quarter Chinese, or at least, Peranakan, I identify with the Dutch culture more so than the Chinese. As a child, I even saw myself as Japanese, which is of course a huge no, no for the Chinese.

Culturally, I was brought up in a family, who spoke Dutch, English and Indonesian. We said lekker, instead of delicious. I visited cousins in the Netherlands, instead of China, where I have no known relatives. My grandmother cooks Dutch food, instead of Chinese food, such as erwtensoep or green pea soup. Based on where and how we lived, worked and ate, we could be considered to be an Indonesian family with thick Dutch influences. However, I think that people perceive us as Chinese-Indonesian due to our appearance, which is quite different to those of Javanese and Sumatrans, which are where my grandparents came from.

Even as a child, sitting among her friends, who stuffed their pockets with red envelopes, I was quite content, until someone asked whether I had received any. In my mind's eye, I did not expect to get any red envelopes or ang pao, as I was aware of my family's culture. What really bugged me was the fact that someone questioned my identity based on my experience and even perpetuated this stereotype based on what they saw. Human beings are not skin deep. Instead, we are always a mix of genotype, phenotype, and culture. Our experiences shape us and meld with our genetics to create this fluid, ever growing individual. Just because I possess black and slanted eyes, black and straight hair, and other possible "Chinese" features, did not mean that I was Chinese. Moreover, just because one clearly has Chinese genetics or Indonesian genetics or Dutch genetics, doesn't mean they are compelled to identify with the respective cultures.

The world would be an awfully boring place if we were all to do so and not question our own identity and our own interpretation and/or expression of said identity. After years of observing, I examined my place in the group. Why was I sitting with everyone who had red envelopes? Well, actually, it was extremely challenging not to do so, as the majority of students had several. Even so, I did not feel the need to shy away or leave the conversation. But, I never really knew why until I realized my contribution to the group. The lack of red envelopes in my pocket signified diversity. Our identity, as well as our perception of our identity, diversifies society. Moreover, it allows us to appreciate what we have and strive for a particular goal.

After thinking about it through and through, I appreciated my stance on Chinese New Year. I stopped avoiding questions about my day, and instead opted to take part in my friends' celebration by inquiring and observing. Even though, I may look like a tourist or a foreigner in these events, I have definitely learned more and more about the Chinese culture. Thanks to my appearance and identity, I have gained more knowledge about this culture that I'm supposedly assigned to.

And again, have a wonderful Chinese New Year, to those who celebrate.

Warning: Of course, this passage brings about questions of post-colonialization, which is apparent in how my family, especially my grandparents are cultured. Conversations about the Dutch colonization of Indonesia brings both tragic and happy memories. To me, this is a larger discussion that should be had at appropriate time. Moreover, as the granddaughter of four Dutch speaking Indonesians, as well as the cousin of five Dutch assimilated teenagers, I realize that I may not have the appropriate voice to flesh out the impact of colonization on Indonesians.

*Author owns rights to all photos above

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Clean Air: Leaked

As promised, I will be leaking other projects that I have been doing. For less than a year, I have been working on a novel, currently called Clean Air. Picking on themes of science fiction, neuroscience and survival, the book has also been the center of some conference projects (semester or year-long projects at Sarah Lawrence, which spans around 20-40 pages long). Last semester, I wondered of the possibility to introduce the world of neuroscience via fiction. Perhaps, stories would help readers, primarily students, to understand topics, research, and even findings in the field of neuroscience. The work lead me to explore other blogs, such as Moreover, I became interested in the neuroscience and psychology of reading.


So much can come out of a work in progress that I thought I would share it with you. Here's an excerpt from Clean Air. Enjoy!

What is life spent alone? To have to do everything by yourself and be engulfed by your own needs sounds disappointing. The independence that olden society fought for and strove to maintain came tumbling down when society became ever more isolating. People stopped talking, stopped reproducing, stopped loving, and stopped caring. The ones who did find one another were lucky, even if it were just for a short while.
As a child, I was chastised for having such unusual parents, ones who stuck together for years on end, whilst others fell to ruins, leaving behind normal children. I, on the other hand, was different and still am. I remember comparing my mom and dad with the other couples I knew, once that lasted only a few years, at best. I remember questioning the motivation behind them sticking around for one another. Were they afraid that my sister and I weren’t strong enough to make it through the crash? I almost always blamed it on their opinion of us, children. We didn’t need protecting, did we?
But, seeing [her] look up to the sky as she recalls the last memories of her husband, I wondered if love could only be about two people. Could it act as a strong enough glue to stick two people together for decades? Or does it all still come down to the individual? Perhaps, there’s some truth in her voice, as she questions whether she had acted selfishly. Maybe the point of being in a loving relationship is to gain certain things that fulfills you as an individual. In caring for the other person, you are gaining some level of personal satisfaction. In retrospect, these questions that I have about life, the world, and relationships really boils down to a much more carnal question, are we beings simply egotistical? 

*Author owns the rights to the photo above

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hibernating and Sh*t

Maybe you've read it in the news, maybe you've heard your friends scream about it, but yes, this winter is cold as hell. Also, maybe you've realized the unlikely presence of curse words in this post. Well yes, when it's freezing outside and you choose to stay at home for more than two days in a row, you tend to become more unusual than usual. So, here I am, paying homage to the polar vortex, or whatever it is that created this monster of a weather, in hopes of convincing it to leave ASAP.

How long has it been since I wore shorts? Three weeks ago, actually.

Things to do whilst it's cold outside:
1. Do write about it. Clearly, one does not have to write about the experience itself. However, when you have family and friends abroad, who are so bored of the beautiful tropical weather and crave any insight on the beauty of winter, you are obliged to chronicle your time in the snow. Of course, there are multiple routes to take. For instance, I submitted a post to an online publication about surviving disasters whilst in college. Then, I did some write up on my blog, as well as made some captions to go along with promoting my articles. In between, I wrote some things that sounded more nostalgic than I meant it to be, as I longed for the warmth that I had so enjoyed during winter break.

2. Do take photos. Recently, Indonesia's first lady, Ibu Ani Yudhoyono, became somewhat of an Instagram sensation, as she takes the site by storm with her photographs and captions. Again, when you have the privilege to touch snow, to create snowmen, and to brave a snowstorm, don't forget to take photos. Believe me, in the past few days, I've been receiving more likes on Instagram than ever before and all thanks to this horrid predicament.

3. Don't complain. Amidst such weather conditions, I fluctuate between giddy and miserable on a daily basis. When I'm out and about, i.e. when I'm around people, I begin to realize the dangers of complaining. Perhaps, this is due to my weary ears, which is exposed to a myriad of grievance about the weather. I mean, there are people who are worst off than we are (i.e. college students in New York, with a roof over our heads). And yet, before I could say, "Get over it, already!" I'm back in my room, awaiting for another day of hibernation, which surprisingly inspires a whole lot of gripe.

4. Do hibernate. As it is the beginning of my last semester at Sarah Lawrence, I am somewhat required to create a sweet balance between rest and play. However, since I am jet lagged and antagonized by the outdoors, I have chosen the former. Therefore, I have been sleeping, watching TV, writing, and reading for the past few days, in the hopes of gaining enough energy to charge through the semester. I'd like to think that this is me, making wise decisions about spending those snow days.

5. Do peruse the internet, but don't commit. What's a girl to do once she has stuck herself in an apartment? Well, personally, I start online shopping. Picturing a revamped bedroom in Jakarta, I scour through different online shopping sites for the perfect cushion or the cutest salt and pepper shaker. Endless scrolling is kosher, but please, please, please avoid committing. Try real hard not to click your virtual shopping cart. And don't you dare hit "Submit Order", because do realize that in a few weeks time, warmth will permeate through the air and you will be left with boxes to empty and items to return and, even worse, the guilt of impulse shopping.

One of many "Like" worthy posts on Instagram. 

As you can see, this is a particularly short list. I've been making short lists all weekend, ranging from a series of ideas on books, options on how to spend Spring Break, as well as a bucket list of things to do in New York. Now, I just can't wait to unleash the monster that I've mustered next week, on the first week of school. Yeah, yeah, procrastination is a sin. But, hey, after three days spent in my very own foxhole, I don't give a rat's ass, as long as I see a possible increase in temperature on my weather app.

*Author owns rights to the photos above

Saturday, January 25, 2014

An Unlikely Friendship

Words stop at the tip of your tongue. Having checked my insecurities at the door, I knew that I am unable to speak, not of my inexistent relationship or my constant anxiety. Instead, I gently fix my lashes with a finger and smile. Graciously putting on a front that would prevent me from ever revealing the things that has occurred while you were gone. 
Who needs a puppy, when you've got a man?
This Doesn't Seem Right.
The damsel in distress, the perfect manifestation of society's acceptance towards women in need. The tale continues as we allow women to weep and ask men to remain strong. Women are expected to talk about their struggles, while men are left to bottle it all up, despite the existence of stress and pressure on both sexes. Recently, however, I listened as a few male friends confided in me and each other openly, just hours after the women kept to themselves and instead, boasted about their current relationships and achievements. Has the world really turned upside down? If I remember correctly, there was no alcohol involved.

Perhaps, in general, the women are having a better year than the men. Maybe, it was just a coincidence. Despite other possible hypotheses, I'd like to think that due to certain pressures and societal constructs, in comparison to my female friends, my male friends are more likely to pour their feelings to one another. And this has to do with social support.

Somehow, the boys or the bros are more in tuned with each others' lives, emotions and problems. They congratulate one another in their achievements and they listen carefully as the other reveals his pains. Essentially, they have made a pact to be by each others' sides, no matter what.

In contrast, the women appear to be more competitive. As they compare boyfriends, bags and Instragram photos, they rarely discuss their feelings openly. Perhaps, they do so in twos, but definitely not in a group of five. Personally, I feel that I am unable confide in them, because of this nagging insecurity that is quickly diminished when I'm around the boys.

Differences in group dynamics are palpable as we sit for lunch and catch up. Everyone is reserved, despite the presence of both sexes. The men, who are definitely outnumbered, follow feminine societal cues and avoid making rash comments. We laugh in moderation, as we try to order sophisticatedly. The conversation feels dry, if not empty. Quickly, we run out of things to say. Our emotions are clearly absent from the equation as we politely take a bite. The obligatory group photo takes place before one of us has to leave early.

Later on, as the group is slowly reduced to two or three, the crazy stories turn up. Of course, at this point in time, it's just the boys and I. As they chuckle and curse aloud, I finally feel like it's safe enough to come out of hiding. Shedding the make up and glamour, I turn to my emotions and begin to invest it into the conversation. Something meaningful emerges, whether it is nostalgia or a confession. We huddle together and listen. Our eyes look at each others', checking one another's feelings. Then the comments pour in. Suggestions followed by critiques followed by nodding ensue. We are not afraid to appear foolish, vulnerable, and definitely imperfect. We are not insecure.

Solely based on observation, I think that the contrasting dynamic shared by the women and men is a reflection of how society is and appears to be. Although, women are prescribed to be more vulnerable than men, men seem to have each others' backs more so than women. Moreover, a layer of competition is apparent amongst women. Of course, this is not necessarily evident in all groups, but it is definitely what I see amongst my friends.

At the end of the day, however, an observation is merely an observation. Only when we inject meaning into it does it manifest into a salient experience or element of life. Personally, in the face of such contrast, I am relieved to find a solid group of friends. Even though they are men who do not understand the ramifications of the menstrual cycle or may not be an authority when it comes to shopping for bras and heels, they are available emotionally. And somehow, despite social constructed notions of men and masculinities, they are there for you and they allow you to be there for them.

*Author owns the rights to the photos used above

Friday, January 24, 2014

Time Capsule: Angry, single girl seeking vengeance

Every so often, when I am awake at an ungodly hour, I sift through folders from past classes. Many of the courses that I take, at Sarah Lawrence, Boston University, and New York University, require some sort of weekly journal, reaction paper or blog post. In retrospect, these weekly entries provide me with a timeline of thoughts, as well as a way for me to observe how my writing skills and fluency in the English language has changed. The funniest, perhaps, comes from psychology courses, especially ones that center around gender. Here's a peek at what one reaction paper that I wrote for masculinities class.

Note: This was written on January, 2013 and tons have definitely changed since then.

These loo rolls remind me of the "ideal girl"

            During winter break I went back home to find most of my girl friends engaging in a steady, romantic relationship. Whether they are going to school in the U.S., Hong Kong, Australia or Indonesia, all of my girl friends are in relationships with Indonesian boys. Single, I asked my boy friends the type of girls they are attracted to. Interestingly, the answers were similar. For instance, most of my friends are attracted to petite women, who look vulnerable. Aggressive women and make up are considered turn-offs.
            These tendencies are reflected in the Indonesian media. Indonesian Cosmopolitan magazine focus on ways for a woman to seem vulnerable. Workout routines on TV are created to achieve lean, tiny bodies. Plastic surgery services such as breast enhancement surgery are rare, while double eye lid surgery to achieve doe-eyes are popular.
            These features are influenced by other cultures such as the Korean and Japanese looks. In Indonesia, Korean make up brands are much more popular than Western brands. The surgery methods adopted by surgeons are also taken from other Asian countries such as Korea and Thailand. To achieve the “ideal” persona, Indonesian women flock to those countries to get surgery and go to mannerism classes to learn the “proper” way to behave.
            The phenomenon of conforming to a certain image may have both positive and negative social influences. Many young women in Indonesia have refrained from wearing revealing clothing or acting in inappropriate manners such as flashing in public. As a result of desiring the perfect body, women have placed more focus on maintaining and improving their health. On the other hand, most of my friends have chosen to be less aggressive at work in order to attract men at the office. The message of loving oneself, which is popular in the U.S., is not really preached in Indonesia. Instead, women are taught to embody and love a certain image, which is dictated by other societies and what men find attractive.
            Finally, from a feminist perspective, women are doing a disservice to themselves by conforming to the idealized image. In the workplace, women are becoming less competitive. Influential positions, such as in the government, are dominated by men. In order to be equals, women in Indonesia need to see themselves in a new light. Loving oneself for what it is, should be a message that women focus on.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

At My Fingertips: Leaked 2

At My Fingertips began as an exploration of the contrasting cultures in New York City and Jakarta from a twentysomethings point of view. As a newly minted twenty year old, I began realizing the major differences between the lives of young New Yorkers and Jakartans. For instance, by senior year, many of my friends at Sarah Lawrence freak out about the future. Perhaps, this reinforces the stereotype that Americans are much more detached when it comes to raising twentysomethings, such as not expecting any of their young adult children to move back into his/her parents' house. On the other hand, many Jakartans also feel the same way, no one is expected to leave his/her parents' house before marriage. 

These slight variations, I believe, influence the social dynamic between young adults in New York and Jakarta. One's trajectories change when he/she joins one group or the other. Instead of going on and on about the contrasts between these two pools, I decided to write a novel chronicling a young Jakartans life between the Big Apple and her hometown. 

At My Fingertips 
I love the hot steam. Somehow, searing hot water is the only way I would feel clean. As I step out of the shower I realize that no one is around. Without Jack or Guntur around, I am suddenly free to act as I please. It’s been eons since I’ve had the apartment to myself. I walk out of the bathroom with nothing but the towel atop my head. The sweltering heat of the summer condones my odd behavior.
            As I sit on the windowsill, with my back facing the streets, I thank the universe for placing me in New York City at this specific time. This bustling city promotes liberation and freedom, which, to me, were unavailable in Jakarta. When I came home, a few years back, I faced a world of rules. New to the adult world, I discovered a list of unwritten instructions on how to behave, appear and speak. Coming from a clothing optional liberal arts college in the U.S., I knew that I had to compromise, somehow. And I did, quite well actually, until I didn’t.
            I take a deep breathe and exhale, hoping that all of the memories would dispense itself through the air that exits my nostrils and gaping lips. Everything is back in order. I am in New York and I am free to do whatever I like, even if that means walking around my apartment in the buff. Out of the blue, I hear the doorbell rings.
            “Wait a second!” I yell, grabbing a bathrobe, before opening the door to find an inflated policeman.
            “Are you the woman that sat by the window facing the street a few minutes ago?”
            “Mm, yes. What is this about?”
            “Do you know that there are families with children living in this area?”
            “Yes, I’ve lived here for two years”
            “Well, this is a warning, please do not expose yourself, especially when you are fully aware that your window is directly facing the streets. Next time, you will have to go to court. But for now, I’m going to be lenient and leave you with a warning.”
            “Thank you, officer”

            I close the door and close the blinds. Maybe, freedom and liberty are mere fallacies. 

*Author has the rights to publish the photo above

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Writer in (the cusps of a) Crisis

Fiction is essentially a lie. A fabricated tapestry created to deliver a certain message, entertain, as well as unravel the truth.

A loyal lover of stories, I began writing soap operas whilst in grade school (SD). The laughter I heard as friends read the scribbled out, dirty paper in their hand, was the seed to what I have become today. Though, my journey actually began years back, with a sketch book and a pencil, I soon learned how transcendent stories are and could be.

I'd like to think that these kids are occupied in the world of stories
Be it a drawing, a sculpture, a play, music, or a book, stories permeate through our lives. For centuries, human beings have taken inspiration from nature, molded their own recipes of a good time and spread it around through word of mouth around the bonfire. Today, with the advent of the Internet and "endless connectivity", it has become more and more difficult, yet easy to write, as well as share our work with others.

Even so, at seventy-something blogposts and two children's books, I have yet to complete my very first novel, despite folders upon folders of first sentences and first paragraphs, despite receiving multiple inspirations each and every week, despite having the drive to write in long form. A professor at a management school in Jakarta once told me that writing first requires intuition, then critical thinking. A writer is asked to spell out the problem, insert words and curate paragraphs with his/her heart. "Let the words flow onto the page," he'd say, "Once you're done, you can use your head to edit and polish the piece."

Rather than feeling stuck, I feel like I am only at the cusp of this maze that I need to go into.

With miles to go and hypothetical mountains to climb, I realize the amount of sitting that I have to do, instead of walking, running or hiking. To create a world is one thing, but to maintain is the other. As I continue to divide my time between Jakarta and New York, two great cities, which are challenges to maintain, I realize the level of pains invested into preserving the multiple monuments that grace both concrete jungles, in addition to the level of awareness and swiftness required to fix everyday problems that impact each cities' citizens on major proportions.

Writing, perhaps, looks quite similar to building and maintaining cities. Sometimes, when it comes to projects such as a children's book, one has the privilege to write short sentences. Moreover, one can work together with another individual, such an illustrator, to complete the book. Sometimes, a project requires millions of words, carefully chosen to lay out the story. Novels, which I believe begs for the latter, are my current challenge. After multiple trials and multiple loose ends, I wonder if I am going against the grain set by the professor mentioned above.

Do I lack the intuition required to complete a novel? Perhaps, I need to learn to trust myself, both heart and head, in order to overcome this optional mountain in front of me. There seems to be a lot of maybes and perhapses that I wonder if I will ever get there.

My heart during the writing process and during feedback time

One part of me wants to continue on with what I'm doing, which includes quietly typing away in my room and not allowing anyone to see my work. Another part of me wants to try something new. In the past two days, I have chosen the second route. I have begun "leaking" excerpts of the stories that I have yet finished, in hopes to garner some new inspiration or even some feedback. Of course, my heart quivers at the idea of vulnerably putting my babies out there, but my head knows that the possible pain will not be as bad as open heart surgery.

So, here goes. For the past two days, I have begun this new initiative, if I may say so, to place paragraphs of my stories into the world. Some are five years old, while others are still fresh from the oven. I began with At My Fingertips, a codename for one of my current projects, which chronicles the life of a Jakartan twentysomething as she tries to find her place in the world. It may or may not be inspired by my own experiences between Asia and America, and it may or may not entail common issues faced by a new generation of Jakartan young adults at the edge of living independent lives.

My fingers are crossed in terms of how this would all pan out. Please let me know what you think. If you're a reader, let me know your experience with choosing books and digesting stories. If you're a writer, let me know how you get through the muddy stage of finishing a project. If you're an artist, let me know how you move from idea to actualization. And if you're just a human being, please let me know whatever you think about this new project.

Writer in the early stages of crisis

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

At My Fingertips: Leaked

Maybe, I'm jinxing it. Maybe, this is a stupid decision. But maybe, I just need to let it out, to reveal just enough...

For the past few years, I have played with the idea of writing a novel. However, things have been a bit rough, when it comes to writer's block and all that. So, I decided to leak bits and pieces of the books that I have begun writing. Feel free to comment, but as always, be aware of your language and this tender heart of mine. 

If Only Writing a Novel Required As Much Concentration as this Children's Book

At My Fingertips (working title)
At my fingertips there is the world. Today, the globe seems smaller than a Ping-Pong ball. If lack of connection is no longer an issue, then why am I alone?

At this moment, I am sitting in Time Square. The air seems suddenly cleaner. Granted, it is only six am. But, isn’t New York the city that never sleeps? With an unlit cigarette twirling between my fingers, I continue to read my tattered paperback. The truth is, I don’t smoke, can’t smoke, especially with these lungs of mine. The truth is, I am in love, addicted with the smell of the cigarette. It reminds me of the skin I can’t touch through the screen and the lips that I can’t kiss through the web. 

*Author has the rights to publish the photo above