Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Going Solo

Chad and I are both working at the newspaper now, so it's pretty rare for both of us to have the weekend off. One of those weekends happened unexpectedly about three weeks ago, so we decided to make a last-minute dash to Solo, Central Java.

We stayed at the Novotel which is pretty cushy for us -- not only flush toilets, hot showers and a nice pool, but in-room broadband and culturally appropriate statuary!

Solo is a famous cultural destination. There was a fancy map at the hotel showing all kinds of interesting places to visit.

Unfortunately we didn't go to any of them. Mostly we just stayed in our room and typed on our laptops, because we were doing National Novel Writing Month and we were both struggling to keep our word counts up.

NaNoWriMo involves writing a 50,000-word novel in a month (the month of November, specifically). That's 1667 words a day. If you fall behind, your word deficit starts piling up faster than unsold SUVs at General Motors.

We did manage to get out to one place -- the kampung batik or batik neighborhood. It's a cute area of narrow streets full of small shops making and selling batik, such as the shirt above.

Chad wanted his picture taken at the Ryan batik shop, because there is a famous serial killer named Ryan who's on trial for murder right now in Jakarta. I had bought a cheap, crummy paperback book about him at the airport to read on the plane - one of those books full of fuzzy pictures downloaded from the internet.

The worst thing about the book is that, since Ryan is gay, the author felt it necessary to put lots of things about his domestic habits in quotation marks. The result reads something like Ryan and his "partner" decided to "spend some time together" at the apartment, and then Ryan cooked dinner like a good "wife." Every time I see those marks I imagine the author making a little "quote" gesture, and after a while I feel exhausted from all the gesturing ... nevermind the unpleasant sneering tone.

After the Ryan shop, we saw an awesome sign about The Power of Underwear.

We also saw a garage door that had been extensively decorated by Slank fans. Slank is a Jakarta group that inhabits that gray area between rock band and cult. Slank graffiti is everywhere, and if you go to any kind of big celebration, like the annual Idul Fitri street celebrations, you'll see kids waving Slank banners.

Interestingly, Slank gave out free pairs of underwear with one of their recent CDs, as a reward for purchasing a legal copy instead of the black-market version. The power of underwear, indeed!

So that is all we saw of Solo. We even ate all our meals at the hotel, pathetically; every time we tried to go out to eat, it started raining. Luckily the hotel food was good. Plus they had the local specialty, nasi liwet: chicken and shredded squash with some coconut milk sauces, sambal and of course, rice. It was tasty.

Best of all, we both completed NaNoWriMo successfully this past Sunday! Woohoo!


Nadya said...

But.. if the whole plan was to stay at the hotel and write from the very beginning. Why bother going to Solo and not just check in to a neighborhood in Jaks City?

as above said...

I meant to say "neighborhood hotel" .. sorry!

michele said...

ok, now you MUST do a post (please!) about your novel - and chad's if you're allowed to mention it - and tell us what it's about, what it was like writing it, and what its future is!

I didn't know about novel writing month. very intriguing...

fri said...

Yea, NaNoWriMo is one good thing from the west that clearly need to be exported here. Sigh, why we just got the reality shows.

You should really show us your result. Except if you're only randomly pounding words to get the number of words ;)

kopisusu2 said...

Ah, but Nadya, sometimes you just have to get out of Jakarta.Even if it's mostly a mental escape.

There's always a Jakarta NaNoWriMo group, fri, so you should join next year! And I promise to share a little of mine soon ... one of the parts where I wasn't just pounding out words. :)

Shelley said...

Congrats on finishing NaNo! John told me that you and Chad AND Drew and Mel were all doing it, which is amazing. Every year I look at it and think, "Man, November is a really bad month, work-wise," and I always chicken out of signing up.

I also remain amused at Drew's advice to John: "If you want to keep your word count up, there's nothing better than sex scenes." Now we REALLY want to read Drew's book.

And yours too, of course!

kopisusu2 said...

Thanks! The really amazing thing is that all four of us finished!

And yes, Drew's books are much spicier than mine -- sex,violence, dream sequences, etc. He is a word machine; he's always ahead on his count, and last year he was the only one to finish at all.