How I Met a Woman

Lust and the potential energy in Ubud

TWO years ago I am in the bed of a former French supermodel. She is on me, in fact, as we kiss. I am near blinded by her red hair. The only thing that stops us screwing at that point, is a thin black piece of fabric between her legs, still a little damp from the pool.

I am nervous at how rough she is treating me, how she forces my mouth to move to hers to avoid pain. She pulls apart and looks down and in the room’s shadows I see her smile. “You’re a nice boy,” Luce says, and I’m confused.

Then she yawns. We’ve been up all night and it’s nearly seven. It’s catching. I yawn too. When I close my mouth I see she is watching me, eyes squinting. She is thinking about something other than sex.

“Do you want to be inspired to write more?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said, “I’ve love to be able to write better,” and I did. I had relaxed in Bali enough to envy writers, sculptures, creationists. I just didn’t know how to start.

“If you mean that,” Luce said, humping me teasingly. I gasped. “Then I’m going to do something that  seems cruel. But I’m doing it because I like you for more than your body. I like you for the potential your mind can bring. And also because I’m so bloody tired.”

She slowly got off me, dragging her leg to make me feel so good. I understood then I wasn’t getting a screw and I am ashamed now for the glare I must have given her, the frustration expressed knowing that what I’d hoped to happen for half the night wasn’t going to.

Luce watched me with a serious expression on her face, checking for any danger signs. She then stroked her hair and stood. She dressed in bright pants she must have bought from the market, and then settled on the bed back to me. I put my hands on her hips and she let me keep them there.

She fell asleep, but I was too tense. My body was filled with adrenaline and ranting chemicals that screamed “why can’t we leave now?”

I wasn’t angry at Luce. Understood that for whatever reason, no meant no. I still felt wounded. I took it personally. Why would she stop when things were going so well? I forced myself to stay where I was. I didn’t want her to think I was leaving because I was sulking.

A toilet break and a light dip in the pool later, and I had enough. Other writers staying in the same villa were awake now, and they made awkward conversation with each other, presumably wondering “who is this guy?”

I dressed in her bedroom, and squeezed her hand. “Wazz up?” she asked and I told her I was leaving.

“Okay,” she said, not comprehending, and I left the villa and the resort, and walked the road to Ubud. The tension I felt in the villa lessened as my legs stretched, and as I heard the birds and smelt the greenery.

Still, I was confused as to what had happened, and when I realised I felt cheated, I knew I was in the wrong. I told myself I was glad we did not have sex. Luce owed me nothing. I enjoyed her company all through the night, she helped me into the VIP party, made me feel special, made out with me in the ravine.

As soon as she asked me to come back to her place, I didn’t care what she was giving me. I only hoped for what more I could get; the communication between gender that defines success to man. It was only much later – after I took the plane back to Brisbane, after I failed my uni degree, after I had a story published in a magazine based on the events that just happened, that I understood what she had done.

This amazing, generous, wise girl had deliberately given me something much more lasting.

Potential energy. And Herpes.

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Categories: How I Met a Woman, love, Philosophy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Loving Luce

Luce parked the moped in front of a resort called Ubud Green. She led me through a maze of pathways to different villas. We entered through a door,  walked through a hallway and lounge to a patio and swimming pool where several other people chatted on a Bali lounge.

The patio overlooked the rice paddies. It was silent out there but for the night time insects and amphibians. The unspoiled and hard workers would wake soon.  But in the villa it was filled with talking, the clack of wine bottles, and the doomed voice of Amy Winehouse. Crime writer Joey shared the villa next door with a few other writers, so he kindly went to get me some surf shorts to wear.

We stripped to our swim wear and were in the pool in minutes. Luce and I broke from the others. She swam to the edge of the patio, and I swam casually in her direction. I was her satellite now. Joey sat on the pool stairs and talked with the others, and though he settled on a frizzy haired blonde beauty to talk to during the 3am blues; still he frowned as he watched us both.

SONY DSC

Luce and I talked. There is much to it when you love the sound the words come from, the lips the sounds escape. She told me why she left modelling, and why she liked photography so much. She was reluctant at first, but she spoke faster and her hands would jump animatedly from the surface of the water, often splashing me in the eyes.

“They used my image to represent other products,” she said, sometime during the early hours, when we were the only two left on the patio. “Sure, I felt beautiful when I saw the finished photos. But I suppose I always wanted to record other images to represent how I felt. Guess after a lot of crap that happened, I gave up the fashion. Put on too much weight anyway.”

I wanted to tell her she wasn’t fat, that she was beautiful, amazing, gorgeous. I am glad I didn’t get the chance to reveal my infatuation. She ducked under the water. Resurfaced and spat the water in my face. “Argh!” I groaned dramatically and wrestled her back under the water. She slid away like an eel, poked me in the ribs and swam to the other side for another Bintang.

We sat on the pool stair, she comfortably between my legs, as we watched the sky lighten over the rice paddies. The palms that marked a ravine in the distance began to colour from dark blues to orange and greens. The air warmed. Once we left the pool we would sweat.

“What about you, Chris?” Luce asked as she stroked my tanned, hairy thigh. “We’ve talked about me all night. I’m so sorry.”

Only now did I start thinking of the degree I had left behind. The assignments that were due. I knew I would have to turn on my phone and answer the many messages from concerned family members. I felt tense now, and perhaps she felt that. She spun around and kissed me.

“Do you write much poetry?” she asked. I knew then she believed I was entirely different to what I was. She thought I was a wandering bohemian writing love poetry and down to earth travel fiction as a way to make a living.

“I never wrote poetry before,” I said, “I never performed. I never wrote any stories. I’m not that creative.”

“Everyone is creative,” Luce said. “You just need inspiration. You need a muse.” She grinned. “Write about tonight, where we were, what we did, what we’re going to do.”

It was now hot above the surface of the water. She slowly got out and held my hand. “I’m tired,” she yawned, and took me into the villa, kept on walking till she opened a glass sliding door into her bedroom. The king sized bed was made; ready; prepared on both sides. Her body was still damp as she lay next to me on the bed.

An air-conditioner hummed somewhere above us. I kissed her, and she kissed me harder. Her facial expression seemed angry in the room’s vague lighting, even when she closed her eyes.

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Making out at Bridges

I kissed Luce, and before I could break apart she put a bit of her tongue in my mouth. Just a light flutter; the buzz of a bumblebee wing. Her eyes were closed and she kept them that way until our lips broke away. She put her hand lightly on my chest, almost as if to keep me from kissing again.

Other writers sat beside us – one of them I eventually recognised as a well established crime novelist; Joey Valandana. He looked like a short haired Jim Morrison. “This is amazing!” he said, ignoring what was at that point the greatest moment of my life. “I can’t believe I’m here with Paul Kelly, and some of the greatest writers and musicians alive!” He pointed at an austere looking man with moon shaped glasses, who was talking to an unidentified woman with an afro.  “That’s one of those most influential political journalists in China.”

He followed Luce and I across the balcony. She was stopped by a much older woman, who engaged her in conversation about night time photography.

“And I can’t believe I’m talking to Luce,” Joey whispered as he asked for a vodka. He picked up a stray frangipani from the bar and put it behind his ear. “You know she was one of the most highest paid models in Europe, a couple of years back? Did you read her memoir that came out a few months ago? About her depression and self-harm and why she gave up fashion? You should have heard her interview two days ago.” He gave a lazy sort of smile as he chewed a vitamin C tablet. “Guess a little like us all.” He paused after another mouthful. “So what do you do anyway?”

“I study law,” I said, and he lifted his glass with a moronic smile, and said “cool man. Good for you.” But I’ve never seen someone look so unimpressed with my chosen profession.

I had Luce’s attention again. She waved me back to the corner of the balcony where there was a set of stairs. We followed them down into the darkness. We were at the edge of the ravine. I stumbled on a rock.

“Careful,” she grabbed my hand. We explored underneath the balcony, and another set of stairs going even further down the cliff. We stood at the edge seeing if we could do down closer to the river.

“I guess we’re at the end of this path.” She squeezed into my body. We made out somewhere underneath that balcony, the conversations above eventually quietening as the night became morning. I could see nothing but the reflection of lights above. I smelt frangipanis and perfume. I heard our lips and tongues click, crickets and frogs, the waterfall, and the light scuffling of each other’s clothing as we pawed at the bony and fleshy shapes they protected.  Hip and butt and breast and stomach.

Eventually someone called down to us, “Is someone there? The place is closing now!” I followed Luce to the front where the late leavers gathered for opportunistic taxi drivers to take them home.

“Can we see each other before you go to America?” I asked, and she led me to a moped at the side of the building.

Then she said, “the night doesn’t have to end just yet!” She shouted at Joey and a couple of her other friends. “We’ll see you back at the villa!” and she put her helmet on. “Let’s go and have a few more drinks.”

“Are you able to drive?” I asked, and she said she had not had that much alcohol. That was good enough for me. I climbed on behind on and grabbed her waist.

“Tighter, you sexy man!” she yelled over the engine as she revved past the other writers, and I did what I was told. I should have been more frightened than I was, it was bloody dangerous being driven on a moped at night by a drunk girl, without even wearing a helmet, but I had never been more excited.

Categories: How I Met a Woman, Romance, Ubud Writers Festival | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hobnobbing with Paul Kelly and Luce

The festival’s closing ceremony was amazing. I will remember it for the rest of my life.

It was held beside a resort on the top of a hill. 500 locals and westerners (perhaps more) danced  to bass, acoustic and Balinese rhythms, as large exotic birds – like cockatoos, parrots and horn-bills – all gathered on artificial branches by the back wall, watching us with disdain.

An experimental acoustic guitarist from Jordan opened the night – he crooned out songs as the crowd got loose. A girl danced with me for a little while, and I made the mistake of dancing too. The surrounding backpackers booed at my moves.

Embarrassed, I slunk away, as men wearing masks and stilts twirled with fire. They co-ordinated their somersaults and twirls in traditional dress, blasting fire over the audience like dragon fire. Instead of terrified cries, there was applause, and another song began.

Someone took my arm, while I was still blushing. “Did you see that?” Luce said (the girl I met in the Bali Buddha the day before). “Wasn’t it incredible?” She let go of my arm. “I love Bali.”

“Me too,” I said, and I just stood, not sure how to keep up the conversation while we had to shout in each other’s ears to be heard. I watched her out of the corner of my eye for a little bit, loved how she had curled her red hair, how the colour suited the low cut black dress. Once again – I kept my eyes from slinking down her body.

“I’m Luce,” she said, offering a hand. I shook it.

“Nice to meet you.”

She smiled. “This is the part where you say your name, isn’t it?”

“Chris.”

“You’re from Australia,” she said, guessing from my accent. “I love Australia.”

“Seems like you love everywhere you go,” I said, and she laughed and pushed her hair behind an ear and said “not quite. I’ve been to a lot of places, and some of them have been hellish.”

Her mouth was dry, so I offered to get us both a bottle of flavoured water (no alcohol at the actual ceremony, that was reserved for the after-party) and when I came back she spoke about her photography, and where she had been this year alone (Iceland, India, Nepal) and that she was going to America in a few days’ time.

A few minuters later there was a loud applause later and the crowd scattered. The 2011 Ubud Writers Festival had closed. Before Luce went to join a small group of writers, she said,“If you’re going to the after party at Bridges soon, I’ll see you there?”

I told her I would.

Twenty minutes later and I was at the Bridges Restaurant. It was unclear at first how large the building was. It was set on a ravine – and by the main street bridge which was obviously it’s namesake. There was a spiral staircase set over three floors but the main entrance was on the second. There were bright lights, light brown polished wood and candles everywhere. Bar keeps and waitresses strode calmly but hurriedly to serve the increasing number of customers. I walked downstairs but a blond Dutch man guarded a doorway which was signed “Writers and VIP guests only” and asked me politely if I was anyone special.

Photograph taken from julieinbali.wordpress.com

A photograph of where the writers after party was. I presume the photo was snapped from the bridge. Taken from julieinbali.wordpress.com

So I sat out the front, sharing a bowl of chips with a few other friends I made throughout the festival. They were nice, welcoming, friendly. But I kept thinking of Luce. I was crushing on her, bad.  I thought our conversation could have meant something. But as I write this I realise that the polite conversation she initiated was a lovely reflection on herself, and not on me.

“Chris!” Luce waved at me as she passed by with her writer mates – who were beginning to walk in improvised swirls that only intoxication can bring with such nonchalant lack of elegance. I recognised the poet who inspired me a few nights before into writing poetry. “Come on! We’re going downstairs! Join us!”

I followed her without thinking as I followed the troupe down the stairs – hoping to pass unnoticed by the bouncer. They all showed badges to the Dutch bouncer and were in the party on the other side.

“Who is this?” the Dutch man eyed me down.

“My plus one!” Luce said, and when he looked sceptical, she held my hand. The skin on her hand felt tough and bony, certainly not soft like the powdered cheeks on her face. He waved us through and we stood on a balcony over the river; surrounded by talented musicians and writers I recognised,  but without PR or security blocking them. I recognised Selina Godden, Geoff Lemon, the guitarist from Jordan, Morris Gleitzman, I even brushed arms with Paul Kelly.

“So how do you make gravy anyway?” I asked the famous Australian musician, who was reaching for chocolate mousse. He smiled at me quizzically.

“Stay cool, Chris! Stay cool,” Luce said.

“Give my love to Angus!” I shouted back, as she led me to a corner to sit under a frangipani tree. And still she did not let go of my hand.

“Thank you,” I said as a waiter offered martinis, and as Luce passed me one, she smiled and said, “you’re absolutely welcome.”

Categories: How I Met a Woman, Ubud Writers Festival | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How I met Luce at the Ubud Writers Festival

I know I have taken a while to get to telling you (the patient reader) about the beautiful woman who changed my life. The woman who made me realise I was but a scared little boy surrounded by sex-crazed men in a materialistic world where everything – including the warmth of another– has currency.

Her name is Luce. And she is a former Lacoste model turned internationally renowned photographer.

Two years ago I was in the Bali Buddha – relaxing with a book and eating fish and chips. A woman clutching a motorbike helmet walked up the stairs and joined a couple at the table beside me. I had gathered by their conversation that they were writers and photographers who were speaking at the festival.

“Excuse me,” she said, after noticing their table was one seat short. She had red hair cut to just above her shoulders, a nose ring, and despite the heat wore a khaki military style sort of jacket, and ragged jeans. I remember thinking this was strange. And a little bad-ass.

I ignored her, until I learnt she was speaking to me. She waved. I smiled back. “You want the seat? It’s all yours!” I said.

My eagerness must have been taken the wrong way. I was just happy to talk to another person. I was lonely.

“You were at the bar last night, performing that poem,” She said. I stared up at her eyes, trying not to check her breasts, which stuck out under the low cut top between the unbuttoned jacket. They were perky.  Ripe for attention. But when I weakened, and I glimpsed down, I saw she had a tag given to all the workers at the festival.

“Writer”, it said.

“Yeah, that’s me,” I said, laughing with embarrassment. “I wrote it yesterday afternoon. I know it was a bit crap, but…”

Picture of Luce: as crap as my poem.

Picture of Luce: as crap as my poem.

“I thought it was beautiful,” she said. The other two behind her smiled at me as well, but their lips were shaped differently. I assumed they were pretentious, fake, and forcing themselves to engage with me.

I was not one of them.

“Thank you,” I said, as she dragged the seat across to the other two. I disguised my eavesdropping by staring down at my book. But really I was hoping to break into that conversation, to listen to her speak to me in that French accent.

But the truth is sometimes you cannot force something to happen no matter how much you want it to. But though we kissed the next night on a balcony underneath a frangipani tree, surrounded by the most respected writers and artists for thousands of kilometres (and much more!) I tried to shrug her memory away when I saw her follow the couple down the stairs.

She didn’t glance back at the awkward, shaggy haired (it wasn’t as long then) loner finishing his crumbed fish.

 

.

Categories: How I Met a Woman, Romance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

International poetry reading : from a fighter in a dress

Kilt

Taken from comesitbythehearth.blogspot.com

This is the third part of a longer story. Read page one to get the context.

The MC called my name during the Ubud Poetry Slam and I stood at the front holding my notepad. I could barely read the crossed out lines – the ink in red incomprehensible in the glare of the spotlight.

I recognised many members of the audience.They were shop owners. The tourists. The interns who helped paint the ticket box.

Yes, I still have the poem somewhere. It is a symbol of how Bali changed my life – long before I was declared the Monkey King. I keep it folded in my baggy golden pants. I had hoped to record my voice and share the poem, but I was going through technical difficulties.

So here is a few lines of the performance based poetry.

I wish I was a fighter in a dress, who combats with a sword. A priest as well. A warrior reverend who would defend the good and push the bad to a terrible end, cause priest and warrior believe in extremity of white and black. Of light and red. And the living live a while and the dead lie. No compromise, for truth is yours, once taken, dies.

Afterward I stuttered my way through the poem, some of the other poets (mostly girls) would tell me they liked it. I sat by the bar and had a coke with a friend I had met. She left for the bathroom as a monkey jumped on the bar.

He gave me a nod of respect. “Dude, nice poem.”

“Thanks,” I said as the bartender chased him off with a broom.

I did not place in the top three in the competition results. Did not win the newcomer award. I cared about that at first.

But a beautiful, wonderful girl watched me perform the poem. We met the next day and she told me she enjoyed it.  We might not have been romantically involved if I did not perform on that night.

I’ll give you something to leave on. Her name is Luce.
We meet in the next post.

Categories: How I Met a Woman, Ubud Writers Festival | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

How I Met a Woman: Through my poetry

This is just part of a longer piece. You wouldn’t skip to the last episode of How I Met Your Mother, would you? No, you would start at the beginning. I’ve linked it here for your convenience. You’re welcome.

I learnt about the back streets where tourists had no business going. I went to temples, back street tea-houses, legitimate massage parlours, in a quest to deliver pamphlets for the festival.

poet chris

I was too scared to enter the monkey forest. Monkeys dashed through the trees, swiping whatever they could get their hands on. I didn’t have my rabies shot and an angry Irish man came out the gate with bite marks and monkeys all over him, as he screamed, “oh it hurts! It hurts! Argh!”

Then nine of the monkeys threatened me, one of them clutching a screwdriver, and they hi-jacked my moped. They kicked me off when we climbed the hill to the Bintang Supermarket. I had to go back to where I hired the moped to explain what happened.

“Those evil monkeys,” the moped owner spat in the alleyway, then laughed. “I’ll go into the forest later and bring it back.” I vowed never to go into the forest again. Luckily I broke my vow 18 months later to become the monkey king, which you can read about here.

Shaken from the experience, I walked to Starbucks to be calmed by caffeine. The building overlooked a stage in the middle of a lily pond, and as the moon reflected on the water, a UK poet by the name of Salena Godden spoke her pieces to awestruck crowds, all who were taken by the atmosphere. She pranced in bright blue shoes chanting about them in delicious phrases that make my ear drums shiver.

I realised that if this was poetry, then Banjo Patterson and the old bush poets I learnt about at school were isolated hilly-billies. This was cool. This was contemporary. This was modern.

When you’re inspired by creativity you go home and try and copy it. I wrote at a carved wooden desk in the hotel lobby, trying to express love and anger in poetry. I buzzed out like a Pentecostal fixed on the Holy Spirit, ecstatic as I read my finished product aloud to the maids, who clapped afterwards and told me about a poetry competition that was happening in an hour’s time down the street.

I ran down the street because I was so proud of what I did, and I was at the bar panting to anybody who looked like they were running the event, “can I go in the competition? Can I enter?” and at last a poet from Alice Springs said “yes, you can, I’ll put you down! You’ll be number 16th” and I waited.

I paced the restaurant crowded with international travellers (from Europe, the Americas, Australia, Asia, Africa).

And I was scared – assuming that what I called my poem would be torn to shreds by experts.

Categories: How I Met a Woman, Ubud Writers Festival | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

My life: a prequel

Play the song for the atmosphere, and strap yourself in for the story before I became Monkey King, and how I met the woman who changed my entire mindset about life.

UNTIL two years ago I did not have the chance to be creative. Not really. Sure there were Paint document experiments, and Cowboys and Indians, and McDonalds playground adventures. But that was the limit.

“Study law,” Dad said Christmas morning the year I graduated high school. “And you can use it to gain legitimacy in everything you do, particularly among the lower classes.”

“Sure, okay,” I said, only knowing that I would eventually join the family business. Until then I could do whatever I liked, within reason and as long as it brought no dishonour among the family.

“My son’s going to be a lawyer!” Dad later declared at the Christmas family gathering, the olive in his cocktail falling onto a crab in the seafood platter. Everyone cheered and donated money and cheques into a big bowl for “the cause”.

That afternoon I had enough to study at Bond University (Gold Coast) three times over. I couldn’t get out of it even if I had the willpower.

I blame the stress of exams for the breakdown, and the fact that despite study I just couldn’t memorise anything from the textbooks. At some point I thought overseas travel might clear my head. It might have been the combination of the seven Monster energy drinks, three days without sleep, and dad’s cocaine talking.

I decided to go to Denmark. I bought the tickets and discovered a week later (two hours before the flight) that I had booked to go to Denpasar airport, Bali, instead.

I spent the first week in Kuta throwing money around. I spent time at the pool, the market, in bars, in shopping centres. I tried to get “cultured” by going to the beach. I went on an elephant ride and to the safari park.

At some point I stopped in Ubud. I had tea and a club sandwich at a little tea house hidden behind a building on the main road. Some European women with the brown wrinkled skin of having lived in Bali most of their lives were talking about there not being enough volunteers at the upcoming writer’s festival.

A younger woman joined them. She sat down after ordering fish and chips, in Balinese. She was cute. I was lonely. For two weeks I’d only talked to people who spoke broken English. “Can I help at all?” I asked, and a wicked beam was shared between the three women.

After I finished my club sandwich, Chantelle (the cute woman who I later found out was from Sweden) led me to an old filthy room by the side of the road. I helped other interns scrub down the walls and paint it a bright blue colour. In days we cleaned it and electricity was rerouted from a cord to the power-line so computers could work.

I didn’t see Chantelle much but I think by the way she flirted and took my chips one lunchtime, that she knew I liked her. She toyed with that…And though she was beautiful, she was not the woman I dated. She is not the subject of this blog.

The subject of the blog, well, she saw me perform at an eventful performance poetry competition. Which I will tell you about. Next time.

Categories: How I Met a Woman, Ubud Writers Festival | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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