C10H14N2, the sequel.

Prompt from here.
A recorded rant for those who are still in search for love in a hopeless place.

A man smokes a cigarette on the pavement outside his office in Paris

‘Your room reeks.’
‘I know, sorry.’
‘I thought you don’t smoke?’
‘I don’t.’
‘Ah. Must be your clothes. You met him, didn’t you?’
‘Yes, but this… this is not because of him.’
‘What? How do you know?’
‘I can only tolerate one type of cig. Not this one.’
‘That’s… romantic.’

The conversation rang like a fire drill inside my head ever since I had it.

Adults and kiddos, ladies and gents and everyone in between, let’s face this now: we live in an era where romance is not about whispering sweet words into someone’s ear, nor about throwing rocks at someone’s window in the middle of the night, and least of all about taking poisons just because you both come from families in dispute (oops).

Are we saying goodbye to good old chivalries?
I don’t think so. Not completely.

People still do that. It’s just that some people started to get different ideas of what romance is. Some think it’s about a simple good morning text. Some think it’s about sparing 20 minutes for a coffee in the middle of work. My friend, apparently, thinks the fact that I can only tolerate one type of cigarette a part of romance.

Me? I’m inexperienced. That was what he told me.

And no – we’re not talking about what you might think it is. It’s simply a matter of knowing if someone was right for you or not (yes, I can hear you clearly – you, the one who shouted “LAME!” by the back).

He said that I might like him because I don’t know what’s good for me and what’s not.
Personally speaking? I do. He just doesn’t know about how I refer to him as potato chips to my peers.

Why chips? you asked. Why not… cupcakes?
Well, it doesn’t have to be chips, really. It can be MSG. It can be a bucket of fried chicken. It can be that extra slice of cake. When I write I prefer to use the term LSD 25 – which is not 100% accurate but hey! Let’s not get technical here. If it’s too much for you, though, let’s get this straight. What do they have in common?

Potato chips. MSG. Fried chicken. Cake. LSD 25.
You know it’s not good for you, but once you discovered how good it tastes you just keep adding more and more of it to the suggested dose.
A bit of it? It’s recreational. A lot of it? It’s suicidal.

Well, what do you know – maybe taking in a lot of those chips is also considered as romance by that friend of mine. Isn’t it a bit like Shakespearean time? Slowly killing yourself for something you thought is love, all the while being plain stupid – because it’s voluntary.

One quick question before I end this pointless rant though.
The idea of romance: will you let this guilty pleasure kill you?



In response of this prompt.

‘Aren’t you proud of what you’ve done?’

I looked down to the iced Americano on the table, not being able to answer. From my point of view nothing seemed to go well by that time. Chaos, mess, and disorder – much like the traffic outside the coffeeshop we were in – he had done an excellent job pointing them out in every single thing I have conducted so far. No reason to say yes here.

He waited.
I swallowed.

An honest reply almost rolled out of my tongue when he continued. ‘For me, I’m proud of you.’

I looked up instantly.
‘Really,’ he quickly added.

…well that’s a first.

True story.

A rather surprising moment if I thought about it, but it wasn’t really something you hear often from anyone (excluding family members who will probably say that even when you pour H2SO4 over their flowerbed in the name of science).

Have you had it?
The time when someone set aside your flaws for a second, recap all the efforts and changes you have made throughout the times, and take a moment to say it out loud?

For me, luckily enough, I have.
He was my mentor, so I’ve been telling myself it’s probably just for the sake of keeping me from quitting.

Never had the guts to ask whether he meant what he said.
Nope. Not ready for it.
Later, maybe, if I reached a day when I don’t have to see him regularly anymore. Or if I got drunk enough. But not now. Definitely not now.

For now, I’m just going to bask in this assumption and do what I can do with what I have.

PS. if you had said that to someone else before, bless you
PPS. if by any chance you’re my mentor who stumbled upon this page and somehow found out this is me, let’s pretend this post doesn’t exist

You remain: my power, my pleasure, my pain

Title taken from Seal’s “Kiss from A Rose”.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “No Apologies”.

‘Do you need to throw up?’

She shook her head and clenched her eyes shut – not that she needed to. Occasional streetlights penetrated through the tinted window, shooting at her eyelids as if trying to prevent her from dozing off with the help of the sound of racing motorcycles along the road.

‘Are you sure?’

This time she nodded. Through the curtain of messy locks covering her face, her drinking companion’s stare bore a hole at the side of her head. Curled up in the backseat, the road bumps made it difficult to hold it in. It was embarrassing to have mere two bottles of 19% knocking her out to such a stupor. She should’ve stopped at the beginning of the second one but she really hated to be that lame kid who couldn’t handle her liquor…

‘Tell me if you need to.’

Another feeble nod. Shifting sound. Him looking away, probably. Good thing. The last thing she wanted was to look pathetic in front of him. Although it was more of a high hope at this point. What exactly got her there in the first place again? It was some kind of frustration from work… something. She had never been that mad before. What made it different from the previous ones? Nah. It was a somebody. She was close to mentally slaughter somebody really maddening but who was it really… Ah. She shouldn’t be wasting her consciousness on trivial things… could consciousness be wasted? What is consciousness? Something overrated, apparently. Ha! She giggled. She could hear a laugh and low voices from the front seats following, another sign that she was the only one not sober in the car. Well, at least she knew she would get home in one piece. What a relieve. She needed to thank him for taking care of her later. Later. After she got home. Home…

The next morning, she woke up with a half-filled bottle in her bag and a sudden flash of memories.
The reason why she drank…
It was the same reason how she got home safe and sound.

How do you know you’re in love?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Fireside Chat.” The title of this post and the first answer in this story is taken from a conversation in “Castle” season something. Stuck in my head for ages. And for a good reason, too.

Like a bolt out of the blue, the question startled me. Especially when it came from someone whom I expect to boast about the topic.

I beg your pardon?

I turned to see the young woman looking at me from the couch by the fireplace. She didn’t seem to be drunk (which is good), but on the other hand didn’t seem to be fully awake either (which is… I dunno how to react to this). Early 20s on a whim, I presumed, from the fact that she’s cradling a cup of coffee with rather hazy eyes. In a cheap bed-and-breakfast in the town. At 11 pm. That, and a closed thick novel on the table. She raised her eyebrows and repeated the question.

How do you know you’re in love?

There was a moment of confusion in my head. So I didn’t hear wrong.
For reasons unknown I brushed of the first question a normal person should’ve asked to a stranger with an even stranger question (f*ck it, I’m on holiday). Instead, I took a deep breath and thought for a good five seconds. My jaw dropped a bit but no words got out.

I blinked.
She smiled.

You look lost.

Yes. And what caused that, I wonder? I cleared my throat and walked across the room to sit on the recliner next to her. The smell of good old long black soothed me immediately. Good job on crumbling down my guard. Kind of hard trying to avoid sounding like a total idiot – or worse, a sceptic – to someone who reminded me of that dreamy blonde girl in Harry Potter.

There’s no right answer to it, don’t you think?
She shrugged. I’m not looking for a right answer. I’m looking for any answer.

All songs make sense.
Like… being sappy?

You… think about them all the time?
That’s… obsessive.

You have butterflies when you see them.
But my boss has that kind of effect too. Pretty sure it’s not love.

Logic doesn’t work.
What do you mean?

Because you’ll do anything in order to be with them.
…like what?

Like buying a plane ticket at 4 in the morning just to surprise them with a coffee and toast.
Is that what you did today? How did it turn out?

As expected, not worth it. What about you?
I don’t know.

I don’t know whether I’ve been in love or not.

If I knew, I wouldn’t ask any random people in any random lodging, would I?

How old are you?
You know it’s kind of like a taboo asking it to a girl.

I don’t know you, you don’t know me… Most people would ask for a name.
So you’re not most people.

I’m saying that it’s impossible for someone your age to not boast like you know about the topic more than Shakespeare. That’s what most people do. I grinned as she burst out laughing. Well, at least she’s not mad.
I still think Romeo and Juliet is a screwed-up thing.

Because both of them committed suicide.

Because they can’t live without each other, right? Isn’t that what love is all about?
You don’t think they’re being selfish?

I rolled my eyes. And here I thought you don’t know how it feels to be in love.
It’s technical. Bear with me.

I watched her sip the coffee, still wondering why anyone would have caffeine in the middle of the night when they have nothing to do. Maybe she still had things to do afterward. Maybe she’s just crazy like that. Maybe I was just being judgmental.

Love is… illogical. I stopped for a bit. You’d do things that you normally won’t do. You’d be happier seeing them happy even if you aren’t. You’d hate to see them cry. You’d make decisions so bad you’ll question them later. You’d realise that the overrated song lyrics do make sense. You’d probably suffer, but you’d be happy most of the time.
She chuckled. Being in love brings out the masochism in people, does it?

Kind of.

Why, are you suffering because of someone right now?
Kind of.

He’s dense. I’m proud. That’s the end of it.

Then you’re not in love.

Because logic is still there.
Are you saying being in love makes people stupid?

So you’re being stupid right now.

…you know it’s a taboo saying that to any person you just met.
I don’t know you, you don’t know me. Most people think so, but we’re not most people now, aren’t we?

Good point.
I know.

Well, I’ll be off.

It is kinda late.

See you around?
See you around.

She shot me a smile and stood up, picked up her book and left the common room. I gave a small nod in courtesy. That wasn’t the last time I set eyes on her. That was, however, the last time I set eyes on her without thinking that getting on a plane at 4 am that morning did have its merit – coming to an answer for her very question in the first place.

Daily Prompt: Pleased to Meet You

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt:
“Pleased to Meet You.”
Avec le capitaine et moi.

Tick. Tack.
Tick. Tack. Clack.

Fingers dancing on the keyboard.
Q, W, E, R, ,T, Y, U, I, O, P.
A, S, D, F, G, H, J, K, L.
Z, X, C, V, B, N, M.

He sighed.
She sighed.

‘I need nicotine.’
‘I need caffeine.’

‘Let’s go.’

Writing Challenge: Sky Full of Stars

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly writing challenge: “Ice, Water, Steam.” Wrote in my phone and edited it on the computer. Wasn’t as short as I thought.

Inspired by a real conversation.
And yes I stole the title from Coldplay. Shush.

‘It’s hard to see stars in here.’

Although it is a common complaint in the North part of the city, I looked up anyway. I wonder how he came up with such notion that second of all times – there were quite some numbers twinkling in the pitch black background tonight. The cold breeze told me it won’t be for long, though. I stopped for a second just to avoid falling on my face along the unevenly-paved parking lot and glanced aside to my drinking partner of the night. He kept walking with his eyes fixed on the sky. Sighing, I followed suit.

Finding any idea to counter the tactless remark against my hometown was not supposed to be a hard thing to do. But that time, it was. So I gave up and replied, ‘It’s because of the pollution. You should go the beach.’

He snickered, the Southern accent popping up in his words like every time he drops his guard. ‘You mean like that place I went to last week?’
I rolled my eyes. ‘That place is crap. Or maybe The Pass? The sky is clearer there.’

‘Are there a lot of pretty girls in bikini there?’
‘…it’s in the mountains.’

‘Ah. No then.’
Effing foreigners. Is that the only thing you look for in my precious city?

I found myself ransacking my memories for any place to simply observe stars but nothing came up. The lights in the lamp-posts flickered as if trying to slam my thoughts down to the ground. I stopped at my track, realising that I have never waste precious seconds to look up and appreciate mother nature – too busy, as the last hundred excuses said. Then I just stared at his back for a while, thinking about this small self-discovery.

Maybe it’s the booze. Maybe it’s me being enlightened. Maybe it’s that son of a gun who enjoys torturing my mental health, simultaneously being someone-whom-I-want-to-drink-with and someone-who-makes-me-want-to-drink. Maybe it’s because I just got myself a simple goal for this new year: to look for stars. For whichever reason it was, a grin crept across my face as I continued walking along the lines of cars. In the middle of the night. Under the rarely-seen stars. Excited.

No matter how much I hate to admit it, I have to give some credits to this frustrating being who keeps accidentally changing me into a different person.
Bit by bit.
But sure.

2014 in A Bowl of Soup

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly writing challenge: “Countdown.” and writing prompt: “Alphabet Soup.” Took forever to finish this because I wanna reminisce 2014 like a boss.

Cheers, 2015 ©mk17design

Cheers, 2015 ©mk17design

A for Authorization
“Trial and error” is basically what comes with it when it came to a mentally-unprepared me. This year, I made thousands of mistakes and (somehow, sometimes) learnt from them – a courtesy of a certain someone who once encouraged me to fail. A lot. For this, I’m torn between saying ‘thank you’ and ‘damn you’.

B for Benedict Cumberbatch
Smaug. Alan Turing. Penguins. That Madam Tussaud wax figure. Come on, people. This year is Smauglock’s year.

C for Someone Whose Name I’m Going To Use in My Next Book If I Ever Finished It
There are 2 kinds of people in your life. First one is the kind of person whom you want to drink with. Second one is the kind of person who makes you need to drink. In the last 5 months, I deal with the one person who turns out to be both.

D for Drinks
A few days ago, it was the first time my folks had seen me getting home a wee bit drunk, smelling like smoke and alcohol. It was a one-time event, I ate a lot during those few hours, I remember everything, and thankfully someone took care of me, but seriously it’s not a pretty sight you want your parents to see.

E for Elimination
Survival of the fittest, they say. Number of people cutting themselves off the grid (ehm) are getting higher this year. I wonder what’ll become of us next year. It’s like sitting on top of Titanic with the iceberg about a kilometer away and still you do nothing because there’s simply nowhere else to go.

F for F*ck You That’s Why
Realising that it’s impossible to please everyone. Not you nor I am a jar of Nutella. Live life the way you want it. Go where you want. Read what you like. Kiss who you feel like kissing. You only live once anyway.

G for Goals
My goal is to have a day off on Christmas. Sounds simple, but it was elusive for the last 3 Christmases so it would be the perfect present for me next year.

H for Hello, Goodbye
Pretty sure every Hello is cursed with a Goodbye. In my case though, there’s always this someone whom I have to say goodbye to before I even say hello. Just because it’s nonsense. This whole thing is absurd, it’s exciting and it’s choking, it became my raison d’être and will probably be the death of me anytime soon. Yet here I am, holding on to a fantasy of impossibility.

I for Idealism
Hard as it is, sometimes it’s unavoidable to think that it’s vain to live our ideals because the world is just too f*cking corrupt to embrace the idea.

J for Father J
Because everything I have up until now, I owe it all to Him.
Also because He’s the pioneer of free-flow wine.

K for Kaleidoscope
The only constant thing in the world is change and I feel like changing a lot from last year. For the better or not, I’ll let others decide.

L for Love
It’s debatably the most overused 4-letter word beside the one that began with F. One can’t live without love, people often tell me. I won’t be able to be who I am right now without the amount of love my dear family and friends give me. On the other hand, love has a wide range. In my case, it begins with trust. Trust means putting a loaded gun into someone else’s hand and believing him/her to not use it against you. I don’t trust a lot of people, but this year I realise that I have quite a handful of them already. And for that, I thank you all.

M for Milan
Made up my mind to save up for Milan Expo 2015. That’s it. That will be my motivation to live in 2015.

N for No
It’s my 3-year-old niece’s favourite word this year.

O for Off The Record
Off-the-record conversations are the best ones I’ve been privileged to have. Definitely one of the few reasons why I’m still here in this blasted place.

P for Proud
Somebody told me he’s proud of me. He has no idea how much I needed it. (On the same conversation, though, he called me a name that made me want to poke him in the eyes so it’s even).

Q for Quotes
My one and only ever-growing post. My hope for next year is that I get to hear a lot from that particular guy again to make this post longer and longer. Stick around, o captain, my captain!

R for Receptions
People are getting married a lot these days. For now, please stop asking when my turn is.

S for Starbucks and Soju
Pretty much my life supplies in 2014.

T for Tickets
Tokyo, Osaka, Singapore, Bali, Gili… not too shabby pour moi.

U for Something I Will Never Write Here
Source of all my tears and bloodshed. Enough said.

V for Villain
Felt like one when I need to do something against my conscience, but the show must go on and the crowd is unforgiving.

W for Workaholics
Take the road less taken, they say. It’s all FUBAR now, isn’t it?

X for X-Ray
When X-ray revealed nothing, I went to the other doctor and was diagnosed with compartment syndrome. Had a bed rest for a week because I wasn’t allowed to walk almost at all. One of the most frustrating week in 2014. That was when I realised I really need to value health more than… well, work.

Y for YOLO
Decisions. Feelings. Getting drunk on booze and blind love. Need I say more?

Z for Zurich
Cabin Pressure’s Zurich episode. Feeeeeeeeels.