“These Go To Eleven” My Adderall-Fueled Birthday Blog Post
I wrote this on 11-11-11 during a celebratory birthday moment: I’m at this freakin’ amazing organic farm in Cicurug, a hillside town in West Java about two hours away from Jakarta, in the valley between Gunung Salak and Gunung Gede, a few kilometers up the Gunung Salak slopes off the main road to Sukabumi. It’s owned by this dude from Northern California (natch) who is a friend of my close friend Mercedes, so that’s how I got here, but Dezant and I are paying guests (they have three very different lodges for rent) for the long weekend. This is our (me and Dez together) birthday present to me! It would take a long time to describe just how awesome and weird this place is, but for now it’s worth it just to say that we made the right decision to do this for my birthday and I am so very happy to be here. I’ll try and do an actual photo-bloggish post about this place soon.
My birthday! This year! 11-11-11!!!!!!111111 How awesome is that? I’ve been anticipating it all year, and I’m not someone who cares that much about my birthday. Nor at my age now (say it softly now, in the interest of honest disclosure, 39. Can you imagine if today was my 11th birthday instead? *head explodes*) am I too interested in party planning or even social events. Ya, I’ve been kind of a recluse the past few years. And yet, for a birthday on 11-11-11, I had this nagging thought that I had to do something special. 11-11-11. It’s palindromic. It’s a bunch of ones. It’s a couple of elevens! Fucking Spinal Tap! It’s Nigel Tufnel Day! This date, this birthday, goes to eleven! It’s also Veteran’s Day, a national holiday where I come from. That’s important too. President Barack Obama is going to Arlington Cemetery to honor national heroes who have served in the military, the fallen and the living… ON MY BIRTHDAY!
So we had to do something special. This was our solution. Get out of Jakarta, go to the mountains, but also avoid the hotels with pools and “outbound” team building workshops for corporate Jakartans. I remembered Mercedes had a friend with a farm in Cicurug, and from there everything fell into place. I couldn’t deal with planning a special 11-11-11 themed birthday party (as cool and as fun as that would have been), but I can totally embrace what we’re doing here instead!
At the same time, this is supposed to be a writing retreat for me. My advisor imposed a deadline of November 15th to submit a draft chapter of my dissertation. This bloggy post about my birthday is a warmup exercise to get my writing juice on. What? Work on a dissertation for your birthday? I know right. But guess what this is totally going to work. I said everything fell (continues to fall?) into place for this long weekend, and that includes the writing part(y). I’m sitting on this here terrace on the second floor “library suite” at this farm, with a fabulous view of the valley and a gentle breeze coming at me from two directions. I’m also sorta inspired by this Academic Book Writing Month thing (#AcBoWriMo on Twitter), a new riff on National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, it’s every November). I’m not planning to write a book (LOL! as if!), but I am planning to write a draft chapter, and if I’m lucky I’ll get the outline ready for another one. For the current chapter I’m working on, all my ducks are in a row. I’ve done the reading, the data is mostly organized, and there is a satisfactory rough outline. This chapter is practically ready to write itself. I don’t know how much I will be sending to my advisor on November 15th, but I sure hope it’s about 7000 words of a semi-coherent chapter. I’ve got my Scrivener open, I’ve got the word count targets set, the outline is imported and ready to be filled in. If you haven’t figured it out, I’m trying to psyche myself out into actually writing something, but to be honest, this is the most ready I’ve been in about a year, and that’s pretty cool too.
I was pretending to be “off the grid,” but I’m not. There’s a cellphone tower within our line of sight. I can still check my email, my facebook, my Twitter. The stream of birthday greetings on facebook is always gratifying. So “off the grid” this long weekend has turned into “resist status updates, replies, link retweets, etc.” But I’m still checking them out. This has to stop. So I’m writing some warmup words instead to get my #AcBoWriMo groove on. Let’s do this!