Stay At Home Stories: Olen

Soaking in golden light from Olen's pad - all Studio Ghibli skies and panoramic rice field views

Friends! Today I have our third Stay At Home Story with Olen — she is the person who inspired me to write this newsletter and to convert my anxiety into long-form quibble; though hopefully, the letters have been less depressing and more uplifting lately. Olen and I met while I was visiting AIR Ubud for a staycation in 2018. She was the resident manager at the time, and we have been hanging out for work & food dates ever since.

Olen is well-connected to the thriving Indonesian artist community (she’ll probably tell you no, I just know so and so from high school). Through her, I’ve met or heard about musicians, painters, jewellery makers, critics, models, and theatrical performers. At her leafy bachelorette pad in Ubud, she’s hosted many bohemian soju nights and it’s always a treat to sit back & relax from her pad, which overlooks her tiny pool and the rice fields beyond.

In this edition we’ll look at how she spends a relatively relaxed day at home, fostering her new furry friend and attending a musical lesson from home.

Where are you locked down right now?

Ubud, Bali

What do you do for work?

Freelancer: Creative Sector

11 AM

I woke up and asked Google Home what time it is. Decided to sleep again since I had nothing planned for the day. I’m still nursing a food coma from a Ramadhan celebration yesterday.

2 PM

Woke up and asked Google Home again for the time. I needed to use the loo, so I did that. The screen on my phone paused at the end credits of a YouTube video I watched last night. I checked my messages, replied to most of them; checked Instagram and then read an article from a friend who got interviewed about her career in theatre. Somehow, my name had snuck into the article. Interesting.

2.45 PM

I stepped out of my bedroom and was greeted by Mona with overflowing enthusiasm for her first meal of the day. Mona is a medium-small sized, fox-eared, white dog owned by my landlord’s wife. I found out that she hadn’t been fed nor bathed regularly ever since she was placed at the construction site near the entrance to my house. I’ve decided to foster her for now.

I washed 4 cups of rice and placed it in the rice cooker. Then, I re-heated the Ramadhan food I ordered from last weekend. The ketupat had gone bad, so I threw them away. I was too hungry to wait for the rice to cook, so I ate all the side dishes and they were quite fulfilling. I filled up Mona’s food bowl with some dry food I bought yesterday. She managed to finish two thirds of what I gave her. I told her I’ll feed the usual tonight.

4.30 PM

Went back to lounge in bed. I watched an early-access gameplay about the new Sims 4 Eco Living expansion pack. Impressive additions to the interior items, I must say. Also, there are new vertical planters and a door that looks like a shipping container’s door.

Mod The Sims - Container Textures

In the midst of watching, mom called. She mentioned that my brother bought a chicken. I asked if it was a cooked chicken or a pet chicken. She later revealed that it was the so-called Klungkung Chicken — a chicken dish from Bali. I told her I was getting sleepy so we hung up after I loosely promised to call her tomorrow. I continued watching the video and fell into a nap.

6.15 PM

Woke up, saw the clock on my phone. I was craving for cream-sauced pasta but recalled that the Ramadhan food will go bad if I didn’t eat it for dinner. I went outside, Mona ran across the garden to greet me again. I washed her food bowl and added a portion of rice to it. Then, I took out some frozen minced meat and chopped a small portion, placed it in a mug with filtered water, then microwaved it for 4 minutes. I combined the rice & meat, mixed them, then cooled her meal in the refrigerator.

While waiting, I reheated my own food. — Opor Ayam in the microwave and Sayur Buncis soup in a small pot over the stove. When everything was ready, I placed them on the dining table. Before eating, I took out Mona’s prepped food, added a small portion of dry food on top, and placed it in her usual spot. She ate her food. I ate mine while watching some random Korean Variety Show on my phone.

Once we finished eating, I soaked all my bowls and washed Mona’s bowl to refill with filtered water for her.

9 PM

My music teacher came to visit with our mutual friend. We offered Ramadhan greetings to each other. They brought some food, so I reheated it for them and we sat around the dining table to chat.

10 PM

I started my piano lesson. Today we had to review the 2-5-1 Minor chords. She taught me how to apply what I’ve learned from the past 8 lessons into a standard Jazz song — ‘On Green Dolphin Street’. I struggled but managed to hit the right chords by the end of the lesson.

11 PM

Back to the dining table. My teacher & our mutual friend had a cigarette, ate again while I completed my notes for today’s lesson. I asked my teacher a few extra questions and added more notes.

12 AM

My teacher made tea for herself and retreated to the guest room, while our mutual friend excused herself to go home. After saying our goodbyes, I turned off the lights in the living room and retreated to my own room.

This story has been copyedited.

I’ve always loved Olen’s deadpan humour, especially if it comes in the form of a pet or cooked chicken. Her story is making me reminisce mornings waking up at her place, being bathed in golden light and panaromic views of the rice fields. Even though the pandemic situation is slowly worsening in Bali, I think her and I are still grateful to wake up to the calm and quiet that is island life; watching the kids run around and chasing kites as they soar into the Studio Ghibli skies.

I think I’ll think back very fondly on these very quiet days, all vivid blue skies and morbid deadpan jokes. And as always, I hope you’re doing not so bad too, wherever you are.

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