Maggie Tiojakin is not a painter. Not a celebrity. Not a photographer, though she likes taking pictures of food and people. Not a scientist. Not a lawyer. Not a politician. Not a musician, though she loves to sing karaoke with friends (which she now understands is a very Asian thing to do). Not a cook, though she will happily try a new recipe on you. Not a mechanic. Not a football fan. And definitely not a socialite. Nor a fashionista.
She has a limited amount of clothes and usually spends fifteen minutes shopping for them. She likes the colors red, white, black, purple, brown, blue, green and orange. She has three pairs of shoes. Blue, orange and brown. She loves collecting socks. Different colors. Different prints. She thinks socks are cool.
She owns one skirt. One fancy-looking hat. One pair of sunglasses.
She collects batik shirts and blouses. She wears them often.
She likes video games. First person shooter games. Adventure games. And cooking games. She uses cheat codes all the time because dying in a game scares her, and she doesn’t like repeating game levels. Her favorite games are Call of Duty and S.W.A.T because the characters always work in teams—it is a lot harder to die this way. Especially when you play a rookie. She always plays the rookie. Because it’s easy.
She doesn’t like surprises. Let’s leave it at that.
She had a pet cocker spaniel puppy once when she was eight. His name was Bonnie, from the song My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean. Bonnie slept in a wicker basket in her bedroom. She shared the responsibility of taking care of Bonnie with her brother. Bonnie wasn’t the smartest or cutest dog in the world. But he was theirs and that was special. Bonnie died one sunny afternoon, run over by a car. Together with her brother, she buried the puppy in the small yard in front of their small house. A few years later, she took in a stray tom cat whom she named Jack. Jack didn’t die (at least not to her knowledge). In fact, he had many queens who bore him many kittens. One day, Jack left and didn’t return to the house. Just like that. Habis manis sepah dibuang, as Indonesians would say.
Her list of favorite food changes like the season. Sometimes it’s nasi goreng and bubur ayam, at other times it might be roastbeef sandwhich and quesadilla. She isn’t picky about food, though she’s a bit squeamish about eating animal intestines. This year, her favorite food is panekuk, Dutch-style. Last year, it was mie ayam.
The best kind of reading material that truly makes her happy is comic books. She collects Doraemon, KungFu Boy, and Archie comics. She re-reads them constantly. She is sixty per cent convinced J.K. Rowling had borrowed elements from Fujiko Fujio’s Doraemon comic book series to create Harry Potter’s magical world—though there’s a strong chance it’s all in her head.
Among her prized possessions is the DVD box set of Saint Seiya, or Knights of the Zodiac—a Japanese manga series she used to watch in her teens. Her favorite knight is the Cygnus. Her brother’s is the Phoenix. They both made fun of the Andromeda knight because he’s a wimpy hero who always screams, “Save me, save me!”
She has watched A Few Good Men over fifty times and plans on watching it at least fifty more times in the near future. Her favorite line: “I guess I just followed the crowd at chow time, Sir.” Also, “You can’t handle the truth!” But you knew that already.
She walked out of the theatre once while watching Vanilla Sky. Too complicated. She watched Before Sunset three times at the cinema with the same group of friends. Also complicated.
She loves nearly all of Woody Allen’s films because they’re structured like short stories. No, she doesn’t care about Woody Allen’s personal life.
Speaking of short stories …
Maggie Tiojakin is the author of Homecoming & Other Stories (2006, Mathe Publications); Balada Ching-Ching (2010, Gramedia); Winter Dreams (2011, Gramedia) and Selama Kita Tersesat di Luar Angkasa (2013, Gramedia).
She has translated, among others, Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories and Edgar Allan Poe’s Collected Stories.
She is the co-writer of the musical feature A Special Symphony (2011, Nations Pictures), directed by Awi Suryadi.
She is the founder of Fiksi Lotus, a website where she posts translated versions of classic short stories from around the world.
She has written for The Jakarta Post, Asian News Network, the Boston Globe and other publications.
Her short stories have appeared in Femina, Kompas, Eastown Fiction, Every Day Fiction, Postcard Shorts and Voices.
She is currently working on her second novel and fourth short story collection; though she now wonders if she can still call it ‘currently’ when the projects have been running for two years with no end in sight.
Really, when you think about it, all of this just means she has no real job. You know, the kind that gives you financial security and major opportunities to climb up the corporate ladder. In the world of writers, there aren’t any ladders. There’s, like, these tiny pixelated bars shifting horizontally, vertically, and you have to take these leaps, see, huge leaps, small leaps, and skip across the screen to the other end, the safer end, where the dragons are, and you have to beat the dragons, too, but at least … there’s solid ground. And if you don’t take the leap, you’d fall into a fire pit right below just waiting to swallow you whole. It’s a terrible analogy, but she thinks of writing—as a profession—in this way.
You probably didn’t expect this when you hit the ‘About’ button, did you now?