Friday, September 21, 2018

A Cat Tale

Returning yesterday evening to the parking lot at Plaza Renon, I noted the presence of some dark colored object on the floor of my bike. At first, I thought I had the wrong bike, for I knew that I had left nothing there. But no, a glance at the license plate showed it to be mine. But what can this be? I had certainly not left anything on the floor. Perhaps someone had deposited a sack of garbage on my bike? Well, no. Closer examination revealed this to be a cat. Morever, the cat was quite comfortable in his spot and not inclined to go away, even when I began to put my bags on top of him.
“Cat, why don’t you move?” I said.
“Ah, but I am moving.”
“Any time soon?” I asked.
“As soon as you do.”
“To be succinct? I’m moving to your house.”
“Ha! That’s where you’re wrong. You have gotten some bad information, it would seem—for I am a dog person. Not a cat person. To be quite blunt, quite succinct, as you say, I don’t like cats. Nothing personal. Just a general sort of thing.”
“Oh gitu.”
“Yup. That’s how it is.”
“I see. Well, fine then. You can go %#£> yourself, and while you’re at it, why don’t you kiss my furry %#¥.”
And with that, the cat made his exit.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Delightful Fare

There is something in us that longs for the indescribable, the unattainable, the thing that cannot be seen.
--The Isle of Blood, Rick Yancey

Reading a novel by Rick Yancey, especially one from The Monstrumologist series, is like savoring slices from a rich, delicious cake--one wants continually to enjoy one more slice yet regrets to see that the cake is steadily shrinking. 

The Isle of Blood, the third book in the series, is no disappointment. The story picks up smoothly from where it left on in book two, as does the development of the difficult relationship between Will Henry, now 13, and the erasable, contrary and conflicted Dr. Warthrop, on the heels of yet another fantastic monster, and that the most dangerous he has yet faced. 

There is, at the same time, something lurid, something monstrous--something dangerous--about a love that cannot be openly expressed, or even openly comprehended, and this is the struggle for Will Henry and for Dr. Warthrop both individually and as the one relates to the other. What is fearful and hidden in the natural world is also fearfully hidden from the hungering soul. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Bali in Dubai

My buddy, Adi, will soon be moving to Dubai, where he has been hired for work in a five-star hotel. Good on you, Adi! But I will miss seeing Adi here at the Plaza Renon Starbucks. He befriended me early on, and offered his help on any number of occasions--most notably when he took time out of his schedule to help me look for a place to move--although, as it turned out, the owner of the house I was already living in changed in mind at the 11th hour, such that I didn't have to move anyway. 

Adi is a bright and ambitious young man, intent on succeeding and moving up in the world. Dubai is a long way from home (I don't think he has ever been outside of Indonesia), but he is young and vigorous, and I think it will be a great, and a valuable experience for him.

Good luck, bud! Bon Voyage. 


Joined my ex for breakfast at her villa this morning. Happy to find that she and her partner are very happy these days and seem to have successfully navigated the rough seas encountered in relationships early on. They would seem to be moving forward with a united purpose and will, taking all the proper steps, wrapping up irritants and stumbling blocks from the past and moving irrepressibly into their future, free from former impediments, which always come in the form of troublesome people. They had a wonderful time together in Myanmar, and it was interesting for me to hear about the place. With the general 'bad press' that Myanmar gets in the west, one naturally develops a negative picture in his mind; but it appears that Myanmar is not much like what we read. It's always a matter of getting in among the common folks, isn't it--seeing that they are simply human in the same way that we are simply human--and rather delightfully so, too, evincing an uncommon openness and friendliness, an enthusiasm for interacting with newcomers, much like what I often see here among the Indonesians. If I were in better health and had more energy, it would sound like a place I would like to experience.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


It appears that walking twice a day has not been a very effective method of losing weight. My fat simply gets stronger. Therefore, I decided, just this morning, to dramatically decrease my diet. At the grocery store, where I went after stopping for a black coffee, no sugar or cream, I purchased four tomatoes, a cucumber, and a block of low-fat mozzarella cheese. That should do it!

On the way home, given that I was passing the shop anyway, I picked up six frosted doughnuts. 


Every other month or so, I stop by Kimia pharmacy to buy a couple strips of methylprednisolone, a steroid that treats inflammation in MS. The price is 18,000 Rupiah per strip—for those who know. There’s no telling what it might be for those who don’t. 
So, I stop by the new Kimia on Jl Buyon this morning, taking an empty strip with me. I want these, I say. The woman brings out an unfamiliar looking box and takes out a strip.
"How much is that?” I ask.
“Seratus ribu.”
“Hah? One hundred thousand? It’s 18 thousand for the one I just showed you. How can this be?”
“I don’t know,” she says. Then she brings out a second box, pulls out a second strip.
“How much for this one? I ask.
“Eighteen thousand.”

I noted this incident on a Facebook post, and soon received a reply from an Indonesian friend. 
Ha-ha. Be patient Om (uncle). Maybe she make very expensive coz of you are bule.
Of course. It happens all the time. I was once walking with my wife up near sunrise beach, from which a  lot of the tour boats launch for the outlying islands. She asked a guide for the price of a particular tour. 
"For you or for him?' the man wanted to know. 
"Well, what's the difference?" 
"For you one price, for him more."
Just imagine this scenario in a western country. The price? Oh, well, the white price is the usual, the brown, black or yellow price is more. 
Well, the locals excuse this 'inequality' on the grounds of two considerations: 1) You are on their turf and they are providing what you came here to enjoy, therefore they determine the price, and 2) All westerners are loaded with money anyway and it really makes no matter to them how much they spend. 
It is true as well that many short-stay tourists are fairly foggy on the value of Rupiah as opposed to whatever currency they typically use, and so it concluded that 3) What they don't know, won't hurt 'em. 
It is well known also that westerners, and Australians in particular, will pay any price whatsoever for beer. And it is believed that the beer in an upscale establishment, as opposed to the beer in a bar, although the same beer, is far more delicious, and therefore far more valuable and deserving of an inflated price. 
In general, this pattern of local cupidity is mitigated according to the extent to which the foreigner is able to speak Indonesian. But in the case of the Kimia employee, who is perhaps striving for a management position, it appears it was felt that there was nothing to lose in trying. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Haunted by Fatigue

A totally lazy, wasted day, punctuated only by meaningless frustrations. Makes me feel guilty. 

Things began normally enough. Got up a little later than usual, threw on a pair of shorts and a tank top and went out for my morning walk. Perhaps the big fat brown dog's attitude rubbed off on me, for as I encountered her outside her house, she wagged her tail but informed me that she was too tired to accompany me today. How she had gotten so tired by 7:30, I do not know. 

But as I say, it rubbed off; for by the time I got back to the house, I also felt tired. Profoundly tired, really. Just took the time to watch the usual bad news from America on the laptop, then flopped down on the bed and straightaway fell asleep. I got up several times, tried to get myself going, but soon returned to the bed. Felt almost as I did many years ago when I had mononucleosis, minus the sore throat (thank God). 

Having made several aborted starts toward heading down to Sanur, and failing even to get out the front door, I decided to play a bit of the video game I've been struggling through recently. More frustration. The soldier whose role I am playing in the game is to enter a house and climb a stairway, in search of the ever lurking Nazis. As he goes up the stairway, fire engulfs the structure behind him, the stairway collapses and then the second floor, which he has succeeded in reaching, also erupts in flame. The soldier dies. Over and over. There is apparently no where else to go--though, of course, there must be.  But for perhaps an hour I burn countless times, unable to find any avenue of escape. The one answer seems to be to throw the laptop across the room, though I manage to deter myself from this course and just turn it off instead. 

How fitting that this soldier has also found himself unable to get out of the house and proceed further with any mission. 

So it's back to bed for a while, having surrendered the idea of going to Sanur, and then later I watch a movie that I have seen several times in the past--A Few Good Men. 

You can't handle the truth!

Well, Jack, I can't handle the truth that my entire day has been burned--but there it is. Guilty as charged. Evening is here to take me into custody.

Maybe I feel like I'm in that burning house. I feel that I have something I'm supposed to be doing, but I cannot get out of the flaming ruins and onto the next screen. There are other battles ahead, other streets to clear, other dwellings to explore, but I'm stuck on this damn collapsing stairway! 

And I'm tired. 

I'm so tired,
I'm feelin' so upset;
Although I am so tired
I'll have another cigarette …

I feel of late perfectly superfluous. I feel as if the mirror will soon no longer bother to reflect me. I am very nearly a ghost, who himself cannot think how to get to the home he is supposed to be haunting. I think just now of a scene from the movie A Ghost Story. The house that the ghost had originally come to haunt has itself been abandoned and is now quite empty and derelict. He is now just standing in an empty room of an empty house which sits on an empty lot. It strikes me that nothing in all the universe could be more frightfully lonely or more painfully futile than this.