Thursday, October 24, 2013

No More I Love Yous

(I repost this, actually, from 2009. Just came upon it again, having seen that someone else had read it, and I kind of liked it).

I happened to hear a song on the radio this morning--Annie Lennox singing "No More I Love Yous"--and it instantly called forth the period of time just after I had broken up with Jamie, back in 2005. Isn't it odd how music can serve in this sort of mnemonic way, calling forth a sort of encapsulated essence of a certain time? It is more than remembering, recalling details or facts. It is the retrieval of a complex aura of feeling, so whole and accurate in itself that it can actually make your heart ache. In fact, one does not so much recall as he suddenly re experiences. It is not that one remembers and then explores what he remembers; rather, memory comes upon him, more in the manner of revelation. What arrives has not been called forth, but sent.

Strange world, this. Stranger yet the individual in it.

Have you ever smelled something, or caught a glance of something, or heard a sound, and found yourself instantly transported to the very core of another time and place? Suddenly you are five, or twenty-five; suddenly you are in a meadow by a river; suddenly you are sitting with your mother and the Cocker Spaniel on the back porch on a summer day regardless of these many years since they have died.

You smell something--something unnameable, and yet intact, complete--and you are suddenly beside your brother's hospital bed, holding his hand as his life slips away.

You hear a song, this voice, this pitch, and you relive how your heart sank so low, how your breath grew so short, how your soul reached then to the empty air where she had been. You can almost smell her skin again, you can almost touch her hair.

Strange world, strange world. Stranger yet the individual, this man, this woman, this perpetual child whispering well wishes in eternity to the unending cosmos.

Nothing whatsoever has been lost. Nothing ever comes to an end. People only imagine it so.

Pluses and Minuses

Was thinking this morning that there are pluses and minuses to being diagnosed with MS late in life (as was the case with me). On the one hand, MS doesn't have a whole lot of time to do progressive damage. In other words, I may have progressed to the next world before the disease actually cripples  me. On the other hand, people think your symptoms are just due to old age. Like, face it, dude, old people get a little wobbly in the gait and foggy in the mind. You not sick, you just old. The only disease you got is being 60 years old.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

MS Update

Been having some troubles recently with extreme fatigue and some muscular freeze-ups. Last Saturday, in particular, I became really profoundly fatigued. I went to meet my friend, Mike, around noon for coffee, as usual, but soon realized that I really wasn't functioning very well. Kind of felt like I was buried under several heavy blankets or something. Found myself searching for words, trying to get through full sentences, practically falling asleep while talking. Mike noticed this, too, and wondered what was wrong with me. It was the first time he had seen a clear attack of the MS short-circuitry.

So I drove on home and proceeded to sleep for most of the day and most of the night, waking up a half dozen times to a kind of buzzing sensation all over, especially from my feet to my knees. It felt like if I didn't get up and move around, I might never get up and walk again. So, I got up, walked around, but soon hit the mattress again and fell back to sleep.

This was disappointing, as my wife and son were both out for the weekend, she in Makassar and he in Canggu, and I had intended to go out and paint the town in mild shades of gray (the best I can manage these days even at top form), but instead I slept.

The next day was a little better, though just a little. Still felt muffled and flat. I actually made it down to Sanur for a beer, but the fun ended there, as I found myself falling asleep halfway through. So back home again, back to bed. Woo-hoo!

Feeling much better now, on Wednesday, except for a persistent gripping of the muscles in my shoulders and neck. Wish I had some meds for that, but I don't.

In a related matter, I'll mention that I received an e-mail recently from the good people at Avonex.  Dear Richard .... They're aware that I don't take Avonex anymore, and they just wanted to remind me of how wonderful it is. That's fine. It's a business, right? Like any other. And they want their money. But the thing I found inappropriate, as well as rather irresponsible and insensitive, was how they went on to assure me that while one may not be aware of the progression of lesions while off medication (i.e., Avonex), it is occurring and doing damage that will no doubt be felt in the future. Thanks, guys. While on Avonex, I was not only sick to death for an entire year, but my symptoms from MS were much more pronounced than they have been during the four I've been Avonex-free. But now I know, thanks to your gracious concern, that I'm really not well after all. It's merely an illusion.

Well, so be it. I'd rather feel well, when really I'm not, than feel one step away from death due to the effects of Avonex.

Monday, October 14, 2013


If there's one thing that many expatriates here in Bali have in common it's a fondness for conspiracy theories, especially those with an anti-American flavor. The 9/11 theories, for instance. Hidden explosives, government foreknowledge, a Jewish conspiracy, terrorists paid by the CIA, buildings that fell without being touched. It goes on and on. All these they might find perfectly good explanations for on numerous non-government (non-CIA) websites and publications; but no, they prefer to pour through the paranoid periphery of reporting and embrace unlikely, unscientific, wonderfully unusual scenarios. Why? I can't figure it out. I hear it over and over, and get that sly smile, the raised eyebrow. My, my. Poor fellow doesn't realize what's going on in his own country.

Irritating as hell.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Discouraged to read today in the Jakarta Post that 'Malala' is disliked by her own community in Pakistan. They say she is spoiled, a show-off, and disrespectful. Really? This, the girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for championing women's rights and dignity? What in the world is wrong with these people? Malala's uncle commented thus: Sometimes people never learn. Aptly put, I reckon. Sometimes people never learn.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Meeting

Within the next hour, hopefully, I will meet a friend visiting from America. A friend of a friend, really. I've never met him in person. I say "hopefully" because we have been trying to set up this meeting over the internet, the use of which can be rather comedic here in Bali. If you're in a laughing mood, that is. So, we'll see. We have arranged to meet at Angels Bar in Sanur. That should give him a taste of the local area. The south side of it, anyway. Or the backside. It will be good to see an authentic American again. Rare creatures here. Really, I'm the only one I know hereabouts. Maybe he can shed some light on the madness that seems to have overtaken the country. Or maybe not. Maybe he'd rather just have a peaceful beer. Wouldn't blame him.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


While the dry season remains with us, it remains fairly easy to do ones laundry. You just take it out of the washer, wring it by hand, and then hang it on the rack. Once on the rack, it takes about 70 seconds to dry in the soaring Bali temperatures. Well, I exaggerate. But only a little.

From that point, after drying, the material has turned pretty much like cardboard and needs to be 'worn in' again. My wife and son's clothing goes for ironing. Mine, I just step into (which makes the standing cardboard quality rather useful), and then go about my day as if I'd just risen alive from a heap of variously colored material. We adjust to one another, my clothes and I.

I only mention it because today I'm doing the laundry and ... well, that's what I've got to talk about.

I forgot about the rinse cycle, where you drain the water from the load you've washed, fill the receptacle again, and add some 'softener' which has no affect whatsoever on the clothing. But it's the thought that counts. And an apparent irrepressible need to use water. I regularly see the neighbor watering his driveway profusely, and then, unappeased by this wastefulness, watering the street as well. But he does not water his dog, who seems to have been un-watered since the day of his birth. He used to be black, but now he's brown, wearing a coat of dust which follows him everywhere he goes, leaving little siftings of itself along the way.

Moby is his name -- after the dog that preceded him, who was white (like the whale, I'm assuming)) and died young under the wheels of a reversing SUV.

Moby II, the black one, has a skin disease which has eaten all the fur from his snout.

I remember when my mother used to hang laundry on the clothes lines that were strung between two T-shaped iron poles which otherwise served as chin-up bars for my brother and I. White sheets and pillow cases, shirts and summer dresses. They were like flags in the day and ghosts at night. She could not do this very often, for it is not very often sunny in Oregon. How she dried all these clothes during the rainy months I know not.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sakit Kepala Ah!

Enjoying a terrific headache at JCO Doughnuts, Sanur. Combination of eye-strain and God-awful humidity. Bring on the caffeine, please - hold the milk. In fact, hold the coffee. Oh, and two double-strength Vicodin. Oh, that's right. Narcotic medications are prohibited here. Damn!

Speaking of Vicodin, I was just thinking, the other day, of the possibility of seeking out, from a doctor, of course, some of the old symptomatic medications I used back home in the States. But then I realized that I have no ready way of proving that I have MS. The MRI films that we brought from Oregon seem to have disappeared. If we even brought them. But we must have, right? That would be stupid not to bring any medical records.

So, how would I prove that I'm diseased? Would they just take my word for it? Well, it is Indonesia, so maybe so. I could give it a shot, I suppose. When I saw the doctor about my cataracts, she accepted my word that I have MS - but then, of course, I wasn't asking for anything. I was surprised, though, that she had even heard of it. Asians don't get MS. By and large.

Straightaway, she told me that people with MS get optic neuritis.

Some do, I agreed.

She looked skeptical. She seemed fairly convinced that if you don't have optic neuritis, you don't have MS.

It's fairly common, I said, but I never had it.


Speaking of cataracts, what the hell am I gonna do about these cataracts?  I have to make everything on the computer screen 'besar sekali', and it still gives me a headache.

Well, with APEC currently playing in Bali, minus President Obama, there's a continual fuss of policemen and racing black SUVs conveying dignitaries, helicopters, jets and so on. It all looks like pretty serious stuff. Last weekend, they closed down Sarangan. Dignitaries were having lunch there. Turned back my friend, Mike, who rides his bike there every day. But you never know when a 75 year old guy with white hair riding a push-bike is going to turn out to be a terrorist. Better safe than sorry.

There are policemen here who have come all the way from Aceh. They have never seen Bali before. The dignitaries have. Whose vacation is this, anyway?

Ok, that's it. Visual shut down. Sampai ketemu lagi.