Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Cold Pills

The employees at Kimia can be annoying, especially when one is not feeling very well. I wanted to get cold pills and some of those vitamin C tablets that dissolve in water.

Jadi, saya minta:

Aku mau vitamin C itu yang ditaruh dalam air.

Oh, ada yang lebih bagus, Pak. Ini.

The woman steers me to another aisle and hands me a bottle of pills.

Kenapa lehih bagus?

Karena pil-pil ini tidak akan ganggu perut bapak.

Oh ya? Berapa harganya?

Seratus lima puluh ribu.

Hah! Perut saya udah diganggu!


Terlalu mahal, mbak. Aku mau yang ditaruh ...

Oh, ada lain, Pak. Promosi!

Another bottle of pills.

Berapa harganya?

Hanya seratus dua puluh ribu. Bagus ya Pak?

Tidak. Tidak bagus. Aku mau yang ditaruh dalam air. Rasanya seperti jeruk.

Tahu-tahu kecewa. Senyumnya lenyap.


Berapa harganya?

Tiga puluh.

Yeah. More like it. I'm sorry, but honestly, I don't believe that vitamin C helps anything. I just like the fizzy tablets. And they taste good. And I'm sure that vitamin pills that cost more than 100000 rupiah would make me feel worse. 😐

Thursday, December 22, 2016

One Xmas Night

Walking down to Toko Nadia this night, wrapped in a rare swirl of wind, I happened to find myself swept away by an Oregon winter, a Christmas night. It had been snowing for some days and the snow was still coming down, dancing rather than falling, billowing like bedsheets, breathing in and then roaring forth like a gang of excited, unruly children, spilling into the yards and along the icy curbing strips and up against the houses and the huddling gables all bedecked with twinkling lights which shuddered to stay warm in the night's icy grip, the very air so cold that it seemed about to shatter and fling all the world in abbreviated pieces to same caprice that ruled the swirling flakes of snow. My son was 12, I think. I must have been 30-something, and I had had too much to drink that night. We took our walk, as we always did. We never missed our evening walk. He walked slowly, always the careful one, clutching trees wherever possible. The whiskey and I skated and spun and tumbled in the glimmering ice where tire tracks had packed down the snow during the day. I was laughing. It was Christmas. I was warm inside and falling felt good. And I was as padded as a fat bear in my two coats and gloves and wool scarf and stocking hat, and as white as a polar bear after my first couple rolls in the clinging snow. Everything was quiet, no traffic was moving, the falling snow whispered a long, great, fluent, urgent, endless secret in our frost stung ears. Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy. Those are secrets that you only hear at such times as these. Those are the whispers you remember forever.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry

Another fine novel by Swedish writer Fredrik Backman, author of A Man Called Ove. Like Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry is a tender-hearted story of human relationships, human foibles, and the common compassion of the human heart in its will to fashion and facilitate community despite the challenges faced in life and the differences in experience and personality. We are ultimately one people and most fully ourselves when we are able to comprehend the other. Told from the viewpoint of a precocious, "different" child of 7 almost 8 eight years of age, this novel is packed with intelligent humor and the disarming wisdom of simplicity. A highly recommended joy to read.

Monday, December 12, 2016


A news article on Facebook today asks "Where's the Outrage?", with reference to the findings of Russian manipulation of the American election process. The answer is that it has been there all along. I have been outraged for months on end, as have well more than half the American voters, at the lies, at the insults, at the hatred, at the stupidity, at the sexual assaults, at the bigotry, at the selection of a cabinet stuffed with racists and lobbyists and billionaires and Wall Street elites and neo-Nazis and white supremacists and misogynists and war mongers, and Islamophobes and conspiracy theory nutcases and so on ad infinitum. For those of us who stood against this absolute lunatic, the outrage has stalked us day after day, always  present, always near the boiling point, interrupting sleep, darkening dreams. At the same time, outrage is conspicuously absent in the other half of our population - those who would make American great again by calling every truth a lie, by bowing to a Russian dictator. There is no limit. Common reasoning is destroyed. They have made Trump the man Trump the god, and I fear that our country is quite irreversibly undone.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Danger Ahead

Drenched for a second time today. Sheesh. Moreover, I was almost hit on my bike, twice, and by the same nitwit 😂😂 First, I was driving up Yeh Sungi when this guy on one of these souped up sort of dirtbike things came careening around the corner so fast that he was way wide of his own lane. Just managed to veer to the far edge of my lane to miss colliding. Then, five minutes later, I'm at the end of Yeh Aya by the little traffic circle and here he comes again, in the wrong lane again, because he didn't want to wait behind the line of bikes in the proper lane. Another close call. I was lucky. Some poor guy won't be.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Four Months

Well, I've had the opportunity over these past four months to see some of the damage that MS can do if it really puts its mind to it. This all started on August 10th with what I thought was a pinched nerve in my neck. Although I had done nothing in particular that would have caused this, the problem was sudden and came with all the classic signs of cervical radiculopathy - intense pain in the shoulder and arm, spasms of the muscles, and numbness in the fingers. The pain was nearly unbearable for a full two weeks, during which time I was able to sleep no more than two hours a night, along with catnaps during the day. In time, and with the help of lots of aspirin, methylpredisolone and clonamzepam, the worst of the pain abated and turned into more of a daily aching and stiffness, with numbness persisting in the wrist and hand. Four months later, my shoulder is still stiff and there's this irritating sensation of something being loose in my back, kind of floating around like an unhinged bone. What I've come to realize is that this was not a pinched nerve at all, but a nerve that has been completely demyelinated and destroyed, causung the muscles to freeze in a protective mode (which thus caused the worst of the pain). Nerve impulses have endeavored to find ways around this burned bridge on the normal highway, regaining control of the muscles through alternate means and sort of retraining them to function as they should, or as nearly as possible. The sort of clicking and snapping in my shoulder, often attended by an aching sensation, is the result of an unusual application of muscle - not quite right, but better than paralysis. I'm still on 16 mg of methylpredisolone every other day, but at least I am able to sleep comfortably and move about more or less comfortably during the day.

It is scary to see what MS can suddenly do, just because, and without warning. I remember feeling just fine back in early August - even energetic - and then suddenly this, and four months and counting of suffering. And as one recovers and finally gets on top of the problem, one can't help but wonder, what next? What part of my body, what function, how serious, how long? And when does it strike a fatal blow? Yes, you think of this, too.

And then, at the same time, as your body recovers, as your function returns, leaving finally but a reminder, a twitch, an ache, a spasm, you feel immensely blessed in each moment of good health,
quietly, deliriously joyful for the presense of an unknowable, indeterminant period of comfort. Is each day like this not blessed beyond all measure? Can we ever afford to take a single moment for granted?

Thursday, December 1, 2016


Some people see them. Some people hear them. Some people both see them and hear them. They appear when you look not. They speak only when you do not listen. They are many and always and always rare though ever present.

I knew of a man who shot himself in the head. High in the mountains, near a rustic resort, at the intersection of one dirt road and another. At that point, that meeting of roads, little more than paths, he died forever. I could not walk in that place, especially at night, for sight is most finely focussed when you cannot see. I would cut through the woods, careful not to touch foot to this living death. Nonetheless, it reached out, beyond itself, both trapped and free. It sought me, seeks all. Some know, some know not, yet all are touched.

The night after this man shot himself, I was walking from a cabin down to the boat dock to help fishermen coming in from the lake, and a voice came from behind me, from behind my left ear.

Where can I get some water?

My first thought was that this was an odd question indeed. Right before us was a lake full of water, three miles in length.

I had no thought that this was him, nor that he both was and was not there.

And this was the first time that I had ever been aware of the unseen.

These are ghosts. They are one type of a thing. Others are demons, small and large, weak and strong. And still others are angels – which are the hardest of all to see.