Sunday, March 31, 2019


You know, there are people in this world who are truly creepy, who think only of themselves and of their own comforts and privileges, who have no charity and who cannot be shamed because they do not know the meaning of shame. Deep down, they know who they are, and have fashioned a thousand excuses to deal with it. In the end, they will stand on thin air, having purchased in life not a penny's worth of pity.

Friday, March 29, 2019

What A Drag

Yesterday, I felt rather well, comparatively. No fever, no sore throat really, just a stuffy sort of feeling. In the evening, I took a short stroll across the street to the polluted lake, watched a cow take a bath therein, then chatted with Pak Mardi for a bit. Went to bed feeling cool  and comfortable. 

This morning, I woke up with a fever along with the return of the closed, sandy feeling in my throat. 

It's gotten to be an old story. Well for a day, then back to the same old plague. Four doctors, four med doses. I give up. 

I've forced myself out of my room for a coffee. Trying to get a  little taste of the good ol days. So tired of just lying in bed, especially when lying in bed brings no positive results. And right now, sitting with my coffee and laptop, I feel like going back home to lie down. 

What. A. Drag. 

Thursday, March 28, 2019


I suppose that people are probably getting tired of hearing about my struggles with the super-flu. I know I’m getting tired of writing about them. But here we go anyway. Yesterday afternoon it was back off to the hospital again. It struck me at that time that I had ended up in rather serious condition—intensely sore throat, fever, heart pounding, short-of-breath—and that I should seek immediate care, like emergency room sort of care. Why I imagined that there even is such a thing in Bali, I do not know. Put it down to delusions arising from a state of panic. But of course there is no emergency room, per se, in Bali, except for that place reserved for the lucky few who have experienced a sudden beheading or the traumatic loss of more than one limb. So instead of being rushed to the attention of a squad of physicians and operative aids, ready with IV lines and other life-saving measures, we (Louis and I, for Louis had been kind enough to drive me to the hospital)) were ushered into a small room to meet with a small female doctor who determined straightaway that my condition could not be viewed as emergent or critical (compared, again, to the severed head or limb). I would, however, be number one in line to see an ENT specialist at 4 pm—a happy note on the one hand, and discouraging on the other, for the time now was only 1:30 pm.

So while Louis and Wayne went to get some lunch, I settled into one of the hand=me=down caskets used for seating at this hospital for my long journey to later afternoon. As soon as 4 rolled around, number 1 was called and I met with the doctor. I had heard the woman in the non-emergency department mention that this doctor was terkenal, or well-known in Bali, and though this may not rise to the level of a Dr. Kildare, or Welby, or even Frankenstein, my hopes were high.

As it happened, the famous doctor seemed to show little interest in my particular story. My impression was that he had already heard the story and already knew what to do. After a perfunctory examination, which consisted of peering with a little flashlight into my throat and nose, the doctor dashed off several prescriptions and told me to drink more water. One person’s illness is another’s monotony.

I will say that after a particularly rough night, I am beginning to feel a bit better, and shall be hoping as always for good things to come.

Monday, March 25, 2019


In the past few days, I have been befriended by two little girls who live just down the road. Viana and Feby, both 10 years of age (kurang lebih). Of course, their consuming interest initially was in using my wifi, but gradually they have shown more interest in relating to the individual, the funny looking old man. They stop on their way to school to say hi. They pop in again in the afternoon. What these little tykes know about the use of cellphone functions in concert with wifi is astounding to me. Makes me look like a virtual idiot. Better just to watch and learn. But they're well-behaved, polite little kids. They happily stop when you ask them to stop and they cheerfully leave when you ask them to leave. They are not "allowed" to have boyfriends, they tell me. "Tidak boleh". I sit on the front step, listen to their chatter, and learn a new word or phrase every day.

Beans on Toast

I see the old man in the easy chair, two o'clock in the morning, listlessly, mechanically consuming a plate of beans on toast. One thinks there must be something more to the man, but in fact there is not. There is only the man and the chair and beans and the toast, and outside the window the violent though superfluous cannonade of thunder and lightening. A quiet little song drips from the unsearchable depths of the ceiling just over his head and gathers like cold sweat on his brow. 

If that's all there is,
if that's all there is, 
If that's all there is, my friend, 
then let's start dancing. 
Let's bring out the booze
and have a ball … 
If that's all ….

I can tell you a story of passions and grand pursuits; of desperate love and throbbing heartache; of struggle and victory and joy and grief--but none of these things would have anything to do with the man and the chair and the beans and the toast. For this is, he is, all that there is. 

Cowboy Country

You know,  I just realized last night, instead of sleeping, that the long illness I've been having may be partly due to a general inability of my respiratory system to handle the weather we've been having during this latter part of the rainy season in Bali. You have every day extreme humidity during the day, and then violent storms of rain, thunder and lightening at nighttime. One can only imagine the barometric chaos in all this. 

I remember that even back in Portland, I very often had trouble with respiratory infections during the springtime--throat, nose, lung problems--and I remember that a doctor once told me that I should move to Nevada for a dryer, more stable climate.

Hmmm. Plan for the future? Cowboy country? Finally learn to rope a wild stallion. (I tried that, actually, for some thirteen years in the past, but the venture eventually ended up in divorce. But, of course, that had nothing to do with the weather, nor Bali, nor Nevada neither :) ) 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

A Piece of Familiar Advice

I had written yesterday of my dawning realization that my days in Bali may be numbered due to poor health and a weak to nonexistent local healthcare system. 

As often happens, my friend Vyt, a fellow expatriate in Bali roughly as long as I, pitched in with a counterpoint to my conclusions. 

I quote him verbatim: 

Once the fever subsides, things may feel different. I too have balanced the medical "benefits" of returning to what was once 'home' against the benefits of my happy home life here. The reality is, I could not afford to live back in the Antipodes, in fact, I could not afford to exist. The superior medical care I would receive would be counterbalanced by a long stint on a waiting list, during which time I could well cark it anyway. Quality urgent care is available here, although the local policies towards importation and use of pharmaceuticals do make treatment problematic. In short, for me, better the devil I know than the devils I don't.

As always, Vyt has a poinit. He has reiterated an argument, really, which I have always been well aware of. There is no perfect solution, no magic fix. One merely replaces some pluses with minuses and some minuses with pluses. The outcome is the same. Sometimes life is great. Sometimes life sucks. 


There comes a point in the course of the super-flu where one kind of just throws up his hands and surrenders. From here on out, he says, I am The Amazing Super Flu Man. Three doctors, three courses of medication, no improvement. One despairs of the idea of seeing yet another doctor, taking yet another course of meds. What's the point? I have, apparently, a new disease, based on the story by Stephen King, the Stand. Life consists of feeling lousy and trying to sleep. And then you either go on to die, or to fight the great Adversary himself. 

Saturday, March 23, 2019


During my month and a half of super-flu (or is it bubonic plague?), I have entertained many and various conceits and deliriums ranging from obsessive examinations of the past to doubtful narratives of the future, and of course everything in between. Among my more cogent thoughts has been the realization that Indonesia is probably not the best place for a man who is increasingly tending toward illness and has no health insurance. It occurred to me that a knowledgeable, functioning health system becomes a thing of increasing importance (understatement). 

This is no fun, obviously. I would prefer to be active, able, and healthy for the remainder of my life, up to the point where I just peacefully die in my sleep--an unreasonable expectation if ever there was one. (My father always said that I am not a reasonable person). 

I love Indonesia. I love Bali. I love this congenial society. I love living in a nice place with beautiful surroundings and a pool. I do not like the idea of living in a closet in a cold and dingy part of Portland (or wherever), eking out an existence on government assistance so that I can "enjoy" the benefits of seeing competent doctors.

But when you are ill (as I still am ill), the mask of stubbornness, gradually peeled away, begins to show madness beneath. 

There are those here, for whom I am forever grateful, who do their best to be helpful. And yet, they are not doctors, they are not caregivers, and some are not even often available. They have, after all, their own lives. When contracting an illness in Indonesia, one is fairly likely to grow more ill yet in the course of his efforts to try to do something about it. (A motorbike is not an ambulance, common alleviating medicines, antiquated now in the West, are not cutting edge measures). 

In short, marshalling my meager resources for good reasoning, I cannot avoid coming to the conclusion that my days here in paradise are numbered. Enjoy them while I can, to the extent that I can? I guess that's what I will do--if I can ever manage to get over this flu, that is. 

Friday, March 22, 2019


Another day, another doctor. 

Although I felt fairly well the night before last--no fever, throat stuffy but not sore--I woke up the next morning running the rapids in a river of sweat, and the sore throat had returned as well. 

Luckily, I was able to get Louis and her boyfriend to drive me to the hospital. Really don't know whether I could have made it on the scooter. After dropping me off to face the interminable waiting period alone, they went off to look for a new phone to replace my lost iPhone. There were, I was told, nineteen patients in front of me. 

So anyway, I eventually saw an internist, who determined that the infection was 'all in the head' (physically, not mentally), and prescribed a combination course of antibiotics and antivirals along with the chalk that people call aspirin here. 

Take the medicine, rest, and eat bergizi

"Bergizi." I had never heard of this food before. What could it be? Fish? Poultry? Vegetables? 

"What is bergizi, I asked. I've never heard of it." 

"Oh! Bergizi. That means healthy, ya. Healthy food. Never heard of healthy food? Maybe that why you sick, mister." 

Ah well, a little humor even in illness. 

Day one now of new medicine and bergizi food. So far, low level fever, stuffy but not very painfully sore throat. Fatigue. (I guess that's where the rest part comes in). Give it five days, the man said. 

And so I will. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Night Stalker

The black dog, whom I call Takut, has discovered that most people in this complex don't bother to lock the gate at night, and he is able therefore to push the door open and find himself a cozy spot out of the elements on the back patio during the night. He is also cataloging who lives in each unit, who is likely to give him some food, and who is likely to chase him away. Takut, tapi cerdas--scared but clever.

It's Just Another Day

Woke up at 5 this morning with a raging fever (not a surprise) and a stinging sore throat (as usual) and straightaway decided, unusually so, to go dunk the whole mess in the swimming pool. Good idea? I don't know. But it sounded capital at the time. I've really not yet had a chance to enjoy having a pool in my time here, and decided that I may as well suffer in luxury for a change. Emerging from the pool, I returned to my room to hold myself by the scruff of the neck under a hot water shower (another luxury I have not enjoyed in some eight years). If you've got to suffer, suffer in style, that's what I say. 

Now it's off to immigration in a couple hours to attend the renewal of my yearly permission to stay here in Bali--an odious task in the best of health, sure to be more odious yet in my present state of health. 

When that's all done, it is my understanding that Louis will be returning to Bali later in the day, at which time, I am hoping, she can assist me in purchasing a new phone. I know nothing about phones (other than how to lose them in mysterious ways), so I would prefer to leave this to the phone expert. In fact, I've not bought a phone in years. I always used whatever hand-me-down Louis gave me after buying herself the latest model. 

After that, I may make another pointless trip to the hospital. What else is there to do, except maybe go back in the pool? 

There are actually many administrative things I need to do, but most of these cannot be done. The numbers are in the phone.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

On and On

Another round of perfectly ineffective medicines to combat my perfectly invulnerable flu. With the antiviral, there are only three pills, two of which I have now taken with no improvement, though perhaps a bit of worsening. The other is just something that is supposed to make you cough, but does not I impress my lungs. The flu has set up permanent camp in my soul and does a war dance day and night.

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Fifth Act

Yesterday, I was feeling quite well, and feeling very happy about that. This morning, I woke up once again with a very high fever and a very sore throat. 

Dr. Ari happened to check in with me, and hearing this, told me I should go get a blood test. 

Off to Bros Hospital. I was dripping with sweat, three-quarters conscious, and thought "Hey, I'll take Grab Car." 

Upon arriving, the Grab Car driver phoned to say he was here. Going out to the street, however, I found that he was not here. Not a surprise. Most people can't find the place. 

So I called and began to explain where it was. 

"No, I'm am there," he said. 

"No, Pak, you're not."

I began again to explain the location and name some landmarks, at which point he hung up on me. A message came saying that he had "cancelled" the ride. 

Shit! Okay, I'll do it myself then. 

Off to Bros Hospital on the motorbike. Except that I had forgotten exactly where it is, so I took along my phone  with earbuds. 

Having arrived, I swam in my own sweat down to the check-in station and straightaway realized that my phone had not swum with me. 

Back to the bike. Phone is gone. It had been in the front pocket on the bike while I listened to directions. Someone must have seen it and taken it.  

Back to the check in. Reporting that my phone is missing, they begin a search with their security service. I am ushered fairly quickly in to see an ENT. It is her belief that I have a virus, not a bacterial infection. New Pills are prescribed and I am sent for blood work. 

Back to the check-in desk. It is reported by the security staff that while their security footage shows arriving, going into the hospital, coming back out perhaps ten minutes later to search the bike, then going back in again, it showed no one else coming near the bike during that time. 

In short, the phone is gone. 

Except that, back at home, Chris locates it on his own phone through icloud. It is shown to be somewhere roughly in the vicinity of Bros. 

But it's raining now, and it's getting dark, and I'm still sweating, and my damn throat hurts, and I'm just gonna give up on the whole damn mess!  

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Whilst I was Ill and Away

During this recent period of time, this month-plus from  hell, I have often thought of my second wife and of my children, all of my children, and I have felt so very sad to have missed all these years with them, and with the grandchildren, most of whom I have never even met. I wanted them to understand how very much I love them all, even the little ones. Alone in my little room, still a foreign place to me, without a history other than a short one as a sick room, without a close friend, without family, in a small place on a small island on the other side of the vast world, I felt desperately lonely, lost, displaced. People make choices sometimes which, unexpected, unimagined, fling them to the far corners of the universe. They are the choices we make in concert with the choices other people make, and sadly, when admixed, snatch the world from our hands and leave us behind. 

How strange it is, my stepdaughter once said, that you were so central once upon a time, and then just disappeared. I have tried over the years to hold to my fingertips by whatever means possible, online, through social media platform. And yet to them, or so it seems, without a physical presence that they can see and touch, I no longer exist. Or rather, I exist in memory only, in stories of the past, like one who has died. 

I am reminded of an episode from the old Star Trek series. Captain Kirk has been caught in some sort of weird space glitch and disappears. The crew members believe him to be dead--for, you see, he is not there. But really he is right there, floating around among them. Soon, one or another of them begins to see him. I saw him! The captain! He's alive. Of course, no one believes their story at first. You've just got to accept the truth, Lieutenant Uhura. He's gone. But the evidence steadily increases. Alone, floating, Kirk seeks his old crewmates, reaching out. All that is needed is for them to seek him. 

Perhaps there is an episode of The New Generation where Picard disappears and no one cares. Lol. 

I have not disappeared, my loves. I am here. I hunger for your gesture, I wait on renewal, faithfully ready to become. 

I was born a lucky man. I inherited the entire world. And then I added all of you, an overabundance, to my astounding good fortune. You are the treasure of my heart--an untouched treasure for the last eight years, and therefore one which, though locked in this fleshly vault, accrues its own gathering of interest year by year.   I see you in my dreams, and we speak, and we embrace. I long to see you all again, to be for you both what I am and what I should have been, to somehow live the absent years.

My love is not absent. It knows no bounds. It merely waits to be received.   

Curtain Call

After a very rough day yesterday of high fever bordering on delirium, I'm feeling much better this morning. Antibiotics and so on finally kicking in, I guess. Keeping my fingers crossed. Yesterday evening, I felt about ready--or rather not ready, but bound for--meeting my maker (not Hasbro). Actually felt good enough this morning, after two days in my room, to take a short walk. 

It's a very different area than I am used to, a very poor area right in the lap of the abundance of Sanur and Renon. When Dr. Ari made his house visit the other day, he asked whether I feel "safe" here. 

"Safe? Yes. Why? What do you mean." 

"Oh, this is still a closed area." 

"Closed? In what way."

"Hmm. In the way that it is not open." 

I'm not sure what he meant by all that. We moved on to my back and my flu. 

Just up the street, there is a line of old ramshackle sheds. I had assumed that these are, or were, some sort of storage sheds, or perhaps animal enclosures, but I do believe now that there are peple living in some of them. 

This reminds me of a time I was with Louis looking for villas for herself and her boyfriend. We had looked at an exotic place with all the bells and whistles, large pool, well-kept garden with gardener, all the modern appliances and conveniences. You get the picture. I had walked to the road and met a worker by the side of the field. I was looking at three or four makeshift structures in the field, erected from boards leaning together and cardboard and tin slabs for roofs. 

"Do people live there?" I asked the man. 

"Oh, yes!" 

It struck me that for a handful of change, the villa owners on the other side of the street could significantly alter these poor folks' lives altogether. 

But that's not really the business of villa owners. Or of anybody at all. 

The narrow street that I followed, just down the way from my apartment, is spoked with even more narrow gangs (or alleys), and the main street itself finally ends (or proceeds) with a dirt path. 

Here, I saw many children, all of whom piped up to say Hi and laugh gleefully with whatever I happened to reply in answer. There are many dogs as well--all of them rather scrubby and worse for the wear except for one brilliant white dog, not a scratch or a spot of dirt on him. Strange. Next time I'll bring along a couple of snack sausages Lol. 

As the flu recedes (or at least seems to today), the back pain resurfaces as a considerable problem. Nothing much to do about that, however, than to watch and wait. There is some vague suggestion in the air that Louis has ordered up a masseuse for me. I'm thinking that that might feel nice on the back, as long as he or she doesn't touch it! 

Saturday, March 16, 2019

The Final Act (I hope)

The doctor, whom my friend and former next door neighbor, Vyt, so graciously called for me, and who was to come to the apartment at around noon yesterday, finally showed up at 8 pm. But definitely better late than never, especially considering that he nearly did not show up at all. As I've mentioned earlier, none one seems able to find this address, not even the postman (regardless of rain, sleet, or snow, which cannot be found in Bali, either). The doctor, who is actually familiar with this area, could not find the place either. A flurry of futile text messages and locations sharings ensued, and he was about to give up and go home, but I asked him to please meet me at the fairly nearby KFC (everyone knows where the KFC is).  So I drove up there on the motorbike, a feat which will be recorded as the most painful drive in my motorbiking life. 

I escorted the doctor to my home and it was determined that the back injury, although quite painful, did not seem to be a serious problem. No bone damage, no internal injuries. He gave me a prescription muscle relaxer, noting that there was, however, nothing he could give me for the pain. In Indonesia, we do not have pain medications, except for the very popular and perfectly useless packet of Panadol.

He then turned his attention to my longstanding flu, and this proved to be the real problem. Took one look in my throat and said 'Ohhhh!" Took a listen to my lungs and said "Ohhhh!" 

Infection, infiltrates, inflammation--the whole nine yards. 

He laughed at the over-the-counter antibiotic I had bought at a nearby pharmacy and prescribed a strong antibiotic. He also prescribed an effective expectorant and an anti-inflammatory medication. 

And so I am hopeful this morning, though still feeling like cold doo-doo. 

I did discover last night that trying to sleep with back pain is not a highly recommended pursuit. I slept perhaps 2 hours out of the eight otherwise spent in lying awake and examining my life from start to finish (or as far as I've gotten) in excessive detail (more on that later). 

It is 9:30 in the morning now and I think I will try to go back to sleep. 

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Cockroaches

I was just thinking that I kind of miss the cockroaches, which seem to be absent at this new place. Weird, right? I was sure that I hated them, but I kind of miss seeing them now. Back at the Renon house, you would often see them in the yard, occasionally in the house. Haven’t seen nary a one here. I don’t miss the rats. Haven’t seen any of them here either. We do have bats here, which seem attracted to the trees in the garden area. I don’t like bats. There is one cow in the field out front who moans all night. Perhaps he too has a sore back. One black dog shows up at ten minutes after seven in the evening. Dinnertime. And there is a nest of small birds at the top of the communal structure out back.

The Straw that Broke the Camel's Back

Until early this morning, I thought my main problem was the permanent Bali flu. Then all that changed. 

I had gone to bed at around 7 pm yesterday evening, figuring that I would kill the illness with an overdose of boredom. Got up at about 6 in the morning and thought I would step outside to enjoy the cool air. I was unaware that it had rained during the night, and as soon as I stepped onto the ceramic tile porch floor, my feet flew out from under me and I ended up slamming my back against the edge of the doorstep. 

I will not attempt to describe the pain. Just picture the results of an overweight old man crashing flat on his back. Good thing I didn't hit my head.  I guess. 

So now the flu has become a persistent though secondary issue. The left side of my lower back is deeply painful and I can barely walk. Forget about bending over to pick up anything. 

I complained about my woes on Facebook. What else was there to do? And straightaway, my old friend Vyt, God bless him, contacted me and said that he would send a doctor to my place. Is this the third or fourth time Vyt has saved me from trouble? I've lost count. 

So I'm waiting for the doc now and we will see if he can prescribe any medicines, after first determining, of course, whether I need to go to the hospital. 

This is life in paradise, folks. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Lagi Sakit

I had mentioned recently that I was about 80 percent recovered from my flu. Unbelievably, I am now about 80 percent worse again. Sore throat. Fever. And to think, this all started back on February 10th. Gah!! So I've gotten another round of antibiotics and so on. Guess if that doesn't work, I'll have to go to a doctor (although that is typically a fruitless experience at best). 

So anyway, I got out for a short stroll last night and took some pictures of the area. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019


I happened to run into my old friend Dharma at the Renon Starbucks yesterday, where he used to work as a barista. Was great to see him again and we gave each other a couple hugs and a few slaps on the back. I thought of Dharma as a very personable young man, open, funny, entertaining. Plus, he always gave me either a free latte or a discount price! Dharma has moved to Tabanon now, quite a ways away, an old, traditional Balinese town that does not have the tourist draw of south Bali. He will start working in a bank there soon, and said that if I ever want to move up there, give him a call and he will assist. Perhaps not a bad idea. Costs for just about everything there are much lower than in my area. Not that there's very much to do up there. But then again, I don't do very much anyway. 


This move to a new residence seems to have exacerbated my MS rather markedly. Too much going on, I guess; too much stress on top of the usual stressors, especially those added ones this time of year involving foreign resident renewal, passport renewal, bike registration; and all of this on top of murderous heat, 34C today, 93.2F. I'm just totally spaced out, running down like a leaky battery. Although my little apartment is a thousand times smaller than the old house in Renon, I can't find anything. How can it be? There are really not many places where things can disappear to--and yet, disappear they do. Where is my phone? Where is my wallet? Where are those cigarettes that I bought? Where is the soap and the shampoo? When I woke up this morning, I was certain that my phone battery had gone dead. Damn, I thought, I'm going to have to buy another one on top of all these other expenses. But as it turns out, my phone battery is not dead. It's holding a charge just fine. Why was I certain it was dead? And am I really so certain that I myself am alive? Well, just barely, it seems, in a minimalist sort of way. 

When these sort of things are happening to my brain, I begin to feel panicky. What am I going to do? Who is going to help me if I'm in trouble? I begin to realize how very heavily I relied on Louis, without really noticing the extent of it. She was the one in control, who had everything together, the common thinking part of my brain. Now that's missing, like a lobotomy. No wonder she found it all such a burden. It is a burden to me, and often a non-negotiable one. Shutdown. Tune in (off), turn on (off), drop out. 

Ah, but the good news is that I seem 90 percent over the deadly flu. Thankful for that, at least. 

And you know, it just occurred to me that I need to have my motorbike serviced. Already a month beyond the recommended period. 

I'll think about that tomorrow. Perhaps. 

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Move

There are not many things in Bali that run smoothly. The sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening fairly reliably, but that's about it. One of the un-smoothest of things is moving one's household from one place to another.  Done while deathly ill with the flu is not recommended. 

I had set the date and time for the move with one of my local friends, who did show up on time, but minus a truck. Given that I was moving four years worth of stuff first to my new place and then to Louis' villa, a motorbike was not going to work. Nor were two motorbikes. So the first task was to find a driver and a truck, just after the nick of time. That being accomplished, the driver surveyed the items to be moved and decided on a price of Rp. 300.000. 

Having loaded my items (it would take two trips for both my things and Louis'), we headed for my new place in Sanur. On the bypass, I missed the proper turn, which entailed a slow return in heavy traffic, which in turn irritated the driver. He decided Rp. 400.000 would be more suitable for the trouble inflicted. Okay. 

I had previously arranged with my friend and another friend who was helping carry the things for them to make the second trip to the second location on their own, given that I was feeling lousy with the flu and just wanted to go to sleep. Okay, no problem. 

Except that it was. About an hour later I began to receive phone calls. The two friends had lost sight of each other during the second transport, could not find each other, and the friend riding with the driver in the truck did not know the phone number of the other friend who was, by that time, waiting at the villa. Unable to solve the problem, they began to call Louis instead. Not a pleasant scenario for any of us. Louis, by the way, is in Thailand, which, as she reminded me in a distinctly shrill phone call, was 'thousands of miles away'. The question as to why I couldn't seem to handle the simplest thing was posed. 

Well, my two friends passed close enough in the night (for it was now night) to be reunited, and straightaway headed for the villa. 

The driver decided, at this point, that Rp. 500.000 would be more appropriate for his trouble. The move was becoming rather more expensive than originally anticipated--which, actually, is something that one can count on in Bali. 

Most people with MS will understand that under the stress of trouble and confusion, the MS brain will begin to slog to a halt. So it happened with mine at this point. I forgot how to speak Indonesian. Just staying upright was demanding enough. 

But oh well. All's well that ends well. I'm in the new place today, feeling better than I have been for the past month or so, so will just take it from here, and try not to move again any time soon! 

Friday, March 8, 2019


I will often dream of my second wife, Georgia, and of my stepdaughter, Jamila. I dream of them quite often lately. I dreamed of them last night. 

In my dream, my stepdaughter said something that seemed very wise, although of course I don't remember exactly how she said it. It was rather poetic, as I recall, but I cannot remember the phraseology. Basically though, what she said to me was "You are not merciful enough with yourself." 

That's probably true. What persists with me most keenly are my own faults, rather than the faults of others. I tend to blame myself, to believe that I could have done more in any given situation regardless of what anyone else was or was not doing. And that is true, too. I could always have done more. Don't we all feel that way, through the clear lens of hindsight? 

There's an old Jewish rabbinical saying to the effect that each individual among us is responsible for the life of every other individual. 

A heavy burden, that. But not an improper one. We fashion reality in concert with every other human being. And, on a finely focused level, we do so in concert with every person we love. 

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The End of Something

I have felt especially troubled lately. I have supposed that it was the product of the combination of the flu and the house owner's sudden decision not to honor our two-year agreement and the rush of having to find a new place and hassle of getting everything arranged and packed. 

But it's more than that, as I realized this morning. 

Leaving this house is like closing a door that had hitherto remained at least slightly open. It is the end of something, the final stage prop in the history that brought me here and sustained me here. Here is where we were last together as a family. Louis. Sasha. Me. Us.  And though it was only I who remained this last year, it was still I and the house, the home, the history. Like a soul which stays in a body, so was I. Like breath, like a heartbeat, faint yet present. Something. A pulse. 

Here forth, there will be nothing that contained us together. Nothing that knew our presence, our scent, echoed back the sound we made. 

Old roads, old hopes, old struggles and strivings have led not to paradise but to a deserted island, and ended in a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. 

That's one way to hear the story. 

There are, thank God, other ways as well. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Nyepi 2

The streets in Renon are already fairly bare of traffic, anticipating the silence to come. Just a few people, people like me, rushing out to buy a last minute item. Potato chips. Cigarettes. A child in the house behind me is playing a single note on a little horn, like a New Years horn. The rain has stopped, and the evening is mercifully cool after so many days of suffocating heat. It will be a good day to sleep, a Rip Van Winkle sleep, and heal, and wake again to the careworn, clamorous world.

Nyepi Day

Tomorrow is Nyepi, the day of silence in Bali, and this year I expect to appreciate it for the first time, as my plan is to sleep through the day, if possible. The flu on the top of the flu has really kicked my ass, especially given that I've had to prepare for moving my household to another location, and especially in heat that has been a pinch worse than perfectly suffocating. It's just me getting all the stuff in the house packed, and it has been exhausting. Sore throat, fever, coughing, body aches, fatigue--the hold nine yards. A thousand thanks (NOT) to the landlord for deciding to renege on our two year agreement and decide he wanted me out in 2 weeks. 

So happy Nyepi Day, all; and many more to come. 

Monday, March 4, 2019

New Life

New life about to begin in a new place. Maybe I'll remember this one. Even though I enjoyed the last four years in my little house in Renon, I have only a vague memory of what it was I enjoyed. In fact, I have only vague memories of the past eight years in Bali. I've visited many places, for instance, in Bali and abroad. I've been to Kuala Lumpur and Penang and Bangkok and the southern islands of Thailand and Singapore and Solo and Jogyakarta and Jakarta, but I don't remember very much about these places. I remember that Kuala Lumpur was a very modern, very tidy city. I remember the fried insects that are a delicacy in Bangkok. I remember the pleasant people in Solo and Louis' uncle and brother in Jogyakarta, and I remember nothing whatever about Jakarta except traffic jams. Oh, I remember the fast train … somewhere … and a giant golden statue of the Buddha. Bits and pieces. I remember when my stepson lived with us in Renon and taking the school bus to school and home again and how he'd close himself in his room and play videogames nonstop and how he would become glum if he had to go with us on some "fun" excursion. I remember laughing. I remember watching Mr. Bean with him and laughing and laughing. I remember Sparky, the black and white dog whose real name was not Sparky. 

There is much of the long ago past that I remember very clearly. Very clearly indeed. But much of the present, much of the last couple decades, is a blur. Or absent altogether. A sad thing in its way. An inability to appreciate the things you have forgotten. On the other hand, I suppose it can be a good thing too, especially where separation, the end of a marriage is concerned. One cannot be very sorrowful over what he cannot remember anyway. If I miss anything very keenly about Louis, it is the Louis of 10 and 12 years ago, the girl I called "Tikus" (mouse in Indonesian).  But she left along the way. I guess we all leave along the way. She once said that I myself had changed. I wasn't who I used to be. I didn't believe it then, but perhaps she was right. Do we change, or do we just become dull, lazy, careworn? The spark is gone, women will often say. A cliché, sure, but even clichés are based on real things, real feelings. There's no more romance, no more electricity. And men will say, "Well, that's your fault!" Lol. Am I not what I used to be? I don't know. Most often, when I remember what I used to be, in the way that I remember it, I have to cringe. 

The new area I'm moving to is tucked in between Sanur and Renon. It's not an area I had previously spent much time in, as there was no reason to do so. I do remember looking at a house in the area once with Louis. But for the most part, I've only driven past on the motorbike. So it will be interesting to explore new places and new sights. I'm the sort of person who puts down roots, very stubborn roots, wherever I happen to be. A bit of a strange thing to say about an Oregonian who ended up in Bali. But I never picture anything changing. Or rather, I don't like to picture it. Set me down in a certain place, wind me up, and watch me trace the same circles day in and day out. Change comes upon me, like a piano falling from a fifth story window. I don't seek it, but I adapt, pressing always toward permanence. 

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Movin On

Hallelujah. I found a place to live. Or rather, it was found by my friend Christoph, who already lives there. Two wild and crazy guys with MS in the same place! 

This is a small western style apartment complex (although if you've never seen an Indonesian apartment complex, you won' t know what I mean). It is clean, quiet, functional, and the couple who manage the place are wonderfully nice people. Also, it has a swimming pool! I'm moving up in the world, man. 

Moreover, there is plenty of room (again, comparatively) and I will be able to bring my main pieces of furniture, including my expensive King Koil bed. 

So the move is set for Sunday next, for which I have reserved the able services of my Sumba friend, Samuel.  

Housing Update

In an effort, apparently, to win the grand asshole prize, my landlord has decided that I must be out of the house by the 15th  of this month. 

Although I have a couple friends helping in a search for a new place, it seems very likely that I will need to move all the furniture, and myself, to Louis' villa in Sanur and continue to look from that locale. 

In the meantime, the flu continues to thrive. 

Saturday, March 2, 2019


Jeeze, I hate looking for a place to live. I'm so cozy in my little house, after four years here, as is the big fat brown dog and the little black dog. But then, it's not my little house, is it? In fact, I have less than a month to get the hell out. 

So far, the places I've looked at are pretty gloomy. Tiny, drab, not clean. Ugh. I begin to say to myself, "Okay, that's enough, I want to go home now." Like Tutor Turtle in the old cartoon, if anyone remembers that. Tutor would get an idea of something he wanted to do--like be an astronaut, or a caveman, or what have you--and his friend, Mr. Wizard, would say a magic spell and Tutor would be transported into his desire. It never went well, and Tutor Turtle soon found himself in trouble. "Help, Mr. Wizard!' he would say, "I want to get out of here. I don't want to be an astronaut anymore." At which point, Mr. Wizard would chant the spell, "Trizzle, Trazzle, Truzzle, Trum, time for this one to come home." 

I say to myself, I want to go home. 

But I have no home to go to. 

Friday, March 1, 2019

Here We Go Again

Okay, so, well, here we go again. I've got about a month to find a new place to live, thanks to my landlord's sudden decision that he prefers not to live up to the two year arrangement we had agreed to one year ago. Couldn't have come at a worse time. I'm still waiting on receiving my renewed passport, still in the middle of the irritating foreign resident renewal process, still feel lousy with the flu, and Louis is somewhere in Thailand for a month, making it difficult to arrange certain administrative necessities such as large transfers of money (Foreigners are not allowed to have Indonesian bank accounts).