Monday, May 30, 2022


 The story is the same, over and over, but I watch it again and again. The same story, different faces. CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC. Abcdefg. Twenty-one killed, 19 children. 


A lizard emerges from behind the TV screen. A cicak. From above, behind the clock, another lizard emerges. They approach each other cautiously yet deliberately and stop only when they are nose to nose. 

What is happening, I wonder. 

Somehow an hour passed while a growing mob of heavily armed officers and agents outside the school did nothing. The children died. The children screamed, the children bled, the children died. 

One of the lizards, the one that had come from behind the clock, positions itself parallel to the other, then places its body on top of the other's, its sticky little paws pinning the neck, its tail snaking around the lower portion. The two bodies are motionless for some moments and then the lizard on top begins to twitch from head to tail as if electrocuted. Something is happening here. Something ... I don't know ... reptilian. 

One cannot help but watch.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

What Can You Be Thinking

 It seems that in my old age a general detachment overtakes me. I move about in the midst of humanity as if encapsulated, walled off, able to see and hear and speak and navigate (after a fashion), yet unable to respond articulately, appropriately, promptly to the most basic of stimuli. 

I am in the cafe, reading, all things as they should be--coffee and banana bread on the table before me, ashtray to the left, a lit cigarette, cellphone to the right. This is my entire field of vision. This and the open book in my hands. Little by little, something intrudes. I am completely unaware of it at first, and then it begins to vaguely stir the air between my thoughts, or rather between the thoughts of Murakami or Hawthorne or whomever happens to be thinking that day, and very slowly, very slowly my eyes wander upward, as slow as sunrise, to find a man standing above me with what started as an expectant smile in the process of fading from his lips.

"Sorry?" I say rather too intensely, as one suddenly jolted from sleep. 

"I wonder," he answers apologetically, "if I might get a light." 

"Oh, yes!" I say, again too quickly, too loudly (having just awakened). I hand him my lighter. 

Where was I? What happened? Where am I in this world? Just a moment ago I was with Murakami's enigmatic driver, just a moment ago I was on the platform of public shame with Hester Prynne, and then what is real alters the world: a man who wants a light. 

Wedged uncomfortably between two worlds, I wander back to my coffee, and I wonder what my girlfriend can possibly be thinking. And why she would think it. I think about kissing her and about how it does not feel right, the way a kiss is supposed to feel. Something is off. I put my palm to her cheek, smooth back her hair, trace the line from her neck to her shoulder, so thin, so slight. I have never known a woman like this. I do not know a woman like this. I kiss her breast (whose breast?). She makes a sound. I can feel her breath. I try to remember the way things are to be done, the way they were once done. What can she be thinking? I have nothing to offer, not even a future. 

"I love you," she whispers.

And I know those words. I do know them, somewhere. They are right on the tip of my tongue. 

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Idul Fitri

 This last week was Idul Fitri in Indonesia, which is the end of Ramadan, when everyone gets to start eating normally again (Ramadan being the fasting month) and either travels to their kampung (home town) or goes on vacation (which pretty much means they go to Bali). Bali was, therefore, incredibly crowded for the whole of the last week, resulting in massive traffic jams (there is, after all, only one road which goes through Sanur) and inapproachable beaches. 

But it's Sunday now and the tide has receded. Thankfully. 

Toward the end of last week, my bank here in Indonesia suddenly shot itself in the head, which is to say that the system went down completely. I could not get money from the ATM, could not use my card at a store or restaurant, and in fact could not even log in to my account. It just so happens, naturally, that this happened in coincidence with my having run out of cash on hand. This was on Thursday. I had 110.000 Rupiah in my wallet. On Friday morning, I bought two packs of cigarettes, a coffee, and a cookie for a total of 100.000. What now?  Saturday came around and the bank was still dead. What am I gonna eat till ... whenever? Taking a survey of the kitchen, I found eggs, oatmeal, and one square of a dark chocolate bar. 

Ah well, happily they revived the bank at some point on Saturday and I was back in business. The business of eating, that is. 

Other than that, my two remaining teeth (which were not teeth anyway but rebuilt sorts of things) had to be pulled this last week, so now I am altogether done with teeth. Yay. I will need to send my upper dentures away to the lab on Monday so will be gumming food for the next four or five days. Soup, yoghurt, mashed potatoes--stuff like that. Endless fun here in paradise. 

Sunday, May 1, 2022


 I've been feeling a bit guilty lately about so seldom writing an entry here that I determined this morning that I would forthwith take up my laptop and dutifully head out to the Renon Starbucks, home of so many past entries, and by God make an entry. 

As I headed down to Sanur instead, without my laptop, I ruminated a bit over the term "forthwith". The word actually means instantly, without delay. So clearly I had used the wrong word for what I was doing, which was heading down to Sanur with no laptop instead of to Renon with one. 

Forthwith, as it turns out, is not really what I meant. Eventually is more like what I meant. 

And so eventually, just as promised in amendment, I packed up my laptop this evening and headed out to Renon, determined to be more faithful henceforth.

Just one little problem. I forgot to bring the power cord to the laptop. The laptop is dead without this electrical life support system. And my plan to be more faithful died along with it this evening. Or until just now anyway. 

So here I am at home, laptop powered up, hardwired in, all at ready at last, and I wonder ... 

What the hell was I going to say to begin with?!