Friday, December 31, 2010

drunk dialed by my own mom

my mom is a lightweight. she gets tipsy off of just a couple of sips of wine, so she rarely sips wine. get her after a big dose of general anesthesia is wearing off ...

the phone rings shortly after midnight.

mom? what are you doing calling so late? are you ok?

well, there's a mystery. i thought you might be worried.

what kind of mystery, mom?

a mystery. a.... mystery. and you wouldn't know and i thought you might be worried.

what do you mean? do you mean you don't know why you're in the hospital? do you remember why you're in the hospital?

yeah i know, but there was a mystery and i thought you would be looking for me so i needed to call and tell you.

ok, thanks for telling me mom.  love you.  goodnight.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

just a little 100,000 mile overhaul

one gallbladder lighter, one stomach gingerly untwisted, and two patched up hernias later, my mom is feeling much better than she did when we hit the ER on the 26th.

Monday, December 27, 2010

this is why i haven't been writing lately, or
how i spent my winter vacation

made it back to my parents' house at 6am after spending 5 hours in the emergency room with my mom. pounded down a couple hours of sleep before dragging my fat a-- out of bed, then dragging my dad's ever-increasingly bony a-- out of bed and into a fresh pair of depends and into his wheelchair just in time for our weekly visit from his bath attendant.

ok, let's talk about upsides. well, there is this: with mom in the hospital, the remaining few christmas cookies are all mine! ha! and, ummm, it's nice and sunny outside. and dad hasn't fallen (yet) today and is safely asleep in his recliner. so that's all good.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

... and now, goodbye bob


no more bbqs, beers and dreaming of green onions for us.

we'll miss you.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

well at least that's what he says

we shall not cease from exploration
and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.

              - t.s. eliot, from "little gidding"

so i'm here. back where i started and, well, for me, not so much, really...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

i'm going home

Dan Auerbach Goin' Home

i've spent too long away from home
did all the things i could have done
gone are the days of endless thrills
i know i'm not the only one

so long, i'm goin', goin' home...

i saw the streets all ripe with jewels
balconies and the laundry lines
they tried to make me welcome there
but their streets did not feel like mine

so long, i'm goin', goin' home...

i want the sun to hit my face
through oak trees in the open lot
forget about the things you want
be thankful for what all you got

so long, i'm goin', goin' home...

- dan auerbach

Monday, June 14, 2010

the fever and the feedbag

i am three days into a raging fever that even my old standby advil cannot contain for long.  i cannot breathe.  my lungs are full and i cannot breathe.  i'm suffocating and i'm hot.  i'm so so hot.

my dreams are vivid.  vivid and sweaty. 

i dream of names that i am supposed to remember: someone hudson hodges - but forget. 

i dream of a stroke.  a stroke or a tumor that makes my eyes sensitive to light and renders me unable to speak and traces patterns in the air in front of my open eyes.  patterns i cannot disperse or even change by blinking or squinting or vigorous rubbing.  patterns that become more and more complex and start to blot out the "reality" in front of me.

i wake up and the hunger begins. there is nothing but the hunger.  pasta, sandwiches, soup, king bars, whatever is offered.  i am awake and i strap on the feedbag and i cannot fill the hunger.

stupid fever.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

relentless emptiness

i’ve been here for some time now with time to think, time to reflect, time to gather my thoughts, time to... and i’ve got nothing. nada. zip. zilch. i’m empty. i am devoid of content.

sometimes there’s a break in the emptiness when something to the effect of this creeps in:

“hmmm, this relentless emptiness, i mean, i wonder… is it a good thing or a bad thing? because maybe there’s something wrong with me – like a I had a TIA or something, what with all this emptiness going on. ok, possible, or maybe it’s the start of one of those spontaneous amnesia things that people get in lame 70’s movies. ok, that just takes me back to a TIA or something. ok, hold on a minute, but maybe this just a really, really, really long stretch of “being in the moment” – a present-ness that is so, well, in the present, that no thoughts enter?”

and that triggers a little flurry of white noise, random bits and pieces, long-forgotten memories and only-recently-pushed-to-the-backburner memories, movie clips and sound bytes, and kitties and old dreams and wishes, and then it dies out and the moment passes back into relentless emptiness.

some days i get up the drive to think that maybe i really should try to think about my most recent travels so i might write something about it now. but i didn’t write about it when it was the present and now it’s the past, and well, frankly, meaningless to me in this moment. so i make my way out into my secret ocean and swim like i imagine a frog might, and then float on my back for a bit, and then paddle around in circles one direction and then the other, and then float some more.

but i’ll tell you something that does have meaning to me in the moment. the wetness. the wetness has lots of meaning to me in the moment. i am on a teeny tropical island not all that far from the equator. it is hot and it is wet. always. and while that is really quite lovely during the days, it can seriously get a bit old upon waking each morning upon a wet and clammy bed fitted with wet and clammy sheet and then trying to find the least musty, least wet and clammy bathing suit and sarong or shorts or skirt or something, anything, you have to then try (really, just go ahead and try) to slide over your wet and clammy body.

but them the sun – along with the steam of drying everything – starts rising a little higher and you find your way into the ocean and some voluntary wetness and the day brings what it will, which is usually nothing.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

just a peek

a little glimpse of my secret beach

and what i do there all day

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

one of my little friends

who lives in, on and around my shack. and steals my soap.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

i'm here and will probably be here for awhile

living in a shack on a teeny malaysian island

jungle behind me, beach in front.

power only when they turn on a generator to pump wells.

5 foot long monitor lizards, smaller bright green lizards with tails and toes that taper off into something that looks like twigs, and vipers. poisonous vipers in my shack!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

aquarium day!

z was a bit under the weather today so i headed off to the aquarium in the kuala lumpur convention center.

first a little piranha feeding show

then some swirly tubes o' fishies

then a little stroll through the underwater tank

rawrrr, i'm gonna get you!

hello, look at me, i'm mr. smiley happy!

some giant arapaima. really, they're giant but you can't tell here.

a little giant grouper action (so yeah, my camera sucks at the low light thing..)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

kuala lumpur is clean, clean, clean!

cities aren't my bag, man, but kuala lumpur's city center is pretty and green (they left big patches of jungly stuff everywhere), clean and safe.

but this? i don't know what to say about this. needless to say, i never walk alone here...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

hello malaysia, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gal

the splurge is on!

we're spending a bit o' time in a fancy schmancy place in kuala lumpur's city center.

just a bit of luxury after nepal and india...

sleeping like a king

dining like a king

and then some....

the view from my balcony

and the view from my balcony.  yep, those are the petronas towers in the center.  they were the tallest buildings in the world until 2004.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

thank you india

i'm outty.

and yeah, well, that song has got an entirely different meaning to me now...

thank you silence
thank you disillusionment
thank you nothingness
thank you....

Alanis Morissette Thank You

Monday, April 26, 2010

and then the dreams

one night furless kitties cooked, but still slightly alive, and served on platters in brown gravy. i don't understand how this could have happened and i am sick in the pit of my stomach.

another night drowning kitties, still slightly alive, the last bits of energy leaving causing their bodies to twitch in the water. it's too late to save them and i am sick in the pit of my stomach.

and more recently a live kitty in my arms. i'm holding onto it so tightly that it cannot move while kicking a dog trying to get the kitty. the dog knocks me over and i don't let go of the kitty. i am kicking the dog with everything i have, keeping it at my feet and away from the kitty.

guess i'm starting to pull out of the feeling helpless thing i've been feeling lately. i can save the kitty!

Indigo Girls Watershed

thought i knew my mind like the back of my hand
the gold and the rainbow, but nothing panned out as i planned
and they say only milk and honey's gonna make your soul satisfied
well i better learn how to swim
cause the crossing is chilly and wide

twisted guardrails on the highway broken glass on the cement
a ghost of someone's tragedy
how recklessly my time has been spent
they say that it's never too late
but you don't, you don't get any younger
well I better learn how to starve the emptiness and feed the hunger

up on the watershed standing at the fork in the road
you can stand there and agonize
till your agony's your heaviest load
you'll never fly as the crow flies
get used to a country mile
when you're learning to face the path at your pace
every choice is worth your while

and there's always retrospect
(when you're looking back) to light a clearer path
every five years or so i look back on my life
and i have a good laugh
you start at the top go full circle round
catch a breeze take a spill
but ending up where I started again makes me wanna stand still

up on the watershed standing at the fork in the road
you can stand there and agonize
till your agony's your heaviest load
you'll never fly as the crow flies get used to a country mile
when you're learning to face the path at your pace
every choice is worth your while...

- words and music emily saliers

Sunday, April 25, 2010

speaking of poop

you see it everywhere, drying on the sides of roads, train tracks, and houses. balls of poop and dry hay. building material? fuel? yep, fuel. fuel they fire the ovens with to cook my favorite bread - nan. so that's what that special flavor is...

check out the kid at the side of the photo. you want to know what that sickening sweet smell is along the railroad tracks? well, beside rotting food and garbage, it's poop.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

leaving amritsar

reshma doesn't want us to go

Friday, April 23, 2010

at wagah: the indian pakistan border closing ceremony

ok, this has got to be a highlight for me. words cannot describe. it starts with a huge dance party (mostly women) on the india side

whilst the more sedate folk (mostly, if not all male) on the pakistan side look on,

and then as the actual ceremony begins, turns into a combo of michael jackson's "bad" video and john cleese's "silly walk"

check it out:

coming full circle on the sikh tip

a long, long time ago when all of this was just beginning, a beautiful sikh man walked into a bar in new jersey and told me that if i made it to india i should visit the golden temple in amritsar.

i just did. these photos are far better than anything could manage.

sikh hospitality and a little respite in amritsar india

we made it up to amritsar in the indian state of punjab, and i gotta say it's been a huge relief.

populated primarily by sikhs, it's a whole different world from the other states we've visited. this is the first place we've been where everyone smiles at us when we pass and not just because they're getting ready to ask for money or to try to sell us something at triple the actual value. they just smile and wave as they drive by. they just smile and shake our hands as we walk by. and they never ask us for anything. 

it's the first place we couchsurfed in india, and what a place. our host mr. singh owns a farm and has converted the 300 year haveli in the middle of the property into a sort of rural boutique hotel. he farms, raises animals, and breeds horses there. if there are open rooms, he offers them to couchsurfers. if the rooms are full, he offers bunks to couchsurfers. if the bunks are full, he offers camping to the couchsurfers. it's been fairly quiet since we've been here, the only guests being us and couchsurfer from slovenia who has been bicycling around the world for 4 years, so we ended up with a big air-conditioned room. did i mention the restaurant and swimming pool?

reshma, one of the staffers here, is particularly outgoing despite knowing only about 6 words of english. she gave us the grand tour of the nearby village in which she lived, and during which we were served tea by nearly everyone we encountered. sweet.

a nice little building in reshma's nearby village

dajan the slovenian couchsurfer and i listening to the water buffalos making the weird sounds that water buffalos make.

wherever we go, we draw a crowd.

dajan, reshma's sister, reshma and i at reshma's sister's house in the village.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

looking back: two kinds of tourists, take your choice

travelling through southeast asia, nepal and now india, it seems that after some time your choices become limited. you can either be an a stupid tourist or an a**hole tourist.

you know that they're scamming you and stealing from you but you don't want to call them on it at risk of furthering the "ugly american " stereotype. so you don't call them on it and then they think you are a stupid tourist and then try and scam you even more. and if you do call them on it, you're an a**hole.

nepal was the breaking point for me when i turned from voluntarily letting them think i was a stupid tourist into being an a**hole tourist.  (of course, if they asked me what country i was from, i said bosnia.  ha! take that! image-of-the-ugly-american-tourist!  ok, to be fair to bosnia, nobody in nepal had ever heard of it anyway.)

i've "snapped" twice. ok, when i say "snapped", i really just stood up for myself.

first at the ganesh himal guesthouse in nepal (my bandh on that guesthouse is still on, by the way) when the lying liar woman at the desk told me that i didn't just talk to the guys that i just talked to and find out that she was charging them less than me. she actually tried to convince me over and over again that i did not have the conversation that i just had. incredible. anyway, i wasn't rude to her, i just called her on her lies instead of giving up and walking away angry feeling like a sucker.

and more recently, at the train station in india, where after standing in line with an old lady pressing her body sweaty body against me for what seemed like an eternity, and after standing quietly as multiple men pushed to the front of the window in front of us again and again - with, mind you, not a peep of complaint from the people standing behind me in line - i get to the window and don't have a form filled out that i didn't know i needed to have filled out just to buy a frigging train ticket and an indian woman a couple of people back in line said loudly and disdainfully in english "what, she didn't fill out her form?"

normally, i would politely ignore and grumble internally. this time i, the only foreigner in a long line of locals, turned and said in an equally loud and disdainful voice "well, i would have filled out a form if there had been any evidence anywhere in this entire station that i actually needed to fill out a form." (well, that put her in her place, eh? jeez, i'm a wimp!)

great, so now i'm the a**hole tourist...

indian queues: up close and personal

it's hot (did i mention we're in the middle of a heatwave here?) the power is out and i can't get any freaking internet access and i need to buy a train ticket - which you've got to do here days and days and days in advance if you want a chance at getting any kind of seating at all that has air-conditioning. travel agents like to try and charge you double the actual cost of the ticket so i head to the station to stand in line (or queue as they call it in these parts.) and true to the different value placed on personal space here, i've got a chewer on my back. a sweaty, sweaty chewer.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

i sing the praises of the p-trap

it is at this late date in my travels that i would like to give a shout-out to a little something that we in the states like to call the p-trap.

it's a simple little piece of plumbing installed on the exit route of your drains, sinks, toilets, etc., the function of which is to stop noxious fumes from the sewage system from coming back up into to your house.

joni mitchell wasn't kidding when she sang you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

i love trains in india
today's journey: delhi to amritsar


air-conditioned chair cars where the seats are like airplane seats but with more room or air-conditioned sleeper cars where you get a wide berth outfitted with linens, a pillow and a towel. it's all good.

and what's really great is that at every stop, a bunch of vendors like the guy in the photo jump on and roam the aisles selling surprisingly good food and drink at reasonable prices. the best cardamom milk tea ever in the world for a mere 5 rupees (about 11 cents), freshly (well, mostly freshly) cooked yummy little patties made of potatoes and veggies replete with bread and super spicy sauce for 25 rupees. pakoras, sandwiches... even ice cream.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

more sightseeing around delhi

saw the lotus temple.

the national gallery of modern art has a pretty decent collection.

as does the national museum, including actual bones from the buddha himself.

they have a toilet museum here, but we haven't managed to make it there...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

how low can you go
or stealing from gandhi's memorial

you can't wear your shoes when you visit mahatma gandhi's memorial - the site where he was cremated. you can either leave them outside in one spot for free and at the risk of them not being there when you return, or leave them with some attendents for a price. we arrive late in the afternoon and the attendants aren't giving out tickets for your shoes despite there being evidence of tickets in the form of a big pile of used tickets in the trash behind them.

no tickets = no evidence of shoe-keeping fee being paid = money in the ole pocket for them. really, stealing from gandhi's memorial site? really, must you?

indira gandhi's living room

there's an indira gandhi museum in new delhi. actually, it's the house she lived in and outside of which she was shot and killed. part of the house holds exhibits and media clippings, and part remains the same as when she lived there.

really weird to stand there and look at indira gandhi's living room

and bedroom

and the spot on which she was shot and killed