maggeh@yahoo.com

2.24.01
Two unfortunate things I watched on the plane: "Show Me the Funny" a horrific international version of "America's Funniest Home Videos" and Mr. T and the Women starring Richard Gere, Kate Hudson, Liv Tyler, Farah Fawcett, Tara Reed, and Diane from "Cheers." I invoke their names that I may curse them and the all-star-cast genre that sucked me into its gaping maw.
(long ago, far away)
The guy next to me on the plane was reading a book that I was about to read, so I asked him how it was. We started talking, and it turns out he's a 24 year old who had been rock climbing in Thailand. He works very close to where I work in SF, and from ages 13 to 17 we lived half a block away from each other.
(long ago, far away)
On the ride to the airport, I see a graffito in English: "No Sex No Good." Wisdom for the ages.
(long ago, far away)
2.23.01
Today I had my first pedicure ever. I always thought it seemed a little monarchist to have someone kneel at your feet to buff your toenails. I felt like even more of a jerk with someone kneeling at my feet while I sipped an elaborately garnished fruity drink. However, she painted tiny white flowers on my toenails, which are quite pleasant. I shall return to the hotel room and wiggle my toes at leisure.
(long ago, far away)
The bathrooms at this restaurant have small ponds in them. I wash my hands and watch in the mirror as a frog hops across the tiled floor.
(long ago, far away)
This sunburn is making my skin so hot that I can feel the oven-like warmth radiating through my khakis. I think the tops of my feet are steaming.
(long ago, far away)
2.22.01
I like to wake up to sunshine; Tricia thinks the entire point of vacation is to sleep through the morning. I wake up to sunshine; Tricia gets up to close the curtains. Tricia closes the curtains before we go to bed, I open them so we can see the sunshine. Eventually, she'll slay me in my sleep.
(long ago, far away)
Balinese construction workers don't whistle at you, but they will occasionally drop things on your head if you stand in the right place. I find this refreshing. However, men on the sidewalk are not discreet about appreciative glances. American men will at least wait until you've passed before they try to check out your ass. Here, as they're assessing you, the men first proposition you commercially:

-Transport? -No, thank you.

Then amorously:

-Kiss me, beautiful beauty. Kiss me. -No. Thank you.
(long ago, far away)
I figured I'd finish reading a magazine article by the pool after breakfast. Fifteen unprotected minutes in the sun and I am crisped. That is, I'm crisped everywhere except for a small patch on my stomach that was shaded by the magazine. I apply handfuls of moisturizer to prevent peeling, and my skin has absorbed the entire bottle. This means that when the inevitable peeling begins, my skin will simply lift off in sheets rather than bite-sized wispies. I await it eagerly.
(long ago, far away)
Read a New Yorker article about Michael Zimmerman, a prominent collector, and now I have the urge to acquire. His daughter, who died of skin cancer in her 20s, endearingly collected air-sickness bags. His theory about stuff matches mine, "I really don't have a possessive instinct. I don't have to own anything. I do have an acquisitive instinct, but once I've acquired it I'll give it away."
(long ago, far away)
2.21.01
You have no idea how dark darkness can be until you're walking through a jungle with no moon.
(long ago, far away)
Tricia and I shared a cigar in the pool last night and talked about what colors we'd like to eat if you could taste colors. We were having the perfect, cheesy, twenty-something-girls-on-vacation moment when bats started dipping over the pool. They were swooping a little low for my taste, so I explained my theory on rabid aquatic bats (throwing in a few facts about venomous nocturnal pool frogs). Tricia rolled her eyes at me, and we went back to the room.
(long ago, far away)
We're leaving in three days and I have no semblance of a tan. My only hope is that my rapidly multiplying freckles will join hands and become brothers.
(long ago, far away)
2.20.01
Monkeys take your camera, or your sunglasses, or your hat and won't give them back until you bring food to trade. Did you know this? Monkeys understand barter. Oh man, somewhere in the forest, they're sitting around a fire pit chipping arrowheads. We're screwed.
(long ago, far away)
Just saw my first lightening bug! That was worth the price of the ticket.
(long ago, far away)
I'm reading A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryerson, and I just finished the part about a town called Centralia. The coalmines beneath the town caught fire decades ago and are still burning. The whole town has been evacuated and sulfurous smoke drifts up from cracks in the ground.
(long ago, far away)
2.19.01
Last night, a tiny gecko padded out from behind our wall lamp. He was no bigger than the top part of my pinky with big black eyes and sweet round toes. His tiny mouth opens and closes. Doo-Wop. Doo-Wop. Backup lizard.
(long ago, far away)
When I drain the tub, the toilet makes comforting gurgling sounds.
(long ago, far away)
2.18.01
The employees at our hotel are oppressively helpful. You take a sip of coffee, they refill the sip of coffee, you use a pat of butter, they replace the pat of butter. This is a little unnerving, but it would be bearable if they didn't want to chat while they're doing it, and continue chatting for about five minutes afterward. Tricia and I will be having an intense conversation about nihilism and it's implications (OK, about whether we're going to get a massage or go parasailing) and the coffee guy says, "Eh, more coffee? How long you be in Bali? Where you from? Are you married?" He finally leaves, Tricia takes a sip of juice and the juice guy moves in for the kill. Today, the manager came up to chat with us and stood next to our table for five full minutes after the conversation had ended and awkward silence had ensued. We're switching hotels.
(long ago, far away)
In the mornings I wake up to watch the sunrise from our balcony, and the hotel is already humming with activity. Everything falls at night, and small dead things wash ashore. The beach must be combed, the paths cleared, the pool skimmed. Life sheds.

Also, I think life may have fleas.
(long ago, far away)
Someone had to be really, really hungry before they considered durian as a food source. "Well, Bob, we're dying, might as well try the sewer fruit." We bought one at the local market, left it in our room while we went swimming, and returned to a wall of stink. We checked our flip-flops to make sure neither one of us had stepped in something, and then put the durian on the balcony. My guidebook says eating one is like "eating an exquisite raspberry blancmange in an outhouse." You know, I'll take your word for it.
(long ago, far away)
I'm sick. Water has started smelling too pungent, so on our way into Ubud, we stopped at McDonalds for something familiar. (For the record, Balinese like their Big Macs salty). Anyway, there were about fifty kids upstairs having a party. I went up to check it out, and there was a big circle of them surrounding one boy who was cavorting in the middle with a big cowboy-looking character. The kids around him were chanting in unison and he was doing some traditional dance moves. Indonesian hokey pokey is so much cooler than ours.
(long ago, far away)
Travel tip: If you're looking for light vacation reading. Don't go with Kafka's Metamorphosis.
(long ago, far away)
2.16.01
Woke up at 3 a.m. (still haven't adjusted to the 14-hour time difference) and read in the bathtub. When I pulled the plug, the sink started to gurgle. That reminded me of the passage in It when all of the children's voices come bubbling up from the drain. The hairs on the nape of my neck stood up, and I hightailed it back to bed before someone said, "Save us, Maggie! Saaaaave uuuuuus!"
(long ago, far away)
Everything is juicy; I've never seen so many shades of green. Even the wind feels like it's alive. (Maybe because of all the bugs that smack into my arms when there's a breeze.)
(long ago, far away)
MARKETING MOMENT! Tricia tells Romeo that we're from San Francisco. He hums the first part of the Rice-a-Roni jingle and exclaims, "The San Francisco treat! Bing Gling!"
(long ago, far away)
The young French couple staying at our hotel has a little girl (about four) and a little boy (just barely three). The kids run up and down the beach naked with mini pirate scarves to keep their scalps from burning. The little boy is constantly growling. He growls at the dragonflies, growls at his reflection in the pool, growls at his dad when he lifts him out of the water. The best part of my trip thus far has been watching this little naked French baby running after one of the Cabana boys with his arms raised in menacing monster claws, growling ferociously. Ha!
(long ago, far away)
Finally (finally!) finished On the Road, which I didn't like. I know, stone me in the street. Well, I liked these parts, but what is it about this book that made two young men I know drop out of college and set out for wide-open spaces? It's not particularly well written, and everyone is hungry, crazy, poor, or all three. I suppose if you're a 20-year-old boy, the idea of not having to work, screwing everything with legs, and dropping babies every few states is appealing. Ho hum. Travels With Charley by Steinbeck is still the book that makes me want to leave life behind and really get to know... North Dakota. The Beats just piss me off. (Except for Bukowski. I understand the Bukowski thing.)
(long ago, far away)
2.15.01
Saw a group of small birds circling a tree. Realized, upon closer inspection, that they were dragonflies. I've grown accustomed to the sensation of things crawling on me. I no longer bother to brush off anything that doesn't look like it'll bite.
(long ago, far away)
There are stray dogs everywhere over here, and I'm growing particularly attached to the black one who sits under my lounge chair for shade. I have to hiss at the purposeful hotel employees who keep approaching with handfuls of sand to shoo her away.
(long ago, far away)
Breakfast is included in the price of our room, so every morning we trudge down for fruit, stale chow mein, cold toast, and Tang. While we eat, they play absurd American tunes--Lionel Richie, Michael Bolton, '50s doo-wop. Tricia and I exchange wry glances with each increasingly absurd song. "Cause you're my wooooommmaaaaannn…" Bite of toast. "…and I am your maaahhhhhhn!" Sip of Tang.
(long ago, far away)
Building supports here are often wrapped with cloth. Apparently, the Balinese see certain trees as manifestations of God, so they honor the wood.
(long ago, far away)
I watched the sunrise from our balcony this morning and realized I'm half a world from home. It was a peaceful, awesome sensation.
(long ago, far away)
I still laugh when a boat operator approaches me on the beach and says, "You want water sports? You like water sports?"
(long ago, far away)
Some of the ants are so tiny that you can't see the filament connecting their thorax and their head. A bunch of them got in our hotel sink where I'd poured out some viciously bad beer. I thought Tricia had rinsed her feet and left a lot of sand behind, until I realized the grains were moving.
(long ago, far away)
Coffee here tastes the way coffee at home smells.
(long ago, far away)
2.14.01
Bali is built for short people. While grocery shopping, I had to duck under the suspended promotional signs. One of them finally whacked me in the face. "HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!" it screamed pinkly. Fab. Half way around the world and Hallmark is still beating me down.
(long ago, far away)
"The Best American Poetry 1999" is amazing. Makes me want to tear through the whole series. The Shipfitter's Wife by Dorianne Laux was lovely.
(long ago, far away)
Had my first professional massage today, and I almost proposed. I think I could have made her very happy.

The honey facial was another matter. Glah. The next time someone rubs sticky food products on me, sex better be involved.
(long ago, far away)
Everyone on the hotel staff has adopted a pronounceable European name. The bartender, whose real name is Budiarta, goes by Jim. However, he informs me confidentially, his "sexy" name is Romeo. Rad. I tell him he can call me Juliet and give him the cheesy wink/finger gun combo. Then I order something blue.
(long ago, far away)
Our first day at the hotel, and the manager aptly explains the concept of buffet. "We make too much food, you take what you want."
(long ago, far away)
2.13.01
It takes 20 hours to fly from SF to Indonesia. That's about 19 hours too long for a 5'9" girl to cram herself into a seat designed for the average 5'3" Chinese passenger. (Cultural Aside: Chinese people get irked if you try to prop your feet on their headrests. Some religious thing…?) A flight of that duration involves five in-flight movies, three meals, six beverage services, four bathroom trips and about eight hours left over to ponder more comfortable ways to spend 20 hours. Giving birth, for example.
(long ago, far away)
China Airlines stewardesses happily attend to 300 cramped passengers over a 20-hour flight wearing pumps, a microscopic double-slit skirt, and a full face of makeup. Their uniforms are freshly pressed, their lipstick never wears off, and when they giggle they place one hand demurely over their mouths.

As one of them passed up the aisle making soothing checking-on-you sounds, I leapt up, grabbed her around the waist, and hefted her from the floor. Her petite automaton legs struggled uselessly in the air as my fingers played wildly up her spine. At last I found the windup key and wrested it from the back of her neck. I yanked it aloft triumphantly and shouted, "STEPFORD STEWARDESS!" My fellow passengers blinked at me over their vacuum-sealed chicken teriyaki.

OK, maybe that's an exaggeration. Actually, I asked for orange juice with no ice. Please.
{long ago, far away)
The doughy woman a few balconies over is playing solitaire in her muumuu. She is grievously sunburned. So sunburned that she even smiles at me carefully, as though her teeth hurt and she needs to pull her lips away. Ow.
(long ago, far away)

archives...february 2001



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