Tuesday, January 31, 2017

so you used to shake 'em down, but now you stop and think about your dignity

Today didn't really go according to plan - I think it was the first day I had here where I felt really unproductive and was also unhappy about it. I woke up and spent way too much time online, and then I forced myself to write for a bit, but then I got distracted again. Also, I had plans for most of the afternoon - I'd booked a package at what's supposed to be one of the better spas in the area, so I was out of commission from a productivity standpoint all afternoon.

The spa was pretty good, all in all - my massage was good, and I also got a facial that was pretty delightful (except for the fact that the water she used to rinse after each product smelled like the mothballs that were everywhere in the bathrooms in India, which kind of put me off the treatment). But I ended up taking a subpar motorbike taxi ride back - I wasn't feeling real confident about the guy's driving, especially since it was drizzling and the road was slick, so I got him to drop me off at Elephant (thus avoiding having to go up a steep hill near the hotel). But while I was enjoying some coffee at Elephant, a downpour started, so I got stuck there (sans laptop) for far longer than I'd intended.

But I salvaged the night by coming home, making tea, and working for a few hours - no writing, but I sent some emails and dealt with some admin stuff. And now I'm going to sleep and hope that tomorrow is better - goodnight!

Monday, January 30, 2017

smooth operator

Today was shorter than I planned - I somehow didn't wake up until almost eleven, which was probably a good thing since I haven't been sleeping enough lately. I spent the afternoon working pretty steadily, despite my social media distractions; I also had a brief phone chat with Katie, which was way overdue, and I answered some emails and generally tried to connect with my network despite being thousands of miles and sixteen hours away.

But I slacked off at six, took a shower, and then had dinner with Clayton at Pacha Mama. Yes, we all keep going to the same three places - but Pacha Mama is so delicious, and also a three minute walk, so I have #noregrets. I branched out a bit today and got the tortilla de españa, and it was incredible - perfect eggs with some great potatoes inside, topped with a zucchini 'chorizo' that was really just highly flavored/spiced zucchini. I also had the carrot tostadas, which I've had before, and Clayton got the buffalo cauliflower (cauliflower cooked in a spicy/sweet sauce like buffalo wings, which is amazingly delicious) and the nachos, which are also perfect. And I ordered red wine, and it was surprisingly good as well. So we sat around and talked for a couple of hours, and it was nice and relaxing and delicious all at once.

It's only 10:30, but I'm going to try to go to bed and reset myself to get up earlier - I have a massage in the afternoon (rough life), so I want to work in the morning, and that means not letting myself sleep until eleven again. Goodnight!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

[insert the song lyric of your choice, i'm too tired to think of one]

I was rather lazy today, all in all - I spent way too much of it going down twitter rabbit holes while consuming every bit of news I could about executive orders. But I also got off the internet and out of the hotel for a few hours - I went to Yellow Flower, where I had a truly delicious brunch (corn fritters topped with a delish array of veggies and two poached eggs) and lingered over coffee and my journal for awhile. Then I came home, did some laundry (sweating through everything all the time means my laundry needs are excessive), took another shower, and worked for a couple of hours.

But I slacked off around six to talk to some people (Nadia, whom I've mentioned before, and Eka, who works at the cafe on the roof of the hotel), and then at sevenish I went out for dinner with Clayton and Saurabh. Then I came home, consumed too much media, and called my parents for our usual Sunday catch-up (although it's way too late for me, and way too early for them - but I'll only be here another handful of Sundays before we can get to a slightly better schedule).

And now I need to sleep, since I want to get back on the writing train tomorrow - goodnight!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

baby i like your style

I spent most of the day either working or walking around, and all of it sweating. I'm in a groove on the book, which is a great thing, and also trying to keep myself off social media (with limited success, since some of the news is so grim - I'm annoyed by plenty of things, but banning refugees on Holocaust Remembrance Day is horrifyingly short-sighted. Especially since that ban includes people already holding visas/green cards - green card holders are permanent legal residents, they've already gone through months/years of vetting, and I can't imagine that many of them are now trapped overseas if they were traveling for business/vacation and happened to be outside the US when the order came down. I could write a diatribe about how this goes against the very foundations of our democracy, illegally discriminating based on religion (while also, pragmatically, ignoring the fact that the US already has the most stringent immigration vetting, and that this is all 'security theatre' to make the base feel more secure without actually accomplishing anything positive).... but you're all here for a recap of what I ate, so I'll keep it suitably banal).

sssanyway. I got up, showered, and went to Lazy Cats, where I worked for several hours while enjoying a tasty omelette, a couple of coffees, and a coke. Then I went to the ATM, grabbed a snack (the first meal I've been truly disappointed in here - but it's on Monkey Forest Road, which I hadn't walked down yet but is just as touristy as I've been told), and walked back to the hotel. When I got here, I'd sweated through everything, so I cooled down and took a shower before doing a bit more work on the roof.

But I took a break at seven to have dinner with Clayton - we walked to Copper, which is a v. posh restaurant inside a v. posh hotel. The food was excellent - they brought out a menu that looked like a prix fixe list, but it became clear after I ordered one thing from each of the four courses that the server thought I'd ordered way too much. So Clayton and I shared everything (and added another starter), and it was outstanding. The starters were tuna sashimi and this corn fritter dish that was incredible; that was followed by a fish dish that was possibly the best thing I've eaten here, and I could have happily kept eating that until I was stuffed. That was followed by a beef dish and a vegetable curry that were both good, but couldn't compare to the fish. But all in all, with those dishes (plus an amuse bouche) and one cocktail each, the bill came out to $35 each, which is reason #4276 that I love it here.

Then we walked back, and I was sweaty again, so I took another shower and worked for another hour or so. And then I fell asleep while I was working, but I managed to wake myself up so that I could write this (and read the latest news on people trapped in airports, and get angry again). And now it's time for bed - goodnight!

Friday, January 27, 2017

this river is wild

I finally met someone here who I do not like. This is almost a relief - I was beginning to think that with all the vegan food and incense, I was losing my edge. But no, I can confirm that I am still capable of taking an intense dislike to relative strangers after a single conversation. Glad to see one of the most delightful parts of my personality is still intact!

sssanyway. I was actually quite productive today, despite getting up later than I'd planned - I woke up at seven, looked at my clock and decided to sleep for another few minutes, and then suddenly woke up again at nine. But I threw on some clothes and went next door to Alchemy, where I had a vegan smoothie bowl and a vegan latte (coconut milk instead of regular milk, and a plant stem instead of a plastic straw to suck through). I got some writing done there, and it was all great until a really stinky guy joined the group next to me and I had to leave before I was gassed out (note: he is not the person I hated today, but I certainly would have liked him better if he had showered).

Then I came back here, hung out in my room for a bit, and then worked on the roof deck all afternoon (with a short break to eat some nasi goreng, which is the official food of my trip). I wanted to keep working tonight, but there were going-away drinks for Sara and Dillon (whom I've hung out with some while I've been here), so I decided to go to that. We went to Bridges, which is the gorgeous wine bar overlooking the river - I'd stumbled in there on Tuesday, and I was quite happy to go back. I had a nice time at the wine bar, and my wine was great and the conversation was flowing...

...but then eight of us went to vegetarian mexican for dinner, and things started to go downhill. First, they went uphill - I had a trial-by-fire first ride on the back of a motorbike, since I accepted a ride from Fenny (the community manager) because it was raining and I didn't want to walk. But I was wearing a long dress, so I had to ride sidesaddle and hike my dress up to avoid catching it on anything; I was holding her purse and my purse and also holding on to her waist and the back grab bar; and it was raining and the road involves a hairpin turn and a steep uphill piece. But it was fun and I survived and didn't come anywhere close to falling off despite riding sidesaddle, so I'm ready for my next motorbike adventure.

But while that was exhilarating, dinner was decidedly not. For one, they had live music tonight and I hate that band (they're way too loud and not very good, which means they drown out your conversation and are also not enjoyable). For another, I was too hungry when I got there and overordered, and then was too full. For a third, I sat next to a woman who got here recently, and she made a disparaging comment about Iowa as soon as I said that's where I'm from, and while I mostly ignored it, inside I started seething. How clueless do you have to be to insult someone's home state the moment you meet them? So that's probably not enough of a reason to hate someone, but cluelessness + disparaging comments about Iowa are two strikes, and I'm willing to go ahead and rule her out.

However, I'll probably see her around some this weekend - a bunch of people are taking a boat to one of the Gili Islands, which sounds great, but I want to keep slogging ahead on the book and so declined the trip. So I'm going to go to bed and hope that I can get up earlier tomorrow and keep cracking - goodnight!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

coming in fast, over me

Today wasn't the best day I've had in Bali so far, but since all days in Bali have been great so far, that's not a tragedy. I woke up relatively early and spent quite a bit of time navigating my former health insurance company's phone tree so that I could cancel my plan - that was successfully accomplished, I think, although it's somewhat unclear to me whether the guy actually got it done. But I have a confirmation number, so I live in hope.

I also talked to [censored] this morning - we hadn't talked since I left the states, and we were lucky that the wifi was working for the entire call so that I didn't have to pay for it (I guess that means, technically, that I was lucky; that had no bearing on [censored] either way). Then I showered and forced myself to leave the property and go elsewhere. I ended up at Lazy Cats, which is a ten or fifteen minute walk from here - they had these v. delicious hashbrowns (but they're hipsters, so they called them #browns), and I added poached eggs, and their coffee was great. I also got some solid work done there, and I probably should have stayed there or gone to another coffee shop. But I was getting worried about the possibility of a rainstorm, so I came back to the hotel....

...and when I got here, I had to lie down, because it was so fucking hot and humid while walking back up the hill from Ubud that I sweated through everything and wanted to die. Then I worked from here the rest of the afternoon, but I wasn't as productive as I would have liked to have been -- too much time reading the news and scratching my bugbites (which I swear are reproducing with each other). Also, it didn't rain until after seven, when I was finally ready to go to dinner.

But dinner was still lovely - Clayton and I ran into each other while we were both debating what to do, and we ended up at Element again (he had actually just spent two hours there, and had come back to get his laptop so he could do some work there). Element is, as you may recall, home to the two-for-one cocktails, so we of course had two each. I also had their chicken burger, which I like a lot. And then we came back here, and I messed around online (mostly looking at flights to places).

I'm rather desperate to sleep, though - and I have to get a lot done tomorrow, so I need to get up and go someplace before the heat gets too oppressive to walk. I realized that at some point this week the switch in my brain flipped from considering this to be a 'new place' and now classifies it as 'home', which means I have to get out of the coworking space and work elsewhere occasionally to fill my need to write in fresh places. Wish me luck with that - goodnight!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

you look as good as the day i met you

I have a massive headache, so I think I need to stop staring at the screen and go to bed - but I think the headache came from too much sugar and not enough moving around, so presumably I'll be better tomorrow. I had intended to walk into town today for some fresh air and a chance of scene, but I got up too late (see: last night's unintended cocktails), and I could tell that we were headed for another storm this afternoon, so I didn't want to venture out and get soaked. I really don't mind, generally, that I'm here during the rainy season, but it would certainly change the pattern and flavor of my days if I wasn't subjected to a tropical downpour at some point almost every afternoon.

But being stuck in this part of tropical paradise and not being able to go to a different coffee shop in the same tropical paradise is really not a big deal. And I got some real writing done today - not nearly enough words, but a significant chunk of time put into it (and a breakthrough on one of the turning points of the story, which isn't at all what I thought it was, which means rewriting...but that's how it always goes). I also had some brief, lovely afternoon conversations - a whatsapp convo with someone on the homefront, and a couple of conversations with Nadia while getting snacks/water/tea in the kitchen (she's fascinating and entertaining and possibly even more of a secret misanthrope than I am, which I find delightful).

There was a community dinner tonight, but I wasn't feeling it - I wanted to keep working, and also didn't want to eat what was on the menu, so I snuck away by myself to Pacha Mama and had some delish vegetarian Mexican (you know I love the place, since I've been there four times in the past twelve days). I worked on zee book for another hour while I was there, and I was just wrapping up my work and my meal when Clayton and Sarah showed up. So I hung out with them while they ate, and we ended up having some flambed banana dish that was total perfection. The chef is actually from Mexico, and he's expanding the upstairs into a cevicheria, but it won't be open before I leave...so I'll just have to plan to come back next year.

When we got home, I spent the last hour and a half answering emails and taking care of administrative tasks while the internet was working. And now I'm going to sleep and try to get up early so that I can spend some time outside in the morning before the usual rainstorm - goodnight!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

i don't know how to talk to you

Internet continues to be incredibly sporadic, but today was a fabulous day (no internet required). I got up, read, showered, and went to Yellow Flower Cafe, which is a few minutes up a footpath from here and looks out over the most gorgeous scenery - and my omelette was also the best omelette I've had here, so it fueled a couple of hours of great writing while sitting at the cafe and taking it all in.

Then I came back here and took a break that wasn't quite as cool as expected since the power went out - the infrastructure has been surprisingly stable since I've been here, but the rain is taking its toll, and so the power and internet were both messed up. But I wrote some more and had a smoothie, and then I took a break from my oh-so-difficult life to get a massage.

The massage was at Tamarind, which is walking distance from here (albeit up a super steep hill with steps cut into the middle of the road, so I showed up sweaty). I had an hour massage followed by an hour of foot reflexology, and the foot massage was super intense - but it was all so good that I booked another massage with them for a couple of weeks out.

On the way home, I was halfway here when the heavens opened up and it started pouring, so I ducked into the nearest place - a bar that turned out to be the most gorgeous emergency bar I've ever been in. The bar/restaurant are on several levels of a cliff overlooking a ravine with a rushing river, with lots of trees and other growth stretching up on the terraced cliffs around the restaurant. So I sat overlooking the water and had a glass of wine and read a book for an hour on my phone, and it was as perfect as it could be.

Then I came back to the hotel and showered and intended to work all night...but it was Xavier's birthday, and while I didn't know Xavier at all ten days ago, it felt important to go out and celebrate. So nine of us ended up at Element, where I'd gone last night when I was craving a beef burger - and we made far too much use of their two-for-one cocktails. So much use that we all ordered two cocktails to start, which meant we were all double fisting from the beginning. The cocktails ended up being $3 each, and I unintentionally had four...so this will be the cheapest hangover I've had in awhile.

sssanyway. Dinner was delish (although I had a chicken burger this time), and I enjoyed the evening. Then I came back here and accidentally fell asleep before blogging, which I've now rectified. And now I need to go back to bed - goodnight!

Monday, January 23, 2017

rain

No blog tonight...The internet isn't really working tonight, possibly because it rained like crazy for most of the afternoon, and I'm falling g asleep anyway. But I had a (shockingly delicious) hamburger for dinner to make up for last night's vegan-induced hunger, so all is right with the world again. Goodnight!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

the ants go marching two by two

I should've gone to bed ages ago, but I stayed up talking to my parents, and then I messed around with booking massages at a couple of places I've wanted to try (my life is hard). However, today was good, all in all. I wasted most of the morning in bed, but I was quite productive in the afternoon. I also spent quite a bit of time talking to another Sarah here (there are three of us here right now, which is too many) - she and I have a lot of uncanny parallels in our lives, so it felt like one of those quick, deep connections that I would term a 'summer camp friend' (although some of my 'summer camp friends', especially among the India expat group, became real, lifelong friends, so ymmv). And we had a drink to say goodbye to Leonie, who was going back to Switzerland tonight - the weird thing about a situation like this is that people come and go, and the goodbyes are already starting even as I'm meeting new people all the time.

But I stopped working and went out for dinner eventually - a group of six of us ended up going to Moksa, which was a 10-15min walk from the hotel. The walk started off on the road, which turned into a motorcycle-friendly road/path, which turned into a footpath (that people still took motorbikes down, but it was too narrow for that), that turned into a sidewalk with open holes for drainage (not the safest thing in the dark). But Moksa is out in the middle of the fields from which they grow their own vegetables, and it's a vegan place that comes v. highly recommended.

The restaurant itself is gorgeous, and their plating is outstanding, as per usual in Bali. I had the raw Vietnamese spring rolls to start, which were tasty, and then I had the 'purple scallopini' as my main course - it was a couple of thick rounds of purple sweet potato, grilled, and plated with tomato, zucchini, eggplant, and some balsamic. It was delicious and gorgeous, although I joked that I probably burned all the calories from the meal just walking there and back - which was probably true since I just ate chocolate at 1am like a crazy person (I never crave chocolate in the middle of the night - and this was more of a craving for steak than chocolate, but you take what you can get).

Dinner was delightful, though, and I'm glad I tried it. Then I came back here, messed around online, considered whether I could catch the gecko currently living in my bathroom (verdict: no), and called my parents. And now I need to sleep - I have goals for tomorrow and they're not going to accomplish themselves. Goodnight!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

you take my love for granted

I had a slow, sullen day - allow me to return to a moment to my common refrain of how social media and my addiction to the internet is destroying everything that's good in this world. In this case, I woke up this morning and made the mistake of checking twitter...and then spent two hours reading inauguration coverage, which was exactly the opposite of what I was supposed to do today.

I did, at least, get out of the hotel - I repeated last Saturday's mission, actually, since I went to Elephant Cafe and the grocery store. However, last time I walked along the road, which is steep in places and has no sidewalks in places and is generally mildly unpleasant. I later learned that there's a footpath through the fields/houses between here and the grocery store, so I decided to give that a try. When I heard 'footpath' I assumed it was dirt, like a cow path; this was developed/paved the whole way, sometimes running down a channel between the walls of two different compounds. More frightening, sometimes it was an open path with a drainage ditch full of running water on one side and a ravine (with a river at the bottom) on the other, and no guard rails on either side. That was only a small portion of the walk, and it was still lovely, but my intense fear of heights did not enjoy the knowledge of the ravine on one side. But maybe this is exactly the aversion therapy I need to get better about heights - or maybe I'll just quietly never have to get groceries again the rest of the time I'm here.

My heights issue aside, though, the path was really cool - except for when I walked back in the afternoon, when it was blazing hot in the places where the path was cut between two walls and the sun beat down into the trench like a broiler. And I had a lovely breakfast, and I got the stuff I wanted at the grocery store. But when I got back, I was way overheated and super sweaty, so I crawled onto my bed with the A/C on and tried to cool down.

I did spend an hour or two writing this afternoon - not enough to feel great, but enough that I wasn't a total waste. Also, tonight I was supposed to go to a women's party at Hubud (a now-famous coworking space in Ubud that is frequently mentioned as one of the best co-working spaces in the world) - Sue, the girl I met on Monday, was going, as were a couple of women from Roam. However, while I had been interested (they had gotten an interesting lineup of speakers, both for the political events in the US and for Indonesian women's issues), I realized that the last thing I wanted to do tonight was socialize with a bunch of strangers.

Luckily, the women I was going to go with (Sara and Dillon) also decided to bail, and so we hung out in the kitchen with Nadia and Xavier while Nadia made dinner. This turned into quite the serendipitous, lowkey evening - we talked a lot about nothing, and then talk eventually moved into politics. It turned out to be an interesting discussion; Nadia is Swedish, with African descent, and she perhaps has some sort of policy background because her views on what's happening with the Indonesian economy were pretty nuanced.

sssanyway. We ended up on the roof to watch 'Tank Girl', which is a cult film based on a graphic novel, and it's one of Dillon's favorite movies. I enjoyed it, although the pacing was slightly off - it was postapocalyptic, but also kind of humor, which worked as a whole even though a couple of scenes dragged.

And now I need to sleep, and block the internet from trying to take over my life tomorrow - goodnight!

Friday, January 20, 2017

i got high as your expectations

I'm falling asleep while I'm trying to type this, so I'm not going to keep typing - but despite waking up at four a.m. due to jetlag and falling down too many internet rabbit holes, I got a lot of writing done this afternoon. And even though it rained most of the day, it was still gorgeous - with the breeze, it was actually pleasant in the workspace of the hotel, so I spent some quality time enjoying the rain while sipping tea and working on my book.

And then I went out for dinner - some guy named Clayton showed up here this week and seems funny (and likely gay, so don't read between the lines here), so we went to Pacha Mama (which I've already been to twice, but it merits repeat visits). There was a live band, which was way too loud/annoying, but otherwise it was just as good tonight. The German guys showed up a few minutes after us, so they joined our table, and then when we were all basically finished eating, another girl named Sarah showed up, so she joined us too. Zee Germans went home after that, but Sarah, Clayton and I had a great time hanging out.

But now I'm really really sleepy - goodnight!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

can you feel the love tonight

Today, I finally made it into central Ubud. My initial intent was to find a pharmacy - I decided that it was silly to keep suffering without making any attempt to clear things up, so I went in search of cold medicine. Of course, this wasn't without its perils - it's hard to know exactly what you're getting (like the time I got some really amazing stuff in India that worked fantastically well, although I later discovered it had been banned in the US). The pharmacy sold me on some homeopathic stuff that I'm not sure is right, but I also got some vitamin C (which I wanted), and at the last minute I found something with pseudoephedrine, so I grabbed a bit of that as well.

The walk there was better than I'd anticipated - there was one slightly hairy moment attempting to cross an intersection that barely functions with cars/motorbikes, let alone the addition of pedestrians, but it was crossed in due time and I made it through unscathed. After the pharmacy, I had breakfast/brunch at Casa Luna - it's quite a bit bigger inside than I thought it was, with two levels and the capacity to have live music sometimes, but it was v. lowkey in the morning. I had potatoes for the first time since getting here, which was what I needed - the bacon was also great, although the omelette was a little too greasy (but potatoes make up for a lot of sins).

After that, I continued down the main road and went to Starbucks, mostly so I could see what it was like. I bought an Ubud mug, which is super cute and unusual compared to the standard Starbucks designs; I also got an iced latte, which was as unmemorable as most Starbucks coffees are. But the view from the back patio is the best Starbucks view ever - it looks out over a lotus pond and a Hindu temple, and I could have stayed there for hours. So I sat and scribbled in my journal and had #noregrets.

But despite my lack of regrets, the coffee really wasn't as good as it could have been. Indonesia is a top producer of coffee, so it felt wrong to go back to my hotel without trying something better. So I went to Seniman, which is one of the most hipster-ish coffee shops in Ubud - they make coffee via pourover, siphon, aeropress, and a variety of other methods, and everything is too perfect. I had cold brew, and it was the best coffee I've had here (so good that I bought a bottle of concentrate to bring back to my hotel). I also had some fresh spring rolls as a snack, and they were top notch. I was v. tempted to buy an Aeropress from them since I didn't bring mine and am already regretting it...but I decided to wait and see whether I really think I'll make my own coffee while I'm traveling. And I wrote some more in my journal, and was feeling v. grounded as a result.

Then I took a cab back in deference to my exhaustion, although I didn't take a nap - I worked for a couple of hours. Then I took a break to hang out with some fellow guests, order takeout from a taco place, and watch a few episodes of 'Broad City' (a show I haven't seen - but then, I haven't seen most shows). And then I was going to work, but I'm so exhausted from zee cold that I fell asleep inadvertently - which means I should probably just go to bed. Goodnight!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

the sound of settling

I'm definitely sick, but other than that I had a pretty great day. I woke up early and dealt with some financial stuff back home (canceling/changing things that I should have done a month ago), with varying degrees of success (not very much success - I should probably spend some more time on administrative stuff tomorrow). Then I showered and had breakfast at Alchemy, since I was hoping that fruit and granola might help me on the path to recovery (unlikely).

While I was at Alchemy, I had some coffee and wrote for an hour, so that felt great. Then I came back to Roam and spent a couple of hours doing nothing in bed - while my cold isn't dire, I'm definitely exhausted. But I rallied, ate some lunch, and then worked most of the afternoon, with a break to talk to another writer who is here, and a bit more break to do laundry (the laundry was way more efficient than I expected - another way that this is India Light, since doing laundry in India was usually an ordeal if you did it yourself, and a risk if you sent it out to the washers who beat your clothes on rocks and sometimes scorched things with irons).

Then I took another nap, because #yolo. I was tempted to stay in and do nothing, but I forced myself to socialize - tonight there was a community dinner on the roof deck, and they brought in some women to cook in the style of Jogjakarta (central Java). It was really yummy, although a lot of it was totally new to me. Tempeh isn't new to me, but I never eat it; they had tempeh fritters, which were pretty tasty (although I still prefer chicken). There was also a jackfruit dish, which was totally new to me - and definitely the highlight of the night. And there was chicken, and rice, and a spicy tofu dish, and a banana fritter at the end.

So the food was great, but I'm also glad I hung out for awhile - I got to know a few people a little better, which was great (although they're all leaving in the next week or two, so I'll have to keep repeating this process). They were all v. cool, though, so it was worth it. But now I really need to sleep and nurse my cold - goodnight!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

work to work it out

I've already been asleep for almost two hours, and I would be tempted not to blog tonight if that wouldn't make people assume that I was missing or dead. Ah, the life of a (non)celebrity.

I was sleeping and tired because I'm sick - I finally succumbed to the cold that I'd been staving off for days (I kept hoping it was allergies even though I knew it wasn't). I'm not awful, but it made focusing/getting work done hard this morning. And this afternoon I already had a massage and mani/pedi scheduled. Turns out the massage was awesome - the treatment rooms open up to the jungle beyond, and the treatment was great. I was less impressed by the nails portion of my endeavor, but I was desperate and they were serviceable (even if they weren't as good as my ladies at Silk).

I also had dinner tonight at a place down the street - meat for the first time since landing, since I thought maybe protein would help my recovery. I was stranded there for awhile by an intense rainstorm, but I enjoyed writing in my journal and drinking some Sprite as the rain poured down, and I dashed back here during an eventual lull in the storm, so all was well.

But I'm worried I'm becoming less coherent, and I'm tired, so that's the end for now - goodnight!

Monday, January 16, 2017

all that she wants

I heard a remix of Ace of Base's seminal classic "All That She Wants" while in a restaurant in Bali tonight, and I thought a) who took the time to remix "All That She Wants"?!?!, and b) I'm sort of glad that the definitive song of my first expat experience (since that song was the song of the summer of 1993 in Ukraine) is still with me no matter where I go.

Even without that song, today would have been great. I've been itching to get back into the writing for awhile anyway, which probably explains some of why I was productive today - but it also helps that I don't have to clean, or cook, or do anything else to take care of myself other than to shower (which I do twice a day because working outside in the humidity makes me feel gross - and yes, I realize there's a big difference between 'working outside' on a covered roofdeck while people bring you iced coffees vs. 'working outside' in a rice paddy). And the restaurant meals are so relatively cheap here that any guilt I might feel over not cooking is immediately alleviated by being able to eat a perfect fried rice dish for less than $3.

So that's all a long way of saying that today went well from a productivity standpoint - I wrote five pages, which is better than I usually do when I'm just getting back into a story, and I hit my time goal for the day. So I'm reasonably hopeful that I can continue this - the change of scene has been good for me, and the setup is pretty conducive to getting stuff done.

But I took a break this evening to have dinner with Steph's friend Sue, who lives in Bali and owns a frozen yogurt company (which she started to fund her documentary filmmaking, which is interesting). We went to La Pacha Mama, which is where I went last night, and of course the staff all recognized me - but the food is awesome and I happily tried something else, and also had a couple of drinks because I was with Sue instead of by myself. She was lovely, and I'm hoping we'll hang out again while I'm here.

Then I came back to the hotel and it wasn't scary at all walking back in the dark, so that's good to know. And now I'm desperate for sleep - despite taking a nap this afternoon, I still need some more extra hours to make up for last week's depravity. Goodnight!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

io scrivo un libro

I had a lovely day in Bali - and hopefully that continues to be the case. I woke up early (for me), threw on some clothes, and went next door to Alchemy, which is a raw vegan place that I would normally avoid like the plague in San Francisco. However, here it seemed imminently reasonable to buy a juice for breakfast. Yes, I'm quickly going to become insufferable.

Then I spent most of the morning/early afternoon working on Lucy's book - I'm trying to get back into the story, so I spent a lot of time rereading and making plot notes. I also made eggs at some point, and I also ate lunch in the rooftop cafe, where I chatted with the girl from the UK for a bit - hopefully we'll hang out more this week, but I was feeling hermity and also desperately in need of some time to get into the book, so I evaded social plans for today so that I could be virtuous instead.

Of course, virtue turned into an hour-long nap, which I'm going to blame on jetlag even though I slept great last night. Then I spent some time cleaning up my room - I had never fully unpacked and there was stuff strewn everywhere, so I took a couple of hours to organize it all and make my room livable for the next six weeks.

Eventually, I went out in search of dinner - and I ended up down the street at La Pacha Mama, which is a vegetarian Mexican restaurant with funky, hipstery decor that somehow works well with the traditional open patio and arches/plants/household offerings. I avoided alcohol because I'm still dealing with jetlag and also didn't feel totally at ease walking back to the hotel in the dark (not because of the people/stranger-related safety, but because of holes in ditches and the fact that there are no sidewalks and the road is too narrow for two cars to meet in some places (although they make a valiant, suicidal effort) - but the mocktail I had, with lemon and mint and sugar, convinced me that they know their stuff. And my entree was excellent - a taco with refried beans, mushrooms, zucchini, and cheese, with great guacamole and a couple of salsas that were each perfect. So, it was worth venturing out in the dark for, and you can guess where I'll go 1-2x/wk while I'm here...

Then I came home, and I wrote a bunch of emails and called my parents (even though it's past midnight on Sunday here, it's Sunday morning for them, so we have to adjust our usual routines). And now I'm going to pop some melatonin and hope for the best - goodnight!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

i can see a little bit clearer

I had a great first day in Bali, and I'm happy that I decided to come here - hopefully this translates into progress on the writing front, although today was pretty messed up due to jetlag (which is to be expected). Shockingly, I slept for nine hours last night - I woke up a couple of times, but I didn't fall into middle-of-the-night insomnia like I usually do when I make a trip that's this long. I suspect that tonight won't be quite as smooth, since I accidentally took two naps...but we'll see.

When I woke up, I took a leisurely shower (water pressure was great, which makes me happier than you can know), got dressed, verified that the travel hair dryer I bought actually works on this voltage (success!), and checked out the facilities around me. There's a cafe on the roof, and they let me charge stuff to my room, which was great since I had no cash and was desperate to eat something. The tea was great; the eggs were good, but not enough eggs to fill me up, especially since I can't eat toast. But as far as having an option upstairs for when I need it, I'll take it...although I should probably get the stuff necessary to make my own eggs, since I like to live off them in the mornings.

I then forced myself to leave the comfort of my surroundings and go out in search of a supermarket - and, more importantly, an ATM, so that I can pay for things. There's a supermarket about fifteen minutes walking from the hotel, which was perfect - I bought a couple of random toiletries and some milk, and I got cash, so I can be a real member of society again. I doubt that I'll cook much while I'm here since the restaurant food is relatively cheap and way easier, but we'll see.

Then I had lunch at Elephant Cafe. It's entirely vegetarian, but I didn't mind - I had the laksa, which is like a yellow curry with rice noodles, and it was so fucking good. The view of the jungles and rice paddies beyond the restaurant was pretty lovely as well. Then I took a taxi home, and when I got here I swore I would only lie down for fifteen minutes...and that turned into a two hour nap. Oops.

But I rallied and dragged myself out of my room, and ran into one of the community managers - she gave me a tour of the whole place, and also introduced me to a girl who appears to be somewhere around my age and is from London. We hit it off, although I'm too tired to go to drinks tonight - I'm trying to keep in the forefront of my mind that the purpose of this trip is to write, not to meet people and be a wastrel, which meant I didn't want to add a hangover to tomorrow's jetlag problems. But meeting people is good, and it was just enough of a social jolt after a couple of days of traveling that I immediately felt happier about my surroundings...

Then I spent three or four hours working - not writing, yet, but taking care of some tax stuff and some email stuff. I had an iced latte at the cafe upstairs (I'm going full-throttle on figuring out if the tourist places have decent ice, since I had ice at both Elephant and the cafe here - will report back in twenty-four hours), and later I had dinner - nasi goreng, which was fried rice with a fried egg on top. It was excellent, and a way better value than the eggs I had this morning. But then, everything is going to feel like a good value here, I suspect - the nasi goreng was less than $3, which probably tells you everything you need to know about why I am guessing I'll eat out way more than I cook here...

But after supper, I was really struggling to stay awake (and didn't succeed entirely - there was a half hour nap somewhere in there, although I was lulled into it by sudden rain outside), so I didn't get much else done. And now I'm going to sleep and hope that these naps didn't wreck my chance overcoming my jetlag...goodnight!

Friday, January 13, 2017

i'm burning for you

I am in Bali! And I'm exhausted enough that I feel like I'll be able to sleep for hours, which seems like a good thing since it's 11pm here - but I will probably wake up at three and continue my pattern of not dealing well with jetlag.

But all in all, the journey was as smooth as it could have been - I sat in Singapore for just slightly longer than I wanted, but my flights were all on time (unlike my DSM -> DEN -> SFO odyssey!), and Singapore Air remains waaaaay more comfortable, on all levels, to United. I had a moment in the airport on arrival where the customs guy seemed incredibly suspicious about the lining of one of my suitcases, and I was already having visions of becoming the next foreigner to be executed for smuggling when he packed everything back up and let me go. He didn't even look at all the vitamins I brought (which I thought might trigger something), so I don't know what was up with that. But if I'm going to write the next Bridget Jones, I'm still glad that I won't be ripping off the foreign prison part that she did in the second book.

But getting through all of that was smooth and relatively quick, and my driver was waiting outside immigration for me. It took a bit over an hour to get here from the airport, which wasn't bad - the traffic is like India's, but no one here honks, so it's not quite as nervewracking. And they welcomed me with a welcome drink and showed me to my room, which is great.

I'll tell you more about all of that tomorrow  - for now I need to sleep while sleep is willing to seize me. Goodnight!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Google knows that I have arrived in Singapore. When I logged in to write this, it had a helpful tip: "Why not blog in Malay? With over 220 million speakers around the world, and a rapidly growing audience, Malay content could be the next opportunity to get you new readers. You can create a new account or use your existing AdSense account to monetize your Malay content. Get started now."

If you'd like me to blog in Malay, let me know! 220 million people is certainly more than the current audience of my blog....

sssanyway, I'm incredibly tired all of the sudden - likely because it's 10:47pm in California and 12:47am in Iowa, and I've been running on fumes for days. My flight from SF to Hong Kong to Singapore was surprisingly smooth - I got as much sleep on the SF->Hong Kong flight as I've ever gotten on an economy flight, and the food was pretty good and I was relatively comfortable. I did just a bit of work, but I mostly ignored the real world and daydreamed/slept/watched TV instead. The transit through Hong Kong was annoying, only because it just meant getting off the plane, having to go through a long security line, and then getting back on the same plane (which was cleaned in the interim) - but I got Starbucks, which was good.

Then I spent the flight from Hong Kong to Singapore watching 'Kingsman: the Secret Service', which was totally ridiculous (which means I liked it). And I've spent the past three hours in Singapore trying to stay awake, but also trying to relax and not let my jetlag convince me to spend $400 on moisturizer (but it's duty-free!), which has meant wandering around and sitting at a restaurant and listening to some British-type bros be broish (odds that they are on my flight to Bali: 82%).

But now I should go board, and go to Bali, and hopefully discover that my lodging for the next week is as good as it looks in the pictures and not some third-world nightmare (odds of that happening: insignificant, but not impossible). Goodnight!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

grab your passport and my hand

I'm on the plane to Singapore, contemplating the fact that this is likely my last post from America for three months. I had a great last day in California despite waking up with a truly incredible hangover...Wine and port and whiskey and rum are not the most advisable combo in the world, especially since I've been running on five hours of sleep a night for the past couple of days.

However, friends and family time is definitely advisable, and I'm so glad that I had a couple of days to hang out and say some goodbyes. I left Berkeley this morning despite feeling like I was dying, and I drove across the North bay and stopped to look at the Golden Gate Bridge before going to Legion of Honor and having lunch and gossip with Veronica and Rachael. They were some of the last people I saw, and they'll be the first people I see again since they're both going to Venice in April (Rachael is the organizer/teacher).

Then I ran a couple of errands and got my hair cut - it was a bummer to say goodbye to my hair stylist (and to my stylish hair, since my bangs are likely to get wrecked). Then I had a quick snack and chat with Katrina at Green Chile, who was in fine form. Then I had dinner with Vidya (aka Chandlord) at Fondue Cowboy, which was super tasty - and thus ends my SF adventure.

Then I came to the airport, repacked everything, and am on the plane. When I blog next I'll either be in Singapore or Bali - yay for adventure! Goodnight!

Saturday night and the keyboard solo

Too tired and too drunk to blog - I should blame Adit to maintain his mystique, but it is actually John's fault (cocktails and port are available dangerous combination on top of the bottle of merlot I brought). But I had a great day and saw writer friends and saw Lauren and other errands, so I'll take that as a positive. Goodnight!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

mama said there'd be days like this

Way too wrecked to blog - I left my home in Iowa feeling quite ready to seize the adventure, and said goodbye to my parents, and had no issues, and was upgraded to first, and everything seemed swell...Until a cascade of issues resulted in me being delayed by five and a half hours and not getting to Heather's until 12:45am (instead of 7:15, which obviously meant our hangout time was severely curtailed). We still stayed up and talked until two, but since that's four a.m. in the timezone I woke up in, I'm a little wiped out.

Perhaps I'll recount my woes some other time...The best thing that happened, though, was that I sat behind Simon Estes on my Des Moines flight, and his speaking voice is as gorgeous as anything you'd expect from a world famous opera baritone. He's almost eighty but was on his way to sing in San Diego and seemed much younger than eighty. Also, fun fact, he grew up in the town where my mom grew up and where my parents met!

But that's all you're getting - I need whatever sleep I can get, which I'll thoroughly enjoy since I'm in a bed and not squashed between two dudes (another time maybe that would be okay, but I hate sitting in middle seats and that was the only way to get to SF to tonight...And we sat on the tarmac for over an hour before we ever tlok off, and I couldnt get smashed on the wine they were quietly comping because I had to drive when I got here. Sacrifices.) Goodnight! 

Sunday, January 08, 2017

waves, waves, waves

No time to blog tonight...I spent allll day packing for my trip, since I leave Iowa tomorrow (sniff). I also said hello/goodbye to my grandmother (who was surprised to see me, since she has forgotten Christmas - sniff again), and said [censored] to [censored]. And I had supper with my parents - it was quiet without [censored], but he doesn't like [censored] and we had tenderloins without him, so I suppose that was a good thing.

And I should say that packing my suitcase didn't take all day - it was organizing the rest of the stuff in my room and making sure that everything is squared away before leaving that turned it all into chaos. But I'm close to the end...but not close enough to allow for sleeping in in the morning, since I have to leave for the airport around 10:15. Wish me luck with that - goodnight!

Saturday, January 07, 2017

werewolves in london

No post tonight - I'm too sleepy, and as the day was mostly consumed by getting ready for my trip and doing paperwork stuff, it would all bore you. But we had supper in Seymour, which was hopping, and my dad and I talked about small town life until it was time for me to talk to [censored] about [censored], which mostly involved clips of [censored] and jokes about rice pilaf. And my mom's beloved cyclones won their game, so all is right with the world.

And now I need to sleep - goodnight!

Friday, January 06, 2017

on top of this, i ain't ever gonna understand

Today was more productive than yesterday, which makes sense since I am starting to feel under the gun in terms of getting ready for my trip. I got up earlier than I have been (which is by no means early, and is also unlikely to be repeated tomorrow), and I took care of a bunch of stuff (including setting [censored] up with [censored], which [censored] probably won't use because [censored]). I also packaged up a bunch of returns from a bunch of online shopping mistakes and took them into the post office. The post office was a breeze (no lines ever!), but I accidentally got gas right as a horde of high schoolers flooded the convenience store (where I used to work!) to get snacks before boarding a bus to an away basketball game. This would normally not be a problem, but paying outside was broken, so I had to go inside, etc. Yes, my life is hard.

Then I came home and unpacked most of the rest of my clothes so that I could repack them into plastic containers or my closet or possibly into my suitcase to take to Bali. I stopped doing productive stuff in time for supper (cheeseburgers and homemade french fries courtesy of my mother), and then we played two games of Ticket to Ride. One was the highest scoring game we've played so far, and one was likely the lowest, which made for an odd combo. [censored] won the first one, and my dad won the second on a tie-breaker, so really, what do I have to live for now?

So I came downstairs after we were done playing, and I put away a bunch of food stuff, and then I plotted out my trip itinerary for the past couple of hours. I keep things online anyway, but I think I need some printouts in case customs officials have questions, and my family needs some vague sense of where I am so that they don't alert the authorities in the wrong country if I go off the grid.

But now I really should sleep - I have a ton that I want to get done tomorrow, and tomorrow will start late given how late today is ending. Goodnight!

Thursday, January 05, 2017

and if you close your eyes

I didn't get nearly enough done today - I stayed up too late last night, and it was snowy and beautiful but also ridiculously cold this morning, so I kept procrastinating on my main errand of the day (the grocery store, which required brushing snow off my car before I could leave - how barbaric). And I spent the evening making chicken tortilla soup - I hadn't cooked anything more involved than omelettes and grilled ham and cheese sandwiches since coming home, so it was good to play chef again before my travels take me someplace where I likely won't cook very much.

I also accomplished the other main thing on my list, which was to watch 'Life in Pieces' (which is great), and to also enjoy some other fine CBS programming - I'm particularly liking 'The Great Indoors', even though I didn't expect to like a show that makes fun of millennials so much. And I did my language lessons - I'm learning Italian with Duolingo, mostly so that I can competently order lattes and wine in Venice in a couple of months (which I could probably figure out, since I already know 'vino' and 'latte'). The app is pretty slick, though...so slick that I'm doing the Italian lessons, but I'm also brushing up on my Spanish simultaneously, which may be a silly move. It's fun, though, and certainly a better-spent fifteen minutes of my day than a sudoku game...

But even though I'm tempted to stay up and do stuff, that has led to some v. v. wasted mornings, and I need to do stuff tomorrow - so I'm going to bed now for reals. Goodnight!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

maybe we could find new ways to fall apart

I was way more sloth-filled today than I should have been...but it was cold out, and sorting through my belongings so that I can prepare for my trip while also returning the house to pristinely organized condition is kinda stressing me out. But I spent some quality time talking to various family members, and I ate some nachos - both of those are wins. I also accompanied [censored] to [censored], where he took me on a tour of [censored] and showed me a wide variety of delights, including a [censored] next to a [censored] skull, and a cool [censored] that reminded me of the [censored] of my youth (while also, oddly, reminding me of the [censored] of the future, which is all the rage right now). And I didn't cut myself on any [censored], so no tetanus for me - yay!

I also spent the evening unpacking the foodstuffs I brought home with me - mostly oils and spices that were too good to throw away and will be shelf stable for awhile. And I watched 'Code Black' with my mom - I wasn't going to watch it because the early scene was gruesome in the extreme, but I enjoyed the rest of it. And I was going to go to bed at midnight, after using a sheet mask that will likely freak [censored] out in the morning since it's staring creepily out of the trash in our shared bathroom (#sorrynotsorry - it was great for rehydrating my skin, even if it makes me look like a serial killer while it's on my face)...but instead I messed around online taking care of a variety of tasks until now. Goodnight!

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

chasing stars

I ran tons of errands today, and I'm wiped out as a result - it's hard to leave the house when you're not used to it, but my mission was vital and my sacrifice was therefore necessary. I went to Des Moines to take care of business related to my trip - I set up a post office box (for my alter ego), went to AAA to get an international driver's permit in case I decide to rent a scooter in Bali (I'm entirely unclear on the odds of whether renting a scooter is a bad idea or a terrible idea, but I'm going to find out!), went to Whole Foods to get gluten free snacks for the plane (and enjoy a surprisingly wonderful gluten free sandwich from their deli), went to Container Store to get more containers, and then went to the mall, where I wandered around and bought some stuff at Sephora and sat at Starbucks for an hour to get some work done.

While I was running all these errands, it was approximately 15 degrees with crazy wind - so crazy that one of my lids from Container Store blew out of my cart as I was going to my car and almost hit an oncoming vehicle. But I managed not to freeze, even though I stayed in the city until late - I had dinner plans with Aunt Becky and her scandalous pirate husband (aka Uncle Brian). They took me to Django, which is a French-type place downtown, and I really liked it a lot. I had the niçoise salad, which is an unusual order for me since I usually go for steak frites at French places - but it's been awhile since I've had fish, so the ahi tuna was great, and I thought the salad was excellent.

The company was excellent, too - we caught up on a bunch of stuff, and were there for over 2.5hrs, which was v. nice. But I had to call it a night then, since I still had to drive an hour and a half to get home - through deer-infested wilderness, which always adds drama to the drive.

I made it safely, spent some time playing around, and then did some more travel prep - ordering things on Amazon that I didn't get today (mostly mosquito repellent) and booking my tickets from Bali to London. I thought it was probably a good idea to settle my onward voyage before going to Bali in case the immigration people want to see proof that I'll eventually leave, and so I booked a flight to Singapore, a night in a hotel in Singapore, and then a flight to London the next day. All in, this was ~$400 - I used points to buy the SIN->LHR flight (business class for free!). The flight to Singapore could have been $65 instead of $200, but I like to survive my flights (knock on wood), and the budget carriers in Asia don't seem to be uniformly safe, so I went with a known quantity instead. Of course, I'm flying Malaysian for the SIN->LHR, who lost two planes awhile back...but given that one of them was shot down by zee russians (allegedly, of course) over Ukraine, and the other was never found but was quite likely a suicidal pilot, I'm chalking those up to bad luck instead of a reason to be worried.

So, that's more detail than you need, but I'm geeking out over travel planning, so get used to it. But now I'm desperate to sleep - goodnight!

Monday, January 02, 2017

in the waiting line

Nothing of interest to report - I slept late (because I stayed up late), spent my coffee time talking to my mom, and then spent most of the afternoon prepping for my trip. I have to run a bunch of errands tomorrow, so I was getting ready for that, since several of those errands involve paperwork. And all the other stuff I did was highly boring to you, although important to me (mostly looking at tickets from Bali to London, since I suspect I need proof of onward journey when I land in Bali, but I didn't pull the trigger on any of them).

I took a break for supper (mostly leftovers, but with fresh potatoes because that's how my mom rolls), and I also watched 'Scorpion' before returning to my laptop and doing some more stuff. But now I should go to bed, hope that I can fall asleep despite going to bed 2-3hrs earlier than I have been, and set my alarm for a more grownup hour in the morning - goodnight!

Sunday, January 01, 2017

last train to clarksville

I probably should have gone to bed a couple of hours ago, but I was spending some quality time with my bullet journal and lost track of time (yes, that's incredibly dorky; no, I don't care about your opinion on this one). I have a new journal to start the new year, so I had a lot of pages to create, and I'd been putting it off while I enjoyed the holidays and the waning hours of 2016. But now that it's 2017, I want to hit the year hard.

Of course, that doesn't mean that I got up early. But I did make some coffee and a killer omelette before spending the afternoon working - no writing, but a lot of emails and other random tasks. I took a break in the evening for supper - my dad made an incredible smoked new york strip, which was to die for, and my mom made some vegetables to help with our dearth of healthy foods (brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and peppers, which were delish, along with some roasted potatoes that were also delish (especially with butter on them)). Then we played a game of Ticket to Ride, which I won handily thanks to some long routes early on.

After that, I watched some fine CBS programming, and then I talked to [censored], and then I did some journaling, and now you're all caught up. Goodnight!