Friday, January 25, 2013

The accountant and the preceptor

Getting ready to go...the robes
really go with the post-chemo
'do, yes? Nevermind the
The accountant in me - or the biographer - wants to record things whether or not I have time to write about them in any detail. Like talking to the nutritionist, Eric, at the Block Center, for an hour. And attending my final Board meeting for the SF Buddhist Center, officially resigning and finally addressing some very painful issues that have been kind of hanging over the thing since my last meeting over a year ago. Suffice it to say: something of a relief.

RE the Block Center in Chicago, I think they are very innovative and want to help people, and also what they offer, including a whole range of supplements, seems to be astonishingly expensive. Is it better to buy their supplements? I don't know. I opted for Sears and Vitacost. (If I'm dead in a month we'll know why.) It did occur to me that they do phone consultations in order to sell people stuff. But I suppose if the stuff helps people, there's nothing wrong with it. I'm sure their expenses are substantial.

Viradhamma got the dent pulled out of my car for free so I can now open the door.

I'm tempted to write some geeky things about Old English, but will refrain.

I got the results of my last x-ray last night from Dr. Nelson. (Dates of recent lung scans: Oct 18, Dec 5, Jan 13.) Seems like the nodules are not growing nearly as fast as they were on the previous scan (where one had doubled and the other had tripled in size.) Looks like increase is 30% and 5%. (I'm assuming here that they list the nodules with the most growth.) Hard not think "this is how it will be from now on" but I'm learning a bit more not to think in that way. From my point of view, since I was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer over a year ago, my situation completely changes every few months.

Here's the report of change Dec 5-Jan 13:

Interval increase in size of pulmonary mets: rt upper lobe mass 31mm [1.2 inches](prev 20mm); right lower lobe 30mm (prev 26mm). Left upper lobe mass also increased in size.

Dr. Nelson also said she found out that the EGFR mutation test (that I mentioned in this post) can't be done as there isn't enough tissue. She didn't think the results would give enough info to make worth doing a biopsy.

Drew sent this article which I thought was interesting: How Doctors Die

Obtained from the ever-reliable book source known as Dhivajri, I enjoyed reading some "Young Adult fiction" - The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. If you enjoy a bit of sarcasm and adjectives such as "cancertastic," this is your book. Watched the documentary about Spaulding Grey, And Everything Is Going Fine, which was good. Wasn't as much a documentary as a collection of footage.

I'm going on retreat this morning and will be gone for two weeks to be with and ordain the lovely she-who-is-currently-Dawn. I can't write much about my process here because it involves elements that are super hush-hush. I am unlikely to post from there, unless I have to spend time at the cafe for some reason. I had a helpful chat with Sanghadevi, my preceptor, this morning who suggested not having medical conversations during the retreat if possible, which I think is an excellent idea. There is no great rush for me to know Dr. Nelson's chemo proposal during the retreat.

I am looking forward to many things about the retreat. One is that I will be able to more fully focus on the task at hand and not be holding so many threads.

Though I do seem to cough a fair amount, I am very grateful that I still feel healthy. Way healthier in fact that I did, say, two years ago. Still, after April I have no plans. The calendar drops off like a coastal shelf. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Meditation and gun jumping

Plantains and bell peppers
I was thinking about how people who can accept a big learning curve for many types of new tasks seem to make an exception about meditation as something they simply won't be well suited to or can't do. I thought this while listening to this talk about meditation as a learning experience by Gil Fronsdal. It's a good talk.

I sorta jumped the gun on the Living Funeral thing because Paramananda is going to be here in April. Realized it makes no sense to me to plan that kind of thing now...

Laura and I will be taking the train to New Orleans on March 1.

I'll be up in Lake County at Dawn's ordination retreat on Thursday or Friday for about two weeks.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

How much money for some life?

My neck, recently
The Old English predecessor to our word bonfire means 'bone fire' (info about Anglo-Saxon funereal practices anyone?)

Movies: Beasts of the Southern Wild. Excellent. Also Your Sister's Sister was good.

Very full days. Have some space tomorrow and hope to get packed for my retreat.

I'll have to narrow down the focus here to the talk with the oncologist Keith Block. First thing I noticed was that he didn't talk like other oncologists I've spoken to (lately). He sounded like a regular person.

They way they do chemotherapy at his clinic is called "chronotherapy" - it's administered somehow in line with circadian rhythms and reduces side effects by 40-80%, he says. They treat peripheral neuropathy with cold lasers. He knows of clinics in Israel, Cabo (Mexico), Germany, and Korea doing experimental therapies. If I had $100-200K to spend on it that'd be groovy. He did mention a few drugs to look into - Anvirzel, an extract of oleander that you can only get in Honduras, and the diabetes drug Metformin which has done very well for diabetics with ovarian cancer.

How can I think of my life in terms of how much money it's worth? Curing my condition would be worth a lot! I'd pay it back! But no one thinks that's going to happen. Is adding a possible one or three years to my life worth $100 or $200K? Never mind whether I could get my hands on that much money. Asking the question depresses me. Perhaps there is a different question I should ask. (Or, better, forget about the whole thing!)

The second bummer thing, though not surprising, was the answer to my question about whether there could be effective alternatives to chemotherapy. E.g., tomato enzymes or seaweed fungus, or whatever. He said my cancer is too far gone, I'd need some kind of chemotherapy.

He's going to get back to me about various things, and of course I have other irons in the fire. I haven't heard back from Nelson yet, and I still have the other consult at UCSF in Feb. That's with Dr. Pamela Munster.

I was thinking today though that even though my pelvis is messed up in multiple ways that make me feel old, at least the radiation got rid of all the cancer there. So that was worth it!

Right now, I don't want to talk to any more doctors.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Half Nelson

Great poster.
Fave is her book.
Last night when I went outside to move my car I could only open the door about 6 inches. The dent next to the driver's side door is hardly even all I have to do is get in on the passenger side. Not that easy for a senior citizen pelvis. Plus if I drive into a lake it's curtains.

Saw Misha today and she gave me a big bottle of foul and nasty liquid to add to water and drink four times per day. Around 8,500 steps, a record in recent history.

Vidyadevi and I are talking about the book. It's going to be a selection of these blog posts, photographs, and possibly other things.

If I do the Living Funeral/Death Party, it is likely to be April 20 or 21. On the fence about it now, but currently frying other fish, to mix metaphors. I have to think about whether I am really motivated to do it and what the reasons would be.

Dr. Nelson didn't call. From what I could gather, she hasn't talked to Dr. Brooks at UCSF yet, so I won't find out about the x-ray or anything else 'til Dr. Brooks calls her back.

Candradasa sent me a link to (Life and Death Planning). They even have a checklist which is awesome. I might have waited a bit too long to think about doing this stuff.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tsunami brain

Blurry photo w Cliff House in the distance
Apparently the birds at the beach are called piping plovers.

Potential problem with Living Funeral/Celebration of Life: Zero idea of what I would want to do, or be done.

Talked to Dr. Nelson with Jules and Padmatara. She (Nelson) must have had a nice holiday herself as she seemed much more relaxed than usual. I get the feeling from her, and this doesn't mean anything perhaps because it is of course a guess on what someone else is thinking, but I feel that she is about as enthused as I am about me doing more chemo. Perhaps even less so. She mentioned a patient who was dying of liver cancer and refused more chemo, and went into complete remission from taking some kind of mushroom.

On the other hand, she says when I start developing symptoms I should start treatment quickly. At the moment my lungs sound very healthy. Healthy people are much more likely to tolerate and benefit from treatment. I said mid-Feb is the earliest I could start and she thought that was reasonable. She seems to be leaning toward a drug called CPT-11 possibly with Cetuximab (geez, who are the crackheads who come up with the drug names?) She hadn't talked to Dr. Brooks yet but should do so in the next day or two. She said we would know within six weeks if the drug is working. (So my thinking is, I can maybe deal for six weeks.)

I got an x-ray and will hear from her on Thursday how it looks. My fantasies tell me that the nodules [Q: What is the difference between a nodule and a tumor? A: A nodule is smaller.] have stopped growing, 'cuz that would give me a break from the vague sense of my-lungs-as-time-bomb and, more than that, relieve me of having to make the decision whether or not to do more chemo. But they probably haven't. They're probably growing like gangbusters (a phrase my dad used to use.)

...My cough (which has gotten much better) apparently isn't a cancer cough, which is lower, persistent, and may include blood....If I do more chemo, domestic travel for two weeks or less is reasonable...

We're also still waiting on results for the "EGFR mutation." If you are in need of a mnemonic device to remember that, some of you will be helped by thinking of "Effective Going for Refuge mutation." If it comes out positive, she will want to try Tarceva, which is effective 80-85% of the time for EGFR mutation positive primary lung cancer patients (keeping in mind that I am not a lung cancer patient!) But I like the sound of this drug because it's a pill, it's "well tolerated" and I believe I heard at some point that it doesn't cause hair loss. So I vote for EGFR mutation positive, and Tarceva.

Every once in a while I find a pen in my bed.

Just got a phone appointment with Dr. Nelson tomorrow: what the x-ray showed, and what Dr. Brooks said, and what the deal is as far as proposed chemo.

I talk to Dr. Keith Block in Chicago on Friday.

It just occurred to me how I should have organized this blog: two tabs, one for Medical Updates, one for Reflections. Next time?

Here is an online article from Tricycle magazine: How To Be Unburdensome [in death].

I am feeling overwhelmed with things to do yesterday and today. My calendar (for the next week or so) is filling up fast. But today because I did not go to Art for Recovery and Mike canceled dinner (he's sick), I get to putter around doing stuff, changing sheets, laundry, lots of emails and calls and I try to meditate while I am doing them, so feeling a little calmer.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The beholder's eye

The way to the beach. Lots of wires in the air. 
They're much more noticeable in photos.
Water looks rather like a tsunami.
My days filling up and I'm hella jetlagged and coughing a lot today. It's 7:30 pm and I will try to stay awake long enough to do this. It's nice not having ants crawling on my computer screen.

Talked to Carol Gerstein, the social worker, today. About travels. About a Living Funeral. About my Advance Health Care Directive (I'm going to do a new one.) Then walked at Ocean beach. It was beautiful and sunny, and there were very cute little birds. If I were naming them I would call them Running Fat Cutebirds.

I am as enamored with San Francisco as I was with Bali. Fact: Here is an astonishing lack of traffic. Look at the beach on a Monday, hardly anyone there!

Facing north through the ice plants
next to the imaginatively named Ocean Beach 
I'm wondering about doing a Celebration of Life or a Living Wake or whatever when Parmamanda is here in early April. I had asked him to officiate my funeral but perhaps it makes more sense to do it while he's here anyway, and I'm still alive!

I also looked up some places for cremations and natural burials, etc.

I don't know if my face hair is just normal middle aged lady stuff. Maybe it would have happened in X years anyway? On the pos. side, my fingernails are amazingly healthy.

Oh yeah, found a cool version of the Heart Sutra that seems to be based on the one we use (Kapleau's translation). Will post it later.

Oh yeah again - Singhashri went to Rainbow and got me groceries, that was awesome, and the latest Tricycle magazine, on the subject of 'facing death'.

Oh yeah, MJ transcribed my talk. I say "like" a lot: confirmed. Do I hammer on about this talk? Sadly it's pretty much the only teaching I've done in the last year which makes me sad. Anyway I need to edit the transcription, but will post it when ready. So much shit to do, so little time...?

Everything looks really beautiful. Is it in my eyes? Is it the light? Am I dead?

I must not be, 'cuz here's my calendar:

Now to Jan 24 - lots of dr. appointments, and prep for retreat.
Jan 24-Feb 8, Feb 15-18 - Retreats.
Feb 22-24. 2 people visiting.
Early March - week in New Orleans with Lo and others
March 23-29. Singapore spring break!
Early April Paramananda

"As to me I know of nothing else but miracles" Walt Whitman

* Done. 10:22 pm.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I thought I'd be cold

Baliness gas station
c/o Absolute Vodka
(No pics in last few days...)
Movies I watched on planes, etc. roughly in order of how much I liked them (none of them were bad)

Arbitrage, Get SmartThis is FortyPitch Perfect, Transylvania Hotel, Mirror, Mirror

Padmatara picked me up from the airport Friday afternoon. Everything looked beautiful. One of those clear afternoons with this kind of orange light shining on everything...even from the plane, the light, the tops of the clouds were beautiful.

We watched Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (didn't like it that much, needed more editing), had half a Jay's seitan cheesesteak, and went to bed at ten. At around noon when I woke up briefly, I thought, Wow, that's a lot of sleep, noticed my joints were sore and my guts were kind of painful. I finally managed to extract myself from bed at 10 am Sunday, after an impressive 36 hours in bed. I don't feel too bad now, mostly just a bit poisoning combined with jet lag?

In any case, enjoyed Dawn's send-off this afternoon. We did a Seven-Fold puja with 'rejoicings in merit', and then offerings of a poem and a song which were both great, and then 'cream tea', which I should point out for Americans, means scones with clotted cream and jam.  Dawn will leave for her retreat on Monday...maybe if someone else has pics I will post them.

Back in bed, yay! The cold hasn't bothered me like I thought it would. I like it.

Inbox has 27 emails...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Such is the perfect person. Her boat is empty.

Yes, I am very much alive, unlike more than a few of the insects at the butterfly park.

Cull and I were in hysterics this morning posting photos on Facebook. I'm not going to say which ones.

I have minor physical complaints which are the result of my body aging I think 10-15 years as a result of cancer treatment. I am not in pain. Apparently there are rapidly multiplying cancer cells in my lungs. I cannot feel them, nor do I have shortness of breath. I've been coughing some. I'm pretty sure it's from the super dry air conditioning in the room I sleep in although I seem to be getting used to it. I turn it off the rest of the day which I wasn't doing before.

The way my hair is growing back after chemo is surprising. The hair on my head is still very short, and way grayer. Eyebrows are back in their full glory. And as I may have mentioned before, I have very fine (in the sense of awesome, and in the sense of subtle and perceived with some difficulty) blond hair growing where men have sideburns. It'd be easier to camo if my head hair were longer than 1/2 an inch. But there it is. On the left side of my face the hair points straight down. On the right there is less and it sways in toward my nose, like a wolf. Or, perhaps, a superhero wolverine. Hello Hugh Jackman.

The main point I wanted to make, which is now lost in other ones, that I forget to update people about, is that even though I seem to have one foot firmly planted in the grave, I don't currently feel sick.

Ubiquitous sculpture gardens,
some Buddhist themed
Another cancer change, again relatively minor, is that I'm much pickier than I used to be about food. I used to be more flexible, more working class. Now I take four anti-inflammatory pills (here are the ingredients if you want to know) and various other supplements every day. I try with varying degrees of effort to avoid white flour, etc. I eat almost nothing with added sugar, occasionally some dark chocolate or a bite of something. I don't really miss it though it's a pain sometimes reading ingredients, especially now that my eyes don't work as well (unrelated to cancer, I think) and from my current point of view, there seems to be sugar in almost everything. Avoiding it for so long, most of the time I don't desire it anymore.

I was pondering the other day how lovely and nice and sweet the people in my life are. I mean I wouldn't have said that before I got cancer, not 'cuz I thought they were bastards, but of course because things have changed. No one tells me what they think I should do, unless I ask. It is lovely. I got two super sweet emails today. I'd post them but they are long!

I was reading Stephen Levine's Who Dies? last night. There's this great part about an empty boat, about being an empty boat, a Taoist image. I don't know if that's enough of an explanation for some of you but I find it an inspiring idea. (Here's a translation of some of the original text from Chuang Tzu.) As an example of NOT being an empty boat...

There is a sort of touchy issue for me, it doesn't come up very often but it does come up. It's when my mind goes to thinking people are acting as if I'm already dead, or, even, too sick to do something (when I do not feel sick at all.) It's just someone doing something nice for me or taking something off my hands, and I think, Good god man I am not dead yet! Then I sort of get over it and realize they are trying to be kind. It's a process. Perhaps from the point of view of the full boat, there's always going to be the right kind or the wrong kind of kindness. Most of the time I am very, very happy with my circumstances.

Vimalasara suggested I have a living funeral. It sounds groovy though I don't really know what it is.

There is a lot I could write about Bali. I notice that there's so much Sanskrit around that I recognize. Dewa=Deva/God (related to the English word 'divine'.) Today I saw a store called Satya Cell. The Hinduism here seems softer than in India. Today Wayan drove us to some lovely places and told us that the offerings on the ground are for the bad spirits, to feed them, make them happy...He also said Bali is a kind of fusion of culture, art, and religion which seems to be true. I don't just go around saying this, but it is a magical place. Kathy got it totally right.

Movies: The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Not a great title for what the movie was, but it was pretty good. The woman who plays Hermione on Harry Potter is in it.

I'm writing two poems: Mind on Cancer, and On the Occasion of my Seventh Baliness Massage. I can't really finish poems these days for some reason but I will try...

I have a lot of appointments set up for the 10 days I'm going to be at home before going on retreat with Dawn. The social worker, Dr. Nelson, three phone appointments with Dr. Block's office in Chicago, and on Feb 11, the clinical trials lady at UCSF that Nancy set up for me. And it's going to be cold and rainy, and there won't be any mangosteens.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Destroyer and the Creator

I loved the spiders
at the Besakih temple
Seems like what an oncologist is always looking at is how much the chemotherapy might prolong your life vs. how much of you it will destroy. It adds time, and takes away functionality (though it has improved a great deal over the years.) I started thinking about this when I was reading The End of Your Life Book Club, in which the guy takes his mom to chemo and they talk about books. She had pancreatic cancer and lived around 18 months (much longer than she would have, probably, without the chemo.) During that time she did a lot of things. She also spent much of it inconvenienced at best, and at worst, miserable. She stayed alive as long as she could.

I sorta feel that I want to take care of myself in other ways, and let nature take its course. But I can't really say that until I am responding to a specific proposal. A while ago Dr. Nelson was talking about chemotherapy as if it might add a few months to my life. She is going to consult with Dr. Brooks at UCSF before we meet on January 15, at which time I guess I'll find out what chemotherapy she's going to suggest. (She won't suggest actually starting anything until I start having symptoms.) She will not be surprised if I refuse more treatment, since at least based on what she's told me before, what's on offer will be more reliably take away functionality than add time.

But saying I want to do what is 'natural' doesn't quite get to it either. I don't always choose 'natural'. My life, and probably yours, revolves around tasks, buildings, modes of transportation, and technology that are artificial, man-made, fabricated. I realized the thing I want to avoid feeling is 'force'. I don't want to feel like I'm forcing my body to live.

Still, all my records have been sent to Dr. Keith Block in Chicago and I have written to them asking if I can do a phone consultation with them the week I am back. Also, Nancy found a doctor/contact for me at UCSF clinical trials who I'll hopefully be talking to in February.

It occurred to me that my toes are still numb, but it doesn't bother me when I'm somewhere warm.

Travelogue: Yesterday we found an excellent hippy-dippy raw cafe called Down to Earth with the most delicious Middle Eastern plate, possibly the best I have ever had. Today we motored to Tanah Lot, a temple to sea gods on the ocean. It was fun, but physically challenging. Sitting on the back of a motorcycle is like an extreme yoga position for me. There is also some inhaling of exhaust that's involved, and when it's not raining the heat is of course...equatorial. I felt tired. Every night the air con irritates my lungs and my throat. If I turn it off, I start to sweat while being devoured by mosquitoes. (The mozzies aren't bad in general...only in the middle of the night when you turn off the air con!)

I don't want to complain, but I don't want to be vague either. This is a lovely place, and I am enjoying it. I think it's hard for people to get this when we aren't together in person: So far I do not feel sick, and I do not look sick. If you saw me the only difference you would notice is that my hair is very short. I have been described as "full of life" - that has not changed.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Easy Rider (not)

It is raining a lot, and often. While it's not cold, one can't do much when it's raining. For example, if you are watching a movie, you suddenly can't hear it.

On Friday after a dream in which I was in jail because one of the jailers didn't like me, I felt sapped of energy and slept much of the day. I felt better the next day.

We got a motorcycle, it's really the only way to get around. More of a scooter. Driving around in the torrential rain, relatively chaotic traffic, navigation, and (for me) switching sides of the road, was rather nerve wracking, though it was cool to be able to get where we wanted to go without a taxi. (I guess!) I drove for the first minute and once I had to merge into traffic, I stopped and Cull drove. We had a good Japanese lunch and wandered around, did some shopping at Supermarket Bintang, got $9 massages (1 hour.) Also Kathy bought a bracelet that is either silver, or "silver," we're not sure.

The soup we made with white fungus (reputedly good for lungs) was foul. She thinks it's because of the fungus; I thought it was because of the veg broth I made. Made something a lot simpler last night and it was good, and watched Killing Them Softly, which was OK. Not so interested in the groovy assassin movies that often seem to feature Brad Pitt (saw the Jesse James movie the other day.) Prefer Get Low, which possibly proves I am now old.

In general I still have a fair amount of energy, etc., but my lungs feel congested and I've been coughing a bit. Was wondering if they're irritated by the air conditioning...or it's the other thing.

I'll be home on January 12.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Report from Dawn, and a poem

Offerings all over the streets in Bali
Here's what Dawn wrote in "Sky Dancer," our North American journal for women who are training for ordination:

Hello Skies,
This is a big one for me so hold on to your seats. I had received wonderful news in the beginning of December, I am going to be ordained!!! I had been planning to go to Akashavana to get ordained and hoped that would happen in 2013. A week after my happy news I received the worst news so far of my life. My private preceptor and dear friend Suvarnaprabha has a faster growing cancer than we previously had thought. Nothing really seemed to matter anymore other than being with her, being with friends who care for her and us sharing this new reality. I want to be alive with her while she is alive and not to dwell in my grief. This is what is happening now and it is so important to stay present and open to whatever may arise.

Very recently we decided that I needed to get ordained as soon as I could. I will be making the most of my time in preparation for this big step. I have had a great deal of support from my kula and especially Karunadevi, who is really holding it all. I plan to do my ordination retreat on the San Francisco Buddhist Center's retreat land. I will spend about a month on retreat and I will have a private ordination ceremony there. My public ordination will be held at the city center on Feb. 9th. This is all very new news and I am wondering how I will have the time to prepare, but I am just going with it. I have found some excitement in the midst of my sorrow. It's more of a blend of joy and sorrow and unbearable love. I am filled with gratitude for Suvarnaprabha, in so many ways. I cannot really express the connection that I feel for her and the emotions of loving her so much, receiving ordination from her and knowing that all too soon for me she will not be around, watching her deal with her mortality, her joy, her immense capacity to love and stay open, and for sharing it all with us. It's a significant gift of her energies that she is ordaining me and to know that she is happy to do it. She is a source for inspiration for so many of us, and she is dealing with this in a way that is truly impressive. I feel privileged to have the kind of friendship with her that I do. I hope that you will all take a look at her blog.

Please keep us in your thoughts. I will need it while I am taking this big step. If you can come to the public ceremony I would love to see you. Soon after the ordination I will be going on the women's western regional O/M retreat happen- ing Feb 15th-19th. I hope to see some of you there and we can celebrate as my new self, no longer Dawn.

*   *   *

Here's the message that went out a few days ago to the Order email list:

I am writing to update you about Suvarnaprabha's health. While the situation has often looked promising over the last year, she now has several nodules in her lungs that are growing rapidly, having doubled in size in the last six weeks. Though this could change, the present prognosis is that she has a few months to a year to live. She is currently feeling well, and has a fair amount of energy.

If you would like to stay up to date with how she is doing, please visit her blog, where there is medical information as well as wonderful reflections on her life:

Please keep Suvarnaprabha in your meditations. She will be conducting her first private ordination at our retreat center land outside San Francisco in early February.

With metta,

*   *   *

Ratnadevi sent me a link to Julia Darling's website. She was a writer who died of cancer. Here is a great poem from her blog:


Eventually, I was placed on a bed like a boat
in an empty room with sky filled windows,
with azure blue pillows, the leopard-like quilt.

It was English tea time, with the kind of light
that electrifies the ordinary. It had just stopped raining.
Beads of water on glass glittered like secrets.

In another room they were baking, mulling wine.
I was warm with cloves, melting butter, demerara,
and wearing your pyjamas.   My felt slippers

waited on the floor. Then the door opened
soundlessly, and I climbed out of bed.
It was like slipping onto the back of a horse,

and the room folded in, like a pop up story
then the house, and the Vale. Even the songs
and prayers tidied themselves into grooves

and the impossible hospital lay down its chimneys
its sluices, tired doctors, and waiting room chairs.
And I came here.    It was easy to leave.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

It's raining in Seminyak

Dawn in Joshua Tree...preparing for ordination?
I forgot to say: The luwak coffee was good. And to clarify, the coffee is not technically shit, it's the whole beans after having been partly digested by the luwak.

It's the rainy season now, or one of them. The first couple of days, it would rain for an hour in the afternoons. Now it seems to be raining all the time. Part of where we're staying is outside (a roof but no walls, it is very swank). I walked out of my bedroom this morning into a deluge.

Kathy has recovered from Bali Belly. We are in a very different town now, Seminyak. We walked down to the beach yesterday which appeared to be a shitty little trash strewn affair...getting more of the lay of the land today. Walking isn't much of an option, especially in the pouring rain. Balinese people seem to be consistently lovely. Tonight I'll hopefully be making soup with some special white mushrooms ("Highland white fungus") Cull brought from Singapore. They're supposed to be good for lungs (her lungs are messed up too though in a different way.)

Watched Brothers last night. (Toby McGuire, Jake Gyllenhall, Natalie Portman.) It was good.

I seem to be forgetting about cancer, which is handy.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Mongoose poo

Hindu hell
Being in Mexico and now being here in Bali has made me remember how awkward it is for me to suddenly be rich relative to most of everyone else. At the big Hindu temple in Sidemen (SEE duh men) the other day, a seemingly endless stream of excruciatingly cute little girls would ask us very sweetly to buy postcards. Men standing around Ubud, where we are now, say TAXI? when you walk by. In touristy places anyway, one becomes objectified, a bag of money, or that's how it feels. I'm not saying it doesn't make sense, or that it's a huge hardship, just that it makes me feel bad, especially when I feel irritated by the persistence of gorgeous children. I'm much more comfortable being the poor one.

I've been feeling energetic and healthy, except in certain kinds of light when I can see all the blond Wolverine fur on my face. That's a shocker. But the minor chest pain that I had seems to have gone away. I felt it again when I drank some super gourmet coffee at a Luwak coffee plantation the other day. By the way, Luwak kopi is essentially mongoose poo. Seriously: A mongoose type animal, locally called a luwak, eats the coffee berries. Their shit is collected, cleaned and brewed. We saw a sad restless luwak in a cage, but mostly they just collect it from the forest floor. Apparently you can buy a cup in London for £70. But the original point was that it seems that drinking coffee of any kind makes my chest hurt. I'm SO done with that.

At the steamy coffee plantation
Also, Cull has some kind of Bali Belly at the moment, poor thing! She's been in bed since yesterday afternoon. I'm heading down to a restaurant in town, Casa Luna, to meet Kiranada, a friend who comes every year from New Hampshire. Then we're headed to Changgu which is in the west and I think at the beach.

I've been doing a lot of preparation for Dawn's ordination and really enjoying it. Will be able to say more about that on February 9!

Limitless, Good, enjoyed it.
The Assassination of Jesse James. Was mostly not into it, though the copy we have doesn't have good sound.

P.S. If you have arranged with me to visit on certain dates, please email me to remind me!