IF I WEREN’T SO MACHO, I MIGHT FEEL like shedding tears. Not because of what has happened to me, but because I’m such a wuss compared to some. Like, two bloggers I’m following—young women whose husbands both died recently, and these women are blogging their hearts out, slogging away into their futures with grace and panache, even humor.
And here I sit in Bali, a place many might call paradise, where most people will never be able to visit, and yet I’m here and feeling miffed at the gods and demons of the island. No slogging into the future with panache and grace happening here in my bungalow on the edge of a rice field. A wuss in paradise whose biggest problem in a day might be something like finding an electrical outlet to charge a battery, or worse, really slow wi-fi. Whoa, the horrors.
This is the state I discover my mind wallowing in this morning. But in my own defense, I might say: “everything really is relative.” Different people hold different capacities for their threshold of pain. And if you can believe fairy tales, some people were made to give; some people were made to receive; and some strong ones, to hold up the sky for everyone else. But yeah, I know, it’s difficult to feel much empathy for a cheeseburger in paradise. I get that. Still, here we both are. Somebody has to say something. I’ll go first, and explain the wallowing.
I had it all planned out. The WordPress Photo Challenge prompt for this week is “Close Up.” I imagined many people would be shooting macros: flowers, insects, frog eyes. Or photos of two friends hugging. Or a father holding his infant son in one arm. I thought I’d show you “close-up” photographs of what an ordinary day for Badfish in Bali looked like.
Perhaps, I’d do it by the hour. Maybe, it would look something like this:
4:00 am: A panoramic photo of my open-air bathroom, which is as large as some people’s bedrooms, or if you live in one of those tiny houses like, say, Cheri Lucas Rowlands, my bathroom is bigger than your whole house. A myriad of tropical plants grow all along the back wall and are watered and cleansed when it rains like it did last night, as there is no roof above that one wall. A few varieties of fern perch on the wall. A young fern tree rises from the ground next to the wall and spreads its fronds into the sky above the roof. An oil palm, with non-edible red berries and a green trunk that imitates bamboo. And yes, the toilet, the sink, and shower all sit under an over-hanging roof, and you stay dry while shaving in a monsoon. And when you sit to poop during daylight hours, you might glimpse a kingfisher diving, or a kite flying, in the deep-blue sky above the back wall. Bali bathrooms are really cool.
5:00 am: A short video in the dark where you can hear all the night creatures cooing and chirping and mating in the night air. A ménage a trois with the Moon and Venus and one other star, Jupiter perhaps, bright on a blanket of black sky.
6:00 am: Coffee on the veranda, laptop on the table overlooking the garden, the rice paddy just beyond, palm trees and jungle at the horizon.
7:00 am: I might have ended up lying about 7 o’clock. The photograph of my yoga mat beside the garden intimates I do yoga there. I haven’t done yoga all summer. And my atavistic body is beginning to scream at me from the inside out. Let’s not talk about karma today.
8:00 am: A shot of Ibu Made, my housekeeper (right…hard life in paradise), making me breakfast—fruit salad and nasi goreng today.
9:00 am: A close-up of Desa’s hands—Desa, my deep-tissue-massage therapist at the Spa. I’ve been talking myself into believing these massages I’m getting every other day are helping me as much as yoga would; therefore, it might not be necessary to actually practice yoga. So far, I’m winning this argument.
Epiphany du jour: It’s becoming more difficult for me to get through a day without at least one good rationalization.
For the post, I thought I’d just go about my day, and shoot photographs as I went. Just the everyday mundane stuff. A selfie in sunglasses and Sons of Anarchy helmet reflected in the mirror of my motorbike, and beyond, the seemingly-hundred-thousand other motorcycles in the street. A bird of paradise and wild orchids against a background of slightly-out-of-focus green rice. A group of local young men in sarongs and dressed for their temple ceremony, smoking clove cigarettes next to their motorbikes. Maybe a close-up of my 3 o’clock Frappuccino and the view from the outside seating area at Starbucks: a view across the lily pond and the sacred temple beyond, a rather beautiful sight, especially for a view from a Starbucks. Perhaps a wide-angle of a sky full of penjors—40-foot-high bamboo decorations the Balinese display along their streets in front of their houses during their celebrations of Galungan, in which their dead ancestors come to visit, and Kuningan, 10 days later, when the ancestors depart again.
So the day would go something like that, and you would have gotten a taste of what a day was like for a Badfish in Bali, from morning shower to lowering the mosquito net on the bed at night. But get this. I put a new memory card in my camera. But my computer couldn’t read the thing, and a sign popped up saying I had to initialize it. I’m tech challenged; when I see signs like this on my computer, I balk at clicking buttons. I took the computer, the card, and the reader to the local Apple shop. There are hundreds of places in Ubud to buy and fix Android stuff. There is one Mac shop. A new card reader made and packaged by Mac, if you needed to buy one in Bali (which I was hoping I wouldn’t) costs $75. Really, god?
Hint du jour: if you’re thinking of switching to Mac, but haven’t yet, you might want to continue considering the issues. And cost. Buying a Mac is like buying a Porsche Cayenne. If you want the fastest, flashiest and coolest, and you’ve got the money, sure, buy the Cayenne. Otherwise, Kia has an SUV that does everything the Cayenne will do, only a little slower and for a third of the cost and with way better gas mileage. Or a Ford Edge, if you want American; the Edge is a bit more expensive than the Kia, maybe a bit higher quality. It’s like that with Macs and Android. If you want to be a member of the club and wear the Porsche ball cap, fine, buy a Mac. If looking cool is not your top priority, go Android.
FYI: I’m only slightly miffed at the gods and demons here. And here’s the deal on why I’m feeling like a wuss today; it’s because I cannot post all those photos offering a close-up view of my ordinary day. Turns out the memory card and the card reader are not the same “format,” (who knew, there were different formats for card readers and cards, and that they must match!). My card reader won’t read the new card to my laptop. What in hell is up with that… is all I’m saying.
I generally try to shy away from value judgments. But this? It is this simple. You buy a card reader. You buy a card. They work. End of techno story. Nobody should feel a need to get miffed because they can’t make a post just because they tried to transfer a photograph into iPhoto with another format. That’s just wrong.
To insert the photos onto my computer, Mr Mac Fixit uses his personal card reader (with matching format) and migrates all the photos—from both the memory card and all my other photos on my Mac—into a second iPhotos folder. I do not understand his English when he tells me, three times, why this is necessary. I do not believe I can impress upon you just how massively disturbing this is for me—we are talking about someone not only touching my laptop and messing with photo folders, but also moving ALL of my photos—here, in a foreign country where you can’t even drink the water or expect electricity all day long, let alone feel comfortable with some stranger dicking around with all of your photographs and telling you why, but you can’t fathom his accent. If I weren’t so macho, or had weak sphincter muscles, I would have required a change of underwear right there in the Mac shop.
Mr. Mac Fixit believes he fixes the issue, at least the transferring my photos onto my laptop. At some point, I will need to either buy a new card reader or “initialize” this new card to the format of my current reader, but to do that I will need to erase all the photos on the card. Scary—until I am certain I have backups of everything, and know where they are. And I can understand the English of the Geek Squad.
But this morning, when I open iPhoto to write about my ordinary day and show you the view using those photos—are you paying attention here?—none of these photos are on the laptop in the new iPhoto folder. The new photos from the new card are there, and some of my other photos. And lord knows where the old iPhoto folder might sit, somewhere in cyberspace, hopefully still on my laptop. And I’m supposing Mr. Fixit can find them and put them into the new iPhoto2 folder he created for mysterious-techno-babble reasons. However, he will not be working in his store for the next two days. So, I cannot write that post and give you a close-up view of an ordinary Badfish-in-Bali day because my ordinary day, apparently, consists of some minor flaw manifesting into reality that somehow changes reality altogether, and thereby forcing me to accept “what is” yet once again, as though I were some hard-case enlightenment student who can’t seem to quite get it right. Reality today, the reality we are now allegedly accepting as higher spiritual beings, is this: we will see no photos of an ordinary Badfish day. Combined with the distinct possibility that we may have to pop for the seventy-five dollar Mac card reader at some point. Really, Apple?
Rhetorical question du jour: how rich do rich people or big businesses need to get before they feel guilty and become philanthropists?
I wanted to write that piece, and share my ordinary day with you. And I’m feeling a bit of a wuss because I not only did not lose all of those photos (hopefully), but I did not lose a lover either. And yet, I’m still feeling miffed at the cosmos and wondering if there is actually any difference between gods and demons here on this island. Or for that matter, anywhere. And I’m also concerned that I still need to be forced to embrace “what is,” as opposed to just going: “oh, yeah…more shit? No worries, I can accept that. Drop it right here in my lap. And God, how’s your day going?”
If this were a fairy tale, I would not be one of those guys holding up the sky for everyone.
We’ve all heard this saying from at least one wise woman—and a dozen or so movies: “when the cosmos gives you a lemon, make lemonade.” In other words, go with the flow. In other words, accept what is. In other words, embrace your shit as well as the fun stuff, and move on.
Fine. Imagine me lifting a crystal flute into the air above my head: “A toast! Cheers to lemons.” I’m offering you this as lemonade: some “close-up” photographs of Bali, as close as I could get to close-up and nothing macro. Yet, it is a far cry from One Day in the Life of Ivan Badfish Denisovich (ala Solzhenitsyn).
Now, I believe I will go for my daily deep-tissue massage yoga practice. If we’re both still here on this page, I’d like to say one more thing: thank you for holding up the sky, and now, it’s your turn to say something.
You can find other entries for Lucile’s Photo Rehab here: Photo Rehab