Bali, 2014, Chapter 3, “Percaya”

Bali, 2014, Chapter 3, “Percaya”

October 27, 2014 Padangbai, Bali, Indonesia There is a word in Bahasa Indonesia, my wife's native language, for "trust". It's "percaya" (pronounced "perchaya"). It's a beautiful, complicated, difficult word. Beautiful because it means that you invest your faith and belief in someone other than yourself. Complicated because it involves a letting go of control, a risk, and a reliance on, once again, someone other than yourself; you could, and probably will, at times, be hurt and disappointed. And difficult because it can be painful to take such a blind, or educated, leap of faith in

Bali, 2014: Chapter 4, Greetings from the Island of the Gods

Bali, 2014: Chapter 4, Greetings from the Island of the Gods

October, 2014 Padangbai, Bali, Indonesia It is so simple and beautiful where I am in the middle of a banana & coconut tree field. Roosters crowing, cows mooing, dogs barking... the slowness of rural village life. Nothing to do. Quite shocking. But somehow, I just love it. Sure, I am connected by occasional internet, cell phone, and my iPad, but even that feels like a contradiction. Because I am living in between 2 cultures, 2 different ways of life. No tourists where I am when I am here, yet I am bringing tourists here with Airbnb. Am I a cultural criminal, bringing modernity

Bali, 2014: Chapter 5, Notes from the 3rd World

Bali, 2014: Chapter  5, Notes from the 3rd World

Oct 28, 2014  Padangbai, Bali, Indonesia Two things don't matter here in Padangbai. 1- America doesn't matter. Uh huh. You heard me right. Nobody thinks or talks about it here. It's not the center of the universe. It doesn't define the conversation. It's some place far away. "Where you from, Tru-les?" "Cal-eefornia. Los Angeles." "Ameri-ca?" Yes." "Far away." "Yes, far away." That's what Kedek and I said to each other this morning. In English. It was true. Very "far away". Approximately, "half way around the world". About 13 thousand miles, as the crow flies. Where there are

Bali, 2014: Chapter 6, Savoring Time in My Banana Field

Bali, 2014: Chapter 6, Savoring Time in My Banana Field

November 4, 2014 Padangbai, Bali, Indonesia It's very strange to be in one place for so long. It certainly doesn't happen in LA. We drive drive drive. Go go go. How many trips a day? But here, at the villa in the middle of the eternal coconut and banana field, I find there's no place to go. Nothing to do. What for? I'm already here. Content. Cooking, sleeping, waking, writing, walking meditation in the warm, turquoise overflow pool (that doesn't work sometimes). I mean, just walking improvisationally in the pool, 10 times a day. C'mon, it's really hot here. Arranging fallen frangipa

Bali, 2014: Chapter 7, The U.S. Election Seen From a Bali Banana Field

Bali, 2014: Chapter 7, The U.S. Election Seen From a Bali Banana Field

November 5, 2014 Padangbai, Bali, Indonesia I'm 15 hours ahead, so it's still Election Day in the U.S., Nov 4. I'm genuinely surprised by how many Facebook friends are advocating for voting. It's actually "awesome", as we say in the Southern California vernacular. Friends saying they voted and urging their friends to vote. And it's the "urgency" that strikes me all the way over here in my Balinese banana field, ....that it could actually make a difference in the way our country operates, the way our lives are lived. I'd like to believe that voting someone into office, rather than

echo park, mi gentrifying barrio

echo park, mi gentrifying barrio

may 18, 2014 i first moved here 21 years ago. to the hills of echo park. that's not a long time ago compared to the likes of eddie and alana, who live next door, uphill, who have been here almost 40 years. or frank on the other side, downhill, who's been here almost as long. or marian, just across the street, who died just this past spring at age 91, who had been living here on lucretia avenue for over 50 years. i know this specifically because i wrote short pieces about their lives for the now defunct "echo park gazette", in a column i created called "meet your neighbors". i wanted to

la fonda, baja calee-fornia, norte

la fonda, baja calee-fornia, norte

may, 1993 baja california norte it's another ubiquitously blue calee-fornia day, and i'm on the poorly-paved road twisting south from tijuana with the one-day great and powerful, taj mahndayla. he's driving his appropriately-named small black honda del sol, and we're slowly winding our way through the mural-painted fringes of tijuana towards the playas (beaches) of rosarito beach. we've crossed la frontera (the border) at san ysidro. we're definitely not in kansas anymore. there are hungry burros on the side of the road, small second world casitas and restaurantes that we gringos like

Europa, Xmas 2013-14, Swiss — Cheesy

Europa, Xmas 2013-14, Swiss — Cheesy

December 23, 2013 It was hard to get out of Paris. We stayed an extra two days (out of our 25) in Belleville, the recently gentrifying part of northeast Paris proper. Not as bad as the completely over-developed Marais, formerly the old Jewish quarter, but well on its way. Perhaps the Echo Park of Pareee. Yet Belleville is charming, in a working man's kind of way. Hardly any tourists, there is a school and a church, a "poste", and the required neighborhood amenity shops: the boulangerie (for bread and bakery sweets), the boucherie (for fresh meats), small produce shops, large produce s

Europa, Xmas 2013-14, Pareeeee!

Europa, Xmas 2013-14, Pareeeee!

December, 2014 Just the words. "L'Isle de la Cite", the tiny island in the middle of "La Seine", from where the great city grew.  "Notre Dame", the grandest cathedral of them all, construction first begun, brick by brick, in 1153. "L'Arc de Triomphe"' built for Napoleon's once cursed, but then celebrated, early 19th century military conquests, retaken from the hated Huns In 1945. "La Tour Eiffel"' the elegant, and also once-cursed, steel tower built in 1789 for the World Exhibition in Paris, at the centennial celebration of the French Revolution. "Hotel de Ville", city hall. "Champs

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