>> 21 April 2015
My New Year's Resolution was to complain less (particularly on facebook), and I think I've largely succeeded at this so far. When something happens and I feel the urge to complain about it, I actively work to re-frame the incident in a positive, or at least a grimly humorous way. I think this is productive, and overall a good thing for anyone to do, but it doesn't change the fact that things bother me, and that life is sometimes really hard. Things seem to have been building up lately, though, and I'd like to get them out before they do something bad to my psyche.
I am sick to death of people messing with the mirrors on my motorbike, and the larger implication of the lack of respect for property or ownership. In this country if you are not physically present on your motorbike, it does not belong to you. It doesn't matter how long you step away from it, someone WILL come over and sit down. They'll mess with all your switches and levers, and they WILL move the mirrors so they can LOOK AT THEMSELVES while they're sitting on your $1,600 park bench.
I am weary to the point of anger at the state of and attitudes toward mental health care in this country, and I'm completely fed up with my psychotic neighbor, to the point where I have to dig deep to respond (even in my thoughts) with the compassion that another human being deserves. This woman lives a literal wall away from me and she has a violent screaming fit every single day, and sometimes more than once. These fits are preceded and followed by long periods of moaning, wailing crying, and I recently fell victim to her inexplicable grief when I discovered that she'd wiped her snot all over my motorbike where, YOU GUESSED IT, she'd decided to stage her breakdown (and, apparently, watch herself). Her family says she's cursed, or has a demon. End of story, no treatment, no care. She is just left alone to confront the black terror of losing control over and over again.
I am tired of being afraid. My neighbor scares me. Watching a human being come unhinged and cease to be human scares me. Being responsible for the safety of her child (because like it or not, I am a part of this family now) frightens me. Thanks to the other night, I'm now afraid of the police. Waking up alone and not knowing what woke me up frightens me. Realizing that all it would take to die in this country is a heavy rain, an inattentive driver, a small earthquake, a single spark, a single mosquito, a single dog, a wrong step in the bush, it all frightens me. Every time I relax and take my safety for granted for an instant, I am putting myself at risk. It is exhausting, and I'm starting to feel the strain of it.
I can deal with the heat (though lately it seems to be making me vomit) and the rain and the floods and the filth, but what I have a hard time dealing with is the culture that created the filth. Nothing shows you your privilege more than the expectation that offices and public spaces have trash bins. They don't. I'm sick of seeing people dispose of their trash by throwing it out of their window. Every time I take the ferry, I watch as dozens of people throw their cigarette butts, empty bottles, and styrofoam instant noodle cups directly into the ocean. DIRECTLY. IN. Americans have such a guilt complex about their plastic waste, but it is places like this that created the Pacific Garbage Patch, not that family of 4 in Ohio who sometimes forget their reusable shopping bags and are forced to use plastic. Plastic is everywhere here, there is zero recycling capacity and only the most basic of trash pickup services. The general view is that 'outside' is your trashcan, and I am watching in dismay as Timorese people are filling their country with rubbish.
I promise this is almost over. I'm just going to start listing:
Being viewed as an object of prey, derision and resentment by complete strangers, but most of all, being viewed as an object. Knowing that every breath I take contains countless carcinogens from burning trash and unregulated vehicle emissions. The noise that pervades every aspect of my life. The insanely dangerous drivers. The people who put their infants and children on a motorbike with no helmet. The tendency for every guitar to always be out of tune and every singer to be embarrassingly bad. The assumption that every person in the country is Catholic and the open ridicule of other faiths. The inclusion of religion (and of course by that I mean Catholicism) in the NATIONAL CURRICULUM. The mouse discovered yesterday in my kitchen because I couldn't convince my housemates that 'not leaving food out' is actually important. The fact that I can't drink the water. The fact that we don't even HAVE hot water. That if I want to drink water, it comes in a plastic bottle. The incomprehensible rudeness of other foreigners to each other (I could talk about this for days).
WHEW. Ok, I'm stopping before this gets any longer. I just needed a bit of a whinge. Hopefully it's out of my system for a while. And if it isn't, I can always run down to the mall for a 2-hour, $45 Balinese massage, followed by a 90-minute, $5 hatha yoga class in an air-conditioned ballroom, and finish it off with cold beer and a sunset view over the ocean. And Bali is like, an hour away.