Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Or Is It Just Me?

Do you smell something?

And then there was the Light Bulb Incident.

I didn't tell you about this yet.

I mentioned it, but didn't tell you. I said there was a story, and there is.

But on the other hand, I'm not sure it's a good story. And I'm sure I don't understand it.

Yet. If ever.

But this goes back a way. Back to the late fall of 2012.

It was a sunny fall and I thought things would always be that way, but things aren't always that way, are they? And they don't hang around staying just that way, for long. Usually.

Which has no connection to the light bulb. Except that I didn't need it during the sunny daylight hours.

See, the real deal is that my room is behind the elevator, and the router for the internet up here is sort of around the corner and out there a bit, leaving me hanging on the edge of internet land.

And then the staff here like to go and noodle on the common computer out in the lobby, which has a cable connection to the internet, while us "guests" (i.e., people who pay the freight around here), get what's left over by wireless.

Which is fragile.

Especially for me.

Especially when the staff are out there Facebooking and playing online games and downloading video files.

Which inspired me to move my laptop from the left side of the bed, where it's more behind the elevator, to the right side of the bed, where it's behind the elevator but not exactly so much, and is sort of almost kinda in a straight line with the router, but not really.

It is better though.

I think.

And because of where the window is it's darker over on this side of the bed, so I needed another light bulb.

When I moved in there was a 15-watter in the ceiling, and another one in the lamp at the head of the bed, but that one was broken, and there was room for another in that lamp but no bulb, so if you reached up to turn off the light, say, you could put your finger where Mom said never to put it, and find out why. Why she said that.

Pretty smart gal, that Mom.

Now I know why she said not to do that, but it's too late to send her a postcard confessing my sins.

Considering what an empty socket can do on its own, without even a first-grade education, and no prompting at all, confession would be like gravy on ice cream.

You know?

Wretched excess that didn't help anyone in any way.

One fifteen-watt bulb is the opposite of excess, but keeps the wretched part working so hard it makes you pant trying to take it all in.

And that's what I had.


So early on I bought a bulb for the bed, giving the empty socket a wide berth for the time being, but now. Now with my laptop more in line with the router's joyously squeaky weak signals, which were coming in a bit better, I had darkness at my elbow, so I figured hey.

Time for another bulb. And might as well go for Max Watts.

Well, Max Watts wasn't available so I went for his brother Sylvania.

Or maybe it's his sister.

There are some things you never get enlightened about, and I'm learning not to worry. As long as Sylvania keeps it up, I'm happy to be ignorant about some things.

But getting Sylvania home was a tad difficult.

First, you see, I grabbed the bulb with the biggest wattage.

These are the curly, screw-in fluorescents, and the biggest wattage was 26. It's like dog years. Twenty-six watts of fluorescent is like more than that in incandescent, but I don't know by how much because they don't say anymore.

At least here. If they ever did.

And it's a goddamn light bulb. Let's grab it and go. Now, pooch.

Screw the other one, I thought - only 23 watts, even though it was one of those sort of actually white-light bulbs.

But for that I'd have to give up three watts, and that is not in my nature.

Not any more it isn't, if it ever was. I can't remember that part.

But not here in this room with the deep corners and the darkness moving around whenever it feels like it. I wanted Max Watts.

And I figured if I couldn't get Max Watts and could only get Sylvania Watts, well, it was going to be the Big Sister version. Or Big Whatever, or something. But watts - I wants em. Gimmee.

Even if its a warm sort of light. At least it had a full 26 watts, which is more than you can say about the toilet paper here, or the hand soap, or just about anything else.

And there it was in my hand. All I had to do was pay for it.

Easier said than done, my friend. Easier said than done.

So very, very much easier said than done.

Spanish has something to do with it. A shortage of ears on my part does too. And maybe something else.

I still don't know, but the guy driving the cash register that day did not like the sight of me and that bulb coming at him as a team. He wanted us to go separate ways. And no arguing.

He took the bulb and instead of poking at the touch screen of the cash register and reciting things I could not understand, glancing over at me every now and then to see what I thought of the whole deal, which is what usually happens, which is when I stand there and go into Full Doofus Mode with the tip of my tongue out and a bunch of wrinkles on my forehead, squinting my eyes, and if anything at all, managing to say only "ah......?"

Which is when they usually give up and take my money and let me go.

Not this time.


I got a full-frontal lecture about something.

I think it was important, because the guy never got close to giving up. He could have gone 16 rounds, easy, and I would have been down for the count way before then. In fact by that time I was practically on my knees already.

Whatever it was he was talking about, think Important. Or maybe IMPORTANT!!!!

I guess.

I'm guessing here. I have no clue.

He kept pointing at a little colored area along the side of the package, and running his finger along it, and saying something. Boy, I'm not sure at all.

I may owe the store a lot more money because he spent a bunch of time on me. He burned up whole bags of expensive calories trying to convince me that I was not going to buy that light bulb. Ever.

This is where it gets really shaky because I'm assuming that there was a reason but maybe there wasn't. You know?

If you know, then that's one of us.

I don't.


But he won. I mean, no contest, right?

I took the bulb back to the far end of the store and looked at all of them. All the big, hefty, beefy 26-watters were identical to this one.

And then there were the 3-watters, and the 7-watters, and the 15-watters, but they wouldn't do any kind of decent job. Not up against the shadows in my room

So that left me with one choice.

You know, keeping in mind the armed guards out in front of the store, which was a pretty good reason right there not to do anything desperate, like run for the door and throw a $10 bill at the cashier on my way out.

And wasteful too, since they only wanted $3.71 for the bulb. Which I wasn't allowed to buy.

But mostly it was the guards I was thinking of. I didn't want them in on the deal.

Especially. Well. You know how armed guards are. How you never want them to see you running.


The one choice previously mentioned being what was left. The Goldilocks Solution. The 23-watter. Which is the one they let me buy.

The one that came home with me. And is up by the ceiling right now, purring quietly. I guess that's what the sound is. Purring?

Something. Maybe it's more of a smell now that I think about it.

Yeah, I guess it worked. I have light.

The two lights at the head of the bed are warm, and Ms. Sylvania Mini-Lynx, well let's just say she is like seeing daylight for the first time.

Maybe they know something at the store that I don't. Yeah, duh. Even a Doofus, First Class, with drool marks on his shirt eventually realizes that his powers, if he ever had any, are too feeble to be useful for anything other than looking stupid.

So it's me and my thoughts and a few bulbs brighter than I am, tapping the evenings away behind the elevator, dinking around on the internet.

Until Danny out there in the lobby gets tired of watching soccer on TV and switches to online...oh, crap.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dim Bulbs

Twenty watt thinking.

Funny thing.

The guy with the nice-looking apartment was remodeling, and then there was this carnival holiday thingy, and he said he'd probably get back to me by Wednesday of last week when he had it all pulled together.

And he didn't, so I wrote off one more place.

And then Monday, after I had to clear out of my room and go do something while they cleaned it, and then had lunch and goofed off, I found out that this same guy had sent me an email saying I could come over and see the place. And by then, when I saw the email, it was hours and hours later.

Sure, of course.

So I emailed him, asking for the address, and said I'd call Tuesday. Assuming I could figure out how to use the phone I had bought.

There was no return email from him, and when I called Tuesday he said that the apartment was "not available". I.e., he'd rented it. Probably to the first person who came by and said "Me want."

More batsnit craziness. I hope it isn't contagious.

I have an appointment for Friday, through a realtor, for a $250 apartment, which is located somewhere. Out there. Nobody wants to say anything around here, even if the question is only which part of town we're talking about.

No. Highly secret. Can't say. Wait until you see it. Is great, this place. Just wait.

I tried to get in earlier than Friday, given my experiences with people and their rentals appearing and then suddenly vanishing, leaving no trace, only a faint sour taste in the soul, but he said Friday was the day, and I would be the only prospective tenant there, and could take as much time as I needed with the owner, etc., and so on.

So. Whatever.

On the other hand, Peter, the 22-year-old with a three-bedroom, three-bathroom place, just emailed me and said I can move in there on March 4th, or not, depending on when the others leave. This is the three-bedroom, three-bathroom place with one bathroom in the living room, and the third bedroom inside the second one.

I'll have to draw a picture sometime.

As soon as I get new crayons.

So anyhow, I bought drugs today.

Getting extremely low on the prescription medication that I brought with me, I finally gimped it over to one of the larger pharmacies, hoping they'd have most everything.


Two clerks eyeballed the data sheet I gave them. One clerk poked at the computer and finally said "Nope. No such thing here." (It's more exciting in Spanish.)

And at that moment the other clerk emerged from the shelves with a bottle of 100 tablets of the right stuff, all sealed and tidy and clean and safely on the correct side of expiration date.

I had my passport, and could have supplied a copy of the prescription, but they just wanted money. Not even a note from my mother. The total was $17.20, and then I was out of there, slick as snot on a doorknob.

No need to hunt for a doctor who isn't retired and is still taking new patients, explain why I don't have insurance, offer to pay cash, stand there looking at confused faces, wait for an appointment, explain that I've got a really mild case of you-know-what, and have been taking the absolute minimum of this medication since 1975, have never had any side effects, hoping to get by without a bunch of tests involving needles and, in far corners of the country, laboratories I've never heard of which will send me oddball bills for months on end.

No, not like that. Here you tell them what you want, they set it out, you pay, and if you die alone on the floor at home because of what you just bought, that's your own fault.

I was at this same pharmacy a few weeks ago, unsuccessfully trying one weekend to score some baking soda, which is a controlled substance here, but it wasn't until today that I noticed the security guard. Maybe he's off on Saturdays. But he was there today. He wasn't carrying a shotgun though, so he can't be very good.

Every time I walk out the entrance of my hostal I pass a security guard at the bank next door. He stands there all day, holding a 12-gauge, pistol-grip shotgun. There are lots of these guys around. All over. Standing all day, watching, shifting their guns from hand to hand, wearing navy blue armor, navy blue baseball caps, navy blue pants - the whole blue thing.

The bank where I get cash has at least three on duty all day. Maybe four. I think it's four. But that's a sort of drive-in bank with its own parking lot, so I guess they would need more firepower to cover the acreage.

I bought a light bulb today too. (There is actually a story here, but I'll skip that part for now. You know, suspense and all - wait for it, 'K?) I bought the bulb at a sort of all-in-one, jumbled-up grocery and department store. It's kind of a fun place with a little of everything piled every whichway, but even they also have at least two armed guards out front all the time. Yes, with shotguns.

Well, one has a shotgun. For sure.

If this was a typical Target store, and Target stores really liked the idea of armed guards, there would be half a dozen out front, and at least as many inside. Just so you get the idea.


Inside this store, staff not driving cash registers walk around and look at people. No one has ever asked if they could help me with anything (which is OK for me, for now, since I'm essentially a mobile idiot). They only walk around and watch what's going on.

Which is nothing.

And I don't ever want to be there when anything is going on.

So, right now.

I have to study Spanish so Señora T. won't be upset. She's my Spanish teacher. I'm not sure if she cares whether I study or not, but if I don't she'll have nothing to do but to sit there and stare at me, which could trigger an emergency call to the security guards, and we don't want that.

Things could be worse but I don't want to know how.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Shung Fwei Makeovers With Banana Jam

A 98.6 percent solution.

Hi, everybody!

Well, today is a new day!

As you might not have noticed, I have recently relocated to beautiful Cuenca, Ecuador, and I love it here!

For new visitors to Fung Ways Newsletter, my name is Banana Jam Hajduk. I am a licensed Counseling Psychologist and Fruit Therapist, trained in the Three Berries tradition of the ancient school of Shung Fway, located at 1613 Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, California.

I also have an advanced degree in Kitty-Cats and Funny Hats, as well as having studied with the masters of the Colored Fuzz Method in Panama and at the McNeil Island Institution in Washington State.

Why Cuenca?

Good question!

Having lived in several European countries, Belize, Malaysia, the USA, and several Mexican compounds with my former husband Pablo (recently deceased), I decided it was time for a change!

I now enjoy peace and anonymity despite being wanted in several if not most of the countries mentioned. For seminars, of course!

Hah! You big silly!

Well, how about you?

Are you new to life in Cuenca, Ecuador? Did you just move here? Do you have some troubling past life experiences you need sorted out? Well, I have personal experience with that, and I can tell you that plastic surgery and even frequent name changes will not solve all your problems.

So, for those nagging issues that just won't go away, I call on Shung Fwey, and you can too.

A vigorous but gently stimulating Fruit Cup Massage and Earlobe Reading will make you into a New Person. I can guarantee it! And, for those few skeptics out there, I have a no-money back guarantee to back me up.

Once we have your chi-force in line with your sugar balance (and have your pectin chart fully operational), we can move on to discussing your fashion sense and talking about the Real Estate Market.

I'm betting you probably never gave it much thought, but Cuenca is a Hot, Hot Real Estate Market, chock full of opportunity. And just between the two of us - We Can Make It Happen!

A few private consultations, a handful of Fung Tweaks, a bit of Staging Magic, and carefully-worded ads placed in the right international real estate speculation journals will have your head spinning in no time.

Do we hear cash? Yes!

I also do Pet Relaxation Therapy, and what I call my Komfy Kollages using all-natural, all-organic fuzz collected at night from sleeping alpacas. Doesn't that sound like Fun?

Now, I know you want to ease into all this, so next Saturday I'll be giving a free seminar for interested persons, "newbies", and diehard doubters.

We'll be meeting at the Tastee Bean Caffeine-Free Coffee Bar and Harmonic Convergence Research Center at 10 a.m., with a suggested $200 donation to be collected at the door by my friend Mike.

If you want lunch, a certified spiritually-accessible low fat fruit plate will be available from Kate's Eats for a mere $73.

So new to Shung Fwey or not, discover how my environment can affect you and how to hold hands and become one with my bank account.

See you there!

Or else!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Spanish On The Hoof

Oink if you feel it helps.

"Now here are the words for today: 'vaca', 'cerdo', 'pollo', 'caballo', 'cabra'. Write a sentence using each."

This was Spanish at Noxius, The School of Language.

After three weeks there I began gnawing on my leg. They had to drag me out.

I believe the yawning pit opened somewhere between "vaca" and "cerdo", but I could be wrong. Vertigo may have distorted my memory.

I have no great love for vacas, either close by or from a distance. Or for cerdos.

Not a one of them. Not in herds or individually, even if they were to wear colorful name tags, and I never write about them. Ordinarily. As far as I can remember.

Which is what made this Spanish class so extraordinarily poignant.

Is that the word for how you end up sobbing in desperation?

Could be. Something like that. After having been an adult for so very many years, and being returned to seven-year-old status.

My fellow students were earnest. As was Señora Salamandre. Our teacher.

My fellow students wanted to learn all about farm animals, and to use them in sentences. And Señora Salamandre was qualified.

She spoke Spanish and we didn't. Which entitled her to earn money.


And she was the wife of a doctor. Which made her large with status.

In week one we learned to count from one to three.

In week two we learned what a fork was called, and which things one could poke with it, in polite company.

Week three introduced us to the farm animals, and to sentences of up to four words.

And then there I was, growling, and biting my ankle. Perhaps you can understand.

Perhaps not. It seems different in Spanish than the ordinary gnawing you might do in English, for example. In case you have done that yourself, in English or French, or Klingon.

"In Klingon? Right. I can understand how you might end up there, in Klingon," you could say, solicitously, backing up, looking for an exit. "But Spanish? Well..."

Ah, but you did not study under Señora Salamandre, who had a way of bringing the teeth out in people. She had a way. It brought all those gnawing instincts straight to the surface. Which was where my Spanish studies at Noxius ended.

I had to resign.

After regaining consciousness I sent a polite email explaining that I would not be back, so sorry. Ever. Cold fronts in hell and so on. And then the Director of Gringo Studies contacted me about remedial help.

"I have discussed your case with Robert Waddler, my room-mate, one of your fellow students, and a board-certified Slung Fwey Technician (Third Degree, Kwik Kwek Kwak School of the Ravenous Heron), and Crystal Therapist. He feels there may be some disturbance in one of your past incarnations. We can work on that. I have also talked to others about you and your episodes of speechlessness, and feel confident that if we place you in a new, Sub-Beginner Spanish Class (starting next week, at only $19.95 per hour), and you promise not to gnaw on yourself in front of others, we can virtually assume that at the end of six months or so you will be fluent in talking about farm animals in sentences of up to four words."

But by then I am afraid it was too late.

Perhaps it was my previous language training that spoiled me.

The training in Latin. The training in German. The B.A. in English. Or perhaps the B.S. in Physics and Computer Science (with minors in math and chemistry). Who can say?

But I did not feel up to a special Sub-Beginner Spanish Class (starting at only $19.95 an hour, with four-color flash cards of farm animals and emergency tutoring available on demand), and am now studying with Nadezhda of the Dark Eyes and the Quick Wit.

And blood is once more flowing through my brain.

Because of being treated like an adult? Possibly.

Because, you know.

I am one.