The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
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    Southeast Asia Travel Journal: The Long Goodbye

    Hello, friends. It’s been a while. I’ve been meaning to write this post for months.

    I have loved blogging at Dagblog. It was a privilege to be one of the first bloggers outside of the core DAG and it was a privilege to take part in such interesting and meaningful discussions about wide-ranging topics--and I always loved the snark. Maybe it took me so long to say good-bye because  don’t really want to say good-bye. Perhaps I’ll turn up occasionally with something to say.

    The problem is I’ve never been very good at writing when I’m happy. When I started blogging at TPM in the spring of 2008, I was as unhappy as I’d ever been. My mom was dying, I hated my job, I hated where I lived, I didn’t have many friends who weren’t hundreds or thousands of miles away, and I felt trapped and powerless to do anything to change my circumstances because I wasn't going to leave my mom.

    Then, in the summer of 2009, she died and I was free. That sounds incredibly callous, I know. My mom was an wonderful person and an exceptional mother. The person that she was left her brain somewhere around the year 2000 and we were left to watch her lose control of her body—speech, motor function, bladder control, etc. It sucked. So when she died, I was sad, but also glad. I’d given up the guilt of wishing it over long before it actually was. Very soon after she died, I started making my plan. I knew I wanted to teach and I knew I wanted to live outside of the US. I thought I was headed to Taiwan when at the last minute I was offered a job in Indonesia. Winter was approaching--making the ultimate decision pretty damn easy.

    I think about my mom when I’m doing something particularly unsafe or when I’m in an astonishingly beautiful location. These things happen a lot in Southeast Asia, so she’s often on my mind. I miss her and sometimes I feel bad for being so stupidly happy when I remember that she’s dead. But we’re supposed to go on when we lose important people. It’s just plain stupid not to.

    And so here I am, stupidly happy and absolutely unproductive, from a writing standpoint. I’ve been living in Malaysia since early 2011, still teaching, still loving it, and still traveling whenever I get the chance, which is often. I’m off to Thailand in five weeks, snorkelling in the Perhentians 10 weeks after that, and there just might be a trip to Australia in the cards for me this year. Oh, and I’ll be in India for about six weeks around Christmas.

    So, you see, my life doesn’t suck. I work with local teachers and children between 6 and 9 and I’m not exaggerating when I say that it is a joy every day to go to work and see their smiling faces. I have friends again who are close by and I stay in touch with my family through the magic of the internet.

    I’ve missed Dagblog. This is a quality group of people here. So, as I mentioned, I hope to stop by, especially as the elections approach, to check up on the conventional wisdom and be entertained. But it’s long past time to leave the masthead and leave the heavy lifting to my friends.

    Jumpa lagi, kawan-kawan saya.

    This is me, stupidly happy!



    We miss you terribly, Orlando, but I'm so glad that you're happy. You look radiant in that photo.

    You should try diving again when you're Thailand. The Similan islands are amazing. Plus, it may be dangerous enough to remind you of your mother. I'm actually back in Mexico scuba diving right now (well, not right now).


    PS If you ever become a miserable bitch again, you're always welcome back at dag. wink

    Thanks, G. You're so sweet. Except for the miserable bitch part. surprise

    I have three goals for Thailand--be on the beach, be on a boat, or be snorkeling. We're going to Krabi, so those goals are totally achievable. I keep toying with the idea of getting my PADI in May in the Perhentians, but I still have some anxiety about it. We'll see!  

    We luv ya, O!!! 

    I thank God every night that you're not still trapped deep in the tar pits of Indiana!

    Also, glad it's Malaysia. Wonderful place. Hope you're filling up on happy kampung life. 

    Just stay safe, and drop a line from time to time. 


    I live in a Felda. Kampung enough for ya? Monkeys, cows, and lizards are my pretty much constant companions but I never get tired of seeing them. Monkeys, especially. They're like squirrels here, but I think they're all kinds of awesome. 

    You know, I've only been waiting for you to say you were leaving so I could start asking you to come back.

    Come back soon, Orlando! We've missed you, and we'll miss you more. But be happy.

    O O O O O O, You don't have to go O O O O
    You don't have to go O O O O, you don't have to go.

    The problem is I’ve never been very good at writing when I’m happy.

    You guys are going about this all wrong. If we want her to stay, we've got to find some way of making her miserable again.

    You know, I heard that Gingrich has a really good chance of winning this election in November!

    That is so not nice. 

    Orlando, I knew this was coming!  You're going to leave me with all these guys?  All alone?  All by myself?

    You are?  Well, okay then.  Mazel tov, or whatever.  You look so incredibly happy in that picture, and those kids look so adorable,  I really wouldn't want it any other way for you.

    Please send us diaries and pictures now and then.  We can share your amazing experiences and say we Knew You When.

    And any time you miss being miserable, come back.  We'll fix that for you. 

    (Great post, by the way.  We'll miss your writing, too.)

    Don't worry, Ramona. Those boys will be like putty in your capable hands! Don't tell them I told you this, but they're all pretty cool.

    Don't tell them I said it, but yes, they ARE pretty cool.

    No, Orlando, your life definitely does not suck. As you keep rubbing in our faces with your beautiful, serene, joy-filled photos. Despite the envy they inspire, please keep them coming. And write whenever the muse slaps you. Like everyone else here, I'm happy you've turned your life around so completely. And I want especially to thank you for the hand-holding and moral support you provided as we both went through the illness and deaths of our mothers. I know you had the heavier burden, and that made it easier for me. I continue to think of you as a friend.

    Back atcha re: moral support and hand-holding. It's nice to come through the other side of it and realize the person I thought I'd become was temporary and the person I used to be was just waiting to come out and play again! There are days when I have to pinch myself. I hope you've experienced happiness on the other side as well. 

    Orlando, you'll be greatly missed.  But I'm happy for you, and I'm glad that we can keep in touch through other means.  Keep on enjoying life -- you're doing it very well!!  xoxo


    Thanks, Lis! I'll miss everybody too...but I'll probably lurk, so I'll know what's going on!

    Always do right; you will gratify some and astonish the rest. MT

    Someone dedicating her life to learning about others, teaching others and helping others.

    I wish you well in your endeavors.

    DD, you're just so you! I love your comments. You make it sound so altruistic when it feels absolutely selfish, but you go right ahead and think the best of me!!! smiley

    I just returned from a long sabbatical (nothing even close to your future plans) and now you are leaving.  Sigh

    I wish you all the best and just looking at your picture makes me happy, so I will copy it to my picture file to revisit whenever I'm flummoxed, needing a muse.

    You will be (and already are) sorely missed.  At least once in awhile, post some pics so we can cuss you out (always with both lol and loheart)!  And even if not in angst, putting forth a caption for each would mean so much.

    Take good care of you and yours.


    Aw, Aunt Sam. I hope your sabbatical was well used and that you're staying warm up in the frigid north. Please report any Artic Barbie sightings. I'm still morbidly curious about her, even though she's kind of over.

    I hope at dag we can offer some unconventional, if not wisdom, then, well, you know, something...I do think we offer unconventionality at times.  Or maybe it's more crankiness, I'm not sure.

    My mother lived 8 years with substantial handicaps following a traumatic brain injury she suffered in a 1990s car accident.  She got to live long enough to see her two kids start families.  She'd been craving grandchildren and I'm pleased that my younger brother was able to come through on that front well before I got around to it.  Her injury completely upended her relationship with my dad and with some of the people who they had thought of as their friends.  The two of them were deeply depressed for many years.  My dad was able to regain his smile after she died, at least after the mourning period, for a year or two before he also died.  But he met someone, remarried, and was very happy again for that time.  And that was precious.  So on the painful joy, or joyous pain or whatever one calls it of losing a long-suffering parent, I am among surely many here who totally get that.

    Unfortunately for me, I'm not one of the folks at the cafe or dag who really developed much of an online relationship with you, as we did not have many exchanges.  I always have thought you are truly a gifted writer.  In keeping with the thread theme  whereby we probably would slightly increase the chances of you stopping by here more if we said horrible things about you--but are declining to do that--I wish you nothing but continued happiness.

    Warm regards,


    AD, what your dad went through and what my dad went through sound very similar. My dad is still struggling a bit, but he's finding his way back. As hard as it was, you're supposed to lose your parents. But the love of your life is meant to stick around until you're old and starting over at 55 kinda sucks. 

    Thanks for the kind words about my writing. It's too flattering. I'll get a bigger head--and as you can see from the photo, it's already gigantic! :)

    I would like to piggy-back on Dreamer's last paragraph and add that your lovely smile testifies to the success of your journey.

    “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener

    “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou


    It has always been a pleasure for me to read your writings.  I wish you Godspeed on what appears to be an incredible journey.   Come back and fill up a page or two with your experiences whenever you feel a need for self-expression.

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