Popcorn, Guinness, and Downton Abbey

Life here is surreal. One minute I am dressed in my sarong and kebaya, looking as much like a traditional Balinese woman as a white-skinned, pale-eyed Norwegian can. The next I’m sitting amongst the cushions on my terrace eating popcorn sprinkled with chili powder, drinking Guinness, and watching Downton Abbey with my neighbor from Michigan. Nina has the whole series. She offered to loan it to me. I started to tell her ‘no thanks,’ but before I could get the words out she said, “No! You NEED to watch this. You’ll LOVE it.” Nina has a flair for the dramatic (her Sicilian side) but she’s believable. I watched the first five minutes of the first episode and was hooked.

Image from Bing

Image from Bing

I think the U.S. has a fascination with the Brits. I always have. What does a lord do, exactly? And what is the function of a valet, or a footman, or a lady’s maid? Downton Abbey gives it to me, all of it. I’m in on the dirty little secrets of both the gentry and their staff. So when Nina offered to make popcorn, a skill I have yet to acquire here, and do a Downton Abbey marathon, it was a solid thumbs-up. The only thing I like better than salty popcorn, come to find out, is salty popcorn sprinkled with chili powder. The Guinness chaser was icing on the cake.

Image from Bing

Image from Bing

Last night around 8:30, Nina and the popcorn appeared. I had my computer ready. We arranged the cushions and pillows for maximum comfort and settled in. About mid-way through, as I switched out CDs to disc 2 of season 2, it hit me. It was one of those strange moments when everything slows way down. Colors bleed together and sounds move far away. Where am I? The question was real. I felt detached from everything tangible. Had I been meditating I would have assumed I’d reached enlightenment, or some grand altered state of consciousness. But I was watching Downton Abbey and I wasn’t yet drunk, nor was I going to get drunk as I only had two bottle of Guinness and Nina was drinking the other one.

It’s an odd sensation, like waking up in a strange place. Eating popcorn and watching movies with friends was a happy part of a different life.  It hasn’t been my reality for almost a year. But here I was, doing exactly that with another white-skinned, pale-eyed Midwesterner. It seriously played with my mind. The moment passed and I rejoined myself at the movies. But it made me think.

The longer I am in Bali, the more I experience the sensitivity of the body. It adapts to where it lives and does what it needs to do to exist there. In the West that often results in a numbing process that enables it to survive the continuous onslaught of stimuli and inordinate amounts of stress it is subjected to. Alcohol, television, movies, are some of the sedatives of choice to help escape a toxic lifestyle. Like most poisons, it takes time for the body to rid itself of the effects of those toxins. After nine months of gentle, uncomplicated living, mine has loosened, the muscles have unknotted, the mind has stopped spinning.

What I experienced in that weird interlude of disconnect, was a body/mind reaction to something it perceived as out of context. It went deep. “This isn’t your truth,” the body warned. “I don’t want to go back there,” the mind echoed. They had their say. I slid disc 2 into the computer and was soon carried away with the Grantham family and their dramas. I enjoyed the story, the popcorn, and the companionship of my friend, thoroughly. And now that I’ve had a chance to reflect, I see that a movie and a beer means something different here. It isn’t an escape from anything. It’s just pure play.

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16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. healingpilgrim
    Apr 27, 2013 @ 04:30:26

    Sounds precious, glad you’ve just jumped into the alternate-universe experience! I’d love to watch it too, maybe I can download from Nina one day?

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  2. Lottie Nevin
    Apr 27, 2013 @ 07:04:14

    I discovered Downton last year and became hooked! I felt quite sad when I got to the end of the last season, it became my salve in Jakarta and something to look forward to watching with Pete at the end of the day. I WANT MORE!
    I’m liking the sound of the popcorn with chilli a lot! and the Guinness, what a great combo Sherry 😀

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  3. Sharon
    Apr 27, 2013 @ 09:12:29

    I can understand your out of body experience…..so good you stopped and noticed it. Two realities. I have never missed a downton installment and feel a loss when each season it ends. I’m hoping it encourages American tv to do better as everyone loves it. What a fun night for you.

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Apr 27, 2013 @ 20:49:53

      If there’s anything I’ve learned from being here it is to NOTICE and LISTEN TO my body. Writing about what I hear when I listen helps me to understand more clearly what is going on with me. And that’s the whole point of Writing for Self-Discovery!

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  4. Nanci Froemming
    Apr 27, 2013 @ 10:31:46

    I envy you being able to have a girl’s night with Nina in Bali watching Downton Abbey… Would love to join you both someday! Sounds fabulous!

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  5. Letizia
    Apr 27, 2013 @ 16:44:29

    I like your distinction between escape and play. And an evening with a friend and ‘Downtown Abbey” is a wonderful moment of play! Popcorn with chili powder – I’ll have to try that.

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  6. JMiriam
    Apr 27, 2013 @ 20:50:05

    I think I still have a long way to go in order to unravel what has been done by years of over-stimulation. I find it interesting that you say “the muscles have unknotted and the mind has stopped spinning”… Those are the exact things I’m trying to heal. After ten years of waitressing in a casino, a highly toxic work environment, living on caffeine and sugar to go to school and work, going more than a year without a legitimate day off… I definitely have a spinning mind and what my doctor described as “chronic muscle spasms” which basically means my muscles are knotted and won’t release. I’m working to undo this through yoga, eating better, and building my art business.

    Love the popcorn and Guinness idea, I’m stealing it!

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Apr 27, 2013 @ 21:03:56

      The good thing is that you recognize the damage and are taking steps to correct it. Yoga is medicine, especially the gentle, restorative practices. When I experienced my first restorative yoga class I thought I was going to crawl right out of my skin. It was soooo sloooow and I was moving so fast! One more thing to add to yoga, and writing of course, and a healthy diet (organic if possible…most everything else is packed with chemicals) is a meditation practice. There are many kinds and one size does NOT FIT ALL! Maybe you already practice. If not, that will help the spinning mind. It’s hard for us Type A, highly motivated, driven, blah blah blah people! But the rewards are beyond imagining! Good luck!

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      • JMiriam
        Apr 28, 2013 @ 14:52:05

        In Iowa, before moving to Lincoln, I worked on two different completely chemical-free farms, so I’m an avid “grow it yourself, buy from local farmers, and/or buy organic from food co ops” kind of person. I recently heard about yoga med in Omaha and might check that out for my neck issues. Upon having it x-rayed, my neck is at -7 degrees when it’s supposed to be at a 45 degree angle. Have you heard of “yoga med”? Supposedly there is an hour and a half consultation, which I assume (hope) will be like an Ayurveda-type, holistic consultation and then you get tailored yoga exercises to correct your physical ailments. I’m thinking of trying that, because I’m hoping if I can correct the neck issues, I can correct the back issues. Which of course also means correcting the mental issues.

        I’m a meditation newbie, but I’ve been doing it often enough to know how powerful it is. I need to explore other methods. I am able to listen to guided meditations with voice instructions and music, but not without that help yet. I’m like… on meditation training wheels haha. But as an artist I saw a show in which they created paintings to meditate on. That intrigues me. How did you progress from being mentally AHHHHH to being able to meditate regularly? I would like to do it morning and night and that’s what I’m trying to build to, but I think I need some different ways to meditate.

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        • writingforselfdiscovery
          Apr 28, 2013 @ 17:47:31

          There are so many different ways to meditate, and its important to find what works for you. Moving meditations are great, especially for people who find it difficult to sit in stillness. The internet is full of ‘how to’ videos. Breathing meditations, walking meditations, qi gong, primordial sound meditation…once you start searching the varieties are endless! The restorative aspects of yoga are miraculous. Whoever coined the term Yogamed is brilliant. I do neck yoga EVERY DAY. It has brought strength and flexibility back to that part of my body and there is no more pain. I wish you success in all your healing endeavors!

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