Another day about to end. In a hotel room somewhere in cloudy Jakarta. Mind burdened with thoughts of what the universe had to go through to bring about this existence. Pulling together matter's building blocks out of pure energy. Out of nothingness and chaos. And now a mind that doubts the reality of that existence. Or perhaps the meaning behind it. Been quite a while since the last of these existential anxiety attacks. Where was it? In another foreign country? No, it was back home. In an old room infested by dog ticks. Hundreds of them, crawling on the wall. And under the mat, the thin mattress, the sheets, the pillow. Surrounded by shelves overflowing with books. Music piercing the thick silence of the night. Blocking lonely thoughts for a few seconds at a time. A small electric fan nearby to cool the body and soothe the bites -- the hardening, poisoned layers of skin -- from those pesky little creatures. Making life bearable. Wondering now if everything is just a conjured reality. Like John Irving's story about Thomas Mann's daughter and her dog who plays the piano with its nose. Which is more real -- that drab empty tale of suffering, or this fantastic experience of restlessness that now unfolds in such an elegant room? With its centrally monitored and controlled air conditioning system and cable television. Clean, comfortable bed. Wonderful bathroom. What brought this body to such a place? What decisions and actions, what circumstances and coincidences have led to this crazy turn of fate? Maybe it has to do with aging -- the onset of a mid-life crisis or something. Or, it's probably just fatigue and lack of sleep. Dinner? This pain behind the neck and shoulders. That piece of information from Irving, about Mann's descendant teaching political science at Dalhousie University where a consultant from another project -- another life -- also worked. A connection that really doesn't make sense. Except for those flimsy meanings that the mind tries to create. Much like a universe that conjures energy and matter.