This website is not an official U.S. Department of State website. The views and information presented are the English Language Fellow's own and do not represent the English Language Fellow Program, Georgetown University, or the U.S. Department of State.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Left, right, and left again...

So, nothing like a little scare to get me to write another blog post.  While being one of the things on my uber list of things to do in 2012, I still haven’t really been that much better at it, have I?  I still blame lack of internet.  (Some of you will disagree with this, since you see me on Facebook all the time, but it’s practically the only thing that will load on my smartphone.)

So, just now, on my way to school (on a holiday, no less – I hate teaching writing classes).   I kinda caused an accident.  But not really.  Hold that thought though, because I’m gonna come back to it.
When I was little, I used to visit my grandparents in Ireland.  It was pretty awesome to say the least.  This was a long time ago though, back when there weren’t the major huge motorways that there are today.  Everything was windy, and twisty, and people still sped down the streets.  My grandpa used to scare the bejesus out of me.  When I was older, and my grandparents were in the States, I didn’t have much occasion to drive with them.  However, the last time I visited my grandpa in New Mexico before he died, he scared the bejesus out of me again.  We were stopped at a crossroads, wanting to take a left onto a busy street from a relatively small one.  Without caring that there was traffic on the busy road, my grandpa just pulled out to take that left.  Horns blared, a car swerved a little, I probably swore, and my grandpa got angry. 

Why did he get angry, when it was so obviously his fault?  Well, because he didn’t think it was.  “That other guy saw me pulling out.  He should have slowed down and let me in.”  “Um, Grandpa.  That’s not really how right of way works.  You are supposed to wait until there’s enough time for you to pull out so no one really has to slow down.”  I remember thinking how crazy my grandpa was, and how I needed to figure out a way for me to be behind the wheel for the rest of the visit.

Why do I tell you this story?  Well, because now I feel a little guilty.  Living in a lot of different places over my life, I like to think that I am open to new and different cultures.  I think I realize now, that that’s probably how my grandpa always drove, because that’s how people used to drive in Ireland.  Why to I think this now?  Well, because that’s how people drive in Indonesia.  Always.
One of the best and worst things about living in Indonesia is the traffic or basic rules of the road (or lack thereof).  To get to school each day in a car takes almost 50 minutes with the traffic.  On my motorcycle, it takes about 20.  That is a HUGE difference.  Why?  Because motorcycles don’t follow traffic lane rules.  Ever.  In fact, at the beginning of last year, when I actually tried to, the cars would get so mad at me for taking up “their” space, that I just gave up, and rode in between and around them like every other motorcyclist.  This means I rarely ever have to sit through more than one stoplight, unlike cars.  Hence, the quicker travel times. 

Another thing about Indonesian drivers of all kinds, motor and car, is that they do not look for traffic when merging.  They will pull right out into the street.  It’s your job to pay attention and get out of their way.  Just like my grandpa.  I kinda wonder how people who move to the US adapt to the differences in something as subtle as driving.  My grandpa obviously didn’t really adapt very well.  However, I never see more than 2 people riding on a motorcycle in the States, so that’s one thing that people seem to do without rather quickly. 

Motorcycles here can go anywhere too.  Sidewalks?  No problem.  Wrong way down one way streets?  Who cares, as long as you are staying towards the shoulder of the road?  Cutting across 2 lanes of traffic to make a turn?  No worries!

This is where my little problem today came into effect.  I was riding on a side street, heading to school.  Traffic here is Brit style, so I was on the left hand side of the road.  I turned on my signal, and edged towards the center of the road in preparation to make a right turn.  The guy behind me however decided I was going too slow for him, and promptly went to pass me on the right.  He realized at the last second that I was actually turning, just like my indicator said I was, slammed on his brakes, and completely wiped out. 

At first, I had no idea what happened.  I continued to pull into the driveway, and just stopped and threw my kickstand.  I wanted to know if he was OK.  He started yelling at me that it was my fault.  I look over at my bike, and my directional was still blinking.  Excuse me?  No way!  You are not blaming this on me!  I was in the correct spot to turn right.  He had gone into the oncoming lane of traffic to try and pass me.  Horray of all horrays, there were like 6 people standing around, and they ALL came to my defense, saying that he was stupid for trying to go around me on the right instead of the left, pointing to my still flashing bike, telling me it was OK, and to just get on my bike and go.  Don’t have to tell me twice.

Now, this is kinda similar to my accident, except I had a bus cut me off from the right lane of a double road, trying to make a left.  And it was raining, and he didn’t slow down, and he didn’t use his signal.  The women standing around came to my rescue that day too.  :D 

So, a nice blog post about traffic?  My motorcycle?  I don’t know…it seemed relevant at the time, and probably a good reason/excuse to put off that grading that I mentioned.  Ah, procrastination.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Safe Indonesia

So, I live in probably one of the safest places in Indonesia.  All of the terrible things that you think of just don't happen here.  No volcanic eruptions, no earthquakes, no tsunamis.  True, I live on the island that likes to decapitate people who they are having issue with, but come on, that was sooooooooooooo 1998.

I found out today, however, that I am not in the free and clear.  Last year, I was really lucky.  I experienced every Indonesia specific natural disaster that the country could throw at me, and everything was fine.  I felt my first major earthquake ( not actually my first).  It felt like my house was sitting on a pile of jello for about a minute.  Since it happened out in the ocean, no one was hurt or injured, and there was no threat of tsunami from it, now, it's just a cool memory.

Speaking of tsunami, Manado actually was hit after the horrible Janapese earthquake which happened almost exactly a year ago.  However, I was already up in the hills that day (actually looking out over the bay), and it ended up being only a few inches high.  Sounds silly now, but they never really know how strong they will be when they arrive in certain locations, and they had evacuated the downtown.  It was scary, regardless.

  Mt. Lokon went into high gear twice while I was there, pouring ash into the sky, and then actually erupting only 2 days after I flew home for the summer.
Mt. Lokon on a pretty day.
Close up of the daily steam that emits from the crater.
It is on the side of the mountain because that actually used to be the middle,
but some ancient huge explosion blew off that side of the volcano.
 The last natural disaster I faced was a landslide.  Trying to get to town one day, traffic was really backed up. Turns out the road had been covered by mud during the night because of a "small" landslide.  NBD.  Crews had already cleared one side of the road.

However, I had forgotten about this natural disaster.  Turns out, there's a lot in Borneo.  After about 2 hours of pouring rain last night, one occurred up in the hills above my house sweeping away all the power lines.

This does not bode well for my food in the fridge.  :/

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Yeah, I stink at blogging

A lot of you who know me realize I'm a pretty negative person a lot of the time.  I am fiercely loyal to my friends, and I genuinely think I'm a pretty OK human being, but I really love to complain.  Like, a lot.  It's a gift/hobby/curse.

So, that's one of the reasons I haven't been blogging a lot (a 2nd one is that I've had some scary health issues,  and a 3rd one is a almost complete lack of even mediocre speed internet access).  I don't want to sound like a negative Nelly all the time.  I read my friend's blogs, and they are always so awesome.  Funny, loving accounts of the land in which we temporarily live.  I want to be like that.  Mostly, because I really like it here in general.  I have a good job, which I am thankful for every single minute of every single day.  I am sad that I'm not one of the lucky few that gets to stay a 3rd year.  I really love this work. Every time I participate in a workshop, I am reminded of why I love to be a teacher.  Every time I see that light on a student's face when they really get something, I am reminded of why I love to be a teacher.  However, I usually feel the urge to write down things when I've had culturally interesting moments.  Those usually come out sounding a wee bit negative.  I got in trouble for that last year.  I don't want that to happen again.  :D  So, in the spirit of change and a new year, here goes nothing.

I have a pretty awesome friend here, Tabitha (one of many, don't get your panties all up in a bunch).  I'm sad she wasn't around last year, so that I could have spent 2 years with her in Indonesia, but that is neither here nor there.  Tabitha has introduced me to this terrific concept, the UBERLIST.  She had a list of 111 things she wanted to do/work on in 2011.  She has done another one for 2012.  I have shamelessly copied this idea.  So here you go...my list for 2012. Yes, I know it's Feb. 8th, but I was gone on vacation at the beginning of the year, then a frantic week of final exams, and then another break (I know, my life is tres hard).  Who wants to start work on things like "being healthy" and "professional" when they are on vacation?  Not me.  Call me selfish.  :D  So yeah, here's my list of things that I would like to take care of in the next slightly less than 11 months.  Some of them are specific, some vague.   Some kinda overlap sections.  Some contain multiple items.  Some involve the word, "more" which won't be difficult, because even 1 is always more than 0.  Some others use less, such as #81.  This is my first effort.  If you will notice # 73...case in point.

My 112 Uberlist of 2012
1.       ___ Get computer sorted 
2.      ___ Purge “teacher” Facebook account
3.      ___ Purge “normal” Facebook account
4.      ___ Back up files to hard drive more often
5.      ___ Clean up hard drive to delete copious  amounts of duplicate files
6.      ___ Get Photoshop on computer again
7.      ___ Update Sony E Reader (fix books)
8.      ___ Fix iPod issues
9.      ___ Join Audible
10.    ___ Finish pink & grey baby blanket
11.    ___ Finish Dr. Who scarf
12.    ___ Frame batik panels bought in Indonesia
13.    ___ Frame favorite photos and hang on walls
14.    ___ Clean up underwater photos using Photoshop
15.    ___ Stop spending so much money on food and drinks
16.    ___ Place part of each paycheck into saving account
17.    ___ Read some more of the Bible
18.    ___ Learn more about other religions
19.    ___ Go to church more than just Easter and Christmas
20.   ___ Work on better relationships with friends
21.    ___ Learn to have more fun with people that are actually my age
22.   ___ Write reports up in a WAY more timely manner
23.   ___ Stop living vicariously through others on Facebook.
24.   ___ Update TEFL 1 with a curriculum map
25.   ___ Update Writing II with a curriculum map
26.   ___ Practice what I preach with lesson planning
27.   ___ Grade my students stuff in a timely manner
28.   ___ Do a better job teaching Conversation class
29.   ___ Do at least 1 lecture for students  at UNMUL
30.   ___ Start an English book club for students and have regular meetings
31.    ___ Do at least 1 lecture for teachers  at UNMUL
32.   ___ Do at least 1 outside workshop
33.   ___ Do a collaboration with Kalimantan people
34.   ___ Do another collaboration with Muluku ETA’s
35.   ___ Do another program at American corner
36.   ___ Figure out a job(s) for after Indonesia

37.   ___ Learn one (easy) song on the guitar
38.   ___ Take better advantage of the fact that I own a piano
39.   ___ Move my old CD’s to my iPod
40.   ___ “Borrow” more good music from my friends
41.    ___ See The Break in concert again
42.   ___ Go to at least 5 concerts/shows
___ ___ ___ ___ ___

43.   ___ Learn about more obscure countries
44.   ___ Update General Science knowledge
45.   ___ Update General language knowledge of Spanish and French
                  ___ ___
46.   ___ Study Indonesian every week
47.   ___ Read an intermediate level book in Spanish
48.   ___ Read Don Quixote in antiquated Spanish (Aunt Jean’s present to me)

49.   ___ Obtain a healthier weight
50.   ___ Enroll in health insurance after Indonesia
51.    ___ Re-enroll in DAN diving insurance
52.   ___ Avoid overeating to the point of discomfort
53.   ___ Take vitamins more regularly
54.   ___ Work on calcium levels
55.   ___ Work on “head”
56.   ___ Floss more
57.   ___ Visit dentist
58.   ___ Visit general doctor
59.   ___ Visit chiropractor
60.   ___ Find affordable place to get regular massages

61.    ___ Go to the gym more often
62.   ___ Swim laps on a semi-regular basis
63.   ___ Return to 2x daily core exercises
64.   ___ Work on PT for knee

65.   ___ Throw disc more often
66.   ___ Play in an ultimate tournament
67.   ___ Get re-breather certified
68.   ___ Get wreck certified
69.   ___ Get dry suit certified
70.   ___ Get altitude certified
71.    ___ Go diving in Lake Michigan
72.   ___ Go diving in Colorado

73.   ___ Write some more blog posts
74.   ___ Update positive things on Facebook
75.   ___ Check up on former students
76.   ___ Turn 37 without complaining out loud too much
77.   ___ Get new camera with all the fixings
78.   ___ Learn how to use said camera
79.   ___ Get on an APA team again
80.   ___ Try to smile about something at least once a day
81.    ___ Work on complaining about things less, and being a more positive person in general

82.   ___ Visit Grandma
83.   ___ Visit Jimmy and Eileen with Dad
84.   ___ Watch Sean and Tracey get married
85.   ___ Hang out with my brother Matt
86.   ___ Visit California
87.   ___ Visit Colorado
88.   ___ Visit Boston
89.   ___ Visit friends with kids more often
90.   ___ Offer to babysit more often
91.    ___ Write postcards to people

92.   ___ Go on an orangutan “cruise”
93.   ___ Go to Lombok and Gili’s
94.   ___ Get to Papua
95.   ___ Visit Timor
96.   ___ Visit Palembang
97.   ___ Visit Pontianak
98.   ___ Visit Switzerland
99.   ___ Visit Borobudur
100. ___ Go back to Ireland
101. ___ Go back to Muluku
102. ___ Go back to Singapore
103. ___ Go back to KL
104. ___ Go back to Ireland
105. ___ Go on a girl’s trip with Wanda

106. ___ Watch all the films nominated for best Oscar
107. ___ Watch the films starring the people nominated for Best Actress and Actor
108. ___ Eat frosting out of a bowl with a spoon
109. ___ Eat my first burger at Kuma’s
110. ___ Go out dancing with friends
111.  ___ Go to a football game in Indonesia & Ireland, and a Sox, Hawks, Bears & Fire game in Chicago
                         ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ 
112. ___ Write Uberlist 2013

So, that's it with this post.  No pictures. no real stories, just an update.  Hope I didn't bore you.  Hope you're happy to hear from me.  I'm happy to let you all know I'm still alive.  I am smiling at the thought (awesome #80!).  

Oh, and I lied, here is a photo.  Guess what?!?  My arm didn't fall off from gangrene due to my motorcycle accident.  Double bonus for today!  

Hey, I lied again, because I've been waiting over 20 minutes for the stupid photo to load on my computer screen, but it just won't.  Oh well.  Still smiling that my arm didn't fall off.  You'll just have to trust me.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Year 2

So last year I got scared away from typing in a blog.  This year I just never got around to starting it back up again.  If you know me, you know that I can at times be kinda critical, and kinda negative.  I don't want that vibe to be pervasive in my life, so I just stopped writing.

My new goal is to just be a more positive person.  I hope to write about that here.

I will still try to be funny though.

So, as time progresses, I will go back and talk about some of the awesome things that have happened so far this year.  Hopefully I'll post the first one later tonight.  Otherwise, enjoy some of my old negativeness in the meantime.


Eat Pray Love

This is a snippet I never finished of a post from last year, but I don't feel like deleting it, so I'll just leave it half done.... enjoy it (kinda).
So forgive me, this may be all over the place.

I like to go to movies here where I live.  Since I moved to my awesome house, I have consistent access to both an internet cafe and a movie theatre.  This theatre is $2.50 for a movie and another $3.50 if I want to add a coke and a large popcorn.  And before you judge about my large popcorn, it's Indonesian large, which just like their clothing, is really American XS.

Anyway, whenever I come to the mall to use the internet, I usually just run upstairs to see what's playing if I don't have anything really really pressing to do.  Low and behold, for some reason, today Eat, Pray, Love was listed.  This in itself it a little strange since it's so old, and the movie here are usually relatively new.  I still had not seen this movie.  I had heard a lot about both the movie and the book.  I have to say I was pre-biased against it for a couple of reasons.  First, I respect my friend's opinions, and the vast majority of them hated it.  Secondly, this movie has a lot to do with why I don't think Ubud in Bali is as cool as it used to be (everyone wants to find themselves/their own version of Mr. Penelope Cruz).  Lastly, I'm just never sure if I really like Julia Roberts in anything.

So, I was all set to hate this movie.  (This will tell you a little about my life here...that I'm perfectly willing to go watch a movie for 2 hours, that I fully expect to hate.)  I pretty much did hate it.  I felt a little weird afterwards though.  Well, I have been feeling pretty weird a lot lately.

I'm 35.  I tell people all the time that I don't really know what happened to the years 23 until now.  It's not like the time flew by or anything, there just weren't any particular milestones that stand out as time passed.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Kids say the darndest things.

This is a post from last year ... around March specifically.

There is pretty much only one thing that really, and I mean REALLY bothers me while I've been living here.

Let's stop with that for a moment though, and go back to it later.  Things have been pretty OK lately.  I know it's more than half of the time that I'll be here gone, but in reality, it's really just over 60/40.  Feels more like I only have 1 month left though.  I'm pretty much loving my life.  I have a sweet teaching schedule, and my kids worship the ground I walk on.  I mean, come on, who doesn't like a little hero worship every once in a while to to feel good about themselves, especially when living on your own abroad?

I get to dive a lot.  Like, a lot a lot.  I really like it.  It is a nice "world" to belong to.  Besides the crappy vibe at the dive resort on Pulau Weh, every other place I've been, and person I've met has been pretty awesome.  It's like an Ultimate Frisbee community, but in the water.  Age, social status, don't really matter.  Just a love of the same thing.

Getting back to loving my life. It's paradise here.  I live near the coast on a tropical island.  It's gorgeous.  I have the absolute best house in the entire country (my humble opinion).  I have a cool motorcycle.  I have some cool new friends that are ALMOST my age.  Or, they are the age I forget that I'm not anymore.  It's sunny almost every day.  It also rains almost every day.  It's lush and beautiful.  It's hilly, and the roads are curvy.  I have the most beautiful commute in the world, I think.  It's about an hour.  But instead of sitting on the Kennedy in gridlock, I can just look out the window and smile.  The taxi drivers think I'm strange, because I'm evidently the only foreigner that doesn't insist on having the windows closed and the AC on.  If it isn't pouring on me, I'm happy with the breeze.  Or, I can pop in my Learning Indonesian lessons on my iPod, and try and be studious.  Usually it's just music though, to relax.  You know, from my horribly stressful life.

So, it was on a day like this, during my gorgeous commute, when I was reminded yet again about the one thing I TRULY don't like here.  Kids pointing at me and calling me "bule".

Well, first of all, kids aren't my favorite things in the whole world to begin with.  Yeah, I think the fact that I reference them as "things" in the previous sentence is a telling sign.  There is a very definite reason that the youngest people I have ever taught were 13.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not a callous heartless witch of a person, and my cousins and friends who have kids have the sweetest babies in the world, and I love to hold them, and coo at them, and basically make myself into a completely different person while I am around them....but then they leave.  Which is fine by me.  Nor am I saying that I NEVER want kids.  I mean, who would I be to argue with a gorgeous 6 foot something guy wanting to procreate with me and make an absolutely adorable baby?  Um, yes please!  We never know what the future brings, right?

Anyway, sorry, that was a tangent.  Plus, the previous paragraph was more about babies than kids.

Specifically this post is more about Indonesian kids about 7-10 years.  It happens all the time.  I'll just be minding my own business, bothering no one, and I'll pass a group of the above mentioned kids.  One will point towards me (isn't it supposed to be rude to point in this culture anyway?) and shout, "bule!" at me to their friends.  This is roughly translated as "outsider" or "foreigner" and is not in itself a bad word or anything like that.  This is not accompanied by a smile on their face, however.  Usually it's with some sort of snarl, and then cruel laughter shared by the group.  It's just so strange, because it's so out of character for every other part of this country.  Everyone is SO NICE at like, all times.  It's like a slap in the face when this happens to me.  Now I have started saying back to them in my best Indonesian accent, that, "I'm not a bule, I'm an Indonesian person."  This usually makes the kids stare (and become slightly ashamed, at least I hope they are slightly ashamed) and the the taxi driver roar with laughter.  This then makes me feel infinitely better.  I mean, at least when that happens, I am TRYING to be entertaining.  :)

It also sometimes happens a little differently with younger kids who are with parents.  They see me, and then turn to their adult, and say something that I'm assuming is, "Look mama, there's a bule!"  This is usually also followed by laughter, but not meanly.  I know it's a culture thing.  In America, I think you'd be hard pressed to find 2 people that have exactly the same skin color, but you would here too.  I just don't understand why a parent would think it's OK for their child to basically point at someone and say, "DIFFERENT!"  Call me crazy.

This is my 4th trip to Asia.  I am white.  No matter how tan I get here, and the fact that my hair really is dark brown, my nose will still be different.  I don't have a problem with that.  I don't have a problem with people always stopping me and wanting to take a picture with me.  I am still a novelty.  It is sometimes fun to be a mini celebrity.  This is all ok.

The rude little kids though, are not my cup of tea.  So, that's my gripe for today, and what really grinds my gears.  Am I being petty and oversensitive, probably.  Most likely, actually.  But, I think that in the grand scheme of things, after 6 months of living here, if this is the one thing I focus my dislike on, I think that's OK.  If not, fine.  I am a bad person, and all that.  They are kids, they don't know any better, blah blah blah.  Sue me.  ;)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I'm NOT dead, I promise!

So I've had a broken computer, a 3 day long conference, and numerous issues with my housing.  now I have another workshop, 3 days of SCUBA diving, a new issue with my housing, and still no working computer. 

So long story short, I am far from Mt. Merapi, and I am OK, but I won't be updating until I can get a home, internet access, and well, a computer again.

Miss you guys!!!!!