Category Archives: after Fulbright

Bromo Redux

Long time, no blog! I think I need to face the reality that my blog is now purely a travel blog…

This past week, I visited Bromo for the second time! I went a little over a year ago but didn’t bring my own camera or travel with anyone I knew. This time, I went with baby sis, Miss V, and Miss C (a PCV serving in the Malang Regency). We brought cameras.

If you’d like to refresh your memory of where/what Bromo is, exactly, feel free to read the intro to my first Bromo post. Basically, it’s a national park featuring several mountains and one very active volcano. One rents a jeep and driver and is driven around the park (the main stop is hiking up to see the crater). The park is east of where I live. It is magical; mountaintops at dawn are just magical, and being up so high in the clouds is magical. Stars are magical. Anyway, pictures speak louder than words, and I’m about to fall asleep.

Enjoy!

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Finally… Madura!

A very short intro:

Vriz and I took a trip to Madura to celebrate the wedding of our friend and colleague, Faiz, a Sumenep native. We traveled to Surabaya for a night to visit her family, went to Sumenep after that for a day tour and night layover, ventured to the tiny island of Giliyang for a day and night, and finally zipped back to Sumenep for the wedding the next day. We took the night bus back to Malang after the reception. 🙂

Please enjoy these pictures, especially those of people– not just us, but the lovely people we met along the way!! I realize more and more as I travel and look back on my pictures (and get older, gulp) how much more important pictures of people doing and enjoying things are than pictures of what we see in nature or in our surroundings. I hope you like these as much as I do! So much for that daily blog, huh? Travel blog, anyone?? FINALLY, after nearly four years in East Java, I MADE IT TO MADURA!! 🙂

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Malang is the lowest here, Sumenep is in the center (upper right), and the tiny Giliyang is the farthest east.

Here are the photos! Very short stories, tidbits of info, and general thoughts are in the captions.

#Magicalmystical

Where would I be without Magical Vriz? Crazytown. My house is almost ready, and I can’t wait to post pics.

Let’s talk about body adaptation processes in the tropics. First, your bowel movements stop and/or speed up exponentially. Then, you’re just extra sweaty all the time forever. Clogged pores. My period this month (started yesterday) is just whacko–probably from moving back to the tropics, might be the nearly full moon, too. Good stuff? Basically immediately healthier skin and nails. Bye-bye, hangnails! Hair would be healthier if it weren’t for the chemically shampoos. Teeth are immediately dirtier because of disrupted flossing routine. (Okay, that’s probably just my own damn fault).

Can I just say, Miss V helped me get my salt lamp situated. I carried this beautiful 10-pound Himalayan salt lamp all the way from the US (checked for security purposes at Detroit and in Jakarta, pulled all the way out my damn bag), and after five minutes of being plugged in last week, the little lightbulb shorted out. Great! V bought me a replacement today, and I’m on cloud nine. She thinks I’m quite loony. Well, I am. But I need my therapeutic techniques for dealing with life on top of all the physical stresses of moving back to tropics-land!

Stare at the salt lamp. Work on my coloring. Keep blogging. Hang out with friends, in person and virtually. Get back into the workout routine. It’s hard transitioning back– feelings of guilt over leaving people behind, anxieties about finishing my research project and getting into the swing of work, jumping right into a whole mess of new things effectively immediately after getting off the plane… I’m so lucky to have such a strong support network here and to have been stubborn enough to bring my ‘silly little things’… essential oils, knitting supplies (most of which I probably won’t use), my banjo, my salt lamp, my special Mason jar, my dang French press (which made it, by the way– didn’t break!). The essentials, you know?

I’m glad I’m not as stubborn about “going without” as I used to be. Life can be very comfortable here.

 The Spiritual Practice of Menstruation: There is so much more to the menstrual cycle than the biology lesson given to explain it, in the same way that there is so much more to sex and childbirth than the mechanics. The menstrual cycle is a cycle to base your life around, in fact your life is based around your menstrual cycle whether you realise it or not, whether you pay attention to it or not. There is magic inherent in the menstrual cycle. Each cycle provides a woman with the opportunity to understand and read the messages her body gives her for any specific healing she needs. Each cycle creates the opportunity for as much spiritual growth and personal development that she could want. Before electricity, women ovulated when the moon was full, and bled when the moon was dark. The pineal gland in our brain sends messages to our ovary, by hormones, to release an egg based on the amount of light our brain senses in the night when we are asleep. At the point of most light in the night, the full moon, we are programmed to ovulate. Ovulating at the full moon means we bleed at the dark of the moon, the time when the energy is more inwardly focused anyway. The average menstrual cycle is the same as the lunation cycle 28 days. Not only are we meant to be synchronised with the moon phases, we are also meant to be synchronised with each other. If you know where you are in your cycle you can much more easily ‘go with the flow’ so to speak. You could even manage your life around it. Start new projects in the first and second week of your cycle. Express your creative urges. Have parties when you’re ovulating, finish off things in your third week. Stay home, and be on retreat when you’re bleeding. In this way you’ll actually be looking forward to your blood coming, and be ready ‘to let go’. The mysteries of the women’s blood by moonsong.com.au #women #power #sacred #feminine #yin #spiritual #wombman #shaman #mystic #menstruation #magic #embrace #blood #mystery #moon #cycle #weareone

A photo posted by Mystic Rebelle (@mysticrebelle) on Sep 11, 2015 at 1:01pm PDT

Campur-campur (All Mixed Up)

So many emotions today!

First off, I got into the house I’ll be renting for the next year. It is still quite disheveled and empty; this week is going to be hectic as I start working and try to organize things. It’s making me feel a little nuts, but there’s already a light at the end of the tunnel. We worked out water and locks today and bought some shelves. Just a little ways to go: buy a stove top and bed, clean things up, and then I must unpack. I have lovely neighbors. Really cute ladies with even cuter kids and husbands who fix the pipes of my house. Ha!

Second, culture shock! It always happens. Lost my cool at about 5:30 pm today. A lot goes on: switching back to bahasa for most of the day (mental exhaustion), readjusting physically to foods/heat, being back in center-of-attention land, not yet being able to be independent (housing and transportation not yet settled), etc.

Third, gratitude. I’m so excited to see friends and to be starting my jobs. I’m glad I’ve got a good support network at home and here to help me. So glad I made the choice to push myself out of my comfort zone and try this on my own. Glad for connections old and new, devoted love and caring, kind attention, and technology that lets me get in touch with everyone in a heartbeat.

Feeling super groggy and exhausted; tomorrow’s a house-organizing and workday (lesson planning and tutoring). Still feeling pretty good about a daily post. A photo of me and my favorite new neighbor ladies!

Love,
Sam

PS: Meaty thought of the day: code-switching for cross-cultural integration/harmony (assimilation? adaptation?) purposes is an act of giving, which means there’s nothing wrong with taking time out for self-care, rebooting the system, re-charging the battery, whatever. We make the choice to be responsive and reflective, reactive and attentive, patient and respectful, open-minded and open-eyed. It takes energy, and it can take a lot out of us. What it gives us in return helps make it worth it.

Difficulty at the beginning works supreme success. –I Ching (Book of Changes) 

Weekly post? Daily post?

I wonder if I could pull off a daily post. I’d really like to stop making blogging a big deal– generally I let things pile up and up, and then the posts get unmanageable for me to write (and I assume that much more difficult to read / get through). Let’s try posting daily for a while! Little blurbies!

It’s my second full day back in Indonesia, and I think I’m finally over the jetlag. I fell asleep last night at about 7 pm and woke up promptly at 1:41 am, certain I’d not get back to sleep…but I did, thankfully! Slept until about 7 am and now figure that should do me.

Mixed emotions about leaving the US, but no mixed feelings about being back here. I’m glad to be back. The first thing that always hits me when I get somewhere new or go back to somewhere I’ve been before is the smell; the US smells a certain way, and Indonesia (or Java, anyways) smells a certain way. Here it’s sweat, heat, bodies, something spicy–spice-y–, and of course exhaust fumes. Something smoky, in the sense of both foods and motors, decidedly sweet and mysterious. There’s a thickness to the air that we don’t have in our part of the world, and it’s not just the humidity: jungles and so many green plants, the density of the people, the energy and fragrance of human activity (motoring around, cooking, laughing and relaxing). There are a lot of memories that come up when the smell hits me, the slowness of days being the primary one. I just don’t feel as tense. It’s as if the emotions and feelings themselves have a smell, even though certainly the smell evokes them; they’re just too close to separate. Olfaction!

Full days start again soon: next week I start both of my new jobs and continue my Indonesian studies. I need to organize my house and get unpacked. Lots to do, but things should settle down in a couple of weeks. I’ll try to do a short daily post, and we’ll see what happens.

Midsummer dreams!

Of course, I’d never want do anything to jinx myself, but I decided to post a little update since I’m currently halfway through my summer break and planning to head back to Malang in a little over a month. So exciting!! I’ve got a lot of tasks to complete before I take off on September 14th, not the least of which is organizing my visa details. 

I’ve been working on a few exciting things lately, and I can’t express how much I’m looking forward to the next year or two of working and enjoying my travels! If you’re reading this and you know me, you probably remember what a huge struggle it was for me to decide to postpone my enrollment in graduate school. I had planned last year to begin this fall, and in January/February of this year I decided it just wasn’t the right step for me. It was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but I feel more vindicated than ever that it was the right one, and it’s my current excitement for the future that’s fueling the fire!

Here’s my basic work plan: I’ve been hired to do some online writing tutoring, I’ll be studying Indonesian at my host university (and if you’d like to talk to me about what that means, please let me know and I will email you!), and I’ll hopefully be doing some additional tutoring. It has been a total blessing to get this online job since it fits my work experience, keeps me teaching in some capacity, and pays well by US standards. I’ll be working part time hours. I have been going through the training program for the past couple of weeks, and honestly I’ve been learning so much about how to be a better tutor. It has been most validating and inspiring. It’s my first time doing online/remote work, and it makes me so happy and relieved to know that wherever I go in the next couple of years I’ll at least have that to focus on and use to support myself. Nothing to motivate you to do well at a job than financial necessity, huh?

Yep, it’s been on my mind: I’m moving to Indonesia for the first time on my own funds! Magical opportunity! This is going to be yet again a totally new experience of life over there, and I’m super into the idea of trying things from all different angles and through all sorts of programs/means. Constantly being pushed out of my comfort zone and required to be scrappy and resourceful, feeling like an adult for the first time in a long time rather than an eternal adolescent doing school and getting my hand held. I mean, there’s something great to be said about being taken care of by the federal government, but I know I’m going to learn and experience a lot more by doing it all myself. Empowerment!!!

One of the most exciting things I have going on is my housing situation. It is pleasing me on several levels. First, the simple fact that I enjoy my own space and haven’t lived alone since 2009. Secondly, I get to live in a house abroad and pay less than what most people pay per month for their mortgage for two years’ rent.* I tell you this not to brag but rather to entice you to join me. 😉 Thirdly, the most exciting thing is just that the house is so dern cute! I have some pics of the outside and expect to receive inside pics sometime in the next couple of weeks. Here they are, not great but it’s something.

There’s a front porch area, and I’m going to get plants that stay alive. Mark my words! It has a little living room, one bathroom, a bedroom that’s apparently proportionally large compared to the rest of the place, and a kitchenette. There’s room for a motorcycle, and it’s about half an hour from campus (worth the drive time considering the price, and I won’t be on campus everyday). I’m just tickled. Can’t wait to get in there and get settled! 

So that’s all from me for now! Just a little update. Lots of fun to look forward to, and lots of magical and wondrous times ahead with friends and family Stateside during the next five weeks… will post about that stuff later!
Sammy

*Signing a two-year lease was part of the “deal,” and I don’t have a time frame except roughly 1-2 years more in Malang. Still. We found a cheap house even by Malang standards, and paying the 2 year rate for 1 year would have even been a bargain. #Vforthewin.