Category Archives: Malang

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!

#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

And now… more words!

A few things I didn’t get to say about the Idul Adha festivities yesterday…

I was texting about witnessing animal sacrifice with a few different people–Kate and Sarah Kate and one of the new Fulbright English Teaching Assistants.^ I find it strange that after over a decade of vegetarianism and pretty intense concern for animal welfare that I’m obsessed with going to witness the slaughter every year when Idul Adha comes around. I can’t not go see it, and I always take a bunch of pictures and get real up close and personal with the “gore”… without even flinching. I guess it just surprises me that it doesn’t shock me more?

There’s something beautiful about watching people watch what happens on Idul Adha. It’s not like all Javanese people are always respectful* of the animals all the time, by any means–I’ve seen people playing around with decapitated animal heads and making what I experience as inappropriate jokes considering a life was just taken–but it’s easy to respect the fact that they’re fully aware of and willing to witness what happens to animals when they become human food. I think being up close to it on a regular basis desensitizes people in some ways, and even though keeping an extreme distance from it as most Americans do ultimately serves the same purpose it seems somehow more ethical to face reality rather than avoid it. It’s nice to watch people be willing to at least recognize and acknowledge what happens.

I used to make myself feel guilty for being kind of obsessed with documenting and witnessing animal slaughter, like wow, that’s so gruesome and violent–why are you so into this? What sort of dark side of yourself is coming out here? I’ve come to the conclusion, though, that what attracts me to it is the ritual of it all and something more, well, what I called “basic instinct” when chatting with Kate and SK. It’s fascinating not because it’s violent but because it’s just… natural. Killing is just as much a part of life as dying and death are; as part of a complex system of predators and prey, the concepts of killing / being killed are ingrained somewhere deep within us and always were since before we could know of them. And I don’t think I can understand what pulls me to witness only by examining the thoughts that run through my head. It’s not (only) a gruesome fascination or an expression of the human proclivity for violence but must also be something more biological and instinctual; my body wants to know. Visceral: relating to deep inward feelings rather than to the intellect.

I can’t decide if I’m stating the obvious or actually getting onto something good. Maybe it’s time to rest for tonight… maybe more in the future on this topic.

Sam

^There are two in Malang! Hope to meet them soon!
*Of course, the process for and concept of showing respect varies from culture to culture… I think Americans tend to respect animals because they anthropomorphize them (and this habit can be traced to our affinity for keeping housepets), which is different from showing respect by using the whole body of the animal (if not “treating it right” as an American might think an animal corpse should be treated).

Eid al-Adha 2015

From BBC.co.uk because I’m lazy and have already written about this:

This is a four-day public holiday in Muslim countries.

The festival remembers the prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son when God ordered him to.

Ibrahim’s sacrifice

God appeared in a dream to Ibrahim and told him to sacrifice his son Isma’il. Ibrahim and Isma’il set off to Mina for the sacrifice.

As they went, the devil attempted to persuade Ibrahim to disobey God and not to sacrifice his beloved son. But Ibrahim stayed true to God, and drove the devil away.

As Ibrahim prepared to kill his son God stopped him and gave him a sheep to sacrifice instead.

Celebrations

Ibrahim’s complete obedience to the will of God is celebrated by Muslims each year.

Each Muslim, as they celebrate, reminds themselves of their own submission to God, and their own willingness to sacrifice anything to God’s wishes.

During the festival Muslims who can afford to, sacrifice domestic animals, usually sheep, as a symbol of Ibraham’s sacrifice. 

The meat is distributed among family, friends and the poor, who each get a third share.

As with all festivals there are prayers and also presents.

(This was my first attempt at uploading and posting a video. I’m going to try and do more–more in general and more of better quality.)

Home?

“And remember, too, you can stay at home, safe in the familiar illusion of certainty. Do not set out without realizing that ‘the way is not without danger. Everything good is costly, and the development of the personality is one of the most costly of all things.’ It will cost you your innocence, your illusions, your certainty” (Kopp, 1976).

“Home,” of course, should actually be taken in both the literal and metaphorical senses. Getting yourself out of your comfort zone doesn’t really necessitate moving to Southeast Asia, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. So interesting to me, too, how much the idea of getting on the path means letting go of some innocence: if my path is self-discovery or self-realization (whatever that even means) through the emotional and spiritual journeys that started in my young adulthood, there’s no question whether a loss of innocence occurred. Mostly here I’m thinking about the loss of idealism I experienced during Peace Corps. It’s easier, in many ways, to be more at home in idealism than in realism. The cost is, arguably, a jolt to one’s own sense of meaningfulness and importance, but what’s gained, maybe, is maturity and vision (in the sense of perspective). Not that I’m mature and understand much, though.

I’m very tired today. We’ve been fixing up the house and organizing things. I think I’ll be able to start living there at the end of the week… and I decided today that I’ve got to throw myself a housewarming party. I think I’ll make some pasta.

Tomorrow’s the start of the semester, both at UMM and with the online tutoring gig I’ve got going on. It’s going to be a rough and exciting week, I think. Trying to hold on to Kate and SK’s optimism that once I establish the routines and get my home furnishings in order, everything else will fall into place.

What’s most exciting to me about this semester is that I’m “just” working! No hot and heavy academia stuff (though I’ve got some goals for myself on that front regardless), just focusing on tasks, teaching, and bringing home the bacon. It feels good to have what feels to be a lighter load; I think it seems “easier” to me since I’m not putting any intense pressure on myself, or at least not pressuring myself in the same insane way I do when I’m doing academic work. I’m in a magical place of feeling very competent and confident in my ability to do what needs to be done and not having to constantly judge myself or worry that everyone is thinking poorly of me. So, really, I’m back in a comfort zone, then, aren’t I? But maybe not; “just” working and seeing where it takes me, going out into the world without much of a concrete plan, and allow myself the luxury of doing things slowly and focusing on pleasure, achievable tasks, and mental health (self-care!) aren’t things I normally do so much… to my own detriment, I think.

Well, my eyeballs are about to fall out of my head from tiredness. Three for three on the daily blogging thing! Feeling great about that! #babysteps

❤ Sam

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.