Thursday, June 30, 2011


A classic from my childhood that is proving useful once again.
As a toddler I had one of these toys. The ball pulls apart and all the pieces fall out.  There is a square, a triangle, an oval, a star, etc.  They only fit through the hole of the same shape. It's interesting to watch children play with these.  Many of the shapes they'll find the holes and push them through.  Occasionally there is a piece that the child is convinced that say, a star shape goes in a the triangle hole.  They push and bang on, trying to get the star in there. After carrying on for a few minutes the child realizes they are faced with a decision.  Carry on as they have been, find a different hole for their star piece, find a different piece for the triangle hole or go find an entirely different toy.  
I don't care what you say, loads of the pieces look the same!
I never had much patience for jigsaw puzzles.  Invariably there would be a piece or two that I swore fit and it didn't.  It would end up slightly smashed and I wouldn't notice it for a half and hour.  Between looking at the little pieces and not finding many that fit, I usually give up somewhere between the half hour and the hour mark.  These are both examples of things that don't fit.  A mis-fit if you will.  In the English language a misfit is a person who is not suited or is unable to adjust to the circumstances of his or her particular situation

When things in life don't fit it's not always immediately obvious.  Sometimes we carry on, banging things about, trying to adjust them so they will fit. A little grease, a little effort, no problem. One big difference with real life is that there are more than two parts to the equation.  Right man + wrong time = misfit. Wrong man + right time= misfit. It reminds me of the old proverb about being at the right place at the right time.  In my life there are no less than fifteen ingredients that make up the yes-fit or mis-fit equation.

Things have ended with BoT.  There were insurmountable odds what we were working against.  Bad schedules, miscommunications, work stress, friend's dramatic spillover, etc, etc. My inner optimist thought it would get better.  She had the crap beat out of her by his inner pessimist.  I know his version would be different.  He's entitled to that, but this isn't his blog.  After two weeks of ignorance (his word for when you ignore someone.  I've never used it that way until today) I knew it was coming. I've made peace with it and realize that all the parts of the equation weren't there.  I shed my tears for the good times that won't be had again.  For the butterflies I get when I see him.  For the possibility.  I shouted for the times he couldn't be asked to drop me a line.  To return the kindness and courtesy I'd shown him.  I drank because I cared about all of it more than he did, as he didn't care much at all. Best of all. . .  Now I go.  I'll be leaving in a week and a half for five weeks of vacation. I will submerse myself in new places and experiences. 
I hear the tailors in Vietnam are worth every penny.  I wonder if I can get a man tailored to fit me.  He doesn't have to be a perfect fit, but he should be close. Maybe with a little room in the shoulders.

Winding down

First semester ends in four days. Or after sixteen classes. Or in 34 hours. Or in 2,040 seconds (all assuming we don't get to leave early on the last day). Or not soon enough.
As a kid it never occurred to me that the teachers might be anxious for the break as well.  The teachers are probably more ready than the kids, especially Korean kids.  Most of them will spend most of their break in extra classes - violin, English, Mandarin, swimming, even math. I wouldn't look forward to break either if that was me.  A few will go back to South Korea.  There is a small group going to China, to visit another International Korean school, like an exchange program.  The vast majority will stay here, in their humdrum routine.
The kids have turned their brains off already.  The grade six students are the worst.  They had a big semester end test required for Korea - Achievement tests. Everything since then has been a struggle.  They know it's the end of term, they won't shut up or focus for even two minutes.  I go in to class in a good mood and it's fouled in about two minutes.  Coincidence? I think not.  We are permitted to show videos (educational or otherwise) but I can't, in good conscientious rationalize five sequential classes of videos.  I've shown two to two different classes so far this week and will have a couple next week as well.
It doesn't actually look this bad but sometimes it feels that way!
I've written before about the number of holidays we get and we had another one on Wednesday.  It was nice to break the week up but it meant that Monday and Tuesday we were all awaiting the day off. Today and tomorrow (Friday) we are awaiting the weekend.  It really is a pointless time of year.  The upside?  I'll have four hours free after my classes tomorrow with no correcting and no planning to do.  I'll read up on my holiday sites and blog away!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Friday sign off

It is now 1:37 on Friday and my overall reports are complete.  I did them by myself  (ok, in full disclosure, I did about 99% of the work). Linc taught me well last semester and it only took me two spreadsheets to finish the ridiculous totaling. (for more one those spreadsheets see  Last semester it was down to the wire, full on crunch time.  The official deadline for these isn't even until Monday!! I am convinced that Ben will have to add to some of his comments.  Mine are excellent and I proofed both of ours.  Big sigh of relief.  The rumor is that we won't have to do separate individual reports, all the information should be culled from the overall reports and automatically transferred.  I'll keep my fingers crossed but I won't hold my breath.

As a celebration, and in the spirit of taking new people to new places, I'll head to EP tonight with Carla and Jo and anyone else we can convince to go.  I deserve some free beer and shall procure it forsooth.

A couple of random notes before I launch into my regular weekend radio silence. I arrived at school on Monday to a full scale museum type set up in the hallways of the grade 1/2/4 hallway.  Most of the photos are something like this:

But there are a few (not one, a FEW) that look like these:

Those are dead bodies and what appear to be victims of a war/bombing. Appropriate for six year olds?? We need to teach kids about the true and ugly side of war, but in grade two? The opening was a big event, lots of dignitaries, a ribbon cutting, a TV camera and I have no idea what the significance is or why it's here, but as you know, that's the norm here.

I've been teaching as elective after school class twice a week called Reading Assistant.  It's a computer based program that reads to the kids then they record themselves reading.  The books/poems/songs get progressively more difficult and they get practice listening and speaking-the two tougher skills to work on in a foreign language. John is the co teacher for this.  There is on group of 22 students on Monday and Thursday; mostly grade three's with a few ones, two and fours thrown in.  The second group is Tuesday and Friday.  This group is only eight students.  They are a handful as they are all grades one and two. Most are low level and have a very short attention span. I have had moments with both classes when I was ready to bind a few select pupils to their chairs with duct tape.  I have also really enjoyed seeing them improve.  Their behavior, their attention, their navigation of the program and their English skills. I didn't know any of the grade ones, two or threes before this program and now I'm routinely greeted in the hall by kids I know from RA and from kids. One of the kids left this on the board yesterday.

Misspelled and in bad handwriting, but lovely.  3-2 refers to the students class.  Teachers are the biggest baddies until we are big pushovers.

Enjoy the weekend in every way possible!

Chuckling again

It's Thursday and I'm throwing caution to the wind.  My overall reports are going well.  I'm about 85-90% finished.  I say "I" and not "We" because my teaching partner is completely and utterly useless. Last semester the reports was much more difficult and complicated than any reports I've ever done.  I have streamlined my personal process and seem to be moving along swimmingly.  As my biggest complaint right now  (aside from my useless partner) is the recent uptick in mosquitoes buzzing around, I won't be complaining. To that end, I can squeeze another blog in today. It feels quite strange to be blogging from home though.

Here's the second installment of the chuckling slowly series.

I've been taking the bus at least once a week as you regular readers will know.  As I've started riding it more and more I have run into a few, um, nuances.  I am still the only one on the bus who ever has bare knees. Just mine.  On Tuesday I was waiting for a bus home from the radio show.  This is easily my least favorite ride of the week.  It's with the major of traffic going home at peak time.  This means waiting at least two buses to get on the third or fourth or fifth.  Two days ago my eyes were rolling and I found myself chuckling when two packed buses stopped to take on even more riders.  A third that wasn't even half full went flying by without even a thought to stop.  I finally smashed on to the fourth bus when everyone was smashed together.
The buses are more or less like this, but more Indonesian, and maybe slightly fuller.
There is lots of construction happening in Jakarta. On my route home there is what will be either a big office building or an apartment complex going up.  They've been working on it for months already and it's just a story above street level now.  A month or so ago the builders too a break from working on the foundation to construct a temporary, corrugated tin wall.  The funny part? They also look time to paint it in three wide horizontal bands, taking care to add flowers and spirals for decoration.
Last one for today. Jakarta is a developing country.  Many of the structures here are still shacks and lean to's along the sides of the road.  The "sidewalks" and I use the term loosely are paving stones at best, an assortment of concrete, gravel and dirt  in general.  That in mind, the people here spend a disordinate about of time sweeping.  On my way to work every morning I see no less than five people sweeping.  They sweep in front of their shops, homes, the street, etc. For a country that is perpetually dirty and polluted there is a lot of cleaning happening!
That bundle of grass she's holding? That's the broom that all the Indonesians on street level use.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Be a Sport!

Here's the detailed account of this years first Teacher's Sports Day!!!  Feel the saccharine tone in my voice?  That's because I was faking my sweet interest, and poorly at that.

On Friday the students left after fourth period, about 10:30 in the morning.  The teachers were to be finished about noon so that we could have TEACHERS SPORTS DAY!!! Da dada daaaaa!! It was a team building exercise involving ALL the teachers at JIKS.  Now even though the elementary, middle and high schools are all on the same campus, rarely the twain shall meet. I know a lot of the names of the secondary teachers form mentions about the office.  I've seen quite a few of them walking in or out of school but I think I'd only spoken to about two of them since I started last August.  This sports day was also going to include all the Korean teachers from the different schools AND the administrative office.  It had all the making of a disaster.

This was the notice we got about the days events:
* Sports Day Schedule

          Time                         Events   
  1      12:00 ~ 12:20          Warm up   
  2      12:20 ~ 12:40          Dodgeball( Female) (5분씩, 3Set)    
  3      12:40 ~ 13:40          Volleyball (Female+ Male, 3Set)   
  4      13:40 ~ 14:00          Volleyball for friendship (KT+Native, 1Set)   
  5      14:00 ~ 14:30          Table tennis ( F + M, 1Set)   
  6      14:30 ~ 15:00          Badminton (Male, Male + Female)   
  7      15:00 ~ 16:30          Dinner( Cafeteria)   

  1. Please, go to the gym by 11:50.
 2.Winners( team) will get the vouchers for leaving early and Karaoke Voucher( equivalent to 1,000,000).
   Go! Go!

I went into it in a foul mood.  Normally we'd get to leave early that Friday since the kids had testing.  I'd thrown a week long fit about the female only dodgeball (what, no bikini mud wrestling?). The other three sports to be included were volleyball, table tennis (henceforth to be referred to as ping pong :P ) and badminton.  I can understand volleyball.  It's a team sport and they wanted teams of nine.  I've been in Asia a year and a half, but I still can't get the fascination with the faux sports of badminton and ping pong.

It kicked off with toe touchy warm up to a pop 80's song.  Then lots of standing around waiting.  The schedule was almost immediately scrambled in favor of starting with volleyball for friendship. Next came something unexpected.  I started out in the Bule vs Korean volleyball match and had a good time.  I stayed in for part of the elementary vs secondary matches.  It was fun.   I was then completely mind boggled by the dodgeball.  I may try to use diagrams to explain that soon.  When the dodgeball wrapped up and the "non-sports" kicked in, I perked up with a cold Bintang.  I was starving when we entered the gym so I had some mildly sweet brown rice balls with raisins which were much nicer than I know they sound, and some watermelon. I talked with three guys from the secondary school and met two others.  It was great.

About 2/3 of the bule lot trouped up to the canteen/cafeteria for food.  They had quite the spread set out for us.  We all agreed it was better than the last school meal out at a Korean restaurant.  One big benefit of working at a Korean school is that they eat pork.  And the roast pork was excellent.  Add in veggies, life giving kimchi, noodles, etc, etc and it was a meal for a king.  There were beers around and bottle of soju (think Korean tequila) a plenty. By the time I begged off at 4:30, I had a touch of a beer buzz and a full belly. The conversation was entertaining for the most part and the day wrapped up well.

The last good news of the day?  The elementary school won Sports Day.  We earned one "early leave day" free pass for the staff, and we used it yesterday!  I'm often surprised here at JIKS, but to have a positive surprise hit me double.

Weekend plus

I'm breaking down the weekend into bits.  There will be another blog tomorrow to give more information on Friday's events.  I won't go into all the drama.  That seems to be the new norm lately.  I will lay out the broad strokes though.

Me with the headache
Friday afternoon from 12-5pm was Teacher's Sports Day at school.  It culminated in a meal together and I left at 4:30.  The ojek took me home, I changed, showered and napped for about ten minutes.  I then tried to spring from bed only to realize I have what I have affectionately termed, the railroad headache.  It's a headache I get sometime, well often enough to give it it's own name.  It's the railroad headache because it feels like someone has driven a railroad tie into one eye socket and straight out the back of my skull with the main pain points being in my eye and at the back of my head.  I struggled out and made it to dinner with Zoe anyway.  She and I caught up and she graciously let me beg off after to go home and rest.  An hour nap with an ice pack on my head in a cold room after taking tylenol (paracetamol or panadol, it's all the same active ingredient) and I had beaten the headache into submission. 
Me after nap, drugs and ice pack!

BoT and ridiculous roommate (his not mine) came straight from work to pick up Carla and I for a house party.  We all intrepidly trouped out.  We'd had lots of trouble finding this house last time.  The gods were on our side and we had the best taxi driver.  He got us there, no problems. The party was a blast.  Remember what I said about the bule world being small?  Turns out one of the secondary school teachers I met that afternoon was at the party that night.  And his girlfriend knows a woman I knew who left Jakarta last year.  We are all flies tangled in a small, tightly interlocking web.

The party was great.  The drama kicked in after.  It sort of revolved around group dynamics and taxis as was the case last weekend.  I don't have the patience or interest in regaling you with all the boring details.  I think part of it is that BoT and I rarely see each other during the week due to the fact that we have almost opposite schedules.  I'm up at 6:15 and home by 4.  He's into the office at 1 and off at 10 if there's no overtime.  It means that weekends become a pressure point of seeing each other but also having a ton of stuff to do.  Solutions pending.
How did I end up as an inhabitant of Total Drama Island?
After drama that bled into early Saturday morning, I slept fitfully and was a mess most of Saturday.  Carla was a doll and let me moan and was an optimistic beacon through the din.  We laid out at the pool and I recovered at least physically, if not finding any inner peace.

Sunday brought a few answers and a definite tan.  I started by day off with a meal of champions.  A brunch time meal of fried rice and cold Heineken.  Oh to be a bule in Jakarta!!  Carla's good friend Jo is in from NZ.  Accounting for jetlag, she'd planning an epic day of doing nothing by the pool.  I was obliged to join them as to be hospitable.  After five hours by the pool I was a nice shade of brown. I headed out in the evening to join BoT and IOMH for a couple beers.  The conversation was good and I needed to see BoT.  Not much had been sorted since the taxi thing of Friday night. I'm feeling better about it but there's work to be done. That will have to suffice.  I know there are a couple of you who are close enough to deserve an explanation.  It's on the way but with final grade reports due this week I'm not sure when I'll get the email out to y'all.

Best news? We had a surprise early release day today.  I nearly ran out the front gate at 12:30 after teaching five classes in a row.  I spent 100,000Rp and over and hour  and a half on three taxis rides but I got three errands out of the way that I'd spent weeks procrastinating on and was still home before dark (which is at 6:30 everyday, all year).  Worst news? Congestion and cough are back again.  Maybe they come with living on Drama Island.  Anyone have a cure?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I Heard it Through the Grapevine

Another song title as a blog title.  I've mentioned before that the bule world is pretty small, especially in contrast to this being the fifth largest city in the world.  Upon meeting a new bule we usually find a mutual acquaintance within ten minutes. A friend of a friend who is the other person's friend. I met some of BoT's teammates last week.  One of the guys and his girlfriend work at an EF (BSD) that is owned by the same owner who owns the one I worked for (Pluit).  There is a girl who works there, Emma, who I met on my first Singapore trip when we'd both just arrived.  Another example, is George*.  I work with George.  He's a Scotsman, teaches grade 2. BoT kept talking about Smith, a Scotsman on his footie team.  Guess what?  George is Smith.  Same guy, just first and last names. Like I said,  making those connections doesn't take long.
I swear we are all connected in a way that would best be illustrated like this.
This bule world often borders on incestuous as we all seem to know everything and talk about everything happening to everyone. Don't get me started on EF, that world is ten times smaller and more inter-involved. Add in blackberries with their bbm feature and you've now guaranteed that news travels faster than anything else.  It would put Mercury to shame.  If good news travels fast, then bad news moves at near lightning speeds.  I wonder why bad news is the faster of the two.  Do we want to commiserate?  Offer help? Enjoy a bit of schadenfreude?
My fingers have been flying on the little bb keyboard as news abounds this week. Fired friend has been involved in dramas.  There were repercussions from last weekends footie bbq.  I'm staying in touch with folks who are already in far-flung parts of the world. I'm trying to make plans to see others before they go.  Perhaps my bb is running in starts and stops out of exhaustion.

*Names changed to protect the less than innocent.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Let's do the Time Warp again!

Time here in Indonesia has it's own life force, it's own rhythm and a special way of twisting about. It's a regular occurrence that is difficult to explain but most of us seem to agree it happens. Time seems to speed by and in the same moment, drag on.I think time has always had this special property but does seem to me to be extra flexible here.
I was astounded to realize recently that I've been here in Jakarta a year and a half now. I left Spain in August of 2009 and that feels like a hundred years ago. The time looking backwards feels like it's been stretched out.  Over the weekend I met a guy who went to my university but graduated six years before me.  My graduation was December 2002. My fellow Husky (University of Washington Huskies) asked what bars I used to frequent in the university district.  I sheepishly had to admit I didn't.  I graduated at twenty and since the legal drinking age in the US is twenty-one, I didn't go to bars.  I am at a loss when non-Americans ask me about the university experience.  Is it like the movies?  If spring break really that crazy?  Etc, etc.  I don't know.  I didn't have a typical college run at all.

The time between university and now seems fairly clear in my mind though enough has happened to fill a book (or two). That recent span has broken my life into segmented epochs.  There is life before and after dad's death.  That was really the first dividing line.  The first era was a time when he was still in my life in an active way (I think of him often now but it's not exactly an active relationship).  That era also includes the eons-long year he was sick. I will never look at February 26, 2004 as any day other than when he died and my life changed.  Everything since then, consciously or not, has had a tinge of it, of my missing father.  Like a single drop of dye in a bathtub of water, it makes things look different though the core may be the same.

The second epoch break is the line of before/with and after my ex. The former is in Seattle and Salt Lake City, the latter includes Seattle, Guatemala, Spain and now Indonesia.  I'm not bitter about it, and for that I'm grateful.  I've learned what I think I should have.  I've processed the event(s) and can talk about them now, though I usually don't. It was easy to say in the moment that I wished it wasn't happening, that it never had.  Life teaches lessons always by doing first, and contemplating after.  Lesson learned, class completed, moving on.

Pretty much everything before high school graduation gets lumped together.  I have a few very fond and well told memories from my childhood but I don't know that I have lots.  I am realizing how rubbish my memory is already.  I can't wait to get old! I wish now that I had blogged in Spain.  I'm sure there are some fantastic stories I've forgotten already. Recently the intervals in life have been easily and clearly demarcated by my physical location. So much so that when I need to remember what year it was, I think were I was and figure it out from there.

Remember it was only last week that I wrote about impatience.  Time looking back seems to stretch forever into the abyss.  A year ago feels like ages, four seems like an eternity. In firm juxtaposition is the fact that tomorrow is nearly here already.  A relative blink of the eye and it will pass into the vast history as well.  Its my bloody impatience that makes summer holiday a million, billion, gazillion hours from now (not the fifteen days it really is). 
Remember the Stretch Armstrong toys?  He was a soft "doll" superhero filled with goo that you could pull, bend and stretch out then he'd return to his original form when you stopped.  I have just dated myself with that reference as I'm guessing only American kids in the late 80's would know it.  He's a fair metaphor for my view of time these days.  When you "pull" on it by looking forward or back, it distorts and stretches. It looks like more or or less than it really is.  I know what time is as its a firmly set measure; sixty seconds in a minute, twenty four hours in a day, ten years in a decade. If you leave time alone, or stumble upon it on a closet shelf, it looks exactly as it should, ticking by the only way it can.  Tick. . . tick. . . tick. . . second by second.
I remember the one on the left, the slightly David Hasselhoff-esque one on the right is new to me.
 *Bonus point if you know the musical from which the title of today's post comes.  It it may very well be why we're friends, because you Do know!!  haha

Monday, June 13, 2011

Weekend Recap - and an EP free one

Hello Monday!  You've crept up on me once again.  I always know you're coming and yet feel shocked (in the least positive sense of the word) when you show up a-knockin'. Why do you continue to torment me so?  Can't we reach an agreement about this?  I'd be much happier to see you if you rolled up at, say, two o'clock. I'll even greet you warmly at twelve. This six am stuff is a bit ridiculous though, don't you think?
Courtesy of
It wasn't even the biggest, epic-est of weekends so I can't blame a hangover for my lack of enthusiasm.  Friday brought a nice surprise with it.  BoT woke up with a migraine (not the nice surprise) but it meant he was sent home early and made it to my place by about eight (he usually works until ten). We had a chat with Carla and fired friend, then a excellently prepared (by me) dinner of salmon and veg.  Half a movie to round out the night and then off to dreamland.

Saturday isn't always a welcome sight, but a far better one that you Monday.  Even with a hangover!!  BoT was, quite literally, bouncing around the apartment.  He'd forgotten what a Saturday can feel like if the Friday night that preceded it included only a couple beers and a full dinner. Add in seven plus hours of sleep and he had the energy and enthusiasm of a Jack Russell with a coffee problem. The smile on his face meant I couldn't look at him without grinning too. I made a big breakfast, just to give Saturday a running start, and we had a nice relaxed start to the day.  The afternoon brought with it a long taxi ride to a football (soccer in American) game where BoT's team won I think. The game also included two of my colleagues, fired friend and a host of other misfits hailing from about the globe. Afternoon gave way to the dusk of evening and a house party/BBQ.  The taxi ride there was no less than two hours and we were all in agony when we got there. Graciously, we ushered Saturday into the annals of history with Sam Adams beer (YES!! In Indonesia!!), steak and vodka. I was the only girl in the pool and that was not of my own accord.  I am grateful that fired friend let me save my phone by tossing it aside, but not so grateful that I got the shivers while waiting for a taxi home.  The end of the night brought about a strange trip home that ended with BoT making a chivalrous and a "more warmly received than he realizes" gesture.  He had to explain it but he's right, he walks on the outside and that's all he needed to say.


Sunday snuck in like a mouse, which is fine by me.  It didn't storm in like you Monday.  Sleeping until twelve meant I wasn't obliged greet the day at six am.  Even waking at eight for a half hour was acceptable.  A call from fired friend roused us and we headed to the pool for several hours of lounging. Episodes of Blue Bloods and a batch of meatballs with pasta wrapped the day in a little bow.

It was a (nearly) drama-free, EP-free, hangover-free weekend.  It was not a bruise-free, family in bed-free, hilarity-free weekend, which is as I prefer. My only real requests in retrospect about last weekend are that it lasted longer so I could both continue lounging and get some errands done and that someone's phone wasn't lost/stolen, though I was happy to have her around all weekend as a result. Yes, you hon. ;)  I will aim to appreciate you, to look forward to a Monday.  Hmmm, how about the eleventh of July? I will enjoy that Monday as it is the first one of summer vacation.  Until then, they'll most likely continue to feel like this:

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Piecemeal notes before the weekend

It's Friday.  Thank (insert your divine being of choice here) it's Friday. This was one of those long, dragging weeks.  It's not really that anything went so wrong.  The kids weren't worse than their norm.  I didn't have extra duties.  It simply felt like a long week.
I don't think I've mentioned but I'm involved in a radio show here.  It's Smartfm and sponsored by the US Embassy.  It's a learn English program as part of their "Smart Up Your Life" series.  Last year it ran for six months broadcast in Jakarta.  This year there is a year contract and we broadcast throughout all of Indonesia.  We get calls from Pekan Baru, Surabaya and Medan, all on other islands. Generally, Julia and I alternate weeks with the regular Indonesian host, Eka.  Since Julia has headed home for a month, I had this weeks show plus the next four.  We broadcast live from 5-6pm on Tuesdays and the station plays a repeat on Saturday.  Since I leave work at 3:30, I have to book it straight there for our pre-show rehash. The pay is absolute rubbish, covering transport and a coffee.  My reasons are that I enjoy it, hope it will put me in touch with new and different people and finally that it is one more skill I can add to my CV/resume.  Its funny that in the last 24 hours I've mentioned it to my business class and a co-worker at school.  Both used the word celebrity, which made me cringe.  Celebrity, publicity, etc was definitely the last thing I'd want to come from this.

I did the show on Tuesday, and was ready to go to my business class on Wednesday.  All I can really say is that it's a small group of lawyers at a prestigious firm in Jakarta.  Everything else is teacher-client privilege.  I always dread the class until I get there.  They have great senses of humor (sense of humors?) and ask poignant questions. The pay is worthwhile, especially since I can get there by bus for 7,000Rp and thirty minutes. My only complaint is that it makes Wednesdays really, really long.  This week they asked to move class from Wednesday to Thursday at 4pm on Wednesday.  No possibility to take care of things on Wednesday and it ruined Thursdays plans.
Courtesy of  Sort of like this but Indonesian students.  Incidentally, this is an academy in Barcelona where a good friend of mine teaches, MWJ!!!

Thursday I went to meet Donna as she leaves for summer on Sunday.  It took me and hour and a quarter in a taxi to get to her, and another hour and a half to get from her to the lawyers. I was a bit delirious by the time I made it to my lawyers.  Throw us in a conference room that was about a thousand degrees and I was toast by the end.  I was in bed all of ten minutes before I passed out dead away.  I haven't managed to get more than six hours sleep any night this week, and although I've slept like the dead, it hasn't been enough.   I complain but feel bad since BoT has gotten even less.  His insomnia has kicked in full force.  I think, he, I and half of Jakarta are all fighting the same head cold.  Bleeeehhhhhh.
It's Friday and I'm not going out.  I am really really looking forward to a quiet night in, cooking for BoT and just relaxing.  We haven't managed to see each other much lately, definitely not during the week anyway.  I am putting my social butterfly self on the shelf for tonight and pulling the cocoon around tight.

As a post script: I am blown away by the number of blog views I've had this week.  The last three days individually were 88, 46 and 70.  Today, at midday there have already been 24 views.  I'm not sure what to attribute the explosion to.  I'm not exactly going away free puppies on here. Thanks for sticking around all the same!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Patience is overrated

Patience is a virtue.  That's the old adage that we are told time and time again from when we are knee high to a grasshopper.  Ok, that may be a sentence a little too full of American phrases but I'm sure you get the picture.

We expect children to be impatient.  They have short attention spans, just ask any parent or teacher.  Teachers are told in training that the ideal activity for primary aged students lasts an absolute maximum of fifteen minutes, but ideally closer to ten.  After fifteen minutes the kids switch off and start using their eraser as a battering ram against their neighbor's pencil. We tell them, and work on teaching them, to be patient.  Wait just a minute.  It's almost time.  Soon.  When they can't wait, we lose our patience. I SAID soon!!!  We will go when I say we're ready. It won't be time until it's time.
sourtesy of
Most people get more patient as they grow up.  They learn that although time is a man made construction, we can't speed it along as much as we may want to. There are some of us, how many I have no idea as I seem to be uniquely afflicted with this in my social group, for who patience is a struggle.

My mother once told me she couldn't figure it out.  With children and the elderly I had the patience of a saint.  I could sit for hours with my Alzheimer afflicted grandmother, answering the same five questions again and again ad nauseum without flipping out. I can handle thirty kindergarteners asking the same two questions over and over all day without issue.  Give me a socially retarded (not pc, I know) adult and forget it. She said "It's just adults you have a problem with. Why is that?"  I've figured out its that the young and the old have excuses for their faux pas, their mistakes, their repetitions.  Adults who are stupid are just irritating and they should have learned better by now. Geographically inept taxi drivers, rude and lazy wait staff, confounding IT guys all bear the brunt of my impatience.

I can maintain my demeanor when waiting for mundane things or when being frustrated won't help.  A taxi stuck in the rain or the traffic here won't bear the burden of my hysterics, neither will a dentist/doctors front office.  Waiting for planes and trains aren't issues either, unless they are ridiculously late and aren't announcing anything. I'm a paradox.

That said, I am also a bit child like in the way I wait for things.  It's just over four weeks until the end of term and I'm dying for it to be over.  I probably think about it more than the kids do. I have holidays planned.  Not only am I crippled by the impatience for the first one, but the trip after that at the end of August too!! If someone says, "remind me later to tell you something" I'm immediately all a twitter and want to know now.  I revert to my six year old self and give a half beg/half whine plead to be told.   I order a great looking dessert and can't wait for it to be delivered.  I say I "can't wait" but of course I do.  My life is constantly jumping from one event to another.

All of this considered, I think I do enjoy the anticipation.  I like looking forward to something.  I like the butterflies in my stomach between the time I know we're going to kiss and when our lips actually meet.  I like crossing the days off on the calendar as we get closer to D-day, whatever that particular D-day might be.   Waiting and patience may be the most perfect combination of sweet agony I can imagine.
courtesy of
This goes out to all of you waiting for things.  I'd love to know how you wait, if you are patient or impatient and how to make the waiting time pass. I'd send some patience along, if I had any to spare.

Where's the off button on this thing?

The winds of change, or at least of semi-pandemonium, seem to be blowing lately. Everyone I know has plans, issues, frustrations and excitements that are causing life modifications and such.

Here in Jakarta, it's the start of summer.  How do you know in an equatorial country?  It's not the temperatures, although I have seen a recent uptick in mosquitoes buzzing around. It's summer vacation.  The first schools went on break about two weeks ago.  As is routine here, all the teachers have made plans to get the heck outta dodge (JKT) for as long as possible.  My good friend Julia left on Monday to the States.  Donna will head out on Sunday, then there are two more departures on the 22nd and 25th. That also means lots of going away events even though the majority of us will be back by or before August. My school started late after Christmas (we weren't up and going until February) and as a result we aren't off until July.  I think I'm the last one to take off.  The current plan is Vietnam, Cambodia and then a destination to be determined. The girls are off to the US, England, Wales, Australia, and Bali. The crazy thing is that once back, we all have a short turn around to another holiday - Idul Fitri at the end of August.
Courtesy of
Plans are being updated, changed and added to.  Then there are people who are going to see others.  Carla is getting a visitor from home (NZ), and I know some people in the US who are on the move.  Everyone seems to be electrified with their personal possibilities.  It's a grown up version of Christmas.  It's an event we look forward to for weeks or months, counting down, planning, preparing and yes, spending sleepless nights thinking about it.  The mind starts to spin at the possibilities.  Where do go?  What to do?  When to leave? Options, choices, contingency plans.  And then when those are all set out, life makes a change for you (or against you as the case may be)  and your brain is set a whirl again.
And this is how it feels!
A couple people in my life who are in flux for work. BoT will be changing jobs for lots of reasons.  Now it's a matter of working out the timing and the details.  Fired friend has, after much drama and indecision, stayed in Jakarta.  He's got an offer but it exploring other options. There are a few folks whose contract end dates are approaching and beyond then their lives are a blank slate. The song "Do I stay or do I go now?" comes to mind.
Courtesy of  Don't we always hope?
Lastly there are a couple people who are involved in relationships that will require one of the two parties involved to move. Not within the same city, but significant distances so they can continue on together.  Long distance relationships only work if there are plans to get to the same place as far as I'm concerned.
Courtesy of
Everyone seems to be exhausted but unable to get more sleep.  There are two categories.  Those, like myself, who can't manage to get into bed early as there are things to be done.  Once I hit the pillow, I think I can count to two and then become entirely unconscious.  There are those in another category who, even if in bed, can't turn their brains off.  There are plans, plots, schemes, ideas that abound.  They are busy hypothesizing, interpreting, conceiving, suggesting, and comprehending things. What I'd like to help them do is to find their own, personal off button. 

P.S. Apologies for all the lists today.  I didn't realize my "to do list" mood was spreading!

Monday, June 06, 2011

She chuckles and shakes her head slowly

I've learned two big tips to keeping (what's left of) your sanity here in Jakarta: Never ask why (the only possible answer is 'because it's Indonesia') and laugh at the regular ridiculousness of it all.  Here's a list of things that have made me shake my head in amazement but not surprise.  Maybe it was surprise and not amazement.  Hmmm.  Maybe it was something else entirely but it was all definitely Jakartaesque. I've made a list on my blackberry over a couple weeks as most of these epiphanies come while I'm on the back of the motorbike between school and home. In that vein, lets start with:

People wearing stretchy gloves when driving a motorbike.  It's never less than 75 degrees here, so it's not that their fingers get cold.  As far as I can figure it's either that they want to keep their hands out of the sun (darker complexion here is that last thing any Indonesian wants, though that's not true for the white folk) or they think they need gloves for protection and these are cheaper/more readily available than other types.
These make total sense in 84 degree weather with 78 percent humidity, if your Indonesian.
If protecting their hands is the logic, then I can't sort out why they wear sandals on motorbikes.  I've become a bit paranoid lately that I'm going to be in a crash and, while other injuries are potential and obvious I can't stop thinking that, no matter what, I'll lose several toes. If they are protecting their hands with flimsy cotton gloves, why not put on proper shoes?

Finally for motorbike issues, I'm certain that the Indonesians all know I'm white, even on the motorbike.  I am in jeans, a jacket, my face mask, helmet and sunglasses, but they still know.  Maybe it's because of my sandals.
Now mentally change the jacket to blue and put sunglasses on me.  How do they know?!?!
The more people try to stay dry in the pouring rain, the wetter and more pathetic they seem. It generally rains on the trip home and I am not bothered since I can change when I get there.  There have been days I've been down right soaked, as have others on their motorbikes.  I laugh in spite of myself at the ones trying really hard to stay dry, but without any appropriate gear.  They hold newspapers or a plastic bag over their head, goosestep it through the puddles flinging water about their rolled up pant legs.
Courtesy of  Like this but even less successful.
Jakarta has no shortage of inappropriately dressed people,.  I swear the hotter it gets, the more clothes people wear.  I understand they don't want a tan or darken their skin, but when it's 92 degrees in the sun, seeing someone in a sweater and a jacket makes me uncomfortably hot!

I lied, here's another motorbike related one. On three different occasions I have seen motorbikes paired up.  The one in front and off to the right is having some sort of mechanical difficulty and isn't running, but will roll.  The second bike is behind about half the diameter of a wheel and a legs length off to the left.  Can you see where this is going?  The guy on the 2nd bike puts his foot somewhere on the casing near the first bike's back axel, fires up his bike and pushes the first bike along.  I can hardly imagine doing this as the traffic is so bad, but I haven't see a big fiery death ball crash . . .yet.  I'm trying for a photo  but this one below is the same idea, ish.
Courtesy of pakwheels.  He's pushing the car with the motorbike.
I can't decide whether to make this a multi-parter or just a regular feature, like the weekend recap, as I group a few of these unique incidents together.  I have a few more in the bank now, but as my desire is not to bore you into oblivion, I'll resist adding them here.  If you're in Jakarta, or in any other city where bizarre/different/interesting things strike your funny bone, I'd love to hear about them.