Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A lot to be Thankful for

Today is Thanksgiving.  It is in my opinion one of the best Holidays that America has to offer. I encourage all of you to take time to enjoy your family and friends. I have always embraced the big table and if you don't have family around it is a great time to bring together friends and enjoy sitting around the table together. 
This is especially true when you are posted in a foreign land where they don't celebrate our holiday.
We have in the past brought together a table full of Kiwi's during our two years in N.Z. and enjoyed sharing our table with our friends from Romania. 
I will always make room at my table for someone who doesn't have a place to celebrate.

I love this time because we don't always take time to be thankful for what we have. Too often we are so focused on the negative to celebrate the good things. I don't like making New Years resolutions but I have come to embrace taking time to note what I have to be thankful for.

Here is my list. Please feel free to share yours.

1) My awesome husband. This has been a crazy year for us. We have lived apart more than we have lived together and pretty much changed everything about our lives.  This level of stress can be a test for most relationships but I think we have come through this still strong. It's a good sign that I still miss him when he is gone.

2) My two amazing kids. My oldest for taking it in stride when his parents told him they were going to drop him off at college and then move to the other side of the world. He seems to be doing just fine with it too. My youngest for embracing this new life. I know it hasn't been easy for her, leaving her friends and starting at a new school but she is doing surprisingly well. Thank goodness for the internet.

3) Speaking of, I am thankful for the internet. It lets us all keep in touch so much easier.

4) Our friends and family back home who may not have been happy about our newest adventure but have been supportive none the less. 

5) My housekeeper and driver who are both wonderful people and who have made my time here in Jakarta and this transition so much easier.

Now for the less serious but equally important and in no particular order:

6)  The embassy commissary that sells wine at reasonable prices and also sells Triscuits.

7) Cheap airfare to Bali.

8) The men who deliver my drinkable water every week.

9) Amazingly cheap spa services.

10) Columbus Metropolitan Library's online lending program.

11) The men who are working so hard to have our new house ready so we can move in in January.

12)  All my new friends in Jakarta. You are keeping me sane.

13) That our household shipment is finally arriving next week.

14) The opportunity to explore this part of the world!

15) Air-conditioning

16) Ripe Mangos

17) and the Embassy DPO system

20) That, barring an emergency, T. will be home for the next month.

21) My sweet Shanti has come though this all pretty much unscathed. 

22) Podcasts

23) We have a place to go for Thanksgiving and will also have a table full of our new friends to help us celebrate on Saturday.

Shanti Says "Happy Thanksgiving!!"

P.SAllow me a brief moment on the Soap Box. Don't go shopping today! The stuff will be there tomorrow, you won't save any more money, I promise they will still mark it down again between now and Christmas and if you don't shop on this one national family day they won't make people work on it next year. Simple economics. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Marking Time

I've lost track of time.

It passes differently for me now.

I no longer have four seasons I have two. Hot and Humid and Hot and Wet. And I have no historical reference to tell me that now that the rains have started it must be November.

The sun rose today at 5:25 am and set at 5:49 pm. Pretty much the same time it does every day since we have been in Indonesia.

I am no longer working. So while I have activities throughout my days. My Mondays don't look much different from my Saturdays except Z is home. This is especially true when T is on the road.

The days and weeks seem the same.

Two weeks ago I the community made a valiant effort to celebrate Halloween with ghosts hanging from Palm Trees and trick-or-treating for the embassy kids. Now I see posts for Thanksgiving at the American Club or where to get my turkey but I still cannot believe it is November. Not even the Christmas themed charity lunch this week really did its job, though it was quite lovely.

My friends at home are posting pictures of snow but the trees outside my window are still full of blooming flowers and after the rains there is jasmine in the air.

Now I am wondering if this Northern Girl will ever get used to the passage of time without the markers she knows. 

In the mean time I will count the days till my son comes "home" for Christmas and try to imagine snow as I plan our trip to Bali.  

Life on the equator. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Lines. What Lines?

Full confession here: I was born and raised in a country that believes in standing in line and waiting your turn.

While this is not always the case, think about those idiots who zoom up the highway and wait till the last minute to try and get over thus causing traffic to be even worse than it was to start with, it is generally the case. It is a an unspoken civil contract abided by in countries that were at one point or another under British rule. Every kid in school knows the rule: "No Ditching". 

I also believe that in America if you break this rule, and aren't separated by a mass of steal or what ever cars are made of these days, we will cut you...with a look, words or if you are in a bad neighborhood something worse.

Many other parts of the world don't understand this rule. I have been to both France and Italy and learned that I need to push my way forward if I am going to get on that train. In London I once had a conversation with a German woman while waiting in the queue for the London Eye. Her quote " The British really know how to Queue."  As if this was a strange phenomenon. 

Here is who else doesn't understand the concept of the line: Indonesians.  

I have thought about this a lot lately because it might be bringing out the worst in me. This weekend I traveled to Yogyakarta with my family to see the great Buddhist temple of Borobudur and the Hindu temple Prambanan It was beautiful and we had a great weekend.

However at the the airport, a place where even the most civilized have a tendency to get their feathers ruffled, I almost took out a little old lady at the baggage claim. 

Now I believe that the baggage claim is one of the worst areas on the planet for human behavior. Even in the land of "Taking Your Turn" people will rush to circle the belt as they wait for their bags to come gliding out. Shins pressed against the edge convinced that if they are not right there somehow their bag will never show or will magically disappear. I understand everyone is in a hurry to get out of the evil airport and onto what ever has brought them to this new city. But I do wonder why we haven't all realized if we all step back about two feet everyone will be able to see and access their bags.

In Indonesia, the land of no traffic rules and little personal space, this phenomenon is even worse. Not only are entire families crammed against the baggage claim as they wait they are crammed against each other.   Add to this the fact that humans flow they way traffic flows persistently nudging their way to where they want to be until the object in their way is overcome. 

This is what happened at the baggage claim in Yogyakarta. The little old lady wanted to be where I was and consistently and firmly started pushing. 

Be proud of me fellow Americans. Elbows did not fly. It did not become ugly. But as I have also learned from watching my driver. If you don't want to give up your don't have to.

In order to live in the world that functions more like a river than a man made canal you have to learn to flow around things to get what you want but also to hold where you want to be or you will be pushed to the edge.

If you want to read about the temples from my better half :