Sunday, June 5, 2016


There's a moment when I live in a foreign country that I start to feel at home. Things don't seem quite so odd to me any more and I are no longer in culture shock most of the time.
It's funny because if I vacation in a place it feels much different than the move. Probably because I'm not trying to figure out how to live but just having fun. Maybe Its because where I have lived is usually not a tourist destination even if the country itself is.
That moment might come when you are heading out to the store, movies, school and your head isn't on constant swivel trying to take everything in. In Indonesia I know it was coming back from a trip and feeling like I was coming home.
We have lived in two countries outside of the U.S. so far, New Zealand and Indonesia, and in each country I have managed to stand out for one reason or another. In New Zealand I looked pretty normal but the minute I opened my mouth out came my flat Midwestern accent. In Indonesia, well let's just say there are no locals with blond hair, green eyes and fair skin and at 5'4" I'm considered tall.
If you live somewhere long enough, all the things that felt different when you first arrived start to feel normal. Things don't stick out to you so much and it is very easy to forget how much you stick out yourself.
When we lived in New Zealand , I remember the first time someone said "I love your accent" and it caught me by surprise. I was so used to hearing the Kiwi accent I forgot I sounded different.

It happened again last weekend. I have lived in Jakarta long enough that this place feels normal. And Jakarta is an international city so there are always a lot of expats around, especially in the little bubble I mostly hang out in.
However, last weekend our family went to Medan, the third largest city but not a lot of expats. T and I went for work and we took Z along to have her experience a bit more of the country.
Z and I were out in the city with my coworker and as we traveled to my speaking engagements I started to notice the obvious head swivel. A lot. I'm sure it still happens in other places but I was starting to feel like I landed from Mars.

Z and I talked about it. It will be odd going back to the U.S. where we look and sound normal. It will be odder still for her since being 3/4 caucasian makes her white enough to still stand out and back in the States she's never considered the "white" girl like she is here.

So here's to being an oddity! And on to more adventure!

That's me. Sticking out in the middle.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

I'll see you

Seventeen days and counting.
It's transfer season and it's also summer R&R season.
If you're in the Foreign Service you know that means that many of your friends are leaving. Maybe for just a few weeks or maybe they are leaving this post for good.
It's a bittersweet time.
If you are like us you are leaving for good. The movers will be arriving soon to pack up all our belongings and ship them to Amman. Or for Z the U.S.
This place that is starting to feel like home will be behind us soon. More importantly we are separating from the people who have come to be our friends.
I have been so very lucky to make friends who are both American and Indonesians and I must say, thank God for Facebook because for most of them it will allow me to still have some connection into their lives. It won't be the same.
The closest comparison I can make is when I was in college. Each year that batch of seniors left and we were all left missing them. In the fall and eager group of freshmen came to take their place and made it a new kind of awesome. Even when you go back as a graduate you will never again capture the magic of your time there.

Transfer season makes this even trickier. We all come and go at different times. I feel like we keep double checking who is leaving when. What is your last day? When are you going on Home Leave?
What is your departure date?

When is the last time you will see someone? A meeting? An Embassy party? Across the salon for that one last cream bath? Gathering your kids up at the pool?

In the end we all vanish. With our overstuffed suitcases we head out to the Jakarta airport and its never possible to say all of your goodbys.

So, for all of you who I will miss.
Know that I have counted myself very fortunate to know you. And here is to seeing you somewhere else in the word.

Our friend James said it best...."I'll see you, around"