A Million Scary Things in my Bathroom

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 (Here’s a poem I wrote today. It’s not entirely descriptive of our bathroom, but comes pretty close!)

 

A Million Scary Things in my Bathroom

Spiders behind my towel
Leeches on the floor
Lizards in the rafters
Termites in the door

Ant nest on the wall
Water that is brown
Critters on the rooftop
Mosquitoes all around

A million scary things
In my bathroom all day long
It’s okay, don’t worry
It’s only different, not wrong

Lack of water pressure
Cold water from the tap
Lack of toilet paper
Moldy towels on the rack

Soap is hard to find
Dirty diapers in a pot
Toilet on the floor
Hanging smelly mop

New things to adjust to
In a foreign land
Time will help you through it
Patience is in demand

Cobwebs in the corners
Towels hung by nails
dust on the bathtub
creepy crawly snails

Mirror hung from rafters
Two year old shampoo
Dishes on the floor
Temperature one-o-two

A millions scary things
Yes it’s true, trust me
How does one survive like that?
Attitude is key

While I know it’s pretty crazy
To accommodate so much
You get used to it eventually
Later you do adjust

At first it’s pretty shocking
You’re confused, and scared and mad
But to live without the excess
Well, it’s really not so bad

You start to see the value
In your gifts from God above
Most important is your family
And friends and faith and love

 

Childhood Memories, Neighborhood Games.

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One of the most vivid childhood memories that I have is what I’ll call ‘neighborhood games.’ This is actually not one single memory, but a collection of several memories I have about my neighborhood and the games we used to play.

I grew up in a small town, and like a lot of small towns there were plenty of kids nearby. Our house stood on the corner of a city block. We had streets on either side of our house and a larger than average yard to play on. When I was little one thing we liked to do was be creative with our bikes, wagons, and riding toys. We used to tie them all together in train fashion using bungee cords and ropes, and then circle the block in grand parade fashion. It was quite a site to see! We had quite a hodgepodge of ‘cars’ in our train and the trick, especially with the wagons, was to keep them in line. If one car got off center the cars behind would follow suite and before you knew it the whole party would end up in the grass. The challenge was also increased by an over-excited leader of the pack, usually riding a bike up front. Because we were tied together by bungee cords, each cord had to stretch before it could start pulling. But with all the weight, the cord would overstretch, be pulled too fast, and you’d hit the bike or tractor in front of you, causing all sorts of havoc. It’s pretty easy to peddle a bike all by yourself. It’s another matter completely when you have a whole line of vehicles behind you all attached by bungee cords! So we learned to start slow, let the tension between each cord spread itself out, and after several attempts we could finally make it around the block.

All you had to do was stare wide eyed at the approaching column of boxes and hang on for dear life!

Another vivid memory I have, also involving toy vehicles, was ‘demolition derby’. Basically, my brothers and I (or anybody else for that matter) would set up a whole bunch of cardboard boxes on the driveway. These would range from the big ones like washing machine boxes, to littler ones like microwaves and kitchen appliances. We’d stack them one on top of the other until a cardboard box tower was created. Then we’d pull out various ramming vehicles, anything from tricycles to full sized bikes, put on our little crash helmet (aka a football helmet), and take turns plowing into the boxes. The faster you crashed into the boxes, the farther they’d fly and the more destruction you’d create. However once you hit the boxes it was pretty hard to control where you were going and so inevitably you’d fall off as well. The trick was to hit the boxes hard AND stay on your ride. We tested this combination out with all the vehicles we could get our hands on. I think the most fun was with the red Radio Flyer wagon. The way this worked was someone else pushed you from behind (usually as fast as they could go) and all you had to do was stare wide eyed at the approaching column of boxes and hang on for dear life! Of course when you hit the boxes you’d loose your grip on the handle, the wheels would skew, the wagon would spill over, and we’d land on a pile of boxes. The red wagon was definitely the most fun for these reasons.

You could probably imagine the startled look on the driver’s face. . .

One other very vivid memory from my neighborhood was playing ‘cops and robbers’. This was a bigger kid game because it involved bicycles, high speed chases, and a larger playing field. We’d designate a 3×3 block radius, nine city blocks, to play on. Half of the kids were robbers, trying to hide, and other half were the cops, trying to catch them. I liked being the robbers the best. I always had some pretty good hiding places to sneak into. Once somebody was found we’d hop on our bike and a high speed bike chase would ensue. I remember a few times we had several close calls as we routinely darted out in front of cars. You could probably imagine the startled look on the driver’s face- two bikes, one after the other, darting out from behind some bush or alley. On top were two kids straining as hard as they could at the peddles, tongues hanging out the side of their mouths, completely oblivious to yard boundaries or the difference between roads and sidewalks! There was one other element to the game other than chase or be chased. Once a robber was caught he had to go to jail. This was designated as the area in front of someone’s front porch or a driveway. The robbers had to sit in the jail area until another robber tagged them back in. Then both robbers had to make a break for it, usually in hot pursuit by two or more cops, because if you’re a cop there’s nothing worse than seeing your prisoners get away. So the cops took turns guarding the jail. It wasn’t so bad at the jail because it gave you time to swap stories with the ‘inmates’ or discuss where so-and-so could be hiding.

I’m glad I have such fun memories from my childhood to treasure for a lifetime.

 

You Know You Live in Indonesia When. . .

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Indonesia is definitely a different place. Here are some of the highlights that I’ve noticed and jotted down.

You know you live in indonesia when. .  .

  • You come prepared to the bathroom with Kleenex in your pocket. Toilet paper is rare.
  • There aren’t any recycle bins. The closest thing to a recycling bin is a garbage can beside our house. We put non burnable trash out there and poor people periodically rummage through it. I call it our “magic garbage” because I put stuff in and it magically disappears!
  • You’re selective with your relationships. There’s just too many people who want to be your friend and talk to you.
  • You move to the front of every stoplight with your motorbike, often weaving in between cars to get there.
  • There’s no such thing as a ‘line’ at the stoplight. Motorcycles bunch up where the shade is. It’s just too hot to wait in the sun.
  • Saying “hi” to a child causes them to hyperventilate.
  • You can’t ever enjoy the outdoors- it’s way too hot. The sun is something to take shelter from, not enjoy.
  • There are no speed limits. The potholes control the speed of traffic well enough.
  • Clothes aren’t your size and your wardrobe never changes.
  • You can eat almost anything and never gain weight.
  • Everybody knows you, but you don’t have the slightest idea who they are!
  • You choose a restaurant because of the  air conditioning, not because of the food.
  • People either yell “hello mister!” or just stare blankly when they see you on the street. If you try to respond to them in English they also stare.
  • All your condiments and snacks are double zip-lock bagged to keep the ants out.
  • You sweep your house everyday but still can’t keep up with the dirt and dust.
  • Common creatures in your house include ants, spiders, cicaks (a small lizard), mosquitoes, an occasional centipede, and occasional farm animals like goats and chickens that wander in from outside.
  • You have the most beautiful sunsets in the world.
  • You can buy a fresh coconut off the tree- with ice, sugar and a smile- for about 80 cents.

 

Asians Rule the World at Dance Dance Revolution

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So I was at the mall today with Eli. We were walking around giving Kim a much needed break. I thought if I took the baby and walked around she could have a little alone time. She’s with Eli pretty much 24/7 so giving her time to check Facebook, surf the web, and just relax at a coffee shop was the agenda for today.

I walked around and made my way over to the arcade. I thought Eli might like to look at the lights, watch some of the other kids playing games and take in all the new sights and sounds. It was kind of loud in there so I made my way toward the back. There I found a kid playing their version of Dance Dance Revolution. It wasn’t exactly called ‘Dance Dance Revolution’, but it was the same basic idea. I stopped and watched this kid for a while. He was obviously an expert. He was using both foot pads, not just one. In other words, he had ten spots on the floor that he was interacting with- up, down, left, right, middle, and then the same of the other side. It was really fun to watch him play, although ‘play’ was not quite the right word. He was gettin’ his groove on! He was dancing, hopping, and skipping all over the floor pads. He wasn’t really even looking at the screen, just kind of in a world all his own. His arms were swinging around, and he even got down on his hands and knees. When the round was over I was expecting a few mistakes. After all, it didn’t even look like he was trying. But he got 100% perfect, an A+. How many hours does it take to win Dance Dance Revolution with a perfect score without even looking at the screen? I was amazed.

I watched him for a good twenty minutes. By this time a substantial crowd had also gathered. After several rounds at a moderate pace he decided it was time to take it up a notch. I’m not sure what he did, but the next time he played he sped it up so that the arrows were flying up the screen three times as fast. No more sauntering around now! He grabbed a hold of the bars behind him and let his feet do all the tapping. His feet were a blur as he hit all the notes flying up the screen. Again, he got a perfect score. I’ve never seen anybody move their feet that fast. It was pretty incredible to watch. I think Eli was impressed too.

You just gotta give it to Asians. They beat our pants off at Dance Dance Revolution. Check out these videos I shot with my cell phone. Sorry for the bad quality, but you get the idea.

“I have perceived balmy with aura on you!” -Indonesian t-shirts

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Gotta love Indonesian t-shirts. In their vain attempts to be ‘cool’ they oftentimes try to put English writing or text on the front. Just the simple fact that it has English writing means that the wearer is ‘hip’, ‘worldly’, and maybe even rich. It makes them look American. But you just gotta love their attempts at the English language. For example, Kim bought a t-shirt that has a cat on the front which says:

Don’t hide your face for me!

To every one upon be says on you! I have perceived balmy with aura on you.

Yes, a t-shirt actually says that. And any guess what that actually means? No, we don’t know either. But that’s the funny thing. It doesn’t matter! It doesn’t matter that it makes no sense. Kim and I stood in the checkout line laughing and snickering to ourselves at what a funny, stupid little t-shirt it was. It was so funny we just had to buy it. The checkout girl was giving us some curious looks so we tried to explain to her that the t-shirt made absolutely no sense. I didn’t seem to register with her. Guess it’ll have to be an inside joke.

Another one of Kim’s t-shirts that she purchased here again has a kitten on the front (what’s with Indo shirts and cats?) and it says:

It’s little but funny feel happy.

Okay, that one at least makes a little sense. A little weird, yes, but at least it’s mostly grammatically correct. And the fact that it has a kitten on the front leads you to believe it’s referring to the kitten.

I forgot to mention that these shirts cost about $2 a piece. Any more and I don’t think we’d buy them. Indonesians buy them because it makes them look cool and hip. We buy them because they’re ridiculous. I guess the jokes on them.

Phase One, Get on the Right Plane

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The long journey back has begun. We’re sitting at the Jakarta international terminal waiting to check in for our first long flight. Nothing but a lot of empty time in front of us. Not really empty though- we actually look forward to this part of the journey, when everything is taken care of and we just have to enjoy the ride.

Funny Music Video

So I watched this video the other day from our good old friends The Crash Test Dummies. No, not the guys who get hit by cars, but the band. Anyway this video made me laugh so hard. It’s a pretty silly video. So there you go. If you’re in a silly mood watch this video. Hehe!

Language Blooper #3545…

Today we spent a couple hours over at our friend’s house babysitting for her four kids. We kicked the soccer ball around, played a card game, and I left to go back home. Kim is still over there doing a girls movie night.

So I’m home, and since I’ll be by myself for a little while I think I’ll get a little ice creme. Yep, that sounds good. I hop on the motorbike and drive down the road to a little convenience store. As I enter I’m immediately greeted by the owner- a older woman sitting on a stool supervising the action (or does she just have nothing better to do?). I head to the freezer, grab a tub of choco-chip ice creme (the good stuff, mind you), and head to the checkout line. The owner strikes up a conversation with me, ‘Ohh, ngidam Kim ya?”, in the local language. I think she’s asking if Kim is babysitting now. This is a fair assumption because usually everybody in our neighborhood knows EVERYTHING we are doing at all times. So I say yes, Kim is babysitting. But not just Kim! Going a little further I tell her I was ‘babysitting’ too. Awkward laugh. . . then to my horror I realize I said something horribly wrong. She wasn’t asking me about babysitting, she was asking me if Kim was having pregnancy cravings. . . that’s why I’m buying the ice creme, right? So I accidentally said I have pregnancy cravings too.

Uhhh. . . I mean. . .

There’s no way to rescue myself from that one. What do I say, “haha, just kidding.” So I try to act confident, smile, and bee-line to my motorbike. Might be best to stay indoors tonight. Douse my pregnancy cravings with a big bowl of ice creme!

“They’re all staring at us. . . I wonder if I should say something.”

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This is the thought that ran through my head as Kim and I were out on our walk this morning. The best time to walk is in the morning around 7am. Any later in the day and the sun comes out and heats everything up. Yes, even at 8am in the morning it’s too hot to walk around. So the earlier the better. But 7am is also the time that kids go to school, people arrive at work, and parents drop off their children. So the road that normally is pretty empty was busy. We must have arrived at the sweet spot, because there were a lot of people on the road. I didn’t know how famous we are. But every ten seconds someone was yelling out “Hello Jos” or “Hello mister” or “Where are you going, Jos??”. How do all these people know my name? Seriously! I really didn’t recognize any one them. Our presence in the community precedes us.

As we came around a corner we saw ahead a group of about twenty young girls in school uniforms sitting beside the road. As we got closer all eyes were on us, as if an alien had landed. So. . . they’re all staring at us. . . should I say something or just keep walking?? We gave the customary ‘selamat pagi’ or good morning and kept on walking without too much interaction.

However, they weren’t going to let us pass a second time. On our way back they were still sitting beside the road. Well that was just too much for them. They couldn’t take it anymore! Heaven forbid they let an opportunity like this slip by twice! One brave girl approached us, held up her cell phone and asked if she could get a picture. I said “Ok, but just one!” Big mistake. Open the floodgate! Almost immediately the rest of the group ran over to us holding up their cell phones at odd angles, trying to get their face next to the white people. Fortunately, it didn’t last long. In a matter of seconds it was all over. I asked them where they were from and they mentioned someplace out of BK. We couldn’t understand everything they said, but Kim and I gathered that they were in town for a field trip. That helps explain their excitement on ‘discovering’ a couple of white people. Maybe there are no foreigners where they come from. Oh well. Smile for the camera!!! =)

Confusing Moments, War with Duck

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A couple of unique things happened this week. Sometimes I don’t know what’s weird anymore. All my wires are criss-crossed, my point of reference has definitely shifted eastward!

This week a boy who I didn’t recognize was knocking on our front door. So I open the door and he has a package of rice porridge in his hands. I ask him what it is, and he says ‘rice porridge’ or “bubur” in Indonesian. He’s obviously here to give it to me. What’s not obvious is why he wants to give me rice porridge. I’m thinking it’s because the day before we went around to a few of our neighbors to hand out Christmas cookies. It’s a very Indonesians thing to return the favor. So I didn’t ask any questions. But I watched him leave and he didn’t return to one of the houses we had given cookies to. OKAY! So I took the porridge inside and, several days later, it’s still in our refrigerator. We still don’t know who it’s from!

Today, we had an intruder in our house. I have an ongoing war with a certain duck that hangs out in our yard. I hate this duck because for the longest time he leaves piles of mess on our front terrace where I park my motorbike. I’ve tried chasing the duck away, throwing rocks and sticks at it, and even tried several times to hit it with my motorbike. But he always keeps coming back.

Today, it got personal. The duck walked through our front door and into our bedroom!! I freak out, grab the broom and start to chase it out. But before I got him out the door he left a little present for us on our bedroom floor. You’d think that would be enough. But no, after I cleaned it up he came in again, and left another little pile! He’s escalated the war to something else. I have to come up with some new ways to rid our house of the duck. . .