It’s beginning to look a NOT LIKE CHRISTMAS: Bule Christmas (part 1)

24 01 2010

It’s hot.

Reeeeally hot.

Except for in malls, but only the ones that have air conditioning and western stores. Galaxy Mall is one of those places. They had Christmas decorations up since Halloween. It’s a shame that it’s a $7 taxi trip to get there. Boooo.

December is the time when final exams happen, people go home and chill with their families, and basically get a time to just breathe in some fresh air and start the whole thing all over again come January 2nd.

Not here. In class, I was a spell checker for the entire month. This was a little frustrating, since I wanted teaching time, I had stuff planned, but there were so many exams, practice exams, remedial exams, and days of “oh, the students are tired, let’s watch New Moon again.” Honestly, I wanted to go home to be with my family for the holidays, but because my school wasn’t closed, I wouldn’t have been able to “miss class.” The entire month was wasted time, I could have taken that time and done something useful and enjoyable, but nooooooo… In my opinion, the AMINEF travel policy can just shove it… ahem. Sorry. I’m a little frustrated with the way things are/were being handled, so forgive me. Whatever, I’ll get over it soon.

Watch how this morphs into something sick and twisted:
Let’s go to Jogjakarta for Christmas to visit my family! “Okay!” → There’s a conference for English teachers at a university there, wanna go? “Sure!” → The American Corner invited you to see the office when you’re there. “Okay…” → They’re going to have you as a special guest at the conference, that’s cool! “What…?” → Dani, you’re a featured speaker at the conference! You’re listed to speak on ‘Education in a Digital Era’ and ‘American Traditions: Similarities and differences between those of Indonesia.’ “Hold up, I’m supposed to do what?” → [On the train to Yogya] There’s a Christmas dinner and they’re cooking a turkey! *I should have known that the wrong pronoun was being used.*

Honestly, I don’t know how exactly that happened. Since my school wasn’t really doing squat for the whole month, I guess I just went with it. I felt the need to do something productive after not really having much use in the class since I cooked the turkeys (maybe I set the bar too high?).  So I created two pretty good powerpoint presentations, polished them nice and pretty, had pictures and everything. They were safe and secure on both my laptop and on my external hard drive, AND on my flash drive, just in case. I was prepared, I had fancy clothes picked out (fancy for Indo), and I had everything packed into my little backpack. If you know me, you know that I’m not the best at packing. I’m pretty sure I have about 15 lbs of stuff here that I don’t really have a use for. I thought I would need it, but I guess not. I packed everything, including my laptop, raincoat, and shoes into my little backpack.

Then came the roach motel and turkey #3. (Thankfully not together. That’s gross.)

The first night in Jogjakarta/Yogyakarta/Djogdjakarta, spell it however you like, we crashed at a dive spot near the backpacker places, which were unfortunately full. I’m pretty sure it was empty for a reason. Ennik and I got settled into our rooms, and since we’d been traveling all day, we were dead tired. I wanted nothing to do but brush my teeth, wrap up in a sheet and crash. Well, I got to do one of those things. Now, when I went in to brush my teeth, I realized that it was a wet bathroom and I was wearing socks. I didn’t want to get them wet, and I was too tired/lazy/in a hurry to use the baño, so I just pulled off the socks with one hand and kinda tripped. I bumped into the rusty bathroom door, didn’t pay much attention and went into the bathroom. Soon, that bump of the door started a mass panic. A mass panic of cockroaches. One scurried over my bare foot, I freaked, kicked it away, and accidentally kicked the door from Hell again. This caused about 15 more roaches to start running for their lives OUT OF A HOLE IN THE DOOR. I booked it out of the bathroom, slammed the stupid door shut and put my socks back on and jumped on my bed. I can deal with one. Not that many. Then I realized that my bed did not have a top sheet, only a fitted sheet and pillow cases. I was exposed to the evil little creatures that lingered. Oh joy! I put my feet in my backpack and wore a sweatshirt to bed with the hood on and strings pulled tight. No little creature that could survive the apocalypse would be joining me that night. Then I was OUT.

Christmas eve was the start of the great kalkun debacle, also known as the Battle of Turkey the Third. We went to Carrefour at about 10:30 AM to get our groceries and get started, and I told them if I cooked all day, and then baked the turkey for 3-4 hours, we would still be having a late dinner. I had to give my first presentation (the cultural difference one) that day at 3. There were two things that really slowed things down: traffic and the fact that the turkey was frozen solid. I kept the icy block of poultry on my lap in hopes of speeding up the process. Ha. Like that ever works. I start prepping and cutting, then realize something really essential was not where it needed to be. Where is the oven? “Why?” *face palm* “We’ll be back.”

After an intense search for a portable oven, we decided were going to cook some things there and then take them to another place. It’s a good thing I hadn’t started cooking when they got to the place where I was prepping. I can’t imagine transporting any hot food in a van in containers without lids. That would be fun. Everything’s loaded, I’m all sweaty, and I look at my phone. 3:00 PM.

I’m supposed to be giving my lecture RIGHT THEN. We’re at least 20 minutes away from the university campus. Rizky high tails the van to the school and I’m holding (again) a turkey that’s still frozen, but submerged in a giant bucket of warm water. Turns out, all my stuff was moved from the roach motel to a new place. Well… That stuff wasn’t going to be joining me at the University. Guess what all was there? Clean clothes, (lecture appropriate clothes for that matter), my laptop, my flash drive, AND my external hard drive. Basically, I was showing up to a lecture hall of 150 people without my presentation. I had my iPod, but that did nothing for my cause. I looked like a slob covered in grease from the kitchen, makeup running, hair fuzzed out… great. I basically dunked my head in a bucket of water hoping to look more presentable. It really didn’t work.

Some of the students at the culture lecture. They were all taking pictures, so why couldn't I?

Some of the students at the culture lecture. They were all taking pictures, so why couldn't I?

I winged it. I talked for about 15 minutes and then said, “I’m sure you have questions that are unanswered. Fire away.” Questions about Christmas, Thanksgiving, why we worship the devil on Halloween (I got a kick out of that one), why Americans have so much sex before marriage (our culture likes to over-share just as much as Indonesians have no regard for privacy?), about music, movies, baseball and how it works, religion in the states, everything. Then it became a photo session. I was gross and still taking pictures with all these curious students, and suddenly it became completely worth it.

Cool kids

The kids who though I was cool even though I was unprepared and looked like crap.

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