Archive for June, 2013

June 24, 2013


by Tabitha Kidwell

One reason my second year in Indonesia was so amazing was the people I got to spend it with – the 19 other English Language Fellows in the program were some of the most creative, intelligent, thoughtful, and FUN people I’ve ever met! Though we were spread all over the archipelago, we came together for conferences, workshops, camps, and – oh, yeah – vacations pretty often over the course of our 10-month fellowship. More than anything else, they are what made my second year so wonderful!

That is not to say that the fellows my first year were not wonderful – they were great, actually, and it really isn’t fair to compare them to the lightening-only-strikes-once, one-in-a-million-odds, i-love-these-people-so-much kind of group like we had this past year! Everyone got along, and everyone brought something different and valuable to our group dynamic. I think I freaked the new fellows out at our orientation in DC, because I kept saying things like “How is it possible that you guys are all so cool?” So, I guess the “something different” I brought was awkward conversation, but everyone still seemed to appreciate me. Whenever we got together, it was sure to be a blast, so we were all sad when it had to come to an end.

Luckily, some of us got to have one last hurrah! About half of the fellows had other plans to get to right away – elaborate travel plans across the Trans-Siberian Railroad, for example – but nine of us were able to get together in Bali one last time! This was made all the more fun by the fact that almost all the ladies could make it (we missed you, Autumn, Christy, Liz, and Lori!). People came and went at different times, but I (and my friend Debbie who was visiting from Ohio) got to hang out with these amazing women for over a week! We did lots of fun things:

We had great conversations over lots of delicious meals!


We chilled at the pool…


…and at the bar…


…and at the beach!



We made furry friends…


…and some furry enemies.

Our hotel may have been a little too close to the monkey forest - this guy came in the hotel room and ate our crackers one morning!

Our hotel may have been a little too close to the monkey forest – this guy came in the hotel room and ate our crackers one morning!

Some of us did the Bali marathon/half-marathon/10k.


And Jackie & Jess killed it at the Bali Triathlon!

Age group 1st place!

Age group 1st place!

Age group 3rd place!

Age group 3rd place!

Okay, she may have taken the phrase "killed it" too literally.

Okay, she may have taken the phrase “killed it” too literally.

But the truth is, it didn’t matter what we did, because we had so much fun just being together. The friends you make from an experience like this are a special kind of friend – you have been on adventures together, you understand and appreciate each other like family, and you share memories that are so unique and crazy and wonderful that you need to stay friends so you can reassure each other that yes, that actually happened. I’m lucky to have friends like that from many different points in my life, and I feel so blessed to now have a few more.

Friends forever!

Friends forever!

June 16, 2013

Good-byes and Travel Plans

by Tabitha Kidwell

Last Wednesday, I went to Singapore to meet my friend Debbie, who will be traveling with me until I fly home on July 11. I can’t believe she has only been here a week – it seems like we have done so much already!

She got a makeover as a Javanese princess for my going away party…




…we went to church…

We attended my students’ English drama…

…and my going away lunch…


…and rode around town on my scoopy.

We even visited the Gedung Songo temples and got asked for our picture bunches of times!


And yesterday we flew to Bali, where we visited Ulu Watu, this beautiful Cliffside temple…


And picked up our marathon packets…

We also took a quick run with our friend Ryan Hall and some elite Kenyans!

We also took a quick run with our friend Ryan Hall and some elite Kenyans!

And drove to meet my friends in Ubud.


We’ll run the marathon on Sunday, and will be here in Ubud until Tuesday. Then we go to Nusa Lembongan, an island off of Bali, for 4 days. Then we will go watch my friends compete in the Bali triathlon before flying to Vietman on June 23.

In Vietnam, we’ll spend a few days in Ho Chi Minh City, then do a bike tour of the Mekong Delta. We’ll spend a few days on the island of Phu Quoc before going to Hanoi and doing a boat cruise through Halong Bay. On June 9, we’ll fly back to Singapore where my bike is in storage. Debbie will fly home on the night of June 10, and I will follow on the morning of July 11, but we will both arrive home around 5 PM on the 11th. It should be a great month!

June 13, 2013

Using Things Up

by Tabitha Kidwell

It may be a slight twinge of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but I have an intense passion for using things up. It all began when I was in the Peace Corps. In college, I could part with shampoo and lotion bottles without feeling the need to leave them balancing upside down for weeks while gravity worked it’s magic on every last bit. This mania has developed since my time in Madagascar, when I had to use every last bit of sunscreen (because there was no more sunscreen coming my way). Now, I get a huge sense of satisfaction whenever I finish anything up, which even extends to non-consumable items like clothing and books. It was a huge triumph when I gave novels to just the right students who would actually enjoy them, and it was totally okay when I spilled oil on my favorite green skirt (which was kinda falling apart anyways). I think this compulsion extends from valuing my possessions and not wanting them to go to waste. I only feel able to let go of things if I think I have used them to their fullest potential, or given them to someone who will. So the last few weeks in Indonesia have been awesome:

I finished up this bottle of sunscreen...

I finished up this bottle of sunscreen…

...and this lotion...

…and this lotion…

...and this toothpaste...

…and this toothpaste…

...and this deodorant.

…and this deodorant.

I also had an ongoing sale, which was so gratifying as students, neighbors, and friends came by and helped it go from this…


…to this…


… to nothing!

But the best was this quad-fecta: finishing up my coffee, sugar, cereal, AND toothpaste on the last morning!

Coffee not pictured

Coffee not pictured

Is this a pathological compulsion? I’m not sure. All I know is, I’m going to use like 2 or 3 fewer tubes of toothpaste over the course of my lifetime than you wasteful jerks! Ha!

June 12, 2013

Future Plans

by Tabitha Kidwell

People keep asking me what I am doing next year. The answer… not much of anything. Well, that’s not exactly true. I’m hoping to start grad school for my Ph.D. in applied linguistics in 2014, so I’m going to spend most of August and September visiting schools and applying. I guess I’d better take the GRE, too. And then I might go to India. Or work at starbucks. And I’m definitely going to live in my grandmother’s basement and spend a lot of time watching Jeopardy with her. So I’ll be pretty busy, actually.

The truth is, I applied to a couple of jobs that I thought I was PERFECT for, and I was a little worried I would get both… but I in the end I got neither. That was a bit of a blow to my ego, but a necessary reality check. For the past two years, I’ve been doing a lot of work that, frankly, would be beyond my qualifications in the states. With just a master’s degree and an American passport, I was asked to teach undergraduate methods classes and give keynote speeches at international conferences. I got a lot of really good experience, but in the end, I still am not quite qualified to do that kind of work at home. Not getting these jobs is a good reminder that I am not (to borrow a phrase from the late 90s) all that. This is probably something I need to hear this week, when I have been the guest of honor at no less than 5 going away events featuring speeches about how awesome I am (Miss Tabitha has a very beautiful face; Miss Tabitha has shown us that it is possible to come to class on time; Miss Tabitha teach us English so well) and given me more presents than I can possible carry home. During the past two years, I have actually been given trophies for doing such a good job! Being rejected from a couple of jobs is a good reminder that that will probably not happen in the future. Except maybe as starbucks employee of the month November 2013!

This doesn't happen in America?

This doesn’t happen in America?

June 10, 2013

What I’ll miss, what I won’t, and what I’m excited for at home

by Tabitha Kidwell

As I’m preparing to go home, I’m thinking a lot about all those special (or annoying) things that I won’t find in America… and all the amazing things I will find when I go home. Here are some of my thoughts…

What I’ll miss about Indonesia:

I’ve probably overindulged in massages these past 2 years. There have been periods where I was getting 2 or 3 a week. At under $10 a pop, why not?

Vegetable Peanut Sauce Dishes
There are 5 or 6 very similar Javanese dishes involving vegetables and peanut sauce. They all have different names, but seem to include differing combinations of 7 or so ingredients, kinda like the food at Taco Bell. (Chalupa, gordita, taco, tostada, come on, it’s all the same!)

Riding my Scoopy
I had a pink motorcycle. That will never happen again (but, actually, never say never.)

Fresh Juices
Mango, melon, strawberry, papaya, avocado (sounds weird but it’s awesome). Oh I’ll miss you.

I’m sad to be leaving just as mango season is beginning. When I tell people how much mangoes cost in America, they wonder why I want to go back there. Actually, now I wonder, too.

My Housekeeper
I haven’t mopped, dusted, cleaned a toilet, or done laundry in 2 years. I’ve barely even done dishes. It’s going to be a rough return to housework.

My Students
They are so sweet! Many can’t really speak English, but they are so nice and hard working. I’ve gotten hourly text messages the past few days: I will miss you! Miss, safe travels! Miss, we love you soooo much. So sweet.

Feeling Like a Celebrity When I Walk Around Town
It’s flattering to be stopped and asked for a photo when walking down the sidewalk, even if they only want it because I am white.

What I Won’t Miss:

Leave out a sugary cup and you’ve maybe got 5 minutes before they descend. They’re everywhere. They even use my body as a ladder to get to food. I don’t even look anymore, I can just tell when one is crawling on me and brush it off. I was a little worried that, if I sat still for too long, they would slowly disassemble me the way they did with the cockroaches I smashed.

Speaking of, I hate them, too. I got to the point where I didn’t even need to see them, I knew their sound. That is too intimate.

It’s hot here. It will be in America when I get back in July, too… but then it will be autumn. And then I intend to complain about the cold.

I just can’t do it anymore. Maybe I’ve eaten my quota for the year. Or for life. At my going-away luncheon, I just took fish and vegetables and people were really concerned. “No rice? You will be so hungry!”

It’s not so bad in Salatiga, but I still hate sucking in exhaust when I ride or run along the main roads, and I won’t miss the haze that sets in when everyone burns their trash in the late afternoon.

Having to Wear Extremely Modest Clothing
I’m going to show my knees. And shoulders. And collarbone. Maybe even at the same time… eventually.

Feeling Like a Celebrity When I Walk Around Town
Ok, it’s charming for schoolchildren to laugh and point when you pass, but, believe it or not, it does get old.

What I‘m Looking Forward To:

I hope I can remember which side of the road to drive on. Good thing my mom encouraged me not to sell my car since now I am unemployed and might have to live in it.

Happy hour! Draft beer!

They have everything there, all under one roof. And you can reach up and take it off the shelf. And you can walk down the aisles without 400,000 people being in your way. And they have icees. Or so I hear.

Getting an iPhone
I heard there is something called an emoji, and I want to know what it is. Also, I’ll need to find where the nearest Target store is at all moments.

Moving into an Apartment
Ok, this won’t happen for awhile, but I’m so excited to take the boxes out of my mom’s crawl space, remember what is in there, and put it all in cabinets. I love packing and unpacking (probably why I travel so much).

Running & Biking with Friends
I did this here, but not enough. And not in places where it is a normal thing to do and adolescent boys didn’t chase after us.

Friends & Family
This, of course, is the big one, and the reason I’m willingly leaving my wonderful students and colleagues, my scoopy, the massages, juices, and peanut sauces. I have had a wonderful 2 years here, but it is time to come home and spend time with the people I love most in the world. If I can tear myself away from my iPhone, that is. (Can someone please explain who this Siri is and why she knows so much?)