Archive for ‘About Me’

July 29, 2013

Funemployment Fail

by Tabitha Kidwell

When I came home, I had lots of plans about how I would spend the next 6-12 months before starting grad school. I want to end up in the right program, so the visiting/choosing/applying phase was easily going to require 3 months. Then I thought I would cast about for work in the manner of a 22-year-old recent grad. My friends all had this experience right out of college, but I had always had the next step planned, so I missed out. I thought I would live with my parents or grandmother, do some translation or test grading online, bartend or work at starbucks, travel around to visit friends. I even had elaborate fantasies, like editing this blog into a book and getting it published, or opening an Indonesian food truck, or going on The Amazing Race. Fantasies aside, I thought it would be good for me to have a year of uncertainty, a year where my self worth wasn’t determined by my career, a year when I would step back and sort through the news feed of my life.

So, two weeks in, that sucked. The reason I have never put myself in such an uncertain situation is that I HATE UNCERTAINTY. I am a fairly type A, hyper-oprganized person, and all these lingering possibilities were just stressing me out. With nothing planned, it felt like everything was possible, like finding a secret passageway to France in my closet, or inventing a tele-porter that would send me to Bali, or entering a time-traveling wormhole and re-joining the Peace Corps.

So I just did that last one. I accepted a position in El Salvador with Peace Corps Response, which is like Peace Corps for grown-ups. Like how attractive contestants on The Bachelor get automatic acceptance on Bachelor Pad. It’s a special program for returned Peace Corps volunteers that requires more technical expereince and is shorter term. So I’d be working with the Ministry of Education, writing a curriculum guide and training teachers to help them teach the national curriculum. I had always thought about doing a Response position, but had never had the time before. This placement is only from October to May, so it fits in just perfectly before starting grad school in the fall. I wasn’t really intending to go abroad again, but it was so perfect for me that I thought “I wonder how easy it is to apply.” It turns out, really easy. It was a matter of uploading my resume and writing a paragraph. I got to the submit button and though “Oops… I guess I’ll apply after all.” I had interviewed and been sent an invitation within a week of being home.

So I accepted it, and was so excited! NOT. I accepted it, but feel pretty lukewarm. I really just want to live in America. I want to be near my friends and family, be in my own culture, actually live in one place for an extended period of time. It’s a strange life I am leading where moving to El Salvador is the safe option, the easy way out. I would be really good at the job there, I would have enough money, everything would be taken care of. I’d improve (remember?) my Spanish and would get great career experience. But I might also feel like I was in self-imposed exile. People keep saying stuff like “Wow! Living abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Well, not the fifth time! It would definitely be an adventure, but I’m feeling a little tired of adventures at the moment. Part of me wants to go, but part of me wants to tackle the adventure of sleeping on a friend’s couch and working in retail.

So, friends, family, faithful readers, what should I do? I have barely started the final approval process for the Peace Corps, so I could easily just un-accept their invitation. Should I stay? Should I go? Should I move to DC, New York, Seattle, San Fransisco, LA…? Should I move to Denver, live with my sister and her soon-to-be-husband, and be their dog-walker? Should go on a reality TV show? Is this what it feels like to be 22?

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…

P1040137

…to this…

P1040347

… 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!

May 24, 2013

Posterior Tibial Tendonitis and Me: How I got uninjured

by Tabitha Kidwell

It’s taper time! I just did my last 20-miler of my marathon training schedule, so it’s time to rest and recover in preparation for the actual race on June 16th! This will be my 5th marathon, and this training season is the best I have had yet!

When I came to Indonesia two years ago, I intended to run a marathon in Asia and in Australia (which would have brought my continent tally up to 5!) I had spent the previous two years training half- and full-marathons, but I was constantly injured with one thing or another. I was always sore and exhausted after long runs. I had a lingering ankle injury, knee pain, and was always one old pair of shoes or concrete sidewalk away from shin splints. Luckily (luckily?) I sprained my ankle pretty badly within my first month here, and my plans to continue running marathons went out the window.

I got back to that goal this spring, and my training was totally different from the past. No ankle pain, shin splints, knee tendonitis, IT band syndrome, pulled hamstrings, or sore back. I don’t even feel sore after long runs. It was great! How did you do it?!?!?! my injury-prone fellow runners might ask. (Injury-prone runners like nothing more than talking to people about their injuries, so if that does not describe you, you might want to check out right now). Unfortunately, I have no clear answer. I had been so desperate to get better that I was ready to try anything. So now, I don’t know which actually helped. Nevertheless, I think these things contributed to my recovery:

Almost 2 years off/Cross-training
Until I started this training season, I hadn’t run farther than 10 miles, and that break from distance helped a lot. I also started doing triathlons, so kept up aerobic fitness by biking and swimming.

Running slower
The first morning I ran with MIT, the my marathon training club in Columbus, I went to the guy in charge and said “I’m new.” “How fast do you run?” he asked. “Maybe nine or ten minute miles?” I guessed. He sent me to the 9:30 pace group, which I stuck with because I developed a huge crush on the coach. After two seasons, I ended up with an ankle injury and a broken heart. (The ankle took longer to heal.) Those two races are still my half-and full-marathon PRs, so we’ll call it even. I eventually dropped back to the 10:00 group, and now that I am running alone, I do more like an 11-minute mile on long training runs. This is what the experts recommend – you should run long runs one or two minutes slower than your goal pace. I’m not too worried about goal pace (I approach marathons with a pass/fail mentality), but I do know this is a better pace for me.

Healthy living
For better or worse, Indonesia is kinda a buzz-kill. Us foreigners are lucky if we live somewhere where you can buy alcohol, and even then, pretty much all you can find is cans of beer or bottles of Smirnoff ice for $3 apiece in the mini-marts. Indonesia is not a drinking culture, and alcohol is taxed very heavily. I basically have stopped drinking just because I don’t have the opportunity. Compare this to life at home, where I would typically have a few drinks with friends 2-3 times a week.

Massages & Refloxology
Giving up alcohol, I may have just acquired another addiction – I’ve been getting about 2 massages a week. Why not, when each session costs under $10, and there are so many varieties – standard body massage, hot stone, aromatherapy, Japanese chiropractic, body reflexology, foot reflexology, and the magical “cream bath” which is really a deep conditioning treatment for your hair, but also includes an arm, shoulder, and head massage. So I’ve had a massage regimen like that of an elite athlete. I’m all loosened up. The best is foot reflexology, where they dig into your feet and release all the gunk that I imagine builds up there after a few hours of running.

Strengthening & balancing exercises
Since 2009, I’ve spent 15 minutes most mornings attached to a giant rubber band faithfully doing exercises given to me by a physical therapist after I first injured my ankle. I varied it a little and added in other exercises, and, to be honest, slacked off quite a bit once my mileage got high in recent months. But I think I have increased foot and leg strength. I really noticed it when hiking down Mt. Merapi with Katie and Chris a few weeks ago, when I easily caught myself on ankle-turning stumbles that, in the past, might have put me out of commission.

Shoe Inserts
I got ‘em just before my health insurance ran out two years ago, and, given that in Indonesia, I have no shame wearing grandma shoes, I have worn them almost everyday. So my arches are supported and happy. I know that the new barefoot movement advocates less support in order to strengthen feet, so I don’t know if they are helping or not. I’m just going to continue wearing the things until America convinces me that uncomfortable shoes are beautiful and worth the pain again.

Toe Striking

P1040146
I’ve started running in Newtons, which encourage you to run with a (currently trendy) toe strike. They have changed my stride when running in regular shoes as well. Some running experts say there is no need to mess with your stride, but all I know is, I am less injured. In fact, the only injuries I could possible link to toe striking are two matching blisters below the ball of my foot where my body created new skin at the spot where my foot now hits the ground. Even if it doesn’t help my running, at least it will make runner-types think I am cool.

3:2 breathing
I read this article in Runners World: I did it. I liked it. If only because counting my breaths gave me something to do on those long runs alone.

Sleeping in this thing

P1040145
I noticed that my ankle tended to tighten up overnight, so I invested in this torture device to keep it in a flexed position. This is actually made for Plantar Fasciitis, but it works great for my ankle tendons as well. And is actually quite comfortable. Though, if I ever get a boyfriend, I’ll probably keep this hidden (along with my mouth guard) until I get married. Or have children. Or grandchildren.

It is probably tempting fate to write about how awesome it is to be uninjured going into a marathon that is still over two weeks away. Let’s hope for no motorcycle accidents or ankle twists. I intend to focus the reminder of my training on eating sufficient pasta. Wish me luck!

April 16, 2013

Thoughts on Violence, Marathons, Indonesia, and Boston: Alhamdulillah

by Tabitha Kidwell

One of the best parts of living somewhere 12 hours ahead is waking up in the morning and scrolling through my facebook feed to see what my friends in America did yesterday.

Today was not a good morning.

Last night, as I went to bed, I saw pictures of friends from my running group as they were preparing to run the Boston Marathon, the country’s oldest and most iconic race. People train hard for years to qualify for Boston. Even if we know we’ll never qualify, we still think about the possibility (if I had a great day…; If I could lose 15 pounds..; If I can still run this fast when I’m 70…). We know random facts about a race course we have never seen (10 AM start in Hopkinton; Newton Hills between miles 19 and 26). Based on my age and gender, I would have to run a 3:35 marathon to qualify. That will never happen, but for my friends who are just a little faster and a lot more competitive, it’s within the realm of possibility. This morning, I was excited to wake up and see how they had done in yesterdays race.

And, of course, the first thing I saw was the terrible news of 2 bombs at the finish line.

For some reason, when people hear about a senseless act of violence, we want to find a connection to our own lives. Maybe it’s human compassion, maybe it’s voyeurism, but we want to take someone else’s tragedy and make it our own. We update our facebook status, we tweet: We are all Virginia Tech; Praying for Sandy Hook families; Those could have been my friends; That could have been my child. We want to be part of it, and somehow we feel like we are.

People here in Indonesia feel the same way, and often, I am their connection. For many of my students and colleagues, I am the only American they know well, or even the only American they have ever met. When a tragedy occurs in the States, they often seek me out. “We are sorry to hear the news,” they say. “Are your family and friends okay?” Usually, my family and friends are hundreds of miles away – many Indonesians don’t know New York from New Mexico. I let this slide since many Americans don’t know that Sumatra and Java are more than coffees at Starbucks. But, by being able to connect with me, an actual American, they feel a connection with the tragedy, and they have a conduit for their condolences.

Of course today, some of my friends were there, had passed the exact bombing site only minutes before. And even more of my friends felt like they were there. People come to run Boston from all over the country. I would bet that any distance runner in the US who runs with a group knows at least one runner in Boston today, and immediately thought of that friend. Actually, many of them had already been thinking of those friends all morning as they ran the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Copley Square, mentally sending luck and encouragement. We think about them going to the expo while we are doing our own long run Saturday morning. We see Facebook pictures of them having their pre-run pasta on Sunday night. We post good luck comments on the picture of them on the bus that morning. We follow their progress online. A little bit of us is there too. So when we imagine their finish line excitement and triumph turning into tragedy, we feel that, too.

I feel a little bit sheepish saying this about something as secular as a foot race, but there is something sacred about the finish line. I always cry as I cross. I’m not sure if that is because I’m proud of my accomplishment, overcome with endorphins, or just happy I don’t have to run anymore. The feeling of finishing a marathon is an incredible peak experience. You think back to the long months of training, to the runs in the snow and the rain and the sunshine. You think about other things in your life you are proud of and of what you still have to accomplish. You think about all the people that supported you, all the people who love you, and all the people that you love. It’s a thin place, a place where you are more connected to the fundamental magic of the universe. To have that feeling changed to fear and tragedy in one second is unpardonable.

Living in Indonesia, among a Muslim society, there is a phrase I have come to love: Alhamdulillah. It’s roughly translated as “Praise be to God,” but that doesn’t have the same ring to me. Muslims continue to recite the Koran in the original Arabic because of the power and the beauty of that language, and that may be why Alhamdullilah just seems more powerful than “Thank God” or “Praise Jesus.” So that’s what came to my mind.

When I read the e-mail from Marathoners in Training (MIT), my running group in Columbus, saying that all the runners from our group were safe.

Alhamdullilah.

When I saw my friend Katie’s facebook status: Just wanted to let you know that I’m okay

Alhamdullilah.

When I thought about my friend Debbie, who has tried for years to qualify and missed it last year by a maddening 26 seconds.

Alhamdulillah.

I know that many people think of Islam when they think of terrorism, and that is a sad and unfortunate connection. But after two years of living in a Muslim society, among some of the kindest and most thoughtful people I have ever met, I do too – as a source of comfort.

Alhamdulillah.

February 19, 2013

Turning Javanese

by Tabitha Kidwell

This recent article about how Barack Obama’s time on Java as a child influences him today got me thinking: how have I changed after my 18 months here?

Yesterday and tomorrow are no longer limited to one day

The tendancy of Indoneisan people to use kemarin to refer to any time in the past, and besok for any time in the near future, is a little infuriating sometimes. For example:

Tabitha: My water is broken. When will it be fixed?
Landlord: Oh, yes, tomorrow.
…(tomorrow)…
Tabitha: My water is still broken. When will it be fixed?
Landlord: Oh, yes, tomorrow.

Or:

Secretary in my office, on a Wednesday: So, you were in Jakarta yesterday?
Tabitha: No, I was in the office yesterday. You saw me.
Secretary: Yes, but yesterday, you were in Jakarta?
Tabitha: Well, I got back Sunday… but, yeah, okay, yesterday.

But now it’s useful to not really have to worry about if something was precisely one day, two, or a week ago, as long as it is still present in my short-term memory, and to think of what I will do in the somewhat near future as plans for tomorrow. Why waste the mental energy splitting hairs?

I often take on this posture:

311264510

This is Srikandi, one of the most powerful female warriors in the traditional Wayang Kulit puppet shows. She is looking at the ground as a sign of her humility and strength. She doesn’t look around haughtily, and she doesn’t even need to acknowledge her far inferior adversaries. I find myself often looking at the ground and adopting an unassuming smile when I walk or run around town here. I find it’s the best way to avoid unwanted attention, which could come from tiny grandmothers giving me dirty looks for parading about in so little clothing (is that an ankle I see?), lascivious youths declaring their passion, (you are beautiful! I love you!) or motorcycle taxis offering their services (where you going? I drive you faster!). It’s no fun engaging with someone who won’t respond, so not making eye contact avoids a world of trouble. When I first realized how often I did this, I regretted how passive and weak I was acting, but then I learned that this is the way that the heros of Wayang Kulit stand. I prefer to think of it as standing like a hero.

Yes/No answers have a third option: Yes/No/Not yet

Indonesian speakers are very careful not to negate a future possibility. If there is a remote possibility that something will happen in the future, it would be inappropriate to close the door on that possibility with a unilateral tidak. Far better to give a non-committal belum. For example:

Are you married?
Not yet.
Do you have children?
Not yet.
Have you made your fortune selling fabric gift wrap under the catchy name “fab wrap?”
Not yet.

Everyone is Miss/Mrs./Mister to me

It’s a little bit rude to refer to Indonesian people by their names only – you should use Bapak, Ibu, Mas, or Mbak, respectively, before the names of old men and women and young men and women. This had led me to think of even my close friends as “Miss Jackie” and “Mister Jon.” To complicate things more, these four titles are only the main ones – there are also many different titles that are used for very old people, foreign people, highly respected people. Oh, and they change regionally. Just throw something in front of someone’s name and you’ll be better off. I now feel like something is missing if I just say someone’s name.


Of course, I have changed in many ways that will only become apparent when I go home and realize what is different and what is out of place in America. Hopefully I’ll lose the verbal oddities but retain the open-mindedness and the heroic posture. Just like my friend Barack Obama.

January 9, 2013

Jeopardy Online Test January 2013

by Tabitha Kidwell

I love Jeopardy. It’s a major life ambition to get on there. In the next 10-20 years, my knowledge will continue to grow, but I will get gradually less attractive. I hope to go on the show at the intersection of those two – the sweet spot where I have the most knowledge possible before the middle age spread takes over and my face starts to sag. I take the online text every time I can, more for practice than because I think I will actually get an audition – though I did get an audition last time! Unfortunately, I was in Indonesia and it was a bit of a trip. But that makes me think there is hope for the future.

Anyways, I took the online screening test again this morning. It’s 50 short answer questions, and you have 15 seconds to answer each. Spelling doesn’t count, you don’t have to phrase your answer in the form of a question, and there is no penalty for guessing or benefit to answering quickly. I try to make notes about the questions so I can check my answers later – usually I can answer in 5-10 seconds, then jot something down with the extra time. Some day when I really get serious, I’ll have a friend watch over my shoulder to write the questions down. I thought it might be interesting to share the questions, If you’re wondering what the test is like. These are paraphrases of the questions (er, answers, I guess, since its backwards) as best as I remember.

1. This the title character of Charlotte Bronte’s best known work. (Jane Eyre)
2. She hosts Project Runway. (Heidi Klum)
3. This man patented the polio vaccine in 1955. (Salk. I said Pasteur DUMB!)
4. This country is bordered by Sudan to the south and Libya to the west. (Egypt)
5. This university is in Ithica, New York. (Cornell)
6. This Queen began her long reign in 1838. (Victoria. I can’t believe it, but I said Elizabeth! DUMBER!)
7. This character, king of the Fairies, played with Puck. (Category: Shakespeare) (Oberon, but I didn’t know)
8. Steve Ballner is the CEO of this technology company. (Microsoft. I said Google. 😦 )
9. He was afflicted with boils by Satan (Cateogry: Bible book title characters) (Job. I kill at the bible categories.)
10. It’s the alcoholic ingredient in Cuba Libre. (Rum. Thank goodness I do plenty of research in this category)
11. An counting device using beads (Category: 6-letter words) (Abacus, got the Joy Formidible stuck in my head)
12. It’s the capital of Ukraine. (Kiev, I’ve known that I watched Oksana Baiul figure skate in 1994!)
13. This book is set in Panem. (Hunger Games! Duh!)
14. While in prison from 1895-1897, he spent most of his time reading Gaol. (Didn’t know, but it was Oscar Wilde.)
15. In year XXXX, the first of these wars between Rome and Carthage began. (Didn’t know this one either – Punic wars)
16. It’s the name of the aptly-named robot on Mars. (Was on a bad streak here. Couldn’t remember enough details from the question to find the answer, but maybe “curiosity”)
17. This painter is most famous for Number 9: 1949 (or something like that) (Jackson Pollock, I can’t believe I missed it after getting an A+ in Art History in college!)
18. Woodward and Bernstein became famous while working for this paper. (Washington Post)
19. It precedes pumpernickel and letter (Category: Colorful Language) (Scarlet)
20. Celie was that main character of this 1982 novel. (The Color Purple. I read it in the peace corps!)
21. This “grew” to be Zyngas best-selling game in 2010. (Farmville)
22. He published 11/22/63 in 2012 (Steven King – Got this one with a last second guess. Good thing his name is so short!)
23. This is the birthstone of July (Ruby, but I said Garnet. Grr)
24. Mt. Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America, is located in this mountain range. (The Andes. Thank goodness I have a former life as a Spanish teacher.)
25. In 2011, she was “Rolling in the Deep” (Category: Pop stars) (Adele)
26. He wrote Heart of Darkness. (Conrad. Thanks, 11th grade English)
27. Watson and Crick are credited with this discovery. (DNA. Thanks, 11th grade Chemistry)
28. Its the capital of Wisconsin. (Madison)
29. He composed the Four Seasons. (Vivaldi)
30. Azure Sneaker (Category: Rhyme Time) (Blue Shoe)
31. Canada’s postal code PE refers to this eastern province. (Prince Edward Island. Thanks, Anne of Green Gables!)
32. These were the high law of the United States before the constitution was written, from 1781-1789. (Articles of Confederation)
33. In 1991, Slovenia and Croatia seceded from this country. (Yugoslavia – I was reminded of my 2007 trip to Croatia!)
34. Queequag, a tatooed Indian, was a character in this American classic. (I said Last of the Mohicans. It was Moby Dick)
35. This southernmost US state is also one of the smallest by area. (Hawaii – little bit tricky but not so hard)
36. The Real Housewives Series are on this network. (Bravo. Total guess, good thing I got it or I would have been embarrassed the next time I saw my cousin Elizabeth)
37. 4 pecks equal one of these. (Bushel. Now I have Guys & Dolls stuck in my head)
38. Atom number 92, it’s named after a planet and important to nuclear energy. (uranium)
39. This Algerian-born existential author is most famous for his novel The Stranger (Camus! Thanks right, French major!)
40. Fear of foreigners (Category: X Marks the Spot) (Xenophobia)
41. Though often called a sea, this is actually the worlds largest lake, located just east of the Caucasus. (Caspian)
42. This woman, whose real first name was Gabrielle, introduced the Little Black Dress in 1924. (Category: Designing Women) (Chanel. I did a report on her in AP French class!)
43. This Danish explorer of the Siberan coastline lent his name to a strait, an island, and a sea. (I totally blanked on this one. Bering! Duh!)
44. This man was finally elected president of South Africa in 1994. (Mandela)
45. In this book by Alice Sebold, Susie Salmon watches her family after her own untimely death. (The Lovely Bones. Also read this in the Peace Corps!)
46. Andrew Garfield helped resurrect this superhero’s movie franchise. (Spiderman)
47. She was the author of the story Brokeback Mountain. (Missed this, could only think of Ang Lee, the director of the movie. Annie Proulx.)
48. It’s a home for Eagles (Category: Starts with 2 vowels) (Aerie. Thanks to the offshoot of American Eagle that sells skimpy lingerie to the not-yet legal)
(I forgot 2 questions)

Really not that hard, right? I got 36 correct, and really should have gotten 3 more if I hadn’t blanked. I don’t think it’s good enough to get called in this year. But I think I have a few good years of attractiveness left so it’s okay!

January 1, 2013

Uberlist 2013

by Tabitha Kidwell

For my 3rd Uberlist, I’m trying something different. For one thing, the huge, long list is a little overwhelming and impractical. My college friends convinced me last August that I had to do just 13 good goals. Because, come on, Chew food longer is a pretty stupid goal, right? But when I sat down to choose my 13 goals, I couldn’t come up with 13 good ones. And this is the first year in awhile that I don’t have any idea what the year will bring. After July, with the exception of my sister’s wedding, I have no idea where I will be or what I will be doing. It was almost impossible to make goals for 12 months when 6 of those months are a total mystery. So I decided to make a long list of goals, and make it a priority to do at least 13! When 13 are done, my Uberlist is complete for 2013! Here’s the list, in no particular order:

Run a Marathon
Read & pass on all the paper books I brought to Indonesia
Avoid sugar & refined grains
Plan Katie’s bachelorette party
Journal daily
Do 100 push-up training program
Tweet professionally 1x/week
Run a race with Mark
Play laser tag with Rickie
Visit Kelly in Chicago
Visit Jimmy in San Fransisco
Visit Meghan in Seattle
Visit Claire in NYC
Go on a road trip with no predetermined destination
Finish Error Analysis article
Put 1 new jeopardy study topic in book every month
Finish watching The Wire, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and Downton Abbey
Begin “Bible in 3 years” plan
Finish “Basic Indonesian” book
Finish Course in Miracles
Do Yoga/Meditation retreat
Eat more mindfully
Hike Mt. Merapi
Visit 2 places in the US I’ve never been before
Get conversation clubs started at STAIN Salatiga
Organize UPB library
Start book club
Get Married (Jackie added that one. You never know!)

Let me know if you want to help make one of these happen! I’ll try to blog when I accomplish one. 2013 looks like fun (at least until July, then it’s just more mysterious fun!).

December 31, 2012

Uberlist 2012

by Tabitha Kidwell

It’s that time of year again! Uberlist time! Lets see how I did this year!

TECHNOLOGY:
1. Change passwords to be more secure (if by more secure, you mean they are all the exact same combination of letters & numbers, definitely!)
2. Add addresses to e-mail contact list
3. Join Google + (Anyone know the point of google+?)

CRAFT:
4. Do a little work on Violet Blanket while home (I should just throw the thing out!)

FINANCE:
5. Figure out retirement savings plan (I did open a Roth IRA, but that just means that I now have like 5 different accounts I should consolidate or something)
6. Run credit report 3 times annually (Didn’t really do this either)

SPIRITUAL:
7. Finish Course in Miracles (Ok, it is taking forever. Next year.)
8. Begin ‘Bible in 3 years’ plan (also next year)
9. Spend 2 weeks at Taize (and it was awesome!)
10. Do weekend meditation course at Mendut Buddhist Temple

GROW UP:
11. Improve signature
12. Respond to e-mails within 48 hours (Mostly)
13. Take Scoopy in for required maintenance
14. Adjust mirrors on Scoopy every time I ride (So didn’t do this)
15. Stop doing that thing on my motorcycle where I don’t look both ways on purpose because I think if I don’t look, nothing will be there. (um…)

CAREER:
16. Teach Speaking 2 spring semester
17. Teach Media in Language Teaching sp. Semester

18. Do 1 lecture per month for students at STAIN
19. Do 1 lecture per month for teachers at STAIN (close enough)
20. Do 1 program every 2 months at American corner IAIN Semarang
21. Do 1 program every 2 months at American corner UGM Yogya
22. Do 1 program every 2 months at American corner UMY Yogya (These are all way too aggressive goals that would have been overkill. I did enough presentations, FOR SURE!)
23. Read all issues of Forum
24. Finish article on Student-Centered teaching
25. Write article on common mistakes (Ug, I did all the data analysis and just need to write it but it is like the most boring thing ever)
26. Write article on interventions to common mistakes (didn’t even start)
27. Get an article published somewhere besides Register
28. Present at a conference besides TEFLIN (Yeah, like so many. I am conferenced out.)
29. Renew in Indonesia (here I am!)
30. Figure out a job for fall 2013 (Ugh!)
MUSIC:
31. Go to 2 concerts of bands I have never seen live before. (CD101 Summerfest! Thanks Nate!)
32. Learn one (easy) song on the guitar (Come as you are, Nirvana. Super easy!)

JEOPARDY:
33. Learn US Presidents in order
34. (Re)Learn World Capitals
35. Learn US state capitals
36. Learn names, main characters & plot summaries of Shakespere’s plays
37. Learn English monarchs
38. Learn periodic table of the elements (Yeah… I’m more accumulating general knowledge rather than memorizing this stuff.)
39. Take Jeopardy online test (And I passed… but couldn’t make it home for the audition. Next time!)

ACADEMIC:
40. Read 20 books (I read like 25 last spring, and like 2 this fall. Not sure what I’ve been doing instead. Mad Men and The Wire maybe?)
41. Read The Language Instinct
42. Read Madame Bovary in French (Still on the kindle, I’ll get to it!)
43. Re-read Le Petit Prince in French
44. Re-read l’étranger in French
45. Read La Casa de los Espiritus in Spanish
46. Re-read Cien años de Soledad in Spanish
47. Read Maria in Spanish (This was not the year for Spanish)
48. Finish Bahasa Indonesia level 3 at UKSW
49. Begin Bahasa Indonesia level 4 at UKSW
50. Finish Basic Indonesian book with Pak H. (I haven’t studied BI all fall either. What happened to my free time?)
51. Begin to study Arabic
52. Memorize 4 poems

HEALTH: (Rocked this category!)
53. Chew food longer
54. Avoid overeating to the point of discomfort
55. Visit Dr. Miely (dentist) once
56. Visit Dr. Ansel (dermatologist) once
57. Visit Dr. Benjamin (general) once
58. Visit Dr. Lawyer (chiropractor) once
59. Get massage from Jayne Wilson

SPORT:
60. Do 18 mile marathon training run
61. Do 19 mile marathon training run
62. Do 20 mile marathon training run
63. Run Marathon (Ooh… so didn’t end up doing a marathon this year. Bali 2013?)
64. Run 5K
65. Hike Mt. Merbabu (Thanks, Jon!)
66. Hike Mt. Merapi

PERSONAL:
67. Chop off hair
68. PERSONAL GOAL (that I so did NOT accomplish! Bummer.)
69. Write two blog posts per month
70. Turn 30 without complaining out loud (Complain? I loved it!)

FRIENDS/FAMILY:
71. Record Grandmother’s life story (Still want to do this, but when I brought it up I think it freaked her out.)
72. Visit Katie (she came to C-Bus instead)
73. Go somewhere fun with the Tipsy Chicks (Kelley’s Island! Where are we going next year?)
74. Visit Baby Gohr (Didn’t make it to Cinci…)
75. Visit Baby Zaranac (Eva! Love her!)
76. Visit Baby Kiefer (Didn’t make it to Cinci…)
77. Visit Ella Walker (So cute)
78. Meet KMS students for Bastille Day Reuinion

TRAVEL:
79. Take a picture in Indonesia with the Columbus Dispatch & send it in (Yeah Katie!)
80. Get open water diving certification (And my advanced too!)
81. Go to Gednung Songo (And I’ve been like 3 times now!)
82. Go to Dieng Plateau (Amazing!)
83. Go to Bromo (Underwhelming)
84. Go to Pacitan (Next year)
85. Go to Jamu Jago tour in Semarang
86. Do Jamu tour in Yogya (I think I must have just learned about Jamu last December. Why was I so into it?)
87. Go to Affandi museum in Yogya
88. Go to Sulawesi
89. Go to Kalimantan
90. Go to Sumatra
91. Go to Lombok
92. Go to Singapore

FUN:
93. Go to Red, White, and Boom (Way too tired after getting back from Europe!)
94. Go to a Clippers game (Thanks, Debbie!)
95. Go to Ohio State Fair (It’s becoming a tradition)
96. Go to UA 4th parade
97. Go to Doo Dah Parade
98. Go to Zoombeezi Bay (Why did I want to go there again?)
99. Go to Gallery Hop (Thanks, Erin, Angie, and Allison!)
100. Visit Camp Akita
101. Watch all the films nominated for best oscar
102. Go on road trip with no pre-determined destination (Still my dream!)
103. Eat brown rice at Chipotle (Like the first day I was home!)
104. Eat at La Casita (With Valerie!)
105. Eat all 5 daily specials at Press Grill
106. Eat at North Star Café
107. Eat at Figlio
108. Eat at Dirty Frank’s
109. Eat at Taste of Bali (Hard to do since they went out of business…)
110. Eat beef jerkey & drink a Stella Artois at Char Bar (Always classy)
111. Finish a Thursday NYT crossword without looking at the answers. (Success!)
112. Write Uberlist 2013 (Get ready for tomorrow’s post!)

Totals? Drumroll please…. 68/112, or a 61%. Thanks to grade inflation, that is a C here, so I’m totally satisfactory! I’ll take it… it’s been a very busy year!

December 13, 2012

The chop

by Tabitha Kidwell

Careful readers will remember item #67 on my uberlist back in January: Chop off hair! I wanted to wait until the triathlon was over, and since the world was supposed to end anyways, I decided 12-12-12 was the day!

This is the 4th time in my life I’ve done the grow-your-hair-really-long-and-chop-it-all-off thing. The first time was during my senior year of high school, when I my friend Brad cut it off onstage during our drama club’s skit night (in a skit totally plagiarized from Camp Akita). Brad and I played an unhappily married couple coming to see a wacky therapist, played by my friend Laura. Laura hypnotized us, then got a phone call. “Her water broke?” she said to the phone. Brad poured water over my head. “Cut it out!” said Laura, oblivious. Brad hacked off my braid and totally freaked out the audience. The second time was my senior year of college, when I returned to sorority recruitment after winter break sporting the “reverse mullet” popularized by Kate Gosselin from Jon & Kate Plus 8 – long in the front, short and spiky in the back. Half of my sorority sisters (the ones who also had that haircut) thought I looked great, the other half stood in the back during recruitment and wished they had been cool enough to be in another sorority. The third time was after the Peace Corps, when my hair was so damaged and disgusting from being dyed blonde in Africa that I had to just start anew.

So this has been a long time coming – I haven’t had more than a trim since 2007. I was so ready – I came home after class, put my hair in 5 little ponytails (as instructed on hawkslocksforkids.org) and cut them off myself:

P1020116

I felt like that would be easier than explaining what I wanted in Indonesian. I may have been a little over-generous with my hair donation, though – I cut it to about the length I thought I wanted my hair to be, unaware that the stylist would then cut like 2 more inches off. Oops. I guess it will grow. I went into the stylist looking like this:

I actually like this blunt-cut style (though it was super raggedy in the back) - maybe I'll try this in a few months when it grows more.

I actually like this blunt-cut style (though it was super raggedy in the back) – maybe I’ll try this in a few months when it grows more.

And showed her this picture of Katie Holmes:

I'm fairly sure the stylist thought this was actually me.  I didn't correct her.

I’m fairly sure the stylist thought this was actually me. I didn’t correct her.

And left looking like this:

P1020131

Though I can also do a pretty good Justin Bieber swoop:

This is also basically my brother Rickie's haircut.

This is also basically my brother Rickie’s haircut.

All in all, it’s not exactly what I wanted or expected, but I look in the mirror here about once a day, so it’s a good time to have hair I don’t love to look at. And even if I don’t love how it looks at the moment, I do love how much easier it makes my life – how much shorter my cold showers are, how I can just pop my motorbike helmet on and off, how I don’t have to move my bun around for different Yoga poses. Not too bad. Oh, and the people in my office spontaneously applauded when I walked in the next morning. They’re easy to please.

P1020139

My hair is now en route to Dublin, Ohio, where A.J. Hawks’ charity will pass it on to someone who will make wigs for cancer patients or Britney Spears or whoever. I sent it the same day I sent an expense report to Georgetown for almost $1000. Hopefully I didn’t get those mixed up! I imagine there are few things creepier than an envelope full of hair. Also, I really need that reimbursement. I have a lot of barrettes to buy.

September 2, 2012

On the Eve of 30

by Tabitha Kidwell

On my twenty-third birthday, Miami University (my alma mater) was in Columbus playing Ohio State (my life-long team) in football. All of my friends from college came into Columbus for the game. All of my extended family was tailgating around the stadium. It was a beautiful end-of-summer day. It had all the makings of a perfect birthday. Except that I was 9000 miles away, alone in my concrete house in Madagascar. I didn’t even tell anyone in my town it was my birthday. I just sat in my house and moped.

Yesterday, OSU trounced Miami yet again, and it would have been fun to kick off birthday weekend at that game. But I am again on the other side of the world. And, an even more fortuitous aligning of the stars is occurring tonight: Hall and Oates, my absolute favorite guilty pleasure (except I’m not guilty at all) is playing at the LC pavilion just a short walk from where I used to live. It would have been incredible to spend the last night of my 20s rocking out to Rich Girl and Private Eyes. But I won’t be there.

Still, I don’t regret these incredible moments of missed synchronicity one bit. The journey my life has taken of the last 30 years is what has made me who I am. Spending the lamest birthday ever in 2005 was only one day of my incredible two years in Madagascar that has, in turn, shaped the rest of my life path. And, no matter how amazing it would be to be in Columbus tonight surrounded by long-term friends and family, I know deep down that I am exactly where I need to be right now. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the last 10 years, and I just feel so profoundly grateful for every experience I have had and every amazing person I have met. They have made me who I am, and at 29 and 364 days, I really like the person I have become. I am truly blessed to live in Indonesia and do whatever I can to make the world around me just a little bit better. So, thank you to everyone who has been part of this 30-year journey. I can’t wait to continue it with you.

“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.” -Jack Kerouac