Where Would Your Dumb Ass Be???

When I lived in Indonesia, I remember that I was having a hard time dealing with male superiority complex that was present with my host family….. I posted this on that old blog and Just came across it…. I figured it might be something that I wanted to keep…it kind of made me chuckle. So I will share it with you all.   If you want to see pictures from my Peace Corps journey you can take a look at my old blog at fromwenchitcame. There are some pretty pictures 🙂

*************************************************** This is supposed to be funny and not meant to offend anyone!

Where Would  Your Dumb Ass Be???

Our World has been blessed with brilliant men–men who have really made a difference in the lives of people all around the World. Men like Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Isaac Newton, just to name a few. Hell, I will even throw in Christopher Columbus for his discovery of America (we will just overlook the fact that he actually got lost, didn’t ask for directions, and thought that he was in India the whole time). And from so many brilliant men we have wonderful things in our lives like the printing press, the light bulb, the telephone, and high heels (come one, you know a man is responsible for those amazing torture devices). So the question remains… How did they do it? How did they get so damn smart? Well, the proof is in the puddin’ my friends. It’s in the written word. Its all there in the Book of Genesis.  I am not going to quote the bible because, frankly, I can’t, but I am going to give you the ‘CliffsNotes’ version from Sunday School:

Back when it all began God created Man, and from Man’s side God took one rib. From that rib God created Woman (and he saw that it was good). He named the man Adam and the woman Eve. God placed Adam & Eve in his paradise garden, Eden. The one rule was that they could not eat the fruit from the tree of Knowledge.

One Picturesque day Adam was lounging about because he had nothing better to do. His stomach started to growl. He looked to Eve with a pleading look indicated that he was hungry. Eve rolled her eyes at Adam and indicated that he should go and find his own damn food. With a dumbfounded look, Adam let Eve know that he had no clue as to where to find food, so Eve, being the loving woman that she was, went to search for food for Adam.  On her journey through the garden, a snake happened by and stopped in front of her. “I sssseeee that you are looking for food for the man who can not feed himsssself,” said the snake. Eve rolled her eyes and nodded, silently agreeing that Adam was a lost cause and she had to take care of him so the he didn’t perish. The snake told Eve that he knew where to find food that would not only assuage Adam’s hunger but would also teach him how to feed himself. Eve knowing that Adam needed to learn a bit of independence followed the snake to the tree of knowledge. Upon seeing where they were, Eve immediately recoiled in horror, shaking her head profusely at what the snake was suggesting.  “I know that you were told not to eat from this tree, but the fruit of this tree holds the power to help Adam learn how to survive on his own. You would only be doing him a service,” said the snake. Eve thought about what the snake was saying and agreed that something had to be done to help the ever confused Adam, but she didn’t want any harm to befall Adam…she was just that caring. So in an act of pure selflessness she decided to pluck an apple for the tree’s suspended limbs and take a bite to see what would happen. Immediately her eyes became focused and the world around her appeared in a different light. She identified many food sources around her, and knew what the snake had said was true. She looked down at her person and saw that she was naked and then fashioned underwear for her and Adam out of leaves. 

Eve made her way back to Adam carrying an apple for him to eat and the underwear she had made for him. Adam looked up at Eve with is ever present look of confusion. Eve handed Adam the apple and told him to eat. Without questioning it, Adam took a bite from the apple and like Eve, immediately started to see things clearly. He looked down at his person and saw that he too was naked. Eve handed Adam the cover she has fashioned out of leaves, and Adam began to put it on his head. “No! Adam, it goes around your waist to cover your man parts.” Just when Adam was about to correct his error God appeared. “Adam! Why are you wearing leaves on your head?” asked God. “Because I am naked,” replied Adam. God became enraged that not only had his prized creation, Man, eaten from the forbidden tree of knowledge, but he was also sitting in a garden naked wearing underwear on his head like a jackass. It was all too much to handle, and in his anger God cast Adam and Eve from  the garden forever.

So there you have it. Adam was sitting naked around a garden like a bump-on-a-log, not knowing his ass from his elbow until Eve, being the kind and generous soul that she was, decided to share the fruit from the tree of Knowledge with Adam. Adam’s eyes were opened and he gained knowledge (though it seemed to take a little bit of time for the knowledge to fully sink in). Hence, Man has Knowledge because Woman gave it to him. Woman is responsible for first gaining knowledge and then generously sharing it with the likes of Man.  What would have happened if Eve had decided to keep Knowledge to herself?  I think every man should turn to the women in their lives and give them a big “Thank You!” for gifting them with the good sense to get up every morning, put clothes on (correctly), and function with some semblance of intelligence. After all, it is possible that without woman, man would still be sitting naked in the dirt with a clueless look on his face.

If I Had A Stun Gun

Sooooo…. recent frustrations with the Peace Corps…. have led me to my current blog post. So as many of you know, I am waiting for surgery on my back. I have been home and basically unable to get around and function like a normal human (being able to shower on your own) since May 5th. So waiting and going through all of the proper channels…. 1)Physical Therapy for 4 weeks, 2) medical separation from the Peace Corps, 3) submitting an application with the Peace Corps Post Service Medical Unit and trusting them to submit my application to the Department and Labor and FECA with supporting documentation so that I can be granted coverage and authorization for surgery. I have done all of this. 4) I have made follow up phone calls where Peace Corps PSU has said “Yes, everything has been submitted and is currently waiting approval.” I got a letter from the Department of Labor saying that they have received my claim. So thinking that this was all now taken care of, I followed up with the Department of Labor to see if they could give approval for my surgery, and the very nice lady on the phone says, “Well, we received your application, and we assigned you a case number, but we have nowhere near enough information to approve anything much less surgery.” To that I was like… “Peace Corps said that they were going to forward over my application and supporting medical records. Did you not get those?” Silence greeted me and then the dreaded, “Ummmm, we honestly only received 5 pages faxed over.” Now, my brain starts working and I know that I faxed over exactly 5 pages to the Peace Corps. 4 were my application to DOL and 1 was a personal statement from me about my accident. Peace Corps was then supposed to attached the statement from the surgeon I have been seeing stating my need for surgery, and all the records from my treatment with Peace Corps. All of that should have been a hell of a lot more than 5 pages! So I asked, “What exactly do you have?” “Well, we have the DOL application and your statement, and a statement from the Peace Corps Post Service Unit Nurse.” After I saw red, I nicely thanked the lady and assured her that I would contact Peace Corps and get the needed paperwork over to them as soon as possible. The lady on the phone was very nice and assured me that once they had all of the paperwork they would process everything as quickly as possible.

So upon getting off of the phone I called Peace Corps where I had to leave a message… I was so angry that I ended up stuttering (scary right?) through the whole thing. So I followed that up with an e-mail (because I can apparently sound scarier via e-mail than on the phone) to the office to which I got the lovely reply..

Greetings Ms. Williams, 

Thank you for contacting the Post Service Team. We are always here to provide all the support you need for your post service benefits. Your request has been forwarded to the PSU nurse for review.

Sincerely, 

Post Service Unit for Peace Corps- Office of Medical Services

Are you kidding me?! Is this your response?! I hope the nurse has something wonderful to say when she e-mails me back. I am hoping that this is just a case where all of the paperwork was sent it just isn’t all where it needs to be at the moment??? (Anyone have Rose Colored Glasses I can borrow?)

So anyhow… that leads me to my frustrations and the want / urge for a stun gun. How great would it be if stunning stupid or annoying people were perfectly acceptable and not frowned upon??? I don’t want to permanently injure anyone. But at the moment there is something satisfying about the idea of carrying a stun gun around with me and letting everyone feel my frustration… Example 1… going to the store and buying female necessities… and having a young male cashier…. and you hear him mutter under his breath or stupidly say “Oh..Heavy Flow Maxi Pads and Chocolate….” STUN GUN! Flop like a fish and feel my FRUSTRATION! Or Example 2… when you go to the airport and the person in front of you takes an hour to remove their laptop and shoes but forgets his belt, causing the alarm to go off and the rest of us to be stuck waiting longer than necessary! STUN GUN! Flop like a fish and feel my FRUSTRATION! Or when my grandmother comes to check on me and says, “Oh no, Angela, Pop Tarts and Cookies…??? I am not gonna say anything, but you aren’t getting any smaller…” STUN GUN!!!!! (Just kidding.. I would never actually Stun Gun my grandmother…. but I might think about it… sometimes…)

I think you get my point.

Sooo… if anyone has any pull with deities of a higher power, please put in a good word for me and my stun gun. Please and Thank You.

Last Outing

At the moment I am listening to my ‘Best of the 80‘s’ playlist… Should I be ashamed that I am rocking out to ‘Footloose’? Definitely. But I am gonna own it and admit that after that I am totally going to sing ‘Keep Me Hanging On’ while dancing around my room. You know you want to join in.  (Oh incidentally, they are remaking the movie ‘Footloose’ and morbid curiosity is going to make me watch it! If anyone wants to admit to seeing it, please tell me how wonderfully terrible it is. I can only hope that Kevin Bacon is somewhere in that movie!)

So on to the good stuff….Vacation… I love vacation! This vacation was particularly special. I went to Yogyakarta and didn’t do anything. It was an amazing experience. I slept, ate, walked a bit, slept, and ate some more. There was no rush to get anywhere. It was absolutely wonderful. But besides being able to bask in my laziness, it was also special because it was the last time that Andy and I would be able to have one of our infamous outings. Andy and I decided to take the train to Yogyakarta because it takes about half of the than the bus and is a lot more comfortable. We met at the station at 8:30 for our 9:30 train. We sat, talked, and watched the trains come in and out. We tried to listen to the announcements on the loudspeaker but listening to announcements that sounds like a drive thru intercom system (only in Indonesian) made it impossible to really know what was going on. A train came in at about 9:00 and we looked at it, looked at our watches, and continued talking. Then our train came in and we got on it. As we boarded and made our way to our seats we noticed a couple in our seats. Upon talking to the porter and couple we found out that the train we watched pull in and leave at 9:00 was the one we were supposed to be on. YAY!

Me: Why is it always something when we travel together!?

Andy: At least we can’t say traveling together is dull.

So we missed our train and needed to find a new way to get where we were going. Andy is very charming and was able to get us on a train 2 hours later, but we would have to sit in the workers section. We took it and then wasted two hours having lunch. Our ride in the workers section was hot as can me. We were dripping in sweat by the time we got to our destination. But we got there… which was the important thing.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. We walked through markets and ate street food. On one of our afternoon walks Andy stopped short:

Andy: There is a Rasta shop!

Me: Where?

Andy: Over there! We are so going in!

Me: We are?

With that Andy led the way in. We were greeted by a Indonesian with dreadlocks (that was the first for me).  A plethora of hemp shoes, pot leaf stickers, and Bob Marly T-shirts and CDs greeted us when we walked in. Andy saw these huge hats and convinced me that I needed one

Andy: You need a hat! Its big enough to fit your fro in!

So we tried on hats and finally picked one and proceeded to walk around Indonesia in a heavy knitted hat. Brilliant.

We also got real coffee and donuts, found a place to get pasta and ice cream, sat in our room and looked out the window, and listened to terrible songs that made us laugh: “I’m sexy and I know it” and “Peacock”while we played cards and backgammon. I mopped up the floor with Andy in one game of Backgammon and then I lost every game after that.

And I proceeded to sing “I’m sexy and I know it” every day while taking a shower.

Andy: You are ridiculous Angela!

Me: Don’t playa hate!

Andy: I think that was the most ghetto you have ever been…

Me: Yeah, it didn’t feel right at all! I kinda feel dirty now.

It was a wonderfully low key vacation, and I am very sad that it is over. Andy goes back to the States in 3 and 1/2 weeks and I am going to miss him dearly. Who else am I going to have disastrous travel experiences or eating adventures with?

One Year Of Living

Would it be terribly wrong to say that I don’t think my life truly started until I joined the Peace Corps? Don’t get me wrong, I was alive and surviving through the mundane existence that I had… Go to work, go home, make dinner (or get takeout), go to bed, wake up and repeat. Where my relationship status (or lack there of) constantly worried me and took its toll on my self-esteem…. and relationships that I did have always felt like something was missing from them. My favorite times were the days I got to spend with my sister and nieces. When I thought about my future and one day having kids… I asked myself, what are you going to tell your kids you did before in life? What amazing stories do you have to tell them? That made me stop and reevaluate everything. I remember being a kid and looking at the beautiful things around my house…. a gorgeous oriental wooden screen, an oriental trunk, a beautiful black and red kimono, and oriental vases that my mother had gotten when she lived in Japan. Hearing her talk about how much she loved and missed Japanese food and Japan. And seeing pictures from when she lived there. Or hearing about how when she was a kid she lived in Holland with her parents for a year (and had an Indonesian landlady), and seeing the wooden shoes, mini windmills, and cuckoo clocks they had brought back with them. I remember thinking “I can’t wait to do that.”But like so many goals it got brushed into the pile of “Wouldn’t it be nice…” things to do along with medical school, writing a book, rock climbing, and whatever other goals and aspirations I deemed myself unfit or unworthy of achieving.

Then I finally woke up and decided to do something drastic. I decided to just go for it! And I have been living ever since.

It started a year ago. I said good-bye to a less than mediocre relationship, and I said ‘see you soon’ to family and friends as I left for my new life in Indonesia.  I didn’t know what would await me, but I knew that it was going to be an amazing journey.  I left home home on April 4, 2011 and since that time these are some of my unforgettable experiences:

I got to explore Hong Kong and got to see one of the largest Buddha statues in the world.

I visited Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world. It was built by the Sailendra Dynasty between AD 750 and AD 850. I saw reliefs carved into the walls of that temple that were so detailed they made me gasp. I climbed to the top and saw the Volcano Merapi and saw the toll its eruption in 2006 took on Borobudur. I tried to count all of the 500 and some odd Buddha statues and carvings within its walls (I was not very successful).

I have hiked through some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen in my life.

Naughty Orangutan

I have gotten felt up by an Orangutan, gotten to feed a baby elephant, and been so close to a tiger that when it hissed at me its saliva hit my hand and camera lens.

I have spent all night (13 hours) climbing a mountain just to see an amazing view and then turn around right after sunrise (without sleeping) and climb down so I could take a well needed bath and go to bed for the next two days.

And I have made friends that will have forever impacted my life.

Through these experiences and many more, I have learned that nothing in life should be deemed impossible, and that it is never too late to get started on your journey.  Do I know what I will do in a year when my service is over? Not a clue… but the possibilities are endless. (You never know what you can do until you try to do it).

Always remember, “Not all who wander are lost.”~ Tolkien

It’s Not Always Easy

** Let me preface this post by saying that I have shied away from going into major details about my current ‘job’ and living situation to avoid wrong impressions, misunderstandings, and bias opinions, that and I am required to attach a disclaimer to anything I write about it… which becomes a bit annoying… but that being said, please know that the writings and ideas in this post and blog in no way reflect the views and opinions of the United States government or Peace Corps. They are mine alone and should be viewed as such.**  

After college I went through a very LONG phase where I didn’t know what I was doing with my life, I didn’t understand about the real world, and things that presented a challenge were easier to run away from than deal with. Then at age 27, I found myself single, living on my own, with a list of employment history that had nothing to do with my college degree. I had just been laid off for the third time in three years and hit a downward spiral of depression and confusion. I was unhappy with my life and myself because I was not doing anything the benefited anyone for the greater good. My contributions to society were nil. I thought about joining the military, but was way too out of shape and had a BMI way too high to even be considered… and the thought of going to war didn’t sit very well with me (I have never been much of a fighter).  So one day I sat crying in my bedroom not knowing what was going to happen to me, when I remembered a Peace Corps seminar I had gone to my freshman year of college. I went to the website, read everything I could, and then decided… “What the hell! You only have one life to live.”

After a very very long application (complete with essay questions and an aspiration statement) that took about a month to complete, I was granted an interview with a recruiter in Atlanta. My interview went great and I was passed to go onto the next part of the process… Medical, dental, financial, and background clearance.  I was deemed acceptable except for still having my wisdom teeth. So at the beginning of 2011 after 7 months of starting the application process I was invited to join the Peace Corps and serve in Indonesia… (Pending the removal of all 4 of my wisdom teeth by 30 days prior to my departure). I would leave in April… over a year after I started the application.

Before this I had never been out of the country.. hell I had never been off of the East Coast. Now I have been living in Indonesia for almost a year (April will be one year). I can say with all honesty that I love this experience. I spend my time teaching in a Muslim High School, and my students mean the world to me. They are always happy to see me coming and

Scenery While Walking

always have a smile to share with me. I live with a host family who is like a real family in every sense of the word… we fight, we annoy each other, we fight over the remote, and who gets the last brownie on the plate! I have visited places and seen things that I would never in a million years have imagined that I would have the opportunity to see. And I can say with all honesty that Indonesia is absolutely beautiful.

But to say that this is easy would be a horrible lie. It is hard as hell. I am living in a country that doesn’t know English. Every day I have to communicate in 3 different languages that I

Flower Lady

barely have a grasp on and try to teach my students English when they don’t understand a word I am saying. I have to mingle with my village and community and try to understand their beliefs and culture. Every day I learn something new about Muslim beliefs and practices and Javanese culture. I don’t always agree with the things I learn but I respect them and follow them when it is required of me. Everyone wants to take my picture. Everyone asks me a million times where I am from, where I am going, what I am doing. etc. Honestly there are times when escaping to my room is necessary. But then I sit back and think about everything I am learning from this experience (about life, people, and myself), and everything I hope that the people I come into contact with are learning from me…. it is enough to keep me going.

But it is not like this for everyone. Since arriving in Indonesia with a group of 30 people. I have said goodbye to 8 friends.  8 people who for different reasons have decided that Peace Corps service and / or Indonesia wasn’t the perfect match for them for their 27 months of service. I have been very sad to see these people go, some of them I was very close to… it has even raised questions in myself about if I am doing the right thing by staying. I got hit by a truck. I miss my family. I have three gorgeous nieces that are growing up without me. I went from seeing them every week to having to send them postcards in the mail so that they don’t forget who I am. I have a sister and a mother who mean the world to me, and they are getting on with their lives without me. I miss my friends. I miss food! I miss TV…. and I know that if I just say ‘enough’ I could be on a plane and back in the United States by next week… But then I think about how far I have come, how much I have learned, and how this is the first time in my life where the need to run away from something difficult is not overwhelming my every decision.

Misty Mountain Field

Am I changing the world? No, probably not… but I guarantee that my host family and my students will remember me for the rest of their lives… They will remember the crazy American who lived with them and taught them for two years. They will remember how Miss Angela pushed them to give their all in class and never settled for second rate work when she knew they could do better. I am not saving the world… but I am changing lives (even if it is just one or two people)…. what about that should be easy?