Thursday, January 6, 2011

Holidays & Lightening Bolts

Hello and Happy New Year!  I have been going through a period of insomnia for the last week, and I figured instead of laying in bed aimlessly waiting for the power to go out or a thunderstorm to start or wondering if whatever critters are wrestling in our ceiling will actually fall through and onto our bed at some point; I would get up and update this blog that I haven't been on for quite a while.

Our first Christmas in Tarakan was actually really good.  The time leading up to Christmas was harder than the actual day I think.   Our celebration started on the Thursday before Christmas when we helped our friends host a Christmas open house for Indonesian friends, neighbors and coworkers.  In Indonesia visiting friends and family is the main event on Christmas; gifts are often not part of their celebration.  We wanted to share Christmas with Indonesian friends, but still maintain a quiet Christmas on the actual day, so we decided to have the open house a few days early.  It was great to have a chance to spend time eating and talking with those that attended the open house, (around 80-90 people from beginning to end!), and it helped me realize that I actually am making some progress on my language because I could understand quite a bit of what was being said and speak a little bit too-yay!  

On Christmas Eve we ate dinner with some friends and schemed with them to surprise their kids by a trip to our house to watch Christmas movies in the "man cave"- otherwise known as our TV room.  We had hot chocolate, hot cider, (well, actually it was a mysterious thing called "Apple Pulp Juice" that they sell here.  It's not exactly cider, but it's more cloudy than regular apple juice...not sure why that is, but it tasted good!), and Christmas cookies while watching Mickey's Christmas Carol and of course, Charlie Brown's Christmas.  We made sure to turn down the air conditioner real low so those hot drinks would actually taste good!

Christmas day Chris and I exchanged gifts and looked in our stockings.  We didn't have any Christmas stockings, so we used our actual socks!

We were blessed to receive packages from generous family and friends that we had fun opening-we felt so remembered and loved!  Here I am holding up 2 particular gems that a friend sent me inside of an adorable stocking-instant Starbucks coffee packets, awesome!  I whipped up some of my Dad's special coffee cake and enjoyed it with a mug of delicious Starbucks coffee for Christmas brunch.  Oh, and thanks to another thoughtful friend I was able to indulge in my usual Christmas breakfast treat, peanut M&Ms-delightful!  

Chris was also excited about his new water bottle-useful for water and Coke, his drink of choice.

We talked with family on Skype and I even made Christmas dinner-not a turkey, but a roast chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, the works!  That night we headed over to a friend's house, sang Christmas carols, and ate dessert.  While we were there Chris received an SMS that some of his dirt biking friends were planning to come over the next morning to wish us "Selamat Natal" (Merry Christmas).  I felt a little panicked as this meant I needed to figure out a meal and get the house ready for visitors on short notice, but it worked out fine.  It was great to host Chris's friends and hopefully they enjoyed the American-style brunch we served!

So that was Christmas-I got through the first one and hopefully the next ones are easier.  We will see.

New Years was low-key, well it started out the way.  We had dinner with friends, played games, shot off some fireworks and headed home by 9:30 pm (they have young kids, so staying up until midnight isn't quite their speed).  We drove around town a bit to see the celebrations, and it was hopping!  New Years is a big deal in Indonesia-how do you know?  Karaoke everywhere of course!  At the police station, the mall, random cafes, even at the cell phone provider's store there were big screens and speakers set up and people were singing their hearts out.  They were also selling cardboard horns at about every corner, so people were running around blowing those.  It was very festive and fun.  We headed home and watched the fireworks go off at midnight and soon after we went to bed.  

Unfortunately, the beginning of our year wasn't nearly as fun.

Fairly soon after midnight a thunderstorm blew in and our power went out, which is not atypical in the least.  Chris was in a deep sleep and didn't hear any of it, but for some reason I feel like I have to stay awake until storms pass and the power comes back on-I guess to make sure I am ready to respond if there is a crisis?  I don't really know what I think I would do to help in the pitch black in my PJs, but, it's yet another manifestation of the control issues that I have, which I was aware of, but have become so much more pronounced to me since I have moved here!  Anyway, the storm died down, the power came back on and I started to drift into sleep when suddenly there was about the loudest crack of thunder I have ever heard.  I jumped up in fright, and Chris not only jumped up, but also let out a scream that about stopped my heart.  He was sleeping so deeply that he awoke in terror at the noise.  Once he actually woke up after he screamed, he didn't even know it had happened.  I however was shaking uncontrollably and crying.

Then the power went out and it was pitch black.  Again.  How comforting.

So, I was awake for the rest of night and I have been having trouble sleeping ever since.  I keep having flashbacks of the lightening strike and Chris's horrible scream and I don't want to go to sleep for fear I will wake up to that again.  Plus I'm afraid of the dark, yes, I'm like 5 years old, I know, but it's true, I really am very scared to be in the dark.  Unfortunately the advent of the New Year has marked a decrease in the reliability of our power.  We are having more frequent outages, and although they don't usually last very long, 20-30 minutes, they are still unnerving for me if they happen at night.  So that's my struggle right now.  I feel like I am living on constant high alert and it is tiring-physically and mentally.  I'm sure it will get better with time, but it's hard now.

Anyway, when we got up on New Years Day we had no Internet.  After waiting several days for the Internet company to send someone out, we were told that our modem was ruined, presumably by the lightening bolt that struck our house or near our house early on New Years Day.  After Chris bought a new modem he realized that parts of his computer were also fried, so he had to replace those as well.  Finally we were up and running with Internet yesterday, so I am finally able to update you today on everything that has been going on.  It's been a bit of a rough start to the year, but nothing TOO bad.

Those are pretty much all my stories-sorry I don't have anything too funny or entertaining.  Our events of the last week have been of the scary or frustrating variety.  A bright spot is that Chris is now officially on the flight schedule and flew his first long day today.  He felt that it went well and he is excited to get more "air time" very soon.  My language studies have been partially interrupted for the next few weeks because one of my tutors is having her final examinations at the University of Borneo.  It’s kind of nice to have a break, but that means I have to be even more disciplined to study on my own, something I am not so good at.  I am trying to keep at it!  I am still studying with my other tutor 2 days a week, so I can keep moving forward (hopefully).

That’s the skinny on our lives right now-not too exciting, but thanks for reading.  I’ll post again soon as long as our Internet keeps holding out and we have power.  Hope 2011 is treating you well thus far!


  1. Love the (real) stockings! I see Domo did too (Chris')!

  2. I like the stuffed animals in your picture. I still have quite a few myself...all on my bed. Chris doesn't look quite as awake as you.

    As for storms, I don't mind them during the day, but once they wake me up at night, I usually can't get to sleep until they're over...maybe because our power went out so many times during storms when I was a kid, and our roof leaked quite a bit (mainly in the bedroom where I sleep), that I'm conditioned to wait up in case I need to get the flashlight and put gallons or buckets of water in the bathroom to flush the toilet, or to make sure the roof isn't leaking. Our roof hasn't leaked because of rain for a long time, but it leaks right above my bed if ice gets backed up on the back part of the roof. (So, guess who keeps the roof edge and gutters free of snow in winter.) The of dripping water from a leaky roof is one thing can can wake me from a sound sleep, even since I was a kid. (I was the one who'd wake up to a drip, go around the house placing buckets where they needed to be, then go back to sleep.) And when I'm sleeping, not even a fire alarm in a dorm wakes me up. (I know from experience, it's a funny story:

    As for the dark, when I'm home, I don't mind it, kind of like it. When I'm somewhere somewhat familiar, it's ok. If I'm somewhere unfamiliar, a little light of some sort is nice, at least so I can find my way to the bathroom if I have to pee! And, it's comforting. (Which makes sense, since light is associated with Christ, and darkness with evil.)