Sunday, April 22, 2012

At some point, I grew up

Turns out, I’m mature. Yes, this was news to me also. Before packing up for Peace Corps, I was debating what to do with the extra Michael Jackson gloves I had lying around from Thriller dance rehearsals, I had magnets of my favorite heartthrobs hanging on my Target-purchased TV stand, and I still kept my sweaters in those crates I used in college.

“Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth." -Max Ehrmann, Desiderata
Yeah, this bit of advice didn’t seem like anything I'd be interested in adopting anytime soon, especially if it meant giving up my love of all things tween and the joy of receiving gifts like Yo! MTV Raps trading cards (thanks, Edwina!). I was at peace with immaturity. When I left, the most valuable thing I owned was my bed. It is both somewhat liberating and just plain sad to realize everything you own can be easily given away or left on the city street for someone to take. 

I like to do what I want, when I want, how I want. It’s the by-product of living on my own and being somewhat selfish for the past 32 years or so. I've been able to call most of my own shots. Here, that is far from the case. The latest struggle on my PC experience docket is how to distinguish between things I should try to change and those I just need to accept.

Here is a breakdown:
*Experiencing some technical difficulties. Images below are under construction. You can click to view larger image.*

"Growing up isn’t a straight line. It’s a series of advances and retreats." – Kevin Arnold, The Wonder Years
I’ve always been a late bloomer, and I think I had to do a lot of retreating over the years to finally feel like a grown-up. I find it ironic this realization had to come in a place where I use a Garfield pillow, play daily games of UNO, and have all of my meals made for me by a mother-figure. 

Who knew growing up really meant this? This pain that comes with knowing I can’t change something and then finding a way to sit with it and swallow it until it becomes bearable - until it becomes something I can work with, or even embrace. It's doing things I didn't want or plan to do and being a grown-up about it.

So, this is what it feels like.

Regardless, flat Michael Cera stays.


Flat Michael Cera gives a special thanks to Trish for bringing him all the way to Indonesia. He also says duku are way better than those orange tic-tacs. You heard it here first.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Special Guest Stars

I don't want to brag too much, but I landed the best job of all time (at the local video rental store) due to my prowess of 80s and 90s movie and television info. My future manager, later to be known as creepy Mike, sat me down in an interview and gave me the following challenge: list as many movies as possible starring a random actor he named. "Scoop of chocolate, scoop of vanilla. Don't waste my time." When he threw out Meg Ryan, after providing him an extensive filmography, I casually added she had once made an appearance as Scott Baio's love interest in an episode of "Charles in Charge".

Nailed it!

I'm sort of a savant. No big deal.

Whether it is an up-and-coming star getting his/her start (Adam Sandler on the "Cosby Show" or Alfonso Ribeiro on "Silver Spoons") or an under appreciated actor getting his second wind playing himself (Judge Reinhold in "Arrested Development"), nothing juices up and rejuvenates a potentially bland storyline like some solid guest appearances.

I have had the pleasure of having two non-PCV visitors to my desa in the past six months (keep 'em coming, people). Desa life is certainly not bland, but I do look around sometimes and forget all the work it took to carve a cozy niche for myself here. Things somehow have gotten comfortable (thank all the glories). It's not until someone from the outside comes to visit that I realize how different my life is.

  • Impromptu speeches in front of hundreds of people, taking up invitations to visit random strangers' houses, and larger than life-sized banners with my face on them have become old hat. 
  • While things like movie theaters, pizza, cheese, roast beef sandwiches, and nose rings have become so foreign to my daily existence that they seem other-worldly. 
  • In addition, a simple stay at a nice hotel causes bipolar ping-ponging between hedonistic enjoyment and insurmountable guilt - a spastic back and forth between sincere appreciation for all I am lucky enough to partake of in this world and deep anxiety over the gluttony of how money is so casually spent.


In any event, it is refreshing to have a piece of home here, and I am very proud of my village and school for doing a 180 from the blank stares and total fright caused by the sight of a bule. They are starting to see that we are all actually real people with whom they can communicate. We are doing it, Peace Corps!


So here is "My Desa" with special guest star appearances by my brother, Mikey, and my good pal, Trish. Special thanks to them for traveling thousands of miles and spending hours and hours of flight time to come half-way around the world to see where I live. And for bringing me candy and cookies. 

It makes things complete (your well as the candy and cookies).

Hanging Out

Visiting Friends 

Athletics (Running and Badminton)


The Wonder of the Village-Kid Posse



The Send Off
Trish is accompanied by her fans as we walk to catch a bus. 
Mikey's good-bye posse

"I guess I just miss my friend." - Red