Visiting Tanah Lot in Bali, Indonesia

Traveling whispers unintentional commentary on humanity—which might explain why I am such a people watcher. Sidewalk cafes feed my imagination and more tourist destinations read like one giant live Facebook feed. Bali is no exception. Tanah Lot is beautiful and crowded. It is steamy hot from the equatorial sun yet cool and misty from the ocean breeze. Men pedaling pictures with giant snakes greet visitors as couples casually soak in views from strategically placed benches. Young girls with big hats and flowing dresses work tirelessly on their Instagram selfies and videos, backs turned to the views, while dreamers and poets silently ask the clouds and sea for inspiration. The tide restricts access like a snobby bouncer, causing longer cliff-side lingering, and low tide grants exclusive and pushy access. A juxtaposition of natural beauty and tourism, inspiration and chaos. Indonesia is a series contradictions just like America, which makes it uniquely…

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Review: Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison

Sierra’s mom is once again struggling with her addiction to drugs, alcohol, and poorly chosen men while her father is serving jail time for similar vices. Placed in the foster care system, Sierra moves in with a kind, mysteriously heartbroken interracial couple next door to Lauren, a tween fraught with compassion and her rapidly changing family dynamics. Lauren’s autistic brother has just moved to NC in hopes that a specialized school will better meet his needs. No longer a shadow or crutch, Lauren must determine who she is as well as how to function in an unfair world full of homelessness and privilege. As these two characters navigate their friendship through typical school drama, Lauren begins to lose control and fall into emotional instability, seeking solace in shoplifting and stealing her wealthier friends’ and families’ extravagances. Even with somewhat innately good intentions—hoping to sell these items to donate money for…

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Not just a tourist: Traveling to Indonesia

As noted in earlier posts, from 2009-2010, I lived in Depok, Indonesia as a United States Fubright Fellow.  This past February, after eight years of being away, I decided to make the long return back to visit with my husband.  I wanted him to see the land that shaped my life and I longed to see old friends and adopted family members.  We designed the majority of the trip as a social visit but we also decided to spend some downtime in Bali.  Although exhausted from the two-day journey over, the first week of our trip flew by with drinks out at my favorite Jakarta haunts, rambutan-filled car rides, late nights with Jakarta-based friends, and visiting my Indo family.  In Bali, one of my best Depok friends met up with us, and we had a whirlwind 2.5 days spying temples and monkeys, attending a Fire Dance, and drinking coconuts at…

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