Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pictures & Weekly Distractions

One week remains in the Land of Coconuts. I'm slowly cleaning out my office, throwing away one packing peanut at a time in my apartment, and finding new homes for Leotrix and all of his brothers and sisters. There are a million things to do in this final week, but despite it all, I'm feeling relatively calm. Reflective, nostalgic, and calm.

I recognize that a chapter is closing for you, too, who have been so kind to share this experience with me. You who stood in spirit with me one year ago on the night I first arrived in Palau and fought back tears of stress in my dark apartment with my shattered and missing belongings spread across the world. You who were practically with me during every sea snake sighting, the day Daniel sprayed vomit off of me and dragged me onto my bed, and all of the times I felt a little homesick and lonely. As odd as it sounds, as I say goodbye to the church kids who told us about "pornomography," the sunsets over the ocean, and every piece of Palau we've grown to love, I feel like I'm bidding farewell for all of us.

But amidst those farewells, here are today's pictures and distractions:

Heading out the door this morning.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Acts of Kindness

I live on the top of a very very steep hill. So steep that the Stormtrooper sounds like a nuclear bomb every time I have to drive up into the extremely slanted parking lot. So steep that if there are more than three people in the car, the wheels just spin when we attempt to ascend the hill. So steep that when I park on the hill with the driver's side pointed toward the sky, I have to climb out of the car like it's a submarine.

This morning I was bringing a heavy box of items out to the Stormtrooper as I was leaving for work. On a few occasions, the person who has climbed out of the side of the parked car that faces downhill has accidentally spilled items that we've just purchased from the grocery store. Once something gets dropped in this parking lot, it begins an almost free-fall descent down onto the main road to then be run over by buses.

I was trying to be very careful with this heavy box as I slowly side-stepped toward the Stormtrooper this morning. And that's when it happened.

I lost my grip.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Man's Best Friend

Since I'm living alone now I'm having to adjust to the quiet of my apartment. It's strange, and I don't like it much. I want my home to be full of life. I like feeling like I live in Grand Central Station rather than solitary confinement. 

Don't get me wrong; I do need a small corner of my home to contain a living space that I can go to for peace and quiet, occasionally, when I've become too excitable. Everyone needs that. But I appreciate living in a place where those I love are sprawled out all over the floor, sleeping or chattering endlessly, and people I don't know are wandering in and out.

Did I just describe a crack den? Maybe I should go live in a crack den for a while.

This is probably the part of Palauan culture I can get behind the most: Extended families live together in the same house. And if there gets to be too many under one roof, they'll spill over into the house next door. Frequently, when I've gone into the neighborhoods to visit someone, I've been directed through a string of two or three houses full of the person's family members before I find the friend I'm looking for.


I decided to take the day off of work so I could ship all of my garbage to the United States of America. I’m ready to say that moving to another country is the most terrible thing a person can choose to do with their life. If anyone is currently considering this, please give me a call so I can encourage you to instead open a daycare center for cats because that would be less annoying than shipping everything you own to the other side of the planet.

I knew it was going to be bad because I did this just one year ago. And when I say “I,” I mean “Daniel.” And when I say “did this,” I mean “shipped 14 things of partially-used tin foil, Harry Potter IV in Spanish, seven blankets, and 30 pounds of long-sleeved shirts. To the tropics.”

Daniel bore the brunt of the shipping duties last year because I was trying to finish up my last job until basically the day we left. As if engaging in some form of retribution, Daniel abandoned the Land of Coconuts a few weeks before my departure date. He shipped a few boxes of his clothes and things but left the rest of it in the apartment to haunt me.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

You May Eat a Human

I've taken to treadmill running recently. I go through phases every once in a while where running along the road somewhere seems about as fun as spending the day rubbing lotion onto my great grandma's feet while she tells me about her sexual exploits from the 1920s.

Gosh I don't miss Saturdays in college.

In Palau, where there is basically one road, and where it is so hot and humid ALL THE TIME ALWAYS, and where stray dogs and drunk drivers frequently threaten to off you on the four inches of shoulder on which one can run, the motivation to switch to treadmill running can feel particularly compelling.

I started using a treadmill just down the street from where I live about two months ago. This thing has become like my new best friend/worst enemy. I hate it but I love it.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pictures & Weekly Distractions

Dear Strangers out there in Strangerville: happy Friday. Two weeks from today I'll be departing from the land of coconuts. With each passing day I become more excited and more nostalgic at this prospect. Some moments I think, "how can I possibly leave the most beautiful piece of Earth for the comparatively barren frozen wasteland of Salt Lake City?" And then I'm like, "oh yeah. BURRITOS."

It's been a bit of a rough week in some ways. Not a bad one. Just sort of difficult. Difficult is ok. That's what ice cream and yelling at the T.V. are for.

And now, your pictures and distractions:
Rilong, her brothers, and John Thing in the house.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Conversation About High School

An Insightful Conversation on High School Island Life with Two Palauan Girls I Gave a Ride Home Last Night from a Church Youth Activity

Palauan Girl 1: Brother Eli? Did you know that in Japan you have to be looking at the clock all of the time?

Eli: What do you mean?

Palauan Girl 1: Like when they say that school will start at 7:00 you have to be always looking at the clock or else if you go after 7:00, like at 10:00 or something, you will be LATE!

Eli: That sounds . . . reasonable.

Palauan Girl 2: But what if you just go at like 7:35?

Palauan Girl 1: LATE!

Palauan Girl 2: What about if it is 7:08 and you had to help your grandma cook rice or something?

Palauan Girl 1: You will be LATE! It does not even matter why! They will NOT wait for you!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Musings in Paradise

I'm sitting in my office.

I should be heading out to eat lunch, but instead I'm sipping a protein drink and writing to you.

It's almost impossible to find a meal in Palau that doesn't consist of white rice and breaded deep-fried once-frozen meat. There are no vegetables. Not even on the side. It's no wonder obesity is so rampant here. Anymore I feel like I have to sit in my office and sip a protein drink during lunch in order to avoid it.

There are ants crawling on me. That's not an exaggeration. There are literally ants crawling on me. My office is currently covered in them. I can feel a few walking up my legs. I just took a gulp out of my giant transparent water bottle and saw through to the bottom of it where 200 or so tiny ants were swarming all over the base. It looked like they were inside, and I almost spit a mouthful of water across my office. Are ants dirty?

Monday, August 19, 2013


When we first moved to Palau and Daniel had basically nothing to do all day but spend an absurd amount of time waiting for the paperwork for his employment to be processed, he began aggressively developing new hobbies. And I mean like one to five new hobbies every. single. day.

I would come home from work to find paper mâché or paint supplies or Harry Potter IV in Spanish or musical instruments strewn about the apartment. There was always a new project. Always some new goal that threatened to completely take over both of our lives even though "this is MY thing. It won't affect you unless you let it."

One day I came home and discovered that Daniel had decided to become a gardener. He had purchased several very large planter boxes and had filled them with dirt and seeds. It was a mess.

I generally tried to be supportive of each of the new hobbies because I knew he was having a hard time keeping himself occupied and I certainly didn't want him to freak out one day and up and leave. But I finally put my foot down when he mentioned that he was thinking of getting a pet.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Happy Trails, Mr. Daniel

Dear Mr. Daniel,

I dropped you off at the airport just a few hours ago. You left a trail of personal belongings through the apartment and in the Stormtrooper. I guess I'm supposed to deal with those things? I suppose it was better that you were putting your attention toward making sure you knew where your passport was. And we're all really proud of you that you were able to get out of the house on time to catch your flight. So I'll let the rest of it slide.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pictures & Weekly Distractions

Three weeks from today I'll be leaving Palau. Daniel will ABANDON me this weekend. Things are wrapping up and it all feels so strange. Like I'm about ready to see something new and I don't really know what that's going to look like. It's exciting and intimidating and nostalgic and sort of scary. It's sort of like graduating from high school all over again. [Singing] FOREVER YOUNG! I WANT TO BE, FOREVER YOUNG! At least I'm sort of going through puberty this time.

And now, your pictures and distractions:

At sunrise this morning from my apartment. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

PTA Emails

One Stranger, Cheryl, recently asked me to help inflict some pranking revenge against her sister, Tami. Apparently Tami spent the better part of her teen years convincing Cheryl that she had a secret admirer, writing notes to her and leaving Valentine cards. Cheryl found Stranger and the mommy blog a while back and asked me to email Tami, who, as luck would have it, is currently the PTA president in their hometown. I felt a little guilty throughout this one, but Tami was a good sport.

Names and other identifiers have been changed.

To: Tami
From: June Snapple
Subject: PTA

Hi Tami,

Your contact info was passed to me recently. I understand you are the current PTA president. I'm new in town and my children go to Q of C Elementary. I am very interested in becoming as involved in the PTA as possible. I have several ideas I would like to run by you at your earliest convenience.

June Snapple
Former PTA President

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Meow That Tune

While Krishelle was visiting Palau the best part of the day was when Daniel and I would go and wake her up at about 6:45 in the morning. I was sleeping in Daniel's room while she was here so she could have my bedroom to herself. Daniel's bedroom has big windows that face the sunrise so as soon as light pierces the sky in the mornings, it becomes pretty impossible to stay unconscious and not sweat oneself into a dehydrated eternal sleep.

The way we would wake Krishelle up was by pretending to be six to eight cats. We would sneak to either side of her and start gently pawing at her arms and sounding high-pitched "meows." We would add limbs one by one and increase the frequency of our meows to make it appear as though half a dozen cats were all around her, pawing at her to wake up and play with them. So, for example, I would paw one hand at her head, the other at her arm, and then would use my foot to paw at her leg, all the while meowing rapidly as Daniel did the same on her other side.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Twice Up the Barrel Asian Tour

As the time in Palau winds down more and more, I'm finding that things are just sort of falling into place. There's still much to do. Every time I remember that I somehow need to find a place to live in Salt Lake City so I can immediately move upon arriving in the United States of America, I can hear the sounds of a ticking clock in the back of my head. But all in all, things seem to be going relatively smoothly on the move-to-the-other-side-of-the-world front.

I wonder if it hasn't seemed that bad because compared to last year when I was trying to move to Palau it just hasn't been that complicated. Moving to Palau was a perturbable nightmare. You know that feeling you get when you are rushed out of the house because you're late and for the rest of the day you have this nagging sense that you forgot to turn something off?


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Nationally Syndicated Column

There are two newspapers in Palau: The Island Times and Tia Belau. They are glorious beyond all description. Typically filled with stories about people we know, separated by racist or otherwise offensive comics, it's hard to pass up the opportunity to snag one of the papers and take a gander.

Living in a very small town, the local newspaper feels very similar to our school newspaper in college. Except, instead of letters to the editor from angry students who did not appreciate the use of the word "damn" in the prior edition (note: I went to BYU--God's university) there are "tide calendars" and entire pages of Sudoku puzzles.

Recently Daniel somehow came across an email address for someone at Tia Belau and decided to try his hand at journalism. He wasn't sure how to get something published in Tia Belau so rather than contact them and ask, like a normal person, he just typed up an article on a topic he found interesting and emailed it over. His email contained no explanation whatsoever about who he is, why he wrote this thing, or what his expectations were for it. It was just an email with his proposed article copied and pasted into the body. The subject line of the email: "For Immediate Print."

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pictures & Weekly Distractions

Happy weekend, Strangers. It's rainy today in the land of coconuts. Actually, it has pretty much been raining non-stop for about three weeks. I haven't minded this because it has made it just incredibly hot outside instead of the typical jaws of Hell hot.

With four weeks left in Palau, I'm attempting to soak up my final moments of tropical paradise. Also, getting Leotrix updated on his shots so he can travel to the U.S. has been a NIGHTMARE.

And now, your pictures and distractions:

Kicking it with my fish.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Curry Pancakes

The other day Daniel and I went to dinner with a couple of friends.

Now I know it seems like I'm spending a lot of time lately complaining about Daniel's very questionable decisions. I prefer the word "informing." But whatever. Call it what you want. In any event, Daniel will be abandoning me in about ten days so I speak now or forever hold my peace.

Server: Uh-oi. And what would you like sir Daniel.

Daniel: Can I have the chicken curry please?

Server: No problem.

Daniel: Oh, but could I substitute the rice for something else?

Server: Ok.

Daniel: Hmm. Let's see . . . so many good choices . . . how about . . . the pancakes with strawberry syrup?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Video Proof that we Sometimes Get Out

During the course of the last year there have been a bunch of videos I have wanted to record and share with you. But since I live in Palau, the land where the Internet goes to die, sharing these videos has been almost completely impossible. This is frustrating beyond anything I can explain to you.

Do you know how hard it is to carry the burden of being the only person in the world who has seen Daniel's 1920s flapper girl dance?

Fortunately when K-Shell went back to the United States of America she took a bunch of pictures from my camera with her (I'm not exactly sure how this was possible but I think it involved dark magic) and what she took apparently included some videos. She just informed me that she did what the kids are calling "upload" with these videos to what the kids are calling "the youtubes." So, now outdated and completely out of context, here are three mildly entertaining short videos for your Wednesday.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Daniel is Driving me CRAZY.

Have you ever lived with another person under the same roof? You have? Well this post is probably for you!

Daniel is driving me CRAZY.

And I think this is one of those things where I turned a blind eye to a lot of the quirks and insane ticks for so long because I knew they were un-fixable but now that the end is approaching I've just let myself experience two years of suppressed fury over them all at once.

I give you an example.

A few weeks ago Krishelle, Daniel, and I went to Carp Island. I told you all about it. Showed you pictures even. It was glorious. Unfortunately we all got some itchy bug-bites all over our legs. Krishelle and I did our best to ignore them, LIKE RESPONSIBLE GROWN-UPS.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sea Turtles

On Saturday I went diving with some friends. I would probably be permanently done with diving by now if it wasn't for the sea turtles. This is because there are animals that live ALL OVER in the ocean. And I really think that I just gave you the exact definition of "Hell." Seriously. Go look it up.


(You totally didn't go and look it up. That's how I was able to get away with telling you that the definition of "Hell" is a place with animals ALL OVER. This is what I learned in law school.)

I got certified to scuba dive when I first came to Palau one year ago. And the first handful of times I went diving I basically just screamed in one continuous fifty minute exhale until we surfaced. Unfortunately the water muffled my calls for help so I was unable to escape the horrors that I saw down there until the instructor said it was time to go up.

And look. I know. I probably could have just shot back up without the instructor, flying into the air like a trained dolphin at SeaWorld, and landing directly onto the boat, but they gave us this whole scare tactic thing during the class about how our bodies would explode if we didn't stay with the instructor at all times. At first when they said this I was all like, "Really, scuba people? You're going to try to use impossible threats to force my compliance? I was raised by Bob and Cathie. I'm immune to your antics."

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pictures & Weekly Distractions

Five weeks from today I'll be finishing my job in Palau and boarding a plane that will leave the land of coconuts and take me to the land of absolutely-everything-else. The wind-down period has felt strange so far, like it's moving quickly and slowly at the same time. And I can't seem to shake the constant sense that I'm closing a big fat chapter. A chapter on tropical solitude, ferocious fruit bats, and ubiquitous mangy stray dogs.

Life is about to change in big ways very soon and right now it feels like I'm slowly ticking up the first hill on the roller coaster and the track is starting to curve. I hope you'll ride it with me and keep me from falling out. But, you probably shouldn't sit behind me. In case I throw up. Because I just ate a LARGE plate of nachos.

And now, your pictures and distractions:

K-Shell's name, forever a part of the Palauan landscape (or until the tide comes in).