Holiday fury

Bloomies ad

W. T. F.

This makes me want to scream. It’s wrong. It promotes violence, dishonesty, disrespect, sexism, unhealthy relationships, and many other things that make me both mad and sad. After spending all weekend reading transcripts of teens who express confusion when they try to make sense of unwanted sex when alcohol is involved. After devoting countless hours trying to promote messages of healthy sexuality. It’s not just that it’s “too soon” after Steubenville. Or Maryville. Or any other case in which a teen is sexually assaulted after drinking. This advertisement should never be acceptable. yet somehow it was. Bloomingdale’s published this in its catalog, during the prime holiday shopping season.

What the hell was this company thinking? Why would someone ever spike someone’s drink without their knowledge? What if that person needs to stay sober because they are driving? Because they are taking a medication that interacts poorly with alcohol? Because they don’t want to drink? Because they have a bad reaction to alcohol? BECAUSE THEY DON’T WANT TO DRINK?

What are the motivations of someone who would spike a drink? They think it’s funny? They want someone to “loosen up”? What does that mean? They want to see someone more relaxed? Out of control? Not able to consent?

In the ad, we see him gazing in her direction, while she is not looking his way, but somewhere else – at another, at the door, at a beautiful work of art. No matter, she is not looking at him. There is no dynamic between them, despite the fact that they are implied “best friends.”

What are the motivations for creating this ad? Is this someone’s idea of sexy? Of fun? A part of me wants to know the POV of the creators, while another part doesn’t want to admit they exist. I want to understand, I do. Because only through understanding how this passed through many evaluators in order to reach such mass-production, can I understand how to approach this topic in classrooms. Yet, my heart is racing, my jaw tightens. I practice deep breathing to come back into focus.

As I was writing this, news came out that Bloomingdale’s has apologized for the ad.

Damn straight, Bloomingdale’s. Your acceptance of disrespect for others at best and rape at worst is inexcusable. Apology not accepted.



I’ve been back in the US for two and a half weeks and am starting to settle in. The moments of reverse culture shock and general feelings of being overwhelmed lessen each day, but remain. I am learning how to live in this country again. Although I am settling into a level of familiarity being back in Portland and taking a job in research again, I am not quite the same person. I feel a little different in ways that are hard to describe.

It was an amazing year and a half/two years and I learned so much about myself and others — some stuff I want to cherish, while other things make me grateful for the culture I grew up in. There are things I want to hold onto, and things I want to leave far behind. Here are some of the things I hope to incorporate in my life back in the US.

  • More minimal living – I want less space and fewer possessions, especially when it comes to my wardrobe. Yes, I will invest in a new pair of jeans, but otherwise I hope to wear only the items that are easily accessible to me without going into storage to retrieve more.
  • Appreciation of food for its variety and simplicity.
  • Friendship and the need to be present with those I love.
  • The awareness that there is little I can control. Letting go is something I will continue to struggle with and I look forward to the challenge.
  • Taking day trips/weekend getaways. Even one night somewhere else does so much to recharge my mind and soul.
  • Meditation practice. Haven’t revisited this yet, but planning on it! Really. Someone hold me accountable! Or perhaps it will naturally happen when I am ready.
  • Tea breaks. Wherever I went, people actually stopped for tea. “To go” was rare. I want to take the time to sit and enjoy.
  • Writing. Though no longer an expat, I hope to continue to write about things I did while overseas, and things I experience here as a result. If there’s anything you are interested in learning about, I welcome questions and inspiration.

I need to spend some more time with this guy.


Everything Old is New Again

The old airport carpet was still there to welcome me despite its busy social calendar. I am back in Oregon. Reconnecting with friends, listening to sports radio, drinking good wine, enjoying rain. Relishing the fact that I am wearing a skirt that exposes me knees. So far, the culture shock has been minimal, but I haven’t done too much. Brunch with friends, time with family, sleep, and a happy hour. Oh, and I went to a crab feast for a high school fund raiser – a true sign I am back in the US.

It hasn’t hit me yet that I am back here for a while at least. It still feels a bit like a visit. Probably because I haven’t settled into my living situation yet. It will be a while before I am in a place I can call home.

I will still be writing about here and there, changes inside and out. There were so many things I experienced but didn’t share; journeys in nine different countries gave me the chance to reflect and learn so much. I’m looking forward to seeing which memories will come back to me as I build my life back in my hometown. Which ones will shape me the most.

For now, I am filling my calendar with friend time. Friends old and new. We will share stories in favorite haunts and I will find the new places that have sprung up since I’ve been gone. And of course there will be karaoke.

Stay tuned! I have no idea what will be next.


I took this before clearing customs and was scolded by security. But she did understand my excitement and let me keep the photo. The carpet will be gone from here next month.


Today is a day where I just wish I could wear what I want. Go outside with my knees bared, or perhaps not be too concerned that a little cleavage is showing. I want a different pair of shoes. I imagine boots, a short skirt, and a shirt that flatters my neckline – my round face and larger chest beg for a scoop- or V-neck, not the higher cuts that are needed here. I want to wear different jewelry than what I have in my small collection here (which has been my saving grace – the few accessories I have and have gotten since being here have made my wardrobe bearable). I still believe that a limited wardrobe is more freeing, it’s just that the one I have here, because of the culture, does not look that great on me – I have complained about this before, and I am sure I will do so again. My clothes are comfortable for sure, but long skirts on a short body are not a great idea; neither are high necks on a short torso.

I also long to wear leggings and all the fun outfits I got when I was in Toronto. Not totally fashion-forward, but about as modern as I will ever be – even though I bought the clothes over a year ago now, possibly planting them firmly into the category of “outdated” in the fast-moving fashion world. Still, they are clothes I chose because I felt good in them – many purchased from local designers and neighborhood boutiques. The cuts and combinations new to my usual choices. I’m not really sure how I would define my fashion style, but it started to grow in Toronto, and continued to make a few steps forward in Korea and Vietnam. Of course, my fashion growth came to a screeching halt and regression as soon as I hit Oman. And besides, it’s already in the 90s here; not exactly a place to bust out sweaters and fleece tights (yes, they make these and they are amazing).

smug waterfall

I long to wear my hoodie dress and BOOTS! As you can see, this photo was taken two X-messes ago (oops on the date stamp).


Maybe my desire to feel put together on the outside is because of how I feel on the inside. It’s time for another big transition at an undisclosed time. Most likely things will happen in four and a half months, but it could be sooner. And when that happens, everything will be different: my job, location, culture — everything. The feeling of being unsettled is thrilling, distracting, nerve-wracking,  joyous. I feel sad, powerful, anxious, hopeful. I’m not sure I belong back in the US, but I want to give it another try. I know that the decisions I make now are, as everything is, subject to change. That moving back to Portland does not signal a permanent or even long-term phase – but it could. When I imagine being in that physical location, it doesn’t feel great. But when I imagine being with my friends again, my heart grows and I feel at peace; I actually feel like I am being hugged. Here is OK, but it’s not a place to be long-term (at least not for me). Maybe no place is. I am still craving being elsewhere, just not sure where.

It’s much easier to find an outfit that makes me feel great. Even if I can’t wear it today.

Monarch flying

I took this photo in New Zealand (Feb 2014), another time of major change in my life. Could these transformations be an annual thing?



hOman, Chapter Two

We moved apartments – from a pretty nice flat into a non-descript concrete building that houses many teachers from the college. People thought we were mad to do it, but I think it was the right decision. Dave wanted to move sooner, but I had to admit I didn’t want to give up this:


I had to say goodbye to my “yoga studio”


The main reasons we moved have to do with connection. First off, we now have internet in our home! This has made life so much easier and more pleasant. I can chat with friends, catch up on emails, and surf the web all from the sofa instead of having to cram in my online time at the school in between teaching and lesson planning. Then, in the old place, I would come home and have little to do except read and watch Al Jazeera. Unwinding is nice, don’t get me wrong, but being able to spread out my online time has been wonderful. For example, I am posting this blog entry from home as opposed to school — so much nicer.

Second, we are near “stuff.” We can walk to food stores and restaurants. Within the first week, I’ve already wandered over to the fruit and veg store (yes, they have these specialty stores apart from the hypermarkets where you can get all sorts of stuff – think mini Targets for those); it’s great not having to get into the car just because I am short on onions. The one closest to us isn’t the best, but within 10 minutes I can get to a bunch of places nearby.

Most importantly, however, is we are near other people. We have already had our friend over to shoot the breeze, been invited to the new teacher’s flat for ice cream floats, and been surprised by a gift of homemade Caribbean lentil soup, courtesy of another teacher who simply made too much. Last night, a few of us went up to the roof to have a couple of drinks and admire the view.


I did use telephoto here, but this is so cool!



A more authentic view from the other side of the roof.

So, yes, the place is not attractive (hence, no pictures of the interior). But it feels more like home. It’s smaller/cozier, accessible, and comes complete with a great neighborhood within its walls. Besides, how can you not love a place that has this crazy dress shop on the ground floor?


I sort of want to try one of these on.


I don’t regret not moving in here sooner, but I am happy to spend the second half of our year more connected to people both near and far.