DKI Lagi

January 21st, 2011

In the Fall of 1982 I was a Junior at U.C. Berkeley. By that time, I was right on my way to becoming a relatively well-versed armchair-ethnomusicologist: I spent hours absorbing recordings and performances of traditional music from around the world. One day, as I zipped along in my beloved live-in long-bed Chevy Luv truck, I was listening to Henry Kaiser’s World Music program on KPFA when I heard, for the first time, Javanese gamelan music. The piece was the most glorious of all gendhing bonang in the repertoire: Babar Layar, pl. 5 (here’s a clip). There was something about this music that resonated within me like nothing ever had before; I was utterly enchanted and moved to tears. I immediately went to my favorite record shop in search of this recording. I found the album, bought it, and played it over and over for days. I was hooked and I bought all the gamelan music I could find, which in those days was limited to several albums on the Nonesuch label. One day, while planning my course schedule for the Spring semester, I happened to notice that there was a performance class in Javanese gamelan offered through the Music Department! Needless to say, I signed up for the class and my passionate affair with Indonesia began in earnest.

I relate this story because during my visit to Manado, North Sulawesi, last month, I had a weird my-life-is-not-simply-a-result-of-my-choices kind of moment. That moment occurred as I stood before Mt. Lokon in Manado.

Here’s the full-circle: In that gamelan class at Cal, I fell in love with a woman from Indonesia, her family name was Lokon and they were originally from Manado. I was inspired by the music, by the girl, and by the fantasy of far-flung equatorial climes. As I continued my study of Javanese gamelan, I also took classes in Bahasa Indonesia. Upon graduating, I worked in a hot-tub factory to finance a trip to Indonesia. After six months of penny pinching, I had saved up enough for a trip. In 1985, said Lokon and I spent 11 months traveling from Medan to Bali. Although we parted ways, Indonesia was only beginning to open its arms to me… And 25 years later, there I was standing before the namesake of the woman who was instrumental in the course of my adult life. I remain convinced that this is where I’m meant to be. (But I’ll be home soon, Mom…)

Rubber on the Road

November 7th, 2010

I’ll miss my hog, but this zippy little Kaw will be a different kind of fun—riding in Jakarta is not unlike motocross!

(4 days and counting…)

Departure Date Draws Nigh

October 23rd, 2010

19 days and counting…

I submitted my visa application, yesterday, and my housing situation seems to be in order. I am ready (in my mind anyway!)—still some purging and packing to do…

UNJ Guest House This is the UNJ guesthouse located adjacent to campus. My personal quarters are up on the second floor and consist of a living room, two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a balcony; I’ll be sharing a kitchen and common space downstairs with other UNJ guest lecturers.

Fond Farewell

October 1st, 2010

Teachstone Farewell ClockWednesday, September 29, 2010 was my last day at Teachstone. Although I worked mostly from home, it was a great place to be —friendly folks, a flexible management that played to my strengths, and a supervisor who knew me well enough to know how much I’d appreciate a clock made from a computer hard drive (thanks, Lauren!). I received a very nice send-off pizza party replete with kind words from remote staff posted in a scrolling slide show. My heart was warmed and I felt appreciated. Alhamdulillah. Now it’s time to get down to the happy business of heading up and moving out!

Check out the cool stuff at Stuff Made From Stuff.

Status Update

September 23rd, 2010

I just got word that my visa paperwork is making it’s way through the final stages on the Indonesia side and that I should receive the “visa telex” by mid-October! I also received my first funding installment from Georgetown and the contact information for the folks at my host institution… so it’s really happening… YEAY!

This news couldn’t have come at a better time, for as I hear about all the activities of my fellow Fellows already in-country, I’m feeling quite “left out” and eager to catch up.


September 17th, 2010

My eagerness to depart knows no bounds, but it can be diminished through distraction. And The Mother has brought down an old something of Grandpa Kelley’s that does just that: The Mighty Dymo M-10 embossing tool… HUZZAH!

Dymo M-10

Here’s another ELF blog for the round-up: Exile.

Web Reload

September 7th, 2010

It’s been three hundred sixty-seven days since I swept away the sands of my former web presence. Thanks to a bevy of inspiring blogs by my new friends and fellow Fellows in Indonesia, I am moved, once again, to document a few of my activities and to reflect upon life around me.

At the moment, I am utterly preoccupied with returning to Indonesia. My contract term begins November 1st—I wish it were sooner!

Here’s the FAT ELF* blog round-up:

* Flexible, Adaptable, Tolerant English Language Fellows

Web Overload

September 5th, 2009

Like a Tibetan sand mandala, I’m wiping away my web presence… GOODBYE.

The Highlands Come to HTFS

November 14th, 2008

Mr. Martin HatcherMr. Martin Hatcher
We had a special guest today in my “Ethnoexperimusicology” class, Mr. Martin Hatcher of the Capital Region Celtic Pipe Band! Mr. Hatcher gave a wonderful demonstration of the Great Highland Bagpipes. In class, he began with an explanation of his parade regalia and then went on to show the students, up-close, all of the components and their respective functions as he discussed the history and use of bagpipes. We then went outside (the pipes they be loud!!!) for a demonstration. We got to hear how bagpipes were tuned and played. Check it out (click play button below)…

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The Third Jihad

October 16th, 2008

A documentary that claims to “Expose the War the Media is Not Telling You About.”

The Third Jihad

We know that socio-political issues are never “black & white.” For me, the murkiness of the waters of Islam in society seems to stem from the conflict between the ideological and religious ideals to which I strive to adhere, and the inevitable contamination of deen by fallible humans struggling to make sense of it all.