A Whole New Look

I’m adventurous, but you all probably know that. I like to climb mountains, SCUBA dive, work and play in the dirt, and I crave extended periods of time without electricity. That being said I am a girl and I like to make sure that I look good. I once went on a rant with a team of archaeologists that I was working with about how working in the field is no excuse to look homeless, and I stand by that. Wear clothes that fit (NOT oversized t-shirts and holey pants), color coordinate, and for heaven’s sake keep your hair under control.

Me and two of my archaeology girls. This featured outfit is what I call my “archaeologist costume”. Mel and Jillian are also doing a great job at not looking homeless.

In a nutshell, as rugged as I am, I maintain total control over my appearance, and I like it to work.

Ignore the mosquito bite in Canada. I can only hope that if mosquitoes bite my tattoo, they do so in mountainous regions.

Last week, I finally mustered up the courage to get the tattoo that I have been meticulously planning for years. Over the years, I have also made two appointments for this tattoo, which I cancelled due to my fear of needles and self-inflicted pain. I had three of my Indonesian friends come to the tattoo parlor with me and fortunately, one of them was as crazy about controlling the situation as I was, and he had the language ability to do so. He’s an artist and he drew the final draft for me, under my strict guidance of course. The result of having Anpan, Jaka, and Dedy there was that none of my desires were lost in translation, the price was appropriate for the design, and I was given clear after care instructions. The end result is that I have a perfectly placed and shaded tattoo of Abraham Ortelius’ 1564 map of the world, Typus Orbis Terrarum. Besides my right hip, this map is also found in Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, the first modern atlas. I love it.

You are probably saying to yourself “of course you should be controlling about a tattoo, Mary! You’ll have that thing stamped on your body for the rest of your life!” But it doesn’t stop there. I always match my weekly manicure to the outfits I plan on wearing that week. That means that if I choose red, I’m restricted to my red, white, and blue America themed clothes and all the pretty pink outfits I have must wait until the next manicure.

I’m also crazy about sunglasses and my friends H-A-T-E sunglass shopping with me.

Old lady? Perhaps, but try and tell me this outfit isn’t coordinated or that those pretty Coach shades will go out of style!

I don’t understand why anyone would buy cheap sunglasses. Your eyes are important and you only get one set of them, so puh-lease protect them from harmful UV rays! You might as well not even be wearing sunglasses if they aren’t good ones in my opinion. I also only choose frames that are as timeless as my wardrobe. And tortoise shell. Why? Because I like wearing brown clothes, shoes, accessories, so why ruin a perfectly coordinated brown outfit with black shades? That being said, tortoise shell is perfect because it also works with black outfits.

All that being said, I cannot explain why I let my guard down so much when I’m at the hair and make up salon. I usually walk in and say something like “I have no idea what I want, just make it pretty!” That is often followed by a list of requirements that my new do must adhere to: I need to have the option to put it in a pony tail, my cowlick must be hidden, and try to give it more volume, but not TOO many layers (for the pony tail requirement). Some of past stylists, such as Ali from Senoj in Bloomington, IN, have been true artists and might have mind reading abilities. Unfortunately, I’m far too transient to keep a stylist for long, which means a lot of trial and error with every move. I won’t bore you with my bad hair saga in Key Largo, FL, but there were many tears and I went off on a receptionist once.

After getting my tattoo and a motorbike, I wanted a haircut as bad ass as me: blunt bangs. I was hoping to still keep my length though. I behaved as I normally do in salons though and told the stylist to do whatever she thought best, and so a chin length bob it is. I miss my long hair a bit, but I’m set up perfectly to be a flapper for Halloween, so that’s a good thing.

The spa across the street from school invited me to be a model for one of their make up artists. They do classes there, and I was nervous that that was what I was modeling for and I was relieved when I showed up for my appointment and the head make up artist just wanted to add some photos of a buleh (foreigner) to her portfolio, and I was the chosen buleh. There aren’t too many to pick from here in Bandar Lampung. Being a model at the make up salon meant that for an hour, people fussed over my face and hair, got me whatever I wanted, and took a bunch of glamour shots of me. When I say that I got whatever I wanted, I’m not exaggerating. Maya, the artist asked me if I liked beer and I said that I love it. The receptionist heard and snapped her fingers. A man showed up, she handed him money and sent him out on a beer run. It was noon and I was on my break from work. It was awesome! I told her that I wanted “daily make up” because I had to go back to work, but she could do whatever she wanted besides that. I kind of wish that I would have told her to leave my eye brows alone. Oh well, like my hair, they will grow back, and she didn’t shave them completely off… they are thinner than I’ve ever had them though. You can’t tell in the photo due to the penciling in of big eyebrows. I was given an eyebrow pencil as a parting gift, so that I could practice doing my eyebrows at home. I don’t color them THAT much, but I’m glad I have the pencil to fill in my very thin blonde hairs.

This is final outcome “daily” make up makeover. Words they used to describe this look were “subtle” “soft” and “natural”. I’m eager to see what her “dramatic” make up means….


Nature Day at the Dickman’s

The Dickman Family Myrtle Beach House

I just got home from our family reunion in Myrtle Beach. My grandma has been renting this beach house for years for all of to get together for a week and do some serious relaxing. As a family, we relish this week to play in the waves and lounge on the beach. My favorite activity is turning on my archaeology eyes to find shark teeth. In the past, we’ve pushed the limits of how many margaritas a human can consume, but this year, we let that tradition fall by the wayside and I will say, nobody was upset by that.

I wasn’t going to write a post about Myrtle Beach because I didn’t think you would seriously want to read about how much I relaxed for a week and hear all of our family inside jokes and stories, but one particular day of the week was so eventful, that I just can’t resist sharing it with you all. We call it Nature Day at the Dickman’s.

Nature Day started with all of waking up to find out that a sea turtle had made a nest right outside of our house! We didn’t see the turtle, but we did see her tracks and my dad and uncle had just missed her when they got up at 5:45am to start smoking the pork shoulder that would be that night’s dinner.

Then, me and the other cousins organized an outing to the fishing pier in Myrtle Beach State Park to go crabbing. Expecting to pull up an overwhelming bounty of crabs with each drop of our net, we rented four of them. We caught zero crabs.

Here crabby crabby crabby…

We did, however, have ANOTHER run in with a sea turtle! A small sea turtle swallowed a fishing line and had to be netted and pulled onto the pier to be rescued. Unfortunately, the hook was latched on behind it’s tongue and therefore had to be rushed to Charleston to the sea turtle hospital to be treated. I would have much rather seen a turtle swimming happily doing whatever turtles do that be hauled into shore with a fish hook lodged in its throat, but I will admit, it was very interesting to watch the rescue go down. While they got everything together, the ranger told us a little bit about sea turtles and what was going to go down when this little guy got to the hospital.

While I ran into the gift shop to buy waters for the group, two fishermen caught sharks. I guess that adult on water duty always has to miss some of the good stuff.

Back at the house, my cousin’s husband George caught some fish and my cousin Eric saw a sting ray. Nature Day wasn’t anywhere near halting when the rain started. We spent the afternoon watching a brilliant thunderstorm and when it cleared up again, my shark tooth senses were tingling and had the most success forage of the week!

This week’s collection of shark teeth, after the young ones got to go through and pick some out for themselves. I kept some of these for very obvious reasons.

We gave crabbing another shot that night and found them much easier to find and get a good look at when they were on land and we had a flashlight to freeze them with.

The storm picked up again when we got back home and Nature Day at the Dickman’s came to a close.

I had such a fabulous time with my family this week! It was especially great to see everyone since I’m Indonesia-bound tomorrow and will be over there for a year. That hasn’t sunk in at all.

For the next few days, I’ll be working towards getting to Bandar Lampung, Sumatra, Indonesia. Tomorrow, I’ll fly from Detroit – Chicago – Tokyo and hang out in Tokyo for a day. Then, I’ll make to Jakarta on the 17th and Bandar Lampung on the 18th!

Here or There? Here.

My packing list is too long. The upstairs of my parents’ house is cluttered with my belongings. I still haven’t ordered an underwater housing for my camera. Ugh – I just don’t care.

For as often as I change locations, one would think that I enjoyed it. False. I hate packing, saying good-bye, and existing in the limbo phase right before a move. I came back home to the shores of Lake Erie two weeks ago to spend time with my family and old friends and get ready for my move in a leisurely, organized fashion. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?) my preparation for my trip has been neither leisurely nor organized.


This is my parents’ back yard. I challenge any of you to do anything but play when plopped into this setting.

During transition times like this one, I tend to either take full advantage of the town that I’m in or become a hermit preparing for my departure. But, seriously, where is the middle ground? Are we better off relishing in the familiar while we have it or walking into our transitions cool, calm, and collected? This time around, I’m loving spending time in my hometown and hating packing. 

I grew up in Toledo, Ohio and my parents recently moved to La Salle, Michigan, just a bit further up on I-75 and on a much more scenic slice of Lake Erie. I left Toledo when I turned 18 to go to Indiana University and I haven’t necessarily looked back on that decision, but I absolutely love coming home to visit. I love being able to spend all day on the water, find great local music any night of the week, and browse the galleries in one of the United States’ best art museums. Other things that I love are Tony Packo’s hot dogs, Maumee Bay Brewing Company beers, Lebanese food (which is everywhere and fabulous), the bars on Adams Street downtown, Mud Hens baseball games, and Walleye hockey matches. Of course, spending time with my fabulous family is another great part about coming home.

So this time, Toledo, I choose you. I’ll have a couple days of frantically throwing things together and many fond memories of a fun summer in my hometown. For now, I’m sticking to that decision being the right one, but ask me again in a on Friday while I’m frantically deciding what stays and what goes with me….

Indiana, an unexpected appropriate transition to Asia

I came back to Bloomington, IN in the end of April to work at Esan Thai, the Thai restaurant I worked at in college.

I’m living in the Wat Pah Indiana, or in English, the Forest Temple of Southern Indiana. It’s a Thai Buddhist temple that the owner of my restaurant runs and she is letting me stay here. In exchange, I take care of these guys.

Pretty cute, right?

I’ve done a few other Asian things besides working at a Thai restaurant and living in Buddhist temple.

Here’s a picture of Aey, my boss (more a close friend at this point) and I at Asia Day at the Farmer’s Market. They asked her to do a cooking demonstration which turned into me cooking Kang Luang (yellow curry) for the first time ever while she gave me instructions, in the rain, in front of an audience. We were told we’d be on TV, but that didn’t end up happening. I’m not too torn up about it.

Another big Asian moment I had was the Laos New Years Festival in Fort Knox, Kentucky, another surprising place to feel like you’re in Asia. Laos and Thailand are super similar in terms of culture, language, and history, so Aey, her daughter Kara, and I went down for the day. I went a long because Kara was supposed to be in the beauty pageant and they needed me to do her hair and make-up, and I was promised an all-night dance party. Kara signed up for the pageant too late to be a contestant and the dance party was rained out. I’m still super glad I went, though! Lots of interesting food and things to do. Aey insisted that Kara and I wear traditional Thai dress. For a few hours, Kara and I were the only people wearing traditional clothing and I was the only white person, which was kind of an unsettling feeling, but I was there, so why not embrace it? Aey told people that she was there with her two daughters (yep, I’ve been adopted into a Thai family). I sure loved the expression on peoples’ faces when she would introduce us as her daughters. One of us looked a bit out of place. Guess who? 

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Thailand and Laos are very different from Indonesia, but these experiences are helping me get a sense of what life in Southeast Asia will be like. I’ve been thrown into situations full of spicy (kind of weird) food that I’ve been promised I will encounter in Sumatra. Also, and more importantly, I’ve been in some situations where I didn’t speak the language at all. Having only traveled in Latin America and being a Spanish speaker, I’ve had an advantage in adjusting. I will not have that luxury in Indonesia, but I’ve been really lucky to have made some Indonesian friends who have been helping me out a lot.

But more on Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language) language later. I’ve been studying it and find it fascinating. Maybe you’ll think it’s as cool as I do, or maybe I’m just a linguistic nerd. Who knows?