Happy Western New Year

We have reached the end of 2017 by the Western Calendar, and that means we are supposed to be reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the next.

(Those of you in Asia can wait until the Lunar calendar caches up in February. And, happy year of the dog to you!)

Looking back at my last year, I have spend nearly all of my time taking, editing, and compiling photos of the reefs around Guam. These will be donated to NOAA along with my notes on things I have observed on the reefs since my arrival.

I am really grateful that this is the year we leave.

It has been heartbreaking the last few years to watch the coral reefs dying, and I don’t like being an environment that makes the raw pain of it completely inescapable. Plus, it has been summer now for three and a half year. I mean, it’s always summer in Guam. But I have been in Guam for three and a half years.

Only my Arizona friends can truly understand why I would be so salty about three and a half years of summer. No one else dreads the summer like those of us who have lived in a desert.

I often joke that I reached my lifetime allowance of sunshine a few years back and I don’t ever need to see the sun again.

While this is largely a joke, I have already had melanoma removed from my nose. (Thank god I was diagnosed in South Korea where a plastic surgeon handles any facial tumors being removed.)

I genuinely hope we get Alaska or Washington next so that I can enjoy some darkness and cold for a few years. I know that some of you can’t understand that sentiment. But, I hope some of you can.

Anyway, Happy New Year!

Where We Go Next

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I am saying this with all the love in the world, but friends of mine: We need to talk.

We found out that we are going to Hawaii after we leave Guam. The moment I posted about it on Facebook, I was inundated with people saying “We’ll come visit you.” More than 50 people sent me messages over the course of two days telling me that they planned to visit me in Hawaii and that they expected to be able to stay at my home.

This was really disappointing to me, and I want to talk a little about why that is.

1. Our home in Guam is really nice. Seriously, we live in a beachfront condo. You just go down the elevator and you are on the beach. It’s RIGHT THERE. We have a Jacuzzi that looks out over the ocean, so you and your travel companion (or just you) can soak in a huge tub with jets bubbling, and watch the sun set over the ocean. The place is nearly 2,000 square feet with a big living room and a master bedroom big enough that you could fit the apartment I lived in when I was in college into it. I frequently post pictures of the view from my desk saying “We will never have a view this nice again.” That is so very, very true.

The reason that I am telling you this is because a beachfront condo in Guam doesn’t cost that much, but a beachfront condo in Hawaii starts at $2 million dollars. We will not live in a beachfront condo in Hawaii. It’s a tourist destination, and as such, it is expensive. We are going to end up in a shack. I was looking at apartments in Hawaii and the ones in our price range are the size of the master bathroom in our current home. I am talking under 400 square feet for the entire place.

So a big part of why you should visit us in Guam is because we live a life of relative luxury that just isn’t possible anywhere else. And that matters, because I don’t really want you to come stay in my 390 square ft apartment. In fact, I don’t even want to share something that small with Rich, and we are married.

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2. I don’t have a job on Guam. I have a car and I have time, and I can chauffeur you around to any place you want to see. I can take you hiking to see waterfalls, get you on base for exclusive snorkeling and diving, or take you to empty beaches like Tanguissen and Haputo. I have time to play tour guide and show you around while I am here on Guam.

The reason that I have time to show you around is two-fold.

First, Rich gets two extra living allowances here; one for utilities and one for “sea pay” since he is technically on a ship.

In addition, it is so remote and hard to live here that it is considered a “hardship duty station,” (which comes with extra perks that we won’t get in Hawaii.) A lot of this is because there are no stores for furniture, clothes, and food, and it’s just not an easy place to live. If you visit it’s no problem, but if you were here long enough for your shoes to wear out, you would soon find out that you can’t buy new shoes here. And no, we have no access to Amazon Prime and most places do not ship here.

Anyway, those extra living allowances and perks let me not have a job because they cover our expenses. But when we got to Hawaii, all of that goes away.

Second, there are no jobs here on Guam besides those in restaurants.

I hurt my back about two years ago, and my physical therapist told me that I cannot lift more than 30 pounds anymore unless I want to have disks fused. So, restaurants and the heavy lifting that goes with them are out. Yet all other businesses here will only hire locals, so I haven’t been able to work.

However, I will be working as soon as we get to Hawaii because there are jobs I can do there, and that means I will have no time to play tour guide. If you come stay in our shack in Hawaii, you will be on your own for adventure.

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3. And finally, Guam is a better place to visit. It may be hard to live here, but if you are only coming for vacation, it is the superior destination. There are only 170,000 people on Guam, and many of them are military or hiding in a shack in the jungle. That means that very few of them go out to the beaches. I frequently go to the beach and am the only person there. I am not Photoshopping tourists out of my pictures; there just aren’t any.

If you come to Guam, we can walk over to turtle rock, put down a beach blanket, and sit in the shade listening to the waves for hours without a single bird, human, or anything else to bother us. It is peaceful.

If you come to Hawaii, you will be lost in a mob of tourists. There are places that you go snorkel there where you can’t even get into the water until they check your sunscreen to make sure it is coral safe, charge you a “protection fee,” and then make you watch a safety video. There is traffic, noise, and every single beach is crowded. And if you bring food, the birds will take it. (Unlike Guam where we literally don’t have birds. No really. Google it.)

Oh! And don’t forget the coral. Hawaii has rocks. Guam has coral. Hawaii has a few fish and some turtles. We have as much life as the rain forest under water because the equator is like that. And don’t forget that the water here is as warm as a bathtub and calm, while the water in Hawaii is chilly even in the summer and has rip tides.

In conclusion, you are making a bad decision if you think that you want to visit us in Hawaii instead of Guam. I know it’s a longer plane flight to Guam and it costs a little bit more. But if you factor in your level of comfort, taxi and bus fare, and all the other extra expenses you would have visiting us in Hawaii, you’ll see that it’s really not cheaper.

Yes, marketing has told you that Hawaii is this beautiful vacation spot. I get that. I know it’s hard to imagine that it is the inferior vacation destination. However, that is exactly the case. It’s just not as nice of a place to visit as Guam.

Forget the marketing and listen to someone who has spent time on both the island of Oahu and the island of Guam. I have first-hand experience with everything I am talking about here. Guam is not the nicer place to live (because Hawaii has stores where I can buy things and Guam does not,) but Guam is by far the better place to visit. You want to come here before we leave in September of 2018. This is where I can offer you a really great experience.

I cannot promise a really great experience in Hawaii.

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What I Am Reading

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I always heard that it is important for a writer to read a lot. I think that’s true, although there is only so much time in a day, and I do love outdoor activities.

Currently, I am reading a book called Gulp, by one of my very favorite authors, Mary Roach. She has written some amazing books, my favorite of which is BonkBonk (because I actually giggled out loud a bunch while reading it.) But I have loved everything she has ever written, and been following her since she had a column in Reader’s Digest called Pardon My Planet.

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I also recently re-read the Harry Potter Series for the 20th Anniversary. They were good books to bring on our recent vacation because they are engaging enough to read on a plane with screaming kids.

Some books are good, but maybe not the kind of books that you can read in a train station in Calcutta or a subway in Seoul.

My battered paperbacks of Harry Potter have served me well through all the chaos of travel, and have managed to grab my attention no matter how loud my surroundings. If you need to ignore someone else’s screaming kids, Harry Potter will never fail you.

Plus, the TSA in the US is always scary and often they are not very nice. But, I got one of them to laugh out loud when he asked: “Do you have an e-reader, tablet, laptop, or other device in your backpack?” And I replied, “No, Sir. I have a book.”

The line got quite and everyone stared at me like I had horns and a tail. It was awesome. I pulled out my copy of The Half Blood Prince and flashed it around, and I got a lot of laughs.

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Another series I was recently reading was the Sookie Stackhouse books. If you have seen the HBO series called True Blood then I am sorry, because it was pretty awful. But the books are awesome and I had read them ages ago as they came out. I recently found out that the series was finally complete, and so I bought the last two and re-read the whole thing. It was a lot of fun, and each book only takes a day or two at most. Wait in a few lines at the post office or the bank, let a few meals simmer and stir occasionally while reading, and you’re done before you know it.

My students in Korea used to be aghast that I would walk while reading. They thought it was perfectly scandalous. But like any avid reader, I have read while doing pretty much everything, even showering (holding the book out of the spray, of course.)

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Sometime else I took a second look at recently was the Anne of Green Gables books. I hadn’t read them since 8th grade, and I forgot how… let’s say “dated” they are. But, I loved them dearly.

I actually cried reading them because it was so intense to read something that I had been reading back when I was an awkward pre-teen in a loveless home full of abuse. During some parts, I remembered my biological mother screaming at me so clearly that it was almost like she was in the room. It was always in such stark contrast to the books, where Marilla and Matthew love Anne and think of her as the light of their life.

Point is: If you never read Anne of Green Gables, they are charming and worth a look.

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I know a lot of people are re-reading American Gods because of the TV show. I thought about it. But American Gods is another one of those really engaging books, and so it used to be my go-to book on long plane rides. I think I can actually quote nearly the whole thing from memory by now, so I decided not to jump on that boat.

I do have the new Mary Roach book, Grunt, on the way. I am looking forward to that. But if you have any other recommendations, please get in touch and let me know. I always need book recommendations. I don’t have enough friends that read now, and I find that extremely depressing.

Mainland Goodness

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Living overseas can be really cool. I see all kinds of new and different things, and that’s always neat. How many people get to go to a Buddha’s Birthday parade in Seoul or swim with a sea turtle? I know that I am lucky.

On the other hand, there are a lot of things that you just can’t get in other places in the world.

Fun Fact: Did you know that cocktails were invented in the United States? Some claim it was in New Orleans, and some claim that it was in New York, but no one disputes that they are a uniquely American invention.

This means that it is also pretty uniquely American to find a wide variety of alcohol and things to mix with it. (For non-US friends, I am talking about things you mix with alcohol like bitters, grenadine, and vermouth.) So, it is cool to see things like that on the shelves.

Then there are produce options!

In South Korea there is a poisonous berry that grows wild. It looks a lot like a raspberry. As a result, they do not think raspberries are food and do not import or grow them. This is a shame, as they are my very favorite fruit.

In Guam we mostly don’t have fresh fruits and vegetables. Everything has to go through costumes in Hawaii (as per US law,) so by the time it gets here it is rotten. And unlike Hawaii, we are not a volcanic island where it is easy to grow things. We are a coral island, which means that the soil is harsh and infertile.

So it’s apples and oranges, and broccoli. That’s what can make it here, so that is what we eat.

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I also miss things that are hard to explain. For example, we do have Chinese food here. However, we are very close to China and so we have Chinese Chinese food here. As it turns out, I don’t really like Chinese Chinese food. I like American Chinese food.

Fun Fact: Fortune cookies are American.

Another thing I really miss is good tortilla soup and carnitas. The people of Guam have some Spanish influence in their culture, but it’s just not the same.

I went all through High School and College in Arizona, and every now and then I am just dying to have some really good Mexican Food.

Thankfully, I can get good Korean and Thai food on Guam, so at least there is that.

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I guess the hardest part for me living overseas is shoes. Even in the US, I have absolutely broken down crying while looking for shoes.

See, I wear a size 12 in women’s. Yes, that’s right, a size 12.

Don’t bother leaving all the jokes in the comments. I have heard every single one. Yes, if I am in a hurricane I won’t blow over. I don’t need skis to go skiing. I am probably related to big foot. Ha. Ha. Ha.

All I really want to cute shoes like girls wear on TV. I want sexy pumps and cute boots and adorable sandals.

However, no one makes those things in size 12.

In Asia I can’t buy shoes at all. These just aren’t any. I tried ordering online, but so many places have sizes that “run small” and they don’t tell you. I ordered a pair from Chinese Laundry because I was so excited to see a size 12 on their site. I don’t know whose idea of a size 12 it was, but I could have cut off all my toes and still not fit my foot into it. So, I have to buy shoes in person.

I was excited to do this while stateside.

I went all the places that folks had suggested to me, like Nordstrom’s Rack and DSW. And I have to tell you: I have nothing nice to say about those places or the people who work there. Same for Target, Walmart, Journeys, and every other shoe store besides Payless.

Not only is Payless literally the only store in the United States that still carries shoes in my size, but the lady there was nice. I have no idea why shoe salesmen in other stores have to be nasty, act shocked, or ask if I am transsexual (I am not.) However, there are some mean and really rotten shoe salespeople, and I think I talked to all of them.

So at long last, I got two new pairs of shoes. With one more year in Guam, and likely another Asian posting in our future, I sure hope these two pairs last me a long time.

Anyway, I think a lot of times people look at my blog and they think that it’s really glamorous living overseas. And yeah, sometimes it has its moments. But I do live a life without raspberries and shoes, so maybe keep that in mind before you think my life is “perfect.”

Shoes that do not come in my size, sold by a very nasty person who thinks women with size 12 feet are subhuman. Thanks DSW.

College Reunion

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I recently went on a long trip.  One of the things I did was go to my unofficial college reunion in Arizona.

My best friends in college were two lovely women named Sidra and Clarice. Both of them are doing well now, and it was a lot of fun to catch up. I am really glad that I took the time and spent the money to make it possible.

The reunion brought up a lot of thoughts and feelings for me. Most of them are sort of private, but I did want to share a few things that might help others.

1. Keep in touch with snail mail.

I am always surprised at how much it means to people to get post cards and seasonal greeting cards. I guess this is because mail is always exciting. You can hold it in your hand, and put it on your refrigerator. It is a way to display that someone thought of you. Most people just get bills and junk mail, so getting things you didn’t expect that make you happy can be very special.

I have been sending post cards and holiday greeting cards for about 20 years, and I think this is part of what makes people feel like they are still connected to me, even after years apart. I had not seen Sidra and Clarice in 10 years due to all of us being in different countries, but we still felt connected and like we were good friends.

Though it might seem silly, I will also add that I never got a label maker, nor do I run envelopes through my printer. I hand address each envelope, write a personal message referencing things in the person’s life, and include a Holiday Letter talking about my year. People bring up these personal touches when they see me, and thank me for them. That is how I know that they matter.

2. Make connections in college.

We all know that nepotism is how people get the really good jobs. The narrative is that anyone can do anything if they go to college, but the reality is that without connections, your degree is meaningless.

In college, I was so busy working to support myself, studying, and looking after my wayward aerospace engineer boyfriend that I missed a lot of chances to connect. I should have gone to my professor’s office hours and “kissed ass,” as they say. I should have tried to make more friends on campus. (And, probably richer more powerful friends.) I should have seen the scholarship breakfasts I had to go to as an opportunity instead of a burden.

The truth is; I was so busy surviving that I forgot to live. I wish that I had put more effort into climbing ladders instead of just working hard and thinking that would be enough to succeed. I bought the lie. I regret that.

3. Take chances.

I still regret winning a scholarship to study in Costa Rica in college, but then deciding not to take it. I was afraid that my boyfriend would get kick out of school while I was away (since he had so much trouble getting up in the morning.) I was worried that my boss would replace me at work. I was worried about where to store my stuff…

The truth is, I still regret not going.

If you get the chance to have a new or different experience, just take it! Even if you have to find a new job when you get back and put your stuff in storage. Just do it!

It’s true what they say: You only regret the chances you don’t take.

Over the years I have done a lot of wild things, like running away with the Renaissance Festival and then taking off to teach in South Korea. I don’t regret any of those things. But I still regret not doing that semester abroad.

I am hardly an oracle of brilliant advice. I am just a person who has been wandering around the world for awhile now, and I would like to think that those three pieces of advice are pretty solid.

I guess it also goes without saying that you should never lose touch with your friends. I am so glad I kept in touch with Clarice and Sid all these years!

Resume for Jenifer DeLemont

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Over the month of August 2017, I wrote about some of my very favorite things that I have done for work.

I thought I would write a post summarizing what I talked about over the last month, and what I learned from all of the cool experiences that I have been lucky enough to have.

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In my 20’s I worked a lot with artists and musicians in various capacities. First as a promoter for concerts with Third Eye Promotions, but later in other capacities.

Working with artists and musicians taught me patience. Many of them are very wrapped up in their own world, and so there is a lot of listening and being accommodating required.

Of course, it’s also important to always have a backup plan and make sure that everything is organized way in advance. That way you can work around an artist having a meltdown and being unable to do what they are supposed to.

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I was the editor of S.L.A.M. (Support Local Arts & Music) Magazine, as well as the curator of Alice’s Restaurant and Gallery.

This helped me gain years of experience as an effective manager. As Dale Carnegie would say, you have to talk in terms of the other person’s wants. The paperwork end is easy, but it’s handling the people that is the challenge.

Over the years, I was able to learn how to effectively communicate with people, and how to motivate them.

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This was during the beginning of the First Friday Art Walk, and when the City of Phoenix was starting Copper Gate Square.

It was a wonderful time to be involved in local arts and music, and I am glad that I had the chance. However, I did learn that culture in a city is not something that just happens. It takes thousands of dollars in investment from a city, in addition to the work of many people.

I value the time I spent at Alice’s Restaurant and at SLAM Magazine a great deal. It was a wonderful way to spend the first half of my 20’s.

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Later I went to Arizona State University. I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications (with a minor in Sociology) from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at ASU.

While at ASU, I wrote for State Press News, State Press Magazine, College Affairs Magazine, and The East Valley Tribune.

This taught me time management and disciple more than anything else, because I was always so busy.

However, I learned a lot more than that. My college boyfriend was an Aerospace Engineer working on propulsion system research, so I learned about writing White Papers to apply for grants. In the meantime, I refused to go into debt. That meant scholarship breakfasts and networking. I hardly slept, but I graduated debt-free, having audited classes in Engineering in addition to my degree, and having learned a lot about the politics and funding in academia.

As if I wasn’t busy enough, I also worked as a bar tender part-time at The Dirty Drummer to help support myself.

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Bar tending definitely taught me a lot about handling people when they are drunk and angry.

I saw a lot of the world and learned to strike up a conversation with anyone. Skills like making drinks and getting along with people are very useful, and I am glad that I was able to learn them.

Once I graduated, I moved overseas with my husband, a sailor in the US Navy.

I got a job at Avalon English.

This helped me learn effective teaching methods and how to write a textbook. It also taught me to be adaptive, as the culture is very different from our own.

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It was wonderful being in Asia, because I was able to easily take my vacations in places like Japan, Thailand, and France (which I have written about before.)

However, after three years teaching at Avalon, my husband went for training in Mississippi on an unaccompanied tour. I took that time to see some family in Oregon, which was wonderful. I love the Pacific Northwest.

After that, we moved to the island of Guam, which is way out in the Pacific Ocean past Hawaii but not quite to the Philippines.

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While there, I worked as the General Manager of Sea Grill Restaurant. However, I also worked on a lot of side projects, such as writing a Choose Your Own Adventure audio book called The Vampire’s Sister.

Guam was isolated, and so we faced complications because of that. We had plenty of weeks without electricity or fresh vegetables, and I guess that’s just part of living on an island.

On the upside, I was also able to get my dive certification and take some classes online. It’s never a bad thing to acquire new and different skills, right?


If you come across this post while Googling me before a job interview; hire me. I am dedicated, friendly, and a hard worker.

I am usually looking for a job in Communications, because that is what I went to college for and what I am best at. I do have experience in other fields as well, but when I sit down and reflect, my favorite moments were doing Public Relations work for Third Eye Promotions, or doing corporate training at Sea Grill. I love positions where I can use my skills in Communications to help people.

So, if you are hiring for a position that is related to Communications, Writing, or Public Relations; please consider me. I would be an asset to any company, and I promise to be cheerful and make drinks at the company parties. After all, I did bar tend my way through college.

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Sea Grill Restaurant

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I spent three years on Guam. When I lived there I worked as the General Manager of Sea Grill Restaurant in Tumon (the largest village.)

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Sea Grill was composed of Tail of the Whale Bar, The Rooftop Beer Garden, Diner Under the Sea (in the aquarium downstairs,) Sky Lounge upstairs, and the main dining room. We sometimes rented the rooms separately for tour groups or schools. However, usually they all functioned as one restaurant. All the food was cooked in the same kitchen.

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As anyone who has worked in a restaurant knows, it was long hours. I usually took Wednesdays off because it was the slowest day. However, I worked every other day of the week. Most days I worked open to close (11am to 11pm.) However, every month my managers and I would spend a late night doing inventory until 2am or so.

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Sea Grill did buffets for every holiday, so that required a lot of extra attention. In addition, all events had to be coordinated with our marketing department, as well as with the plaza that we were part of. That meant that a lot of the job was talking to people and making sure that they were happy, or figuring out what would make them happy.

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In addition to the routine things a manager deals with, I also did a lot of extra things.

I oversaw the remodel of the Tail of the Whale Bar. I also had to write new training manuals, implement a new food code passed by Guam in 2014, and organize special training for things like carrying trays (which the employees had never done before.) It was a lot to coordinate.

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I enjoyed my time at Sea Grill, and my boss Erik Pederson was a great guy. I would have loved to stay there! Unfortunately, I had a medical problem that prevented me from working for Sea Grill the whole time I was in Guam.

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Still, I had a great time. Managing a restaurant is hard work, but it’s rewarding. I made sure to leave copious notes when I left, and that things were in good hands.

I will always think of Sea Grill fondly.

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