Friday, February 27, 2009

Stupid Street Mime..

Stupid street mime
Pushing against a wall
Now a ceiling
Contained in a box
That no-one can see
And everybody hates him
But not as much as he

More people are afraid
Of clowns
Than those
Who love them

Should I Change the Blog Title?

I'm not doing so well about writing happy endings these days. I'm looking at my blog title with sarcasm. Sorry 'bout that.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Parting Sorrow

It is with sadness that I have said good bye to my cross street neighbor/friend Cynthia. She, and her fiance Hugh moved in a year ago and we had gotten quite close (though I guess not super close or I would have not been taken by surprise about what happened). When I got back from my trip I kept waiting to see her car at home so I could thank her for keeping an eye on my place and share about my trip. She had donated (with a Microsoft match) to my trip. Her car didn't come, and didn't come and I was getting a little worried, except that she travels quite extensively for her job and is often gone for several days. However, when I went to dinner at my next-door neighbors on Saturday, Dick informed me that the moving van had come on Saturday (just days before I returned) and moved Cynthia out. Dick said Hugh had wandered down and shared how sad he was that things didn't work out with Cynthia.

She moved out on him. This triggered a few things for me. Moving out on someone you love and have been with for a good while (25 years in my case, 4+ years for Cynthia and Hugh) is Hell. It takes guts and things to be really bad to move on. My heart broke for Cynthia even though I didn't have the full story. I've corresponded with her since and we'll get together in March after she's settled into her new life (she said seeing me now would just make her cry).

I have anger with Hugh and I can't even say why. I just know that I don't really want to talk to him. Cynthia told me that the decision to split was mutual and that they arrived at it together over several tears and discussions. That they are speaking with each other though not seeing each other. I'm suspicious that there are addiction problems and so I'm sure that has got something to do with my anger at him. And in that sense I am relieved for Cynthia, that she's chosen to move on rather than go ahead with the marriage to a (I'm assuming) broken person. Gosh that sounds cold to put it that way. I mean we all are broken in some way, aren't we? But if my suspicions are correct, being long term with someone with addiction problems, eventually realizing that you can't fix them, and realizing that they don't want to fix themselves, that's pretty damaging to the person holding on. I'm very proud of her that she made the call to quit now, and I will tell her so when we meet up. And, perhaps undeservedly, I am mad at Hugh. I'm sure I'll be seeing him shortly and will be giving him a hug and a pep talk. Hiding my feelings of anger. But if he wants to talk about it, and if there is an opening, I might just have to share what's on my mind. I'll keep you posted.
Anyway, it's a sad time in the neighborhood.

Darkness Sucks...(or) Re-entering My Atmosphere

As I lay awake at 2:30 AM (still trying to find a good sleeping rhythm...I'd blame it on the time zone adjustment, but those who know me know this is more my typical sleeping pattern, or lack thereof, than a time zone thing) I tuned into the thoughts about what I am missing about life in Yabus. Here are the thoughts I had:
Things I Miss About Life in Yabus
  1. Sunlight. Since I've been back I go to work in the dark. I am buried in the work in hand. By the time I look up again it's dark and time to go home. I get home after 7 and it's all dark outside my windows. Even though it was hotter than hot in Sudan, I miss the brightness of the day. I think I am suffering S.A.D. The darkness is depressing.
  2. I miss waking up to the sound of birds instead of the rude screaming of my alarm clock.
  3. I miss sitting out under the racuba (shade structure) after dinner, sharing fellowship with staff and their families, visiting through the sunset and the relighting of the sky by intense starlight.
  4. I miss the dozens and dozens of handshakes, greetings and friendly smiles from the local women and children and men who take a brake in their busy errands hauling things down the road through the compound. As Kathy on the team put it "sometimes I feel like a movie star here." The locals so wanted to make connection. Back here, a gentle wave of thanks as a car let's me merge into traffic does not a good substitute make.
  5. I miss feeling like I accomplished something. Teaching classes, seeing progress as light bulbs went on and students tried out their new knowledge: that was instant gratification. Back in my office, scrambling to prepare for hearings, preparing documentation, taking care of contracts and billings: these do not bring the same satisfaction.
  6. Mutual reliance on others: caring for each other in harsh conditions. Here I am dangerously self-reliant and can easily isolate as I manage things for myself.
  7. The self-awareness and thought provoking payoff that results from being taken out of my comfort zone and inserting myself into a place where everything is new and different.

and, to balance out...

Things I am Appreciating About Being Back

  1. Time alone. It's hard being with others 24-7. As noted above, reliance is kinda nice, but so is having time to oneself.
  2. along the same lines...Choosing whom I spend time with and having choices about what that time is. Granted, jumping back into work after so much time away does not give me much free time, and has zapped all my energy so that even on the weekends interaction is sparse. But I do have my own tribe here, people I spend time with because I want to, not because they are the only people along and can't escape them. The quality of a self chosen tribe is a blessing.
  3. Water. Drinking water from a tap. Access to tap water, bottled water, clean water. For drinking. For off with dirty river water at the end of 120+-degree weather just doesn't do it for me.
  4. Food choice. Food variety. I don't have to eat rice and beans if I don't want to...and, for now, I really don't want to. Being able to pick up Thai food on a whim. Opting for salad bars and taco salads and anything of the vegetable variety that is fresh and crunchy...makes me cry tears of joy. Didn't realize how deprived I was.
  5. The coolness of night. Coolness in general. 120+ degrees is just plain hot. When it's cold here I can turn up the heat, put on more layers, drink something hot. When it's hot there there's a limit to how many clothes you can take off, there is no ice for drinks, there is no air conditioning.

Well, it's still dark out. and I have to head to work. I'll add to thoughts later. This is unfinished thinking but other commitments call.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What's This All About?

I have surprised myself in trying to express the most difficult part of my trip. The feelings it invokes brings tears...even just to type about it. As Jill points out to me..."maybe this is a place you need to heal!" Of all the harder moments of the trip, the thing that got to me the most was how it felt to be the only single person in a group of eight. All the others on my team are married, though they all came on the trip without spouses. I have to say that a few of them must have saints for spouses: they would be a pain to be married to. Yet, every one of them have a spouse that they were in constant contact with, spoke of with great affection. And it near killed me.

You see, for the last four years or so, I don't hang out much with married people (there are a few special exceptions). My new tribe is mostly made up of single women. And we are here because being alone is better than being married to whom we were married to. I am not yet in a place where I think being with someone would be better than being alone. Or so I think. In fact, just the thought of having "that kind of relationship" with a man gives me high anxiety, of the heeby-jeeby variety. So when I found myself suddenly smothered with sadness by the fact of being surrounded by people who are happily married it really took me by surprise. I'm not sure what it means, or what I'm supposed to do with it, but it is a palatable response and I feel like I've gotta get to the bottom of it. In Sudan, I found myself quietly removing myself from the scene when they got to talking about their spouses. In the mornings I'd awaken to find tears on my face realizing they were from my comparative singleness. When responding to questions about my own marital history I fought my throat tightening up and a constriction in my lungs. That doesn't normally happen here.

Over time, since the big break, I have gone through a thawing out process and am learning to pay attention to what stirs me, good or bad. This thing definately got my attention. But what does it mean? What am I to do with it?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Students

This post on another blog (written in German) by one of the teachers at BELC has pictures of some of the students I taught. This is the primary school. I also taught secondary school students (who are currently all male but about the same age as these) English and computers but don't have such good pictures of them. The students were so polite and eager to learn. Have to say it was fun to teach!

Back from Sudan

We got back late Monday afternoon. I was back at work yesterday....blah! I will be posting more on the trip later but for now, I just wanted to post a few of my favorite pictures from the trip. I'll probably try to do another slide show on the side bar with more of the pictures, but for now, hope you enjoy these.