Ready, set . . .

I have never been this ready to go on a trip so far in advance. One full day to go and my bags are packed, the last laundry is done, the house is clean. I even sat down with my husband this noon and helped him go over meal plans during my absence. My iPhone is loaded with escapist reading for long plane rides. I just checked us in online with Air France. Continue reading

Kafka before coffee

Recently I saw a video clip of Ellen DeGeneris receiving a multimillion-dollar contribution from Ashton Kutcher for her school in Africa. It was subsidized by a company that specializes in quick and easy global money transfers, and so to give the money Kutcher just gave his smartphone to Ellen and told her to push the button she saw onscreen. She did, and presumably the millions flowed instantly and painlessly into the right bank account.

It’s not so easy for us ordinary folks either to drum up millions or, heaven forbid, send it to Africa. Continue reading

Mbuji Mayi

Reflections during the adult literacy teacher training in Mbuji Mayi, DR Congo, April 2–8, 2018

Here is how you get your baggage at Mbuji Mayi. Passengers and guys whom you can hire to retrieve baggage crowd on one side of a low platform and the baggage is carried in through a door on the other side and stacked in a holding area while an agent examines each tag and calls a name. Or number. I can’t get close enough to tell. Continue reading

Notes from a long journey

O’Hare, 3 hours

The security line is long and slow. I have plenty of time. A baby on her mother’s shoulder smiles randomly at people. I catch her eye and smile. She smiles back.

After going through security I hold my passport and boarding pass in my hand while I put my jacket back on. As I am walking to my gate I feel something scratchy in my sleeve. It is the boarding pass. Continue reading

Miracles and uncertainties

IMG_1181I am pretty sure I will be in DR Congo two weeks from today. My plans have been playing Upset the Fruit Basket (anyone remember that game?) for the last few weeks– canceled flights and more canceled flights, schedule changes there, new plans here. My right knee decided to test my resolve by freezing up ten days ago but then came back online a few days later.

But the uncertainties on my end are minor. Continue reading

Extravagant beauty

With full awareness of all that is ugly in the world, I am obsessing about beauty. I don’t believe these thoughts represent escapism so much as astonishment. A lesson that has unfolded for me over the past year is that nothing in this world is to be taken for granted. And so I’m trying to keep my eyes and my heart open and when I do this the beauty of life nearly overwhelms me, as does the impulse to experience, create, and extend this beauty, which represents Love. Continue reading

Introvert in a new neighborhood

You know how I thought we were too isolated out there in the woods and that it was time to move to a city neighborhood? Well here we are in the new neighborhood, close to friends and strangers alike, close to downtown events and restaurants, surrounded by the hum of activity and you know what? Not that much has changed.

I should say, I haven’t changed. Continue reading

Moving in, moving out

Today I took a break from unpacking boxes and moving furniture and packed my bags for Congo. I leave in three days.

We began moving into our new home nine days ago and yesterday it began to feel like home. Our daughter had played house, arranging furniture and rugs, and her husband had moved extra stuff and boxes upstairs, while Ethan, the two-year-old Entropy Machine, scattered cars, trucks, and improvised light sabers faster than we could collect and stash all the stuff of our existence. Hazel, 6, picked daffodils that popped up on a warm day and explored all the nooks and crannies. The house felt blessed and broken in by their presence. Continue reading

Don’t cry for me

women

It helps to be out of the country.

It helps to get the news in one fierce shock rather than watching it unfold over hours like a slow-motion train wreck.

It helps to get the news in the morning rather than in the middle of the night.

It helps to get the news in hot sun rather than cold rain. Continue reading

The trip that wasn’t

IMG_3913This is not my passport. It is my husband’s. I thought a passport was an appropriate image for this post but I don’t have mine right now. It is somewhere in the bowels of the DR Congo embassy in Washington, DC.

I hope I will get it back someday. I certainly will not have it by Wednesday, which is the day I was supposed to leave for the DRC. Continue reading