01 May 2008

Aiki Aiki Aiki (work work work)

Someone asked me what a typical day at orientation would resemble:

6:30 alarm goes off. look around and think about the day
6:32 run to the shower and out in 8 minutes
6:50 gel hair deodorant arms brush teeths
7:00 elevator to ground floor brisk walk to kitchen
7:05 grab coffee paper sit and talk to volunteers
7:30 begin breakfast toast cereal coffee possibly repeat
8:30 quiet time
9:00 session til 11:00
11:00 food groups start lunch
12:30 eat lunch (.75 per person)
2:00 session til 4:00
4:00 food group preps dinner ($1 per person)
6:00 dinner
7:30 til 9:00 session
9:00 volunteer led devotion

ah the typical day at work.

30 April 2008

A sterile life.

I drove a lot today. From here to Elizabethtown to Ephrata (named from the biblical Ephrata which means purt' near Bethlehem) and then back to here. A lot of driving. A lot of weird roads. Driving from south to north is easier for me because I feel like I am navigating on the map. As if I'm sitting on the map. I had a clear vision of every direction I turned today because we went from south to north the same way I envision a map in my head. I saw the Ephrata Cloisters today. These folks had a sterile life. They were celibate...didn't help the cause much I guess. They slept only 6 hours per night. Waking at 12midnight to assemble for prayers for 2 hours and then if Christ didn't return that night, they'd go back to bed and wake at 6am and do it all over again. They slept on 18" wide wooden benches and had a block of wood for a pillow to keep luxurious sins from over powering them. They ate only one meal a day and spent much day in prayer. I'm pretty sure I could live like this if I could have a decent bed and anything else but a block of wood for a pillow. It's fascinating to see this precocious slice of life still preserved in a very simple way.

21 April 2008

3114079569575175 You can figure it out.

Things went well today. Eerily well. I made an airport run and didn't get lost though the directions were confusing: 31 to 140 to 795 to 695 to 75 to 175 the last four number were all curvy interstates and I didn't hit anyone or miss a turn off. I even found the elusive cell phone waiting lot.
So now it's 10:52pm and I have a head full of things I must do tomorrow. Ah well, this is a great vocation.

20 April 2008

The season that's a verb, too.

What is it about spring? Seems like this one is more spectacular than most others. I also haven't experienced a season of spring since 2001. At that point I was living in central Illinois and hadn't really been out of the seasonal loop. Since then I had a non-existent Phoenician spring, which really just two weeks of 70 degree weather before moving directly into the high 90s.

After that, I had 3 years of Nigerian spring weather. This is the equivalent of having severely humid days with clouds forming in the east every afternoon, as if giant unpopped boils in the sky were taunting me with rain. The rains came around 4pm for the month of June, always angrily and always around 4pm.

So now I'm back into the spring I know and grew up with. I like this season and this word because it's the only word of our seasons that is an action. SPRING! It's like the word is telling everything that has been in dormancy to hop to it and get moving.

27 March 2008

Weather dude.

It was actually warmer at 5:30 this morning then at this moment which is about 11:30am. I feel that since it's spring, I should dress like it's spring. I didn't even wear a coat today, and now it's snowing. The sad part is that I watched the weather. I actually remember the weather dude saying snow was possible. In my mind, snow couldn't actually enter my bubble because I have spring on my brain. So now I sit in my cofficle with capri pants and a light blouse on. I've draped on an old veil from Nigeria and I'm still cold.

26 March 2008


What kind of work goes out at the office when your computer has a virus? Well, all sorts I guess. I caught up reading today. Had some decent conversations when the reading was too tedious, even. Work can continue in the absence of technology. But it seems harder and not so engaging. What did my predecessors do before computers?

24 March 2008

Easter weekend

A weekend of sleeping late. Walking the dogs in mud and snow. Gaynor's drinks and pizza. Singing in the front row in Irving Park. Loving my girl.

14 March 2008

One easter.

n 2006, I was living in Kwarhi, Nigeria. School had
closed for the semester so most of my students
traveled home for the three week break. The Swiss
family that had been my second family, packed their
house up and moved back to Switzerland after 9 years
of living in the village. My other 2 Swiss friends
that lived near me invited me to travel over the
border to Cameroon for a week of train hopping and
beachcombing. My plans fell through when I realized
the Nigerian embassy was holding my passport in a
locked filing cabinet in some unlit room in the
capitol city. So my friends went on their travels, my
students went home, and I stayed back at the house.

Easter is a very traditional time in my village. Most
successful, career oriented urban folks travel home to
their (or their mother's) village. They bring gifts
for the elders and the babies, and especially for
their mothers. Easter is a time to get on home, catch
up with family news and go to many, many weddings.

On Easter Sunday, the festivities start around 3am.
Yes, I really mean 3 am! Everyone goes to bed quite
early on Saturday night. Then, around 2am, I start to
hear feet slapping the dusty road near to the west
side of my house. Then I look out my slatted window
and see little flickers of lanterns rushing past,
accompanied with the slapping feet.

My friend, Saratu, enters my squeaking gate, so I know
it's about time to go. She's wearing the women's
fellowship uniform. I have on pajama bottoms and a
long sleeve t-shirt. It's dark so I know i don't have
to get formally dressed.

So we begin walking out of the village down a narrow
path. In fact, the path is so narrow, I follow right
behind my friend's quiet silhouette. My eyes sweep
left to right and I can faintly see the outline of
other groups of people walking on the path similar to

We walk for 15 minutes through bone dry fields that
held peanuts and corn stalks a couple months ago. Soon
we see the small incline of picnic rock ahead of us.
We cut across the ruts of the corn fields and start
the little ascent of this ivory faced rock. As we walk
up, we're greeted by many people. I can't really see
them well, but they can surely see me. The youth greet
me with, "Good morning and good evening auntie!" They
giggle about this and try it on other people who walk
past them. No one really can state if this is a late
night or an early morning.

On this little rock, there are about 1000 Christians
sitting in groups of 2 or 3. I sit with a group of
women from my village. To the left of me, youth have
started singing songs that gain more voices with every
chorus and verse. We join in the song when we're sure
of the tune and song. Clapping joins the voices and
suddenly we've become this pulsing body. We continue
through songs and move onto Scriptures.

We pass little flashlights around so each woman can
read it in the dark. I take a quick check and see that
I have the only English Bible. Everyone else is
thumbing through their Hausa language bibles. As the
Luke and John verses are read and deconstructed, I
realize that I am in the midst of an amazing
gathering. All of these men and women woke up in the
middle of the night. They walked in near silence. They
sat and sang and read the Bible for two hours. As the
sun rose, songs of Christ's resurrection throbbed
through us all. We stood near one another, said a
final prayer and walked the different paths to our
different villages. Back in the village, neighbors
bring steamy pots of porridge over to me, and I try
and whip up omelettes to send back to them. This food
passing continues most of the day and even occurs
after morning worship, too.

So even when my students, my traveling companions, and
my good friends headed out of my area for that Easter
weekend, I was taken care of, by my community. I was
part of a group that had many differing denominations.
We learned many songs that had never been sung in our
church before. We sat in groups with familiar and
unfamiliar faces. Waiting for Christ's resurrection
with a thousand Christians was almost enchanting. I
felt that walking in the darkness and celebrating
Christ's return with the sunrise was fitting for our
community. We were bound by this opportunity to
worship God in a humble, stripped down way.

19 February 2008

If you get there before I wake, feed Jake.

We have a tall young man staying on our couch. He leaves today. He's what you'd call 'a good kid.' He takes the dogs out for a walk a couple times a day. Cleans the kitchen. Smokes his cigarettes on the balcony. Perches the bird on his shoulder while he types on the laptop that's plugged in so the battery won't run down.

Houseguests are sometimes hard to handle. They use too much toilet paper all at once. They eat too much of the 'good food.' They kick the dogs when we're not home. Of course these things are all imagined. But Jake, your'e a good kid, and I'm gonna miss you.

13 February 2008

Feet are washed.

Tonight, we celebrated the 3 weeks our group has been together. We washed feet. Feet that had sand between toes from our trip to the ocean this afternoon. Some stooped low to wash the feet of others. We sang songs. Lit candles. Said a blessing to one another. How can it be that something so raw and powerful can come with little planning and still have everyone involved? It was a good night. I can't believe I have this job.

11 February 2008

In the morning and in the night.

I've been gone for 21 days. Weird. That's a long time for me. Does it really snow in Chicago or is it just my imagination? If the weather is so good in Florida, how bad can it really be anywhere else? I'm excited to get home and begin my home life again. Commuting to work. Cooking dinner with J. Even taking the dogs out in the morning and in the night. Life will be normal again. And normal is good. As much as I like to travel, it's quite different without J. I manage ok but some things just don't go so well. Like on Saturday. My phone broke into pieces. Completely hacked off in the middle. The bottom half can still dial, but I can't see any numbers that I dial. It sounds ridiculous but it really happened.

06 February 2008

Pathetically dreary

Why is that when I worry about the weather, it always turns nasty? I haven't given a thought to this Florida weather and it's been perfect. I actually hold off checking the forecast just in case it all turns against me. This weekend, we're going camping in the Everglades. I bet the weather will be fantastische if I don't worry about it. The minute I check weather.com the percentage of a chance of rain will jump from 10% to a whopping 95% chance. Why is that?

And yet in Illinois, the weather is always a source of conversation because it's always pathetically dreary. This winter, we've actually resorted to using a plastic broom to get massive amounts snow off the cars in a short amount of time. Pathetic. Why can't I just have a garage? And a house attached? And a baby? And. And. And.

04 February 2008

Craptastically peeved.

Today's a good day. Sort of. The institutional sized coffee pot broke. I walked to the other kitchen and it was completely locked. I walked back to the original kitchen and stepped in a big hole a mole made. That kind of peeved me, too. But it's a Monday. And on Monday, we should get a little allowance for having a craptastic day. Since it's Monday I'm allowed to start sentences with And and But. Really. Look at the previous sentences and you'll understand. Tomorrow I'll hunker down and not start sentences with conjuntions. But for now. I will. 13 days my future spouse.

31 January 2008


I believe God didn't want me to invite other speakers to the sessions today. I called 4 different people to speak with the group today. The one, sure speaker fell ill and didn't make the flight. Then I knew I would have to speak about culture and all of its glory and horror. It went well. Amazingly well. Does the absence of nervousness mean that God is present? Can the Knowing One really be present in words and actions even if we're oblivious? Even if we believe God's disappointed in us? Strange. Today should have been a stressful day with planning last minute sessions. Instead, it's a relaxed, well-thought out time. Does self-reliance actually exist? If God dwells in tiny places in us, then shouldn't the term be God-reliance? Strange. Again. 16 days J.

29 January 2008

Daunting is a feeling

Life in Florida is slower. The fruit is tastier and the Cadillacs are bit more cadillac-ier. This job doesn't seems so daunting. I was more worried before everyone came. Now, I can sort of feel the words in my mind before they come out.

And how can it be that I get more books read at work on the road than when I do when I'm home? I am 20 times busier on the road than when I'm in 307. Anyhow, it just works that way. J made it home a day late and a little sick. 16 days.

26 January 2008

Nineteen days darlin.

Made it to Florida yesterday. Many plants are the same as in my yard in Kwarhi. Weird. As if there are little reminders of my past life everywhere I go. J is in Phoenix this weekend. Being with the family that was hers before she became mine. Jealous signal is medium or so. J gets to see the market and drink phosphates at MacAlpine's. I get to stay at camp. It's a fair trade. We have been apart for five days. Nineteen days, darlin.

22 January 2008

Warm clothes, sunshiny clothes

I leave for three weeks starting today. It's very odd, really. I had to pack warm clothes for 3 days' retreat in Illinois. Then I have 3 more weeks of living off of Florida type clothes as well. I still need to hunt down flip flops and a couple of hats. It's weird that I have to rest for three days while my assistant prepares everything.

19 January 2008

On the top, but not on the bottom

Does short hair now mean that I'm an emo kid?  I lopped off all of my hair last night. But, this morning, I had to go to a real hair cutting place to get it shaped up right. Now I have faux hawk. I need a hat. 

J didn't laugh when I first got it cut. She helped me see the positive and made me an appointment with the trendy Regis. This Regis isn't Regis from Regis and Kelly on channel 9. I now have trendy hair, but not so trendy clothes or shoes.  I feel trendy on the top, but not on the bottom.

18 January 2008

Usually Only

I have a blog now. Seems sorta weird. I usually only read other's. How do people actually write on these things and sound mildly educated?

J went to work today without her cellphone. It's very odd. The feeling that she can't communicate with me at all. She left for work at 5:40am today. I could easily see why she forgot it. I wonder if she knows I'm thinking of her in this moment.

My friend Brad wrote these words. They make me happy. I think of my darling.
Time may change what you believe
But one day the truth will set you free
Just have faith and you will see
Love is never-ending
Love is never-ending