Tuesday, June 7, 2011

on the porch with a book

>> after i've taught for the day, graded my papers, and settled into being home and not on display, i usually settle down to read for awhile. i'm not there for hours, but i loved reading growing up and lost that with the high school / facebook / college. this is a list of the books i've read since arrival in sierra leone one year ago. books denoted with blue were my favorites and you should go read them :)

  1. Inferno by Dante

  2. Purgatorio by Dante

  3. Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston

  4. Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler

  5. Thunder Over the Ochoco by Gale Ontko

  6. The Oracle Glass by Judith Merkle Riley

  7. Me Speak Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

  8. Dress Your Family in Curdoroy and Denim by David Sedaris

  9. Nimitz Class by Patrick Robinson

  10. Kilo Class by Patrick Robinson

  11. H.M.S. Unseen by Patrick Robinson

  12. U.S.S. Seawolf by Patrick Robinson

  13. Ghost Force by Patrick Robinson

  14. Language and Faith by John Hutchinson

  15. The Art of Prayer by Kenneth Hagin

  16. Black Man's Grave by Gary Stewart and John Amman

  17. Blood Diamonds by Greg Campbell

  18. Classroom Management (Peace Corps Publication)

  19. Greaseless by Loretta Graziano Breuing

  20. Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee

  21. Bee Season by Myla Goldberg

  22. Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer

  23. Ford County Stories by John Grisham

  24. Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz

  25. Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

  26. Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

  27. Don't Look Behind You by Peter Wilson

  28. Whatever You Do, Don't Run by Peter Wilson

  29. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

  30. America's Best Science & Nature Writing 2010 Edited by Freeman Dyson

  31. Hannibal by Thomas Harris

  32. Blood Safari by Deon Meyer

  33. Breathless by Dean Koontz

  34. Twistor by John Cramer

  35. Einstein's Bridge by John Cramer

  36. Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart

  37. Confessions by St. Augustine

  38. Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon

  39. Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier

  40. A Woman Trapped in a Woman's Body by Lauren Weedman

  41. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris

  42. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

  43. Krakatoa by Simon Winchester

  44. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

  45. House Rules by Jodi Picoult

Some of these books were terrible. Some are books that I'll eventually be buying when I return home. I have donated all of these to our library at the Peace Corps compound for others to enjoy. i love and miss you all.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

and there was light

>> our solar system is up and running! the three dinner-table-size panels were hauled onto the tin roof and with the final installations and connections, we have electricity. let me emphasize how much of a big deal this is. when we go into the staff room, and flick the switch, lights come on. when i go into the computer room, i can turn on my laptop or the school computer anytime i want. at nighttime, there are lights in every classroom where students can come to study (but let's be honest they're there to flirt and cause problems as the past week has shown) but also where teachers can continue to grade their papers and do work. the ability to have a place to go after 7:30PM (dark) where i can continue to read, listen to music, muse, anything beside stall before going to bed, is outstanding. the problems facing the administration and students now, though, is how to regulate it, as there have already been some questionable behavior regarding the availability of energy. i'll give you a hint: al-fabah in town charges 1,000Le to charge a phone battery- if i offer to charge it for 800Le at the school,... i think you understand, so *for now* the solar power is a blessing and a curse. i hope that the school grows into this (extremely rare) opportunity and comes to improve over time with their usage and understanding of it. i love and miss you all.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

the one year anniversary

>> i'm a little flabbergasted that it has been one year since i stepped off the plane at lungi into the sweltering heat and humidity and began this ridiculous beautiful chaos of an adventure. the next group of volunteers arrived late on june 2nd, and i know they're going through something pretty similar right about now. i've learned a lot of things about sierra leone, about myself, about who i am, about who i am not, about what principles i am willing to bend on, about which principles i will fight for. i've made plenty of mistakes, I've gotten upset with people, i've walked out of classes, and I've been a bad volunteer. i've had students tell me the only reason they've stayed in gbendembu is because i'm their teacher. students tell me that i inspire them. i've had teachers tell me that they admire me. i've had neighbors, who can barely feed themselves, give me food when i was low on money (an aside, rice is now 1,500Le a cup and when i first arrived it was 500Le a cup,.. salaries haven't increased) when she didn't have to. i can't understand lucy's loko, she can't understand my english, and neither of us speaks good krio. but through a mix of pantomiming and smiling and HUMANITY, we have a friendship that honestly warms my heart. foday, with two children and a wife, buying the palm wine for me, getting my clothes from the tailor because he knew i was bankrupt, paying for it when his pockets are already empty. i've had phone conversations with my family where i asked, 'what am i doing here?' and other conversations that, without me realizing it, answered that very question. i've resented people, and i've been resented by people. i've been stopped by the police. i've had money and belongings stolen from me. i've had foday take my headphones, listen to the music i love, and smile at me and, without english or temne or anything, connect. it's hard for me to believe that i have been here a year. i love and miss you all, and i will see you july 25 :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

frogs / wasps

>> i'll be concise about these delightful organisms. the frogs are mating. the creek, about a hundred yards away, is where they like to mate. to give you an idea of how loud it was a couple nights ago, foday and i had to YELL to hear each other five feet apart. there are SO MANY FROGS making SO MANY MORE FROGS. also, walking to my latrine in the back now requires a flashlight because the frogs are always on my path and i really don't want to step on one although i suppose the damage to him/her might be worse than to me. >> the wasps are starting to become a nuisance. apparently my place is now the hip place to bee seen. they're all building those little gray apartment complexes in my toilet, outside my toilet, on my porch, in my hut, just about everywhere. like my initial trepidations with spiders, though, aka me naively buying insect spray and thinking i'd keep them at bay, i'll just have to learn to live with the wasps. and the frogs. the more the merrier, right? i love and miss you all.