Dear friends, I definitely did not intend to leave y’all hanging like that. It’s just that as one blogless day flows into another, it gets easier to leave them that way. And I think that going from break, where I had lots of time and lots of different and interesting and Kenyaish things to blog about, to school, where I have less time and just normal things happening, was a little bit daunting.
But I’m back, don’t worry. And since we last spoke, we had a luau at our house, we had a little bit of snow, we celebrated Madeline’s birthday (above), I’ve been to some basketball games, I had a real full week of class, it got warm enough to sit outside and read on the porch swing, I’ve gotten behind on reading already, and we went wine-tasting. To name just a few things.
"Tumblr, I know we are all tumbly and everything, and cats and Paula Deen Riding Things and Ryan Gosling Reading YA, and that’s all great. It’s perfect, really. I wouldn’t want to change it.
But can we just take a moment right now to be grateful and astonished that we are alive and able to bear witness to the universe? Can we just spend like four seconds letting it sink in that we are here, together, amid something much larger than we can effectively imagine?"
P.S. I read his new book, The Fault in Our Stars, last weekend. And it was good. Oh, and I own it. And you can borrow it, if you want.
It's funny how different the first day of classes are in the fall semester versus the spring semester. In the fall, it's all new notebooks and planning your outfit and posting pretentious poetry. (I don't actually think that poem is pretentious at all. I think it is accurate and beautiful. But that was alliterative and sometimes you just have to go with it.) Today, however, is more along the lines of wearing the same thing I wore three days ago and not showering. (Wait, just me? ...Awesome.)
Happy last first day of school, y'all.
(Except if you have a fifth year and are going to be a teacher, that is. Then you will always have first days of school to look forward to.)
Quote Love: "Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness." - C.S. Lewis
Things that mighty have happened since I've been back in Amurica:
a) I joined Pinterest*
b) We spent the morning trying to track down our housemate who never came home last night, only to discover she went to Wisconsin.
c) We somehow amassed this much candy on our kitchen table:
d) I went beer-tasting and wine-tasting on the same day. Not on purpose.
e) I can't sleep past 7:30am
or f) all of the above.
*Don't ask me why. I don't even know why. I was proud of my stance as a conscientious observer. But the pull was strong and I could fight it no longer. It happened. And it's overwhelming. Which is why I'm freaking out a little right now.
Currently Watching: Downton Abbey. Y'all, I watched all of seasons 1 and 2 in four days, it was that good. (Thank goodness for British neighbors who own the DVDs - I hear season 2 is only just starting in America?)
In about two hours we’ll be leaving for the airport. I hung out with some giraffes yesterday and did some last minute roadside shopping today (a scarf and a pair of earrings for 280 shillings, or less than $3.50. Bartering success.*). I’ve packed everything up and have managed not to fully grasp that all night and all day tomorrow will involve airports, airplanes and DC traffic.
Next time you hear from me, I’ll be Stateside!
*Real life conversation I had the other day with the stall-keeper after negotiating a price down pretty far: “Are you English?” “No…” “Where are you from?” “America.” “America? No, Americans are very generous and always want to pay lots of money. But you get a very low price. You must be English.” (Umm…)
Currently Reading: TIME magazine (I asked my dad why we don’t have TIME and Newsweek laying around, like we always did. He said he reads it all online now. I said lame. (Because, you see, I really like magazines.) So he came home today with one of each for me!)
I just finished rereading Blue Like Jazz. At first, I was rushing through it – until I remembered how much I love it. I had forgotten just how good Don Miller is at capturing vulnerability and truth and humanity and especially beauty, and all of this entangled in Christian spirituality, and the way his words and stories can grip my heart and resonate deeply (like this passage, from another of his books that I read last year). And plus he is clever and he just gets it. When I remembered, all of this I tried to slow down to better enjoy it, allowing myself one chapter a day.
Y’all, I would put chapters of his words in here for you to read if that wouldn’t be obnoxious, so I’ll share just a few passages. (Then you should probably go read the whole thing for yourselves.)*
“The magical proposition of the gospel, once free from the clasps of fairy tale, was very adult to me, very gritty like something from Hemingway or Steinbeck, like something with copious amounts of sex and blood. Christian spirituality was not a children’s story. It wasn’t cute or neat. It was mystical and odd and clean, and it was reaching into dirty. There was wonder in it and enchantment.”
“’…to be in a relationship with God is to be loved purely and furiously.’”
“'So then you started reading the Bible?’ I asked.
‘Yes. We would eat chocolates and smoke cigarettes and read the Bible, which is the only way to do it, if you ask me. Don, the Bible is so good with chocolate. I always though the Bible was more of a salad thing, you know, but it isn’t. It is a chocolate thing.”’
“The most difficult lie I have ever contended with is this: Life is a story about me.”
“…Wonder is that feeling we get when we let go of our silly answers, our mapped out rules that we want God to follow. I don’t think there is any better worship than wonder.”
“The first generation out of slavery invented jazz music. It is a music birthed out of freedom. And that is the closest thing I know to Christian spirituality. A music birthed out of freedom. Everybody sings their song the way they feel it, everybody closes their eyes and lifts up their hands.”
*If you are in Charlottesville, I can hook you up with a free copy (c/o the House of Pain basement). Just holler.
Appropriately, thankfully, we were invited over to a friend’s house for injera b’wat – Ethiopian food. The friend is named Teddy (real name: Anastasia). She is Greek, her family lived in Ethiopia for several generations, she wrote a book about it (and signed a copy for me today), she worked with the UN for 40 years in Kenya, she and her husband retired in Nairobi and they are friends with my father through church. (These are the kinds of interesting people that are out there in this world, the kind you are more likely to come into contact with when you also are living not in your home country and encountering the strange blend of the international community.)
The thing about injera b’wet is that usually, when it is first tried, people hate it. It is a mix of sourdough and spice that can be quite uncomfortable in your stomach. It is an acquired taste that may take several months to grow to appreciate, but once you do you are addicted. Even then it can be painful, but glorious: there is nothing like eating doro wat so spicy that your nose is running and there are tears in your eyes and you take a drink of Coke (the only drink you can have with injera) which just intensifies the spice in your mouth, but it is so good at the same time you have to keep going until the injera covering the tray is a tattered mess and you can be rewarded with a double macchiato. (I am envisioning Dashen right now, for those of you who know what that is.)
So I am grateful to be able to have a taste of Ethiopia for Christmas today. Melkam Genna, everyone!
In most places that are not America, voltage is 220. This means all American appliances (which are 110) need to be run through a transformer. This means that my hairdryer and straightener situation looks like this:
However, sometimes the transformer is needed elsewhere, so it looks more like this:
(Actually, the straightener has been operated out of the pantry about 90% of the time I use it. Because only if the hairdryer is involved too is it worth lugging the whole transformer to a more accessible location.)
Also, plugging 110 things into 220 is a rookie mistake, but don’t worry we’ve all been there. I might have even done it with this very hairdryer last time I was in Kenya. It sparked and smoked and it was all very exciting for a minute (and simultaneously sad, because goodbye hairdryer), but – surprise – the next day it rallied and continues to be used to this very day. A genuine success story. There is hope, people.
Currently (re)Reading:Blue Like Jazz, Don Miller Line Love:There is something beautiful about a billion stars held steady by a God who knows what He is doing.
We went to the elephant orphanage today! They turn the morning feeding into a chance for everybody to come and watch and hear about the way they take care of the elephants, how each was discovered and brought to the orphanage, and their foundation in general.
This little guy stole the show:
They found him orphaned at one week old, which was only three weeks ago. So apparently four-week-old baby elephants need sunscreen on their ears, to be followed around with an umbrella, and to be loved on by the bigger elephants...
raised in africa, now back in america, but still looking to the world. working on loving jesus back because he loved me first. my life is caffeinated college craziness and a lot of awkward moments. i love dance parties, sunshine, pashmina scarves and beautiful words, and i’d much rather be barefoot. welcome to my life.