WH Chronicle No. 1.47

September 9, 2011

First, I need to sincerely thank all our loyal readers for indulging my perspective and kindly understanding our transitioning proclivities.   You have been very patient with me as I’ve been honest and expressive about termites, cultures, and monkeys.  Thanks for making the journey with us.  It’s been wonderful to have you reading over my shoulder. 

Since being home, everyone greets us with “Ahhh, we’re so happy that you’re back!”  I answer, “Thanks.” And, then, depending on how well they know me, they say, “You aren’t excited about being back, are you?”  At which point, I stare at the ground and apologetically shake my head.  

I briefly explain that Tanzanian teachers are often not dedicated to their profession.  Many are even abusive and the University system, when compared to western countries, is virtually ineffective.  So for Tom and I,  teaching in Tanzania and then leaving became the emotional equivalent of rescuing an abused puppy, instilling trust and confidence only to announce, “Golly gee, look at the time. Well, see ya later. “  then desert your most meaningful intentions. It feels very disingenuous.  Tom concurs.   It’s difficult to leave a beach full of starfish.

But even as I type today, Africa is becoming farther away.  I dislike admitting this, but the good news is that I’m finally starting to look forward rather than staring constantly in the rear view mirror.  That doesn’t mean that I’m fully adjusted, though.  Just ask the AT&T sales rep or even the one at T Mobile. 

After two weeks of befriending perverts surfing porn at the public library or sucking down frappacinos at the local Starbucks all for free internet—AT&T finally installed our home internet service, but it didn’t work.   While trying to explain this, my new AT&T phone overheated and shut down. My nonexistent patience melted into rage.  I authoritatively told them that they were not competent enough to even provide their services to a developing country.   Then our bill arrived…one could feed a developing country with that much money.   I went in person to the AT&*$%#@T store.   They refused to replace my faulty phone and then the sales rep encountered a very loud and colorful description of his company.  He nodded in agreement.  I blew the F-bomb no less than 3 times and I’m probably lucky I wasn’t arrested for disorderly conduct.  Did I mention that Sam was with me--witnessing this pinnacle of mature human behavior?

Which later lead me to T Mobile—proud to be ridding myself of AT&@#$T for better pricing and customer service.  I sign up only to find that they are charging me double the rates stated in the brochure.   I inquired about the discrepancy to hear, “Oh, yeah, they raised the price but haven’t printed new brochures yet.”  That was when I broke down into tears and sobbed like a hormonal teen inside the T Mobile store.   

Then there’s Austin Pest Control… When they offered a monthly “Rat-ridding” service, I sarcastically asked, “Do you do ‘Ghostbustin’ for a monthly fee, too?”  But because I don’t want to condemn Tom to chasing rats around in a dark attic with a broom—we now pay a monthly rat-ridding fee.  No Ghostbustin’ yet—maybe AT&T offers that service to their loyal customers.

The AT&T Sales rep, the T Mobile Sales rep, and the Austin Pest Control guy could all commiserate in wordless sympathy for Tom’s sake as he has to return home with this maniacal woman. 

I am like Don Quixote without a Sancho Panza.  Tom wisely just shakes his head and lets me fight.   Tom, more than anyone, predicted, endures and nurtures my re-entry adjustment.  Once again, he earns a gold medal. 

More lack of assimilation:   Sam is not happy either.  8 hours of sitting behind a desk scrawling epic novels with a fat pencil is not currently his greatest desire—but, in his eyes, appears to be his teacher’s desire for him.   He told us he worries about disappointing his teacher.  She told us that they are calling the ‘interventionist’.   Maybe that is between ‘executioner’ and ‘disappointionist’?  Tears and pleas flowed from the little guy.  Tom broke all the rules of the school (imagine alarms, lockdowns, SWAT teams) and walked inside the school to escort a hysterical Sam to his classroom in order to explain this trauma to the teacher.    Since Tom’s Wild West maverick episode—they added a TSA security station at the entrance of the school, and have also become more attentive to Sam.  He now looks forward to regular meetings with the school counselor along with the snacks and games that she provides.   When we questioned Sam about purpose of those meetings, he replied, “The counselor said it was because I don’t fit in.”   To which we responded, “Good job, Sam.  We’re proud of you.”

Daryl goes skating, swimming, and is angling to attend the Taylor Swift concert.  Personally, I’m not escorting her to any concert where people don’t wear wigs.  Dolly Parton, Hannah Montana—that’s different—I can sport a nice blond wig.  Taylor Swift?—wasn’t she my original inspiration to depart America?  No wait…maybe that was Lindsey Lohan or Miley Cyrus? Daryl still enjoys obsessing over things that her peers own and she doesn’t.  I guess we will have to stay longer next time.

Hilde is running in cross country at 6:30am each morning.  She is also hanging out with Jamilly’s old crowd from track.  It provided a spectacular conversation when they started telling Hilde of their dear friend from Kazakhstan.  Hilde also admitted that preparation for her year abroad included watching “America’s Funniest Home Videos”.

Rooster (the cat, not the chicken—Tom said no more chickens) has returned in his full glory-- all 18 lbs--with an educational pedigree, a G.E.D. (Gotta Eat Dinner).  Tammy and Casey were wonderful loving tutors who managed not to cry when saying, ‘goodbye’.

Reuniting with friends and family has been wonderful.  But I have to admit a slight buzz kill is suffered when we begin an exciting African story only to be thwarted by, “Oh, I remember reading about that in the Chronicle.”   Hmmm….next story…

Inquiring Minds Want to Know:
One of our astute Chronicle readers pointed out some loose story lines.

Baldy, the one-eyed chicken:  He became a mean little mofo. He stealthily waited by the back door in order to chase and attack the children.  He stalked the streets, charged me and would begin flogging or humping my legs (not sure which).   Had he been a less discriminating attacker, we might have kept him as a security chicken, but sadly, it was just our family he assaulted.  Baldy was relocated to a condo coop belonging to our gardener.  Much to Tom’s chagrin, I made the request that they don’t eat him, or at least wait until a high holy day.    Haven’t heard of his fate since then…

Kitties:  Well, “Cow”, the kitten factory, was also sent to live with the gardener.  We managed for find suitable homes for the many kittens she produced while mooching off our philanthropical tendencies.   But just a week before the family departed for America she showed up on our back porch after apparently having traversed at least 10 miles of traffic and wilderness to return.  Tom’s comment, “I guess she likes the food better here.”  So, Tom left money for the neighbor’s gardener to feed her until our friend, Gary, arrives in September.  Then she will be his problem.

Jenny and Sara, the Queen termites:  After Nathan busted up his piggy bank to purchase the two queen termites (a real delicacy), the boys created a termite palace for their royalty.  But little did they suspect their majesties demanding royal courts to serve their every need.  So, as with many of the tyrannical aristocrats in our history books, they suffered death by army ants. 

And one final comment from an inspired reader:
 I kept waiting to see a photo of one of those little monkeys swinging from tree to tree wearing a familiar blue [ASO] Building Blocks shirt.”

Sorry, we cut them up in order to celebrate the 4th of July.  Priorities….

Hi-Yo, Rocinante, Away!

And a Kitty video featuring the talents of the Biscuit Brothers and the music of the Wild Basin Winds:

Gary Powell  – (October 6, 2011 at 10:16 AM)  

Daris, I just now found out about your chronicles. You write soulfully about your experience. I can't wait to read the whole book. Hope to see you guys soon. - Gary

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