WH Chronicle No. 10.10

Oct 22,2011

Well,  with the lull in conversation, it might be time for me to stand up, awkwardly adjust my pants,  and apologetically tell you ‘this has been a whole lot a fun’.   We’ve shared stories despite 9000 miles, erratic electricity, and a pitiful African internet.  Hell,  we've practically held hands with you through modern technology while we were braving the exploding kitchen appliances and swimming through crocodile infested waters.    I'm glad you were there with us.

 But before we sign off--one last update on our way out the door:

We are at exactly T-Plus 9 weeks and counting.  Even though a bumpy re-entry for some of us --as we relayed in the past few Chronicles--things are going much more smoothly now.

 The dust has settled and the tears finally dried up for Sam AND his 2nd grade teachers.   Everyone involved has managed to create a more congenial situation.  Sam now presides over all of second grade as "Emperor" while employing the latest Star Wars technology and designating teachers (minions) to cannon fodder.    No wait…that was Sam’s vision of congenial—not to be confused with the actual solution which was not nearly as amusing or as dangerous for the teachers.

Daryl is going to the Taylor Swift concert with Hilde.

Hilde is enjoying her time in America as her transition appears to offer little challenge.  This week she is occupied with acquiring the appropriate attire for the Homecoming Dance.  When I saw her new dress I thought it was a fancy blouse.  Dresses are getting shorter or I'm getting older--or worse, both.  Last week she informed me that Norway has better Mexican food than Texas. 

Tom doesn’t complain.   You say, “Impossible!  Leaving a gig without bitchin’ about the conductor?  the trombones?  the VIOLINS?  IMPOSSIBLE!!!”   But it’s true—he’s happy to be back in a situation where he could easily bitch about the gig—but doesn’t.    I think this is out of fear that I will drag him back to Africa if he utters anything but contentment.

Me—I'm starting to return to my cheerful self.  My grieving, foot stopping and pity party have begun to subside. I'm even a bit relieved that I don't have to play 'teacher' for the former students that took care of me on my trip through TZ.  The ones that rubbed my back as my stomach turned inside out and helped conceal my backside when my skirt got caught in the train door.   They didn't ever have to carry me, but they would have.  They were my caretakers.  I know their life stories, their dreams, their hopes, their loves--lost and present.  Last thing I'd want to do is chastise a late paper from the ones that shared the tasty bits of a fish head with me.  If they had a tardy assignment it would probably be because they were taking food to their roommate in the hospital.  Oy...

I had a taste of my own medicine, too.   Our friend, Gary, was in a car wreck in Tanzania and all I could do was helplessly sit and read his blog from another hemisphere. He's doing just ok--I'm continuously concerned about his numb/tingly arm.  The last update I received from my spies was that this  self proclaimed "Iron Man" was forbidding the students from waiting on him and he types emails and  blogs with just one finger. 
Maybe this has ‘re-educated’ me to the joys of driving the kids around in our multi-airbag Volvo station wagon  complete with five point harnesses and crash helmets--on a road where I'd have to jump a 4 foot concrete barrier and a 6 foot deep bar ditch to ever have a chance at hitting a pedestrian (which is actually an endangered species in America).   Nonetheless, I’m happy to not be mowing anyone down.

While I don't miss the mad house driving,  I do really miss easily inspiring students. 
"Hey, everyone, this is a C major chord."  
"Ohhhhhhhh....Wowwww" the students stare in amazement.
"Now for my next trick--check out my sunburn." (Always a fascinating topic to Tanzanians)

Yeah...I can't really dazzle the American university students with my skin color.  I actually have to give it a little better effort.  But that's ok.

AND I miss the inspirational people.  The students and their lives--how the hell did they actually make it through that terrible system to the University?  I'm not sure I'd make it that far if I had come through the shitty misogynistic school system, had a few bouts of life-threatening malaria, had my mom and brother die when I was 10, and had my teachers use me as a sex toy in exchange for a good grade.  Yet--there they were sitting in front of me--exclaiming that they were as 'blessed' as Ritz Crackers on a communion plate.  That's inspirational.

Not forgetting all the expats in developing countries that have their cool, weird, stories, as well--I love it.  Their crazy sense of adventure--which, for Americans, is embodied by standing in line at Starbucks (opting out of the drive thru).  Oh well.  Sometimes I even take the large handicapped stall in the public restrooms when I'm in need some excitement.

But it's weird thinking that even though I can (and probably will) go back, it will never be the same.  Like trying to recreate that  one awesome time at summer camp--it might be better or worse, but always different.  

Although I might be recovering from this cultural vertigo for a while,  the improvement over time has been welcomed.  “I’m happy to be back,” even slipped from my lips the other day.

For those of you interested in tracking Gary, the Makumira students and the Stubbs family, check out the sites below.  Gary is also profiling the different music students (I wish I had thought of this).  His blog has an email sign up, so his new entries can appear in your in box.  

Turning the news and reporting at Makumira School of Music over to the professionals:

In addition to those electronic sources, Liz Tomorsky Knott started a non-profit to benefit the musicians of Tanzania after visiting us last year.  Right now she is in the middle of an instrument drive (donating unused instruments) for the music students at Makumira.   She will even reimburse the shipping cost if you decide to donate an instrument.  Check out her website for details and feel free to make a tax deductible donation.

Music for Tanzania   www.musicfortanzania.org 

For anyone wanting to keep track of the reality show at our house, you can now read Hilde's blog.   Just hit that Google translator button unless, of course, you are fluent in Norwegian. 

I’ll still be writing—but not so publicly—I have to admit since readership has grown it makes me a bit more shy about shouting my tainted opinions.   I also steal my own thunder when trying to share stories in person, especially now that I see all of you on a regular basis (most of you, anyway). But, don't worry, the Chronicle will fire up the presses again for any big news or African updates.

With a tug on my earlobe,
I'm so glad we had this time together
Just to have a laugh or sing a song
blah blah other words here... before you know it
Comes the time we have to say, 'So long'.


Fun times as Fiesta Texas:


Post a Comment