WH Chronicle No. 12.4

Sept 23, 2012

Since our last conversation we’ve added more candles to Daryl’s and Tom’s birthday cakes, driven to Santa Fe, NM for Kathlene’s wedding, moved out of our house, started homeschool, put an offer on a new house, began University classes, started private school, opened another symphony season, transported a donkey, visited family in the hospital, moved into a rental house, moved out of a rental house, and are now moving into the duplex that we plan to purchase.

On one particular day, I packed my stationwagon to brim at sunrise, left the old house, drove to the University,  met 325 students until sunset, Mapquested the next house, and drove to the new place and felt quite thankful it had a bed. 

As we drag Kaghondi along behind us, there's a chance he considers this a normal American life.  He has a cozy place on the couch for which we apologized.  He cheerfully recounts stories of his last bed that consisted of sticks, ropes and cowhides, all under a thatched roof that barely hindered the rain.  Kaghondi seems to be unflappable and immensely resilient—we’ll have to try harder.

African music, Swahili, and his cheeriness waft through the house.    It is wonderful.

Kaghondi enjoys toying with the kids by offering inane answers to their questions. 
Daryl asks, “How long have mommy and daddy been married?”
He responds, “Ok, add your ages together, now subtract the difference, now add 3 because it is Friday.” 

Another time, one of Sam’s friends asks, “Why is your skin dark?”
He cleverly answers, “It’s not dark, I’m just sitting in the shade.”
We all enjoy the quality entertainment from confusing an 8 year old. 

Kaghondi and the kids also have philosophical discussions about Halloween and Christmas traditions.  The kids endeavor to prepare him for these future events that are so vital to all of kid-dom.  Sam explains, “There is no such thing as Santa—it’s really the UPS guy that comes down our chimney.”

Since our rental house is immediately off South Congress Kaghondi has also had the pleasure of escorting the kids to the food trailer parks and candy stores.   The five of us often walk to restaurants, ice cream shops, barbershops, sports bars, clothing stores, hamburger joints, as well as to Congress Avenue Bridge to watch the weirdos watching the bats.  Funny how they were all looking at us.

Kaghondi doesn’t often comment about American culture but he did mention that his mother would clutch her chest, gasp, and then faint if she witnessed the lack of clothes covering the women in this country.   She might assume these poor girls don’t even have the funds to properly dress themselves.  Why on earth else would they go out in public half-naked?

He also articulated another point about the ubiquitous nature of technology.   From smart phones, automatic sliding doors, escalators, ATM's, to a button for food at a Sonic, he was concerned that if we abandon him, he might die.  Hard to imagine anyone equating the act of ordering at a local Sonic to the valuable skills needed for survival in the Serengeti. 

But he is right, not about dying from abandonment, but rather that technology is seeping into every aspect of the American life.  The compelling nature of this technology is evident from the hundreds of people camping on the streets for over a week (presumably with their IPhone 4s) in order to get an IPhone 5.    When walking across a University campus one rarely finds a person free from digital consumption.   Social gatherings are plagued with people tapping messages to other people elsewhere.  The elsewheres do the same reducing our social gatherings to bus stops with hors'doeuvres.    Is texting “Get Well” as good as seeing someone in the hospital? It is certainly easier, germ-free and better than nothing, but we definitely lowered our communication standards. And yet, here is where my truncated ideology falls flat on its face as I communicate to you via guilty fingers while using the criminal element internet. 

Beyond obscuring face to face communication how is the ever pervasive technology affecting our development? Article after article boldly declare the detriments we are bestowing upon our youth (radiation aside).  Education Week’s homepage describes the college freshman class of 2016 as “…addicted to a new generation of ‘electronic narcotics.’”  Along those lines, Nomophobia, fear of losing your cell phone, has been recently labeled as the biggest fear in the industrialized world.  With the advent of Siri and the boom of virtual personal assistants,  there is now digital grief counseling available giving us the benefits of companionship without the responsibility.  When will humanity be available without an appointment or loss of electricity? 

Ok, maybe I’m being just a lowbrow Luddite.  Hopefully, will we never have to look back and shake our heads with the same smug pity with which we view the Lucky Strikes girls.

So, I shrug when Kaghondi asks why so many of us behave this way.   I guess we are looking for something—not to feel alone--maybe?  And yet with that search we lead ourselves into a more solitary state.  It seems our cultural insanity is escalating and we continue to remove ourselves from truth through distraction.  But I find solace and peace in the fact that my life's circumstances have introduced me to a taste (though be it not all sweet) of authenticity.   That, in itself, is refuge for now.    

Stay tuned for updates on our housing situation--at least there's wifi under the Congress Ave bridge.  

“The universe is merely a fleeting idea in God’s mind—a pretty uncomfortable thought, particularly if you’ve just made a down payment on a house.”  Woody Allen

“Where thou art--that--is Home.”  Emily Dickinson

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity."  Albert Einstein

“May your cell phone battery die on a sunny day, and may you be not too far from the beach.” Daris

Wondering if zombies carry cell phones,

Greetings from Norway!!

Wedding photos in Santa Fe

Wedding reception--notice the paper airplane...
Kaghondi has already mastered the skill of creating answers.