Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ten Rules for Returning from Your Time in Africa

Rule #1: Do not eat three ice cream cones and one deep dish pizza on your first day back in America, no matter how much you profess to adore milk products. You will experience dairy overload and want to die.

Rule #2: Do not be a dummy. Do not wash your face with cold water. The hot water is there for a reason. Use it!

Rule #3: Do not cry when you open your luggage and everything smells like stale body odor and humidity, including the stuffed animal you so childishly took with you on your trip. It'll come out or you'll throw it out.

Rule #4: If you forget why America is great, just follow the signs:

Rule #5: Do not worry when you can't peel yourself off the couch on your first day back. This is not depression or a failure to adjust appropriately. It's simple indulgence and relaxation; much deserved after your long travels.

Rule #6: When you go to the grocery store for the first time, honor the 12 Days of American Foods song in your shopping list: 12 cereal boxes, 11 bags of candy, 10 things of Goldfish, 9 Tombstone pizzas, 8 fresh veggies, 7 pints of ice cream, 6 mac&cheeses, 5 chocolate cakes, 4 Chips Ahoy, 3 cheese wheels, 2 brownie mixes, and a box of double stuffed Oreos.

Rule #7: Do not drive on the left side of the road.

Rule #8: Text your friends all.the.freaking.time just because you can.

Rule #9: Turn off your alarm and hunker down in your snuggly familiar bed for more hours than necessary.

Rule #10: Do not worry about remembering why you have the greatest friends. Hopefully, they've already got that covered.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

PSA: Blog Glitches

It recently got back to me that the last layout on my blog was hard to use and nearly impossible to comment on. Well why didn't you tell me sooner?!

Despite the slickness of the last layout, I'm going back to simpler times. Times of older Blogger layouts and their clunky familiarity. Because I have to admit, I love when people comment on the blog. I cherish your hearts & responses & hilarity more than a sleek template.

So comment away, dear readers! And be quicker to let me know if this thing becomes glitchy again.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Glenview in a Day

A ten hour layover in Chicago afforded me the opportunity to spend a day in my hometown suburb of Glenview, IL. What does one do when one has to cram all the best things of this town into one day?

1. Have tea time with Nanny and talk about the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
2. Entice your dogs with some tunes on the keys.
3. Eat a whole bowl of M&M's.
4. Giordano's deep dish pizza. Hands down best in Chicagoland.
5. Chocolate cake.
6. Homer's mint chip ice cream.
7. Dairy Bar. Chocolate dipped in milk chocolate.
8. Dip my toes in the waters of the great Lake Michigan.
9. Lay on the sandy beach.
10. Swap international travel stories with Jenny.
(11. Hang out with Bobby McGee, but not this time because he had better things to do...like inspiring the youth of America.)

Sunday, June 10, 2012


"I might even grow accustomed to the storm of car horns and vendors. Can there be anywhere else in the world that is such an assault on the senses? Those who know the country though just go about their business. But nothing can prepare the uninitiated for this riot of noise and color - the heat, the motion, the perpetual teeming crowds...Initially, you're overwhelmed, but gradually you realize it's like a wave: resist, and you'll be knocked over; dive into it, and you'll swim out the other side. This is a new and different world. The challenge is to cope with it, and not just cope, but thrive."

Evelyn in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," a brilliant movie I just watched on my flight from Entebbe to London. Even if it's about India, I think it applies to Africa as well. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


A brief haiku ode to chapati, my one true African love:

Chapati, you thief
You've stolen my heart and soul
Yum, doughy goodness.

Fresh off the hot coals
My tummy bulging with joy
Get in my belly.

Back home we don't know
Cheap joys of daily fried dough
We should, don't you think?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Big Sky

Afternoon sky over Lake Victoria
I've made it my mission to get more people to look at the sky in Africa. I keep trying to explain to our mzungu kids here that the sky is SO MUCH BETTER in Uganda than in America. They're unconvinced. Despite living in Uganda for three years, they still think America is the awesomest. They make fun of me by saying, "if I had a dollar for every time you talked about the sky, I'd be RICH." I'm going into debt here...

Seriously, though. The sky is bigger. The clouds are fluffier and far more numerous. The blue is bluer. The air is cleaner. The sunsets are richer. The sunrises are brighter. The rainstorms are wider. The lightning is scarier. The thunder is deeper. The rainbows are more vibrant. The moon is rounder. The stars are twinklier. The sky is wider, higher, longer, deeper.

I know I blogged about the sky so many times in Namibia. But "so many times" isn't enough. The sky reminds me of how wide, how high, how long, and how deep is the love of our Lord. He created each millimeter of this sky and STILL cares about me? He knows each star in the sky - even in the cloud that is the Milky Way - and STILL knows the hairs on my head?

Unreal. I can't begin to understand it, but I bask in the reminder of His power when I look to the African sky.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Africa is Alive

Africa is so alive.

The singeing smell of diesel fuel settling along the paved roads. Dense body odor filling the packed markets. Unpredictable and startling bumps along uneven dirt roads. The tinny sound of steady African beats emanating from cheap cell phones. The heavy scent of "Africa" on your body when you return home after a long day. Laughter and screams from the small kids down the road. Long, studied greetings about the day, family, and life. Lively Bantu conversations taking place all around you. The surprise sighting of other wazungu. Cows, birds, chickens, roosters, goats, and dogs as your alarm clock. The smell of burning grass and garbage floating through the evening air. The inexplicably huge sky. The oily sweet taste of fried dough. The comforting protection of a mosquito net. The ambivalence towards big bugs. The satisfaction of a cold shower after a hot day. Small African hands caressing your fascinating white ones. Sweet fresh fruit. Hot spicy tea. The musty dampness of the backseat of a taxi. The distant claps and songs of friends after dark. The burst of magenta and indigo and orange minutes after the sun dips below the horizon.

What do these make you feel? Oddly enough, my reaction and response has been different on every trip.