About Me

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I teach abroad and continue to pursue the life I was given as if it was my last. Many people think it is. In my spare time, I enjoy lapping up ice cream, reading spy novels, and euthanizing manta rays.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I smell a matt

After a weekend of surviving without running water, transportation, and a campus cafeteria, I kind of welcomed Mondays routine: embassy meetings, security briefings, department introductions, eschewing chapel service, syllabus planning.

Sister Frances led us in prayer at least four times today; twice before departing in the car to and from Kyambogo, another time at lunch, and another upon my entrance to the U.S. embassy. I haven't made the sign of the cross so much since confirmation back in '92. Good times.

I was awoken by her wake-up call at 7:15 this morning. Luckily the phone was by my bed.
"I"ve already had breakfast sir, I think it might serve us better to get on the road by 7:30. Can you be ready by then?"
"What. Time. Is. It?" I said as I searched for sand crystals caked under my eye sockets.
"Quarter past."
"Seven, sir."
(String of expletives followed by heavy breathing)
I washed in a sterile tub, boiled water to make instant coffee, ate a piece of wheat bread, and threw on my suit (all with just three fingers on my left hand, mind you). I had a meeting with three of the brass from the embassy and a couple more faculty in the afternoon. I didn't want to come off as tired. Or hungover. Or aloof. Or dead.

I took a look at myself in the mirror as I went through security and knew exactly how I was going to come off. I might have even smelled (allegedly). Just no swearing, awkward silences, bodily noises, adjustments, or intense scratching, and I'd be happy to put the day behind me. That was my plan. That was my M.O.

After the meetings in Kampala, Frances drove me back home as I nodded off in between boda-boda near-misses on the dusty roads leading back to school.

A department meet-and-greet turned into an awkward four person debate over the curriculum for my course this semester. The incumbent and 8-month pregnant professor (nicknamed The D.A) had written up a syllabus I neither had the materials for nor the acumen to pull off. Luckily Sister Frances and Doc (soon becoming power brokers on my behalf) changed the course of the course (and thus the next 15 weeks of my life) for the better. I start teaching Wednesday. I think. Beyond that, I was left to write up a lesson plan, walk around campus to scour for hot food (fish scales and mootoke anyone?) and finally pop the cork on my patio hammock as I finished chapter one in the Alan Furst novel, "The spies of Warsaw."

That was then. This is now. And now I take a nap from heaven, as the banana trees and elephant grass sway to the sweet sound of a Ugandan afternoon lake breeze.

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