Sometimes I Forget to Wear the Correct Shirt

When you wake up at 5:30 in the morning and attempt to get dressed and finish packing in preparation for a 12-day trip while there is no power, something is destined to go array. For example, while i was preparing to go to Kampala, I had to wake up at 5:30 and the power was out, I struggled to find the correct shirt, but at the time it didn’t matter because it was cold and I had to cover myself with a scarf anyway. Let me qualify that statement – it did not matter until the bus arrived in Kampala at noon and the day presented itself as very sunny and warm. I relieved myself of the scarf and took off by foot to my favorite café. It is about a 20-minute walk, just long enough to become sweaty due to the double bag and uphill walk combination.

Whenever I walk around Kampala, or any town in Uganda, I am bound to get stares. The primary reason is that I am clearly not Ugandan, or east African by any means. However, in contrast to most towns, while I am in Kampala, I do not receive so much of the verbal attention as the visual attention. Still, that morning I had one man try to stop me to say “I love you so much” and another say, “Hey, hey! You come, I like you!” Additionally, as I was walking, I noticed that the stares were even more so than usual, but stopping to readjust on the streets of Kampala only invites several boda boda drivers to harass you and attempt to convince you that you want ride to your destination. So instead, ignoring both the stares and the boda boda drivers, I continued walking.

When I finally arrived at said café, I went to the bathroom to clean myself off. As I looked in the mirror, I realized that the pale yellow shirt I chose to wear was not entirely opaque and, in fact, did not hide a green lace-lined bra with tan and black leopard print. ‘Oh, well that does explain a lot.’ I was then stuck with wearing the inappropriate outfit for the remainder of the day.

Note to self: pick out your clothes the night before when there is power and you know what you will be putting on yourself . Remember, you are not at your best before the sunrises, before coffee, without power and without the ability to assure appropriateness.

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I Hate Roosters

I hate roosters. I feel that I need to put that out there. I had no idea how much I hated roosters until I moved to Uganda. Every day, all day, they just keep going. They do not care that I’m trying to listen to a podcast or a fantastic song. They just make that horribly annoying sound all day; the one that lives at my house starts making noise around 4am, so I always know that I have at least 2.5 more hours to lay in bed. Furthermore, roosters do not just make their cockle-doodle-doo noise once or twice and then silence themselves… Nooooooo they continue to make the screeching noise over and over again until I think I’m about to lose my mind and then, and only then, do they cease… for about an hour.

I consider myself a generally sane person, even relatively patient, so long as I am not in a grocery line. However, when I hear that sound, I worry about my sanity. In all seriousness, I wrote the first paragraph of this blogpost at 4:22am because Senior Rooster was telling the world that he was awake. Prior to writing about this epiphany of dislike, I had a ‘talking to’ with this rooster; it went a little something like this:

Look rooster, I do not care that you are awake, nor do I care that the sun is going to rise in an hour and a half. I have only been asleep for about 3 hours and i am far from having a cup of coffee, so there is nothing okay about waking me up right now. You do not see me coming into your cozy den and screaming obscenities for no good reason, I am only asking for the same respect. If you are trying to drive me crazy, you may have succeeded, considering that you do not understand a word I am saying and yet, here I am, talking to you. Seeing as I cannot sleep through your screeching, i felt it would more productive to get out of bed, walk outside, face the chicken wire and verbalize my annoyance. Would you please not interrupt me! I’m in the middle of a soliloquy. Oh fine! I see how you are, you can make all the noise you want, but I can’t come tell you how I feel…

End scene.

I have no good transition, but I did not really want to write a post about roosters. Actually, I wanted to share some recent reflections. I am fortunate enough to have some amazing friends and family back home that I keep in touch with frequently. Most recently, I have had an amazing email thread with one of my best friends. We have seen each other through many tough times and celebrated through one another’s achievements. We had falling outs and falling back ins, frustration and forgiveness. We have been able to share almost everything with one another; recently we both reflected on why it is we are who we are and why we react how we react. We recalled the situations from long ago or recently that left us scarred, the times we had no idea that it was leaving a mark on our hearts, but now see just how deeply those wounds went.

I will not go into detail about these subjects, as they have been private for the both of us, but I will say that having someone to share those things with has been so beneficial. Even just being able to write down the words and send them to someone I trust has greatly helped me process. I hate to admit that I need other people; it is one of those learned character flaws that I have carried with me since early childhood. However, if there is one thing I’m learning in Uganda, it is that I need people.

Being here, in Uganda, I have lots of time to process. If I gain nothing else from my time here, I have had ample time to commit to character development and self-reflection. I successfully avoided that for the first six months in country by watching old tv shows or reading, but as I am out of reading material and I am officially sick of reruns, alone time becomes a quiet time, where I often find myself journaling and/or listening to old music.

The realization of needing others came with the realization that people are meant to be in relationship. There are very few other animals that are as relationship-driven as people, elephants come pretty close, but still not quite the same. I treasure the people around me who I can count on to run to when I am overwhelmed and frustrated. I am so grateful to have people both here and home that I can talk to about different things, because most people at home are not going to understand the frustrations here; at the same time, most people here are not going to understand the problems I face due to the emotional baggage I’ve brought with me. I have people from every stage of life that I can turn to when I am facing a certain difficulty. I am so grateful for that.

My friends and family – you all are amazing. I am so grateful to have each and every one of you. Thank you for always being there for me and I hope that I can always return the favor.

— With Love –

Sleepless beauty

Did you get a good night’s sleep last night? If so, i do not want to hear about it. Actually, scratch that, let me live vicariously through your good sleeping, please! Maybe if i hear of restfulness, i will find rest too. Doubtful, but maybe.

I was in seventh grade when someone first told me about insomnia; i thought that it was possibly the most ridiculous made-up syndrome I had ever heard. Honestly, who could be tired but not sleep? Surely, that was not possible; tiredness and sleep go hand-in-hand. It’s like saying you have a PB&J sandwich, save the J or you’ll spend the summer without ice cream/bonfires/sunshine/pools or, even, have a perfectly good bed without sheets to sleep on. The impracticability of one without the other is absurd. I wondered, ‘how can a person lay in bed, be exhausted and, yet, not sleep?’ Some years later, I would recognize that insomnia not only was real, but crept its ugly face into my life, leaving my popcorn without hot sauce..

Unfortunately, sometime during my university years, sleeping poorly became my norm. I would not have called it insomnia, because who sleeps well during their university years? Telling a fellow student that you did not sleep well was like telling them you had to study for the final exam. You were likely to get a lot of ‘no duh’ looks and no sympathy. A lack of proper sleep was an accepted part of the college student’s life. Complete rest was a myth, a full night’s sleep was unheard of, and honestly, pulling all-nighters and thereby depriving your brain of the rest and fuel it needs to be fully functional, was sort of a badge of honor. I digress. Whether it was because I was stressed, cramming too late, eating too late, never on a stable schedule or the fact that I worked at a coffee shop until midnight, I am unsure. Likely, it was a delicious combination of all of the above.

I have developed a few coping mechanisms over the years, to proactively kick insomnia in the butt. I listen to “natural” sounds, such as waves or thunderstorms, the click of a bonfire or raindrops on a tin roof. Sometimes I make hot tea or take a hot shower (a luxury not currently afforded, living in Uganda) right before bed and other times I play classical music for at least 30 minutes before I lay down. If you had asked me when I was 14, how I prepare myself to fall asleep, I would have told you “I lay down in my bed, say a prayer and close my eyes, wiggle around to find that perfect spot and 30 minutes later I’m out.” Never would I have guessed, 12 years later I would be lying in bed, wishing genuinely that I could fall asleep.

During weeks that I have not slept well, I make myself stay up extra late. I hope that if I force myself to stay up and be productive, combined with previous nights of little sleep my body and brain will be forced to shut down when I lay down. Last night, for example, was night 4 of especially poor sleep, so I am stayed up until I nearly fell out of my desk chair. “Especially poor” sleep is an unwelcome devil. She lingers around the corners of your exhaustion and allows you the taste of respite before holding you hostage to wakefulness. She is behind the nights of lying awake for 2 ½ hours, exhausted and fully awake. She finds amusement and joy in letting you experience the beautiful embrace of slumber, in complete coziness then reminds you to change positions, knowing you will not fall asleep again for an hour. It is those nights that I watch too many reruns of New Girl or Parks and Recreation.

I can go to bed completely exhausted, when it is nearly impossible to keep my eyes open, I walk like a drunk person, but as soon as i am in the most comfortable position, curled in my bed, my mind is suddenly alert and exploring thoughts. Why? Who knows.

Luckily, I now have a puppy who greatly appreciates my sleepless schedule and takes full advantage of the 3am saunters outside. Around 4:30 am, I roll over, look on the floor and there she is, sitting and waiting for me to get out of bed. I go outside for a short time, Rory walks around, finding the perfect spot to do her business while i look at the beautiful sky. Some nights it is worth being awake just to see the vast number of stars glowing like a million candles in the sky. I am solemnly reminded that there is beauty everywhere, even on sleep deprived evenings, Africa, USA or anywhere else I might be sleeping- they sky is a constant reminder of the glorious beauty of the world I live in.

NOOOOOOOOOOO

I just spent a solid 90 minutes typing. I was in the zone! I had this adjustment period topic on my mind and I had the words to express exactly what has been going on, only to refresh my page and have ALL that work dissipate into the abyss!! Not only was this for sharing with the World Wide Web, but also to email most of the same information to my Peace Corps champion (supervisor(ish) person on PC staff). Ugh. Why? Why on Earth did I think that I should type on the web page?? Wifi here is never that reliable, but today, for the first time in this country, I took my chances and, now, I am facing the consequences. Stupid internet! Stupid unreliable wifi! Stupid Christy for knowing better and choosing to ignore the knowledge! Oh foolishness, why do you overcome me today?

It is very rare that I have the mental ability to sit still at my computer and type the thoughts in my head without over thinking them, so that, I can later come back, edit and make it sound as if I have a fairly normal train of thought. This is indeed, a very, very infrequent occasion. All that brainpower directly out the window, tossed to the breeze, flushed down the toilet, burned with the rubbish! (choose your metaphor). On the bright side, this does give me something new to rant about, which is helping me recover from my brainless moment. Only now, I still have to re-write most of the previous draft since that was actually something important. Boooo! I am thoroughly disappointed, even worse. I cannot remember half of what i had written.

And now, alas, I am out of words.

Stupid Ugandan internet.

Baby Girl

This morning I awoke to several message from my mom telling me that my sister is finally going into labor after over 24 hours of being in the hospital, waiting for this to happen. I was so excited that getting out of bed, even without coffee in hand, was not horrible. This day has been long awaited by my sister and brother-in-law, parents, myself, extended family and friends. Not only the past 9 months of waiting but also, years of waiting! These two people have been a couple for over a decade and a half. It’s about time they bring a child into the world.

When my mom tells me that baby girl has been born, I feel my face go flush and pressure begins to build. Before I can contain it, tears evacuate my eyes, running down my cheeks and my sinuses instantly lose control. I am happysad. You know that feeling of being happysad? It is not quite the same as bittersweet, but very similar. Side note: my spell check is assuring me that happysad is not a word, but anyone who knows that feeling knows spell check is wrong. I am overwhelmed with emotions of excitement, joy, comfort and relief, which are adjoining the emotions of disappointment, sadness and regret.

I cannot believe I am on the opposite side of Earth while my first niece is making her debut. This is just one of those things that sisters are not supposed to miss. The knowledge that she is healthy, has all her limbs, and is going to be so unbelievably loved helps quiet some of the negative emotions. Still, not being there stings more than I thought it would.

I continue to receive short messages from my mom and dad, who is also not present, making me feel meagerly better. Then, at last, I get to speak with mom on the phone. She tells me that my sister did amazingly and is only exhausted now. She had been up for far too many hours in far too much discomfort, but was cherishing the first few hours of her daughter’s life, having some skin on skin time and soaking up the newborn scent.

All my sadness melts away at the thought of my sister and brother-in-law enjoying those first few moments. There are few moments in life as pure or beautiful. Those moments are treasured and stored in memory forever. They mold the love and care that get new parents through the first terrible year of sleepless nights.

I imagine that the nervousness and concerns they have had over the past few days dissipate like chocolate in the sun. They have had enough concerns in the past week to give anyone anxiety. Now, they have made it out the other side. Aside from the pain and scars of childbirth, they made it out unscathed. The beautiful baby girl is here, healthy and loved.

cheers

First Post

I’m relatively new the blogosphere. More accurately, i’m new to keeping an updated and relevant blog. I have had three blogs over the past 3 years, two of which are, or will be, currently active. The first blog was not well written and while it successfully accomplished its’ role to update my family of my activities while I was out of the country, I am uninspired by the writing and content.

The two active blogs serve two purposes. The elder of the two serves to discuss my daily life and activities. I have been writing that for almost two years; however, until three months ago, I published less than once a month. There is a link to that blog on this page, hosted by blogger. The new blog is this one. Because I found myself wanting to write more, reflect on ideas and situations, and, perhaps even write some of my crazy dreams for others to enjoy. It may end up as a bit of an eclectic gathering of words and entries, but hopefully readable still.

Yesterday morning i woke up completely confused. It was one of those mornings where I had to think about where I was located. It was not because I had been out drinking the night before nor have I been travelling recently, i just woke up confused. Then, I recognized the sheath of my mosquito net and remembered, i’m just home(ish).

Waking up confused, trying to remember where I was had been painfully common for nearly three months solid. Moving from one site to another for Peace Corps training will do that to a person. Oh the wonderful experience of eight weeks of Peace Corps training, not spending more than 3 weeks in any one place and sometimes as little as 4 days. I would wake up in the morning so entirely disoriented, it would take me sitting up and looking around to recall that I had indeed fallen asleep in this bed intentionally. I haven’t had that issue in a few weeks, but yesterday, to my delight, disorientation took over my groggy brain.

Once I recognized the soft haze of my room through the netting, I took a deep breath and thought ‘this is my life’. Soon i heard the familiar rooster outside my window and the neighborhood slowly coming to life. Waking up disoriented is not my favorite feeling. In fact, it is one of my least favorite feelings. It’s the way your heart tightens and your nerves crawl to the edge of your skin and anxiety runs through your body like blood. Even for just one second, it is awful for me. However, just as quickly as the anxiety comes on, it departs and i’m happy the morning has come so I can make coffee.

Oh coffee, what a delight you are. What profound happiness in a mug! Coffee is the reason that mornings are beautiful and conversations are possible.

more to come

Cheers