Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Just One of Those Days After Another

Just One of Those Days After Another

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dear Everyone,

You know those days when you think if just one more thing happens, it’s over? And you’re not too clear on what “it” might be, but you recognize those “one more things” when about six of them hit you, one after another after the other. Over the past eight or ten days, my one more things have included but not been limited to the following, in roughly chronological order:

  • Battling a vicious, evil cold, involving severe throat irritation such that even my ears hurt, and is subdued only by high doses of Sudafed and ibuprophen. It waxes and wanes such that I feel better for a day or so before being ready to die again a few days later. (But Dr. Hewitt says I won’t die of this without getting a fever first, so I’ve been watching out for that.) This has been my life for about four weeks, so even though I’m feeling pretty good right now, I’m still not holding my breath. I’ve been fooled before, that’s why.

  • Finding a dead baby mouse in my desk drawer. I know this is pretty much old hat for me, but I’m always a little wary of my desk drawers anyway, and finding the body was just too much. Annaka and Aili came over to play, but we couldn’t find all of my toys. So I was looking for them in the desk and thinking about Missionary Susan, who found a small poisonous snake in her desk drawer last year when she was looking for her keys. I always think of Susan when I dig through my desk drawers, and, consequently, I tend to avoid digging long or thoroughly. The mouse body was stiff and furry but obviously a baby. I was so disturbed that Aili offered to get rid of it for me, explaining how she could hold the dead baby mouse in her hands and take him out. I managed to scoop him out with the dust pan, but now I’m faced with the joy of cleaning out my whole desk, since mouse babies rarely come in sets of one, and anyway where are his parents?

  • Finding evidence of adult mouse activity in my food cupboard, in the form of two chewed-through maggi cubes (like chicken bouillon, but really salty) and a shredded box of laughing cow (an inferior cheese product). I’ve tried to move all chewable products to mouse-resistant containers, but I only have so many plastic boxes. That’s why the granola I don’t really like anyway has to stay out on the counter.

  • Learning that my slightly-sketchy cross-country trip will begin on Thursday. I’m going to Mole (say “MO-lay”) to see elephants and to the coast to see Ghanaian slave castles with Teacher Megan and Teacher Angela—whom I met at Karissa’s home school group in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso a couple weeks ago—and no Esalas. This is supposed to be a vacation, and deep down I know it will be fun. That’s why I’m going. But I don’t actually know where I’m going, and I suspect Megan and Angela also are not sure. I don’t believe we will actually become lost forever in the wilds of Ghana, but we may wander around in them quite a bit before finding our homes again.

  • Learning that my computer is officially dead, and not even Missionary Paul can fix it with his powers without also replacing the hard drive, from which he can salvage nothing. Sigh.

  • Finding a very live bat in my living room—not difficult, as he was swooping around my head at the time. I kept telling myself, “He won’t hit you; echolocation,” but that didn’t stop me from flinching and cringing every time it flew near. I had to get Nathan to “help me” get it out, which meant he swung the broom while I waited outside.

  • Having diarrhea. Today is my fourth day.

Even though I cried six times in the last week and a half (over everything except the computer dying), I have been able to avoid sinking completely into the pit of despair, where one can do nothing but eat Nutella with a spoon. In fact, I have been feeling a little better sometimes in the last day or so and, as evidence, am able to recall a few high points of recent weeks.

We went to Ouaga for Karissa’s home school group, where I played house girl and hung out instead of teaching a class. I acquired several culinary treats, such as green beans and cashews. I made several jars of strawberry jam. I made a few new friends, including Teacher Megan and Teacher Angela. I might have experienced henna for the very first time, or I might have gotten a very lovely design dyed to my ankle in hair dye, depending on whom you ask. I went swimming almost everyday, and even though my swimming suit showed signs of wear such that I wasn’t sure it would last the three weeks, it did last, and I was spared any embarrassing revelations.

Last week, we saw camels in our village—actually, between our house and the village, which is, of course, right in our back yard (or side yard, or whatever). They were three camels traveling with one grumpy guy who wouldn’t let us take pictures and who didn’t even greet us properly even after we very politely greeted him. We usually just get farm animals around here, so seeing something in the “zoo” or “circus” categories was truly a treat.

Also Bernice has very valiantly rescued me from several terrible bugs lately.

Last month, I came home from my birthday party at the Esalas’ to find a big meaty cockroach poised on my refrigerator door, its vile antennae waving menacingly. In my heart, I wanted to get Nathan to come kill it for me (we can’t all be brave everyday, and Bernice had not yet demonstrated his ability to subdue large bugs with dispatch), but I also knew that I could do the job if I could put off being a wuss for just a few seconds. So I held a flip flop—one in each hand for good measure—and made to swipe the fiend off the fridge (and the pictures and the artwork and the magnets I had hanging there) so I could deliver the fatal blow without getting guts on anything I like. My plan was foiled when the villain slipped between the doors to the fridge and freezer and hunkered down in the crack—the dirty cheater. Now probably I shouldn’t go around spraying poison on my refrigerator. Probably when the can says “Do not spray on or near food,” the fridge is part of what’s meant. This being war, however, I resolved to clean the fridge thoroughly when I was through.

Typical of roaches sprayed with poison, this one came flying out of his hideout to flail about in berserk circles on the floor the moment he was sprayed. That’s when Bernice joined the fray, valiantly pouncing on the thrashing roach and very efficiently consuming all but two and a half twitching legs while I smacked the cat on the head with my flip flop and shrieked things like “Bernice, that’s poison! It says, ‘Do not spray on food’!” I’m not sure Bernice speaks English. He held the twitching villain pinned with one paw and crunched through it like a tootsie pop—chomp, chomp, chomp, done.

Since then, Bernice has also killed one of those big scary running bugs with all the legs that likes to run over me while I’m trying to sleep and hurts really bad if it bites you. He made another nice attempt on another one of those bugs last night, but finally we both gave up and I ended up killing it myself later. In the process of hunting that bug, I came across a dead adult mouse body under my desk, which bumps dragging my desk drawers for bodies a little higher on my list.

I suppose you can probably fish prayer topics out of this email without me suggesting them, so I’ll leave that mostly to you. I’m leaving on my trip on Thursday, so that’s a good one. Also, Sarah’s dad and niece are visiting from America, so you can pray against malaria for them and for a good visit overall, which they seem to be on their way to having. And just in case you can’t tell that I have a bad attitude and have been (and am continuing to be) just a bit beyond grumpy lately, I will tell you plainly that I have a bad attitude and have been rather more than grumpy lately, which, of course, is just a bit outside my ideal state. Sigh.

Hope you are well.


Today’s quote is from Annaka:

“Aunt Christina, we’re camels, right?” She seemed very serious, and it took me a moment to realize she meant “mammals.”

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