to prune, to pluck, to cleanse, to clear.

The 30 Day Photo Challenge: A Photo of My Reality Right Now

I have always been a person of many names. When I was born my parents gave me the name of Elizabeth; my mother claims it was the only name they could really agree on, yet in their concurrence with one another the name selected was laden with love. Elizabeth, as a name, is rooted in Hebrew and literally means ‘God’s Promise’ or ‘my God is a vow.’Throughout history, Biblical, fictional, and otherwise, there have been a substantial number of incredible women bearing the name. Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, the two Queens of England, Elizabeth Bennett, Elizabeth Taylor… It is a name I strive to live up to, a name I am honored and humbled to posses.

But while the name I bore is Elizabeth, none called me such. For the first eleven years of my life, I was Beth. Carved into my dress-up clothes chest, painted on my doors, made into a sign by my Grandfather was the nickname that most of my family still uses.  And while a part of me will always be the little girl called Beth- the part of me that refused to wear anything but pink, the child who poured over dragon lore, the little girl who would ride her bike until her legs felt like they were falling off, the kid who refused to let her mother brush her hair, the little one who discovered Harry Potter and Billy Joel and The Sound of Music. She’s still real, she still exists in memory and in name.

Yet I was not to remain Beth forever. When I began Middle School I decided it was time for me to no longer be such a child. Written on my notebooks and doodled in the margins of worksheets was a new name, a name most people now know me by: Lizzie. It is a name fit for my adolescence, a name that fizzles and sparks off the tounge, filled with not one- but two uncommonly used letters, a name of awakening and spunk and clumsy steps and bad hair days.

In many ways Lizzie is still perfectly applicable to who I am, who I want to be. But the older I grow the more a familiar urge, an itch bubbles up in my head. I am growing out of my name, growing out of my teenager years and coming into adulthood. The time is not now, but I am certain before long the day will come when I will no longer introduce myself with Lizzie; the rhymes and songs of Dizzy Miss Lizzy, or (worse by far) Lizzie Borden referred to only by friends and family who have known me for long.

But that day is not now.

For Today, the day that has been my summer of learning how to Live, how to slow down and Grow, I have been gifted with another name. Not to replace Lizzie, to add.

While still in Kotido, I was given a Ngkaramajong name by beloved, calming, wise, leading Mama Rose. The name was chosen based on the season that I arrived in, not really based on personality characteristics or my English name. Which, given how potent and relevant it is, is really quite astonishing.

My Ngkaramajong name is Nachap, meaning that I came in the season of weeding. Weeding, pruning, preparing and tending to the earth to make room for a healthy and uncumbered crop to grow.

This summer, this time spent in this beautiful and broken place, has been a time of pruning. A time of discerning in what soil to plant my crop, a time of pulling out by the roots what would choke the vine. A summer of being aware of the baobabs that might overcome my small planet in the universe, a time for allowing good seeds to take root. Waiting, throughout the weeding, for the plants to bear fruit.

When people ask what exactly my internship entails, or what I’ve done, it is more than merely difficult for me to explain. I’ve mentioned here that my work has not been glamorous, or product-oriented, or even for some fancy NGO with T-shirt give-aways. We built a solar oven, collected some plastic water bottles, and made a little headway in plugging the raw data of the schools into a database. Hardly worthy of a junior league Nobel Prize.

But the material rewards are not from which my treasure is reaped. This summer I have learned how I want to live my life. Not in finality, but in constant process. I have pruned, I have plucked. I have stuffed my head with books, memorized faces, held hands, rode motorcycles on winding city streets, cried for a fictional wizard, eaten more goat than I care to admit, encountered the divine in the smallest of nooks, the most profound of people. I have seen churches, encountered Faith beyond my own reckoning in mamas with warm, worn hands and woven into the fabric strung from street shops.

Not all of what I have learned has been beautiful, pretty, or nice. None of it was trimmed in lace or slathered in butter.

I have muddied my feet on holy ground, danced in the rain. I’ve peed in a hole in the ground, slept a summer under mosquito nets, barely been able to walk 100 feet to the clinic.

This has been unbelievably difficult. This has been perfect. This has absolutely sucked. This has been a life lived on top of a tall, tall mountain screaming out at the world below that all was Good and Great and Wonderous.

I am leaving with lines etched across the skin stretched taunt across my soul. Laughter lines, sorrow lines, wallowing and worshipping and wondering and wandering. Not lines easily unpacked or deconstructed or made do with the rhetoric of the ever-present product-oriented inquiries. I am whole, I am in pieces. I want so badly to go home there, I desperately wish I could stay home here. My life is one destined, so it seems, to be spent in the in-between places, the space of collision and collaboration. The space of never and forever and no absolutes and Truths that stand the test of the universes coming and going.

And I am content.

current jam: ‘brand new day’ joshua radin

catching up on the challenge

a brief note: wandering writes is, once more, undergoing a makeover. i have wanted to tweak the layout since i switched to wordpress, but being in kampala once more is the first opportunity i’ve been afforded to do as much. please bear with me as it is redone! 

Main Mode of Transport

   As you know from this particular post detailing my harrowing journeys  taken through the winding streets of Kampala, while in cities (like  Kampala and Gulu) I’m fond of taking boda-bodas around. But there’s  another mode of transport you’ve met to meet. So, ladies and gentlemen, I  present to you Gertrude, nicknamed ‘Gertie’ (courtesy of T). Prone to  breaking down at least once a journey and lacking much suspension, she  may not be the most reliable vehicle I’ve ever had the pleasure of  voyaging  in, but she gets the job done. And let’s be real, after the  hellacious 16-hours  spent cramped on a bus driving from Kampala to  Kotido with only one  latrine stop (while I was still ill, mind you), I’ll  take ol’ Gertie any day! To  be fair, though, our real main mode of  transport are our feet. But you’ve already seen those, so I thought I’d spare you.

 Photo of a Typical Night

Yes, much like my photo of the same event here in Massachusetts, my evening are spent wildly partying and being an exuberant juvenile delinquent. I hear writing in your journal is the new hot narcotic around these parts. And no badgirl is complete without rock’n’roll from her music-playing device, obviously.

Hands

While this photo is a bit out of date (as many of these, apologetically, are) as I now have some ferociously yellow polish on my nails, the hands are the same. It’s a strange but beautiful thing, how everything and nothing changes all at once.

A Celebration Here!
This photo, taken in Gulu, Uganda, is from the grand opening of the Recreation Project. Founded by former MCC Service Workers and supported by the wonderful Sisters of Little Mary Immaculate (among others), this is a high ropes and low-ropes course built for children and youth to come an experience. With the intention to be a team-building, trauma-healing, fun-times-having place the grand opening reflected such intentions with beauty. There was music from a praise band, visitors like the profound and humble and marvelous Archbishop Odama, youth leaders, and children everywhere reveling in newfound games. It was a wonderful day, kicked off by a 5k race (which I walked, unabashedly) and concluded with a flying nun on a zipline. Needless to say, it was a beautiful and divine and healing day to be a part of. In this particular photo, the two boys were dancing by doing a kind of dance that resembled what I know to be ‘the Charleston.’ While I was a little too intimidated by their sweet moves to join the fray, I thoroughly enjoyed witnessing the event!

current jam: ‘salina’ the avett brothers

best thing in my life right now: wi-fi!

fantas: 18

the thirty day photo challenge, reconsidered

Alright friends, I’ve come to a conclusion concerning my daily posting of the little things in my life in photographic form. The internet in Kotido is, to put it mildly, horrifically slow 95% of the time. So slow that, more often than not, it takes ten minutes to load basic HTML gmail. I’m sure you can imagine how long it takes, therefore, to upload pictures to WordPress, compressed or no.

In lieu of this and, more pressingly, in lieu of the fact that I have a mere seventeen days left in Uganda (!!) and a large portion of those days will be spent in transit, I’m going to compress the challenge.

Rather than posting one photo every day according to my previously laid out schedule, I’m going to post two or three that I’ve managed to upload when the internet is cooperating. I think this is a worthy solution, and it deceases the posts in your inboxes and readers while allowing me to be more present in real life. And, if I don’t get through everything before my time is spent, I promise there will be post-landing publications (which shall also mean high-quality photos, yay!).

So, without further ado dearest readers, I present the following:

Roads Walked Every Day

This is the path leading up to our little house on the Diocese compound in Karamoja. No road is paved in town- or from here to Lira, to mention. In fact, UMEME (the electricity company for the nation) has yet to reach Kotido. So if people have power, it’s based off of a generator, solar energy, or some other inventive (and hopefully green) method. When compared to my Mount Holyoke picture of the roads, it’s almost unfathomable that even the sidewalks- meant only for walking or bike riding- are paved and up kept.

Typical Outfit


Expat fashion in the Pearl of Africa involves e number of rather hilarious and intriguing trends; one can find everything from REI posterboys clad in ten-pocket zipper-off-shorts pants to women wearing wide and breezy broom skirts. Having rocked both of those looks in my time, I am hardly one to sit in judgement; however, working in an office and staying here long-term has loaned itself to my typical exploratory tastes in fabric and color to take wing.

Here I am, standing on the veranda, wearing what I think is a rather average Lizzie-in-Uganda outfit: my favorite Mount Holyoke College t-shirt (go Lyons!), a skirt made from peacock-covered fabric purchased in town and then made custom for me by our friend Alice (a tailor), my well-worn Toms, and of course my floppy straw hat (on loan from mama mcmizzie). All of this to say: when traveling abroad, contrary to beliefs I’ve held in the past, you do not need to look like a slob and live off one pair of pants for two weeks. Sure, that kind of packing and travel has its time and place (my brother is fond of recounting his tales from a month-long hiking excursion in Guatemala with a mere two sets of clothing) but you can have a little fashionista fun while you’re at it. And besides, straw hats have made an en vogue comeback, don’t you think? 

An Average Meal

While housemates love to cook- and I mean, love to cook, and we have devoured many a delicacy adapted from a smattering of food blogs, I thought it most apt to share with you a typical Karamajong meal. Above you’ll see a piece of chicken swimming in stew juxtaposed with posho, the white mass dominating the plate. Posho has the consistency of really thick, almost solid mashed potatoes and tastes like mashed up rice. With it is my absolute favorite Ugandan food- chapote! I’ve seen it spelled so many different ways on street signs and on menus, so I’m not sure how exactly one writes it out. Nevertheless, it is pronounced around these parts like this: cha-pot-ee. However you say it, the food is delicious; imagine a very thick, flakey, warm, and yummy soft taco (but better) and that is it. Jealous yet? Should be. Yet you need be jealous for long, because cheese is nigh on impossible to come by in these parts, save the ricotta housemate-foodie-folks-extraordinaire make. So, you know, there’s a definite trade-off for this here Decadent Dairy Lover. (In a moment of homesickness the other day, I texted my father and asked if for my birthday dinner we could have mashed potatoes positively swimming in cheddar. He’d obliging).

current jam: ‘brave’ nicole nordeman anddd it just switched to ‘your song’ ellie goulding

best thing in my life right now: giving haircuts!

fantas: still fifteen.

pages read: okay, so call me a cheater, but since i was so ill leading up to the release of the film of deathly hallows i never finished my re-read of order of the phoenix so I’ve spent all day reading that instead… itsharrypottersorrytolstoyyou’realwaysgoingtobesecondbesttome!

wash that dirt right outta that shirt.

Day 14: A Photo of How You Wash Your Clothing

 First, a disclaimer: this is an Appalachian method for cleaning clothes, so it is  not truly a Ugandan way. This being stated, it does not mean that washing our  shirts and trousers and skirts (etc) is not labor-intensive. Quite, in fact, the  opposite!

Once back in the states I fully intend to make a video detailing the entire  clothes-cleaning process. Sometimes it can take up the better part of an  afternoon, depending on the abundance of linens and things to be washed. And there is no shower more welcome than that when the laundry is done. It is almost like cleaning post-working out. So much so that the frigidity of the H2O is almost bearable.

And now for…

How to Clean Your Clothes Like You’re In Appalachia Whilst Abiding in Kotido with Lizzie McMizzie

To begin, we boil water in our kettle, pot, and larger pot. Once the water has started to bubble, steam, and otherwise scream for your attention (which generally takes about fifteen minutes on our gas stove) you pour it into the large blue bucket pre-filled with the laundry (depicted in the above photograph).  Add a shake or two of  the heavenly-scented Sunlight powder detergent, take up your large wooden paddlespoon, and begin to agitate the water. And by agitate, I mean swirl, smack, splosh, plunge, pat, push, and otherwise move around the clothes. For a solid half-hour.

When one’s thirty minutes of paddle-pushing has concluded, drag the bucket into the house and down to the shower. Utilizing the smaller spicket, commence the first rinse of the clothing. I personally prefer to pull the still-warm clothes from the large blue bucket and run them under the tap thoroughly before dumping them into the second rinsing bucket. When you’ve completed the first rinse, dump the gross water left over in the big bucket to the grey water bucket to be used for flushing the toilet. Initiate the second rinse, which functions exactly the same as the first rinse except the transfer of clothing goes from the rinse bucket to the now-empty blue bucket.

As soon as you are both thoroughly soaked and pruny-fingered , lug the bucket full of wet but now clean clothes outside once more, where the hanging begins. I find it helpful to stuff my pockets with clothespins before stringing the acoutrements of apparel on the clothing line.

Then one merely lets the beautiful star of the day do its magic. When the sun is especially brilliant, clothing might be dry within two hours. If not, you might have to wait a few days between intermittent rainstorms that re-dampen the attire before it all is once again wear-able.

current jam: “home rac mix” edward sharpe and the magnetic zeroes

best thing in my life right now: the dumplings kelly is making. yummmm!

fantas: 11

last film: still stardust…

OH P.S. Happy July Fourth? I literally just remembered…

how far a little candle throws its beams!

Day 13: Something You’re Grateful For

“How far a little candle throws its beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.” William Shakespeare

Part of simple living is enjoying simple pleasures- or, rather, dealing with the lack of luxuries absent when one lives often without electricity. In the Yellow House we subsist on solar energy to charge our computers and, when there is abundant sunlight, give power to our small refrigerator. It is a wonderful way to utilize the brightness that envelops these plains and utilize renewable resources.

However.

Solar energy can also be quite finicky, most particularly during the rainy season. Which is now. Thus, some days we three find ourselves rotating through charging our computers enough to use for an hour, enduring the grating beeps from the inverter warning us we are using too much power.

And when we’re over-exuberant, the power goes and we spend the evening by the light of a plethora of candles. I actually really don’t mind- I like candlelight and am comfortable enough in the house now to navigate my way around in the dark without too much trouble. When the darkness does fall within our walls I am most grateful for my candle-holder; it is the perfect size for writing in my journal or reading. And, call me foolish, the shape and size of it looks a whole lot like the candle-holder Scrooge carries in the Muppet Christmas Carol. (What, you thought I was all indie and foreign films? Psht. This is a family classic- a must-watch for the McMizzies every Christmas Eve). So I kind of feel like I’m living in a storybook when the power goes and we exist by the beams of a candle.

And speaking of things to be grateful for…

In the upcoming week, an entire nation of people will have something incredible and new to be profoundly thankful for: independence. On July 9th, South Sudan will become its own nation.

And I’m going to be there to celebrate with the Sudanese!

On Wednesday, the three Kotido-dettes are departing for Gulu with a crew from the Diocese. From Gulu, where we’ll be joined by a slew of nuns and other MCC folk, we’ll head north to Juba (the capital to-be). We’ll be staying with some friends and fellow MCC people in Juba for the big day!

Now, because I have a sneaking suspicion some of you might be a tad worried about me heading off to Sudan, I shall quell your fears: the violence ongoing is mostly occurring in the Abeyi region, far north of Juba. The conflict is truly a north-on-north one, and the people with whom we’re traveling/staying with are Sudanese, nuns, clergy, and MCC volunteers who live full-time in South Sudan. So I will be in confident, knowing, and safe hands.

That being said, I’m not sure how frequently I will be able to post in the next week and a half, as many a long day will be spent on buses and in cars and in a nation where I’m not sure if our internet modem will work. I will most definitely try to post at least once while in Juba, but as of Wednesday the 30 Day Photo Challenge will be on a temporary hold.

current jam: “england” the national

best thing in my life right now: clean sheets!

fantas consumed: 10

last film: stardust…again. it might be one of my favorite movies of all time. no judgement!

thoughts in my head: pace

Day 12: A Picture of Your Feet

my extremely well-worn and beloved pair of toms, taken on our veranda

When last the Day 12 prompt, and thus a photo of my feet, gave rise to a blog post, it was  the Day Without Shoes event in the USA. This was a day I spent a day  in contemplation, and a day done without protective wear on my feet. In the spirit of  mediation on cultural collision and its intricate complexities I want to share with  you, dearest reader, some thoughts that have been percolating in my head  pertaining to pace.

It is not easy for me to manifest into words what is already a fleeting concept.  The tangibility and roundness and fullness of language as a living thing, has  served me well in many ways. I’m sure it has for you as well, dear reader. But,  as much as it pains me to declare, words and letters and these sentences strung  together often are not cohesive enough to encompass what I want to share. You  cannot touch a word.

I feel, in many ways, that this is a surprisingly perfect metaphor for the work I’ve been attempting to live into daily here in Kotido. It’s not a measurable, quantifiable job. There’s no well being built, no uniforms being handed out, nothing particularly sexy to paint poverty porn of or even make pretty slideshows set to cheesy Chrisitan music of. I’m not saving lives, giving out medicine, or really doing anything that grants immediate satisfaction or makes progress before my eyes.

Most days we go into the office, greet our coworkers, and sit. I’m learning to be an excellent sitter. We read, we write blogs, we read blogs. Sometimes tasks are assigned, even more rarely incidents occur like the mama asking us to help her feed her children. Once there was a request to print something: it took two days for this to happen. But the reality is this: if we research one way to construct a solar appliance, or even if we get one memo printed and delivered, that is an incredibly productive day.

At first, I confess I was confused as to why we went into the office at all. Some days all we do is sit there, doing less than what we could be doing at home. But I’m learning every minute of every day that nothing seems to be what on the surface it appears to be. By being in the office, by being present, we are living in community. It’s a gesture, an act as if to say that we know the work is important, so we are there even when there is no paper to write, no inventory to take.

So when my mother asked me the other day on the phone what we were doing besides the solar oven, I really could not give a reply. So I described how we sit, how every day I’m getting better with names and faces, how every day I find myself readjusting more deeply. The perception of time here is much hazier, much slower than I realized. I knew, from my various adventures on the Continent before, that American’s affair with punctuality and obsession with productivity was viewed as borderline insane by some, but to slow down my go-getter drive to the meter of Kotido is an ongoing lesson.

As someone who is perpetually punctual to the point of fault, learning that time is hazy and no one truly abides by the clock here was something of an excruciating lesson to learn. If a meeting is scheduled for 9 AM in the states, I’m there with my pen out and my notes headlined by 8:45. Here, however, is people decide the meeting is worth their time it might commence around 10:30.

And, in lieu of talking about my shoes and feet, most obviously there is my penchant for walking with speed.

My father calls himself a New Yorker (my mother says this is up for debate), but whatever feuds there are pertaining to his childhood upbringing, there is one distinctly NYC characteristic my father embodies: Manhattan walking. A trait, undoubtedly, I inherited from him. We McMizzies are built for it; we power-walk to the grocery store, I power-walk to class, I power -walk to brush my teeth,I power-walk to the gym, I power-walk in the mall…you grasp the ida. When I’m going somewhere there is no need to dally- I have purpose and direction and I neither apologize nor stop until I am there. Some may call it a vice. I call it being prompt.

Here, however, my chicken-winged arms and fast-propelled legs do nothing but push me ahead of the people who know where I’m going.  So I’ve had to adapt to the unthinkable: I’m learning to mosey. A part of me might die while it happens (I don’t even slow down while walking with friends. Call me crazy. My legs literally itch when I don’t speed through).

In some way, when I was trying to explain the slowing down of everything in my life to my mother, the only image I could conjure was walking. As torturous as it is for me to slow down the inner clock, the unwinding and reversal of gears, it is a crucial act. My feet themselves, those which are most frequently in contact with the soil of this beautiful continent, have had to slow down far beyond any pace I could have anticipated in my high-speed American life.

And it isn’t merely in the walking; it’s the internet, sure, but it is the pace of life.  The deep appreciation for each small task and its completed-ness, how time is soaked in and unwasted as much as possible.

And so the real work is this: learning that not all NGO work is glamorous, that in fact most of it is decidedly difficult, slow, and not going to give me world-shattering perspective every single day. Half of this job is living- learning the language, buying food in the market, building relationships with our neighbors and shop keepers, cleaning, doing laundry, surviving teeth-chattering showers, and going to the office to sit. And sit. And wait.

So what am I doing in Uganda?

I’m Existing. Intensely, beautifully, slowly, patiently, and growing into the collision space. It isn’t pretty or going to revolutionize the world order. It isn’t a singular project filled with starving kids or doling out medicine. It’s broken, and Lord knows I have made plenty of stupid mistakes and said wrong things and jumbled my words in ways that made sense in my head, but perhaps not in the air.

But I like to think that’s the beauty of it all.

current jam: “hard sun” eddie vedder (…of course)

best thing in my life right now: quesedillas!

fantas consumed: 10

last film: love actually

the rain in karamoja stays mainly on the… ambrosia?

Day 17: A Photo from your Weekend

While this image may have been snapped during a Saturday afternoon, it is a quintessential depiction of our days here. It is an image of the market in town, snapped while we were trapped under the tin roofs because of the raging, thunderous downpour.

What I love about this image is how much it expresses about Kotido and the Karamajong. The rain, which is nearly a daily occurrence because it is the rainy season, is voracious and loud and so nurturing for earth in the semi-arid climate. Everything stops when the rain begins, even the artisans and merchants who fill the winding pathways through the market. We had gone to market to visit our tailor, Alice, and to purchase fresh food for our dinner when the rain began. Not wanting to slosh through the mud and downpour back to the house, we waited out the storm with the rest of the market place under the tin roofs, clashing and tinkling and dinging with the sound of raindrops on metal.

Sometimes the constant staring in the market at our difference is draining, yet concurrently there is such magic in being amongst the stalls and fabrics and smells. The colors, the haggling, the life all around is far more stimulating than bad elevator music and prowling with a cart down the aisles of Harris Teeter.


current jam: “lover of light” mumford & sons
best thing in my life right now: my new skirt that Alice finished yesterday! it has peacocks!
fantas consumed: 10
last film: still everything is illuminated, but i think i might watch something tonight…

there and back again, or a wanderer’s tale

I apologize for the double-posting today; yesterday the internet failed me.

My fatigue was due largely in part to the twelve hours (or so) spent driving to and from Lira in the span of forty-eight hours. The drive is, as I may have mentioned, rather brutal, but the country we drive through is incredible. Uganda is a nation of beauty that cannot be overstated; the diversity in the landscapes across the country speak to the diversity of its peoples and complexity of its wild and wondrous splendor. So while I’m still nursing bruises from the rough caravanning through trenches of mud and piles of dirt I cannot help but be marveled by all that surrounds me.

And driving anywhere south of Kotido requires one to pass through the most beautiful place in this enormous planet: Abim. Journeying through Abim is an experience I cannot manifest into words or phrases or photographs- the expanse of the boundless sky, the fields upon fields of sunflowers entrenched in the valleys between such magnificent mountains cast a kind of spell over this nook of the world. Abim is not even listed on many of the maps of Uganda, the hills only a small fraction of the landscape, yet I would never want this corner to be packaged up and sold for a fee to every cargo-pants clad tourist come to Uganda for a servacation.

And the other four hours of the journey are certainly not lacking in captivating mystery and loveliness. The trees, the small pools of water, the streams, the fields, the wildflowers; all seem to have sprung straight out of a Van Gogh painting, but with the weight of an ancient, transcendent time that has endured for millennia. In so many ways the scathing of colonialism’s scars stretch wide across this country, but in a strange but beautiful juxtaposition the resistance and ability to hold tight to belief and hope of the Ugandan people gives such resilient vibrancy to all that I have encountered in the Pearl of Africa.

But my favorite part of the drive is undoubtedly in Abim when one passes the mountain, Rwot. I’ve mentioned before this mound of earth is believed to posses remarkable powers, and is incredibly sacred to its community. When in its presence, it is not difficult to see why. Its alone-ness amongst the multiple-peaked hills already gives it a stark majesty, and in the knowledge of its hallowed properties the magnificence deepens.

So, all in all, the road trip is really an essential journey within the Journey I have embarked upon. And Lira itself was blessedly (mostly) mosquito-bite free and full of delicious food (salami sandwiches in particular). Perhaps the best part of Lira-proper was the HOT shower. I might have mentioned the shower here is, well, like diving stark naked into the Antarctica Ocean. Thus the hot water with an excellent, pressurized showerhead was like finding an oasis in the desert.

Anyways, the prompt for today is to depict a photograph of what I’m currently reading. Therefore, I present to you:

The Four Books Currently Being Consumed by Lizzie

The top of the stack is what I intend to read next, but by the time this is posted I’ll probably have commenced. It is Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, a loan from housemate because she now knows that Stardust is one of my favorite films, which is based on Gaiman’s book of the same name. I’m eager to begin!

Beneath is, of course, my favorite Harry Potter book: Order of the Phoenix. While I may be cut off from most of the HP excitement ongoing in Canada, the UK, and USA (etc) I’m still participating in my own small way!

Under Order is a book loaned to me by a friend entitled The Red Book. It’s interesting, if not a little campy to read. Sera Beak, the author, definitely has her own unique voice (which I really appreciate) and the book seems to be an intro-to-Hinduism-for-the-modern-Woman. It’s most certainly educational, and I’m thoroughly enjoying reading it in the context of seeking my Great Perhaps.

At the bottom of the pile but at the top of my reading list is The Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice, from the Civil Rights Movement to Today by Charles Marsh. This book is easily one of the best and most informative Civil Rights/nonviolence academic pieces of literature I have yet encountered. Marsh is brilliant, his writing poised and perfect, and most essentially I find myself copying down entire passages from these pages to meditate further upon.

So life is good, back in Kotido. May we all live happily, to the end of our days!

current jam: “your easy lovin’ ain’t pleasin’ nothin’” mayor hawthorne

best thing in my life right now: the rain

fantas consumed: 9

last film: still everything is illuminated

trees and sky and all things good. (30 dpc day 9)

Day 9: A Photo of One of Your Favorite Places Where You Currently Live

Friends, I’ve spent the past two days in the car for something like twelve hours. Thera and I drove to Lira yesterday and back today to pick up some folks, and as the road between the two towns is 170 kilometers of potholed dirt road and 10 kilometers paved, I’m a little worn thin. So the blog today shall be brief, though I am glad to report we had a FUNCTIONAL mosquito net this time through Lira and I am decidedly bug-bite-free. The rest of our journey tales shall be regaled tomorrow!

But for now, a photo, which you can go see here because it refuses to upload (it’s the tree at sunset!)

This tree grows juxtaposed to a road running alongside Kotido town. We three Kotido-divas have taken to strolling here sometimes in the evenings, for fitness and for enjoyment of the (obviously) lush and incredible growth. I have a love for trees and the sky, and there is no better place to enjoy such gifts than Uganda. It’s hard not to be reminded of all that is good in this wide world when you are engulfed in such beauty that is Karamoja.

While excruciatingly long drives might drain one’s strength (and I wasn’t even driving! yikes) it does afford one the opportunity to get lost in the wild, untamed bush.

And there are sunflowers everywhere. So, you know, there’s that.

current jam: “skinny love” bon iver

best thing in my life right now: mosquito nets.

fantas consumed: 9

last film: still everything is illuminated. but that’s really okay!

‘every burned book enlightens the world’ (30 dpc, day 8)

“Every burned book enlightens the world.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Day 8: A Photo Tour of Your Bookshelf

You might have gathered from my abundant posts pertaining to book reviews, or my profound and completely realistic concern for mistaking purchased an abridged copy of War and Peace, that I’m a bit of bookworm. I brought about ten books with me, bought four or five in Kampala, and have been helping myself to the bookshelves already stocked in the house. And while the image below is certainly a scaled down version of the bookshelf that was in my dorm room, I’ve tried my best to make do!

Starting on the top left corner, we have the same picture of my family from my high school graduation that I had on my shelf in Massachusetts.

The picture rests a book of puzzles from my grandmother, the Bible my mom gave me, my two journals (one for practical things and one for personal things), more books, and my preferred weapon of choice: a Precision V7 Pilot pen. Yes, I only write with one kind of pen. I realize I’m a real-life Luna, get over it.

To the right of these books are… more books! My paperback copy of Order of the Phoenix I bought in Kampala, The Dust of 100 Dogs (a book my roommate Austin loaned me! Review here), my copy of My Name is Rachel Corrie, and assorted works of the Mahatma, Haurwaus, Ellen Davis, And Bonhoeffer.

Holding up these literary works is…my deodorant. Perhaps this is oversharing (nope, it definitely is) but Old Spice is the one for me. What can I say, I’m something of a closeted teenage boy? And besides, it’s called SWAGGER people. I think if pirates from the 18th century still walked the earth (via the TARDIS maybe?!? (DREAM COME TRUE)) I think they’d wear SWAGGER deodorant. So I do. Bully for you.

And in the front is my candle for when we lose power at night, my Krishna matches, and some beads bought in a craft market!

So there you have it, an insight into what adorns my small bookshelf/bedside table!

current jam: “ticket to ride” the beatles

best thing in my life right now: thoughts of swaggering pirates and doctor who…

last film:

fantas consumed: