September 25, 2011


So how do I spend my day? This is a question no one has asked me that I will attempt to answer so that no one can read it. So I offer, on a whim, my daily schedule. Although my life looks good as a poster (or maybe a t-shirt), it is actually fairly routine, often droll, and replete with empty space. I don't often measure time with a clock, I have instead adopted the culture of reading the sun, and right now it is cresting the hills, soon to leave to shower its more favored side of the globe, only to return grudgingly and lazy in the morning. Thus I will not use conventional time references to describe my day.

Sun rises. I wake up to a clutter of noises, led by roosters and goats. My dreams have been interrupted, so I leave them inside my mosquito net for later. I dress.

Sun ascends. I make a meal, a porridge from corn meal, and think about how monks delight in culinary simplicity. They are also, in my opinion, masochists. I dress again, for work. Tie or no tie? Today, a tie.

Sun jumps. A short bike ride brings me to school. My neighbors' and my paths collide, so I give two of them, Grades 1 and 2, a ride. We arrive, they run off, late for class, I run the other way, late for a meeting.

Sun peers through the windows. I catch up with the head teacher. We plan to visit a community school a few weeks from now, so we send them a note, which will be carried hand to hand until it reaches them. A pony express without ponies. I go and teach eighth grade Mathematics with another teacher: indices.

Sun hangs overhead. I head home for lunch. Yesterday I tried to make nshima and ended up with an intangible sticky mess. Today it's rice, and whatever protein I have. Satisfied, I run an improvised afterschool program for my family and close neighbors who are also family, involving card games, reading, and building dangerously tall structures from loose bricks. The younger ones fall asleep on my porch or on me.

Sun swings back down. I return to school, either to help a school club or assist a sports activity. I'm still learning to do both, but mostly it's entertaining to be in the same space as twenty sassy and sarcastic teenagers who are just learning English. We kick a ball, draw pictures, or talk about the environment to starve our boredom and keep ourselves occupied.

Sun crests the opposite hills. Home again, a book is waiting, or a project. If kids are still around, they join me and do activities which are conveniently self directed and not around me. I am busy being consumed by the pages of a novel or underlining passages, furtively, and scribbling retorts in a book of theory. As the sun joins the horizon, a musical instrument might make a noisy cameo.

Sun down. On my porch I write my daily schedule into a moleskin, a hot tea my sidekick. My attention is diverted, so I drop the journal and walk down to share dinner with my family. The young, fresh from their naps, will seek their revenge. After eating, we will languor until sleep overtakes us and we remove ourselves to our beds. The sun has scorched its way across the planet, but it will return, as time is a wheel eternally rolling, uninterrupted by any of our provocations.

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