I have about 20 pictures of strangers who asked me to take pictures of them. These are the two times they wanted me in the picture too. And a third to give you an idea of the market.
Monsterbeard and Africa
I should have done this myself, but Heidi is good people, so she saved me the time. Africa in chronological order. I will need this, in the future, in the months and years to come. I will need to look back and remember these things so terribly important to me.
Because I can look back on that time and realize I was unhappy while at the same time being overwhelmed with joy. That’s a miracle, sir, lest we forget.
I somewhat recently had the pleasure of meeting up with fellow tumblr Monsterbeard and eating good food and having good conversation. At that time he had recently returned to the States from a visit to Zambia. In general, I enjoy his tumblr, but I really loved the series of posts he did while he was away. They are quite a good read, especially if you appreciate those few who incorporate text into their tumblr (I’m looking at you, Anais Escobar). Here are links to all of his Africa posts, in chronological order. Or you could just click the first link and then use the handy navigation buttons to go to the next one and the next one and so on.
the most important day i’ve had so far (one of my favorites)
Athens to DC to LA
Good news! In a bizarre turn of events, my checked luggage (you know, the luggage with all my equipment and tapes and clothes and even a bunch of kitschy souvenirs I bought for people but now don’t have a chance to distribute and they’re probably broken anyway since they’re made out of like, stone and stuff) has been found! Probably.
And if that probably (which went from like 55% to 90% during my discussion with the United rep who was incredibly kind and diligent) becomes definitive, then my bag will soon be shipped to Los Angeles where I can go through it and divide into completely broken, partially broken, and unbroken.
Except I won’t be there! This weekend I have the fortune to return to Athens, Ohio, where I once attended undergraduate studies. Then my brother, his girlfriend, and I will be traveling to our Nation’s capital, glorious Washington DC, to visit my red-headed but still 100% Italian cousin (seen here enjoying Sonny Bryan’s BBQ, an apparent staple of Dallas, Texas food).
And on Monday, after what has now become an almost six week trip, I will return to LA.
My one regret is not being able to say I also visited New York, because there’s nothing like hitting up all the acronymed cities of our country (that I can think of off the top of my head) in one go (Although I did spend a couple hours in JFK on my way to Africa, but that doesn’t really count).
DONATE MONEY AND I’LL TATTOO WHATEVER ON ME!
I’m raising money for Third World orphanages. For every $10 you donate, your name gets entered into a drawing. Your name gets picked, you choose any tattoo for me to get. I get tattoo, kids get help, you get the glory of knowing there is a human out there with a tattoo of your face on it. Everyone’s happy. DONATE, read awful tattoo submissions and submit your own HERE!
* REBLOG - FOR EVERY REBLOG UP TO 3,000 MY DAD WILL DONATE $2
GUILT TRIP ALERT: $10 will give a classroom of kids education for one day or buy you two drinks at Starbucks.
This is really interesting. And insane. I mean, the thought of strangers, let alone the Internet, getting to decide a tattoo is terrifying. But then again, it’s amazing to work so hard to help a bunch of orphans in developing countries.*
*Full disclosure: I don’t consider what I did to be anything close to working hard, or to be particularly helpful, at least not yet.
Sunday October 25 – Monday October 26 - The Way Home
Leaving was… less emotional than I expected. I had to wait to pay the bill at the lodge so I didn’t really get the time to say goodbye that I wanted. On top of that, it seemed like everyone gave their “professional” response to a goodbye, so it was all very courteous and sort of static, I guess. We didn’t talk through the drive to Ndola. I was stuck in my head, thinking about all I was leaving, I guess.
Part of it, to be sure, is that they could not have been as affected by me as I was by them, and by my time there. I changed perspective, location, orientation, etc. They just had a white guy show up and hang out. Part of it, maybe, is that the kids are used to people showing up and leaving, because maybe that’s all they’ve really known most of their lives.
Instead of having to skim all this, you can click here to read the rest:
Saturday, October 24 – 18th day - Suffer the Little Children
We’ve been counting the days. Together. Or, I’ve been counting the days, keeping a list of what happened when, who, where, etc. And here we are at last. Tomorrow is goodbye. Hugs. Most likely tears. Two and a half weeks, and that’s the end of the show. I wish I could visit as easily as going next door. I’d settle for the same country.
I wish I could scoop them all up, take them to places of which they have never bothered to dream. Protect them from injustices I can’t even comprehend. Or at least give them some strength and wisdom to fight against what life throws every now and then.
It’s funny that all this time my journal has been about me. About my experiences. And now I can’t stop thinking about them. About who they are and what they’ll become, and what Ubumi has done to change things in their favor.
Frankie, Steven, Dominic, Bilton, Memory M., Brenda, Haggai, Bernard, John, Mapalo, Memory C. These are the names of children you have never met, and most likely never will. They range from 5 to 13 years old. They will come and go through the gates of that orphanage. They will do good things and bad things. They will laugh and cry. With any luck, they will love and be heartbroken. They will learn things the easy way and the hard way.
They are fragile and frail but have more strength and survival in them than you can possibly imagine. They know things children should never know, and the things that all children always know that adults have forgotten.
And I thank God for them, because they’ve given me things that are still beyond my understanding.
Friday October 23 – 17th day – It’s Bigger Than Us
This is it. My last update. Tomorrow I’ll go to the internet café at some point and post this, and then celebrate independence Zambian style. Taking the kids out for ice cream.
I’m leaving, and then I’ll be gone. Gone from here, hours over the Atlantic, landing in a different country, looking at a different world. And I can’t think of what to say, when it comes right down to it.
This. If only I could somehow communicate all that I mean when I say this. This has changed me, as we’ve seen. This has shown me who I am and taught me to be a better me and challenged me to be alone and isolated and Uncomfortable (oh how important an experience).
Mostly, I’ve learned I don’t know anything. About people, about what’s best, about what I thought I knew, and on and on. In a good way. In a way that will teach me to stop and think before I act, or before I bring judgment. Hopefully I’ve gained new eyes to see the world.
It’s all bigger than us, isn’t it? Like that’s some secret we don’t want to face because it might make our lives less important or less significant. Only there’s no way around it, when you think about the distances between peoples, the numbers, the way that everyone around the world can be exactly the same and entirely different. Even that paradox is bigger than us.
But it’s ok to be small, when we’re all small together. Because if anything, it makes us stronger, more important, more significant… from a certain point of view.
I still definitely want to go home, and I’m looking forward to it, but I’m going to miss these people. These kids. Their joy, their sadness, the minor arguments that flare and are forgotten, their innocent view of a world that has been incredibly unfair to them.
I am blessed. Blessed for this, and blessed for never having experienced this. And truly blessed if I remember it all.