Saturday, December 22, 2012

On my last evening in Senegal

The power is out, here on my last evening in Senegal. It's kind of amusing, actually. I don't know if it's irony, or something else (perhaps the universe pointing its finger and laughing?). I don't really mind it: almost everything is packed, except for those last few things, like my toothbrush and my laptop. The lack of power has created a lack of that frenetic energy that typically accompanies a big trip. And this is a big trip. 

My bags are too many, and probably too heavy. And yet, my heart is strangely neither heavy nor light, but neutral. I think that my conflicting emotions have canceled each other out. In the short term, I am glad to see my family tomorrow, but I feel no more glad than the normal emotions I feel when I see the family. I'm happy to celebrate Christmas with them, but I'm not bouncing off the walls. (I think I used to think that I was a really enthusiastic person, but I've realized more and more recently that I am not; that in fact, I’m somewhat serious a lot more of the time than I think. I have my moments of “hyperness,” but over the teaching years those moments were usually in the classroom. I seemed to save all my energy for the excitement of Shakespeare and Dickens.)

I have some anxiety about the big question of what is happening next. I don't know what is happening next. Life is a giant question mark after the middle of January. The middle of January is a completely arbitrary date; I simply need some time "off" before rushing into another job. I know I have deep sadness about leaving Dakar Academy. I also have some “daydream-y” expectations about what awaits me, whatever that is. All these emotions, however, have interacted with each other to foment a simply neutral temperament. Is it acceptance? Is it denial? It's not quite numbness. It's just calmness. A calmness that is paradoxically nerve-wracking, for a part of me wants to be melodramatically emotional about all of this. I want to be a bit unhinged, I guess, because that seems like the normal thing to do. Yet, I am not. I am just calm. I have cried, but earlier, long before all of this.

And so I sit in the dark, typing this feeble note. I don't even know what to say anymore, even to myself. I don't know how to answer the questions anymore. I'm tired in spirit, and I can't even seem to be able to express that well to even myself. It's the end of a good chapter in my life. And, like most good chapters in the best books, the Author has left a bit of a cliffhanger. I'll just have to stay tuned to the next installment in The Life of Danielle Bowers, and not forget that He does have a plan, even I don't. He knows what I'm doing in January, and February, in 2013 and 2014 and beyond, and He even knows--and wants--what's best for me. May He guide me in the paths of righteousness. May I ever look to Him for the answers, and not into my own numb, confused heart.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thirteen Musings on a Tuesday (12.18.12)

On my mind this week: A few brief musings from the trivial to the tragic.

1) It really bugs me that you cannot edit Facebook comments, other than putting that irritating little asterisk in another comment, if you feel obligated to correct a spelling error, grammar mistake or, reword something. Perhaps Facebook is attempting to mirror real life, where one can't take back what one says. But, I think that I say enough silly, stupid, hurtful, irrational, and occasionally obnoxious things in real life--I don't need Facebook to mirror reality in that way.

***I just noticed, minutes after posting this, that there is now an edit option on comments...what?? Since when? I guess I am just out of the loop. Thank you. Facebook Powers That Be.***

2) I use the em-dash way too much in my writing. And parallel sentence construction. And ellipses...

3) Word choice matters--in speech and in writing. An ill-turned phrase can cut a person to the quick.

4) I take word choice way, way too personally.

5) Goodbyes are hard to do. Sometimes you find yourself blubbering when you thought you had this goodbye stuff under control.

6) Reading comments on websites is a pretty good way to get a laugh, especially if watching The Onion video clips on YouTube. People are, in general, not very bright when it comes to comments. I don't know--perhaps something turns off in their brain when they decide to react to whatever they have seen, read, or heard. Or, maybe, the anonymity of commenting on some random YouTube video allows their inner stupidity to come out. Mostly, it's probably that we do seem to edit a bit before we speak, but there is something about commenting on the picture, article, video of someone that we do not know that allows us to bring our folly to the surface.

7) Pinterest makes me want to live in a tree house that has really cool DIY refurbished furniture in mustard yellows and greys and mint with black and white chevrons everywhere. Is this doable?

8) Have you noticed that Star Wars is cooler than Star Trek? I wonder why that is? It's more acceptable to "geek out" on Star Wars than on Star Trek. Sport a graphic-tee with "Star Wars" emblazoned on it in gold letters? Cool. Put on an Ensign's sweater and wear it in public. Not cool. I know, I know--the difference in these examples is that one is a cool graphic-tee, and the other is basically playing dress up. But, I don't think you'd be quite as cool with Star Trek emblazoned on your  t-shirt in gold letters. And, no one puts a relief of, say, Khan, on their coffee mugs--but Darth Vader is okay. Whatever, pop culture. What. ev. er.

9) I love Downton Abbey. And I'm going to miss watching it, and discussing it with my friend, Ginny--to whom, by the way, I gave a Charles Dickens action figure as a going-away-gift because she's exactly the kind of person who would find that hilarious...and she did.

10) On that note, I also love Firefly. It's been a little over a year since I watched--and finished--and mourned--Firefly. If Netflix is going to be producing new episodes of Arrested Development, please, oh please, consider new episodes of Firefly!

11) I don't really post statuses on Facebook anymore, but I find myself phrasing things in really pithy, status-like statements in my head when something happens--but I don't want to post them on Facebook, so I'm caught between wanting to be thought clever, but at the same time, not really wanting to be on Facebook, or sucked into the little red notifications. For example, this was yesterdays (and it inspired a post, of course):

"Note to self: try not to run red lights when driving in America. They frown on that there. And then give you a ticket."

Also: "I don't know what I'm more excited about: arriving in the US of A on Sunday morning, or going to see The Hobbit Sunday night."

12) I'm getting to see so many of my former students this week as they come home from break. I'm so happy to get one last chance to connect with them. It's so confusing seeing my former students sometimes, because my heart is so full of joy to see them, but I sometimes have a hard time talking to them because so much water has passed under our proverbial bridges. Nevertheless, I am happy to see them!

13) And, lastly--a thought that perhaps does not belong in this list of mostly trivial things, yet it is something very much on my heart: I wish we (the World, America) could have waited just a few days before turning the Sandy Hook school shooting into a gun control political platform. I don't really know what I believe about gun control. But, I wonder, if I was one of those parents, if I would really appreciate the death of my little boy being turned into a political agenda minutes after his tragic death. Maybe I'm just naive. But, I think it's important to grieve those who have gone without agendas. Let them bury their dead, and then, and then--let us evaluate what has happened, let us change what needs to be changed, let us try to make the world a better place for the innocents. My heart fills with an aching sadness for those families--and maybe the inner "Martha" in me wants to do something--but we need to sit at His feet and cry tears of sorrow, first, and then do something.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Note to Self I

Dear Danielle,

You are moving back to the US soon. There is something very, very important that I want you to remember. Listen closely:

Do. Not. Run. The. Red. Lights.

I know that traffic lights are new to Dakar, and I know that you are not used to using them, and I know that the red light you ran today was at a sleepy little intersection where there was never a traffic light before (even a broken one), but still...it probably wasn't good to run it, even if it was an accident (because you are not used to using traffic lights), and even though there weren't really any cars coming.

It probably wasn't good to have a good laugh when you realized it, either.

I have a funny feeling you could get in big trouble for this kind of behavior.

Sincerely,
Danielle

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The 10 Stages of Packing for a Procrastipacker

I've packed many times in my life. Short trips. Long trips. Weekend trips. Moving-your-entire-life-away-from-a-place trips. I wish I could say I'm a better packer, but I'm not.

I've come to realize the 10 Stages of Packing, and I want to share them with you, to ease any pain and turmoil you may go through to prepare for a trip. Most of these apply for a big move kind of trip. Most of these steps apply to only a procrastinator--a procrasipacker, if you will. Yes, I just made up that atrocious word.

Stage 1: Ambition
"This time I am going to pack early. This time, it will be different. I'll start at least a month in advance. I'll be so incredible. My last week in [fill-in-the-blank place] will be filled with warm, fuzzy, rosy memories made because I packed early."

Stage 2: Denial
"I don't have that much stuff. I said I was going to pack early, but that's probably overkill. I really don't have that much. I don't want to 'check out' early, so I better not pack too early."

Stage 3: Nostalgia part 1/Sorting
"Gosh, I love this [fill-in-the-blank-useless-object]. I used it for [fill-in-the-blank-sentimental-memory]. I can't get rid of this!"

(Or, if you're my mother: "I haven't seen that in 25 years!" Oh, good, Mom--we can throw it out. "Nooooo! I've been meaning to use it all along. Now I can!")

Stage 4: First Panic
"Oh. My. Goodness. I have so much stuff. Where did this stuff come from? How am I going to fit it all in? Where is it going to go? Why was I so materialistic??????"

Stage 5: Throwing Stuff Out, part 1
"Forget sentimentality. Forget everything. I don't need this stuff. I've had enough of it!"

Stage 6: Nostagia, part 2
"Oh, I shouldn't have given [fill in the blank material item] away. I loved that [fill in the blank material item]. Oh, why, why did I give do that? Is it possible to ask for things back??"

Stage 7: 2nd Panic
"What am I going to do? I'm over my luggage allowance. I'm over my weight allowance. I'm never going to be able to get everything in. Woe to me! You should feel sorry for me because I put off my packing and now I'm leaving and I don't know what to dooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!"

Stage 8: Throwing Stuff out, part 2
"Okay, this goes, this goes, this goes. I can get another one. Who cares if my grandmother gave it to me? It's out."

Stage 9: Weighing of the suitcases.
"Oh, crud."

Stage 10: Acceptance
"My bags are packed. I'm ready to go. Yes, I did pack my bags myself. No, I did not accept any packages from persons unknown. Yes, I am aware my bag is overweight. Yes, I am aware that I have two more bags than necessary."

And there you have it. Soon, you'll get on the plane. Your luggage will be stowed, and you won't have to worry about them for another eight, twelve, or twenty-four hours.

Until you get to the other side.

Until you find out two bags have been lost.

Until you have to unpack.

Of which there are also stages.

I'm somewhere between stages 6-8 as I prepare to move back to the US of A. I fluctuate between them--fluctuating is okay. I'm really looking forward to stage 10--and I only have 1 week to wait and worry and fuss about the packing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

An introduction

For the past five and half years, I've been living in Dakar, Senegal and working at Dakar Academy, an international Christian school for the children of missionaries, as well as diplomatic and business families.

That's me--the Loquacious Introvert.
I taught high school and middle school English, but after many good years, I decided it was time to move back to the United States.

I haven't really spent much time in the States, although I am American. I grew up in Mali and Senegal as a missionary kid, attended college in the States, and then headed back to West Africa to teach after graduation. This is a pretty big move for me--it's planned to be semi-permanent (or at least, five years or so, which for a missionary kid is pretty permanent).

For nearly five years, I wrote a blog called "Becoming Miss Bowers" which detailed the life and times of a new teacher--the ups, the downs, the goofy mistakes. I also snuck in some other details of my life, as well. At the end of my time in Senegal and at Dakar Academy, I was torn: I really enjoyed keeping a blog but the focus of "Becoming Miss Bowers" was really intended for being a teacher--especially a new one. While I am not yet a very experienced teacher (although five years is something!), I am past the "new" stage. Also, I am taking a hiatus from teaching (ha--a fancy word for "break") and my accounts will probably not be about my classroom for sometime.

So, I decided to move to a new blog--The Loquacious Introvert--to recount the (inevitable) (mis)adventures of my life as I learn to navigate through life in these United States. I enjoy writing, and hope to perhaps write professionally someday. Indeed, until I figure out what the heck I am doing with my life, one of my friends said that I should tell people I am "gathering material" for my novel. Perhaps I will. 

So, without much further ado or lengthy introduction (yes, this is short for me--one of the first things you should know about the Loquacious Introvert is that she is anything but concise), I give you my new blog. I hope it will be a place to find a laugh (mostly at me), to stop and ponder a bit, to see a bit into my life. As I step out into my new life, I'm nervous--uncertain--yes, scared, even--however, I'm also excited for the new friends, experiences, places, and moments of joy that await me.

Thanks for reading.