in vino veritas

vino veritas corkThe conversation began in the manner most conversations begin in 2013, with a distinct reference to an iphone:

“In the know vitreous.  That was supposed to be Latin for ‘in wine there is truth’ but iPhone does not pick that up well.”   ~LJK

My mentor and I have these Socratic conversations as we navigate life, responding to each others quest for knowledge, and so I responded, and will share with everyone because I have not the energy to do this another time:

I found her and sent a friend request on Facebook.  She looks awesome by the way.   I use Facebook a lot so that people know we are ok even when I get too overwhelmed to respond via email.  I also posted your iphone-created Latin quote about wine on Facebook.  I figure everyone out there should know that one!  ha. That made me laugh out loud in Kenya.  

So, it is Sunday morning and the Pentecostal church in the Lenana is quite loud and invasive, making it a good time to update you.  

 

Guled and school went from potential difficulty to probably great success.  You know, all those issues he kept facing there in Greeley never happened here.  He is just another guy in school.  He has conquered personal demons of his childhood, if one can call them demons, to become a 6 ft tall, very handsome man.   The girls find him particularly attractive because of his coloring. One day he will realize that when they laugh, they are not laughing at the vestige of a once corpulent tummy, but instead are giggling to get him to look at them with those piercing  hazel eyes. The problem comes into play when grown women start following us around the mall! Good grief.  

 

He adjusted to the British curriculum in term III and brought his grades up from 17% and 45% to A’s (Chem, Bio, English, swimming) and B’s (physics, music, ICT, geography) and a couple of C’s (math and something else).  I think he got a D in Art though and we will address that next week.  Who the hell gets a D in art when you do the work?  Nonetheless, we have discussed about life and what we want to do, and he thinks that while he wants very much to visit everyone in the U.S., another year in school here would be a good thing.  For the shorter summer break they have here (British curriculum spaces out time off better than in American systems), Guled has done some work with me, gone to a teens camp for a week, taken some short trips around the area, gone places with some friends from school, enjoyed some quiet time, and worked on a project with one of his friends here to make some money.  They are disgusted at the low wages though.   It’s pretty funny if you ask me. 

We have learned so many valuable lessons, grown to appreciate things in our world over there that had never occurred to us, and come to value living amongst diverse people who have a purity because they haven’t been “westernized” into mediocrity or complacency.  I am not certain which word has the better meaning to fit my idea.   There is something simple and pure about how the villagers live here.   Nairobi is fast becoming western in their thought and view, with new college graduates demanding state-of-the-art technology, the newest automobiles and homes beyond their means.  They are incurring rampant rates of debt just like we do there in the U.S. to support their thirst for “more and better”.  One day the piper will come.  Currently, loan rates here hover in the 23%-25% compounded annually.  Remember in the early 70’s when we had that in the U.S.?  I don’t even think it was that high except on credit cards.  The system will not be able to support that much longer.  They are 2 trillion in debt in Kenya with the recent acquisition of a loan from the Chinese for infrastructure.  So much fraud in the ranks here makes me wonder how the people of Kenya allow this nonsense.  Therein enters one of the cultural elements I do not understand – the attitude, “what can we do about it?  We just have to accept and move on.”   Hum.  

A new “excise tax” has been levied on financial services, insurance services….some other whacky things in my opinion, to help fill the coffers and probably to support the devolution process (from centralized government to 47 devolved counties… like our states). The drafters of the 2010 Constitution, many western educated at the ivy league degrees from the US and UK, expertly sought to spread governmental power into all areas of Kenya so that Nairobi didn’t hold 100% power of the purse strings, but they did not expertly figure out how to pay for the process.  So be it.  On a lighter note, one piece of trivia I recently learned is that a young and brilliant American civil rights attorney helped Kenya draft its first constitution as the British were leaving in 1960. The name,Thurgood Marshall, later was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Way cool.   

I am in a place of having to decide my next step here.  It is not an easy time and I am in a state of exhaustion currently, I cannot lie. But while my body is suffering, seriously, my mind is still alive and not in some black place.  I am thankful that I got this job so swiftly and if the time has come for me to learn a tough lesson about being an expat, then so be it.  I try to keep my life here fairly simple so that I can take the next wave without encumbrance.   Guled and I have discussed our thoughts and feelings about Hakim and where we are at with that.  I think both of us would like an explanation for why he continues to be so conspicuously absent yet pays child support religiously.  No matter.  That money got me through the last 2 surprise months at having no salary.  A girl can’t complain. I am free in this area of my life.  I’ve done all I know to do and because of this choice, this whole “dad” nonsense will not be something Guled has to spend thousands of dollars in therapy on to understand.  Better spent this way than on a couch!  

But I would be lying to say that I am not considering if it is time to go back to the U.S.  There is a New York job that interests me but living in New York city does not.  When I am feeling overwhelmed and disgusted by the fraud and the damage they inflict on each other over tribalism here, I romance the idea big time.  That and the latrine toilets here with mere holes in the ground…. I never get used to that. I have learned amazing things about that which I am capable.  I have gone into a developing nation and undertaken to support the rights of the most vulnerable in a legal system I did not know, a legal system they themselves do not know, an accent on their English I could not understand, cultural norms foreign to me, with the simplest of daily experiences completely new… and I have survived and even thrived at times.  By virtue of the color of my skin, I was granted a presumption of capability & respect.  I have kept that presumption largely because I was capable and respectful.  How do I take that persona back to the U.S., sit behind a support desk owned by someone with the degree I didn’t finish, and who has no knowledge of anything of life outside that protected crystal dome we have built there, and be satisfied?  I can do it and learn for a while if I’m lucky enough to get a quality boss, but at the end of the day, that drawing inside to be more and mean more to the world will begin to rise again.  Getting too comfortable for too long kills me, but I need to learn balance for sure.  I seriously need some green salad and about a week of massages and time on the beach in the sun and surf.

Much to think about, even as I type and clean the kitchen this morning.  I need to talk this out in my head.  You just got lucky enough to draw the short straw today!

 

Red or white, why not have a glass of truth today.  Cheers.

vino veritas still life