Last night someone broke through our “no call” status and made a dinner hour marketing phone call. I decided that it would be a great American experience for Schwartz to take the call and answer the questions that focused on the media. His answers made for a very humorous dinner. This is what we heard Schwartz say from our side of the conversation:
“I haven’t read the newspaper in 6 months.”
“Yesterday I watched 9 hours of television.”
“I guess I’m white.”
“I’m 19 and still working on finishing high school.”
“6 1/2 people live here” (my comment: the 1/2 isn’t the baby….so who is it?)
“I don’t know, I just live here and I don’t pay for anything.”
Last week Mr. Silly Pants and I scurried around to collect and send some textbooks to the student we are sponsoring in Addis. Richard had described to us the difficulty he was having supporting his college studies with adequate materials in microbiology, physiology, and anatomy. When we heard about his limited access to textbooks we quickly determined we could help him by sending some textbooks via a traveling friend. Mr. Silly Pants put out a request for a medical dictionary from colleagues and it was quickly answered. I did some scouting for a microbiology textbook and when nothing surfaced I found a used textbook at a local store. They cut their price from $40 to $20 to ease the overall cost. Mr. Silly Pants had an excellent anatomy textbook he willingly parted with on behalf of Richard’s studies. We packed them up and shipped them overnight to our traveling friend. This request was followed up with another quick overnight of a pair of shoes and a collection of photos from our time with him in Lalibela (*note to self* always read the P.S. of e-mails or you might miss the inquiry about an additional need – like shoes!). Thanks to the good will of our traveling friend and her parents, the packages were delivered to a very happy young man. It took a little organizing, but the deed is done. A huge shout out to ML and her parents – for being our couriers and for being patient friends.
This is the first time I’ve asked someone to transport materials for Richard (or for the other kids we are helping). It was an interesting task for us, and for me in particular as I continue to navigate the cultural dynamics of giving and getting and the relationships of power and need in this endeavor. When I say “need”, let me be clear, the need is mine to be a giver and to “do good” in the world. The need for Richard is for us to continue to support him throughout his education. His needs include, it seems, things like books and shoes.
To be honest, it is quite challenging. Richard and I must navigate communication only through e-mail, time differences, language limits, the dynamics of wealth and poverty, cultural interpretations of meeting Americans and receiving a delivery, and expressions of gratitude. The list could be much longer – but you get the idea.
The picture I am putting together is really an on the ground training for something bigger and more “formal” for another stage of my life. I’m wading my way through this with the help and encouragement of my generous and loving husband. Recently, a friend, inspired by our giving, threw her hat into the ring and has begun sponsoring a very lovely family who are in great need of help. Through her, help has been found. What is really riveting about this family is that they are a family of women only – as their father/husband died shortly after we left Ethiopia. Here is a chance to practice change through women (read my post on girls “The Girl Effect” to know what I mean!). I am so excited about this endeavor and my friend is the perfect woman to undertake this really special endeavor.
I will have the great pleasure of sending another care package to Ethiopia in a few months to Lalibela. There, AlemTsehaye will be the happy recipient of some gifts my traveling friends will deliver to her in Lalibela. The world is getting smaller, and I love it.
Ah, it’s just rough sometimes. Little Blueberry is adorable and I am so lucky to be his mom.
And, sometimes there is just “stuff” in the baggage of life that makes some days tough. I feel pretty far away from my family. I miss my mom every day – still (when does that stop?). Mr. Silly Pants has been very busy at work. I’m not getting enough exercise. Dinner for the masses takes a lot out of me every night. Did I mention the laundry yet? The dog needs more attention and training than I have to give him. And my family, again. My dad hasn’t even met Blueberry yet. My bro hasn’t either – he’s got his hands full right now. My sister is keeping the hearth and caring for her son who is sick. I miss my sister too. I don’t feel like I get to share this new family experience with my family. Yeah, that’s the crux of it. I’m pretty blue about it tonight. A good night’s sleep should help…but we haven’t had one of those in awhile. LOL. My mom would say just put your head down and grind through it, so that’s what I’ll do. G’nite.
I think this is the moment they plotted the no knee move!
Blueberry and I have a daily nature boy ritual. It’s necessary in Wisconsin to get outside no matter what – and so we do. I get the babe all tucked into his snowsuit, plop him in the sled, and pull him through the little wooded refuge right in our backyard. We’ve stamped down the snow so there isn’t much danger of tipping over and it is here that we get our 15 minutes of wooded exposure, Aldo Leopold style (well, sort of).
Oh right, the dog is in the mix too. He’s a crazy dog. He’s too energetic. He needs no recovery time from one good run to the next. He eats toys (that are NOT his) all day long if he doesn’t get a good dose of running around. So that’s how it works; me, Blueberry, Herbie, and the sled. Usually Herbie carries his ball or a flying squirrel. Today it was his squirrel. He runs back and forth and circles around us. Sometimes I snag his squirrel and give it a toss. Blueberry loves watching Herbster run in the woods. Today, he ran right through my knees and knocked me FLAT on my back. It must have been a sight. Thank goodness noone saw us!!! And, thank goodness the snow is deep because it was painless. Another season, another story.
New York Times 1/18/09