Friday, November 27, 2009


I'm late, I'm sorry. A quiet night after Thanksgiving is as good as any to make short amends. I'm happy to be back, but it is strange. I don't remember many movies that I'd seen before leaving, and if I do the films are static to me, as if I bought my ticket and eight or nine steps into the halls of the theatre stopped slack-jawed and stared at the movie poster, foregoing the viewing for a turn back, a start of the car, and a few seconds wait until the car heated up before the drive home. I don't remember what it was about Coca-Cola that I loved so much in Africa. I don't remember the heat on my face. I don't remember my little sister, who was replaced while I was gone with a sweet, courageous, inventive, and considerate young woman who somehow gets away with talking back to Dad (happy birthday Dad). I remember a room upstairs differently, and I remember myself standing in the same spot before leaving, and at Christmas. And the three of us are still coming to terms with the two rooms. But in the confusion there is one small thing, a journal entry from the plane in January 3rd, 2007:
We woke up at three thirty in the morning and left for the airport in the dark. We were exactly eighty pounds on our luggage, I can't believe it. Leaving is hard and although it's my first time doing so I expect it stays that way with the right people. I cried when I said goodbye to Mom, and if bad is the worst word of its kind, then I felt bad seeing her cry like that, but I'll just have to work hard and make my trip worth it. So I left them to watch me and at the security check I forgot where my toiletries were until Mom yelled out, they're on top, and I found Them and the line moved again. As the plane lifted off I figured out we'd be over Pflugerville in six to ten minutes, and after a few had passed I looked down and thought I recognized our town until I saw the Frost Bank tower and realized I was seeing Congress and the UT tower and Austin. I knew then that I'd never see Pflugerville if Austin was already so small, and for a few minutes I thought about that until I saw the sunrise to the East. I knew that by then my parents were back home, with the sun rising over our yard, and I'm so thankful to have been able to say goodbye again like that. God, it seems, is more impressive when granting condolences.
And after seeing it through for over two years, the same is true. The three of us making sense of two rooms, and the sweet condolences that follow.

P.S. (and then I'll really be done) I'm happy to buy books when they come out at Bookpeople, drink coffee and fresh orange juice that I make myself every morning, listen to NPR, go to work, visit friends and family, eat muesli with soy milk, order tacos at Mi Victoria in terrible Spanish, try salsa dancing, plan a trip to Quebec in the summer, and use oxford commas.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The 72nd of Hcram

I'm writing from sunny Burkina Faso, where the only thing hotter than the sun hanging right over your shoulder is the underlayer of millet to scalding your right hand every mealtime. Nothing much to write. Had our COS (close of service) conference. Good. COS party. Also good. My COS date I'm trying for is July 29th (Yluj 92nd). Good (if I get it). I found salad and fries yesterday. Was good. Translating the world map book into French for people around my village. Good (Bon). Going to try biking 105kilometers next month, for the pfun of it, and I'll either be a) exhausted but happy I'm doing it, b) exhausted and dehydrated to the event horizon of psychosis, c) exhausted and fortunate the tree I decide to live underneath 65km in has big shel silverstein branches that are good for shade, and a talking trunk that always leaves me teary eyed. Note: Choices b and c may be two shades of the same color. I'll let you know how it works out. CRLaPoint

ps It's March so I'm rereading Mason and Dixon again. It's his best. Hoping it will re-energize me, I haven't written a good sentence this year.

pps Katie watch out for bathtubs. Americans watch out for our health care system.

Monday, March 9, 2009

mar 9, photos

rockband II: comeonbennyboy

transport, natch

and just as i was getting used to mopac and 35, transport breakdown

magical unicorn. by the way, dad, the things we bought made out of corne are made from a horn of some animal. so unicorn equals one horn.

my novelty spiderman overhang door basketball set complete with plush miniball

Vive le petit!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

More Photos Mostly from the North

porch view (up)
Roadtrip (down)

Thanksgiving (up)
Post-transport fatigue (down)

Donkey cart playing it safe at the stop sign (up)
Mac (down)

Becca, no one will love you if you continue to smile like that (up)
The Emaciated Cro-Magnon and the Infants: The Musical (down)

Out of coffee (up)
Coca-Cola bear (for the Christmas spirit) (down)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Photos from the North

The indirect route North to Dori. Dropped off the bus 85km from Tougouri at 11am. Harmattan winds were picking up and I had bags of water tied to the bike. Caught a cargo truck and hitched a ride on top of rice sacks after only 15km. A line of sand dividing the Sahel from the central plateau. Dori. Thanksgiving dinner last night. The best pork, chicken, mashed potatoes, salad, generic oreos, olives, brakina beer, stir fry, and rice with peanut sauce I've ever had. Woke up this morning to sand and more sand; the ocean is in hiding. Went to the market and picked up limes for tonight's beers and looked at blankets for Mom. Writing notes on the specifics of the trip, might be able to post them later. Rereading Faulkner, the short plays of Wallace Stevens, Invisible Man, and French copies of The Hulk. Happy birthday yesterday to Dad and Grant. Nan, happy belated birthday, I tried to get a text out but the solar panel in village isn't working too well. Happy Thanksgiving, love you, and I'll see you all in three weeks.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Sorry. Sous-verre translates to underglass, not undercup. Parisian French is like an ice carving on a cruise ship. My French is like the terrible, I mean beautiful, mask I picked up for Mom. Love you Mom! (Can't wait to get that thing displayed in the living room, or should we go for the dining room?)

Blog entry that was going to be HUGE but now is prolly petit b/c I still can't get any photos uploaded. Maybe I'll get some uploaded. I'll try.

Mwaa haa haa. Happy Halloween. That's from the catacombs in Paris. A sentence Matt and I liked from the sign: Until 1788, cartloads covered with black clothes, escorted by priests chanting the office for the dead, crossed Paris by night to deposit their remains.

(Not sure if pictures will work...trying...I may refer to pictures that aren't there, you'll have to pretend...also, haven't actually prepared anything for the blog, been too busy buying souvenirs at the SIAO festival. Mom, I picked up a 7 foot tall postmodern fertility mask that I think will look perfect in the living room. It's made out of recycled corrugated tin and hippo hair, and was EXPENSIVE. You have to display it. It can double as a cheese tray for large parties.)

Almost as scary, my lack of picture taking skills. Here's my cousin Matt in front of a bus. To be fair, we did have lunch reservations in the next arrondisement.

My view from my spot at a cafe.

The museum of Orsay, or musee d'Orsay if you're in the know.

Me. Or moi, if you're in the know.

The stained glass at Saint Chappelle looks like Tetris.

The first picture of Paris, still on the Metro steps. The Our Mother. Or Notre Dame (if you're in the know).

- Work -------------------------------------------------------
I've been waiting for the end of the rainy season to start my painting project. Next week (weather permitting) we're painting a world map at the elementary school.

Just finished giving out all of my moringa trees. I have another 50 seeds. I'll get them started soon.

English club at the middle/high school. Doing the same thing I did last year.

AIDS day. Coming up next month. Going to a village down the road for an awareness thing.

Soapmaking. We sold out. The lemon scent I paid a little extra for really made the difference. Buying two soccer balls for the school with the money we got and hopefully we can do it again.

Here's the courtyard I came back to in September after teaching English in Ouaga for five weeks.
Not a gardening project by the way, just the rainy season. Oh and I built both the wall and the hangar. Never used it though. Afraid it'll fall in on me.

Before I Forget: Yesterday on the way back from breakfast the cab driver couldn't find the gear. We're on the highway and the car is shaking so badly that the passenger door opens. A guy on the moto drives by as if on cue and pushes the door closed. Oh Burkina, sometimes we get along so well.

Last week I didn't feel so well. I woke up with a fever one night and had such bad chills that I first put on socks. Then more socks. Then gardening gloves. Then I took the laundry basket of dirty clothes and covered myself with the unwashed masses. Then up to grab a hat. Then back underneath the pile of dirty clothes. I woke up an hour later sweating like crazy and reversed all previous decisions.

25 - 0 - 08
Caddy held me and I could hear us all, and the darkness, and something I could smell. And then I could see the windows, where the trees were buzzing. Then the dark began to go in smooth, bright shapes, like it always does, even when Caddy says that I have been asleep. The Sound and The Fury

23 - 10 - 08
Early evening, rain falling down amber. The clouds are not thick, it cannot last long. Making curry and rice. Reading The Road again.

French phrase: J'ai rien a voir avec ca. I don't have anything to do with it.
French word: Ecraser. To crush. (Thanks to French editions of The Hulk I found in Paris)

New dish I make: beans. I can buy one cup cooked for 100 francs. I can buy ten cups uncooked for three hundred. And sorting out rocks and bugs by lamplight is good for my eyes.

Q: How much money do I have in my wallet right now?
A: 10,000 francs. 50 dirham. 30 cedi. 10 rands. 20 bucks. 5,000 francs is on the floor next to Mission Impossible 3 which I watched last night.

French word for coaster? Sous-verre. Literal translation of sous-verre? Undercup.

Last month marked the 50th anniversary of Updike's The Poorhouse Fair.

I'd like to thank the Catholic mission in Kampti for inviting me to their party a couple weekends ago. They were great hosts, and their English is excellent.

Picked up Crest toothpaste yesterday. Not gel, not foaming action whatever whitening blah. Just paste. Was afraid it'd be boring, but really liking it so far. Kinda like twenty years ago when Mom would only let Katie and I eat Honey Nut Cheerios instead of sugary cereals. After months and months HNC would get pretty lame, but sure enough, after waiting a week or so they'd be good again.

After reading that last paragraph I realize I have absolutely nothing to say. See you in 7 weeks. Clay LaPoint

p.s. I also bought Dove shampoo. It is terrible.