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“Don’t befriend a goat if your cover cloth is made from plantain leaves” – Nigerian Proverb

Blue Hills

The city of Kigali is built on a series of ridges, with the geography mirroring the relative affluence of the city’s districts.  Downtown, which is in the center of the city (whOutlying District of Kigali from the Airere I’m sitting as I write this), is on one of the higher ridges (about 5k feet above sea level).  Mt. Kigali looms blue-brown in the distance and can be seen from most of the nicer neighborhoods.  The poor, shanty-like areas down between the ridges show the breadth of economic stratification here.  Still, it’s a pleasant place to be after the dust and entropy of Bujumbura.  The espresso is drinkable, which is a tremendous plus.

It’s raining today.  So instead of walking around like a muzungu fool, bothering people and taking pictures, I’ve found a quiet corner in an upstairs café where there is a great view of the distant hills.  In spite of its horrific history, Rwanda seems—at least in my Suburban Kigalioutsider’s perspective—to have worked hard on recovering.  The sense one gets in Kigali is similar to the nicer areas of Tijuana.  Yes, the streets are sometimes unpaved or broken; yes, the cars smell bad and the crows are noisy; but, all these urban characteristics are relative.  I imagine even the highest-maintenance North Americans, would find Kigali pleasant much of the time.

I’m enjoying my few days here before I return to Bujumbura.  And I can only hope that the political situation here does not degenerate.  People here, like people anywhere, are trying to lead their lives in peace, trying for something a little bit better.  Let it continue.

The four ridges of Kigali.

Countdown to Africa continues.  The next battery of inoculations takes place tomorrow, after which I will tutor my nephews and collapse on the floor twitching and mumbling.  At the same time, I’m doing additional paperwork for Japan.  This crazy life I’m leading is at least keeping me awake.  The best case scenario will have me employed in both places as well.  Worse case?  Well, there are many fine parks and golf courses all over the world in which I could sleep.

The good news is that I might have a real second book manuscript ready to go soon–a collection of short stories that will precede the novel I hope to finish while abroad.  I should have enough down time to finish it.

I’m betting on a lot of things coming through for me in the next few months.  Let’s hope the dice stay toasty . . .

You know I once was a gambler, boy, but I lost my money soon.
Yes, I once was a gambler, boy, but I lost my money soon.
Yes, I lost all of my money some other, some other gambler can have my room.
– “Gambler’s Blues,” Otis Rush

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I write fiction and nonfiction for magazines, work as a freelance writer / editor / journalist, and teach composition and fiction writing.

This blog is mostly dedicated to writing about politics and media, travel essays, creative non-fiction, discussions about books, the MFA experience, publishing, and work I’ve already placed in magazines. But I might write anything.

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“To educate is to seek meaning in everything. It is to teach others to seek the meaning of things. This means mixing the dreams of children and young people with the experience of adults and the elderly. This exchange must always take place, or else there can be no humanity because there would be no roots, no history, no promise, no growth, and no prophecy.”

— Pope Francis, 5 June 20

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“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery—isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”
― Charles Bukowski, Factotum