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  1. Take your AK-47 out to the street and hold it up with both hands.  Glare at everyone passing by.
  2. Go to the flower market.  Buy several plastic bags of ground nuts.  Shuffle back and forth outside the T-2000, the Chinese convenience store, while eating said nuts.  Glare at everyone passing by.
  3. Open a fresh box of grenades in a vacant lot.  Let the kids play catch with the dummies.  Those are the ones with the red plastic tabs on them.  Aren’t they?
  4. Mumble bad French to the aged, syphilitic Belgian who runs the only café with internet.  Get seated immediately and order something in a bottle.  Try to connect to the internet for 2 hours.  Fail to connect.  Glare at everyone in the café.  Realize it was a bottle refilled from the tap.  Go home and vomit for 6 hours.
  5. Take a walk in the public gardens.  Witness people healthier than you with better attitudes and better immune systems.  Go home and glare at yourself in the mirror.
  6. Go to bed early, vowing to sleep in.  Wake up an hour later with a giant cockroach in your hair.  Scream for a while.  Drink heavily with all the lights on in your house until dawn.  Produce a 15-page handwritten short story that you cannot understand the next day.
  7. Talk to the house guard.  Learn how to say “good evening” in Kirundi.  Come away feeling that you’ve finally met one of the best people alive today.
  8. Attend a Marine Corps pig roast at the US Embassy.  Come away feeling that you’ve finally met some of the worst people alive today.  Decide that they aren’t really alive after all.
  9. Visit Rwanda.  Return with a suitcase packed as follows: 1 jar boric acid; 1 pack candles; 1 pack cockroach glue traps; 3 40oz bottles of Primus Lager; 5 bars “Genital Wash” brand lavender soap; 3 cartons mosquito-repelling citronella incense; 1 small bird carved out of white stone; 1 bullwhip; 1 Chinese good luck medallion for Year of the Ox covered in red foil.  Pour boric acid around baseboards by candlelight.  Set up glue traps on kitchen countertop.  Light some of the incense.  Put bullwhip on nightstand outside the bed’s mosquito netting.  Drink the beer. Wake up the next day and realize you did it all wrong and lit one of the curtains on fire.  What happened to the medallion?  Bad luck.
  10. Sit in the living room, trying to train a mustard-yellow gecko to fetch a piece of grass.  Do this for hours.  Conclude that the gecko is actually training you to throw the piece of grass and fetch it.  Wonder about the hidden world of geckos.

June Bujumbura 023

Welcome . . .

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

“I write it myself, edit it myself, censor it myself, publish it myself, distribute it myself, and spend time in prison for it myself.”

— Vladimir Bukovsky

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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

“La lecture est un acte d’identification, les sentiments exprimés sont déjà en nous. Autrement, le livre nous tombe des mains.”

— Madeleine Chapsal

“Time is said to be irreversible. And this is true enough in the sense that ‘you can’t bring back the past’. But what exactly is this ‘past’? Is it what has passed? And what does ‘passed’ mean for a person when for each of us the past is the bearer of all that is constant in the reality of the present, of each current moment? In a certain sense the past is far more real, or at any rate more stable, more resilient than the present. The present slips and vanishes like sand between the fingers, acquiring material weight only in its recollection. King Solomon’s ring bore the inscription, ‘All will pass’; by contrast, I want to draw attention to how time in its moral implication is in fact turned back. Time can vanish without trace in our material world for it is a subjective, spiritual category. The time we have lived settles in our soul as an experience placed within time.”

— Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time