- Take your AK-47 out to the street and hold it up with both hands. Glare at everyone passing by.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Tag Archives: Rwanda
“Don’t befriend a goat if your cover cloth is made from plantain leaves” – Nigerian Proverb
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 (where 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 outsider’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.
Comments Off on The Blue Hills of Kigali | tags: Africa, Bujumbura, Burundi, cafes, class struggle, Espresso, geography, Kigali, Kinyarwanda, muzungu, Rwanda, Urban Development, War and Peace, your author | posted in Burundi, Kigali, Rwanda, your author
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 travel essays, creative non-fiction, discussions about books, the MFA experience, publishing, and short stories I’ve already placed in magazines. But I might write anything.
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“I have no politics. I observe. I have no sides except the side of the human spirit, which after all does sound rather shallow, like a pitchman, but which means mostly my spirit, which means yours too, for if I am not truly alive, how can I see you?”
—Charles Bukowski, Notes of a Dirty Old Man
“The New York Times is Rotting at the Seams” – Splice Today – November 2019 (https://www.splicetoday.com/politics-and-media/the-new-york-times-is-rotting-at-the-seams)
“Trump Impeachment Syndrome and the Uses of Political Theater” – Splice Today – September 2019 (https://www.splicetoday.com/politics-and-media/trump-impeachment-syndrome-and-the-uses-of-political-theater)
“Jonathan Franzen Can’t Solve Climate Change for Anyone Who Matters” – Splice Today – September 2019 (https://www.splicetoday.com/politics-and-media/jonathan-franzen-can-t-solve-climate-change-for-anyone-who-matters)
“Jeffrey Epstein and the Usual Media Hate Porn” – Splice Today – August 2019 (https://www.splicetoday.com/politics-and-media/jeffrey-epstein-and-the-usual-media-hate-porn)
“Mob Justice for Jeffrey Epstein” – Splice Today – July 2019 (https://www.splicetoday.com/politics-and-media/mob-justice-for-jeffrey-epstein)
“Testify” – West Trade Review – Spring 2019 (http://www.westtradereview.com)
“Preponderance of the Small” – DecomP Magazine – July 2019 (http://www.decompmagazine.com/preponderanceofthesmall.htm)
“Letting Go of Game of Thrones” – Splice Today – June 2019 (https://www.splicetoday.com/writing/letting-go-of-game-of-thrones)
“William Barr and the Subversion of Justice” – Splice Today – April 2019 (https://www.splicetoday.com/politics-and-media/william-barr-and-the-subversion-of-justice)
“Into the Badlands Loses Its Way” – Splice Today – March 2019 (https://www.splicetoday.com/moving-pictures/into-the-badlands-loses-its-way)
“Trump is Interesting Again” – Splice Today – January 2019 (https://www.splicetoday.com/politics-and-media/trump-is-interesting-again)
“Outrage is Over” – Splice Today – December 2018 (https://www.splicetoday.com/politics-and-media/outrage-is-over)
“Fulfillment” – Terror House Magazine – December 2018 (https://terrorhousemag.com/fulfillment/)
“Attacked on the Street” – Splice Today – August 2018 (https://www.splicetoday.com/writing/attacked-on-the-street)
“You Are Somewhere Else” – Visitant – July 2018 (https://visitantlit.com/)
“More Than Just a Familiar Formula” – Splice Today – February 2018 (https://www.splicetoday.com/moving-pictures/more-than-just-a-familiar-formula)
“STEM, Scientism, and the Decline of the Humanities” – Splice Today – February 2018 (https://www.splicetoday.com/on-campus/stem-scientism-and-the-decline-of-the-humanities)
“The NRA Isn’t the Problem” – Splice Today – February 2018 (https://www.splicetoday.com/politics-and-media/the-nra-isn-t-the-problem)
“Altered Carbon’s Love Affair with Central Casting” – Splice Today – February 2018 (https://www.splicetoday.com/moving-pictures/altered-carbon-s-love-affair-with-central-casting)
“Cui Bono: the Latest Conspiracy Theory in the Ongoing Disintegration of the GOP” – Splice Today – January 2018 (https://www.splicetoday.com/politics-and-media/cui-bono-the-latest-conspiracy-theory-in-the-ongoing-disintegration-of-the-gop)
Cruel Stars – Thrown Free Books 2017.
“You Can Do Magic, Honey” – Splice Today – December 2017 (https://www.splicetoday.com/moving-pictures/you-can-do-magic-honey)
“As the Leopard, So the Coliseum” – Splice Today – November 2017 (https://www.splicetoday.com/politics-and-media/as-the-leopard-so-the-coliseum)
“One of the functions of art is to give people the words to know their own experience. There are always areas of vast silence in any culture, and part of an artist’s job is to go into those areas and come back from the silence with something to say. It’s one reason why we read poetry, because poets can give us the words we need. When we read good poetry, we often say, ‘Yeah, that’s it. That’s how I feel.’” — Ursula K. Le Guin
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“If I were talking to a young writer, I would recommend the cultivation of extreme indifference to both praise and blame because praise will lead you to vanity, and blame will lead you to self-pity, and both are bad for writers.”
— John Berryman, The Art of Poetry No. 16, The Paris Review
“Truffaut died, and we all felt awful about it, and there were the appropriate eulogies, and his wonderful films live on. But it’s not much help to Truffaut. So you think to yourself, My work will live on. As I’ve said many times, rather than live on in the hearts and minds of my fellow man, I would rather live on in my apartment.” — Woody Allen
“I make the road. I draw the map. Nothing just happens to me…I’m the one happening.”
—Denis Johnson, Already Dead
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“At the age of 25 most people were finished. A whole god-damned nation of assholes driving automobiles, eating, having babies, doing everything in the worst way possible, like voting for the presidential candidate who reminded them most of themselves. I had no interests. I had no interest in anything. I had no idea how I was going to escape. At least the others had some taste for life. They seemed to understand something that I didn’t understand. Maybe I was lacking. It was possible. I often felt inferior. I just wanted to get away from them. But there was no place to go.” — Charles Bukowski
“You could lose it, your right big toe, leave it here, in this mud, your foot, your leg, and you wonder, how many pieces of yourself can you leave behind and still be called yourself?”
— Melanie Rae Thon, First, Body
“After you finish a book, you know, you’re dead. But no one knows you’re dead. All they see is the irresponsibility that comes in after the terrible responsibility of writing.” — Ernest Hemingway
“When one is too old for love, one finds great comfort in good dinners.” — Zora Neale Hurston