Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Barbie Doll House

It's past midnight, and I'm lying here thinking about Bubbles, Barbies, and Huffing and Puffing and Blowing the house down. Ridiculous—right! Downright ridiculous!

I really thought that life is about expanding your bubble, and then operating in an area within that bubble you most identify with. Easy, yes, with the bubble being a metaphor for your field of vision, your understanding of all things available about the world, and an aggregation of your experiences. I've definitely expanded the bubble by joining the Peace Corps, by doing things uncomfortable, but....sometimes things get a little ridiculous, and my bubble is about to burst, or at least get blown away. You see, August in Botswana means windy season---every month seems to have it's own season, but this is the worst because I'm living in a house that's about to be blown away---really, and my bubble sense of the world doesn't get why I'm not living in a stable mud hut!

When I first arrived in Mmathethe, it was amusing to see that my house looked something out of a Los Angeles suburb with many amenities. In fact, it was a little disappointing that I wouldn't be living in a prototypical mud hut dwelling that resembled most of my neighbors, but I'll make the most of it I said. Yet in my heart of hearts, I wanted the mud hut. It would've been easier than this house, and my romantic notions of nomadic countries, where huts are built from readily available materials, stone, grass, mud, palm leaves would've been a fantasy come true. It would've been challenging to live like that, but no, instead, I'm living a Barbie Doll House. You got it---it only looks normal from the outside, and upon closer inspection, I can take this thing apart, stone by stone, and rebuild it again, except a doll house and a mud hut are structurally more sound than this thing I'm living in.  I go outside each morning noticing more and more cement stone has chipped away and fallen from the house. All the so called boards that hold the roof together are down and dangling, and banging against the house like its no tomorrow with this wind, windows are breaking, and the ceiling in bedroom will come tumbling down with the next hard rainfall. I tried hammering a nail into the wall to hang something, and half the wall disintegrated---this immediately told me that my carpentry skills were nil, as are my electric and plumbing skills, but I swear I can build this house better. You just slab on a little cement, put a wire here and there, attached a pipe to the outside, and walla, there's my house.  My furniture is also of Barbie material, the kitchen cabinets look no different than Barbies house, but here the handles on my plastic kitchen cabinets lasted about a month, the cabinets only close when they want to, and to make matters even more humorous, I absolutely HATE Barbie, always have, always will. As a kid, I played with Barbie's for about a day, and then put the happy couple in a place where the “bad toys” resided. It was probably one of the smartest things I've ever done, now thinking about how Barbie and Ken were where all the children fought against set gender roles, and the worlds warped idea of who they should become---seriously, this Barbie thing unconsciously sends psychological damaging messages—but that's besides the point.

Life in a small village, you see first hand how things take huge technological steps backwards, and I've come to realize that the people who do have the mud huts are way smarter than the people with houses---- the mud huts hold up and houses don't, or at least mine doesn't.  So here I am living in my Barbie Doll House that's gonna blow away any time now, and my own bubble is expanding so fast that it might burst, but hey, at least these challenges don't lead to complacency!  Before I finally give way dreamland, I realized one thing--- that giving your life to the Peace Corps doesn't mean you'll wind up living in a mud hut!

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