Monday, October 31, 2005

It's ... NODBOY!

Living on Pohnpei gives you a lot of hours to fill up in the evenings. In terms of dining out, going to movies, television, theater and concerts, the options are amazingly limited.

But I usually don't mind at all. It makes me creative. It also has helped me to forge some of the strongest friendships I've ever made. And I've discovered a lot of wonderful (an many crappy) books. I've read a ton of books since arriving here, but my favorite author I've found is Wallace Stegner.

A few weeks ago I checked out the book "James Thurber: 92 Stories" from the library. It's an excellent book and I've been a fan of Thurber for years. He has wonderful insight into the relationship between men and women and such a clever turn of phrase.

On page 274 I found one of my favorite typos ever. "His mother still worried about him, but nodboy else did." Nodboy! A forgotten superhero? What is his superstrength, righting wrongs with just a nod of his head? Should I dress up like him for Hallowe'en? I hope we haven't heard the last of him, we need more Nodboys in the world.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Hand-Me-Downs to the Third-World

Sometimes while I'm watching the news on TV and they are reporting from a third world country, I'll see ordinary folks wearing the most unexpected clothes. It might be a farmer in Africa wearing an "I Heart NY" shirt or an Indonesian disaster victim wearing a "DisneyWorld" shirt. Where do those clothes come from and how did they get there?

Since moving to a third-world country, I have discovered the answer to this mystery. At least in Micronesia, these clothes are the cast-offs of American Christians! When they are done shirt-bragging to the world of their vacation on St. Croix, they stick the shirt in a bin and ship it off to folks who will never see DisneyWorld, New York City or St. Croix.

Here on Pohnpei, we have SuperSavers, our Christian second-hand clothing store. While burrowing through mounds of t-shirts, I have the pleasure of listening to recordings of mind-numbing "praise" music, translated into Pohnpeian and accompanied by a soulless Casio keyboard. Thank you, all ye American Christians, for spicing up my wardrobe with, among other things, a smoking jacket (!) and a bowling shirt from the Chinese Catholic Club of Honolulu! So far I've resisted the temptation to buy the snowmobile suit ... hmm.

On one recent excursion to SuperSavers, I uncovered a perfectly good, full-sized American flag among the potholders and underwear. I've never owned an American flag, so I bought it for a dollar. There must be something symbolic about finding a US flag in a heap of hand-me-downs in a third-world second-hand store. Perhaps some fundamentalist in the US has become disillusioned with the country? Perhaps it is symbolic of how the US has tossed aside its pride and respectability? Who knows. But now this flag is a curtain in my bedroom. I'm getting tired of looking at it, though.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Morning on a Tropical Isle

Unless it's raining, I ride my bicycle every morning to go the causeway, which connects Pohnpei proper to the small island with the airport. Once I'm at the causeway, I run two laps from Pohnpei to the shipping dock. It's a spectacular way to begin the day. The stunning cliffs of Sokehs Rock are on one side and the Pacific Ocean - dotted with tiny islands - is on the other side.

Even just the clouds are an amazing array of shapes and colors. Never have I seen a more dramatic sky than out here. Perhaps the clouds stand out more prominantly because of the pure blue sky, but every morning the sky is unique and breathtaking.

While I run, crabs scamper beside the road, scurrying to get into their holes as I run past. Often ten or twelve other people will be on the causeway walking or running and everyone is friendly. I have found that automobiles turn people into monsters, but when people travel by using their own two feet, they tend to be kind and friendly.

Perhaps its just because I'm a morning person, but I find my time with the sunrise to be my favorite time of day.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

An introduction

I live on the Micronesian island of Pohnpei in the Pacific Ocean. Pohnpei is a lush tropical island with rugged mountains and surrounded by coral reef. It is what an island paradise is supposed to look like. I moved here from Baltimore a year ago to teach at the College of Micronesia.

Not only did I want to see what it's like to live in another country, and particularly on a small island, it also seemed like a good time to get out of the USA. It felt as if the country was being divided by its leadership and it was heartbreaking to witness. Although I don't normally advocate running away from problems, I needed a break to energize myself again.

Okay, so what have I done since I've been here? The normal stuff, of course: hiking, snorkeling, kareoke, biking, running, etc. But I also wrote a little musical about my experienced here called "Welcome to Micronesia!" I wrote the music and lyrics and a friend/colleague of mine wrote the spoken text. We did a staged reading of it a few weeks ago and hope to further develop it in the coming months. We are in the process of recording a CD of it, too! Hopefully it will be done by next summer, because we hope to mount it in Baltimore. We'll see where this journey takes us!