What's Been Happening with Sera?
2 February - 2 March 2004
"You think you are the greatest sufferer in
the world. Do you know that men are sometimes banished for life?"
--Things Fall Apart by Chinua
Excerpts of letters from Stateside Sera:
I finally got to talk to Dr. Guth today about my shoulder. He said my capsule
was torn on both sides and nearly in shreds. In addition to the tears, it was
very stretched out. He's never seen something so bad. It is likely the result of
my many dislocations, not just the most recent one. He fixed it up as much as
possible, but he said there was still no guarantee that there would not be
future dislocations. Although the risk is less now, he explained that for me,
the dislocations would be a chronic problem and I would always have to be
careful because my ligaments are so loose. Exercises can help, but basically,
I'm really really loose, and muscles can't fix that.
When I asked about the time frame for my recovery, I got very discouraging
news. First, he said I should still not move my shoulder for another 2 weeks.
He is really
worried about the condition of my shoulder and wants to take the therapy really
slowly. Furthermore, I am guaranteed to have developed a frozen shoulder again.
The total time for recovery, before he can write my letter of medical
clearance, is projected to be 3-4 months. That's right, 3 to 4 long months. Of
course this could change--he was hesitant to give me an exact time frame.
Zac, I would describe for you my depression at this news, in great sweeping
superlatives, but I am sure that you know it.
And still, isn't it ironic that this great tragedy inadvertently came out of
my great love? The Palaver Club that led to the downfall of Sera Arcaro.
So, my future as a public speaker is well on its way. I gave a speech about
Namibia to my parent's church on Sunday. I enjoyed giving the talk and the
audience (~90 people) was really attentive and laughed a lot more than my
grandma's group did. Mom was so worried before the speech and kept telling me to
"speak slowly and loudly because I remember at your Honduras speech [9
years ago!] you kept trailing off at the ends of your sentences." (Repeat
ad infinitum.) Little did she know while in Namibia I had been practicing
speaking loudly and slowly for a whole year and was by now an expert.
The weather continues to be cold and occasionally snowy. Although it hasn't
snowed much lately, there is still a good base on the ground. I am sad
though because there is nice ice-cream in the freezer but I am always too cold
to eat it.
I have trouble thinking of things to talk about in these letters. I was
hoping I would be able to look at my surroundings with fresh eyes and find funny
things to write about, but it is hard here, when everything still seems normal
to me, and I stay at home all day. I think things would be a lot different if I
were teaching here. Teaching is full of funny experiences or awful catastrophes,
but life alone is pretty much boring. By the time you get this letter, I am
probably working at my mom's office again, which isn't much of an improvement.
An interesting thing is how isolated one can be here. I almost miss taking taxis
everywhere I go. There is nothing very interesting about driving myself around
or riding with my parents.
I think about Namibia constantly. I guess I'm so obsessive because I'm
missing it. I don't think it will be so bad when we come home for real and we've
completed our time there. But I don't have much to occupy my mind, so I travel
through my memories or try to guess what is happening there now. I also suppose
that "distance makes the heart grow fonder" and so I imagine my
experience as being better than it was, and I forget about all the frustrations.
Even so, life is more interesting over there, just for its novelty and
bizarreness. I guess I also glorify the experience for selfish reasons: I was
important over there. I could do things no other teacher could. Here, I don't
How's it going at Ekulo? It's been 9 weeks since I've been absent from
Namibia. From here on out, every day will mark the longest we've been separated
from each other. I was in the U.K. for nine weeks and when I look back from
here, it can seem so short, as I suppose this time will too, once it's gone. But
while I'm in it, each day drags on with so little progress towards any
resolution that it feels like it's just another sigh of this eternal waiting. I
guess I can hope that this will be my only regret in life, my one big suffering.
And yet, I'm not sure exactly what to regret; only that it happened, that life
is like this, so out of control, so painful for the loving of it. I keep
thinking I'll get used to what happened, that I'll get used to being here, but I
can't. I feel so purposeless here. I am not alive to sort and file statements.
Sunday I went to church. I'm so tired of explaining my shoulder to people.
There's just something about old people and health problems--they're very
interested in it, more so than Africa. Funny, huh?
One good thing is that the NPR news came back, after disappearing
mysteriously for a week. All the news these days is about gay marriages.
Massachusetts supreme court legalized them, and a mayor in California started
giving out marriage licenses to gay couples in defiance of state law (and the
Governator), so the issue is really being thrust to the forefront. Bush is
proposing a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man
and a woman. People are so stupid. How are gay marriages any threat to hetero
marriages? People opposed to gay marriages keep saying that it is best for
children to be raised by a man and a woman and that marriage exists for
children. But what then about divorce? Unwed pregnancies? What about kids living
with grandparents or relatives? What about hetero people who get married but
don't have kids? It's quite ridiculous, but I'm at least glad it's being
seriously discussed. Change is slow and painful.
Well, I hope you have a good week. I continue to work on my shoulder, but
like I said, progress is slow. There is no new news on any front. I guess I'm
just waiting to see what happens at the next doctor's appointment on the 8th.
Therapy is still going slowly. I
keep thinking of this Haiku by Issa:
Climb Mount Fuji
But slowly, slowly
I guess it's the Japanese version of the Little Engine that
Could. So my shoulder is stretching
out "but slowly, slowly."
"Super Tuesday" 2 March
My job consists largely of putting small check marks next to each number in a
long column, but only if it matches another number corresponding to that same
person in another long column on another piece of paper. Why don't they ever
write it like that in job descriptions? It is infinitely boring, but I would
rather be there at least doing something and earning money than just staying at
home. It's something productive, no matter how insignificant it is. And I figure
each hour I work I make as much money as about 2 days in Namibia. It's not much
consolation, but it will usually get me out of bed in the morning.
After work, Mom and I went and voted. It was at my elementary school. I saw
my principal there, and he remembered me, or pretended to (maybe I didn't get in
trouble enough). I told him I was a teacher now and my sister also. I think I
will be happy as an educator if my students come to me and say they've become
teachers. Unless they were really awful students, then I might worry. He said
he'd been there for 19 years. You should tell the learners that. I bet
principals rarely stay anywhere more than 6 years in Namibia.
Greet the sand for me.