Leaving this week… for Paris, Djibouti and Somalia

Americans don’t usually travel to Djibouti or Somalia. The last time we went, the airline check-in agent said people don’t usually board planes for the Horn of Africa unless they have a crew cut and camo pants.

I am almost ready for my upcoming trip to East Africa.

Today there was a suicide bombing in a restaurant near the presidential palace in Mogadishu.

I leave for Mogadishu soon.

Exciting times.

People don’t understand my fascination with East Africa. And I must admit I am somewhat trepidatious to visit Mogadishu, but it’s something I want. I believe it’s a special place and significant in the political landscape. I believe that to understand the impact of French colonization on the Horn of Africa, it’s important to understand the non-colonized regions of the Horn.

Djibouti is a traditional crossroads, ethically comprised of Issa Somali and Afar in addition to many other people, from Arab to European descent. So I’m curious to see how Somalia compares to Djibouti.

Maybe it’s crazy, but I am very excited to visit Djibouti for the second time and Somalia for the first.

Good doesn’t matter

Like any human, I have good days and bad. This weekend was hard for me. Blame hormones. A sick cat. Family members who don’t see eye to eye with me. Whatever you like. Reality is… Such is life.

I have been focusing a lot of time and energy on diet and exercise recently, but today (and yesterday) I couldn’t bring myself to lift my weights or go for a walk. Instead, I went to Dunkin Donuts. Had a 250+ calorie iced coffee and not one but two donuts. Some people get drunk, I prefer a sugar high. It didn’t work.

So I talked to some friends. Thanks to them, I felt more myself. My family challenged me to the first day’s training session from the app “Couch to 5K” (C25K). We did it. As a family. Now I can eat something small for dinner and not feel badly.

Looking over some of my notes from today I am reminded once again that the things that make you feel accomplished are those achievements outside your comfort zone: going for a run when you don’t think you have the physical strength, tap dancing when you’re really awful at it…

Or for me, even fashion illustration. And sharing it with the world. My fiction manuscripts are set in the high fashion world (and oddly enough, Francophone Africa). I have always designed dresses and clothes for the characters.

I am not an artist. But, while feeling poorly today, I designed the dress in the photograph. It’s worn by a French woman who marries a half-French, half Issa-Somali Muslim man from Djibouti. She’s a trouble maker who lost her left leg (and some other body parts) to an IED in Afghanistan.

Doughnuts might not be good for me. I might not draw well. I must look like an idiot running around my local park. But today, these things soothed me.IMG_1262.JPG