Peace Corps

In which t cleans. But only a little.

It’s going to rain again tonight. Which is good. I’m sweating my ass off and my fan burnt out, so if Cotonou were to, I don’t know, cool down about 15 degrees, that would be motherfucking sweet.


You know, there are some negative sides to actually having Beninese friends here. Like the fact that I can’t let my apartment slide into disgustingness. God forbid I should have papers lying out on the table. Unacceptable, let me tell you. And dust on the backs of chairs? Oh, what a slob am I. But the worst (and I do mean WORST) thing is keeping the goddamned dust off of my windows.

Windows in Benin aren’t like American windows. They’re not large vertical planes that slide horizontally. Instead, they’re vertical sets of horizontal slats (think mini-blinds six inch deep and made of glass, metal, or wood) that can be rotated open for air and light or closed for privacy.

When open, they’re horizontal, and they gather a lot of guess. You can guess which position mine spend most (all!) of their time in and the frustrating dilemma that leaves me. I can’t dust my windows every day. I can’t even find time to sweep every day (although I’m getting there), much less take the time to drag a chair around the apartment wiping off each and every slat.

I try to keep the public areas (read: kitchen and living room) picked up. I do dishes every or every other day (sometimes they build up . . . I’m still Theresa, after all). I sweep the living room every other day. I deep clean my about three times in any given two weeks. My room is spotless about once a week (sometimes more, sometimes less). And I scour my bathroom when I feel like it (just about never, although this last time was the longest it’s ever been, and I’ll never do that again ever ever EVER).

As for everything else (you know those small household chores like organizing paperwork, going through books, hanging posters, etc), they generally wait until they’re driving me absolutely nuts. Or until another project depends on them.

For example, I wanted a clean living room. But I’ve got too many books, so they were stacked on a table and on top of other books on my shelves. So in order to make more shelve space, I had to shuffle papers around, but in order to shuffle papers around, I needed to actually go through those papers so I wouldn’t lose anything important. In order to have neat piles when I finished, I had to take care of some outstanding paperwork, toss the deadweight, and organize the remains.

And thus, Theresa doesn’t want to be embarrassed = clean living room = neat books = organized shelves = go through paperwork = Theresa finally filled out her language reimbursement forms.


And that’s the only way anything ever gets really done here. Just call me Theresa “I hate being humiliated because I’m a slob” Carpenter. :-p
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