Life in a Bucket

Some days – and there have been lots of them lately – I wake and feel intimidated at the day ahead. At its elastic hours which will tease themselves out for far longer than I need them to. Two would do. 24 are overwhelming.  

Some days, like today, I want to scream. Some days I do. I retreat to a quiet corner and disquiet it, with a shrill piercing, living here is like living in a fucking bucket, I rant: nothing to do, nowhere to go, sheer sided so that I cannot escape.   My horizons blocked and unchanging. Rattling. Rattled.

Some days I wonder will I go mad. Some days I consider that the isolation, the dislocation, may drive me right over the edge of the precious sanity that I cling to tenaciously – white knuckled, cliff-hanging. I’m going to run through the Outpost naked. And spitting, I threaten. Nobody cares though: nobody can hear.  Even if they could, they’d only laugh. Daft cow, they’d say.

Some days I wonder how long I can keep my counsel. When, I question, will it be acceptable to sit Husband gently down and say, ‘Right. I’ve had enough. I want to go now’.

But I am not the bread-winner. I can offer no sensible solution, just now, to Outpost living. 

So I admit defeat. And skulk off to the corner of a corridor that masquerades as a Studio (the capital letter is there for a reason:  it lends purpose to days and places and tasks that have none: Writing. Working. Studio) and I conjure something with wire or glass or beads. It’s amateurish. But it doesn’t matter. For the half hour immersion in something approximating toil is balm to a troubled, rushing, flailing soul.

Something pretty emerges with something like peace of mind. Not quite. But something akin to quiet. Until tomorrow.

And when Husband comes home I hold up my small prize for admiration, for I seek his valuable endorsement that I did not waste my too-long stretched-to-taut-limit day. And then I open us both a beer. And I do not say, ‘Right. I’ve had enough. I want to go now’.

I say, ‘So how was your day?’



21 Responses to “Life in a Bucket”

  1. nuttycow Says:

    And when are you going to start selling these creations? I want.

  2. Lyn Says:

    Seems like turning all of that frustration into works of art and beauty is working out for you! What a talent you are. I want too!!

  3. R. Sherman Says:

    Your sentiments are vaguely familiar, as I’ve heard the same from my wife, the cosmopolitan European expat who hasn’t quite adjusted to life in the country, where we’re ten mile from the nearest market.

    Nonetheless, perhaps your frustration is becoming ever more sublimated to your creations. Consider: In twenty years, people will say, “I own something from her famous ‘Outpost’ Period.”


  4. carol Says:

    I love your jewellery – and the photos. Sorry you are getting frustrated.

  5. doglover Says:

    Reluctant Memsahib = reluctant to change? Sometimes fear of the Future keeps us in the chains of the Present.

    I have been looking regularly in eBay for your glassware goods, but nothing so far!

  6. Iota Manhattan Says:

    What would happen if you DID say “I’ve had enough. I want to go now.”?

    I am only brazen enough to ask that question, because you know these are my issues as well as yours. And I haven’t got the glass-making to be proud of.

  7. Mecha Says:

    Oh Sweet Mother McArthur….will you sell me all of the jewelry right now….pleasie-weezie-pie!

  8. Rob Says:

    Hang in there. The sad fact of life is that we all need money to survive, especially for kids education in your case. Your glass pieces are wonderful and unique. They do say that doing work with the hands (whether art/craft, gardening etc.) is about the best “therapy” there is. Guess there aren’t many opportunities for engaging in voluntary work out there (in view of work permits etc)? If there was, that might provide a suitably fulfilling distraction? In Irish life alot of community stuff is centred around the parish (i.e. the church) – now there’s another option! If Outpost is like other African towns I am sure that there is a veritable profusion of churches who would welcome your involvement!?! Is there anything akin to the EAWL (aka the ICA in Ireland or the WI in UK) out there…

  9. janelle Says:

    what delicious twinklies! beautiful! xxx j

  10. Almost American Says:

    Amateurish? Hardly! You really should be selling your glasswork!

  11. Mwa Says:

    What a beautiful ring.

    I know I’ve said it before, but I do feel for you. I go crazy being at home with the children, but at least I have fleeting social contacts if I want them. I suppose I can be one of your “mothers at the school gates,” even if it’s only on the internet.

  12. 3limes Says:

    Beautiful work and a wonderful way to take solace in those long days in the Outpost. I often feel the way you do living here in Kampala and I am in no outpost, but it feels so to me. I feel very isolated and fed up at times, the grind of Africa can get me down. Your attitude and your glass work are very uplifting.

  13. Marianne Says:

    The glasswork is sublime. Where’s the website? Can I have some? I’m sorry you are so frustrated – anyone would be in your situation – it sounds like a very difficult life.

    I have family in Africa who are very involved in development and aid. They choose to be there for now and I admire them tremendously, but they know they will leave. I hope you can find a way forward.

  14. nmaha Says:

    Do you sell your work? You should, this will also mean meeting other people.

    I can understand your frustration, to an extent. I sometimes feel like I live in isolation and sob the nights away, after my husband and child are asleep. The place I live in now, is very different from the place I grew up in and there’s no concept of friends just extended family who have lived here for generations and have their own very complicated lives.

  15. paula Says:

    i dont think people really understand what your outpost is like without having spent time there. the blank nothingness day in day out, i think we here at kilombero know a small part of it, i wish you were living here in our valley you would be a fab addition to our tiny community

  16. hbgray Says:

    Definitely not amateurish – although I guess selling on ebay might be an issue with the whole postage thing but seriously wow!

  17. Gillian Says:

    Where is home? Where is family? Somewhere can we be together?

    Clearly, the Outpost isn’t home, it’s just a stepping stone on the way somewhere, hopefully to home. Maybe a new home in another land altogether.

    One day you and he will say, ‘time to go to the next place’. Maybe it will be home, or another stepping stone closer to home.

    So, if one day you’ll say ‘time to go’, perhaps it could be sooner rather than later?

    I am wishing you well from afar.

  18. Fur and Feathers « Reluctant Memsahib Says:

    […] to be out, to be out here, to have scaled the sides of the bucket, to have escaped is worth the prospect of dealing with blood and gore and feathers and juggling the […]

  19. grouse Says:

    I’m catching up on my blogs on google reader and SO happy to find you writing again.

    I too have a Studio. Sometimes I think of calling it an Office. Sometimes I think it’s an Atelier. If I’m talking to someone other than my husband, it’s my Umm.. Studio. I don’t want people to find me out for a fraud.

    Or to say that I just do my ‘hobbies’ to ‘fill my time’.

    Which I do.

    And I do them because I enjoy them. They fill the days that are void of children, play dates, PTA meetings, moaning about drivers or playing mind-numbing rounds of golf.

    I like your rings. So do other people. It seems you have a sideline to contacting editors/publisher? What about a shop in a big city you visit once or twice or can even post items to? You could write a fantastic blurb about living in the bush and what inspires you and make these fab pieces even more unique.

  20. Pamela Sundram Says:

    What beautiful talent! Can we purchase it and how?

  21. Pamela Sundram Says:

    Beautiful art work. Where can we see more of it?????I can understand your life – loneliness as an expat wife but you are so gifted and lucky to be able to do what you are doing. Keep it up!

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