d.l. mayfield

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The Bookshelf: Djibouti Jones Contributors

This week the Bookshelf features writers who have written for Djibouti Jones. I’m really excited to share their extended works.

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by Daniel D. Maurer. Daniel wrote On Writing: 7 Easy Tips to Find Your Niche and quite possibly the only fiction piece on Djibouti Jones. We met at The Loft writing center in Minneapolis a few years ago and Dan has since gone on to publish two excellent, powerful, and unique books. A graphic novel about recovery and a co-authored memoir about teenage male sex trafficking.

by Marilyn Gardner. Marilyn wrote Red Hot Rage, A Third Culture Kids Talks about Raising Third Culture Kids, and Let’s Talk about Hijab: Rethinking the Veil. She is the author of the book Between Worlds, a beautiful series of essays about growing up in Pakistan.

by Heather Caliri. Heather wrote Living With the Empty Spaces and The Hospitality of Greetings. She is the author of Unquiet Time: A Devotional for the Rest of Us and The Word Made Art: 52 projects for a spiritual encounter. The Word Made Art is available via her blog.

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by Ruth Van Reken. Ruth wrote the opening essay in the series on Third Culture Kids, Who Are Third Culture Kids? She is the c0-author of the seminal book Third Culture Kids and Letters Never Sent, a moving memoir of her boarding school kid experiences.

by Rhett Burns. Rhett wrote Time is Relational in Turkey and is the author of a book with the fantastic subtitle: how American football explains Turkey.

D.L. Mayfield has a book in the works as do a number of other contributors. I’m sure I have missed some of you. If so, please leave a comment and I’ll add your books to the list or do another post in the future to promote them.

What I’m reading this week

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin
by Erik Larson. Yup, still reading this. Love it. Need to finish so I can move on to his new one and to Thunderstruck, which I haven’t read yet. Larson was the guest on the Longform podcast this week too so if you are a longform fan or an Erik Larson fan or if you’d like to become one, I highly recommend the podcast. It is what motivates me to get u pat 5:30 a.m. and pound out 13 miles in dusty, muggy Djibouti. I think that about says it all.

 

 

Faraway: A Suburban Boy’s Story as a Victim of Sex Trafficking
by Daniel D. Maurer and R.K. Kline. Yup, this is the one I mentioned above. Dan is a Djibouti Jones contributor. You can read my review on Amazon. I read this in two quick night-time reading bursts and the second night should have gotten to bed earlier because I had that darn 5:30 a.m. wake up call but couldn’t sleep until I finished it.

 

 

 

The Tiger’s Wife: A Novel
by Tea Obrecht. I know. I mentioned this one before and my slow progress has little to do with the quality of the book. Its a great book and I wish I loved fiction more. I think reading more fiction would help my mind think more creatively. But…I struggle to get into fiction. Convince me otherwise! Recommend some great fiction.

 

 

 

What are you reading this week? What fiction do I need to read? Which Djibouti Jones contributors have I missed?

 *this post includes amazon affiliate links

Authentic Mobility

Today I am posting at D.L. Mayfield’s blog in her series on Downward Mobility. It is an honor to again be part of her series. Amazing how this woman I have never met in person can write things that change the way I think and live and can write things that I can’t stop thinking about.

This post was incredibly difficult for me to write and I ran through many drafts. I’d love to hear your comments on the piece, to have you share and tweet it so I can learn from your responses. How do I write about downward mobility when I feel that the last decade has been a single, drastic plunge into the deep end of downward mobility followed by a slow creep of upward mobility?

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In 2003 my family moved to a village in northern Somalia (Somaliland). In one swoop I moved into a world with no running water, electricity 4-5 hours per day, market-fresh food daily, no prepackaged anything, no English, no clothing I was used to, no paved roads, no drinking water, no green vegetables (canned peas are not food), sparse internet, sporadic phone service. Lots of walking and lots of labor-intensive work. Lots of time with people. There was no other choice, there was no other way to live.

Now, in Djibouti, I have consistent electricity (except when there isn’t) and running water (no temperature controls) and a house with toilets that flush (mostly) and doors that shut (mostly), and I feel like I live in luxury.

So I felt conflicted when D.L. asked about writing for the series.

A personal focus for the last year has also been the challenge to live authentically. To be open and honest and to not hide certain parts of who I am depending on the context. So I write about Jesus because I love him and I write about Islam because I’m challenged (in a good way) by it and interested in the interaction between those two things. I write about my temper and about my grief and about tucking my dress into my underwear and picking my nose in public.

That’s where the piece, Authentic Mobility, is written from, that place of conflict and confusion and the search for authenticity, of not being sure whether I am moving up or down. In comparison to whom? Americans or Djiboutians? With what end goal? In which areas of life to focus? It is all too much to address in a single post and I encourage you to read the other posts in the series as well.

Excuse my babbling and head on over to read the actual post.

I would love to hear your thoughts, both on this post as well as on the series and the topic. I need to continue thinking about this, just as I have not stopped thinking about War Photographers and your words convict, encourage, and challenge me. Please join the conversation. Click here to read the full post: Authentic Mobility.

War Photographers, Bridges for the Brave

Guest post today on D.L. Mayfield’s blog. Her series, “War Photography” is about how to write and photograph the stories of others, of people who aren’t necessarily like us. How do we do that with integrity and truth and vision? How do we do it without stereotyping or dehumanizing? This essay is my small attempt to continue addressing these questions.

“I am in the proposal-writing stage of a book about Djibouti, Somali women, Muslims, and faith. This is dangerous and slightly terrifying because though I do have faith, which has evolved over ten years in Somalia and Djibouti, I am not Djiboutian or Somali or Muslim. And yet.

I am compelled to write. Because, like Boo says, after years living among people, you find out their stories are really not so different. I’m compelled to write their stories and my stories and the way they interact. Awkward, painful, life-giving, thrilling. Always in process.

Part of writing these stories is selfish. Writing helps decompress and life in this developing country overwhelms. If I don’t take pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, the weight and emotions and confusions cloud my ability to see and hear. A mentor used to say, “Thoughts untangle themselves over the lips and through the fingertips.” In life outside writing, my words emerge in Somali or French and tangle themselves so badly in the speaking that to untangle them, I turn to the written word.

But also, this compelling comes from what I hear in Djibouti and what I hear in Minnesota, from what I see on bookshelves. Or don’t see on bookshelves.

Read more here. And then join the conversation. Leave a comment, share your perspective and experiences. Read other posts in the series, by incredible people, writers, thinkers, photographers.