The Fear of Vanilla

"Why don't you go out with him?" My mom asked me over breakfast. I replied without hesitation. "He's way too vanilla." "What exactly does that mean?" She looked confused. I straightened, confident. "It means he's too boring, settled, and plain. You know, like vanilla." My mom tried to suppress a chuckle. "So it has absolutely … Continue reading The Fear of Vanilla

Warm Beer and Grimy Chacos

I'm seated inside the Toamasina port drinking a lukewarm beer that cost less than $1, staring at striped fish in transparent waters beneath my feet. The quiet moment invites contemplation; thoughts swarm my mind, tugging about, and I continue to stare. My gaze focuses on my sandals--Chacos, to be exact. They're great, aren't they? If you're from … Continue reading Warm Beer and Grimy Chacos

Have Yourself A Merry Little Pity Party

Yesterday marked my first Christmas away from home, in a warm climate, and aboard a ship. Rough life, huh? In all sincerity, I wasn't particularly excited to celebrate this year. Since I arrived on the Africa Mercy five weeks ago I have battled a severe case of "scrambled egg brain." This self-diagnosis reflects the ever-changing emotions and tired, mushy state … Continue reading Have Yourself A Merry Little Pity Party

Don’t Envy Me

I left Grand Rapids in a whirlwind and didn't get a chance to tell loved ones my thoughts. Or perhaps I just hadn't yet articulated my goodbyes. Either way, during my 13 hour flight across the Atlantic I finally had time to process--shortly after the middle-aged Ethiopian passenger convinced me (quite easily) to ask the … Continue reading Don’t Envy Me

I Would Never Do That

"Alright, it's time!" No. I close my eyes, pretending to sleep. "Come on, Kayla, you have to come." My co-worker, Kim, bounces eagerly, her shoes spitting sand on my face. She knows I'm awake. I sit up, arms crossed with tension. "If you pressure me then I definitely won't go. I have to decide on my own terms." … Continue reading I Would Never Do That

From Michigan to Madagascar

“That sounds so cool. You should totally do it,” I affirmed, cupping my steamy, tea-filled mug. Kelsey, my dear friend and college comrade, smiled. “You should think about doing it with me.” I inhaled earl grey steam and pondered. “Mercy Ships? Nah. I'll do my own thing.” I withheld my genuine reason for declining. Truthfully, … Continue reading From Michigan to Madagascar

Coffee with a Dollop of Yogurt

"Good morning, honey." I glance up from my journal and exchange a greeting with my dad. He silently settles into the wicker chair to my left as we listen to the salty waves tumble over the sand. At nine o'clock in the morning Costa Rica already cultivates heavy morning air, which clings and sticks and drowns the … Continue reading Coffee with a Dollop of Yogurt

Why You Shouldn’t Triage Your Date

"Welcome to the Emergency Department. What brings you in tonight?" "I'm having chest pain." (I now initiate eye contact and pay more attention) "Okay. [typing noises] When did it start?" "Five days ago." (less concerned now) "Does it hurt more when you breathe or cough?" "Yea. It hurts the worst when I cough." Bingo. You can … Continue reading Why You Shouldn’t Triage Your Date