Doubtlessly over the past week or so, you have been thinking to yourself, “WHERE IS MEGAN? WHY DID SHE NOT UPDATE HER BLOG? WHY DID SHE SKIP FRIDAY FEATURED PHOTO TWO WEEKS IN A ROW? WHY DOES SHE SPELL ‘PHOTO’ WRONG ANYWAY? WHERE IS MY TV REMOTE CONTROL? WHY DOES BOTTLED WATER HAVE AN EXPIRATION DATE? WHY AM I THINKING ENTIRELY IN CAPSLOCK? I DEMAND ANSWERS!!!”

Well, fear not, because I’m still in-country. I’m still doing my thing. I merely had to take an unexpected pause in my schedule to attend to my dental issues – apparently, brushing your teeth ISN’T supposed to be painful, even if you’re living in Kenya. Go figure. I’ve joined the noble ranks of People Who Grind Their Teeth While Sleeping, an illustrious posse that includes such great Americans as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama, and whoever has to watch all the raw footage of Jersey Shore before editing it into pseudo-digestible episodes. Or, probably all those people. I’m just guessing. Because it IS caused by stress, apparently, which my dentist inquired about.

Me? Stressed? You mean what with the tripping along in a foreign language, short-circuiting the daily advances of lecherous old men, reconciling myself with the horrors of developing-world health challenges first-hand, teaching at schools nearly ten kilometers apart and getting there by foot or bike several times a week, trying to court cultural norms while still delivering vital life-or-death information that may fly in the face of local custom, simultaneously playing “good cop” (“Don’t give up on these girls!! A woman can go to university and get a great career, too!!”) and “bad cop” (“You know … it’s good to reach for the stars, but a 12-month 2-million shilling modernization plan probably won’t get funded right away”) without crushing or overinflating community members’ ideas, coping with a distinct scarcity of fabulous shoes, and doing all that in hundred-degree heat with unpredictable water access or electricity?

In other words … nah. I’m probably good.

The upshot is that I’m now the proud owner of a sexy new mouthguard I get to wear at night. Some people may find this distressing, but as a person who yearns to play with a random object in her mouth constantly *anyway* (pen caps, chewing gum, water bottle rims, etcetc) it’s turned out to be kind of a blessing. If I croak unexpectedly in the next 17.5 months, I can offer you 2-to-1 odds that it isn’t malaria or schistosomiasis or political unrest. It’s because I’ll choke while trying to break my record of flipping my biteguard back and forth between my upper and lower teeth without fumbling.

A couple days in Nairobi will do a volunteer good to rectify a critical shortfall in sushi-consumption levels, but I’m really excited to get back to site. I have fresh ideas, helpful new resources, and a shoebox full of Moringa tree seedlings to present to my health club students. To quote some random half-Kenyan dude who is, like, important in America or something, fired up. Ready to go.

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