29 June 2008

to remember

The weather said "occasional thunderstorms," so I checked the sky to the west, which was clear. When I stepped outside, though, it was apparent that the wind was blowing from the south and then the north and every which direction. In the park where I lay in the grass watching the ultimate frisbee game, the fat drops of rain began to fall so loudly into the maple tree that I looked around for the horse I thought must be nearby. I took refuge under the tree, feeling only a few of the drops, as the frisbee game continued and the softball diamond turned dark with water. Something gold glinted in the grass and I picked it up: a souvenir bookmark from San Fransisco, its heart-shaped charm slightly damaged as if it had been stepped on. I ceremonially placed it, standing upright, into a small hollow in the tree, heart facing out.

A souvenir is, in French, a memory. One of the most beautiful things I have heard is someone, speaking French, talking of souvenirs. When my head adds in the English layer, it seems so much more concrete than the English: a memory you can hold in your hands. "Je me souviens..."


I have gotten sucked into a full day marathon of America's Next Top Model Season 6. Unfortunately, I am starting to feel sick from too much tv. Perhaps I should get out of the house.

I went to a garden party on Friday night, except it wasn't pretty paths and flickering tiki lights so much as it was Bob Marley covers and bad beer kegs. Okay, it was a kegger. In a jungle back yard. By daylight, the yard was disappointing. The paths were bare and the bridges patched together. When the world became dark, finally, late into the night here so far north of the Equator in June, the bare ground disappeared and the bridges lit by candles were magical little connections to another world. There was nothing to drink but beer, and I hate beer, and after the consumption of a few too many salt-and-pepper chips (new discovery. amazing), I was ragingly thirsty. At 7-Eleven, I mixed all six flavors of Slurpee to create a mixture that I staunchly defended when people made fun of it, but was actually just as syrupy sweet disgusting as one can possibly imagine. Back in the garden, we thought about s'mores, and how we didn't have any, and then we grilled Double Stuf Oreos instead. This is actually a brilliant idea. The filling melts into a glaze that tastes suspiciously like it should be on an angel food cake. Delicious.

Wait. Are there Olympics again already? Why on earth do they come so often these days? The four year span was much, much more exciting, due to all the anticipation. Every two years is sort of, well, eh.

28 June 2008

multiple choice:

Question: It is 100 degrees F outside, and with the afternoon sun banking this direction, keeping the blinds closed is no longer enough to prevent roastage inside the apartment. Do you:

a. Open the windows and use the $11.99 fan from T@rget, even though there is only one window and no real possibility of air circulation?

b. Turn on the airconditioning?

c. Open the door to the hallway, allowing the building's airconditioning to waft into your apartment?

Hint: You are extremely broke. Which one costs YOU the least? Which one causes passing stranger neighbors to look at you oddly? Pick that one.

some things just make me super happy:

(note: I didn't write this. It's from this website: James Dobson Doesn't Speak for Me)

James Dobson doesn't speak for me.

He doesn't speak for me when he uses religion as a wedge to divide;

He doesn't speak for me when he speaks as the final arbiter on the meaning of the Bible;

James Dobson doesn't speak for me when he uses the beliefs of others as a line of attack;

He doesn't speak for me when he denigrates his neighbor's views when they don't line up with his;

He doesn't speak for me when he seeks to confine the values of my faith to two or three issues alone;

What does speak for me is David's psalm celebrating how good and pleasant it is when we come together in unity;

Micah speaks for me in reminding us that the Lord requires us to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with Him;

The prophet Isaiah speaks for me in his call for all to come and reason together and also to seek justice, encourage the oppressed and to defend the cause of the vulnerable;

The book of Nehemiah speaks for me in its example to work with our neighbors, not against them, to restore what was broken in our communities;

The book of Matthew speaks for me in saying to bless those that curse you and pray for those who persecute you;

The words of the apostle Paul speak for me in saying that words spoken and deeds done without love amount to nothing.

The apostle John speaks for me in reminding us of Jesus' command to love one another. The world will know His disciples by that love.

These words speak for me. But when James Dobson attacks Barack Obama, James Dobson doesn't speak for me.


26 June 2008


I have given myself permission not to wash dishes. Or clothes. Or surfaces. Just for the week. Every morning, I wash a bowl for my cereal, and then I throw it back in the sink. The good part is that I soak them thoroughly, so they are easy to wash the next morning. Today I bought the cheap trouser socks from W@lgreens so that I don't have to do laundry tonight. (Also, I was running out. For serious. These things disappear when you put them in the washer. It's bizarre.) The counter is covered with crumbs and packaging.

Guess how much I care?


I am doing far more interesting things instead. Mostly, I'm going for long walks in the golden evening light. Also some job search-like things. But mostly, the walks. To this park, where people are playing soccer and frisbee and softball and kickball, and I'm tempted to ask if I can join, any one of them. I might, soon, when there is no job search-like thing urgently awaiting me at home.


This morning on the bus, which was packed, a man from Southern Sudan was standing next to my seat. I wanted to greet him, but it took me four blocks to remember the Nuer greetings that flew out so quickly nine months ago. "Male. Male midiit. Male migwa." And he was Dinka, not Nuer, and I've never figured out if the greetings are the same. So I kept quiet, and I looked down at his cheap plastic African sandals, and I wished I had said something, wished I was brave enough to say hello, but it was my stop, and I still wasn't sure what to say. "Hi, I've been to your country! No time to talk!" It's awkward.

23 June 2008

I was listening to music on the way to work today and when I fished Wilbur out of my bag at the end of the day, he was still playing away, battery half dead. Oops.

22 June 2008

bonbons and stately old homes

Weell. I am doing a bit of eating of the bonbons. It's positively annoying not to be able to be mad at someone when you end things with them. I can't be mad because the ending conversation was so very honest and gentle from both ends (honest and gentle! my mantras!). Also full of affection, which is not one of my mantras because you can't force affection, but it's a nice addition. Plus, you know, I haven't even lived here that long, so it's hard to be at a point of being COMPLETELY DEVASTATED when you haven't known a person that long. So fine. I have another friend, and he is a really great guy. Life is bittersweet right now.

There is this neighborhood not far from my building that makes me crave, I don't know, grassy yards and open staircases and comfy sofas and tire swings dangling from big trees. I ambled through it today and it was practically inspiration to plop myself into a well-paying, soul-deadening lawyer job so that I can buy one of those rambling old houses surrounded by ancient oak trees. At the same time, I saw photos online yesterday of the project I worked on in Liberia two years ago, and I can still hear a part of me screaming, "You are in the wrong place! You should have been there!" So yes. Once a third culture kid, always torn between continents. Life is bittersweet right now.

21 June 2008


For many weeks or months, I seemed to have lost the ability to sleep for more than eight and a half hours at a time. This was, of course, very handy, since time spent sleeping, while the most deliciously comfortable part of the day, is also more utilitarian than anything and it's nice when the buzzing of the alarm clock occurs at approximately the same time your body is thinking about waking up. I have, however, regressed. I slept for 10 hours last night and woke up at 12:49. That would be p.m. (Yes, I'm aware that the beginning of the problem was the fact that I didn't get to sleep until 3 a.m. But this is what weekends are for! They are for mojitos after work with a colleague and a short nap and taking the train out to a friend's house and wandering aimlessly around the grocery store looking for blue dye for a t-shirt and eating second helpings of strawberry shortcake and ice cream and smoking apple-flavored tobacco in the hookah while drinking margaritas and getting locked out of my building because the unlocking mechanism stopped working. See? Fun!) Unfortunately, the big project of weeks of yore plumb tuckered me out and seems to have regressified me right back to my post-law school days when I routinely slept 10 or 12 hours a night. That or the schistosomiasis is back. Heh heh.

The other day, my coworker A. and I (she happens to be from Liberia! Yay!) went shopping at lunch time. We wandered through the bag section of the store because my bag-o-everything that I carry to work every day is falling apart but we had picked the wrong store, so our bag shopping went more like, "This bag is nice... [gasp, fainting]. Or not. It is $456." Then we found the shoe section, which was an unfair level of temptation, especially since they had the ever-revered clearance racks. There was a pair of sparkly shoes there in my size and I started doing that annoying thing I do wherein one thing reminds me of another and suddenly I'm saying "There's no place like home. There's no place like home." and clicking my heels together in the middle of M@cy's as if my black flats have suddenly turned into ruby slippers. The problem is that I messed up the heel clicking and clicked my ankle bones together instead and yelled out in pain and went staggering hunched over in agony all around the shoe section. I am, in fact, a highly trained professional!

On the plus side, I did manage to persuade A. to spend too much of her meager salary (I know the meager-ness of which I speak; I have the same salary) on some silvery sandals with braided straps up the side. So that was an accomplishment.

17 June 2008

daily events

I am giddy with excitement about my new black dress trousers, arrived today from a N0rdst0m's store in another city (this city was plumb out of the size I needed). Friday was the last straw for the old pair, when my friend E. looked at me from the back and said, "You could fit another entire butt in there." Also, they had faded to a funny shade of brown.

In other news, I need to not watch true-life murder mysteries on television. I might not sleep tonight. Chills. I used to think I wanted to work in criminal law, but I've recently become a wimp. The benefit of doing almost any other kind of law is that I can live in a house without feeling like I have a target on my back all the time.

I have become super boring. I live in the US and I work every day. Who knew I would love it?

16 June 2008

in pieces

We played chess in the sun. I squinted into it and asked, "What does this castle piece do? Can it move backwards?" N. got to checkmate in a few moves, and then to checkmate again, while I stared blankly at the board. I haven't played chess since I learned in the Netherlands when I was 8. Then I wandered in circles around the pool, talking on the phone to my dad on Father's Day. The grass was soft and cool under my feet. I miss having a yard.


A week or two ago, an older-wiser person drew a picture of a mountain on its side, wide end on the left and point toward the right, like this: >. Only much bigger. Then he started writing things along the line of the mountain. "First Job." "Second Job."

"Your options decrease with every job you take," he said.

This is, I hardly need say, not what I wanted to be picturing as I look for a real live permanent job in Gone West. LIMITED OPTIONS?? Comforting. Not to put any pressure on the first job you find or anything.


I hate interviews. I get so nervous before them, even before informational interviews, that I shut down and say, "I don't even WANT this job [or to be a lawyer, or whatever]." And then, inevitably, I am energized and exhilarated by them and I want to skip down the sidewalk. For good or ill, there are a lot of them coming.

14 June 2008


I'm sort of starting to hate the internet. More specifically, blogs. I turn on my computer and suddenly five hours have passed and I have a blazing headache and I haven't even checked my email yet. I might just have to turn off the blogs. So far I've been avoiding the whole thing by just not turning my computer on, which works too but starts to annoy people who have sent me emails. There has to be some middle ground, but blogs are this cycle of addiction that just will not let up. If the computer is on, I'm reading them. Help.

On the other hand, something that is making me very happy right now: short-sleeved sweatshirts. I'm sure I am about six years too old for them, but they make me so extremely happy. I am that person who is always, always cold. What could be better than a short-sleeved shirt that is also warm? This is a most brilliant invention. Someone should have thought of it fifteen years ago. (Side note: I was wearing my new short-sleeved sweatshirt while shopping sale racks for work clothes, and I asked the sales girl, who was younger than me, thus the girl-part, if I was too old for them. She said, "I hate it when people think things are too young for them! It's casual and you look cute." So there.)

Also, beautiful weather. Blue sky, finally, and warm. I love blue sky. When I used to work at a respite program for kids, we each said a thanks before meals and it was essentially guaranteed that if it was sunny, I would be thankful for that. This one girl, who I think was 11 or 12 at the time, got to the point where she would say, "The sky is blue today, M! Are you thankful?"

10 June 2008

on the bright side

I'm tired and discouraged and having one of those days where everything you do turns wrong but you have to keep faking being okay and competent. And then I got a text message that said, "Remember at least you aren't using a latrine and a flashlight."

Eight months ago I was living in a place where it was too hot to go into the pit latrine during the day and I was too scared to go at night. And now I have a real toilet and I can stumble to it in the night without even really waking up.

So there is that.

07 June 2008

words, words, and more words

I feel like I'm on day two of my weekend already, because day one was punctuated by a long and luxurious three hour nap. Hm, nap. I actually deliberately got out of bed at a reasonable hour with the promise to myself of a long nap later, after a Very Exciting Civic Event that was taking place right in front of my apartment building. Unfortunately, I ate a frosted and sprinkled donut and a frosted and sprinkled cookie in affiliation with the Very Exciting Civic Event and the fact that my stomach is no longer 15 years old revealed itself in a rather unpleasant overstuffed feeling. So then I HAD to take that nap.

Now I am leaving for the beach. Beach! Beach! Too bad it's cold still and the beach will be more of a test of one's will to live in the freezing than an enjoyable beach-like experience. Still, I'm escaping normal life and getting to see some more of Gone West, so I am excited. It's so nice to have a real weekend. Many lawyers do not, and I suspect that when I get a real live permanent job that pays real live permanent money, I will not either. I shall relish them now.

05 June 2008

hateful day

am hating of this day. cannot make complete sentences. or use pronouns. just stumbled through door, put on comfy clothes retrieved from floor in entryway, and sat on floor for a while before could find energy to get bonbons to restore self.

this day has been like that screensaver everyone used to have on their computers (i have rediscovered pronouns) in which a seemingly endless stream of asteroids comes flying toward the viewer.


now time has passed.

bullet point number one: call from ci.ti.b@nk at 7:00 a.m. that went approximately like this:

person: you are $456 behind in payments.
me: that's nice. i can't pay it.
person: you are out of forbearances.
me: that's nice. i can't pay it.
me: i have to go to work now. [hangs up]

bullet point number two: we are involved in this huge, um, project at work, and all of us involved are getting cran to the key. (that's cranky, if you couldn't tell.) at least two of the four people involved are the sweetest people humanity has ever known, but even they are getting cranky. (i am NOT included in the sweetest people, because while i think i am fairly nice, sweet is not a word i feel applies to me. i like sweet people, but i am not one of them. but i am fairly good at hiding the cranky. i get happier the more things go wrong.) and the project drags on and on, through the fault of outside forces.

bullet point number three: someone asked me to LIE for him/her today. am a lawyer! took an oath not to lie! or even mislead! plus i have a (HUGE) problem with it, and if you knew my job, you would know that lying is not a good thing to make a part of it. plus, hi! lying! so i flatly refused and then said person said desperately, "but what should i do, then?" er... let's see... TELL THE TRUTH.

seriously. this is my life.

had to invite a friend over so as to alleviate utter despair about humanity. fortunately she came with, eh-hem, beverages. law school failed, but gone west might just turn me into an alkie. if i weren't so broke. and tired all the time.

i think i need to get into wine. it is good for you, according to the nytimes. also relaxing. and you don't have to feel funny about drinking it on a work night. which, let's admit, vanilla vodka, coffee liqueur, and jaager shots on a work night? that's sketch. i am sketch, right now.

this is what we call blogging under the influence. sorry, y'all. am now off to a bath and early bed.

04 June 2008

girly moment

Why yes, it is June. One might be fooled by the chill in the air and the fact that I'm wearing my winter coat to work, but June it is. I wore a sweater to work today.

Is it bad that my real goal in finding a real live permanent job that pays real live permanent money is not to practice law but so I can buy clothes? One can only make so many combinations of two suit jackets and one jacket-like sweater. Fortunately jobbing does not require a suit every day this week, because when it does I am forced to pretend that NO ONE NOTICES that I'm wearing the same two jackets every day. Will I wear the gray jacket three times this week or the black? Life is so very exciting. Especially when the alternative is to wear it TWICE this week.

I had another jacket, of the expensive pre-law school J.Crew variety, but it has outgrown me. Or I have outshrunk it. Or something. I weigh less now than I did then. Also, as my roomie M. liked to tell me in law school when I complained about the largeness of pre-law school clothes, "You just dress like more of a slut now." I prefer to think of it has having discovered how to buy clothes that fit. And in my defense, suit jackets have gotten shorter and more fitted. Anyway, this old one is a very nice wool jacket, but I look in it as if I'm a ten year old trying on my dad's suit and carrying his briefcase.

(Random side story: I was actually really excited about briefcases when I was about ten. I got one as a birthday present and I used to carry it to school, just like my dad carried his to work. Then there was a war and stuff and we left it behind to come to the US. And then kids in the US carried backpacks on one shoulder and I had to work on being cool, so the briefcase was a non-starter. The last thing I needed was yet another *NERD*DORK*CULTURALLY INEPT AFRICA GIRL* sign on my forehead. I had several already.)

Anyway, when I get a real live job, I'm going to buy new suits. Maybe even some that are not on the $59.99 sale rack at Macy's. Maybe even some that, gasp, FIT. Maybe even a TALL, so the jacket has sleeves that come all the way down to my wrists.

It's going to be brilliant.

(In case, you were wondering, this was, in fact, an entire post about clothes. I'm SUCH a girl today.)

P.S. Speaking of clothes, and clothes that fit, has anyone bought trousers at the G@P lately? What is up with 1. the STRETCHING, so that the trousers that fit you when you buy them are heinously large a day later and 2. the size enlargement, or whatever you call it, that require me to buy clothes that are labeled two sizes smaller - sometimes three - than anywhere else? And what do people who are actually small in stature do? Are they making 00s there now? I love their trousers, and the fact that they come in X-Long (love! love!) but I want to beg them to just let me go back to my regularly scheduled clothing size.

02 June 2008

begin story.

I burned my ESOPHAGUS. I overheated my leftover Thai food and then was rushing and I stuffed a big bite into my mouth and it was too hot to chew, so I swallowed. I could feel it burning all the way down and I could feel it burning in my stomach. As a piece of advice: if the food is too hot in your mouth, spit it out. It will hurt even more on the way down. Then I hacked horrifically, causing general alarm. My esophagus still hurts. It feels like heartburn.

End of story.