30 March 2009


We were talking about international job options, and I began to think of my criteria for places I'd be willing to work.

  1. No places where I am actively shot at/bombed on a regular basis.
  2. No places where my home base does not have cell/mobile phone coverage, meaning no place that requires a Thuraya, except out on trips to remote areas. Any phone that requires one to stand out in the elements so the phone can see the satellite is completely ridiculous. I refuse to live in a place that remote. (I can't even say "another place that remote" because Tiny Little Town in Southern Sudan now has mobile coverage. But it did not when I was there.)

Yeah, that's pretty much the whole list. Desperate (economic) times call for desperate measures.

About that job in Afghanistan...

29 March 2009

sunday afternoon

The very best way to spend a Sunday afternoon is napping in the yellow glow of my parents' living room, on the world's most comfortable couch, covered with a down throw, and then groggily waking up to take a bike ride.

The second best way to spend a Sunday afternoon is napping in the bright sunlight of the K.'s family room, on the floor, covered with an afghan, and then groggily waking up to chat about world politics.

The third best way to spend a Sunday afternoon is napping in the speckled shade in M. and T.'s yard in Kibuye, in a hammock, under the lake breezes, and then groggily waking up to swim in the lake.

I spent my afternoon the second way, today, dozing off during the basketball game.

We stopped at a goodbye party for a friend of S.' who is going to Iraq for a year. It was strange, because most of my goodbye parties involve people who want to go to the place they are going, but this guy doesn't want to go, and it reminded me of the mixed feelings that I have about moving again. I want to go. I want to see everything in the world. I want to live everywhere. But I also love the comfort of having a routine and familiar people around me. There are innumerable things I miss about each place I have lived.

S. gave me some potting soil and we picked up free to-be-recycled pots at the nursery on the way home, and I re-potted my rosemary and jasmine plants on my kitchen floor. When I came back from the gym, my apartment smelled like earth.

27 March 2009

separate pieces

I got a bulletin about Liberia from the US State Department today, and they warned against driving outside of Monrovia at night. I don't remember where we were going or who was in the car, but I suddenly remembered a night when I was in a car in Liberia, 2.5 years ago, driving somewhere (yes! This is a specific and detailed memory! ha.). We were driving in the dark, near but generally away from Monrovia, and I remember looking out at the passing scrub land and thinking about the fact that travel warnings always say not to drive around at night, but thinking that I never wanted to stop and turn around and go back to the city. I wanted to keep driving further into the country, into the continent, forever.


On the train, a young blond man who was definitely high (I am getting very good at recognizing symptoms; farewell, my very-protected upbringing) asked the guy behind him, "Bro, can you spare any change?" When he didn't answer, he asked across the aisle, "Bro, you have any change?"

The man across the aisle asked, "You going to buy drugs with it?"

"Marijuana." he said.

Hey, at least he's honest. He didn't get anything, though.


I caught a few minutes of Jeopardy last night, and what keeps running through my head is this:

"Answer: Lonely, very lonely."


"What is: How does it feel to be far from your family when there is a crisis?"


A year ago, I was just getting back from Ethiopia. I've been here for a year, now, without a break. I'm plotting, though.

25 March 2009


I've been thinking a lot lately about our evacuation from Liberia in 1990. Next month, it will be 19 years ago. When we first moved back from Liberia, I cut out every little occasional mention of Liberia in the newspaper and taped them all into a scrapbook. Now Liberia is almost over-aided. I don't have to look around much at all to find a blog or a book by someone who claims to know Liberia. I'm not going to lie: sometimes I love reading them and sometimes I read them and think, "I was there first. Stop talking about Liberia like it belongs to you." Which is ridiculous, of course, since plenty of people were there both before and after me.

For years after we came back from Liberia, it was nearly impossible for me to sleep over at a friend's house. I used to say that I was homesick, but recently I realized that I wasn't homesick so much as panicked that everyone would have to leave in the middle of the night and I would end up somewhere different from my family. It happened before, after all, although that time I was lucky enough to be with my family when we evacuated. I still feel it when I get on a plane, or even when I drive away from my parents' house for a weekend in Chicago or Detroit. The panic comes back to me. There is a wrenching moment when I think that I can't leave, and then I'm gone and it's fine.

We were in Monrovia for Christmas in 1989, staying at a house in Sinkor. (A house that I used to drive by on my way to work in 2006 when I wanted to avoid traffic on Tubman Boulevard.) There were lizard eggs in the artificial Christmas tree and we planned battles with the L. boys and I spun in circles for five full minutes because Uncle K. bet me that I couldn't and my mom read us books on the upstairs veranda and I was proud to have outgrown another pair of tennis shoes. "You can call me Duckfoot." I said, clomping down the street wearing a pair of my mom's size 10 shoes that were only a little too big. "I don't mind." I felt an uplift of patriotism as I watched the Liberian flag go up on the day that we heard that the country had been invaded.

In March, my teacher went on vacation to Cape Mount County and never came back. Instead, she got on a plane and went back to the US. In my head, this was somehow linked to the fact that she had sprained her ankle, but that only makes sense to a ten year old.

My mom started packing our big metal barrels full of everything we owned, and ripping photos out of the photo albums to throw in a box. "We'll take this all with us now," she said, "so we don't have to take so much when we leave for good next year." This only made me nervous - I was in revolt about the intended repatriation to the States in 1991, particularly since it was supposed to be for me, for my education and social life. I hated the thought of living in the US; I loved my life, and it seemed particularly unfair that it was somehow my fault that we had to move back, even though I didn't want to move back at all. I was far more upset about the possibility of moving back to the US than about some war that was happening far away and didn't really affect me. It seemed like someone was always attempting a coup during the 1980s in Liberia.

An older couple who had stayed in our guest house a few months before was ambushed and shot up-country. I wasn't afraid, although I felt like I should be.

And then came April, and every night we listened to the Voice of America, and on April 21 they said it: US citizens were advised to evacuate from Grand Bassa County. The rebels were getting too close.

We left Buchanan the next morning, and it took ten years to get back. It's no wonder, really, that a part of me still panics at the thought of being far from the people I love. A part of me knows that war can come at any time.

22 March 2009

end weekend

I have to say, I almost don't like weekends. I am always relieved to have them, and I wish they would go on, but I find myself being so sloth-like in them that I'm glad to have work again on Monday morning. Although I'm not so glad about the fact that I've stayed up/slept in too much for the last two nights and can never go to sleep on Sunday night. That part is not so great.

If I ever came into a great deal of money, I would not be able to quit my job, unless it was because I had started an organization that required me to work every day. My life needs the structure.

On weekends, I watch videos about Somalia, and I watch videos about Darfur, and I think too much. I think about the bullet-pocked walls in Liberia and a coworker in Sudan who, when he saw a picture of Monrovia flash by on my computer, said, "Wow, where is that? I could actually live there. I can live anywhere there are paved roads." In that video about Darfur, where they show the "terrible conditions" that the peacekeepers are living in - the dirty latrines? Not so different from the latrine that was Wallace's last home. (Oh, Wallace. I do miss you.) There is no experience quite like 110 degree heat on a latrine made of corrugated iron. As I was watching the video, I thought, "That's pretty much how everyone lives outside of big cities in Southern Sudan." (Probably in Northern Sudan, too, although I hear that Khartoum is very modern.) My pity for the peacekeepers was distinctly lacking, regarding their toilet accommodations.

I realized the other day that Tiny Little Town in Southern Sudan is the one place in the world where I have been but will probably never be able to return to. It's a weird feeling. Every other place I've been has been accessible. I may never go back, but I could. I could buy a plane ticket and rent a car and take a bus and get back. But Tilt is just too remote. Even if I could fly to Nairobi and fly to Juba and fly to Rumbek, I would need to get on the UN flight to the airstrip in the middle of nowhere, where there are no houses or businesses, not even a child walking by with a tray of gum and biscuits, and therefore no taxis. I suppose I could stand out on the road in the sun with no shade, with big Chinese trucks rumbling past on their way to the oil derricks, waiting for the chance minibus coming from Bigger Town or from Khartoum, two or three days drive away. I suppose I could, but it would be very difficult. Nigh unto impossible. The very impossibility makes me want to go back.


A few days ago, I found a tiny blue jewel on a desk at work. For complicated reasons, I'm not the only person who uses this desk, or, at least, someone else very possibly had to use it over the weekend. It's not my normal desk. It was a very pretty and sparkly little blue jewel, and I kept it on the desk, because I thought someone might come back and want it.

Several hours later, I realized that it came from my earring.

21 March 2009

vaccine rant

I think I have previously mentioned my philosophy on vaccinations, which is: get them. Get every one you are offered.

I know, I know. Reactions, over-loaded immune systems, possible (unproven) autism link, etc. Have you ever seen a man drag himself across the street on his hands, which have flipflops on them, because he was paralyzed by polio? Have you ever seen the mass graves after an entire town has been decimated by cholera? Get the vaccines.

I know, I know. HPV and Hepatitis B are transmitted sexually, so if you are just good, you can avoid them. Me: RAGE, FURY, CANNOT SPEAK STRAIGHT. It's not about being good or bad, people, it's about the most effective way of staying healthy. GET THE #$%@ VACCINES. No one can predict everything that will ever happen to them. No one.

I get furious when people say that they aren't going to vaccinate their kids, or get vaccines to travel. I am all about alternative medicine (love my doctor, love, for suggesting that I get acupuncture for the tension headaches I get at work), and I hate taking unnecessary medication, but unless you or your child are medically fragile or immuno-compromised, get the vaccines. In fact, that's the entire point. If the healthy people don't get the vaccines, the diseases will be running around able to infect people who can't get them because of their health or immune system problems. You owe it to the rest of us to get the vaccines. Putting a little bit of a disease into your body so it can learn to fight off the real thing when it comes is an entirely different thing than over-medicating. Bodies were made to fight off diseases. Healthy bodies are bored with the lack of things to fight off in our too-clean culture.*

I was inspired to write about this by something I happened to read in which someone objected to giving their pre-teen daughter the Gardasil vaccine because it would encourage her to have sex. Are you kidding me? Seriously? Are you mad? You would rather have your child potentially die of cervical cancer than get a vaccine? Do you think that's going to be what determines whether she has sex or not? Is she going to be thinking about that while kissing some boy someday and trying to decide what should happen next? If the risks of pregnancy and HIV and gonorrhea and herpes and chlamydia plus all the guilt that this type of parent is sure to have put on their child are not enough to keep her from having sex, I seriously doubt that the risk of HPV is going to do it.** Plus, did you know that they have found HPV under the fingernails of pre-teen boys who have never been sexually active? That you don't actually have to have intercourse to get it? That stuff is going AROUND.

People. Get a grip. Get the vaccine. Get every vaccine they offer you.

* I also think a little salmonella is good for you, as long as you are in general good health. Go right on eating the peanut butter and spinach.
**I was seriously tempted to say, right there, "What if she doesn't have sex before she gets married but she marries a guy who did, and who gives her HPV?" and also, "What if she is raped?" but I didn't, because it infuriates me that we still, in 2009, have a double standard for men and women. It infuriates me that they don't even give this vaccine to boys. It infuriates me that in order to come up with reasons why people should give their daughters a vaccine that will help keep them healthy, I have to even consider resorting to a story line that allows them to think of their daughter as "pure" until some man takes ownership of her.

PS. I should also add that when the Gardasil vaccine came out, I was just about to turn 27 (they give the vaccine to women up to age 26) and I lept at the opportunity to get vaccinated. I paid $360 out of pocket while broke in law school to get that vaccine, because I had to get it then or never. I figured it was an investment in a healthy future. You know why? Because life defies predictions. And because I get every vaccine I possibly can.

18 March 2009


When I was little, I took a pill every Sunday. It was a chloroquine pill, and we had to take them to keep malaria from overwhelming us constantly. With the chloroquine, malaria only overwhelmed us occasionally, and then more often at the end of our years in Liberia as the African strains of malaria became more resistant to chloroquine, leading us to take quinine when we got sick with malaria. Quinine is a drug which is EVEN MORE FUN - wikipedia says quinine is currently not recommended for malaria treatment, not because it doesn't work but because the side effects are too severe. It's really good in tonic water, though, the real kind, the kind they make in the rest of the world that actually has taste, unlike the crap they sell in the States.

(Side note: in my biochemistry class in college, I wrote an entire paper about the difference between how quinine and chloroquine actually work, and why they treat different kinds of malaria. Utterly fascinating.)

The real problem with the weekly dose of chloroquine was not the alleged side effects (we were fine, FINE! Ignore the liver and eye damage), but the taste. Chloroquine is the worst-tasting thing I have ever put in my mouth. Taste-wise, ignoring the ick factor, I would gladly eat virtually anything to avoid the utter bitterness of chloroquine. Your mouth cannot recover from the taste of chloroquine. You can eat or drink whatever you want afterwards, but the taste will stay on your tongue until it's good and worn off. (Needless to say, the pills were not coated back in the 80s, and even now that they are, the taste still breaks through. It's bad. Even a hint of it takes me right back.)

Out of necessity, I became very good at taking pills at a very young age. I learned to place the pill very gingerly between my front teeth, touching it as little as possible, and then downing it in one big swallow of water. I would watch incredulously as Liberians swallowed "tablets" dry and then swigged the water afterwards. HOW on earth...? I would watch even more incredulously as my brother took his dose in a spoonful of jello. Why would you ruin perfectly good jello? And my sister... we have a picture of my sister taking a nap at the dining room table, where she had to sit until she took her pill. Her arm is stretched out on the table, her eyes are closed, and a tiny white pill sits in front of her nose. She was a stubborn little one. My mom had to be even more stubborn so A. wouldn't get malaria. Battle of wills, baby.

For a very long time, I took all pills that way: one at a time, held tight between my teeth until I had the water ready, until I worked with emotionally impaired kids in college and I watched eight year olds throw four pills into their mouths and gulp them down, and it hit me: Not every pill tastes like chloroquine. There are some pills - most, even - that you can allow to touch your tongue.

It's been a big relief. Now I too can throw a stack of pills into my mouth and down them all at once, except the women's vitamin from Trader Joe's, which is too... heavy, somehow. It gets stuck if you aren't totally ready. But seriously. Realizing that not all pills contaminate your mouth for hours, that not all pills have to be taken so carefully? Changed my life. Okay, in a really minor way. But still.

17 March 2009

otherwise entitled "overthinking"

I have energy enough these days only for little snippets. I lie awake at night thinking of things to write about, and I intend to: the school bus that I rode for a few months when I was 8, and racism, and things. Big things.

But sometimes life is big generalizations, and sometimes it's little passing clear moments, like seeing life through portholes on a ship as you walk past looking out. Mine is little moments right now. I can hardly remember what comes between them. I suppose it's bus rides and checking to make sure I locked the apartment and filling out papers and saying, "Have a good evening" to people in the elevator.

I took the train to a different part of town on Sunday. It goes through a tunnel over there, and I don't like it. I tried to tell myself it's just a like a subway, it's just like a subway, it's just like a subway, but it didn't work, I think because my head kept wondering how long the dark would last. I never liked the tunnels in New York either, going under rivers to Brooklyn or New Jersey, but I never minded the subway. A subway is where it is supposed to be.

In the mail on Saturday, I got a letter from the IRS that was not a refund check, and my heart stopped, as hearts are wont to do when receiving letters that look suspiciously like we-want-money-from-you-that-you-don't-have. Inside was a cryptic letter about having "made a change" on my tax forms, but further investigation revealed that I failed to calculate the fact that I only received half the stimulus payment last year (due to my failure to make, oh, ANY money in 2007), so my refund is $300 bigger than expected.

I have a Pilates video, and I'm finally managing to do the poses in something like the correct manner, albeit not gracefully or anything, and when I finished tonight I felt so invigorated that I almost started the intermediate "energy boost" level and then I realized that my abs already felt like someone hit them with a hammer over and over, so maybe additional ab work was not exactly needed just yet. I am a beginner.

Ice water tastes really, really good.


I read this article today (Seeing Race and Seeming Racist?), which confirmed to me something I have long theorized, which is that white people need not be afraid to bring up the topic of race, particularly when we see something that is clearly racist. Because guess what, white people? By the time we, in our little sheltered white-privilege world, get around to saying, "Hm, that seems fishy to me," every person of color has already seen it. We are the last stupid ones in the room. And it doesn't go away because you don't mention it. In fact, keeping quiet makes you complicit, and you look like the jerk who's ignoring racism.

I'm not saying white people get to be the ones who know what's up, oh no. We do not. I'm just saying that if you are white and something looks racist to you? It was probably racist long before you noticed it, and the only thing you stand to lose by bringing it up is your delusions about the world being a happy skippy place. You will almost certainly learn something if you bring it up and then shut up and LISTEN.

(So... um... apparently I can't resist the big stuff, even when I claim that I am too exhausted for it.)

16 March 2009


I am tired and I want to go to bed, but all my pillowcases are in the dryer.

I am enamored today with the verse, from Hosea 8:7, that starts out, "They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind." I think it's supposed to be something bad - I haven't read it in context; it just came into my head and I googled it - but I love the poetry of it. I like the many possible meanings. In my head, the meanings are good. I sometimes feel these days like I'm standing out in a windstorm with all the uncertainty in every part of my life. I like standing out in the world when the wind is blowing savagely, frighteningly. I like being a little scared of the wind and rain and storm.

"They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind."

14 March 2009

small things

There is a project going on somewhere in the internet that involves listing five bits of "Grace in Small Things" every day. I am never going to make every day, never never, but I thought I would try it once. And I'm not even going to mention the weather.
  1. A perfect pair of dress pants, available in long.
  2. Black tea steeped with roasted coconut, with a little milk and brown sugar, in my new double-walled cups (why yes, I caved). Hmmm, yum.
  3. A big, fat calico cat climbing into my lap, nuzzling my chin and purring.
  4. Espresso made in a Moka Pot, shared with a friend.
  5. Feeling strong after doing Pilates.
  6. BONUS: waking up on a weekend morning, stretching, and drifting back to sleep.
(I managed to avoid the weather, but apparently I'm obsessed with hot beverages. Also, I feel that I should have mentioned the weather in the bonus round, because sleeping in is even more luxurious when, like this morning, the rain is lashing the windows as you lie abed.)

13 March 2009

bus stop

One morning, waiting for the bus, I stood inside the bus shelter to avoid the wind. While I was standing there, an older man pulling an old suitcase piled high with all his worldly possessions walked up. It was early morning and I was half-asleep with my iPod on, so I just moved aside to give him space to stand out of the wind as well, but he did not come into the shelter. He stood outside and said to me, "You shouldn't stand in there. Sometimes the bus won't stop if you are in there. They just keep going because they think you are smoking dope."

I smiled and thanked him as we both got on the bus, grateful for his considerateness, but as I sat down I felt deeply sad, because I know that the bus will still stop for me, even if I am in the bus shelter. I am young and white and clean, and he is none of those.
Citibank makes me cry. Every. Single. Time.

drone drone drone

Well! Look at that. It's sunny out and I just got my first piece of good news in quite some time. Unfortunately, I can't tell you about it. Fortunately, I will be able to buy groceries in the coming months. Unfortunately, it removes most if not all of the impetus I felt to apply for cool jobs around the world. Fortunately, it's good news.

I realized yesterday what spring feels like: it feels like that first day after you've been sick, when you are suddenly free of pain but still so tired, but it feels so good to be pain-free. You are so relieved to be without pain that you want to jump up and dance about maniacally. Except you are too tired from being sick. I say this despite the fact that my current version of "spring" is brilliantly sunny days 40 degree Fahrenheit days that don't get dark until 7! 30! pm! Gone West has these loooooong drawn out springs and one can anticipate wearing sweaters until July, but hey, there is light after work, and that one fact alone has returned my will to live to me.

So put me down as the one person on the planet in favor of Daylight Savings Time. In fact, it's that "normal" winter time that I don't like. In fact, if you left it up to me, I would shift the time zones of most of the northern part of the world one zone earlier, so that it stayed light into the evening. I can do without light in the morning. I'm perfectly happy to go to work in the dark. Please, though, please, give me some light after work. There is nothing more depressing and life-force-sucking than leaving work in the dark and coming home in the dark and having only dark awaiting you. (Clearly I have thought about this time zone thing way too much. If you ever really want to have a boring and convoluted conversation with me, ask me when the longest day of the year is when you live between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Equator, like in Rwanda, instead of north of the Tropic of Cancer, like here. Your head will spin. Mine does.)

I am truly astounded that I can manage to write so often and so much about the weather. I need to be shot.

Really, I need to travel.

P.S. Hey! If one thing goes right, others could too, right? Right? Maybe my string of bad news is over.

10 March 2009


It is 63.5 degrees in my apartment, and has been for time immemorial (or the last few weeks, whichever comes first), and I am still uncertain of the merits of keeping my heat quite that low. My heating bill does seem to be about half of what it was last year but, um, aren't fuel prices also 50% lower? So I don't actually know if I'm conserving much. On Saturday, when I came home frozen through, I didn't get warm again for hours. I might be taking this a little far.

I have been intending to make a flax-seed filled pillow to heat in the microwave and place at my feet in bed, so as to warm up. (If you find me clutching it desperately while frozen solid in a fetal position, please turn the heat up.) I bought the fabric and the flax seed, both.

Except that I have to go over to my friend's mom's house to sew it, so that hasn't happened yet, and then when I got so cold on Saturday I decided to improvise. My dad had asked me over Christmas why I didn't just use a sock, so I tried it. I found a sock without holes in it (this is really hard right now - I might be due to buy a new influx of socks) and filled it with flax seed and tied it shut with a rubber band.

Except that you can't put a rubber band in the microwave, I don't think, so I've been microwaving the sock full of flax seed without the rubber band, and then taking it out and rubber banding it.

You see where this is going.

I think I am going to be picking flax seeds out of the burners of my stove and sweeping them off the ground and finding them in corners until the day I move out of this apartment.

08 March 2009

weekends are too long. and boring.

I came to the realization yesterday that I need to live in a place where I can live half in- and half outdoors. So in the tropics, basically. I feel like a total lump when I sit in my apartment all day, but then I go out and the weather is miserable, like yesterday, and then I'm crankier than ever. Last night I was waiting for the train in the cold and it didn't come when it was supposed to and I stood there fuming about how the world was all against me and horrible. That just doesn't happen when I wait for a train in warm sunshine, even hot sunshine. The comparable level of cranky just does not develop.

Even staying home is not as painful when you can spend your Saturday afternoon lying in a hammock in the speckled sunlight shining through the trees, listening to birds singing in the bushes and water lapping against the shore. What? WHAT? It's totally possible. I lived there for two years in Rwanda.

I feel like I talk about Rwanda every single weekend.

I know. If Rwanda was so perfect, I should have stayed there. And I would have, had I not, first of all, wanted to go to law school and, second, been so tired of hearing people ask "are you a girl or a woman?" that I wanted to smack the next person who asked. There is something infuriating about being essentially told, over and over, that you need a man to be a woman. (Because by definition, a "girl" is unmarried, and a "woman" is married, in Kinyarwanda. Kill me.)

Anyway. I am in my favorite tea place right now, where they give me a glass pot of tea and a little earthenware cup, different every time, to drink out of. That's almost like having good weather, right? Right?


Also, I love daylight savings time. It is 6:30 and still broad daylight!

Additionally, I am in love with these cups: Bodum Cups.

FINALLY, I am going to go work on all-job-search, all-the-time.

07 March 2009

single photo

(Elsewhere, Southern Sudan, September 2007)

04 March 2009

health, food, something

I can't remember what the book is called, and I'm too lazy to google it, but someone a while back traveled around the world and took pictures of people outside their houses with all the food they eat in a week. I thought about this a few minutes ago as I was making a week's worth of beans-rice-cheese lunches, and I wondered what my week's collection of food would look like. Considering that I eat the same thing every day, it probably wouldn't be that hard for me to figure it out.

What I really wanted to know, though, is how much of it would be processed and how much is made from scratch. I make rice and mix it with Trader Joe's Cuban Style black beans. Should I be cooking them from scratch? I make oatmeal pumpkin muffins, but with canned pumpkin. I guess it's always a balance. (Side note: why do the cans have to be 15 oz? I need a cup. One can should be two cups, but no. NOOO. 16 oz of pumpkin in one can is apparently too much to ask. Seriously. Just make the cans in multiples of a cup, please and thank you.)

I had a doctor's appointment today. My blood pressure was right around its normal, super-low, "um, are you sure you can actually stand up? do you need a transfusion?" level, and I realized that maybe I don't need to be the sodium-avoidance fiend I have become. I might actually need that salt to keep me upright. Theory of mine: the sodium in processed foods is more damaging than the salt that I put in the pan with the rice when I cook it. True or false? Or do they just cram more sodium in processed foods to give it flavor that is lost in mass production, so I just use less when I make the food myself? Or am I delusional altogether?

We also went over all the lab work I had done a few weeks ago. I forgot to mention that I think I forgot to fast before that lab work. I was suspiciously normal-feeling while at Trader Joe's afterwards, for someone who gets dizzy when they don't eat. But I think this is literally the first time in my entire life that my cholesterol has been "excellent." (Um, about those Doritos in high school...) In fact, everything was excellent. The general habit of doctors, beginning with my first visit to an "adult" doctor, which happened to be the gyno because I went to my pediatrician until I was 23, is to say things like (I quote the first gyno), "Well, you are just a nice, healthy kid." Except that now the doctor is approximately the same age as me. Which is awkward, frankly. I prefer age and wisdom in a doctor, but this is what I got, and she seems great. We had a nice conversation while she was feeling me up in a clinical way.

It's always good to know everything is running smoothly in the parts of your body that you can't see, that all your little blood counts and antibodies are chugging along as expected. I am a little hypochondriacal at times, so I like to have some confirmation that things are all ok in there. Although even people with allegedly perfectly functioning bodies eating allegedly perfect food seem to find a way to die someday. If it's not one thing, it's another.

03 March 2009

double danger

I was going to write about one thing today, I had it all ready in my head, and now I have to write about another thing because MY HAND IS ON FIRE and I want to be that girl sulking in the corner holding her hand and whimpering.

I know that I've lit myself on fire before, and the mind leaps to that assumption, but that's not what actually happened this time. This time I poured boiling water on my hand, and it is only the speed of my reflexes in dropping the (fragile, glass) tea cup that prevented something worse than the red sore spots all over my left hand. My reflexes could have helped me out when I started pouring the water, before it got on my hand, though, and I'd be praising them a bit more. My cousin used to make fun of me for having slow reflexes when I was 13 or 14. He would challenge me to do something requiring reflexes and then when I failed he would say, "What's the word? Sloooow." I'm still annoyed about it 15 years later.

The glass didn't break when I dropped it, though. Probably because I was smart enough, after nearly 30 years of dropping and spilling things, to be pouring over the sink.

Also, this morning I almost got hit by a car. It turned left off a tiny one-way street onto a big one-way street where I happened to be frolicking my way across the road to a walk light. Yeah, don't trust those things. Intersections are dangerous. The woman who almost hit me rolled down her window and apologized profusely, and we went about our merry ways, with just enough adrenaline that I walked the rest of the way to work looking around for some heroic feat to perform.

01 March 2009


It's March in the Pacific Northwest, so I suppose it is not surprising that I see photos of the tropics - Florida or Tanzania, it hardly seems to matter - and itch with desire to go. I physically cannot sit still because the desire to leave is so strong. It is sunny there, and green, and the flowers are blooming red and orange and purple. Here, it is cloudy and spitting, but it will not properly rain.

I always wonder what part of it is just restlessness. Better yet, wanderlust. I happened upon that forgotten word this morning and it rang clear like a bell in my head. Wanderlust. I wear a pendant every day that says, in a slight misquotation of Bilbo's poem about Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings, "Not all who wander are lost."

Before the crisis-of-work, I thought that was all it was, this desire. My wanderlust, speaking through my determination to put down roots. I thought that, and then I started looking at jobs.

These are the jobs I want to do. These are the jobs that I can see myself doing for a decade or two or three. Whenever I look at a job in Gone West, I think, "Yeah, that would be interesting. For a few years. Maybe. It would pay the bills, anyway." (And that was back when there were jobs. Now there just are no jobs here, not jobs that look even mildly interesting.) When I look at these jobs in New York, in London, in Nairobi, I see jobs that I really long to do, not just jobs that I would do because they are in a place where I thought I could make a home.

I don't want to get myself into a trap where I have to move every few years. I wanted Gone West to be home. I wanted to be content in one place.

Fact is, though, this place is not content with me. Very soon, I will struggle to buy groceries. Something has to give, and it looks like it's going to be location, and a part of me? A part of me thrills to that. Not all of me - much of me will be deeply sad to leave this place, and the people who have made it the beginning of a home. But part of me, the part of me that looks up at planes in the evening sky and lifts her arms in longing to be taken up into them and carried somewhere far away, that part is delighted.