30 November 2010

[30] resemblance

One of the strange things about Universe City is how it resembles, say, Kigali. Or Nairobi. Some East African city.

Ok, it doesn't resemble it specifically, because the houses here are not behind walls, and they are winterized and such. It's just that there are these little dirt lanes, in some places, and extra little rooms pieced together out of scraps dangling off of houses and, most of all, I think, there are office buildings that look like the tropics: they have outdoor walkways around them (despite the unending rain and, last week, the inch of snow I found on my car in the morning), and they have rows of doors facing out that lead to small offices. The offices tend, though, to be for random things that would not survive in a less hippie town. There are innumerable chiropractors, and massage therapists, and nutritionists, and naturalists, and acupuncturists, and therapists, and they all just open their little tiny offices and make a living, apparently. How, I do not know.

This is pretty much a hippie town, up and down. When he heard that I was moving here, F. said, "You are going to love the hippies. Get ready to be hugged all the time. The hippies will just up and hug you." and I scowled and said, "I don't like being hugged by people I don't know." Fortunately, no one has tried to hug me at random yet. Whew.

29 November 2010

[29] stew-mack

In the middle of FIGHT class, I realized that I didn't feel all that great. I felt kind of like someone had punched me in the stomach and I might barf, except that no one had punched me in the stomach. So that was unpleasant.

When my stomach is iffy, I pretty much only want to eat cereal. I really like cereal. In college, I ate Lucky Charms three times a day in the dining hall. In law school one time, I felt sick-ish and so I ate cereal and then I actually did barf. (Surmise: it was the milk.)

Today I was smarter and had my evening cereal with a new gallon of milk. Let it not be said that I learn nothing from my mistakes.

Then I ate some chocolate and felt sick again.

Perhaps I ought just to go to bed. Some days you just can't win.

28 November 2010

[28] road work

I went to the K.s' church by myself, because everyone else was leading a retreat/at a school meeting/studying/elsewhere. It was strange to sit there without any one of the pieces that normally connects me to the people in that sanctuary, and yet I have been there so many times that I felt safe and familiar there.

I was the only person clapping for Go Tell It on the Mountain, though. I am really not sure how anyone can possibly get through that song without clapping. It seems just totally wrong. This is what comes of Dutch-American churches.

On the drive home, there were accidents and bottlenecks, and it seemed that half the state or more was driving down the one single highway. Slowly. I drove lurchingly (stop-and-go traffic is the one time when a manual transmission is not a boon), and A. and I talked about life and boys and the impossibility of not caring too much.

27 November 2010

[27] skate

Frosting cookies by yourself is boring. I miss my sister as I sit at the counter frosting endless supplies of cookies. I inevitably mix up some horrible color that wastes a whole lot of color and powdered sugar and then feel obligated to use it to frost cookies because it would be wasteful otherwise. That is how I ended up with purple cookies today. "Easter cookies are fine for Christmas," N. said, watching me try to make the color slightly less spring-like. (It didn't work.)

Every year, I use these silver ball decorations from the K.s' cupboard on the cookies. They are tasty and pretty, but I'm not completely certain that I'm not poisoning myself and everyone else who eats them. I think they date to approximately 1976, and I'm sure food safety standards were different then. Oh, well. Pretty!


We went ice skating, A. and S. and I. A. used to ice skate in school, and I went a few times when I was a kid with my Uncle Ed, and S. said she has gone maybe two or three times. It came back to me pretty quickly, and I tucked myself forward (falling on butt = bad) and swung my arms and managed to stay upright. I even enjoyed it, when I wasn't trying to avoid slicing off the fingers of small children who tumbled directly in front of me. &#^$ family skate time.

[26] and, again

Once again, it is early the next day before I get here, or to bed. We went to my favorite Ethiopian restaurant tonight, but I was too full from Christmas cookie dough to do it justice. Still, it was delicious. I miss that, in Universe City. There is no Ethiopian restaurant there, and even if there was one, it very likely wouldn't be as good. Few places are.

Then we sat around at a pub playing hearts and telephone pictionary. I lost at hearts, dramatically, but it possibly would have been less dramatically if certain people had not cheated.

In the grocery store this morning, I caught a smell of candles, spicy ones all mixed together, and it was almost exactly the smell of the box that T. decorated to send with me to Rwanda. I kept all my precious little luxuries in there, including nice-smelling candles, and still, if I open that box at my parents' house, it smells exactly like that.

My friend S. posted a photo of my house in Rwanda online, and I commented how much I miss it. It seems abandoned, she said. We should buy it! And oh, I want to buy it. It's too bad I would be buying a house I could never afford to visit. It's kind of one or the other, right now. But I miss it.

26 November 2010

[25] tardy

Does it count as the 25th if I am still awake for the sleep-wake-sleep cycle of the 25th? I am going to say yes, mostly because if I don't say yes I will likely give up on the rest of the month, and that would be sad. I was, frankly, having too much fun even to think about writing anything today, as I always do when I spend holidays with the K.s. The big event today was the Punkin Chunkin, which we watched between rounds of card games. I think A., my friend who I invited along to Gone West, was slightly horrified by the way we all raced over to the tv to watch the throwing of the pumpkins and then when a commercial started we all raced back to the table to get in one quick round of cards, and then we all raced back to the tv and told our scores to N. while glued to the next set of catapults throwing pumpkins across a field in Delaware. Weird, yes, but sometimes participating in the weirdness is the greater part of happiness.

24 November 2010

[24] thanks

I am behind on a thank you that I really need to say. My Aunt Lisa, back when I was living in my converted garage in Universe City, sent me a Happy Honda card, with a gift card for fuel inside.

(Happy Honda! It was the cutest card ever.)

So thank you, Aunt Lisa. Your card made me smile in the middle of packing, which is a great accomplishment indeed. I loved it!

23 November 2010

[23] belonging

The night before I moved my stuff to Universe City, I put my p@ndora station on Patty Griffin, and I haven't moved it since. In the car, I listen to country, these days. I don't feel up for anything more. The Top 40 stations feel so harsh. I flip to them occasionally and then shudder and flip away, because I can't handle yet another song about, I don't even know, girls in bikini tops and Daisy Dukes or whatever else Top 40 songs are about these days.

I find the country music world reassuring right now, even though I am bothered by the all-whiteness of it, because it is full of people who do what they say they will do, people who fall in love and stay that way, even when their hearts are broken. Or maybe that isn't even it. Maybe it is that it idealizes doing what you say you will do and falling in love and staying that way.

Is it weird to say that it seems like the Top 40 songs skew younger? So many of the songs seem to forever be stuck at the college-age post-modern ideal of nightclubs and drinking and looking hot and getting laid, and it just makes me tired. I deal with the craziness every day at work, and I just moved, and I feel this craving for stability and affection, for friendship and truth.

And so I keep listening to music that I don't like so much musically for the sake of the feeling it evokes, the same feeling that I get sitting down to dinner at my parents' house, with the kiddos underfoot, the same feeling that I get looking around at a group of good friends who I have known for a while, the same feeling that I get swapping pieces of the newspaper at the kitchen island at the K.'s house: the feeling of having a place to belong.

22 November 2010

[22] dos cosas

I've been taking FIGHT class for over two months now, and I still hurt sometimes when I get done. It seems that they devise ways to use new muscles each week. And then there is the fact that I just get hurt a lot, regardless of what I'm doing, but worse when I'm fighting. Currently, I have a jammed thumb, a sprained toe, and a growing, painful puddle of blood under the skin on the top of my foot. I feel like a real martial arts person.

Back in Gone West, there was this girl who I saw once a week at a Farmers' Market who very frequently would have a black eye or two. At first I worried about her, that she was in an abusive relationship, but then eventually A. and I figured out that she must do some martial art and just get punched a lot during sparring. I am not quite at that point yet.


One of the things I least like about blogging is blogging about blogging, but I am about to do it. After posting yesterday, I realized that I have posted very nearly that same post over and over. I repeat myself a lot. It's still true, though. I am here. I am trying to live each day here. But I have not, and probably never will, fully let go of there. I miss it. Someday, hopefully not too far away, I will be there again, for a short time or long.

21 November 2010

[21] in place

I invited myself along to dinner with N.'s classmates, and they were all the sort of cool, interesting people that I wish I had around me all the time. I need to meet more cool people in Universe City, so my normal life can be filled with evenings like this. One of them actually turned out to be a lawyer who several other lawyers had told me I should track down: he has worked in Liberia. And so, today, I met N. and J. for lunch, and N. and I watched J.'s photos and videos of Liberia.

"That's my whole childhood," I said, as a man on the screen called people to attention and started speaking, "sitting there listening to speeches."

The faces in the photos were familiar. No, I don't know them, most of them, but they look familiar, like someone I could have passed on the street growing up, or the last time I was in Monrovia.

"What about you?" J. asked. "Do you miss it? Do you want to go back to Africa?"

"I'm fine until I see something like that," I said, "and then I want to go back." Sometimes, some moments, the fact that I am not there, that half of my home is 6977 miles and more away from here burns into me. How can I live this way? How can I be happy without at least traveling back there? I feel trapped by my interesting job and my comfortable house. They keep me here, when there are so many places that I haven't yet been. There are so very many interesting places to live, so why am I here?

"Sometimes I miss it so much that I even catch myself missing Southern Sudan," I said, and grinned at N. "N. heard those stories right after I came back, so he knows what a huge step that is."

"Uh, yes. It definitely is." N. said. He probably remembers an evening that was almost completely full of me telling stories about the worst of my experience in Southern Sudan, those days when I wanted to go home every night and then every morning I would wake up to sunlight and think maybe I could survive another day, only to spend the next evening cursing myself for not having yet booked a flight out of there.

We sat there in a crummy little Chinese restaurant in Universe City, with Liberia on the screen, and my worlds collided violently. I wanted it all: these people, this job, this moment, this happiness, but also those people, that place, that moment, that feeling of possibility. I love what I have here, but I regret having given up that place.

I still miss the life I had there, and I still know that I can't go back to live there as long as I am going back there to live alone. I know that I need friends who stay instead of friends who leave after three months or six months or a year. I can list a million ifs, any of which would make it possible for me to go back to live in Africa, but I can't force any of them to happen.

And yet, I am happy here, happier than ever I was there. The very fact that I can turn to N. and refer to something that happened three years ago and he was here then, and he is here now... well, that is why I moved to Gone West in the first place, and I am so very thankful to be exactly where I need to be, even if part of me is thousands of miles away.

20 November 2010

[20] short

My roommate M. has a tiny little dog. He doesn't live here all the time, but when he is here he runs around on his tiny paws and curls up on my lap like a cat, and then he tries to lick my face and I have to push him away.

I sat in front of the happy light for an hour today, but it was not enough. It still gets dark too early, and light too late.

19 November 2010

[19] new

I am not as adventurous as I seem, as I have mentioned many a time, but today I tried something new: sushi with raw fish. Normally (and by normally, I mean: the other three times I've gotten sushi), I get the veggie stuff. Sweet potato, yum. Today, though, I had to get over it. It's fine to be all vegetarian when you are meeting a group of new people - "I'm vegeTARian" - or other vegetarian people, but N. is down from Gone West for a training and sometimes you just have to woman up and try something new. "Because you know the other people won't mock you over it quite as badly?" N. said.

"I don't like white sauces," I told him over the smoked salmon/cream cheese/avocado rolls, "but sometimes you just have to trust that even if you don't like one ingredient, a culture puts the flavors together for a reason."

And they were delicious.

18 November 2010

[18] pieces

I am still learning this town, and today I happened upon a whole new part of it just by missing my turn into the gas/petrol station and trying to drive around the block but the block turned out to be really really big and then suddenly I saw a street sign and the name on it was one that I had heard but never before located. The pieces are coming together.

I remember how, when I first moved to Gone West, I had all these little snapshots in my head of different streets and restaurants, but they didn't fit together. Sometimes, years later, standing on a corner, I would look down a street and remember that I had seen that view before, long ago, before I knew how it fit with the rest of my city, and I would think of how familiar it all is now, a big grid in my head full of sunny spots and favorite shops.

I had coffee again today at the place where I sat with my mom before my first interview for this job. We shared a burrito at that table over by the door, and she asked me possible interview questions. I changed into my interview suit in that bathroom where now I run to wash my hands before I touch my coffee. Now that coffee shop is across the street from a building where I go almost every day for work. It is no longer the center of the town, the way it felt before my interviews, but just ancillary to the places I go all the time.

17 November 2010

[17] thin blue glow

It hit me today, all-of-a-sudden (that should really be a word of its own, because it wants to be said faster than the rest of the sentence - what? doesn't everyone hear the words in their head as they write them?), that I need to start using the happy light. It's later this year than it hit me last year, maybe because this has been a long, sunny fall, but there it was, today: I need the happy light.

Last year, it arrived at the end of October, the week before I left for Vietnam. One day, everything was just Too Much. Today, the same. I had three conversations in a row that were frustrating, and suddenly I wanted to put my head down and give up, and it wasn't until later, driving home after FIGHT class, that I realized why I wanted to give up, why everything was just Too Much.

Happy light, I welcome you.

FIGHT class, though, was as amazing as always. I think FIGHT class might be the best part of my week. Admittedly, the instructors have been working us extra hard lately, and I start to wonder if my allergist was right about the asthma (another fake disease!). "I call this the gift that keeps on giving!" one of the instructors said. "Now through Christmas, I am going to give you the gift of hard work." We were not exactly leaping for joy, although we did do a lot of leaping. FIGHT instructors think it is fun to have someone grab your leg, pull it up to waist level and hit you with their other hand while you hop and try to block their blows.

Normal people disagree.

Nonetheless, that class is one of my favorite things. I feel so strong and not-helpless after I'm done, because the same things keep repeating and so, after a few months of class, I find that disarming someone with a gun to my head is almost natural, even though I've never done it before. Last week, I was practicing disarming the instructor, and I kept not even getting to the stage where you snap the gun out of the person's hand, because it practically flew out of his hand and into mine just from the way I pulled him off balance.

That made no sense if you don't know the disarming techniques. Just trust me: I was almost too good. It's nice to feel good at something sports-like, for a girl who sat the bench all three years of high school soccer. (Loved it; sucked at it. Story of my sporting life.)

16 November 2010

[16] attach

I get ridiculously attached to things. I mean, ridiculously.

Here is how ridiculously: I am delaying going to goodwill to donate things, because one of the things I need to donate is a bar stool that I originally bought at goodwill that I have been using as a bedside table. Yes, the top of it is too small. Yes, things fall off of it all the time. And yes, I feel guilty about getting rid of it.

Even more ridiculously: I have this box that I used two, maybe three times, going back and forth to Rwanda, and then again moving to Gone West. It is one of the boxes that my organization sold: the perfect dimensions to maximize your luggage allowance. It has my name and Michigan address on it, and my sister's name and Michigan address, and my name and Rwanda address, and my name and Gone West address, and I cannot bear to get rid of it.

I am now clinging to cardboard boxes because they have some meaning to me. I think they have medication for this.

15 November 2010

[15] tree house

Now I live in a tree house. It is not built in one single tree, merely among them. When I look out the windows, I am amongst treetops.

As I left my house yesterday, there was a wild turkey crossing the road. This morning, a row of pheasants was parading down the sidewalk.

And it still only takes ten minutes to drive to work.

I was actually eager to get home tonight. Not just because I was severely hypoglycemic to the point where the road was blurring, although that helped (ffoooood), but because I wanted to be here, in the quiet open spaciousness of my living room, snuggled in a blanket, listening to the quiet. It felt like coming home, not just escaping the rest of the world.

I also am surrounded by unpacked boxes, and I should be at work right now.

Sleeeeeep. I can't remember what a whole night of sleep feels like.

14 November 2010

[14] cleaning

There are few things quite as annoying as spending a day cleaning the place out of which you have just moved. You want to be in the new place, hanging pictures and finding the best place for the bookshelf, and instead you are scrubbing floors of a place you are, frankly, totally over.

13 November 2010

[13] moved

The last time I moved, in August, I was almost completely ready to go when N. and S. arrived at my 4th floor studio. The boxes were packed, and the gooey chocolate birthday cake was on the counter. The only thing left was taking the bed apart. The single flaw was the elevator: it took us many, many trips down the elevator and through the parking garage to get everything into the truck and trailer.

When everything was loaded up, we drove two hours down the highway and took everything out in under thirty minutes. We had plenty of time to eat cake and stop at the go-karts on the way back. (N. and S. raced around the track, while my car... putted. Slowly. I could not get it to speed up, even with the pedal to the floor while S. and N. lapped me. Near the end, it went slower and slower and started sputtering. I think it was out of fuel.)

This time, all was chaos when A. and M. arrived at my tiny used-to-be-a-garage apartment. Virtually nothing was packed, but there was a sour cream coffee cake on the counter. We made trek after trek with M.'s mom's truck, and even more with just the cars. We took the bed apart, again, and tried to stuff the dresser into the trunk of an aged Honda. We carried boxes jammed with random objects that tilted off precariously as we walked.

It's almost done, though. I have a bed set up here, and the cleaning started there, and A. and I got a movie and sprawled out in the living room, the new living room, the one that has enough space to move and breathe and have guests.

Guests! Come on over!

12 November 2010

[12] incidentally

It isn't that I don't know how to drive on roads filled with things other than cars. I do. In Rwanda, the roads are filled with cows and chukudus and bikes and kids and goats and old people leaning on canes. Someone told me once that the government had told the people that the roads were for all of them, not just for the cars. (I don't know if that was a true story.)

I was just fine in Rwanda, sharing the road. I only had two leeeettle incidents in two years.

In one of them, I was making a right-hand turn in Kigali (without checking for pedestrians on the sidewalks approaching the corner) when a lady stepped out into the street (without looking - she was on a mobile phone), and walked into the side of my truck. She was fine, if startled, and a friend of mine who spoke Kinyarwanda happened to be on the opposite corner, and he translated for us, and we both went about our business. This could have happened anywhere.

The other incident was early in my time in Rwanda, before I knew what to do in a crisis. I was in Kibuye, heading home above the beach market, when two goats jumped off the little cliff on the side of the road and - I am not kidding - threw themselves in front of my truck. It was like they did it on purpose. One of them died on impact, and one of them stumbled to its feet and limped off the road.

I stopped the truck, even though I had heard all these horror stories about what can happen when you kill an animal (ok, the examples in those horror stories were cows: different). What else was I supposed to do? We were the equivalent of three blocks from my house. It's not like these people didn't know me. I came to their market every Friday. Also, it was just a goat.

"20,000 FRw," the owner told me, and I laughed.

"I buy goats for my work," I said. "I know how much a goat costs, and it is not 20,000 FRw."

I called my coworker in Kibuye, who arrived to bargain down the price of the goat, and then my boss in Kigali.

"Get a police report," he told me.

I was a little worried about going to the police station (what if they arrested me?), but I finally insisted to the goat's owner that he was only getting his francs if he came to the police station with me. "Oh, no," he kept saying. "No, that is not necessary. Just give me 10,000 FRw, and we will forget about it."

Hardened (heartened?) by his reluctance, I insisted.

When we arrived at the police station, owner and coworker and I, we stood in front of the counter and explained the situation. "Well," the officer sighed, "let me look at the vehicle."

We trooped outside and he inspected my front bumper. "Is this from the goat?"

"No," I said, "that's a smudge of bird poo."

"Is this from the goat?"

"No," I said, "that's a scratch from when I hit the gate backing out of a horrible driveway."

"So," he said, straightening up, "the goat did not damage your vehicle."

"No, it did not damage my vehicle. But the goat died."

"Do you want him arrested? Do you want to file a police report?" the officer asked me. "If you file a report, we will have to arrest the owner of the goat. He is supposed to keep his animals off the road."

"Oh, no!" I told him. "I do not want him arrested. I just wanted a record of the problem."

"We will make a note in the ledger," the officer told me, and we did.

We were all silent on the way back to the scene of the crime. When we arrived, I handed the goat's owner 5000 FRw, anyway, just to make amends among neighbors, and I made him sign a receipt. "Compensation for dead goat."

My point is that I am not unaccustomed to the idea of other moving objects on vehicle roads. Why then do the bikes in the bike lanes freak me out so very much?

I think it's because they move pretty fast, just there off to the side in your blind spot as you get ready to turn a corner. That, and I don't get to drive with one hand on the horn here.

11 November 2010

[11] tea

One of the guys sitting at the counter pulled out a stool for me, and I sat down between people I didn't know. The shop was a tiny, golden oasis in a day of rain. All six of us at the counter chatted over our tea, almost involuntarily, because we were all sitting as close to one another as good friends. I held my warm mug in my hands, eschewing milk and sugar for once. It seemed wrong, somehow, in a shop where the owner hand-selects daily teas and steeps it to perfection before handing it to you, to amend the tea in any way. We lingered, strangers bound by the warm drinks in our hands and the article about sleep in the National Geographic, reluctant to venture back outside to errands and headlights.

10 November 2010

[10] give up the ghost

Apparently I am not allergic to this state. At least, not to anything they test for in the usual panel. We will just say that I am "unique" and leave it at that.

Oh, except mold. I am allergic to one kind of mold.

But! I can get a dog. I can get a cat. I can take the *&&^#%#&#($&#^# allergen cover off my bed. (Mom! This is the nightmarish thing that makes my bed so stinking hot. Rest of you: no, really. You just lie in that bed and sweat, even when you are cold. Comes from lying on plastic.)

Here is what the doctor tells you when you are not allergic to things: apparently, your runny nose/headaches/itchy eyes/itchy throat/post-nasal drip/sneezing/coughing/wheezing/feeling like death are coming from air irritants rather than allergens.

I don't mean to get picky, but I have a question.

What the...?

Your body is not producing an immune response to things, but you still feel like &#^$ because the irritants, what, sit on your mucus membranes and cause, um, an immune response?

I give up.

I almost cried when she told me that I'm not allergic to things because now there is NO HOPE. I CANNOT BE FIXED. I will just feel awful, and tired, and awful. Forever.

09 November 2010

[9] parenthetical

I have been surviving on cereal again. It's been a long time since I've survived on cereal, but after a day of work and FIGHT class and grocery shopping sometimes I am too tired to get off the couch, too tired to think of what I might possibly prepare to eat that requires more than shaking some cereal into a bowl and pouring milk over top.

(When I got back from Gone West, the milk in my fridge had gone bad. Instead of running to the store - I was too tired - I made some milk out of milk powder in a Nalgene.)

(Are the members of my family the only people who call it milk powder? I said that to someone,and they didn't know what I was talking about until I called it "powdered milk.")

(I grew up on powdered milk reconstituted into milk, but I do not at all like the skim milk stuff they sell in stores here. The brand name, full cream stuff they sell all over the rest of the world is so very much better.)

(Tonight, I was supposed to 1. move some things and 2. buy a flax seed. I have done neither, and now I cannot, because I took excedrin PM and it contains the active ingredient in dramamine. The good news is that I will not feel motion sick while, um, sleeping. The bad news is that I cannot drive anywhere, lest I fall asleep at the wheel.)

(I tried to pry a flax seed out of the microwaveable pillow I have that I used to tuck around my feet when I had a microwave that could warm it up, but the pillow was too well sewn together.)

(I was supposed to buy a flax seed so they could allergy test me for it tomorrow.)

(The unmedicated allergies in anticipation of the testing might very possibly be why I am so tired that I am resorting to surviving on cereal. I wish my body would stop thinking that this state is a disease it needs to kill off.)

08 November 2010

[8] ?

This is November.

Why, why, why is there a flying insect pestering the life out of me in my apartment? Not only that, but it is a huge fly.


[8] movement

I moved the first few boxes into my new apartment last night. It was strange to be starting a move all over again. I was so settled in my shoebox in Gone West, and I expected to be similarly settled here, but only three months later I am packing again.

It's good. I am crunched in this tiny apartment that was once a garage. I wander around my new apartment with the three bedrooms and the spacious living room and imagine how it will be to have space enough to add a bookshelf or closets enough to put the broom away. And I need to have people around, I know that. It was lovely last week to arrive at the K.s to noise and TV and people.

And yet. When I moved to Gone West, I knew that I needed to live alone. I had been living in team housing in Southern Sudan, and I couldn't bear the idea of sharing living space with someone else. I'm ready to share an apartment again, I think, but I have gotten very used to living alone. I like having people around, but I also like living alone, and change is scary.

07 November 2010

[7] game day

So I went to my first NBA game. It was nice, except for the 9-year-olds on the dance team dancing to songs about rocking your body, which made me want to screech and throw myself between them and the camera for the jumbo-tron, because seriously, you are 9. There should be no rocking of the body, let alone rocking of the body magnified on a huge screen. I was horrified.

I watched the game, but you really go to a sporting event to chat and watch the people, right? I mean, that's what women do. This is possibly why men should go to sporting events with men and women should go with women.

Now it is raining, hard, just in time for my drive back to Universe City. After six years without a car, I'm not exactly the most confident driver ("You are so jumpy!" S. says when she rides with me), and I hate driving in the dark and rain. Still, it's hard to leave the friendly warmth of the K.'s living room for the 100 freeway miles to Universe City, and so I delay, even though it means that I will have to drive in the dark.

06 November 2010

[6] skates

I finally learned how to turn on the gas fireplace. It turns out all you have to do it flip a switch, and even I can manage that. I was afraid there was some trick involving an ignition and a clicking noise. Aren't there some gas fireplaces that have those? I distinctly remember shivering in T.'s parents' back porch, fighting with the gas fireplace on so we would not turn into popsicles when we got out of the hot tub in the winter.

But this one turns on instantly, in a whoosh of orange flame, and I have a crocheted blanket over my legs and there is a blue jay in the bird feeder outside the window. The sky is cloudy. I can't tell if it has rained or will rain or no such thing - this is Gone West, and here rain falls slow and gentle, almost more a crystallized fog than actual raindrops. In the next yard, a man is working under the hood of his Volvo.

I am thinking about a nap, even though I've done nothing today but wake up and eat breakfast.


Last night, we went rollerskating with the junior high kids. I tried to remember how to skate, and then how to explain the motion to a 13-year old who had never before skated. "Step, a little, and push out," I said. Her legs went flying in all directions, and I could only soften her fall, not hold her up. I am not that strong nor that steady on skates. I tried to tell her to lean forward, like a speed skater. You don't see them flailing backwards like all of us.

It was fun, though, to skate in the big loop. Rollerskating is the same as ever. The same young teenagers circled one another, like they did when I was thirteen. The same little kids clung to the edges and their parents. The same awkward grownups infringed on the fun and/or the misery.

Except now, the grownups are us. Me.

05 November 2010

[5] late

Placeholder: It's late, and I want to sleep, not blog.

Also, to T: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! (Even though your birthday is already over in MI, and I am too late to say it in real-time chat due to having been in a computer-less training all day. xoxo.)

04 November 2010

[4] days

I went back to my old job today, and everything was the same except that someone else was sitting at my desk and doing my job. It was strange. I felt like I could slot myself right back in, if I removed the new person sitting where I should be.

Then I went to visit A., and we walked around her neighborhood with F. in a sling. When you are carrying a baby (particularly if the baby is 1. happy or 2. sleeping), people look at the baby with the same kindness that they look at adorable puppies. I remember once in New York, when I was carrying Baby T., how two women said scathing things about how young I was to have a child after I passed them. (I was 26.) Now people look at me as if it's natural that I have a small person strapped to my chest.

Meanwhile, my allergist decided that I need to take a week off zyrtec so that I can have allergy tests next week. I am not enjoying my un-medicated week. My head hurts.

Here in Gone West, I am staying with the K.s. It is remarkably nice - I had forgotten how nice - to live among people. It's nice to have noise in the house, and to smell food cooking, and to sit down at dinner together. It's nice to have a place to go home, warm and bright.

03 November 2010

[3] back here

I walked around downtown Gone West City today, through the familiar busy streets, and I kept thinking that yes, I like Universe City, but I really do like Gone West more. It didn't hurt that the sun was out, and the streets were bustling (Universe City streets do not bustle), and I stopped at my favorite food and coffee places. I went into an office where everyone knew me, and we went out to Ethiopian, where the owner said, "Hey! Did they send you back?" Hrmph. I miss this town.

My tire got fixed, though. Also, I lost a game of darts quite dramatically.

02 November 2010

[2] tire

When I got back to Universe City on Sunday night, my tire was making strange flopping noises. (It is, by the way, a brand new tire.) I ignored the flopping noises, because there didn't seem to be much I could do in the dark of night. Monday morning, I looked at the flat. Then I called my dad. Then I ditched the car and rode my bike to work.

At lunch, I rode home, called my dad, changed the tire, took the car in, got the tire looked at, and went back to work. (Classic quote from my dad when I worried about how long I had driving on a flat tire: "That car is so light, it probably doesn't matter.") The tire store said that there was no leak, but they had checked the seal, and everything should be fine.

Tell that to the ten PSI the tire had lost by halfway back up the road to Gone West City. And why don't fuel stations sell air pressure gauges?

I am seriously considering buying a new tire, even though this one still has the little hairs on it. It's really not worth the multiple fuel stations required to find a functional air machine, nor the fretting when the car bumbles around on the horrible grooved cement: is it the road, or is it the car? One never knows.

01 November 2010

[1] pumpkin falling

I did it again: I carved a pumpkin and I forgot how quickly they go bad. When I left for the weekend, I left my carved pumpkin sitting proudly on a chair. I came back to find that it had just... crumpled in the middle, like a fallen souffle. The top was still perfectly round, but the sides had gotten substantially shorter. The pumpkin was about 2/3 its original height.

The dripping goo was mostly contained (I carried the entire chair out to the trash very, very carefully, tipped the pumpkin into the trash, and then washed the seat off when I brought the chair back inside), but my flipflop was under the chair and when I put it on this evening it was sticky. Ew.