31 October 2011

ToT Grand Total

Four adorable little kids (two sets of two).

Five pleasant teenaged kids (four girls, one boy).

Candy items consumed by me: 10.

Candy items handed out: approximately 30.

Candy items remaining: approximately 160.

Uh oh.

large handfuls of candy

P.S. As the night goes on, the kids get older, and frankly, I would prefer to deal with the older kids. There is no pressure to figure out what their costumes are. They are just here for the candy. I need to get rid of candy.

Which is down to 190 pieces to give/given out.

the little ninjas and princesses scare me

I stopped on the way home from work to buy a bag of 200 pieces of candy. It was Sweetarts and Nerds and Laffy Taffy and BottleCaps, because I figured that if there were leftovers I would end up eating them myself, or bringing them to work, and there is more than enough chocolate in both those worlds already.

By the time I got home, there were only 195 pieces in the bag.

My first Trick or Treaters did not arrive until after 7, and I was beginning to worry. What if I were left with the entire (now 194 pieces) bag of candy?

But now I have had two sets of two kids each come to the door, and I've realized that it's been so long since I trick or treated myself that I have no idea how it works. Do I give it to them? Do they take it off the platter? (I couldn't find the big bowl.) The first set of kids I let pick two each. The second set I gave a handful to each one.

The next kids, if there are any, since I live on a little dead-end street at the top of a hill, are getting huge handfuls so that 1. I don't have so much left over and/or 2. I can turn my light off and stop being nervous that another set of small people in adorable costumes are going to show up at my door asking for candy that I can't remember how to hand out.

In order to get rid of the rest of the candy in only one more group of Trick or Treaters, I'm going to have to give each one about 88 pieces of candy. Whatever. It will just be the haul of the evening.

I am an incompetent grown-up.

28 October 2011

routine crud

My house has turned into a sick house, complete with tea, chicken soup, and strawberry cough drops.

"The way you can tell if you have a cold or something worse, like strep throat," I said today, "is that if you have a cold, cough drops make your throat feel better. If you have strep throat, cough drops make your throat feel worse."

Cough drops make my throat feel better.

More than one person at work told me to go home. Oddly, no one wanted to feel the way I looked. First, though, I did some work and spread some germs. I'm dedicated that way.

Then I came home and slept most of the afternoon, because the alternative was to claw my throat out of my neck with my bare hands. I feel a little bit better now, after three hours of sleep.

I have everything I need, but the only thing is that I wish I had something cold for my throat. Mochi, maybe, or fudgesicles. But the store seems awfully far away, even though it's only a five minute drive.

Plus it seems cruel, the sicker I feel, to go out in public and inflict this on anyone else.

26 October 2011

pieces of home

I made sure to stomp on as many crunchy leaves as possible in the Mitten, to store up for arriving back in State of Happiness where the autumn proceeds in fits of rain, completely mushifying all leaves before they even fall off the branch.

I myself, all on my own, ate pretty much the entire bowl of apples-whipped cream-Snickers that Aunt Lisa brought to lunch, and I told myself that the six (was it six?) apples in there made up for the entire Snickers bar I ate.

I gave up on clean jeans and jumped into the pile of leaves with little R. and B., in the golden autumn light, and caught them as they jumped off the picnic table into my arms, and swung them high as they laughed with their I-know-that-smile faces that tell me that they are of us.

In a bar an hour from my parents' home, in the city where I went to college, I spent an evening talking about Uganda and Rwanda and South Sudan with a girl who married an (alleged - he looks vaguely familiar) university classmate of mine. The fundamental problem with my life right now, I realized, is its lack of travel.

21 October 2011

mouse house

There was a little mouse running around near Gate B16 or so of O'Hare airport early in the morning, and I sat there with my chai and coffee cake, watching it dart about.

I used to be a shrieker and a stand-on-chairer when it came to mice, but that was before I lived in South Sudan. I had to give up standing on chairs at the sight of a mouse, because there were snakes to drive me up onto chairs while entire rooms of people laughed at me and then went outside in their flipflops to kill the snake with stones and sticks.

Also, there was a little mouse living in the wall of my tukul. As long as there is a mouse running around, there are no snakes. That little mouse ran along the wall of my tukul almost every morning, and now when I see a little mouse, even in an airport, I look upon it fondly.

A man startled as he walked past. "Did you see that?" he asked. "There was a mouse!"

"Yes," I said, un-alarmed. "It's been running around here for a while now."

19 October 2011

breaking kung fu

I officially received my yellow belt today in kung fu, after a fighting class in which the instructor made me get off my knees and do more pushups on my toes. (Whoa. Hard work.)

Promptly after receiving my yellow belt, I walked out the door.

I am taking a month off from kung fu. With great regret and sadness, I am taking a break.

I'm only doing it because my knees can take no more. I mean, I love kung fu (and there is nothing like earning a yellow belt to make you want to leap into working on getting an orange belt), but not at the expense of my knees for the rest of my life.

I had a very annoying conversation with the insurance company about physical therapy to teach me ways to strengthen my knees. Insurance company take: sometimes surgery is less expensive than letting you have physical therapy. My take: whaaaaaat? This is why health care in this country is so, pardon my language, effed up.

Suffice it to say, we differed on the topic.

So, I am taking a month off (of exercise that would help keep me healthy, thank you health insurance and your wily way of making people sicker long term in exchange for short term profit) to rest my knees and (insurance work-around achieved!) go to my chiropractor, who is very good about providing exercises to correct alignment.

I had sort of forgotten how relatively un-exhausted one is after only one single hour of crazy workout. It's positively refreshing to come home after just a session of fighting class. It's like I have evenings again.

I miss kung fu, though.

18 October 2011


Universe City is outdoing itself with beautiful leaves this week, trying to trick me into believing that there is no winter coming.

I am not fooled. I can feel winter in the chill when the sun goes down. I can see it in my fogged car windows in the morning. I can taste it in the orange cherry tomatoes that don't get ripe anymore. I can feel it even in my body's desperate clinging to the weaker sunshine we are still getting.

Winter is coming, and too soon.

16 October 2011

nothing to see here

This day turned miraculously sunny, and I want to throw my arms around it and hug it for knowing exactly what I needed on my first day in weeks that does not contain plans. The clear air smells like smoke, and that, too, is exactly what I need today.

I celebrated my day off by drinking coffee at the hipster coffee shop and going to the horror that is that big box store that treats its workers terribly. (You know the one I mean. It rhymes with "Stall-Tart.") I generally avoid that store like the plague, but I am trying a new thing: to put the same amount of money in savings while adding a retirement account deposit every month. And not taking money out of savings. And buying plane tickets to Michigan (this week!). And having fun. And not having a credit card.

The Blue Emu that I massage into my knees every day for Project Do Kung Fu Without Permanent Knee Damage costs $17 a jar at the pharmacy near my house. It costs $11.50 at Stall Tart. Between that and the $4 I saved on my allergy eye drops, the drive out to Stall Tart was worth it. I made up for it by stopping at Goodwill on the way home for a few Halloween costume items.

I am going to be a bumblebee for Halloween. I bought a set of wings and antennae, and a black shirt that I will stripe with yellow tape.

But I am confronting, tonight, the fact of purchasing cheap, badly made junk. Not for the quality, but for the implications. How much damage am I doing the world and the people of the world by my purchasing?

I had a friend in law school who only bought fair trade clothing. One day of shopping at Stall Tart makes me think that maybe I should do the same. (The problem always comes, though, from the fact that I can't wear normal clothes. I need to buy talls, and there are no talls, that I have found, on fair trade websites.) And surely I could make my own bumblebee wings.

10 October 2011

multiple daily falls

This morning, I fell down the stairs with a cereal bowl in my hand.

It didn't hurt, exactly, because I only fell down three steps, and I landed mostly sitting down with a little bit of pressure on my back. My cereal, however, flew up into the air. The bowl landed upside down.

Trader Joe's Os were strewn about the downstairs hallway. I found some later behind the laundry room door, once I had my contacts in.

And all the way down at the end of the hall, there was a droplet of milk on the sleeping bag that I hadn't yet put away from the weekend travels.


In the afternoon, I tried to sit down on a bench in front of where the bench actually was, so for a moment I was hovering in the air above nothing. Then I caught myself with my hands, and I slid backwards onto the bench.

People laughed at me.

09 October 2011

super city drinks

I drove up to Super City on the Sound this weekend, for the first time ever (ridiculous, considering that it is only three hours from Gone West). It was my friend's thirtieth birthday, and we didn't do one touristy thing. I can't tell you anything to do in Super City on the Sound unless you want to have a lot of appetizers and drinks, with a dinner and a breakfast thrown in every now and then, in which case you are in luck, for about two days, because I know of two days worth of places to go for appetizers and drinks, and only in one specific part of the the city.

06 October 2011


At least once per advanced fighting class, lately, I have a moment of being totally overwhelmed. This is because we are doing boxing, again, and my reflexes suck, and so I never manage to block or dodge everything in time, and when I keep getting hit in the face, sometimes by more than one person at a time, eventually I feel a moment of panic.

I need that moment of panic, though. Every time I feel that moment of panic and press on to charge the person, or to whirl away, or to simply hold my ground, I am one step closer to surviving if I ever have to use this to keep myself alive.

I didn't know, before this class, that I would sometimes flinch and turn my head away when a punch came at my head, instead of dodging correctly.

I didn't know, before this class, that sometimes I would get overwhelmed and want a break from being punched at, just for a minute.

I also didn't know, before this class, that I was strong enough to take that punch a little too hard in the face, fight back the feelings of pain and overwhelmed-ness, and punch right back at my attacker.

It's good to know about yourself.

04 October 2011

not a thing

I have the loveliest plan for the evening: to do nothing.

I'm doing it, too. I am sitting on the couch, wrapped in blankets, watching Fringe on dvd. It is just exactly what I need. I need, just for a few minutes, not to think or to move.

And then to go to bed early.

P.S. The raspberries are over for the year, I think. This is sad for me, because I pretty much survive on them all summer. I think - the pouring rain is also a clue - this lovely summer is really done.

02 October 2011


The Super Hiking Organizer accompanied me up to Gone West for birthday festivities. I reacted approximately like a tour guide who wants to convince their customer that this is the Best! Town! Ever!, probably because that is exactly how I feel about Gone West and I want everyone else to feel that way, too. I do the same annoying thing when my parents come to town.

It was lovely to be in the city I love. We had my favorite food cart food. We went to a museum next to the park where I used to sit and eat my lunches. We got tea at the tea place. And to crown my birthday, we went with T. and S. to Ethiopian, of course, and then just next door to play pool.

I tried, this morning, as we were leaving Gone West with one of my favorite only-in-Gone-West cappuccinos in hand, to figure out what it is about that city that I love so much, and I think part of it is the feeling of possibility. Even when I wandered the city alone there, I felt like anything could happen. Someone could sit down next to me on the train wearing African clothes. I could meet someone who had a job that I could fix as my life goal. A new friend could be in line at the coffee shop with me.

I don't feel that way in Universe City, and I don't know if it's me or the town. Perhaps both - the town is smaller, and I am less enthusiastic.

It was, however, a lovely birthday, filled with just enough drizzle to remind me that I am here in the Land of Rain and Damp. Hearts.