27 February 2013


The gun disarm we were doing in fighting class tonight wrenched my poor wrist in an awful way. "Careful with the wrist!" I kept saying, but none of the guys were careful enough. It was all guys plus me tonight, and guys think they are being careful, but they are not. 

By the time we started the exercise-while-being-hit portion of the evening, I had to opt out of burpees. My wrists would not stand for that. 

The instructor, however, would not stand for my not doing anything to provide stress before I did the disarm. Instead of burpees, I ran back and forth across the room while the guys whacked at me with pads and their hands. 

"Bet you wish you were doing burpees right now," someone said.

I didn't, actually. I never wish I was doing burpees right now. Ever. Not even as an alternative to sprinting across the floor.

I will probably be sleeping in my arm brace tonight even without the burpees.

25 February 2013


I kept keep hoping that the right answers will just fall into place: that somehow I will not have to make decisions but will just have the one right choice in front of me. It's very hard, after all, to give up any two of the sets of good things, even in exchange for another set of good things.

Right now I have two real choices, of the three possibilities I am contemplating, and I have to pick one.

I'm hoping that sleeping on it will give me some clarity, because at this moment I am divided right down the middle.

I have lists galore, in my head, in my notebook, in my email. I don't do pros and cons so much as just listing the things I like about each choice. 

When I was in Denver on my way to the Mitten two weeks ago, I had to go through a long hall and down some stairs to get to the hallway of regional jets ferrying passengers to various parts of the country. The gate just across from the flight to Greater River City was labeled "Universe City," and I felt a little flip of recognition. It caught me by surprise, because I used to feel that little jolt when I saw Gone West on a flight monitor. I never expected to feel it for Universe City.

And so it's all more complicated than it used to be.

24 February 2013

lasagna secrets

The sky was blue and clear today, and I only managed to spend a few minutes out in it. This is largely because I spent the afternoon putting together one large lasagna to bring to my friends' house (they just had a baby) and two small lasagnas for me to eat for lunches this week. 

I firmly believe that the secret to delicious lasagna is extra sauce. Also extra cheese. If I have learned anything about making lasagna in my day, the following things are true:

1. There is no such thing as too much parmesan cheese. This is an absolute truth as it pertains to lasagna but also just about everything else. (There is such a thing as too much mozzarella.)

2. Use Newman's Own Marinara. This is a no acceptable substitutes sort of situation. All other spaghetti sauce (other than homemade) is inferior. (Other sauces can be combined with Newman's Own Marinara, but it must be understood that at least half the sauce should be Newman's Own Marinara for the lasagna to be any good.)

3. You will need at least twice as much sauce as the recipe anticipates. The recipe I used today called for two cups of sauce. I used four jars of sauce in what was essentially two lasagnas. And I ran out. I am going to have to buy another jar of Newman 's Own Marinara to add to the last lasagna as I eat the pieces.

4. One should apply freshly ground black pepper between each layer of noodles. It doesn't really matter if it is on the ricotta layer or the sauce layer, but there should be black pepper ground onto the lasagna before you add the next layer of noodles. Additional black pepper should be applied to the top, on top of the cheese layer.

My mom also swears by extra ricotta, but I am not a big soft white cheese fan, so I skip that. I often have extra ricotta at the end. It's the sauce that makes things work. 

My friends raved about the lasagna, of which they ate multiple servings while I held their perfect little munchkin all curled up in a little ball against my chest.

23 February 2013


While I was driving through the driving rain yesterday, a third of the sky cleared (not the third above my car, the third to the west) and the sun shone through, sideways, lighting up the rain until the whole world was glowing so bright that I couldn't see.

I cursed myself for leaving my sunglasses in the trunk, in my other bag.

After squinting and mumbling to myself for a while, I finally thought to check my glove compartment and center console.

Between the two of those compartments, I found four pairs of sunglasses. I guess I was more prepared than I thought.

I dropped all the sunglasses onto the passenger seat and started trying them out. 

Sunglasses number one pinched my head. Not tolerable.

Sunglasses number two took some adjusting, but they worked. The world switched from blinding white to tolerable yellow, and I drove on in a yellow haze.

I clearly do not need four pairs of sunglasses in my car. The story would be funnier if none if the pairs worked, but the fact is that three of the four pairs would probably have worked, all but the pinchy ones. I think I'm going to have to address the apparently compulsive need I have to buy sunglasses. I happen to know that there are also two pairs in my purse and two in my house. 

I don't buy expensive sunglasses (my last two pairs were $3.99 at goodwill), but apparently I buy them whenever I see them, just in case. In case of what? I don't know, really. Just in case.

22 February 2013


For the second time in a week, today, I was on a highway in conditions that scream of imminent death. This time it was my drive back down from Gone West, and rain instead of ice.

I have driven in blizzards that I would prefer to that type of deluge. At least snow does not get kicked up by semis so that you cannot see even to the front of the cab to know where there might be another car. I finally had to slow down to stay behind the semi, but I couldn't get far enough back to avoid blocking both lanes of traffic (there was a car immediately behind me and one immediately behind the semi, and neither of them were going anywhere, not even to allow space so they wouldn't cause a pile-up if a car appeared in front of me or the semi). 

When I first started driving, I thought of highway driving as a dance: you move across lanes, you speed up, you slow down.

Now I've decided it's a dance to which only half the people know the rules. 

If I just moved over to let you merge smoothly, maybe it would be nice if you did not then drive right next to me at exactly my speed for a mile until I have to hit my brakes hard to avoid running into the back of a pickup? See how one gives and one takes? I let you merge; you drive fast enough to get past me when you move into the passing lane. Otherwise, just slow down a wee bit and get back in behind my car. 

No one should ever have to use their brakes except to tap off the cruise control. If you make me hit my brakes because you won't just pass me, you have broken the social contract of highway driving.

Also, if I ruled the world, there would be strict penalties for not getting back into the right lane as soon as you can see the headlights of the car you just passed in your rear view mirror (assuming there is not another vehicle you must immediately pass).

Manners, I tell you. Basic human courtesy. 

(I sound like a cranky old person. So be it.)


Well, that was fun. Not only did I get to see my family and drive in a lot of snow, but I missed a flight for the first time that was not the airline's fault (i.e. I actually missed a flight, not a connection).

When I got back to my parents' house on Monday night at 11:45 pm (yeah, I know), it was raining and 40 degrees. When my dad and I set out for the airport at 6:00 am the next morning (I don't want to talk about how little sleep I got), it was sleeting, the temperature was in the 20s, and the road was an ice skating rink.

Sometimes I exaggerate for comic effect, but I kind of mean that literally on this occasion. Obviously the road was not the size and shape of an ice skating rink, being a road, but it was about as slippery as a newly zambonied rink. I know this because at one point, while we were sitting stopped on the highway, I opened the door of the car and put my foot out onto the ice. I would not have tried even to walk on it if I could help it.

We fully intended to leave for the airport at 5:45, but we did not manage that, and by the time we set out just after six, we'd been hearing sirens for a while. This is not exactly how one wants to begin a 40 mile trip to the airport.

It turned out that there was an accident right outside my parents' neighborhood, on the fast, narrow road that runs to the highway. We didn't know until much later that the person who was seriously injured in that crash was, typically of a town that size, a friend of some of my cousins.

We drove up to Greater River City at a rather pokey pace, with the memory of that crash fresh in our minds. There were a couple of cars spun out on the highway, but nothing terrible. It wasn't until we got on the highway that circles the southern end of Greater River City that we began to have problems. There was a crash ahead of us, and apparently a crash behind us, and we got stuck in a several mile long row of stopped cars.

We were still sitting in the several mile long row of stopped cars on the highway when my flight began boarding. 

There were two more crashes between the highway and the airport. 

The good news of the day (other than the deep gratitude for arriving safely at the airport and knowing that my parents arrived safely back home) was that the airline re-booked me without question, even though I arrived as my original flight was taxiing out to de-icing. Possibly this was because I was not nearly the only person standing in line needing re-booking due to total weather insanity.

It took 9.5 hours of sitting in the airport (pacing the airport) (trying to nap on the uncomfortable chairs with the annoying armrests) (playing on the internet) to finally get on a plane.

I passed the time watching seven snow plows attempt to keep the runway clear as the sleet turned to snow.

14 February 2013


Flying is positively blissful when you get two extra legroom seats to yourself on one flight and a first class seat on the next. I need to remember to take at least one far away trip a year, so I can keep up my silver status. The upgrades just appear! It's amazing. They still give you snacks in first class, guys.

I packed lighter than ever for this trip (it's becoming a point of pride): two dresses, two sweater tights, one pair of jeans, three shirt, two sweaters, undergarments, done.

Oh, and two pairs of boots.

I have no explanation. Boots are kind of my thing.

When I was home in December, I bought a new pair of boots, which was money I probably ought not to have spent, but as I told my mom and sister, "I wear boots literally every day in the winter, and I only have two good pairs."

"Oh," they said, making fun of me, "Literally? Do you literally wear boots every day?"

And every time the boots came up, "She wears them literally every day. Literally."

The good news is that now that I have three good pairs of boots, I really can wear them every day. I think the only time since Christmas that I have not worn boots (other than to fighting class or the gym) was when I went bowling as a stand-in for my friend who was out of town. Neither a dress nor skinny jeans work for bowling. Boot cut it is!

So yes, two pairs of boots. In one tiny suitcase.

I also, once again, had to bring 13 puppets from 1ke@. My dad wanted a set of them for his counseling work with kids, so I once again used a rattlesnake puppet as a pillow on the plane. Complete with rattle.

My usual memory foam horseshoe pillow (incredibly good investment if you fly on a regular basis: squishes small and keeps its shape much better than the styrofoam balls) had a different purpose this time.

Ok. So.

When I came home in November for my grandma's funeral, I put on my down booties from rei and picked up my purse and suitcase and started down the stairs to my bedroom. I did not yet realize it, but the elastic on one of the booties had come loose, and the bootie was sliding off my foot.

Halfway down the stairs, arms full of stuff, my left foot slipped on the loose bootie and I went down, hard, on my, erm. My tailbone. I couldn't catch myself, you see.

I am not kidding when I say that I think my tailbone is getting worse instead of better.

When I flew back to Gone West at the end of December, I had to ask, in Phoenix, for them to switch me to a window seat on the right side of the plane because the left side of my erm tailbone is the worst hurt, and when you sit against a wall to your left, particularly when you have people sitting right there to your right, you will lean left.

Try asking for a new seat for that reason and try not to be embarrassed.

"I need a new seat because I injured my ass." Yes. Not embarrassing at all.

The pain is still there, every time I sit for longer than a few minutes, including on my cushy mesh office chair. And so I did some research, and I turned my horseshoe pillow around, and I sat on it, with the open part facing backwards, like a make shift donut pillow.

I am officially an old person.,

09 February 2013


I set off for goodwill last night (after attempting to run errands on an empty stomach, realizing that I was going to fall apart if I did not eat something, in the manner of a cranky 3 year old, driving home, and eating) to buy a hideous dress.

I am playing an old woman c. 1985 for a murder mystery party tonight, and I am sadly lacking in old lady dresses. Where else would I find one but goodwill?

The whole reason why I generally do not bother to attempt the purchase of clothing at goodwill is that the proportion of hideous items to acceptable items is absurdly high, e.g. I looked through the entire dress section and I found four (4) hideous dresses in my size to try on (I ignored many others because they were too hideous and/or hideous in the wrong way) and one (1) acceptable dress in my size.

I was looking, specifically, for a flowered house dress.

House dress, in my mind, connotes muumuu, but I just couldn't quite do that, so I ended up with something that I can only describe as follows: the early 1990s stole an Amish woman's dress and imposed its own awful pattern upon it in place of the solid colored original. (This makes it sound like I think Amish women's dresses are ugly, which was not what I was trying to say. I actually like the fit of this dress, now that I've taken the shoulder pads out, although it is higher in the neck and lower in the skirt than I usually wear. It's just, oh, the pattern.)

Or, okay. Remember in The Sound of Music, when Maria uses the old drapes to make clothes for the children? If the drapes had been a gross blue with ugly mauve roses going up and down in rows and a bit of cream in the background that looks like it was once intended to be white and got dirty, this is the dress she would have made. It seriously looks like I'm wearing curtains.)

Now I am powdering my hair and putting it up in a bun. The heinous dress will be complimented by an apron, a long cardigan, reading glasses on a string, and clumpy shoes with tights. I am excited to look awful. I even remembered to powder my eyelashes so I almost do look like I have grey hair.

I also bought the non-hideous dress, because I liked it in a sort of '60s retro kind of way, and I am still wearing dresses pretty much every day, and I have a rule that any dress under $75 that fits well must be purchased immediately. (Well, it used to be $75, because dresses tend to be kind of expensive, but as the economy has tanked, I bought a dress at B@n@n@ Repub1c six weeks ago for $22, so I may have to move my number down. Under $50, let's say.) The retro dress was $12.99, which illustrates why goodwill is frustrating: anything you actually want to buy is not that cheap. Cheap, yes. Worth the agony of finding it amongst all the heinous things? No.

07 February 2013


I bought a Kobo.

This may possibly have not been the time to buy an e-reader, given that my entire life might change in the next few weeks, but I am flying to the Mitten this week as part of my commitment to spend more time with my family (inspired by deaths 1, 2, and 3 in November/December). 

I cannot fly without reading material. It just is not possible. I understand that people do things like sleep and watch movies while they fly, but I mostly just read.

Okay, I mostly just read all the time. I can hardly be bothered to start a tv show unless I really love it (eh-hem, Fringe, now over, sob). I read while I brush my teeth. I read while I curl my hair. I read while I drink my chai. I read while I bake, sometimes with the bowl in front of my book or computer. 

I was at a party last week where a woman was talking about teaching social skills to kids on the autism spectrum, and she was saying that one of the kids she works with is so addicted to reading that he cannot even go to the bathroom without a book.


I don't actually see the problem.

I mean, I get that there is a grossness factor - I certainly would not expect a person to wipe and then immediately pick the book back up with the same hand; THIS IS WHY PEOPLE HAVE TWO HANDS, so one can hold a book and the other can perform basic life tasks and then you can wash both of them - but my books spend fully half their time on my bathroom counter. My hairbrush is used more often for propping books open than for brushing my hair. 

I fully get this kid. In my opinion, all he needs is some good hygiene and a book stand in the bathroom. Problem solved.

So anyway, you can see why a day of traveling to the Mitten is just not possible without reading material. I would not survive.

More to the point, I would bring two or three library books in my (now all carry on, although apparently I am now a Premier Silver member on Un1ted and can get a free checked in bag) luggage, and then in the airport I would make a beeline for the nearest bookstore and buy a couple more, and then I would end up dragging five or six books back from Michigan, which I tried last time, and we all remember how that went.

I have finally come to accept that my gimpy arms are going to continue to cost me money for the entirety of my life. They are a disability, and and they aren't going away. (The gimpiness nor the arms. I would be glad to lose the former, but I would like to keep the latter. They do work most of the time.) Fortunately, they are a very minor disability, and not the sort of disability that interferes with my ability to do my chosen profession, but they are going to continue to cost me money spent on things like an e-reader with which to travel, because I just cannot carry all the books I need to entertain me without pain and gnashing of teeth. (I used to just travel with a couple of books and read them over and over, but the discovery of the hold shelf at the library has ruined me. Also goodreads.com. There are just so many books out there!)

I went to a big box store last night to just take a look at the Kobos, which I like because you can buy your books through an independent bookseller (also: not @m@zon), and lo! They had one Kobo mini remaining, and it was on sale, and I bought it. I don't actually know if I will like reading on an e-reader (so far, it is so much better than reading on an iPad with a back-lit screen), so it seemed like a good idea to start small (cheap) and maybe upgrade later if/when I know that I like it and if/when my future is a little more certain.

For now, I am still reading paper books (the flow of them from the library has not eased), except when I read a few pages on the Kobo just to admire it and stare at it affectionately. So small! So light! So full of free public domain books!

I am already fantasizing about the lightness of my carry on next week.

05 February 2013



That's a word, right? I know that it is, but it looks all wrong.

I am on tenterhooks right now. My life is on tenterhooks right now. There have been only a few times in my life when everything could change so suddenly but I wasn't sure how: at the end of college, when I got the call about Rwanda, when I left Rwanda, at the end of law school, when I packed up and moved to Gone West.

This is the world wide internet, and of course there are so many things that can't be said here.

"Which option would make you happy?" my dad asked, or something similar.

The truth is that none of the options offers unalloyed joy. This is what happens when you live your life in so many places: every place keeps a piece of your heart. There are always people to miss. 

I am relieved that the options are not completely under my control.

Something will happen. Something will be, and I will be glad for what it brings, and sad for everything it leaves behind.

03 February 2013


My roommate J. suggested that we have people over to watch the Super Bowl, and I dithered for a while because ah! people! I would have to clean the house, and how many people are we inviting, and will there be room for everyone?

In the end, we had just a few of her football-minded friends and just a few of mine, and it was fantastic.

I made a salad and some chocolate bread pudding (my new favorite thing OF LIFE). Other people brought far too much artichoke dip and pizza and bread and nachos, and we all ate until we felt sick.

When the first few people left and an entire short couch opened up (the little orange one that used to be my only couch in Gone West, moved up from the spare room for the occasion), I laid back on it and groaned, trying to let my stomach rest.

I don't care about American football, but I do like a manageable gathering of friends who like it.