31 July 2013

The Month of the Bad Tire(s)

Bad news: I'm back on the bus.

My bike tire went soft on the way to work today. It didn't go all the way flat, so I sort of limped along to work, checking it every block or two, trying not to run over anything too bumpy that might hurt the rim.

There is a tire pump in the bicycle room at work, and when I got to work I pumped the tire.

At the end of the day, the tire was still full, so I got on the bike and rode home.

I was a little more cautious than usual: I took main roads instead of the waterfront, in case I had to get on a bus, and I checked the tire a lot.

I made it home just fine, but my bike made a scraping noise, like something was rubbing against the tire, all the way home. 

It wasn't until one of the last stoplights that I noticed something odd with the tire. 

When I got home, I looked more closely. Sure enough: the tire is fraying off the rim. 

The tire was literally falling apart underneath me as I rode. In fairness to the tire, it is fully possible that it came with the bike when my parents bought it for me twelve years ago, which might just be beyond the normal lifespan of rubber.

I don't have time to bring the bike into the shop before Friday night, so I'm back to the bus.

This is an expensive month.

30 July 2013


Riding a bicycle is addicting. 

My mom knows this; she rides her bicycle almost every day unless stymied by snow or heavy rain.

Last week, when someone had intentionally punctured my tire, it made sense to take the bus to work. I could drop my car off five blocks from my house, at the tire store, and get on the bus on that very corner. I could pick my car up on the way home, right next to the bus stop.

But I'm addicted now, as long as the weather is fair, and so I rode my bike to work, took the bus home over lunch, took the bus back to work, and rode my bike home at the end of the day. 

I ride my bike even when it is cool in the morning and I"m covered in goosebumps as I ride down the hill into the wind.

I ride my bike even though allergies + wind in my eyes makes me cry off all my mascara and I have to wipe off my face and reapply the mascara if I forget and put it on before I leave the house.

I ride my bike even though the park maintenance people today aimed one of the sprinklers directly at my path, at thigh level, soaking me through on my way to work.

I ride my bike even though I arrive at work sweaty and I arrive home sweaty. 

I love it. The endorphins have snagged me.

I even inspired my Aunt Lisa to ride her bike home from work a couple of weeks ago, and I'm hoping the endorphins have snagged her, too. Let them snag everyone!

29 July 2013


Girl at martial arts studio, to me, after the seminar on Saturday: "Look at you in that dress! You look just like a little angel!"



Two words that have probably not been used to describe me since I passed the age of 7.

27 July 2013


We had a bjj seminar today, to learn guard-passing. The guard is where the person on the bottom has their legs between them and the person on top. Basically, if you are on top, you are trying to get to the person's side, past their legs. 

I did not actually know how long this seminar would be. I arrived stocked with snacks and drinks, just in case, only we never got a break long enough to do more than snarf a few nuts or gulp some water.

The seminar was three hours long, on a warm sunny day, inside the hot warehouse, wearing thick cotton gis.

By the last half hour, my drilling partner, a woman whose age I will not hazard to guess (I am bad at this, but she is older than me and probably younger than my mom) gave up. I went and drilled with her husband instead. His partner had to leave early.

I ended up with that sick dehydration feeling. If you don't know that feeling, you either don't work out much, you know your limits, or you are significantly better than I am at staying hydrated. 

I drank two glasses of club soda with raspberry at the Mexican restaurant a block over, and then I went for 24 ounces of iced tea at my tea place, and still I am dehydrated.

Mid-dehydration, I stopped at 1ke@ to check out their damaged section. I needed a chair for my office, and I needed one on the cheap, due to being (constantly) broke. I sat for a while in a rocking chair that I quite liked, but I ended up buying a bright blue cloth chair that is probably intended for a kid's room. It is less hard on my still-damaged tailbone, and it was cheaper. 

I also bought a footrest. Now I shall be able to lounge in my office, should I have time for lounging, ever.

26 July 2013


I forgot to add the part where the g@p had a neon pink brocade jacket that I wanted to buy so very badly, because it was bright and a tall and brocade-I-love-brocade, but it was a size or two too big for me and even I could not justify spending the, um, $9 on a jacket that doesn't fit and won't unless I gain some quality weight or learn how to sew. Even if I learn how to sew, taking that jacket in is probably going to be beyond me at least until the fashion for neon has once again faded into the distant past.


What no one tells you is that wearing a gi on a 90 degree day inside an old warehouse (and not the big old barn-like warehouse filled with cool air but the small, stuffy city kind of warehouse) is deathly hot. My face is instantly sweat-covered upon beginning class.

In an effort to fix that, I went and bought some short spandex shorts (which shall not see the light of day outside of class) and a spandex tank top to wear instead of the capris and tshirt. Said shorts and tank top were on the clearance rack, and cheap. 

Together with another tank top, I almost escaped the mall with a $20.95 total.

Except not, because then I saw that sleepwear was on sale, too, and then I found a scarf that was not even on sale, but I bought it anyway. (It is, however, on sale online, I now see. Is it worth $6 to return it and get it anew?)

They made this scarf for me, okay? Someone, somewhere in the world, designed and produced it for me.

It is cotton (= not itchy on my neck) and has green bicycles all over it. Green. And bicycles. 


Then I went off to return my cans and bottles and buy some new bottles of sparkling water from the one Gone West branch of my favorite Universe City grocery store, and my new tires saved my life when the entire highway full of cars came to a dead stop in the span of a few seconds.

Well, they saved my car, at least. It would have been bad for the little Honda to run into the back of that Sequoia. 

25 July 2013

letting go

I never learned to ride my bike with no hands when I was a kid. 

I'm not sure if this was because it scared me - it did - or because I wasn't the most coordinated of children - I wasn't - or because I grew up riding bikes on bumpy, sandy dirt roads in Liberia - I did - but I just never could let go with the second hand. 

One hand, fine. I could do one hand. Two was just scary.

It wasn't until the summer after college, or maybe the summer after law school, some summer when I was living in the basement of my parents' current house, that I learned to ride no-handed.

My parents' neighborhood is full of flat streets with very few cars. It is basically perfect for riding a bike no-handed, and whichever summer it was, I finally learned to let go of both handlebars.

But now that I use my bike for commuting, I have a milk crate attached to the back of it. The milk crate is full of books (heavy) and a gi (heavy) and my daily snacks (heavy), and so the bike is more top-heavy that it would otherwise be. That, and I'm always riding next to cars, so letting go of the handlebars seems ill-considered.

Today I rode my bike home from bjj, 32 blocks down our beautiful street (we live on a bike route street and my martial arts studio is two blocks off it), and I found myself, despite the top-heavy milk crate, sitting back and letting go of the handlebars and reveling in the letting go.

24 July 2013


I stopped at the farmers market for a pint of brilliant red plump raspberries and a pint of glowing orange cherry tomatoes. 

Then I cheated on my no sugar deal and bought a sweet treat. There are a number of bakeries there, but only one has gluten-free French macaroons. Today's flavor was almond-chocolate shells with vanilla bean filling. I bought one and ate it slowly as I left the farmers market.

Then I turned around and went back and said, "I have $7. How many more of those macaroons can I get?" 

The answer was 8, but she gave me 9. 

(Don't worry, I am not eating them all today. Into the freezer they will go, for a time of need.)

23 July 2013


Well, the suspicion I placed on my car for ruining yet another tire has been alleviated. The car cannot be blamed. The car was, in fact, the victim.

On the way out of the office on the lunch hour, my coworker told me that there has been a rash of tire slashings in our neighborhood. His car's tire has been slashed twice, and he finally called the cops, which is saying something, since I think of him as probably the last person on the planet who would call the cops other than, say, a mob boss.

He thought that they might be targeting bigger cars, though, SUVs and Subarus, that it might be an environmentalist thing.

 Apparently not.

My car gets almost 40 miles to the gallon on the highway. It is small and light. It is an environmentalist's happy car, if an environmentalist were to have a happy car.

The tire place called me not ten minutes after I dropped the car off to tell me that the tire had been intentionally punctured by a sharp object. (I think the difference is the location: accidental punctures happen on part of the tire that runs on the road. Intentional punctures go into the side-wall.)

Also, the tire that had been vandalized was the newest, best tire on the car, and the others were basically illegally tread-less, and did I want to buy four new tires?

I did not want to buy four new tires, but I didn't seem to have much of a choice.

(Just to fend off any aspersions on the name of the tire shop: I have used this PNW chain of tire shops multiple times, and I have universally found them to be honest and helpful. They are known for those qualities. Almost every time I have gone in, they have fixed my tire without charging me anything. The only times I have paid a dime are when 1. my tire - the predecessor to the one with the puncture today - got a hernia on the highway and pretty much burst through its interior wire caging and was not salvageable, and 2. today.)

While I waited for my tires to be replaced, I called the non-emergency police line, and some detective person called me back.

"You came very close to being our 1000th caller about this," he said. "You almost won the t-shirt."

The tire slashings turn out to be more of tire... stabbings, with a leather awl or an ice pick or some undetermined sharp pointed object that does not have edges like a knife. They have been going on for months.

I mostly called the police to help them establish the pattern and maybe make this stop. I don't ever expect to get reimbursed the $90 for my newest, best tire, but it would be nice to not have to worry every time I go out to my car that my tire will have again been stabbed, costing yet another $90. I only have so many multiples of $90. The multiples of $90 in my bank account are not unlimited.

* The title of this is funny to me because it is what we used to say when practicing knifework at my martial arts studio in Universe City. Slash-stab. Slash-slash-slash. Stab-slash. Stab-slash-stab.

22 July 2013

ongoing tire saga

I was all excited tonight about the littlest of things: my fighting class gets done at 8:30, and I had nothing to do but go to bed afterward. I didn't even need to stop at the store for milk! This never happens to me.

(That was foreshadowing.)

(This never happens to me.)

Remember how, when I bought my car almost three years ago, I kept having problems with the tires? Remember how one would be flat and then another?

It's happening again. 

I suppose one flat tire is too early to call a pattern. I'm just saying: it has happened again.

Fortunately, my dad walked me through changing the tire a couple of years ago, on the phone, and I'm pretty okay at figuring things out. That, and three people from my martial arts studio stopped to help. 

Mostly they put the flat tire into the trunk while I put the donut on the axle. 

"Just maybe move the sword out of the way," I called. "I don't want the satin scarf to get dirty." 

That's what everyone says when they put a tire in their trunk. 

Now my pleasant planned evening tomorrow of getting a few groceries from the one local branch of a Universe City store that has a couple of brands I can't resist looks more like an evening of waiting around at the tire place. This tire is one they sold me a few years ago, and I really hope it's under warranty still.

21 July 2013

wake up

On my bike last night, the air felt like Rwanda. It was cool but not cold. Perfect.

I was on my bike, and for a block or two, the air smelled like burning, the very smell of most of the continent of Africa, and I was homesick.

If you had told me in 2008, when I flew out of Addis Ababa, that it would be my last trip to Africa for more than five years, I would have laughed at you, and then I would have wept.

It is impossible. Once I went back to Africa in 2000, to Kenya and then back to Liberia, I couldn't imagine that I would ever again have a life that did not involve significant time on the continent.

When I was 26, I'd spent half my life there.

Now it feels so far away.

I don't know this person who hasn't been to Africa in five years, who has let lack of money and vacation time keep her stuck in one place.

I think I need to find myself again. Those years in Universe City were soporific, but I've escaped now, and I'm waking up. The world is waiting for me.

20 July 2013


A couple of years ago, an acquaintance told me that I needed to be more like him, and be colorblind, and I almost lost it. (See also, this article: Colorblind Ideology is a Form of Racism.)

I sputtered for a minute, because what the f*ck? Yes, I know. Swearing. But I feel like this situation deserves it. (Sorry, Aunt Lisa. And Momma.)

I had just come back from the Mitten, from the D., in fact, and someone asked me how it was, and I said, "It was really nice to be in the Mitten, where not everyone is white. And I feel like white people and black people interact more comfortably there."*

Later he said to me, "I couldn't believe that racist thing you said," and I had literally no idea what he was talking about.

It turned out that he believed that my statement about it being nice to be in a place that was not all-white was racist against white people.

I was irate. 

On the inside.

On the outside, I told him that I disagree. I told him that I think that diversity is an objective good, and we all need the perspectives of people with different backgrounds than ourselves. 

I told him that racism is fundamentally a structural issue, and even if a person had negative feelings about white people as a whole, that is not the same thing as the structure of racism that has given benefits to white people at the expense of people of color for centuries. 

I told him that no one wants you not to see the color of their skin, they just want you to value and respect them for who they are, including the color of their skin.

He laughed at me and pointed at me (literally) and said, "Yeah, yeah, you are racist against white people."

And look, this is NOTHING. I know that. I am white, and I live in the privilege of that. I am comfortable in Gone West, in Universe City, in these almost all-white cities, because of the color of my skin. I don't have to think about it.
But what scared me the most about that conversation, what still makes me feel sick to my stomach, is that there are white people in this country who still feel that way. Even one of my friends, when we talked about it later, essentially told me that I should back down to keep the peace.

I won't.

It is a lie to say that the real racism is seeing race and appreciating diversity.

It is a lie to say that we should be colorblind.

It is a lie to say that we are past racism.

As long as a white man who considers himself liberal and accepting believes that to see race is to be the problem, we are not past racism.

As long as all the loss prevention officers in a store are white while most of the shoppers are black, we are not past racism.

As long as we assume that affirmative action means that an unqualified person gets a job because of their race rather than the truth that sometimes the racist structure of our society has taken away opportunities to such a degree that a perfectly qualified person of color hasn't been able to prove their qualifications quite like a white person has, we are not past racism.

As long as a prosecutor offers a long prison sentence to a black man involved in a DUI where someone got hurt when we all know that he would have offered probation to a white man with the same lack of criminal history, we are not past racism.

As long as we have stereotypes of the "angry black woman" and the "welfare queen", and use the phrases "ghetto" (to mean black and bad) and "white trash" (because people of color are assumed to be trash? or because white people have to be a special breed in order to be trash?), we are not past racism.

As long as nearly every young black man in New York City is stopped and frisked at some point while young white men go about their business, we are not past racism.

As long as 17 year old black young men can't walk home with a hoody over their heads against the rain without being stalked and killed** by men who carry white privilege based on their appearance, name, and language (whatever their parentage), we are not past racism. 

We are right in the middle of it. We all of us are right in the middle of it. To deny that is to deny the truth.

It's time we stopped denying the truth.

(Someone asked me what I think, as a lawyer, about the case itself. This post from the Atlantic pretty much says it all: Trayvon Martin and the Irony of American Justice.)

* It may or may not be true that black people and white people interact more comfortably in the Mitten. There are problems there, too. I guess what I was trying to say that it felt really good and familiar to be in a place where a black woman walking into the train station said to me, "I love your dress!" and I said, "I was just going to say the same thing to you!" I don't think that would happen in a place as white as Universe City, or even Gone West, because people of color just can't be as comfortable when there are so few of them amidst the sea of white people. Then on the train, the conductor was an older black man who gently flirted with me in that way that I specifically associate with older black men, and it made me happy. I don't think that would have happened in Universe City, either, although I think it's slightly more common in Gone West, being a bigger city.

** Even if you believe George Zimmerman's story in its entirety, this is still true.

19 July 2013


The other day, I grabbed my suit jacket off the coat rack to head off to some lawyer-like thing, and my coworker, who was standing in the doorway, said, "Uh, your dress has a hole in the back."

I pulled my skirt around, and there it was: the back seam had started to come apart. Just a little, but enough that I handed her the information for my afternoon lawyerly situation because I could not possibly stand in front of a group of people with a hole in the back seam of my dress. 

Instead, I put my workout pants on under my dress and went shopping.

Because I had to, you see. I couldn't remain in the dress with the steadily-growing hole in the back. It looked odd with capri yoga pants underneath. And I didn't want to put on my tank top and yoga pants at work. 

Shopping was basically a requirement. I was forced to shop. Circumstances forced me into shopping.

Okay, look: I bought a dress off the clearance rack at the G@P. It's not like I went crazy. They let me wear it out of the store - I leaned over and the clerk cut the tag out of the neck while the dress was on my body - and I managed to resist that other cute blazer there and the dress and blazer at @nn T@ylor. I was practically practical.

Then I went next door to the not-my-favorite tea place that I did not know had a branch in the mall, and I got tea, and the woman working there told me that she loved my dress, first thing, before anything else, and we talked about dresses and how she has trouble wearing them over her 8 month pregnant belly because they get too short in front, but then the line built up and she had to actually work.

I used to never be able to shop for clothes on my own. There was the third culture kid thing and the nerd kid thing. I didn't trust myself. 

But then someone said to me today, "I was so glad when you and [colleague] started coming around, because I thought, "Finally! Other girls who care about looking nice!"

Oh, Gone West, you casual town. I love you, but I refuse to dress like you. Not anymore. Not since I have found my own style.

Now I face the dilemma of what to do with the $12.99 at goodwill dress that split up the back seam. It's a cute dress, if only a cheap knit from t@rget that probably cost less to buy in the first place than I paid at goodwill. But all the seams are coming apart. My roommate has a sewing machine, but there is no predicting when I'll get to it.

I am going to sew my own dresses some day, but I may need to live closer to my mom before I risk it.

18 July 2013

gi clad

Since I got promoted in BJJ last week, I needed a gi. You need a gi to be able to officially roll, which is the not-rehearsed, see-what-happens version of grappling.

I ordered a gi online on Saturday night, and then I fretted. It was in Plano, TX. What if it didn't make it in time?

I stalked the USPS tracking site.

Fortunately, it arrived right on time yesterday. I washed it and shrunk it a little in the dryer (it cannot be too long on your hands and feet because you don't want it covering your hands and feet when someone has a grip on the cuff), and I am ready to go tonight. Rolling here I come.

The gi I bought is a women's gi, so it has pink embroidery on it (because women = pink, apparently), but I bought it in black because fighting colors are black, grey, and red, in my mind, with occasional exceptions made for blue. (When I joined this gym, I got a free white t-shirt, which I will never wear. Not only do I look terrible in white, which is the most important factor, but a white shirt? For rolling around on the floor? I can't keep a white shirt white while sitting in my office. Wearing it for fighting is a bad joke.)

Then last night I watched a guy roll with 30 people in a row, and as his gi top basically came off, I realized that I need a rash guard to wear underneath, so I stopped at the nearest everything store and dithered over the horrible colors. I ended up with a purple one shot through with stripes of pink and black. "This one is more feminine," the cashier said, than the blue and green one that was the alternative.

That is the problem. I am fighting here. Girly is nonsense. I want tough.

Whatever. It goes with the pink embroidery and I can always buy another one in a better color later. For now, I just need to get rolling.

i am a little nervous, not going to lie.

14 July 2013

little victories

For years, I have been trying blueberries every summer in an effort to like them. (I read that if you try something 12 times, you will learn to like it.)

Good news! Today I discovered that my efforts have been successful.

There is a piece of Gone West that is rural, all berry fields and beaches, and my roommates and my friend D. and I went out there today. We started with blueberries, and when D. and I were done but J. as still picking, we sat down at the edge of the field and talked. I had eaten half the amount I picked before I realized that I was eating blueberries and I was liking them.


Then we went to the beach and fell asleep in the warm dappled shade, moving as the sun moved. I need more weekends like this.

13 July 2013

yellow x 2

Let's put it this way: last night, I fell asleep at 8 pm, and after I got up at 10:30 and washed my face and brushed my teeth, I fell immediately right back to sleep and slept until almost 9 am. I feel like I could do the same tonight.

Something has to give.

The one thing I don't want to be the thing to give is my fighting classes, which are still at four days a week (soon to go to three longer classes).

Oh! This week, I got promoted in Brazilian jiu jitsu. I am now allowed (as soon as I procure myself a gi - I just ordered the black one from this page) to attend the non-intro class. And I believe that when I get a belt (I haven't needed one yet, due to not having a gi, and they were out of them on Thursday when I got promoted), it will have color on it. 

I realize that it's not that impressive to have yellow belts in two martial arts (kung fu and BJJ), but it feels impressive to me. It's funny how I am somehow more proud of my accomplishments in martial arts than pretty much anything else in life. 

I think it's partly because I have always been that tall, clumsy girl. If there is a thing to run into, I will run into it. I warmed the bench for three years in high school soccer. When I tried zumba, I was that overly-tall person out of sync in the back row. Coordination has never been my thing.

Then I found martial arts, and suddenly I can do a sport. Part of it is sheer stubbornness. If you are willing to keep slugging a heavy bag and holding a piece of paper between your elbows to train your muscles to keep them in tight against your body and being corrected over and over, you will get better. 

I am willing to do all that, and I love it.

BJJ is a little bit different. I started BJJ because I loved the ground survival section of my fighting class in Universe City. BJJ is rolling around on the floor, trying to be the person on top. One of my grappling partners one day said, "I think this is the move we did the first class I took, and all I could think was, "I don't even know this person, and here I am in a baby-making position with them.""

Which is true. If you are the sort of person who is going to be bothered by the fact that you are kneeling on the ground with a stranger's hips up against yours and their feet locked behind you, you will hate BJJ. I am pretty unperturbed by that situation, so it suits me. 

The reason why I think I'm going to be decent at BJJ is that same sheer stubbornness. I'll tap if my bone is going to break from an arm bar or I'm going to go unconscious from a choke, but if there is a way to squirm my way out of a situation, I will do it. It might not be the way we learned in class, but I will persist until I have gotten out. I may never win competitions (competitions are not my goal, anyway), but I find fighting my way out incredibly fun.

10 July 2013

secret to happiness

I have found the secret to happiness, and it's really quite simple.

The secret to happiness is riding your bike to work every morning, in the sunshine, along the water. 

This week I pretty much just decided that the bike riding was going to happen, regardless of what kind of work event was going to require me to be professionally groomed and attired by 8:30 am, and so I am on the bike every day. 

It's pretty fantastic. Every morning, pedaling along in the cool morning air, I think to myself, "This is how every day should start!" (Yes, with the exclamation mark. I see the exclamation mark hanging in the air as I think it.)

So there you have it: the definitive secret to happiness.

The only minor problems with implementing the secret to happiness are:
  1. Sunshine is so fickle.
  2. Some places may not have the waterfront option (sad for them).

08 July 2013

cat (not mine)

My roommate got a new cat last week, to be company for her old cat, and the new cat has been sick. Apparently this is unavoidable when a cat comes from the Humane Society, it's in the air there, and they just have to get over it.

He spent Friday night curled up at the bottom of my bed, sneezing. When he finally left in the morning, the old cat came and curled up in exactly that spot, presumably to mark it as his once again.

The new cat is mostly white with faint orange stripes all over. He is cuddly and quiet, so much so that M. said she hopes he grows a personality when he feels better and gets comfortable. He seems to be feeling worse, though.

Last night, the new cat came into my room and sniffed about in the very same place where he and the old cat had both been laying a day or two before.

I didn't have my contacts in, but something looked odd. 

Very odd. 

I leaned forward and, yup. He was peeing on my bed.

Fortunately, he mostly peed on the two throws that usually keep my feet warm, which I had tossed off to the side in this warm weather. 


I could smell his pee as we carried the layers down to the basement to the washing machine, and M. added some special cat-pee-smell remover to the laundry.

It's hard to get too mad, though, at a cat who is so clearly miserable. He spent the night on the rug in the bathroom (not because everyone had banned him from their rooms; only I had done that), and when I went in there this morning, he was sort of shivering every few seconds. I think he has a fever.

It's hard to get too mad at the patheticness of a shivering, feverish cat curled up almost unmoving on the bathroom floor. It's probably going to be a while before I let him back in my room, though.

07 July 2013

fairy falls

Last Saturday, my friend D. and I did a hike in the shadow of the big mountain, the one you can see from the city. I hiked to this waterfall once before, with S. and N., back when they had to ask me if seven miles was going to be okay, and I wasn't sure. (I was fine that time, even back then when I was new to hiking, and now seven miles is just a nice afternoon hike.)

I had just made the gluten free decision that morning, so I snarfed some rice/beans/roasted peppers concoction at the trailhead, and we started off. 

Half a mile down the trail, I realized that I'd left my iPhone in the car. Not just in the car, but I'd left it right between the two front seats, where it was 1. visible to anyone passing (and this trailhead comes with a warning of car break-ins) and 2. in direct sunlight (and this was a 95+ degree day). 

We turned around. And sure enough, there in the very hot direct sunlight was my roasting phone. 

I put it in my backpack, and off we went, again, over the same ground. 

We took the longer way to the falls, because it promised to be prettier, and it was very pretty. We strode through woods. We meandered along creeks. We passed under a high cliff of white rock.

The waterfall was as fairy-ish as I remembered, all silvery sparkles down a rock wall. We sat in the cool shade with snacks (the only ones I could eat were nuts, so I ate a lot of almonds and walnuts). A woman took a picture of us in front of the falls, but she knelt down to get the whole falls in, and we looked like chipmunks from that angle. (I did, at least. I will not speak for D.)

As always, I forgot to drink enough water, and by the time we got back to the city and went on a quest for cold drinkables (it took four stops before we found a coffee place open on a Saturday night), I could feel the dehydration kicking in. Someday I will learn to drink enough water, but that day is clearly not now.

06 July 2013


So here is the problem: there is no time for anything but working, fighting, and sleeping in my life right now. 

I cannot get a full night of sleep to save my life, because by the time I come home from fighting, it is already 9 pm, and once I wind down and get ready for bed, it is late.

I'm trying to go hiking as much as I can, but today I finally had to say no. I had to sleep in, and run a few errands, and just be.

This pace is killing me.

It's summer. The sky is still blue when I leave work, even when I leave it late. The streets are still full of people. The air is still warm. 

We sweated through our shirts in fighting class last week. (I held pads for a guy who was sweating so hard that droplets of his sweat flew at me every time he hit a pad. Ew.)

I took my bike to a nearby bike shop today, because a fender bolt had come loose, and the pedal has been making a funny noise for, oh, four years. It took about 10 minutes and $5 for the guy to fix it right up. I bought a water bottle holder for my bike in the shape of a bird, because that is so completely this town. On the way back home, the bike ran more smoothly than I can remember it running.

I need a whole string of these lazy, empty days, but I can't imagine when I'll ever get them.

05 July 2013

gluten free

Warning: this post is about going gluten free. Do not read if that topic will bother you.

I went gluten-free.

It was Saturday when I made the decision. I had yet another last minute appointment with my doctor because my throat/sinus cavities/headache situation was intolerable but not strep throat or a sinus infection, and she was sort of like, "Yeah, well. You are allergic to a lot of stuff. What do you want from me?"

"I've been thinking I may have to go gluten free." I said. "My dad and sister are."

"You might want to eliminate dairy, too," she said.

Not what I was hoping to hear.

"The more allergens you can eliminate, the easier it will be on your body," she continued.

"But I'm Dutch!" I said. "We live on milk and cheese!"

"Human beings have only been eating dairy for a very short time, evolutionarily," she said. "We haven't developed to tolerate it."

I decided to start by giving up gluten. I will give this six to eight weeks before I decide on the dairy. One can only handle so much at a time. 

Immediately after the doctor, I was meeting my friend D. for a hike. I meant to pick up a sandwich in the shopping center before we left, but since I was now gluten free (although I'd eaten wheat for breakfast), I went to Chipotle instead and got a bowl rather than a wrap.

On the way home, after an 8 mile hike, I picked up hippie corn flakes and some gorilla munch (corn balls) to swap out for my hippie wheat flakes and bites. That was my beginning. 

Monday at work, two days into the freedom from gluten, I noticed something very curious. 

My intestines weren't all cramped up.

Is this normal? Do most people spend their days with just a total absence of sensation in their intestines? Because, not to get too graphic, it's been a while since I didn't feel crampy and gassy every day. The whole hike on Saturday was fairly miserable due to cramping and gassing. 

(If you've ever traveled to a non-sterilized part of the world, you'll be familiar with this sort of discussion being had right out in public among your traveling friends. After a group of us got back from Nicaragua while we were in college, we conversed for weeks on whether things were solid yet.)

I know how extremely privileged I am in the gluten free realm. I can eat at restaurants that don't use separate utensils. I can eat gluten in a pinch. I can eat gluten if I can't resist. (It's just that it's pretty easy to resist when your digestive processes feel so very much better.)

It helps to live in the fad diet center of the universe, Gone West. There are gluten free bakeries here. Many restaurants are sensitive to the gluten issue.

Today I accidentally bit into a pretzel m&m (I thought it was peanut), and I went and spit it out, but I did get some pretzel stuck in my teeth that I didn't think was worth fighting about. 

Then I had coffee. 

Between the two, my intestines were a little off again.

Tomorrow, I am back on the wagon.

Look, it isn't that I thought people were faking when they said they felt better gluten free. For a year or so, whenever people mentioned the gluten free thing, I said, "I would try it, but gluten doesn't seem to bother my stomach, so it doesn't feel worth it, even for all the other benefits."

Ha! Ha, oh ha! I scoff at myself.

Apparently all the other times I tried going gluten free, I lied to myself and believed that those wheat flakes I had for breakfast didn't count. I think I thought that cutting back on gluten should have the same effects. Not so.

It's just that I didn't expect such a dramatic difference so quickly. It's mind-boggling. I didn't know how bad I felt until I felt good again.

Life is not all a slow slog toward physical misery, it seems.

Now if only I could get a few good nights of sleep, I might really believe that.