31 December 2013


I feel like I should be blogging up a storm here in the Mitten. After all, I'm moving here, right? There is so much to figure out!

Deciding to move here may have been the biggest mistake of my life. 

I am not like this place, and it is not like me.

For the last year, I kept busy when I came to the Mitten. This holiday time I do not have the networking meetings or the one single friend I had made, and so I am facing the utter loneliness of living here head on. It is bleak.

The only thing I want to do is flee back to Gone West.

How can I possibly live here?

And yet, the pace that I have been keeping in Gone West is not sustainable, either. I don't have time to exercise, or to eat healthy food, or to be a sane person.

There is no good answer. There is bad, and there is bad. 

I keep wondering if I can un-quit my job, keep my room, cancel it all. I keep wondering if I should. 

25 December 2013


If I recall correctly, the last time I flew through Houston was in 2002, when T. and I went to Honduras right before I moved to Rwanda. It looks familiar, from those three or so years when I flew to Nicaragua once and Honduras thrice. 

It's different on Christmas Day, though. The guy driving the cart smiles when he has to block me for a moment, and he says, "No, no, you're fine." And then "Merry Christmas!" as he drives away. 

A tiny boy in Christmas pajamas is toddling in front of a gate. 

Two little girls - three or so years old - are rolling on the floor in the center of the cross shape of terminal C. They wear Christmas jumpers with tights, and they sing "Jingle all the way!" as they roll right where people usually walk. I smile at their mom, who smiles back as she tries to corral them. 


Christmas morning, early. 

It's still dark - as dark as it can be in a big city - and as silent as ever I have heard this city. I stand in the middle of the street, listening. The only thing I can hear is the echoing bell sound of the wind chimes on our porch. I can't decide if the utter stillness is eerie, in a city this size, or peaceful. 

When my cab driver arrives, he tells me that he lived in this very house when he first moved to town 13 years ago, and the city seems  much smaller. 

We talk about the East Coast, where he came from, and the Midwest. His route to the airport is faster than that of the guy who drove me last time, and involves a street I've never seen that suddenly connects with the street I always take: a shortcut I never knew, and I'm learning a month before I leave. 

"It's never felt like home here," he says, "even though I've been here a long time."

"It's always felt like home to me, but family trumps in the end," I tell him. 

I give him a big tip, because it is Christmas and he saved me $8 even wih the tip on the faster route. 

I'm through security less than 30 minutes after I called for the cab. It's 4:15 am, and the only thing to do is find the bucks of star, where maybe a chai can compensate for the two hours of quasi-sleep I got last night. 

The barista cheerfully wishes me a merry Christmas at 4:30 am, with the line for coffee stretching out the door. 

24 December 2013

little Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve, and I'm sitting in my house with rice cooking for rice-and-lentils, mostly because I forgot that stores would close early, so I have nothing to eat other than this except dry cereal (I ran out of milk this morning).

I guess I'm eating rice-and-lentils for breakfast, too.

There were a couple of stocking stuffers that I am not going to be able to pick up, thanks to my lack of foresight.

The upside is that I'm sitting in my house with rice cooking for rice-and-lentils instead of rushing about town trying to pick up a last few things.

I also have peppermint stick ice cream that will have to be finished tonight because it has melted (a pizza wedged in the top of the freezer kept it from closing fully today). 

P@ndora is playing the Fernando Ortega Holiday station. (I don't do the Jingle Bells kind of Christmas music, but pretty hymns I can enjoy.)

If only I could make myself get up and pack, this would be a perfect little Christmas Eve.

Like most years lately, I am starting my Christmas season late. We are having family Christmas on 1/1, and I will be flying on Christmas Day, with all the other cranky and/or merry passengers. It's hard to get into a Christmas mood when I am working insane hours just to keep everything afloat. I haven't decorated or wrapped a thing.

I am going to start tomorrow, though.

I just have to get this packing done, first.

23 December 2013

Overheard in Gone West:

Homeless guy, shading his eyes as he walks toward downtown patrol guy who is sitting on his bike, leaning against a fence, "if you're just going to sit there, can't you turn off your light? It's going to give me a seizure."

Downtown patrol guy, not turning off his blinking front light, "are you serious? There are plenty of lights here that are more likely to give you a seizure than this one."

In the square, a group is singing Christmas carols, accompanied by a guitar.  I sat on the wall and sang along for a few minutes, waiting for my bus.

14 December 2013


After work yesterday, a group of us went to the usual spot: a dive bar a block from the office. A friend from Universe City was in town, and he met us there. 

We moved on to pizza in a (supposedly) haunted building and played arcade games in a dark room full of blue light. My bubble guy died over and over, and I came in third of four in pac-man, ahead only of the friend so drunk that he kept moving the pac-man joystick aimlessly long after his pac-man had disappeared off the screen.

I think I lack the hand-eye coordination most male North Americans develop as children due to the video game craze.

After my friends drifted off to eat more food and return to their hotel, I stopped back at the office for my library books. 

Books in hand, I walked alone to the central square, where couples take pictures of themselves in front of the mammoth Christmas tree. I stood there for a few minutes, taking it all in. The air was warm enough that I didn't have to rush. 

It was beautiful: the fog, the tree, the lights, the people. I wondered if it was the last time I would ever stand in that square under the holiday lights.

Very often lately, I look at parts of this city that I love so much, and I wonder if this is the last time I'll see them.

When I flew to the Mitten, I wondered if this was the last time that I would fly out of Gone West when Gone West was home.

When the sun shines through the windows at the tea shop, I wonder if this is my last sunny day in Gone West. 

When I walk through the marble hallways of the building I've gone into just about every day I've ever worked in Gone West, I wonder if I've been in some of those rooms for the last time.

The fact is that some of my last times in this city have already happened. I resigned from my job yesterday, you see, because I took a job back in My (US American) Hometown. 

I'm moving back to the Mitten.

"It's like breaking up with someone when you are still madly in love with him," I told someone, yesterday.

"But you know it's the right thing to do," she said, as a statement, not a question.

It is.

12 December 2013


"Something happened," I called to my roommate, as she put her things down in the dining room.

"What happened? Is that my faux fur?" my roommate asked, walking into my room.

"No, it's my faux fur," I said, lounging upon a yard of it on the floor.

"You bought faux fur?" she asked.

"I bought faux fur," I said.

"What happened?" 

"Well, what happened is that I went to [the fabric store] to get my scarf that I left there on Monday," I said, "and I decided to buy faux fur to make a vest. So I bought this."

Okay, look. I was inspired by this. This faux fur vest is going to happen.

And in the meantime, I can lounge upon it on the floor of my bedroom. Faux fur is surprisingly warm.

The white-orange cat is curled up on my black scarf on my orange couch, and it's awfully cute.

PS. Still waiting.

10 December 2013

the wait

This is one of those moments:

I'm holding my breath.

Something - everything - is about to change, in ways I don't even know yet.

Some moments, when I think about it, I'm beaming, trying to hide the split-wide-open smile from the world that doesn't yet know what might be happening here.

And then I have to find a place to park where no one will notice that I'm weeping into my steering wheel.

Because of a strange confluence of circumstance, I have time right now, in a week when I did not expect to have time, and so I am thinking about all that may be, can be, will be. 

It is there, so close, and yet not quite certain yet.



08 December 2013


I got up early (for a weekend) with the intention of going to work and getting lots done.  When I got out of the shower, though, my phone had blown up with text messages about the fact that the office didn't have power. Since power is required just to get into the building (electronic keypad, elevators), and since email wasn't isn't working, working today has been rendered an impossibility. 

There are some things that I absolutely have to get done, either today or going in early tomorrow morning, so I feel a little bit anxious, sitting here at the tea shop instead of working, but this also feels like a miraculous break after six days straight of all work related things, all the time.

Instead of working, because I can't work, I picked up a few necessities at t@rget. I watched part of an episode of Battlestar Galactica. I drank tea. And it was good. 

Leaving the t@rget parking lot, for some reason I started thinking of what I will look like when I am old. I hope I have smile wrinkles and a double chin that I don't try to hide in photos of me with the people I love. I hope I smile a huge smile that squishes my eyes shut because I am happy. 

07 December 2013

still cold

For some reason, this swathe of State of Happiness has decided to take on the winter characteristics of the Mitten. I am less than pleased. I disapprove of all temperatures south of freezing, particularly for a place that I count on for 40 degree days that chill you to the bone with damp rather than actual cold.

Mostly I'm just annoyed because I no longer own the right equipment for weather like this. I've been getting away with cute little cardigans the last few years, but weather like this scoffs at them. Without good thick layers and a winter coat (also a thing I do not have), the cold is piercing. Piercing, I tell you.

I don't even know what to buy first. I feel like a kid standing in the middle of a circle of toys, running to one and then dropping it to run to another. 

Warm layers! Ooh, warm! Cozy! Soft!

No! A thick coat is what I need! I shall get a coat! This one looks really warm.

Shiny! This sweater is all shiny and pretty and warm...





My head just exploded, and I'm still cold.

04 December 2013


I skipped going to jits tonight, because what was happening was a belt promotion. During a belt promotion, everyone sits in a big circle and takes turns rolling with the promoted one, and here are some things about that:
  1. While I will happily talk in front of a large or small group of people about anything at any time, for some reason rolling in front of a group of people pretty much paralyzes me. Possibly because I am an expert talker, but a novice martial artist.
  2. Because I am, in this situation, always the lower belt level (these promotions only happen with blue belts and above), I always have to start standing up, and my guard passing is abysmal, and this is embarrassing.
  3. I find sitting cross-legged really uncomfortable, particularly when it goes on for an hour.
  4. I know, I KNOW that I should be supporting the people being promoted, because I will hopefully one day be in their shoes, and I will be glad of the support, but I worked for 12 hours yesterday and 11 hours today, and the only reason I drag myself to martial arts in this state of exhaustion is for the exercise, and I knew that I would just sit there watching the clock and thinking desperately about how I was missing sleep and not even getting any exercise. The people being promoted do not need that kind of negativity. 
So I'm at home. When I arrived here, I realized that I had also forgotten that I scheduled a Spanish conversation on skype at 7 pm. I realized this around, oh, 7:40. I felt bad. I messaged the grandpa in Guatemala, but he was no longer around.

And now it is 9:25 pm. My teeth are brushed. My face is washed. I am ready to sleep, and I need it.

02 December 2013

constant vigilance

I generally approach my weeks in one of two ways:
  1. Blaze on through and get as much done as possible. Stay for rolling in jiu jitsu, work long hours, blog, get laundry done, stop at the grocery store, do it all.
  2. Conserve, conserve, conserve. Leave jiu jitsu as soon as class is over, go to bed as quickly as possible, try to keep from getting so little sleep that I cannot bear mornings.
This week is shaping up to be version number 2. 

I fought my way to being on top of most areas of my life in the last few weeks, and now I have one motto: CONSTANT VIGILANCE, lest things should slip back into entropy as things are wont to do. But the first thing I need back is full nights of sleep. Or close to it.

01 December 2013

a little creepy

I went to the other branch of the tea place tonight, and it was packed. I would have taken my tea elsewhere, but I was meeting a friend for dinner two blocks away, and the rain, it was cascading upon my head. I found a corner of a couch, but the girl on the other end said someone might have been sitting there. "We can fit three on this couch," she said.

When the former occupant of the couch returned, he was That Guy. 

Oh, you know That Guy. He sits a little too close, so you have to build a barricade of your bags. He sighs loudly, glancing sideways to see if you are paying attention. When you studiously examine your phone and never look up because all you want is a few quiet minutes to think, he starts to shift noticeably, moving the whole couch. When the other girl leaves the other end of the couch open, he shifts a little closer to you, if anything. He can't seem to imagine why you aren't paying attention to him, never mind that he creeps you out a little. The creepiness is partly the act, but more the entitlement.

I dated a guy like this once, minus the creepiness. The last time I saw him, we were at an event with some friends of mine, and he kept singing along with the music, thumping on the table like it was a drum, no matter how many times we asked him to stop because we were trying to think of a song for a trivia question that was not the one that was playing. He was perfectly nice, but he was putting on a show.

"I feel bad for him," one of my friends said, "because I've been that guy, hoping that the girl will see how cool you are."

So have I. So have we all. We all want to be noticed by someone we find interesting. It's just that sometimes, when That Guy sits too close to a stranger and acts like she owes him her attention, it all turns a little creepy.