31 May 2014


I learned something today, which is that my new strategy of healthy eating that works very well in day to day life (essentially eating mostly fruits, veggies, and nuts) does not work so well while hiking.

I ate a metric ton of nuts, it felt like, but the calories from them never got to my brain or my muscles. An apple with maple almond butter didn't go very far. And that was all I had, other than a granola bar that I did not want to eat because I am trying to avoid grains.

On a daily basis, I feel much better without eating grains.

But apparently I need carbs to hike.

I spent most of a 6 mile hike dizzy with hunger.

If you know me, you know that dizzy with hunger is not my optimal state. It makes me a little bonkers. I can't see straight. Literally. The world is fuzzy. It doesn't happen so much when I'm in the middle of something important - I can make it through a Major Work Event just fine, no matter how hungry I am - but while hiking up and up and up? Fog.

Anyway, I hiked. It was pretty, like hiking in State of Happiness generally is, with bubbly little streams and majestic tall trees. It was good exercise. There were new people to talk to - weirdly, most of the people on this particular hike had lived overseas at one point or another.

Sometimes you just need to get out of the city and walk in the forest, even if you see it through a haze of hypoglycemia.

28 May 2014

mud puddles

When my brother and I were little, we would play in the mud puddles outside our house in Liberia. They were truly mud puddles, there, because the road we lived on was mud.

When it really rained hard, the ditch along the road down past the field in front of our house would flood deep enough that we could kick our feet off the ground and pretend to swim. It was supposed to flow away through a culvert* under the road, but sometimes it got backed up. 

The water was brown-red with the dust of the earth it had picked up. It barely resembled water so much as thinned out mud, and yet we called it our swimming pool, we neighborhood kids, and we swam and waded and laughed in it until the evening summons.

I thought of the mud puddles in Liberia today because I caught myself deliberately wading, in my flipflops, through the mostly-clear puddles of Gone West. I was on the phone, walking in little circles so as not to stray too far from my computer that was on a table inside the tea shop, and I realized how familiar was the feeling of water flowing around on flipflops. 

So then I swished through a few more puddles, for fun.

* Culvert is a word that I always liked the sound of. I remember rolling it around in my head when I was small. Culvert. Culvert.

We rarely call them by name here in the States, but in Liberia we did, and they were usually made of heavy corrugated metal. In severe rain, they would wash out and the dirt road over them would be swept away, and the whole thing would become a morass of mud and tire tracks and stuck vehicles.

The culvert on the road to school washed out once, and I remember picking our way around it through the creek where my brother and his friends used to go fishing.

27 May 2014

non-memorial Memorial Day

My friend D. and I intended to go hiking on Memorial Day. ("Didn't we go hiking last year on Memorial Day?" we asked each other, "And weren't all the restaurants closed afterward?" But that was the 4th of July, we finally realized.)

We met at the tea place, and sat at a table outside, sipping our tea and talking while the sun warmed us after a long, cold winter.

Then we were hungry, so I ate the salad I had brought with me, and she ate a gourmet grilled cheese from a nearby restaurant. 

Only then we were feeling lazy, so we went back for more tea. 

Only then we were still feeling lazy, so we walked to see a nearby landmark I'd been wanting to check out but somehow always forgot about, and then D. got pie, and then we walked some more.

Then it was evening and we were hungry again, so we drove to another neighborhood and tried a new Thai place that was delicious and was not closed, since it was not, in fact, the 4th of July like last year.

I have a tan line on my arm, and I got some good girl-gabbing in, and that makes me happy.

25 May 2014

issue-y again

Trigger warning for sexual assault:

I was going to write about something inane, as one does, but I'm mad now, so I'm going to write about something else, and this is it:

I read a blog post recently where a woman said, about sexual assault and a girl dressing in scanty clothes, "If it looks like a duck..."

I am going to rant about this for a moment, because the rage, it is still strong.


There is no way that a woman can possibly dress that suggests that she wants to be sexually assaulted. 


Woman is walking around in a tiny skirt? Doesn't mean she wants to be raped.

Woman is walking around in a skimpy bikini? Doesn't mean she wants to be raped.

Woman is walking around topless? Doesn't mean she wants to be raped.

It does not matter what a woman is wearing. 

She might be wearing that short skirt because she enjoys the feeling of the breeze on her skin. She might be wearing that bikini because she enjoys the feeling of the sun on her back. She might be topless because it's just too hot out to put a shirt on (let alone a bra. those things are sweaty.).

But more than that, she might be wearing that short skirt because she likes her legs and feels sexy when they are visible. She gets to do that.

She might be wearing that bikini because she loves her boobs and they look good in it. She gets to do that.

She might be topless because she likes her whole body. She gets to do that.

She might even be wearing whatever she is wearing because she wants to attract attention from a person to whom she is attracted and she may want to engage in consensual sexual activity with that person. She gets to do that.

It. Doesn't. Matter.

There is no clothing that says, "I want to be raped."

When a man goes without his shirt, he may want women (or other men) to admire his abs. He may want to attract attention from a person to whom he is attracted, and he may want to engage in consensual sexual activity with that person. Yet I don't hear anyone saying, "He asked to be raped, wearing just those shorts."

A woman should be allowed to wear clothing that shows off her body. 

She should also be allowed to have consensual sex with whomever she wants. 

There is a key point that seems to get missed here, which is that she gets to pick. 

A woman saying, "I want to have sex with a person with whom I choose to have sex" is not the same thing as her saying that she wants some other person to force her into sex. 


It seems to me that the key problem is that women still are not seen as the same kind of people as men. 

Look, I read that California shooter guy's manifesto (ok, I skimmed it. it was tedious in the manner of all self-involved assholes' writings). That guy? He considered women to be animals unworthy of choosing their own partners. Now, he clearly had some other self-aggrandizing delusions going on, but I read the internet too, and the principle is there: there are angry young men out in the world who think that women owe them sex.

There are non-angry men out in the world who still kind of think that women shouldn't quite get to make their own decisions about sex, like maybe it's better if someone else polices it for them.

There are women out in the world who think that other women should dress a certain way in order to "keep their brothers from stumbling."

This is all, quite frankly, bullshit.

Teach your daughters to wear what feels good on their bodies. Teach them to stand up for themselves. Teach them that they control their own bodies.

Teach your sons that no woman owes them anything.* Teach them that the societal line that says that men cannot control themselves is a lie. Teach them that they control their own bodies.

Teach all your children the same thing, actually: to wear what feels good on their bodies, to stand up against injustice, that no one owes them anything but human decency and respect, that they control their own bodies.

I am really tired of women being responsible for policing what men think, and men being responsible for policing what women wear.

There is no duck.


*  I know that it sounds like I am being heteronormative here, but the reality is that even gay men are affected by this expectation that if they want to touch a woman/advise her on her clothes/tell her to smile, they can, by virtue of being men.

23 May 2014


There is a wishing tree in a neighborhood not far from here.

People write their wishes on little tags and tie the tags onto the tree. 

I go over there sometimes to touch the wishes and close my eyes and wish along with the people who made them.

Someone wished for a puppy.

Someone wished that his or her children would be happy.

Someone wished for a job.

Someone wished to play in a band.

Someone wished to die.

Someone wished that everyone who wishes will find peace.

Someone wished that everyone will know Jesus.

Someone wished that his or her brother will get off drugs.

Someone wished for legalization of marijuana. 

Someone wished for their team to win.

There are some whimsical wishes, but more of them are full of a deeper longing. They are things that people want so very badly. 

When I hold a tag in my hand, sometimes I imagine that I can feel the longing that the person brought to the tree. 

Sometimes I imagine that the sheer force of my wishing along with the person could make their wish come true, or negate the need for their wish.

22 May 2014

house craving

When I first moved to Gone West almost six and a half years ago, I spent my evenings and weekends walking all around the adjacent neighborhood (my building was not exactly in a neighborhood). I walked for miles to the north and east, where the pretty houses are.

In the last year of living in Gone West, I've barely had time for the walking. I had work, and bjj, and franticness. 

Lately, though, I am spending my days working alone on my computer, and so I go to the tea place every day. I sit here for four or more hours, working, and then I give up my table and go for a walk for an hour.

I walk further north than I have ever gone on foot, and further east, into neighborhoods of huge, stately houses, and neighborhoods of tiny, square houses. 

It's different, to walk among the houses, than it is to drive by on major streets. I notice, walking, that there are two identical houses on the same block. I notice that house where the lawn grows long and firewood is stacked in the back. I notice the roofers carrying equipment up their ladder. 

I have plenty of time to think about what I like in a house: big windows, brick, Craftsman squares. 

A friend of mine described Gone West as a hobbit town, and sometimes that feels true, especially in the spring and summer, when all the cozy little houses are surrounded by greenery practically to their roofs.

I have a serious house craving. I want to buy one. I want to decorate one.

Too bad I just spent all of my money driving across the country twice, for no reason but to ascertain what I already knew.

20 May 2014

random tidbit

Walking in the grass on one of those days where the sun is warm on my back and the wind is cool on my face, with a long, soft skirt brushing around my ankles, ranks up there among my favorite things.

19 May 2014

15 May 2014


A couple of weeks ago, I decided that I needed a new computer. Mine took 45 minutes to load a pdf document and then most of the time it froze when I tried to toggle between the pdf and a word document or the internet, and when you are reviewing thousands of pages of pdfs and the only computer you have is your own, that is a problem.

I do not, of course, have the money for a new computer, so instead I took my computer to a tune-up place, where for $30 they made it function more like a computer should (now it only crashes about once every three days). They even cleaned the outside of it.

The one thing that they couldn't fix, which has only gotten worse, is the non-functionality of the left shift key. 

I didn't realize until the left shift key went out that I use the left shift key almost exclusively. I think this is a result of the babying of my right hand that I do to avoid issues with the golf elbow, but it's weird. I use the left shift key even to capitalize a T or an R or a C. The only things I can figure out that I don't use it for are to capitalize A or S. 

My brain is now very confused when I type.

12 May 2014


I gave a homeless girl $5 today. 

I used to not give money, not ever. T. and I have even discussed this before, and with all the stuff I have seen, I felt like I couldn't bear to throw my money into the void of the drugs that eat up the lives of so many people.

Then I heard someone talk about how long he panhandled to try to get money to feed himself and his wife, and how hopeless it felt.

Today I came upon a girl crying on the sidewalk. "I'm just so worn out," she said, when I asked her what was wrong. "The [denomination] church gave us permission to sleep in their doorway last night, but it turned out that the doorway we were sleeping in didn't belong to them and the cops came at 6 am and kicked us out, and I'm so tired. I've been asking for money all day and all I got was $9, and I need to buy food for my dog* because all of the places that give dog food out for free give out the kind that has grain in it, and my dog's skin gets all scabby when I give him that food. This is all I have left." 

She pulled out a ziplock bag with a bowl or so of dog food. 

Is she going to buy dog food with the $5 I gave her, or is she going to buy drugs?

I don't know, and I can't really worry about it. I helped someone who seemed to need help. Hopefully that counts for something, whatever the result. I'm letting go of the result.

* For everyone who is thinking, "DOG FOOD? You gave her money for DOG FOOD?" let me just mention that if I were a woman living houseless on the street, I would want a big dog, too. There is no one to protect you but yourself, unless you have a dog. A dog is companionship, yes, but it is also some little measure of safety.

06 May 2014


I sat outside in the sunshine with my computer this morning. The sun was so bright that I had to cover my computer with my jean jacket to keep it from roasting and to try to make the screen visible. I may or may not have spent significant time with my face in a little tunnel of jean jacket around the screen. 

I think I picked up a sunburn. 

Skin cancer, yes, I know.

Where I used to work when I first moved here, there was a cartoon cut out and pinned on a bulletin board in a public space that went like this:

First square: guy says, "I need a good sunblock."

Second square: other guy hands him a booklet.

Third square: #1 says, "What is this?" #2 says, "A map to [State of Happiness]."

I don't think I've ever been as pale as I've been since I moved to State of Happiness. It is not a coincidence that I sit in front of my happy light 12 months out of the year here. Even in the summer, when the sun does shine most days, it doesn't warm up until 5 pm, and by then the sun is not that strong. 

That, and I seem to have picked a career that keeps a person inside all day year round. 

Oh, law. Ruining everything all over again.

The good news is that I don't get enough sunshine to get skin cancer, probably, unless I already have it from years near the Equator/in the Midwestern US. 

The bad news is that I will forever be low on Vitamin D.