28 February 2015


I managed to go to bed at a normal hour last night (namely, before 11 pm. on a Friday.) and so I actually got a real night of sleep for the first time in a month. 

I still set an alarm. I cannot afford to get off track with my sleeping.

A couple of friends met me downtown, where we went to a boutique sale and ate brunch and ran some errands. 

This afternoon, I was supposed to take a walk, but instead I pulled most of the unused boxes out of my closet. I've been hoarding them in case I have to move again, but that needs to stop. I live here now. 

Also I want my second closet to be something other than a pit of boxes. 

It was strangely emotional to break down the boxes. Some of them have my name and phone number written in my mom's handwriting from when she was here in Gone West 13 months ago, helping me pack up my things to move. Move where, I wasn't sure. Maybe the Mitten, or maybe nowhere. Some of them are still labeled from my Universe City - Gone West move.

Now they are just a stack of cardboard waiting to be put in the recycling bin. (I couldn't put them out there this weekend because the downstairs neighbors are moving, and they filled the bin to overflowing. Our kitchen trash is sitting out ready to be taken down Monday, too.)

27 February 2015


I am so tired that just now when I tried to get off the stool where I sat to eat my dinner, I reeled drunkenly in a circle despite having consumed no alcohol. 

It isn't that my new job is stressful. Sometimes people suggest that it might be stressful, in a commiserating sort of manner, and I am forced to say (or sometimes just think), "Have you ever had a [Major Work Event]? Because those are stressful, and this is not."

Also, I don't work weekends. 

I need to stop and soak that in again. 

I don't work weekends.

Do you know how long it's been since I had a weekend where I didn't at least think, "I should be doing something related to my job" even if I didn't go in to work for a couple of hours or days?

Four and a half years. 

The weekdays are long, though. I get up at 5:30 am and I don't get home until almost 7 pm. I have just enough time to eat dinner before I start getting ready for bed.

That is fine, as long as I acknowledge that I cannot do anything but work and eat and sleep. The problem comes when, as this week, I start to try to do things like feng shui my room (Monday), and then re-feng shui my room because where I put the bed didn't work (Tuesday) and then stay late at work and get lost on my way to stop at C0stC0 (Wednesday) and then stop at three stores to get four items because the first one didn't have the right stuff (Thursday). 

I just have to stop doing anything in the evening except maybe stopping to pick up milk. 

26 February 2015

real times

I usually carpool with the same 2-4 people, but yesterday I was supposed to carpool with a different friend whose cubicle is next to mine. 

I warned her last week that I have to be in very early - by 8 am - and that she might not want to carpool with me as a result, because I know that she sometimes doesn't get there until 9. She said 8 was fine, so we arranged that I would park at her house and she would drive the hour to work.

The night before, she texted to ask what time I would be by.

"7:55," I said.

It wasn't until 6:45, on my way over to her apartment, that I realized my mistake.

"I meant 6:55!" I texted. "On my way!"

Needless to say, she wasn't ready when I got there.

I have a brain block about times before 7 am. I know, logically, that I get up at 5:30 and I meet my carpool at 6:45. But are those real times? I'm not sure they are. I only know that the alarm goes off when it goes off (my phone is set to M-F), and when the big hand gets to a certain point on the clock, I need to leave the house. 

The fact that I get up before 6 am? The fact that I am in someone else's car before 7 am? 

That is impossible, because those aren't real times. The real times that are really morning start with the number 7 or later.

22 February 2015


Things that three single women talk about while walking along the water in the sunshine, in approximate order (it's not just what you think):

Spending money
Managing people
The kind of yoga/running pants that have a skirt attached
How long a pair of running shoes lasts
Hotel rooms
Program managing a social life
Whether it's safe for two women (them) to let the third (me) go back to my car alone past all the homeless people camped under the bridge (I said it was, and I went).


Things that two old friends (man/woman) talk about when they are in the same town, in approximate order:

Buying a house
Whether rooibos chai is good with milk
Why one person is making herself two cups of tea at once (one was for drinking cold tomorrow morning)
The filth of the kitchen (I didn't clean)
People we know who've had babies recently
What mutual friends are doing
Dating and its ups and downs
Theories of life and love
Feng shui

Then we started moving things around in my apartment to improve the feng shui. Now I'm obsessed and, four hours later, I still want to keep arranging things rather than go to bed.

21 February 2015

old and new

One of the reasons why I was able to survive on so little money last year is because I already had a lot of the things that one needs to look presentable and take on the world: good coats, for example, and suit jackets and boots. 

I had functional things that allowed me to work: a car, a computer, a bar card. 

I even had bits and pieces that make life a little better: a full box of q-tips, extra tubes of toothpaste, a happy light.

I didn't need much, because I'd already acquired most of the things one needs to be relatively comfortable in the world.

Now that I have a new job - albeit one that is temporary and does not pay much - everything is falling apart. 

My computer was a little ahead of schedule - it died right as I got a check for the Major Work Event last year. 

My car is making a noise when it goes over bumps, and it probably needs some strut or something replaced. Also it is about due for a timing belt.

My q-tips and toothpaste have or soon will run out. 

My long wool coat is missing a button and the lining is falling out.

And now my boots, my beloved boots, are starting to give out on me. 

My favorite grey pair started leaking, and when I looked closely, the leather has started cracking and tearing away from the molded sole. I don't think it can be fixed without molding a whole new sole. This is very bad news in a place where it rains from October to June. Feet cold and wet, all day long.

I wore one of my black pairs last weekend, only to discover when I took them off that one of the soles has cracked completely in half. 

Another black pair is starting to look beaten and misshapen.

I have one black pair that still holds together. 

I cannot wear the same pair of boots every day. (It is really bad for the leather and shortens the lifespan of the boot.) I can fix the black pair with the broken sole, but those boots are a little too much like combat boots to wear to work most days. They only work with certain outfits without looking like I am dangerous.

Today I wore the grey pair (it wasn't raining), and when I took them off at the end of the day, I saw that the sole on those is also starting to split open.

i really did expect better from a $150 pair of boots. This is only their third winter. (Note: I did not pay $150 for them. They were on clearance.)

Apparently I am now going to have to start fixing and replacing all the things that lasted so well while I didn't have a real job. 

Here is the real dilemma: with what do I replace them? The car parts are easy, as are the q-tips and toothpaste. The vital question, though: should replacement boots be the cheap kind (downsides: must be replaced practically yearly, uncomfortable; upsides: cheap right now, possibly own more pairs) or the expensive kind (downside: expensive, probably only one new pair; upside: possibly last forever if made right)?

15 February 2015

making home

For a long time, I've always been looking toward the next thing. 

While I was living in Universe City, I lived in a house full of someone else's decor, and I was always hoping to get back to Gone West.

While I was working crazy hours in Gone West, living in a house that didn't feel like home, I was planning a move to the Mitten.

When I came back to Gone West after trying to move to the Mitten (a year ago this week), I was homeless and un(der)employed.

Now, for the first time in almost five years, I have a place that feels like home and a job that I love. 

I am here, and I do not intend to leave. (Except maybe to move across town to be closer to the road that starts my commute. But not any time soon.)

It's time to start decorating.

I've never really decorated before, and I don't have much in the way of money (thank you, 2014, year of brokeness out from which I am still digging myself), but I had to do something. Something had to change. I've had the same duvet cover since 2006 (red, with white vines and flowers). I couldn't take it anymore. I was so bored with it that my eyes wanted to fall out of my skull.

Friday or possibly yesterday, I've already forgotten, I picked up a set of teal sheets on clearance. I washed them this morning, and put them on my bed. 

They are so pretty that it seemed a shame to put the same boring red duvet cover back on, so I went for the cheapest possible replacement for the duvet cover: a navy cotton bedspread from 1ke@. Between the teal and the navy and some olive in the form of a couple of pillowcases and an old throw I have, things are looking totally different in here. I love it. I love it, love it, love it.

(I miiiiiiiight also have picked up a teal rug that was on clearance. But I will assert my right against self-incrimination under the 5th amendment if pressed on that.)

14 February 2015

most special

I spent the afternoon meandering around the waterfront with a friend. 

First, though, first I opened my Valentine's Day present from my mom and dad, which was possibly my favorite present I've ever gotten. I mean, you can try, but it's unlikely that you will ever get me a present that is as special as the one I got today. (I used the word special on purpose there, Momma.)

My Valentine's Day present from my parents was a tile of my Oma's family crest. 

My mom had gotten it in the mail from her distant cousin in the Netherlands after they had them made for a family reunion last summer (to which we were invited but could not go, because it was on a different continent and all). Momma had it on the wall in their house when I was home for Christmas, and I wanted one desperately. 

My mom reminded me that what I actually said over Christmas when I asked her to check if her cousin had any more of them was, "because A. will get that one when you die." 

Okay, so there was a reason for that, which is that I don't want to fight about any of the stuff when we have to do that awful divvying up some day. The stuff doesn't matter, and I don't want it to start mattering just because I have wanted that tile forever.

But also, my sister has my Oma's name and so, somehow, I think I feel like she has more of a right to it. 

My mom sent me the one she had, and her cousin sent her another one that just arrived. So now I have my own, hanging on the wall in my living room, and it is the most special present.

11 February 2015


My mom used to quote her dad saying, "The hours before midnight count twice." Meaning that hours slept before midnight are more refreshing.

In my experience, not true.

I can't sleep deeply when I go to bed so early, and today I feel almost incoherent, even though I went to sleep at 9:15 last night and got up at 5:30 this morning.*

Tonight, I started getting ready to go to bed as soon as I got home. I put my sweet potato in the microwave for dinner and put the kettle on the stove to make tomorrow morning's chai. As soon as I was done with dinner, I got in the shower.

I'm about to turn off the light. It's 9:00.

* There is also a crud going around, but I refuse to get the crud, even if everyone around me has it. I just flatly refuse. I am taking elderberry syrup every day. Did you know that elderberry is an antiviral? Apparently it was a Native American remedy, and I am trying it for the first time. A bottle costs $12.99. Health doesn't come cheap.

10 February 2015


My fundamental problem with getting up at 5:30 am is that it directly conflicts with my circadian rhythm. My body wants to go to bed at midnight and get up at 9 or 10 am. I can neither fall asleep at 9:30 p.m. nor wake up at 5:30 a.m. I am forcing my body to go against its nature.

I keep hoping that my body will eventually re-set to this schedule. I even set an alarm on the weekend - 9:30 on Saturday and 8 on Sunday - so that I wouldn't sleep so late that I couldn't sleep on Sunday night. 

Of course, that just meant that I made up virtually none of my missing sleep over the weekend.

I have learned one thing, which is to do as much as possible in the evening. I take a shower at night now, so I can just brush my hair and go in the morning. I have my lunch ready in the fridge as I type. It helps, a little. It keeps me from being late to my carpool, anyway.

Despite the fact that I cannot sleep at night and I cannot wake up in the morning, when someone said, yesterday, "You must hate the commute," I realized that I don't. The early mornings, the hour of driving, often in the rain, in a car full of people with opinions (we all have opinions), it's all worth it to wake up in the morning and not dread going to work. That, right there, is beautiful.

08 February 2015


Now that I am commuting to State City, I am rarely in Gone West for more than a few waking hours a day during the week. Today, though, I went downtown to run a couple of errands in the afternoon, and I walked around like a newcomer, looking up at the buildings around the square and thinking, "I will never tire of this city." 

I am in an appreciating-Gone-West sort of mood in part because it is African movie time again. Seven years ago, just after I moved here for the first time, I discovered that this town has a whole month of African movies. There is possibly no better way to endear yourself to me as a town than to play African movies. 

Friday night, the movie involved fleeing from a war. 

"I see what you mean about the movies sometimes being a little intense and hard to take," my friend said as we left the theater. 

"Yeah, that was a little too reminiscent of Liberia," I said. 

I cried, driving home. For a long time, leaving Liberia and not going back was my primary memory of the country. Almost 25 years have passed now, and the central spot in my brain's Liberia quadrant is now filled mostly with memories of what came before the evacuation and of my two return trips, but after watching a family run from fighting in a movie, it all came back. 

Last night's movie was a horror movie. (Note: film noir is code for blood and gore. I should have realized this sooner.) Flashbacks of it kept coming back to me as I tried to take a nap late this morning. I really cannot handle horror movies. I have been known to walk out of them, but for this one I just closed my eyes and plugged my ears during the bad parts. That did not eliminate the creepy factor.

"Did you notice that the main character did not say one single word for the entire movie?" I asked afterward. No one else had. We mitigated the lingering creepiness by gathering around a wood fire in a restaurant nearby and talking about life and how to be happy.

Today, finally, the movie was my favorite kind: a little bit funny, a little bit romantic, a little bit musical. Oh, Democratic Republic of Congo. I've barely visited you, yet I like you a lot.

04 February 2015


At 6:35 pm, as we were dispersing to our own cars, I said to my carpool mates, "See you in 12 hours and 10 minutes."

When the evenings are so short, there is time to do one thing and one thing only in an evening. I can pick something up at the store or I can go for a walk or I can cook something to eat the rest of the week. You get the idea.

The one thing that I cannot do in an evening is laundry. By the time I got the clothes in the dryer, it would be time to take a shower, and that would be a problem because my towel would be in the dryer. 

The natural next question is, "Why do you have only one towel?" and the answer is that I used to have three towels until I moved to the Mitten and left one there, and then I had two towels, and then when I moved into this apartment I bought a new towel that matched the bathroom, so then I had three towels again, and now two of them are stuffed under my two closet doors to keep the cold draft from coming into my bedroom, leaving me with only one towel in useable rotation. 

So that is the story on why I have only one towel. 

03 February 2015


I am going to go on the record right now and say that I do not think that I will ever get used to getting up at 5:30 am. Like, ever. 

Also, I bought an air plant today, which is sort of my version of buying a real plant, only different.

Sometime in 2013, I bought a little terrarium at a specialty grocery store in Gone West. It had sand, some pretty pebbles, a dried flowerish thing (it might have been a... nettle? maybe?), a clear rock, and a little air plant.

I watered the air plant, as instructed, about once a week, until Christmas of 2013 when, you may recall, I got snowed in at my parents' house in the Mitten. It took me an extra four days to get back to the office, so the air plant went two weeks unwatered. 

It looked sort of dead when I got back. I tried several times to revive it with water. Then I drove across the country with it in my alternately freezing and warm car. Then I put the whole terrarium into a box and left it in there throughout an abnormally hot summer.

Last week I took it out and tried one more time to revive the air plant. Maybe it was hibernating?

It was not hibernating. I pried it open and it was a dull tan color all the way through. No life at all.

So today I bought a new one. It cost $2.99. I soaked it in water, and I put it into the terrarium on the end table in the living room. It is a tiny little investment in making this apartment feel like home. 

01 February 2015


I am not completely sure, still, whether I dreamed it or someone actually pounded on my apartment door for a very long time at 2:20 am last night. I had only been sleeping for an hour, so it took me a while to process the fact that there was a noise and even longer to figure out what it was, and then I crept out of bed with my phone in my hand, to the top of the stairs above the door, and I listened. 


I know that the getting out of bed part was real. I just don't know if the pounding was real.