21 May 2015


Oh, hi.

I am going camping. I have spent every evening this week getting ready for camping (setting up the tent to see if it works! baking muffins!) and tomorrow I am really going to do the camping.

It's been a while.

I am excited.

I will be far, far from internet, as one should be while camping. 

17 May 2015


I went for a hike on the coast yesterday. My car is still with the mechanic, so I sent out a request for a ride, and someone from the group offered to pick me up. 

It was a cloudy, drippy day, like so many days on the Pacific Coast, and it drizzled on us as we climbed from the beach up to a parking lot and then out along a cape. There were patches of mud that we picked carefully around.

No matter. I had gaiters on to keep my feet dry. I was wearing a synthetic shirt and had rain gear along, which I put on as I sat out on the end of the cape, looking at the smooth grey water, and took off again to hike back. 

On the way back, one girl started to have knee problems on the downhill sections. I have knee problems on the downhill sections, too, although not as bad as hers, and so when the rest of the crew offered that she could wait at the upper parking lot while they did the steep part of the descent and came back for her, I stayed, too. 

We sat on little pads on the ground, talking, for an hour, while the rest of the people hiked down and I got colder and colder. I kept adding layers. I added my sweatshirt-like layer. I added my raincoat. I added my rain pants. I added my hat. I added my gloves. 

I was still shivering. I could feel the cold wet of my tank top against my back. My tank top was, of course, cotton. I always wear a cotton tank top, figuring that if I get stuck out in the woods overnight, I will just take it off and put the synthetics back on without it and be perfectly warm.

Only it didn't occur to me to take my wet tank top off while I was shivering in the parking lot. Or while I was shivering in the restaurant where we ate dinner. Or while I was shivering in my house at home. 

It's like I broke my body's ability to regulate its own heat in one single hour. 

Even this morning, I have been nervous about going outside. I'm still cold, even though I spent a warm night under the covers. 

It is 64 degrees outside. 

15 May 2015

car-less, I mean car-free

It's funny how much I depend on my car, despite taking public transportation to and from work when my work is in Gone West. I used to live here without a car, and I did fine. It took more time - many of my evenings were devoted to walking to Trader Joe's and taking the train back - and I did fewer hiking sort of things, because it was hard to get to the meeting point, but I functioned.

I dropped my car off at the mechanic early this morning and I felt somewhat unexpectedly anxious about how I am going to survive without my little car.

I logicked myself, though. The real reason it makes me anxious is not because I have a day without the little beast. It is because there is a chance that they will need to keep it over the weekend and then I will have to consider things like not hiking tomorrow and riding my bike a long way to an event tonight. 

(I just looked up the public transit to the hike tomorrow. It would require an hour and a half, at least, to get to the meetup point. That is insane. I would have to be on the (walking) road by 6:20 am.)

The train stop was only a couple of blocks from where I dropped my car off, so I walked to it after I handed over my key and possibly my first-born child, depending on what they found when they opened up the hood.

It was just before 8 am, close to the beginning of the line, and the train filled with commuters and students as we trundled along the tracks. 

I always find it interesting to see who sits next to whom, and how they do or don't interact. The research says that people tend to sit next to people who look like them - white women tend to sit next white women, black women next to black women, etc. I was sitting next to the window, so I could just watch other people pick. 

I got off near where I lived when I first moved to Gone West seven years ago. I walked through a park and over the highway, looking down at the traffic slowing down as it got to the interchange with the other main highway in town.

By 9 a.m., I was back in my house, carless.

I will probably spend my weekend without my car, it seems, since it is almost 5 pm, but in good news, I am getting the timing belt and water pump and some seals and other belts replaced, so my little beastie should run like a charm when I get it back, and I can wait a few more months on that front strut that is making noise every time I go over a bump. 

10 May 2015


You know those days when you don't know if you have a sinus infection, meningitis, a cold, or just allergies?


Just me then, I guess.

I honestly can't even tell anymore. Head that feels explosively painful? Yellow snot? Teeth that ache? Low-grade fever?

Oh, who even knows.

It's probably just allergies.

You know what the allergen count was today? 



I give up.

I am taking elderberry just in case.

Also oscillococcinum. That expired in December. Whatever. I'm sure it's fine.

I looked for mainstream cold medication at Wh0le F00ds. They had no such thing. So I am left with ibuprofen (not working) and elderberry and expired oscillococcinum. Something better work. 

06 May 2015


I dried my laundry out in the breeze on Sunday afternoon, hanging it all first over the outdoor table and the metal chairs and the string that I'm pretty sure was supposed to be for beans to climb and then, after I bought clothesline at the hardware store and strung it around the fence, I re-hung it all over the clothesline. (No clothespins. I still don't have those.)

I mentioned this on Monday, and the other woman in my carpool said, "Oh, I love it when I can line-dry my towels."

"You do?" I asked. "Why?"

"They get all crunchy," she said. "I like them that way."

Which is really weird. I didn't know people preferred that. I line dry things because it's better for the fabric and better for the environment, but if those factors did not exist, I would take a soft dryer-dried towel any day. 

03 May 2015


I had a list of things to do today, but I did a different set of things instead. 

Instead of running a million errands like I thought I should, I cut up some pretty wrapping paper and put it in frames I already had and hung them on the wall. Without, I might add, a level. I think they look okay, though. Not too crooked. I measured from the crown molding down, and it mostly worked, even though this is an old house and the house itself is crooked from settling into the earth.

I bought some hooks and put up a hanging lamp in the corner. With that corner now otherwise decorated, I moved the Rwandese cow dung painting across the room. 

I added a couple of nails in the kitchen and living room to hang things that have been sitting around, like my Oma's big red wooden key to hang other keys on and my Grandma's little set of Dutch egg cups.

For a long time, my walls have been bare. I can't afford real art, so I left them blank, or I put things that I had onto a nail at whatever height there already was a nail. 

Today I decided to stop making the perfect the enemy of the good and just hang things properly already. I've lived here for seven months, and it was time. I'm tired of feeling transient. 

I bought clothesline and strung it around the fence in the square of outdoor space we have, so that I could hang my clothes to dry in this brilliant sunshine.

I colored my adult coloring book (I have the mandalas one), which is remarkably enthralling. It's meditative. I used to have Bejeweled on my phone and I would play it and get lost in frustration and annoyance and I couldn't stop, and this is the opposite. I start coloring and I get lost in movement and color and I can't stop.

little me

When I was growing up, computers were just starting to be widely available. We had an Apple computer in our dry room in Liberia (the room with air conditioning and no windows to keep things from molding in the edge of the rainforest, one mile from the salty ocean damp). I would sit at it and laboriously type out answers to the questions asked by girls in Sunday schools at churches back in the US. They always wanted to know how the weird missionary girl lived over there in Africa. 

"Yes, I like M&Ms. I like the green ones best."

Then we would print out the letter on the dot matrix printer and I could make chains out of the side paper with the little holes in it.

Also, cameras involved film. We still have very few pictures of my little sister as a tiny baby, because the rolls of film got lost in the mail on their way to my grandparents in the US. 

The pictures from when I was really little are still those old ones that came in squares, and the color is all a bit yellow. 

The first time I remember being recorded on video was in junior high, when my friend and I interviewed my Oma and Pops about their experiences in the Netherlands when it was occupied during World War II. 

I never imagined seeing myself on video as a little kid. It just wasn't a thing that was possible, so I never thought about it.

Enter the Dutch relatives. 

I know that we US Americans like to think that we are on the cutting edge of technology, but my experience is that the Dutch relatives have us beat every time. They are also way ahead of us in fashion, but I digress.

My mom sent out a video this morning from one of our Dutch relatives that was made for my great-grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary in early 1983. I was three. 

Whoever made the video had filmed my Oma and Pops and their kids and grandkids at their house in the Mitten, and suddenly there was a little blonde bob of hair above a red plaid overall dress, mostly ignoring the camera to play. For a split second, when my cousin D. looked up at the camera, three-year-old me turned toward it, too, unsmiling, just looking.

It was the weirdest sensation. I didn't know that little girl was still out there. 

I remember being her. I even remember that party in the Netherlands, I think (unless we were at the 65th anniversary - was there a 65th anniversary party?). I remember crowds and stairs and being small among a bunch of Dutch relatives and playing with other kids. 

I just never thought I would see her again.

My mom said she cried when she saw it. 

01 May 2015


I got a new phone a couple of weeks ago. It is a gold iPhone 6. I bought it at C0stC0 and put a glass 1nvisibleSh1eld screen protector on it and a clear case so you can see the pretty gold.

Sometimes I look at it and I don't recognize it as my own phone. It's too sleek. It's too shiny. It's too pretty.


Not really relatedly, someone asked me the other day if I would ever want to do what I am doing now or something more political on a national scale and I laughed and said that would require shiny hair that stays in place and wearing high heels, and we all know those two things are never going to happen. (If we ever manage to get over the obsession with what women look like when in the public eye, maybe I could do it.) 

"But you always look put together!" the person said.

I pointed out that I look put together for State of Happiness, which is a very large distinction. People here wear soft-shell jackets to work and love it. 

As do I. 

I do not, say, own a trench coat. 

(Just writing that bit about the trench coat made me want to look into whether the next season of Scandal is available in a format I can get for free, i.e. Netflix. If I did not have ridiculously pale skin that makes me look like I am in the process of dying of anemia when I wear white clothes, I would be hunting down every piece of clothing Olivia Pope wears. Also if I had a lot of money, obviously. As it is, I have to settle for the inverse of her clothes. Dark and cheap.)

There is no point to this blog post, so I will now stop writing.