30 June 2015


I've been thinking lately that it would be nice to have a hammock. 

I own a hammock. I think. I just don't have it here. It is probably somewhere in my parents' basement, which is where everything is that I brought home from college/Rwanda/law school and dumped in the basement and then left there when I moved on to Rwanda/law school/Gone West. 

The only time I've ever hung that hammock was in Rwanda, which is funny because I bought it in 1999 in Nicaragua. It has traveled the world.

In Rwanda, I hung it (okay, my guards hung it) between two trees in front of my patio, just where the ground dropped off toward the lake. On Saturday afternoons, I would nap in it, in the shade and the bits of sunlight dappled through the leaves. Sometimes I would sit in it while I was on the phone or the computer.

One summer, I had an American college student stay with me (long story; I happened upon her at the Okapi minibus station while I was picking up a package that my office in Kigali had sent, the Okapi being both cheaper and more efficient than sending anything by mail, and offered her and the Rwandese guy with her a ride because they looked lost, and it turned out she needed a place to stay and stayed with me for most of the summer). 

I was sitting in the hammock doing something that I cannot remember at approximately lunch time. S. came out of the house with a plate of food for me, and I stood up to take it from her. Sitting back down, I forgot about the part where that type of hammock folds in on itself, and I sat down on nothing above a steep hill.

Somehow I tumbled over the folded hammock, upside down, somersaulting 180 degrees, and landed facing back up the hill, pasta and sauce splattered everywhere, the wind knocked out of me. 

That's a one time sort of mistake. One does not forget again.

29 June 2015


Things that have happened:

  1. There have been forecasts of over 100 degree F (38 C). It's only gotten up to 97 here and 99 in State City, but I am taking non-hot showers on purpose, which is unlike me. I am also sleeping without a sheet over me, which is also unlike me. And I speak as someone who lived in South Sudan, people. This heat is nothing. I'm getting soft in my old age. 
  2. We floated the a river. Unlike the river in Universe City, this one has some little rapids, which means that there is a little excitement in between long periods of drift, and if you aren't careful, you might bump your butt on the rocks. (I only scraped once. No jolts.)
  3. I was really thirsty after floating the river, so I stopped at the local gelateria and got a combination of passion fruit and lemon sorbetto. Then I went back in and bought a pint of the passion fruit. Every bite reminds me of Rwanda, where I would eat them for breakfast in Kigali and make juice out of them in Kibuye. They got harder and harder to find the longer I was there, allegedly because the juice factory was buying them all up.
  4. There was a Naked Bike Ride. I did not participate, but I did go to the party at the beginning, where it felt like the entire city was naked. The intention of the naked bike ride is to publicize the vulnerability of bicycles compared to cars. There were lots of naked people, but when so many people are naked, it just feels normal.
  5. The new season of Orange is the New Black came out. I have disappeared into that wormhole.

24 June 2015

supper not dinner

A couple of weeks ago, I realized that one of my problems with my current sleep-wake-eat-work schedule is the part where I ate breakfast at 5:30 am and supper at 7:30 pm. Days were not intended to be 14 hours long. There is too much time to be hungry in there, and I couldn't sleep when it was time to sleep because I'd just eaten.

Enter the world of bringing two meals a day with me to work. 

Now I make up three different things in the evenings: a pint jar of chai (loose-leaf masala with roasted coconut flakes), a small container of lentils/rice/cheese, and a bigger flat container of sweet potato with cheese. 

It's working out pretty well. I now eat my supper at 4:30 at work, which is about the right time, I think. 11 hours between breakfast and supper* is about right. 

People keep thinking I'm eating macaroni and cheese when I microwave the sweet potato. I think it's the smoked sea salt. In fact, since the same people come in the kitchen at about the same time every day, there are now people who recognize my lentils and rice at lunch as well as people who recognize my sweet potato and cheese at supper. 

I am nothing if not predictable, food-wise. (What? It makes life so easy. And I look forward to it every day, until I don't, and then I change it. It usually takes years.)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch in the city, I sleep so much better when I go to bed five hours after eating than when I went to bed two hours after eating. Eating a full meal so close to bedtime was really messing up my circadian rhythm. 

Yes, my life really is this boring right now. At least, the bloggable part of it is. 

Other things? Well, it's all top secret. Super extra top secret. You will never know. Until you do. If I tell you. 

* I grew up saying supper, and then somewhere along the way I started calling it dinner, and then when I called this dinner, my roommate said that eating a sweet potato at 4:30 pm sounded like supper, not dinner. So there you go.

14 June 2015

day of minor disasters

As I gathered my things together to run some errands earlier today, I knocked my library books against the terrarium that holds my little air plant. It fell off the top counter onto a lower one, directly into a pyrex bowl.

Which is handy, because most of the sand and pebbles from the terrarium landed directly in the bowl, safely contained. So did all of the broken glass.

I sighed and threw away the glass and brushed the rest of the sand off the counter into the bowl (although I did find pebbles strewn across the floor later).

Off I went to C0stc0, because I needed this shampoo that they only sell at roadshows at C0stc0 (or you can buy it online for 50% more), which is the only shampoo that doesn't make my scalp itch these days, and which is only available at certain C0stc0s on certain dates.

It was either drive across state lines to C0stc0 today or drive three hours to Sunny Ski Town next weekend.

While I was at C0stc0, I figured I'd get some gas. I pulled in behind a little pickup with a canopy on the bed, waiting my turn.

The lady driving the little pickup, however, was not patient about waiting her turn, and she put her little pickup in reverse and backed into me.

Well, into my car. Not into my person.

I honked, but it was too late.

Her truck was a lot taller than my little Civic, so she'd made a perfect notch in the middle of my hood.

It still opens.

My car is 18 years old.

That's about all I have to say about that. It's probably not worth getting it fixed.

It did distract me enough that I forgot that I'm supposed to pump my own gas in Other PNW State. The gas station attendant was helping us with the collision situation and so was nice enough to start the gas pump for me which, combined with the fact that it's been 13 years since I lived in a place where I routinely pumped my own gas, well. I forgot.

The guy behind me had to come up and say, "That pump has been stopped for about ten minutes. Are you going to move?"

"I'm waiting for the guy to come back and... Oh." I said. "I forgot that I have to do that myself here."

It only took two stores to find something that would suffice for the terrarium, although it's not, sigh, the same as it was.

13 June 2015


This morning I started making a mental list of all the reasons why weekends are the best. It started like this:

  1. Eleven hours of sleep.
  2. Eating chocolate with breakfast. (I do this. Every weekend. I have no excuses; it just happens.)
  3. Lounging about getting ready for the day at a leisurely pace.
  4. Having time to organize the reusable container drawer when it won't close instead of just shoving it shut and running off to work.
  5. That sunshine on the wood floor.
I eventually made it out of the house to do lovely weekend things like shop for a card and go to my friend's graduation party, where there was ridiculously amazing mole. 

When I got home, I meant to get a book and go read it in the tiny square of a garden we have, but I made a critical mistake: I sat down and started sorting the truly shocking stacks of papers on my dresser. (This has to be done in anticipation of my parents and my Aunt K. coming to visit in a few weeks.)

It was terrible. 

Problem number one is that this is a miserable task, leading me to feel miserable and bored just about instantly, but the stack is so big that I felt like I couldn't stop. 

Problem number two is that some of the items I was sorting dated from 2009. Two Thousand and Nine. That is how much I have to sort. It feels never ending.

Problem number three is that the stack is full of things that make me feel sad and/or nostalgic: birthday cards from former coworkers, the folded paper from the memorial service of a coworker I still miss, rejection letters from jobs to which I applied. 

Problem number four is that after sorting, the papers that are not being recycled need to be placed in their proper place, which turns out not to exist for many of them. My filing cabinet is missing folders for some of them, and a bunch of folders had been transferred from a box into the filing cabinet but not arranged at all, and the folders in the filing cabinet were in no particular order. I moved all the folders into alphabetical order, but there are still some I haven't made yet, and so now my floor is covered with papers, where before it was just the dresser covered with papers.

Finally I got so cranky and frustrated that I gave up and walked to Wh0le F00ds and bought some coconut ice cream. That'll show 'em.

Who? I don't know. I'm just cranky now. Apparently dealing with papers will ruin a perfectly good weekend day. 

That's... probably why I have so many unsorted papers.

09 June 2015

quick coast trip

There was camping.

It was hot and sunny in Universe City - my chocolate melted in the trunk of my car by 11 am - and warm and sunny at the campsite at the coast, but on the beach it was cold and cloudy.

I made the classic going-to-the-coast mistake of wearing shorts. (There is virtually never a time when shorts work for the coast in State of Happiness. Ditto a swimsuit.)

Waiting on a dock for crabs to crawl into the pots we had dropped, I shivered. SHO gave me his rain pants and a pair of socks, which I put on with my sandals. I still shivered.

"They sell a lot of sweatshirts out here to people like us," I said, as the six of us who had taken refuge in the famous chowder restaurant waited in line for a table, a line that wended its way through trinkets and sweatshirts.

"Also cheap plastic crap to kids," someone commented.

There were no crabs to be caught. The rest of the crowd gave up while we drank warm beverages inside.

We went back to camp and grilled clams on the fire after extensive googling about which clams are currently safe to eat. We piled corn on the coals, still in the husk but with the silk removed. We roasted marshmallows. 

I fell asleep to the sound of the sea.

The next day was clear and sunny, with a bank of fog hovering just over there, always just out of reach. Most people left, but three of us walked away down the beach to the rocks at the end and over them into a little cove. The wind blew so hard that I wore a sweatshirt and a rain jacket tied up around my face, together with sunglasses, and still I had sand in my hair when I got home. 

The tide was coming in, and we had to go back (I had to time my climb over the rocks for when the waves went out), but we had long enough to stand in the force of the wind and watch the waves roll in, just to take it in.

Driving back to Gone West, I left my windows open most of the way, feeling the heat grow and grow. 

06 June 2015


I am about to leave Universe City for a night of camping at the coast. 

I forgot most of the necessities. 

Things I do not have:

my glasses

I'm going to stop at Trader Joe's on my way out of town. That will help with that last item. 

Also, I just made a stop at the farmers market (farmer's market? farmers' market?) here in Universe City. For the first time in three years, I have in my possession a pint of the best strawberries in the world, the only ones worth eating, the Tristars

And I just snarfed a particularly delicious kind of muffin that is only sold in Universe City. 

Life is good.

05 June 2015


I drove into Universe City this afternoon along the very same route that I drove five years ago this month, when I came for my first interview with the organization that was my work home for almost three years.

It even felt the same, except that I was driving my own car and my mom wasn't with me and it's all familiar now. The trees are full with dark green leaves and the air is warm, just like they were in June of 2010. 

"There's a lot of history," my former coworker said, as we ate lunch at the same place where we always used to eat lunch when I worked here. Possibly the same place where my mom and I ate lunch that day in 2010. 

"There's a lot of history in the future, too," I said, which made sense in context even though it doesn't make sense if you think about it too much.

Whenever someone asks how it was to live in Universe City, I say, "It's not a great place to be a single professional in your 30s, but some of the best people I know live in [Universe City]."

I love it here when I come back, especially in the summer, especially when I come back for events involving my old office. It's a great feeling to walk into a room and have a dozen people to hug. 

01 June 2015


Far out past the mountains and the high desert and the mountains again, there is a strange little desert, a few square miles of dry, cracked earth. 

Most of the year, it doesn't rain at all. In the spring, it sprinkles now and then. 

There are bluffs to the east and a mountain to the west. The wind blows in gusts that seem like to bring down your tent, and simultaneously the sun shines so hot that you can't be inside the tent during the afternoon. 

The cracked ground beneath your feet is like cement: gummy and thick when a moment of rain passes through, hard and unforgiving when dry. 

The dust covers everything. It gets on your hands and into your sleeping bag and behind your ears and in your food, and pretty soon you stop seeing it and start thinking of dust-covered hands as clean. The desert is clean, right? It feels clean, seared by the sun.

During the day, there is hiking up into the mountain, or up on the bluffs. It rains on the mountain, and I take off my shirts to get rid of the bottom cotton layer, not caring that the group is milling about, caring only about getting warm again. Back at the edge of the desert, there is a hot spring, and we all crowd into it as the sun sets and the air cools.

My tent is a refuge from the constancy of people, all having too much fun. "It's like a little Burning Man," we say doubtfully, as we go to bed and the young crowd who cares more about partying lights fireworks off above the campfire. 

The noise of their party abates right around the time that SHO calls quietly outside each of our tents. The sun is coming up, and it's worth rolling out of a warm sleeping bag to watch the golden light of morning begin its sweep across the desert.

The eastern rim seems like it's right there, so close, but after a quick rain shower, it's a muddy, sticky 7 miles away. Two cars get stuck. We push the little one out, two of us, nearly falling on our faces when the tires finally catch and it takes off without us. Far off in the mud, we watch them put snow chains on the SUV, which works, too.

We all pile into the only 4 wheel drive, and drive far to the south around the worst of the mud. The sunroof is open, and we stand up to stick our heads out, beaming into the wind. "This is my crazy thing for the weekend," one person grumbles, before admitting that it's great fun.

Up on the far bluff, we talk about rattlesnakes. I've only seen one before this trip, up on a butte outside of Universe City. "I saw a documentary once about a kid who got bitten by a rattlesnake," I say. "His mom knew exactly what to do, because his dad was a doctor who studied antivenom."

At that very moment, there is a rattle off to my right, between me and the edge of the cliff. It's our second rattler of the day, a big one, and some people (not me) get close, filming it. 

"How was it?" my friend asks when I pick up my car on the way home.

"It was amazing," I say. "It was totally amazing."