30 August 2015


I awoke to rain, a couple of nights ago. Real rain. Hard rain. 

It rains a lot here, but rarely does it pour. It mists, mostly. You will be damp if you are out there long enough, but it's mostly by osmosis, not patter. It seeps into you. The rain does, and also the cold.

But it was pouring the other night, and the wind blew almost violently through my open windows. 

There was lightning, off somewhere. This is probably the third time in my eight years in State of Happiness that I have seen lightning on this side of the mountains. We live in a sheltered valley, and the weather fronts generally do not collide here in such a way as to cause lightning. I've seen lightning at the coast, and lightning over the mountains, but rarely lightning here.

And then there was lightning close by - blocks away, maybe - and roaring thunder. 

In the moments after the nearby lightning strike, a couple ran out into the street, dancing and shouting in the rain.*

It was 4:28 am.

I got up, finally, and closed the windows most of the way. It was too late for the rug by the window and the duvet that I had folded next to the bed. They were already wet. I spread the duvet out on the floor and went to close the bathroom window, too. 

All night and the next morning, I kept hearing sounds as if there was someone walking in the house. My roommate is out of state, so I couldn't think of who was making the creaking noises, save the wind.

In the morning, I found the little diamond window in one of my closets open, blown by the wind because I hadn't secured it, and blowing the closet door in its frame. Mystery solved.


* When I was in the Mitten earlier in the month, there was a huge storm Up North where we were staying. It had been threatening all day, but when it became clear that the storm was really on its way, my mom got in the car to go find my dad, who was jogging, and the rest of us were inside the cottage when we heard a huge crack - it wasn't clear if it was wind or thunder - and the lights went out.

The wind started raging. My brother ran out onto the dock to secure the boat, and my sister and sister-in-law and I ran out to grab the plastic chairs and toys from the beach. 

We all made it back just before the real rain started, with the accompanying lightning and thunder.

We were safely inside, watching the storm, when we saw the neighbors tootling along in their boat, heading back toward shore. They anchored the boat in the shallows rather than tying it to their dock.


It was just about intolerable to watch their flirtation with death. I don't even bite my nails, but I wanted to nibble on my fingers from sheer nerves.

At one point, lightning struck out in the middle of the lake. And they were still there! In the water! Calmly covering the boat so it wouldn't get wet! The boat which was made to be in water!

"We can't even help them if they get struck by lightning," we kept saying. "We can't go out there. You can't help someone if you put yourself at risk of dying, too. Even calling paramedics wouldn't help. No one in their right mind would go out there in this weather."

We finally resorted to yelling, from the safety of our cottage (they couldn't hear us), "Leave the boat! Go inside! Save yourselves!"

Finally they finished up and WADED SLOWLY BACK THROUGH THE WATER instead of heading straight to the dock and running for their lives. 

The anxiety of it all took years off my life. 

27 August 2015


There was some sort of truck making some sort of awful noise outside my window for about four hours this yesterday two mornings ago.* It also smelled some sort of chemically. I had to shut all the windows and gently roast inside my apartment. (It's not that hot out anymore, but it is sunny and this house is completely lacking in, oh, insulation, having been built quite a few years ago.)

I know everyone has been waiting breathlessly for an update on my shoulder nerve impingement situation. 

It's getting better, I think. It's slow, but I can sleep at night without medication and without waking from pain, which seems like an improvement. I slept on it funny last night, and still it's not bad enough to take ibuprofen.

I seem to have more movement in it, although I still can't lift it past shoulder level without pain when it is straight. I can lift it past shoulder level with my elbow bent and my hand straight up - I couldn't do that a week ago.

So that is good. 

* I opened this screen yesterday two days ago and then forgot about it. Oops.

25 August 2015

a place to sleep

I spent seven straight hours yesterday working on a job application, and it was late by the time I had a chance to take a walk. 

I finally left the house to walk around the neighborhood at 10:40 pm. 

It turns out that this is about the time that houseless people find a place to bed down for the night. One man was arranging things in his car. Another was settling in on the grass at the elementary school. A third walked by me with a bag that might have been bedding.

It was warm last night. It is summer.

I found myself wondering where they go in the rain and cold, in the winter. 

Right now, the sun will wake you up early enough to leave the school property. What happens in the winter, when the kids arrive and you are still asleep?

Living outside is complicated.

In the nicer neighborhood across the way, there are no houseless people making themselves a place to sleep. All is quiet. I like it quiet, at night. I like the silence. I like being the only person moving about.


P.S. I can hear a houseless woman going through my recycling for the cans right now. My heart is warmed.

23 August 2015


Gone West felt like Liberia yesterday. 

That is an exaggeration, of course. It is never as humid in warm weather in Gone West as it is all the time in Liberia, but I stepped outside yesterday into hot air smelling of burning wood. 

In Liberia, people burn the jungle to clear fields for planting, and the air fills with smoke and the smell of burning wood.

Sometimes I struggle to imagine explaining to modern parents in the US exactly what sort of playing we did as kids in Liberia. Example: after a field was burned, we loved to go play in it, in the soot and the still smoldering bits. While wearing rubber flipflops. 

Safety first, guys. Safety first. 

Somehow we did not get hurt. Sometimes I think kids live up to what you expect of them. 


I am beginning to be seriously annoyed with my shoulder nerve impingement situation. 

I re-injured it on Friday. 

Would you like to know how I re-injured it? Because it was ridiculous.

I was in a cafe with a friend, and a woman came in with a baby. She set the baby's seat down on the floor next to me while she hugged an older man. Meanwhile, the older man's wife tried to take the baby out of the seat, and couldn't figure out how to unlatch that middle latch across the baby's chest - the one that you push in the middle button and pull the pieces out to the side.

I braced my right arm against the table while I leaned over and pushed the button with my left.

Bam. Re-injured right arm.

It's completely absurd. This is absurd. The situation is absurd. Arms should not be that wimpy.

So I'm annoyed.

19 August 2015


I woke up this morning, stumbled to the bathroom, turned on the light, and glanced in the mirror. 

I gasped in horror. 

My eyes were ringed by large flakes of skin peeling off. I looked like I had leprosy of the face. 

(I don't have leprosy.) 

(Also leprosy is treatable, if I did have it, which I don't.) 

(Also I google image searched for leprosy and realized that I've seen people with it and have never gotten it from them.) 

(Also there was a lepers colony in Liberia when I was growing up. If I recall correctly, it was way up country and possibly the only time I encountered it was that time we flew up to northwestern Liberia to visit the family who had the white rabbit with red eyes.)

I went to acupuncture yesterday, and I think it helped. Right afterward, I lifted my arm up above shoulder level for the first time in a long time. Then I used hiking poles and it started to hurt again. But then I slept in what I think was a much better way for it, and it's not as bad today.

Although now I am typing, and that is making my nerve hurt. There is no winning.

18 August 2015


Whines of the day:

  1. I did in fact sunburn myself in a ring under my eyes. I look like a raccoon, and it hurts. Also, when my skin is stretched dry and itchy under my eye, it makes me feel like I need to sleep all the time. Maybe because usually my skin feels that way at night? It was very distracting all day yesterday, and then my skin started peeling off in large flakes under my eye. Hot.
  2. I have been babying my right shoulder and icing it and feeding it ibuprofen for over a week. It gets better and worse, but mostly not better. Today I slipped on my rug and had to catch myself with my right arm. Shooting pain. I am unhappy. I have an appointment for acupuncture later. 
  3. My eyes won't stop watering. Thank you unending allergies.

That is all.

16 August 2015


I really needed a weekend. That sounds silly, because I am unemployed and so theoretically all of my days should be the same, but I really needed two days without feeling like there was something I should be doing to look for a job. 

I took full advantage. 

SHO and I went to a beer fest on Friday night. I do not like beer, but I like fests. I like double-fisting lemonade (strawberry in one hand and mint in the other). I like the crowds and the music. After the lovely sunset, a bit of staring out over the beautiful city, and a brief incident of not being able to find my car on the dark streets in an unfamiliar neighborhood, we came back to my apartment, where my roommate was making bagels and each of the three of us ate two dark chocolate peanut butter cups while talking about our dating experiences.

I met a potential new friend for coffee at a farmers market on Saturday morning. We sat at a table in the middle talking about all of life. The sun shone hotter. I ate red plum sorbetto. 

I took a nap.

Some friends from my old work grilled food on Saturday night. Summer nights in Gone West are perfection: cooling air under clear, spotless skies. M. and I were supposed to go for a sunset hike, but the food was good and the company better, and we stayed instead. The guys played corn hole. The women talked about our old work. We lingered.

Today we hiked. It was warm. We climbed up and up. I sweated off all of my sunscreen, I think, and I kept wiping my eyes to get the sweat away, so now I either have really irritated skin around my eyes or I got a sunburn that makes me look like a raccoon. It's hard to tell at the moment. I will know better tomorrow. 

Neither M. nor I did a good job of eating enough at the right times during the hike, and by the time we got back to Gone West, we were approximately delirious and had to go straight to food. The bar had a big spinning tank of frozen watermelon palomas, so I got one. It turns out they have tequila in them (who knew?) and we had to go take a nap in the shade in the park before I could drive home.

I consider it a victory that I am still awake now at 10:20 pm. I wasn't sure I would make it to 9.

Let the week begin. I'm ready.

13 August 2015


After careful consideration and experimentation, I have decided that watermelon is the perfect summer food, due to its hydrating properties. In fact, I think it may have evolved specifically to keep people alive during hot summers.

I have also learned not to eat too much watermelon late in the evening if I don't want to have to get up during the night.


My shoulder is still in bad shape. After lots of reading of the internets and general thinking, my current theory (after cycling through rotator cuff and pinched nerve in cervical spine) is that I have a pinched nerve in my shoulder, possibly because my shoulder was a lot stronger when I was doing martial arts, and the muscles have atrophied while the ligaments stayed longer. Now my shoulder has too much play, possibly.

(I made that all up.)

I am theoretically icing my shoulder and arm every day and taking a round of ibuprofen. In practice, what's happening is that I forget to ice or take ibuprofen until I wake up in pain in the middle of the night. 

I tried sleeping on my left side (the injury is on the right) but letting my right arm dangle like that was horrible for my pain level, so now I'm sleeping on my right side to hold the shoulder together.

It's not working.

I might need to put my arm in a sling to rest it. Sob.


In other news, there is no other news. 

07 August 2015


Twice in the last week, I have gotten so thirsty that I felt sick. It's weird. This never used to happen to me. When I lived in South Sudan, when it was hotter than it ever gets here, I forced myself to drink (because otherwise I would never have to pee, which seems unhealthy), but I never felt sick if I didn't.

This getting older thing blows. Or maybe it's my allergy medication? I should look at the side effects.

It started with hiking. I have to hydrate while hiking or I feel sick. 

Now it's extended to particularly hot days. Last Friday was 100 degrees F and I felt sick by the time I got to C0stC0 mid afternoon, and I had to buy a soda and fill it with half diet Pepsi and half diet lemonade.* Then I refilled it when I came back out of the store. Then I drank a large iced tea. Then I ate half a shave ice. Then I was finally not so thirsty.

It's also extended to traveling. I flew back from the Mitten on Wednesday, and after a nap in the afternoon, I found myself once again dizzy and sick with thirst. It took several cans of sparkling water to get me back to normal.

The strange thing is that I'm not very good at keeping water in my system. I have to pee about every five minutes if I drink that much water. My body isn't keeping it. So why does it need it? It's a mystery.

* I mostly avoid diet beverages and just go with sparkling waters, but if it comes down to choosing whether or not to put a million grams of high fructose corn syrup in my body or the fake sweetener, well. It's a tough call, but I'm going with the fake sweetener. If it's tea/coffee and I just need a teaspoon of sugar, I go with the real sugar.