28 October 2015


I woke up Monday morning to cloudy skies. I shouldn't have been surprised - it is, after all, October - but I got used to months of glorious sunshine, and so I was, in fact surprised.

Even though it rained most of the weekend while I was in Universe City.

When I go to Universe City now, it's this lovely place of rest and friends, and I start to wonder why I left. I spent an afternoon in my old office, feeling nostalgic (if I ever go back to that line of work, it would be in that office). I went to a haunted corn maze* with overlapping groups of friends. I spent an afternoon reading books to my friend's one year old. I went to a fancy cider brewery with another set of friends. I drank lots of tea. 

It's all very peaceful and happy. I have to remind myself that when I lived there, 1. I had an actual stressful job to do, and 2. not everyone was free every weekend like they are when I come to town twice a year. 

* I never used to like scary things like haunted corn mazes or haunted houses, but I also went to another haunted thing this year, and they don't really scare me. They get my adrenaline up, because things are jumping out at you, but - and this is key - the jumping out things can't touch you. (Too much liability.) If the jumping out thing can't touch me, I just stare them down. They find it disappointing. I'm a fear-confronter, apparently. 

23 October 2015

car stuff

I dropped my car off yesterday Wednesday morning at the mechanic in one of those suburbs that used to be a city in its own right but now the edges of it press against Gone West to the point that I have a friend who lives on the line and has a Gone West address, Other City utilities, and when someone calls the fire department, both cities show up.

The train stops about a quarter mile from the mechanic, so I walked over to the train stop and waited in the sunshine. There was a man waiting alone and a woman waiting with a little boy who was wearing soccer cleats.

I love taking the train. It always makes me happy to be in a big box with a variety of other people instead of in a smaller box alone (i.e. my car). I'm convinced that some of the existential boredom that middle and upper class North Americans seem to have is because we've boxed ourselves off and don't have interactions with other people that keep life interesting. (Think about it: house = box, car = box, office = box. Too many one-person boxes.)

When I got off near my house, it was cloudy again. Not because the sky had clouded over since I left the burbs but because the clouds hadn't yet lifted from the central valley of town. I could still see the blue sky over where I'd come from.

It's about half a mile back to my house, so I walked back, kicking colorful leaves, and drank some tea. Because everyone should drink tea, every day.

In the afternoon, after lunch downtown and checking in with a couple of lawyerly types who I haven't seen in a while, I walked back over to my side of town to sit in the sun at a cafe with a cappuccino and a macaron. 

So it was basically a perfect day. 

Even better, my roommate got some good news, and a friend of his came over, and the three of us went to our neighborhood bar, where they just got a new cook and the food is unexpectedly delicious now. (It shouldn't be that hard to make nachos well, but somehow it seems to be. Also the cheesy tater tots were crispy. That is vital.)

We spent the whole time saying, "Isn't it amazing not to have to worry about [what we've each separately been worrying about for months] anymore? We can just go out on a Wednesday and not think about what we should be doing instead!"


It took 45 minutes for a train to arrive yesterday when I was going back to pick up my car - something about a fire next to the tracks somewhere. By the time it finally got there, the two 50-something women on the bench next to me (I was leaning against a pole) had bonded over how hard it is to find a good job these days. 

Another, younger woman had given directions to the mall to a confused teenager, and then turned to the older women, incredulous. "How can you not know where the mall is?" she asked. (I smiled, secretly. Because maybe she isn't from here? There are places other than here to be from.)

When we got on the train, there was a man speaking African French into his cell phone. I had to mention the fact that we could move down the aisles and fill the space - Gone Westians are not used to the need to pack many people into small spaces. One of the 50-something women sat down, and she offered to move her bags so I could sit down. I'd been sitting all day, though, so I smiled and thanked her.

After a while, she got up one stop before hers to let a woman in a headscarf with her own set of bags sit down. As she did, she realized that one of her bags was leaking fish water. The whole train car smelled like fish once it dripped down the aisle as she got off.

I like people. 

The owner of the mechanic shop and I talked for an hour about politics and race. My guess is that he considers himself conservative and I consider myself liberal, but there are surprising commonalities when you talk without preconceived ideas. People are people, you know. 


My car has a new clutch master cylinder and two new CV joints, and I can feel the difference when I shift. For a while now, my car has needed some gas when I let out the clutch between 1st and 2nd gear. I know you aren't supposed to give it any gas at that point, but it wasn't shifting smoothly.

Now it shifts like butter. Smooth like butter. (What does that phrase even mean?)

19 October 2015


Things are changing.

The leaves are turning colors (they did it weirdly this year, after a hot, dry summer; nothing like the brilliance of last year).

After months of just pulling the duvet on top of the bedspread on cold nights, I finally took off the bedspread and put the duvet underneath it.

I went to hunt mushrooms. (Some of my former clients made a living hunting mushrooms in the fall, among other odd jobs. You have to live in very particular places to live in a place where hunting mushrooms is an occupation, albeit a seasonal one.)

I closed the living room windows. Admittedly this was only partly because it's cold in here (it's cold in here), and partly because someone was cutting the grass in the back yard with a weed whacker. It was loud and smelled like exhaust.

Other Things. Other Things about which I am not speaking. Not yet.

17 October 2015


We are wandering in the piney woods. Well, I can hear the others coming closer, and I am leaning against a log writing a blog post, because I have cell network in the forest. 

It's the sort of piney woods with lots of fallen trees and spongey soil from all the years of pine needles rotting into mulch. The sky is grey, and the ferns are green, and everything feels damp and cool. 

Others are looking for mushrooms. I hate mushrooms (slimey. mushy. ew.). So I am wandering and observing. It's an adventure, either way. 

14 October 2015


A guy at a coffee shop the other day said, "You have shiny jeans."

"I do," I said.

"I like them," he said.

Cue discussion of whether I'm too old to wear them, which is a joke. I laugh about but refuse to care about such rules. He said, very seriously, that he doesn't think anyone is too old to wear sparkles, as long as they want to wear them. (Then he said that I don't look my age, which was just politeness I'm sure, but is actually worrying me a bit as I look for jobs. I don't want to look like I'm too young to handle some fairly substantial responsibility.)

It was the second conversation of the day about age. In both of them, the conclusion was that things get better every year. Certainly I feel like I am a little wiser every year, however dearly that wisdom was purchased.

08 October 2015

observations of the day

Observed around Gone West today:

  1. Some sort of trash/construction/demolition truck that tried to cross the median on the highway. It was captured by the cables that are intended for exactly that purpose, but I'm not sure I like how far those cables turn out to stretch. 
  2. A bus that had been in an accident (the police cars had left and the bus turned onto a side road by the time I inched my way up to the scene).
  3. One block further, someone in a Saturn had t-boned one of the police SUVs as it left the bus accident. The officer leaning over to knock on the window of the Saturn did not look pleased.
  4. A flat cart tossed down the hill toward the water at the waterfront park. I liked the wheels. If it doesn't get removed, I may take it for the wheels. They seem like they'd be useful someday. Maybe I can make a sidewalk taxi* out of them.
  5. An office chair, just hanging out among the benches along the waterfront.
  6. A guy on a skateboard with a sword not very well hidden under his shirt, the point sticking up on his shoulder. I didn't say anything, nor did I call the police. He wasn't doing anything but hiding a sword. Totally normal.
Then I came home and made quinoa for a butternut squash salad but ended up eating most of the quinoa out of the pan while the squash was roasting. I was hungry, and the squash was taking too long.


* A sidewalk taxi is a thing we used to make as kids in Liberia, where there were no sidewalks.** Naturally. It is a flat piece of plywood with wheels attached. You sit on it and your friends push you around. You can steer it by pushing on the front axle with your feet, the front axle being exposed beyond the end of the plywood. It's hard to explain. I have a picture somewhere, namely, in the Mitten.

** There are no sidewalks in the town where I grew up. Monrovia has some sidewalks.

07 October 2015


I bought a pair of black jeans with silver sparkles all over them (more in the creases, less on the straightaways), and they are now my favorite pair of pants (US definition of pants).

Shopping is not a thing that I do much of right now, thanks to utter brokeness, but this was thrift store shopping, and I've been short on jeans. I own one pair of nice jeans that fit me perfectly when I put them on and are two sizes too big by the end of the day, which limits their usefulness. I own one pair of jeans that are too low-rise and can be worn only with loose shirts thanks to the resulting muffin top. I have to hoist them up all the time. I own one pair of fancy jeans that are wide leg and I can't wear them with boots. 

And now I own one pair of black jeans with silver! sparkles!

I'm probably too old for sparkly jeans. Very likely so. Guess how much I care?

Exactly. I don't care. Not at all. 

I came home from a suit-requiring meeting today and put on my sparkly jeans, and they are glorious. They may be the most comfortable piece of public-appropriate clothing I own. (They are Levis legging jeans, for what it's worth.)

Sparkly jeans are one of the paths to happiness. Or comfyness, at least, which sometimes is just as good.

06 October 2015

food, reprise

Another thing that is back: the pomegranates. I seeded about six of them the other day, which was really too many to eat before the seeds got weird (or so I thought at the time), so I put some of them in a ziploc in the freezer. 

It turns out that I can eat about an entire pomegranate a day this early in the season when they are small, so I could have just put them in the fridge.

Instead, I am, at this moment, defrosting each spoonful of pomegranate seeds by holding them in my mouth until they are warm enough to have flavor when I chew them. It works, I guess.

I probably should have taken them out of the freezer earlier. 


My roommate is making sauerkraut. There is a big jar of cabbage and salt and brine on the counter, and it's starting to smell like sauerkraut. 

I'm not sure I can share my house with the smell of sauerkraut.

I really hate sauerkraut.

04 October 2015

fall cometh

Fall means that the sweet potatoes are fresh again. I had to give them up over the summer, when they started getting stringy and tasteless. But it's fall now, and fall is sweet potato season. I was pretty pleased to start making my walks to the store again to pick up a paper bag of them. 

"Jewels or Garnets?" the woman at the cash register asked. 

"Garnets," I said firmly, because who would eat Jewels if Garnets were available? They are so much deeper orange and more delicious.

Fall means that there is a witch-ghost hanging in the window at the tea place. It appears to be a which hat with white chiffon hanging from it. The chiffon has two black ovals for eyes. It's kind of cute.

Fall means that I put on jeans and my favorite long-sleeved t-shirt this evening, because the dress I wore during the day was not going to do it when the wind kicked up, chill now after a very warm summer.

I was secretly hoping this glorious, hot summer was going to go on forever. We set a record this year for days over 90 degrees F and days over 80 degrees F. It was fantastic.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that the leaves were starting to change, even as the weather stayed hot. It's like fall just shows up, no matter what you do.* Sigh. 


* There is, obviously, nothing one can do to keep summer around. That doesn't stop me from trying.