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2012 Brooklyn, Portland, Oregon, United States
No one, on the day she loses her job, wants to hear her ostensible boyfriend express reluctance at spending time together. No matter that the job was brief, no matter that things happened for the best. I have never found such sentiments comforting in the face of Great Big Grief, and they don’t help with Itty Bitty Grief either. To his credit, he modified his reluctance into something that eventually approached enthusiasm, possibly because it overlapped with an errand. To his debit, he might not have done so if I hadn’t given him a whole lot of prompting.
A friend and I were talking about angst yesterday, and we agree that it is a function of privilege. If your kid needs to eat, or the tooth you haven’t attended to because you couldn’t afford it has you in agony, or if a rabid dog is stumbling your way, angst is not what you experience.
Worldly goods
My neighbor the carpenter is coming over this afternoon, which means that the bookshelf currently holding the position of Top Shelf will find itself superseded. Sic transit gloria mundi. Thus passeth earthly glory.

2011 Phsar Dey Hoy, Siem Reap, Cambodia
I was exhausted last night after teaching for the first time since I got sick and my students had a vacation, so when they asked to cut the class short, I didn’t argue. I stood up the whole time, which probably wasn’t brilliant. I so want to feel better, and it’s taking so long. Now, the next morning, I still feeling a little wiped out, ever so glad I’ve got 12 hours before I’ve got to do that again. But the students were great. I asked every one of them, “What did you do when you went home?” and each replied with a whole sentence.
Temporary cats
The skinny little cat with the crooked tail came to visit the classroom, and for all the dislike the students express for her, she seems to be thriving. The students explained that they can’t share what little food they have with her, so she must be catching mice or lizards or whatever cats hunt around here. I’ll have to ask the students whether they like mice and lizards better, or the cat.
I was greatly relieved that my neighbors’ hammock wasn’t on my balcony yesterday. I used to love living here so much, and now I’m practically counting the days until I can go.

2010 Majnu Ka Tilla, Delhi, India
Temporary homes
When Milam, my favorite taxi driver on the planet, and I finally found each other near the Ajmeri Gate at the Delhi Train Station, he gave me good news. Wongdhen House did have a room. Milam had pleaded for it on my behalf and possibly flirted with the receptionist with the nice “smell.”
First-world problems
I found out that Milam doesn’t own his taxi – I was ashamed to realize that this hadn’t even crossed my mind – and has to pay 500 rupees to the owner every day. I began to wonder what it would cost to buy him a taxi of his own, if I could scare up a few friends to do some micro-investing. But I am only here overnight on my way to a visa vacation in Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. What a first-world problem I’ve got.
"What god you like?" asked Milam as we crawled through a Delhi traffic jam on our way to the Bahai Lotus Temple, which turned out to be the quietest place in India. "I like all the gods," I said, that being as good an explanation of the faith I was raised in as any, "but especially Saraswati,” the Hindu goddess of education, among other good things.
In the mirror
My hair has finally grown long enough that it’s no longer a shock when I see myself in the mirror, in fact yesterday I thought, I look like me.

2009 Tarnow, Poland
It’s good to be home, though I admit I’m counting the days until this gig is at an end. But I liked my classes yesterday. Even the student I have had the most difficulty with was engaged, if mischievous. Come to think of it, they were all a little mischievous yesterday. Come to think of it, I’m feeling a little mischievous myself.

2008 Krakow, Poland
A full, real, ordinary, blessed night’s sleep. Dozing awake, the light coming up, I didn’t care how late it was. This is another item on my long and quirky list of what I’m grateful for: I can sleep. I can’t believe its salubrious effect on me. I was making the best of things when I was waking up in the middle of every night – and I am grateful for the part of me that is so adept at making the best of things – but it is such a relief that today I don’t have to.

2002 Blagoveshchensk, Far East Russia
Forty Magpies
I wrote the first chapter of the new novel yesterday. Of course many changes are already taking shape, but there it is, something to change. It put me in an odd, altered state of consciousness, moved both by the words I had written and the mystery I have set for myself.
We went on a winter picnic with Natasha from the market and her splendid group of friends. It began with the usual cheerful milling around, as we learned that nothing in the way of equipment was available at the Tur Baza, which, like so much else in this country, is undergoing remont, a word I could translate as “repair” or “renovation,” but with so much more emotional weight. There’s a saying that may help explain this: Remont is not a process, it’s a condition.
But the setting was lovely, and it was good to get out of town. The sky was a dense blue color that reminded me I don’t get out enough. Now that I am recovered from my illness, I have no excuse for staying inside. It’s a mild winter in a sunny climate. And it crosses my mind that maybe my protagonist can help me. She spends a lot of time outside.

2000 Brooklyn, Portland, Oregon, United States


Subject: Zip
Date: Fri, 4 Feb 2000
From: “bunny@crabflat.com”
To: “athena@zoomcity.com”

Between brushing my teeth
and waiting for the coffee
to finish dripping and going potty
and waiting for James to get off
his computer so I can plug mine in -
he never remembers to unplug
the modem line from his computer
to mine and while
it’s no great big hairy deal,
it’s, well, hard to find the hole
and get the jack in right
when you’re half asleep because
you’ve got to stand
on your head to plug in the coffee pot
because the house is old
and wired weirdly and the receptacles
are in odd places so you naturally
leave it plugged in and only make sure
to unplug it if you’re, say, going on vacation
for a couple of weeks, like that ever happens -
anyway, I spilled my coffee
when I was fumbling with the hookup
from his PC to mine and it really
ticked me off. I had some things
on my mind to e-mail you, but I can’t
remember what.

for and after Ginger

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