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2012 Brooklyn, Portland, Oregon, United States
Worldly goods
We went to Ikea last night and looked for stuffed musical foxes like the ones we have - three, collectively - but we saw only one, zip-tied to a little round cloth container. He pulled its tail, and it played its familiar sad strains of "Rockabye Baby." I thought of the first time we saw the foxes in a heap of at least a hundred, and we pulled as many of their tails in quick succession as we could. Repeated out of sync, discordant, "Rockabye Baby" was no longer familiar, no longer sad. I remember we wished we could record it, wished we had a musical fox that played those offset layers of melody. I remember seeing him off on one of his trips out of town, putting a fox I was sending along with him in a tree. He took a picture of the fox in the tree, emailed it to me. I remember when each of us had one fox and I decided I needed one more, to remind me of Barry Spacks' poem "An Emblem of Two Foxes," with that last simple line that echoes and echoes: "It hurts either way."

2011 Phsar Dey Hoy, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Worldly goods
I am getting ready to go to India, beginning to pack up all the belongings I brought here with me and all the belongings I acquired here. I hope I can find a way to fit in the little grinder I've been using to spice my coffee with cardamom. My students are working on clothing vocabulary these days, so I took some of my clothes and accessories to class yesterday. We had quite the giggle-fest, with the girls trying on my sunglasses and pretending to steal my rubber boots.

2010 Siem Reap, Cambodia
The road
I spent most of yesterday, a wonderful day, on buses and at borders. It turned out that my watch was a mysterious half an hour fast, so I vacated my dear room with its view of the Bangkok skyline unnecessarily early, before dawn, though I could see the golden spire of Wat Pra Kaew emerging gently from the dark before I left. At the nearby hotel where I waited for the bus for Siem Reap, I fidgeted between the frigid air-conditioned lobby and warm morning air outside, where tiny mosquitoes feasting on me didn’t have to fight even a breath of wind.
We had fuse trouble on the road, but the driver managed to find a mechanic not just on a Sunday morning, but on Chinese New Year's Day. The mechanic was making the fashion statement known as "plumber's butt" in my country of origin; I wonder if the Thai have a name for this. While we waited for repairs, I got to talking with another lone woman traveler, who also turned out to be an ESL teacher, and we spent the rest of the day together, her company especially welcome in the lines at the two borders.
All day long yesterday, Thai and Cambodian people wished me a Happy Valentine's Day, and I wished them a Happy New Year, which is how I learned that the Cambodian New Year - which takes the form of thorough drenchings - isn’t for another two months. But everyone celebrates Chinese New Year.
Though the name of the nearest major city in Cambodia, Siem Reap, means “Siamese Defeated,” relations between Cambodia and Thailand seem cordial enough these days. The border bus terminal looks like a tiny, brand-new airport, with classy sunken dining areas, gleaming clean metal chairs in rows, a truss ceiling high above it all. The crew working the fast food booths must have seen more foreign tourists since the place opened than I have in all my years of travel, yet they still looked at us with polite curiosity. I rewarded them by making a show of picking up my feet so the woman mopping the spotless floor could get under my chair, then holding my feet in the air so the floor could dry, like a seven-year-old.
My new traveling companion and I got seats across the aisle from each other on the bus to Siem Reap, where she thinks there are plenty of opportunities for an English teacher to volunteer. We'll be visiting a school together this very day, and also a floating village. Today is shaping up to be another wonderful day.

2009 Tarnow, Poland
It has finally stopped snowing, though there is more snow on every surface I can see than I would have thought possible. The sky is a lavender color, gorgeous and strange. The crows are flying around and cawing at 5:45, half an hour earlier than I have ever seen them. I wonder if the snow light woke them up early. They are flying but not landing. I wonder if wherever they were before they flew here was uncomfortable, wonder if someone chased them away. One crow sat on a branch just outside my window yesterday afternoon, even ate some snow, but that was afternoon. Now a few crows are finally beginning to land in their old perching grounds, the tree across the street. But not many, and they aren’t staying long. I wonder if the branches are snowy; it's too dark over there to tell.
Temporary cats
I saw the strangest thing when I looked out the window yesterday evening: a couple out for a stroll in the snow, walking a cat on a leash. I had instant empathy for the poor creature - who was walking gracefully but uncomfortably - as I remembered how cats hate to get their feet wet.
Worldly goods
I went to the bookstore called Empik, where I splurged on the most gorgeous pencil case in all the world, complete with a picture of a mole who has just dug up a mirror and is looking happily at himself (the mole's attire suggests a male). And I bought a copy of Pillars of the Earth. It cost one hour’s work, and because it is more than a thousand pages long, the price per word is very low.

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