The Astromaid Chronicles

Slow Travel, Creative Living, and Speculation

Category: What’s Going On Here? (page 1 of 3)

Super Moon, Super Powers

If any of you counted how many days since my last update  (approximately 145 days), you’d think that the daffodils I ingested in my last post actually did kill me.

But lo! They did not! I am alive and well and a new business owner, to boot! Updates are forthcoming…I have a lot of things I want to say about the developments in Ye Olde Personalle Life, which include, among other things, rampant gardening, a food truck, adventures in serving hamburgers to the masses, a vineyard, and…well…today’s topic.

My Super Power.

If any of you have used even an ounce of social media lately, you’ve probably heard about the Super Moon. The most recent Super Moon, that is, which apparently rose on the 14th of November, and won’t be seen again for seventy years. So like, it’s really important because we’ll all be DEAD the next  time it comes around.

I should add that I feel like these super-rare super moons come about quite often, or maybe I’m just thinking of meteoroid showers or something. It also irks me that Facebook now advises us to “take a step outside and see for yourself!” but, that’s for another time. (At least it doesn’t say “BECAUSE THE NEXT TIME IT COMES AROUND YOU’LL BE DEAD”.)

The past five or so days have seen some odd communication patterns. A lot of people I’ve reached out to this past week have expressed shock or even relief–“Wow, how did you know I needed to hear from you?” and “Man, I really needed someone to reach out to me” and “Dude, I was JUST doing [thing I had randomly texted about for the first time in my entire life]”. It’s whatever–it could be the moon, or it could be life, or it could be flukes, or it could be nothing.

When super moons like these rise...get ready for the weird. Photo Credit:

When super moons like these rise…get ready for the weird. Photo Credit:

But there is a certain part of me that likes to get caught up in the whirly-swirls of the SuPeR mOoN! When people whisper reverently about the connectivity and the energy and the high this and the intense that…well, fuck. Maybe I’m feeling it too. Maybe it could be.

Well today, I found out–it IS the Super Moon. Because I have a super power.

I have proof.

It literally knocked on my door.

LET ME SET THE SCENE. For the past six months or so, I’ve been vaguely discontent with my internet provider. I pay way more per month than what I should, especially for sub-standard internet performance (i.e. One person watching Netflix will make websites slow to load elsewhere).  I’ve called in to complain and receive help a number of times. It never ends well. (In fact, it usually ends with my saying “IN THIS DAY AND AGE, I SHOULD BE ABLE TO WATCH NETFLIX AND GOOGLE SOMETHING, FOR GOD’S SAKE”.)

High-Speed Internet

When my bill went up by $20 a couple months ago, I really began to question my commitment to buying local when it came to internet. Should I really pay SO much money and be SO irritated by this? Especially when I work from HOME and rely on this crap?

So when my bill arrived today, I circled back to the question for the millionth time: do I stay or do I go? I pulled up a quick google search to find other high-speed internet providers in my area (thank God nobody was watching Netflix at the same time!). AT&T danced in the back of my head, as it has for a couple months now. But I just haven’t been able to take the plunge. There’s something about it that just feels…distant. Unfeeling. Too big for my britches.

I went to AT&T’s website, briefly. Then, in a fit of laziness, I said to myself, “Eh. Let’s just pay another month. I’ll decide in the interim.”

So I closed AT&T’s website and went to go pay my internet bill, like a good loyal pushover.

As I began to enter my billing information, someone knocked on my door.

I huffed, as I usually do when I get random knocks on my door during my work day. I hopped up to answer it. An unknown guy my age looked back at me, dressed in khakis and a blue polo. Inwardly, I groaned. This had to be one of the random sales calls I get from time to time…where they show up and ask me if I’m happy with my cable provider and I tell them I don’t watch TV and they stumble away, dumbfounded.

But he had no clipboard. And he looked pretty normal. And then he asked me, “Hey, are you an AT&T customer?”

I blinked at him, the words knocking around in my skull like pinballs. Say what? “Um…no. I’m not.”

“Oh, okay. I was just in the neighborhood because there were some complaints about slow internet, things not loading or streaming well, pixelated images…I wanted to check it out.” He offered a smile. “If that’s not you then sorry to bother.”

I blinked at him again. This had to be a joke. He couldn’t have…known, right? “Uh…well, actually, I HAVE been complaining of those things, except with a different company.”

I told him about my angst, and my needs, and he politely and helpfully told me about some of the packages AT&T could offer, even though he wasn’t the guy who could set me up for it. Wasn’t pushy, wasn’t making me sign anything or offer half of a down payment.

And then I told him: “This is actually super weird. I was just researching new internet providers three minutes before you knocked. AT&T being one of them.”

“That’s crazy,” he said.

“And I was literally just about to pay for another month of internet the actual second you knocked,” I added.

This time, he laughed. “I can’t believe it.”

“You intervened.” I swallowed hard, peering up into the sky. “It’s gotta be the full moon.” I couldn’t see it anywhere, but it was lurking. It had to be. Off yonder horizon, penetrating the world with its super powers. Soaking us to the bone.

Some people might talk about the connectivity, or the energy, or the high this or the intense that.

But me? I can manifest a new internet provider like that when the moon is right.

Three hours (and a lot of super moon angst) after the rep’s unexpected (but totally fated?? cosmic?? pre-designed??) arrival, I’m a new AT&T customer.

We all have our super powers. You just gotta recognize ’em when they show up.

(…Though really, maybe writing is my real super power, because this full moon got me back to my blog.)

Beware The Onion Look-Alikes!

Shannon here, after a very long hiatus, after a very long and productive spring.

I have one message for you all:


What does this mean? you might be asking. Let me explain.

A few nights ago, Jorge wanted to cook a meat-and-veggie stew. He’s very good at these. It’s definitely something we’ve planned to offer in our eventual Argentinian restaurant. The sauce, the veggies, the meat, the spices–it’s all so very delicious and subtle and mixing.

However, when Jorge set out to make this stew the other night, he told (re: whined to) me, “But Shannon, we’re out of onion!”

“Go to Kroger and get some yourself,” I said. “You have a truck and legs. Go on.”

He didn’t go to Kroger. Instead, he set out to make the stew onion-less. I admit, I was a little disappointed. Onion makes everything better, for some reason. The same reason why I get a little sad when someone tells me they didn’t have garlic for a particular dish. Like, come on, people–these are basics. It’s a sad day when you run out of onion or garlic and can’t replace it.

But I digress. I was working upstairs in my office this evening at my newer part-time job, so I wasn’t around for much of the cooking part. When I came downstairs later to check in on all the tantalizing smells wafting upstairs, an exuberant Jorge greeted me.

“I found onion,” he tells me. “Look!”

Inside the pot, slices of onion simmer alongside potato, carrot and steak bits. I nod appreciatively. “Where did you get it?”

“From outside.” He swirls the spoon inside the pot.

I think about this. Duh. We have green onion outside in the planter, growing, healthy and green, lovely and onion-y! Of course! I take another look at it. But that bulb looks way too big to be the green onion I’d been cultivating. Those onion roots are usually slender and small. This root was bulbous and hefty.

Small, slender roots of the green onion. Mmm...delicious.

Small, slender roots of the green onion. Mmm…delicious. [Photo Credit:]

But I didn’t say anything. I figured, hey, what do I know? I planted those green onions last September. Their underground parts might have gotten very large in the interim. Who am I to judge an onion’s private soil bits?

Dinner was served. We sit down and enjoy a delightful stew. Everything was delicious–until I ate the onion slice. It was a horrible taste–so bitter and strange. I swallowed it down fast. I figured it was just one of those random disgusting tastes that sometimes inexplicably crops up in meals. Like, I dunno–a slip of the cook’s hand, something innocuous but gross, a weird bit of potato, who knows? Everything else tasted fine, so I didn’t think much of it.

Dinner ends, and I hurry back upstairs to continue my work shift. Meanwhile, Jorge cleans up downstairs, turns off all the lights and tucks himself into bed. I am working in my office for awhile, and about an hour or so after we’d eaten, I begin to feel really strange.

I’m dizzy. I’m unable to concentrate. And God help me–I feel like I could puke. I NEVER. EVER. PUKE, either.

“Jorge?” I call out. “I feel sick. I feel like I might puke.”

There’s a few second’s pause on his end. Then, he replies, like in a horror movie, “Me too. I really feel like puking.”

Three minutes later, while I’m sitting at my desk trying to convince myself I’m just hallucinating the nausea, Jorge rushes from our bed to the bathroom and begins puking his guts out.

“I love you,” I tell him feebly from my office, which is right next to the bathroom, while he retches his face off. “I’d come help you if I weren’t afraid of puking my guts out too.”

“It’s okay,” he tells me between heaves. “Stay in there.”

I wait for him to finish, intent on consoling him once he’s done retching. But once I hear the water running as he’s rinsing his mouth out, I feel a familiar sensation. A hot rush of sick barreling from stomach to throat. Dizziness, heat, and discomfort creeping through every cell of my body. I rush to the bathroom, put my face into the same toilet he’s used for the past ten minutes.

And I puke my face off, too.

“IT WAS THE ONIONS,” I wail as I empty the contents of my stomach. “THEY WEREN’T RIGHT.”

Later, once the puking has subsided slightly, he tells me the onions were slimy at the base. I google a little bit and read about others’ horrifying encounters with eating slimy onions. Vomiting, nausea, and the like. I feel distantly consoled. Like the internet is telling me, Hey, this happens to everyone. It’s okay. It was just bad onions.

I remind myself of this as I continue to vomit from midnight until 8 am every hour, on the hour.

Every thought about the stew I had eaten, or any form of any onion ever, makes me distantly nauseous, though.

Finally, I’m able to roll onto my side without puking around 8am, so I snag a few hours’ sleep. Once I’m up and about the next day, my first order of business is to uproot and dispose of all these slimy green onions I’d unknowingly cultivated. What horror in the garden! I storm outside, eager to upend all of these sinner scallions, to let them die a painful, shriveling death in the sun as a penance for our illness the night before.

When I get outside to the planter where my green onions were…I notice nothing missing.

As in, there are no green onions that had been pulled for yesterday’s dinner. Jorge had put something else into his stew. AND I HAD NO IDEA WHAT IT WAS.

When Jorge returned home that day from work, I showed him the green onion planter. “There’s nothing missing. What did you put in our stew, JORGE?”

He insisted it was onion. Onion growing on the side of the house. He gestured toward the back garden, the one up close to the house. The area of the garden where I had definitely, decidedly, never planted onion ever.

As we were walking down the driveway, he gestured toward a plant in the front garden. “It looked just like that,” he said. “Just like that onion there.”

My gaze landed on the plant. It was no onion at all. I never planted any bulb onion in my garden, front or back. I never planted anything but the slim, slender, totally innocuous, non-vomit-worthy green onion.

Jorge had pointed to the daffodils.

We ate a motherfucking daffodil in our stew.

Jorge pulled the daffodil in the middle stage, without the flower. Just when it looks exactly like a green onion.

Jorge pulled the daffodil in the middle stage, without the flower. Just when it looks exactly like a green onion.

Now it all made sense. Why else would we have puked our guts out like some modern rendition of the Exorcist: Food Edition? We had literally poisoned ourselves, as evidenced by any google search on Daffodils:

All parts of the bulb are toxic to people and animals, but the toxicity level is low unless you eat a large quantity. For example, a handful of bulbs is considered toxic, while one bite may lead to an upset stomach. If you accidentally ingest lycorine, you may begin to have stomach problems, such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, as well as salivating, trembling, depression, convulsions and tremors. [Why Are Daffodils Dangerous?]

We had nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, salivating, trembling, and a whole lot of depression regarding WHY IS THIS PURPORTED ONION TRYING TO KILL ME?

Yeah, just an accidental dinner-time poisoning. OOPS.

Jorge felt horrible throughout all of this, I should mention. He stayed up with me while I puked the night away, and felt so badly for causing all of this terror from one simple stew. Once we found out it was a daffodil instead of a rotten onion, he felt even worse. Who harvests daffodils instead of onions? It’s a mistake anyone could make, I suppose, if you aren’t well-acquainted with your wife’s sprawling garden.

At any rate, we’re much better now, and definitely on the healthy side of our unintentional daffodil poisoning.

We’ve both learned what slimy onions can do to someone’s gut as well as the accidental daffodil, so I hope all of you will take all of these lessons to heart and avoid both rotten onions and perfectly good daffodils during your next home-cooked meal.

A Hiatus, A Job, and A Pet

It’s been almost a month since I last wrote. A MONTH! I have no good excuse, either. I tend to have a surplus of ideas at all times. And then I don’t post them generally because of the ever-present doubt in the back of my head that lingers (and burns) like a fart that just won’t go away: Who even cares?

And in the shuffleboard of my priorities, the blog usually gets the last slot, so there’s also that.

But really, there’s a conflict inside me. I have so much I want to write about. I’d love to return this blog to a more mundane recapping of my days and weeks. I feel people used to read it more when it was about that stuff. But I strayed away from that because I began to ask myself, who even cares about this?

I mean, technically speaking, nobody does. But also technically speaking, everybody does. It’s the same impetus that draws us to novels, stories, overheard snippets, and more. We’re just inherently interested about other people’s lives. Even if we don’t actually care about it.

But I also thought I’d be more sparing with my content, so that I could produce real, bonafide pieces that I cared about and put effort into.

I mean, I still want to do that. I’m not trying to publish random assortments of spelling errors here.

So I think there’s a middle ground. I’m going to try to post more often, with lower self-censoring and with higher regard for writing about whatever the fuck I want to write about.

So what the hell’s been going on in my life?

I started a new job. It’s a part-time thing, nights only, four days a week, also remote work. I get to talk to people on the west coast, speak in Spanish, and create (AND MAINTAIN!) spreadsheets. Not bad, for a side gig!

I went to Nashville recently with one of my best friends, Leslie. It was a combination foodie and yoga tour. We studied with my mom’s authorized Ashtanga teacher, and were collectively sore for two days afterward because that’s what studying with Shae means. She tweaks you so hard that every aspect of your practice feels it. We also consumed a frightening amount of tofu and talked until our vocal chords shriveled up.

Kentucky I-65 S Detour

Views of Kentucky during an unexpected detour on the drive south.

Nashville Cowboy Boots

Token cowboy boots in Music City!

East Nashville, TN

Hip mailboxes in East Nashville.

Earlier this week, Jorge crept into my office with a mysterious cardboard box and a crazed, gleeful look on his face. “I have a surprise,” he warned, maybe ominously to my ears as I assessed the box and realized it could be only one thing: a pending pet.

AND LO! Inside the box was a quivering bunny. Super small, super cute, and very, very caught in this box. Jorge explained that he’d rescued the bunny from certain death, since one of the farm cats was about to kill it.

“Awesome,” I said, eyeing the little creature, millions of questions springing to mind. Questions like: where are we going to put this little thing so he can exercise and play enough that he doesn’t get angry and depressed? How can we let him know we mean no harm? He has no idea what’s going on and he’ so scared, how do we calm him? What do we feed him? What will we do with him when it’s time for us to leave for South America later this year?

Jorge fashioned a makeshift cage for him, and his attempts to escape the box haunted me the entire night. I felt physically heavy because this tiny creature was in our house, confused and scared, on the fast track to becoming our pet.

The next day, the cage improved, and we played with the bunny more since his fear factor had diminished a little bit. We named him Benny. Jorge was in love. I worried about Stockholm’s Syndrome, because here we are the captors, taking this rabbit hostage until he falls in love with us. But as my friend Alison pointed out, that’s the case for most pets. So there’s the other side of owning pets, I guess: thinly veiled psychological manipulation.

By day 3, I felt better about Benny because we got hay for him and some rabbit pellets and his cage was really awesome by then and he was totally cool with eating in front of us and he just seemed to be really warming up to the human-rabbit-indoor-sweet luxury life. I thought, yeah. This can work, Benny. You can nuzzle against my neck while I read and you’ll playfully chew toilet paper tubes and I’ll sprinkle hay everywhere and you’ll look at me with sparkling eyes that tell me you love your captor with all your heart.

The next morning, as Jorge made his rounds downstairs, he discovered that Benny had died.

We’ve been in mourning all week. I feel bad, because we probably killed him with his diet. Baby bunnies have notoriously sensitive stomachs, and the switch from wild farm life to captive greens diet probably pushed him to his end.

In fact, it was probably the carrots that did it. What terrible, terrible irony.

RIP, BENNY! We loved you, however briefly.

Benny the Bunny! March 2016 - April 2016

Benny the Bunny! March 2016 – April 2016.

Farewell, 2015!

Welp, it’s basically the end of the year. Are you all as curious/chagrined/baffled/excited as I am?

Looking back at my blog, all the way from its incipiency (looking at Phil) in 2012, I see that in December 2012 I wrote nothing about the year behind, or the year upcoming. At the end of 2013 I didn’t either, but at the beginning of 2014 I did write a small list of resolutions (which I can verify were ALL achieved…though I might have made them highly achievable on purpose). At the end of 2014 I wrote nothing, and also in early 2015 remained silent on the matter.

In summary, I’m basically saying “I never write about year end’s or resolutions, except for those couple of times I did”.

So what’s different about this year-end? Well, not much. I don’t feel particularly inclined to wax poetic about the challenges faced, the cherry-picked memories—both good and bad—that dapple my little fruit tree of life. I mean, I definitely could wax poetic. I’ll wax your poets as hard as the next girl, don’t get me wrong.

What’s different is that I want to make a little mention. Not a full blown “grab the wax and the sun screen because I’m gonna be waxing this poet until I get a sunburn”-style, but just, hold a little memorial.

I want to lay 2015 to rest; say a few words over its grave, if you will. Because a year so highly awesome and strange as this one deserves it.

(But, see? I think all my years are awesome and strange. So this has no bearing on previous years, and my lack of mentioning them. What I’m trying to get around saying is that I’m an erratic blogger and sometimes I just write these posts in my journal instead of online. Moving on.)

2015 was a baller year.

I got married to the most incredible, sweet, delightful, and loving man I could have hoped to meet. I moved back to the United States. I went to India. I published a story about my poop, and got paid for it. I rented my first house in my hometown. Jorge and I applied for his residency and hired a lawyer. I lived in Peru, and left it. I climbed Huayna Pichu, which finally laid to rest any residual qualms about my post-surgical recuperationI studied with two Ashtanga teachers, both of which impacted my personal practice in a huge way. I sat in ceremony again, under a different shaman. I paid for my wedding reception in mostly cash, but also slipped further into credit card debt. I came home in a very significant way that involved re-connecting with so many people, re-integrating in a serious, lovely, much-needed way.

Thinking about January 2015 feels like it was just a couple weeks ago. That’s frightening (though not uncommon); before we know it, we’ll be in this spot again, feeling like December 31st, 2015 wasn’t that long ago.

I don’t have a problem with waxing poetic about life; really, we all should do it more often. Though I bristle that it’s typically year-end’s that prompt the introspection (whereas I think it’s helpful to maintain this introspection throughout the year), I also recognize the beauty and ritual of our need to reflect at a designated mile-marker.

Sometimes we get caught up. Or maybe we forget. Any reminder to pause and look back, and then also look ahead, is a welcome one.

I’m excited for 2016, as I have been for every other year. I expect the greatest, the best, the most meaningful, the most loving, the most challenging, the most trying experiences. And I expect I shall find all of them contained within the messy, sparkling, infuriating, perpetual yet fleeting gem that is the upcoming year.

How was 2015 for you guys? What stood out–and what didn’t? What do you hope for the next year? And what are some resolutions or intentions you have for 2016?

Who Wore It Better? A New Series!

Somewhere around the 1-year mark, Jorge’s and my wardrobe fused into one cohesive unit, likes bones healing from a break. Now that it’s awkwardly reconstituted into one weird, lumpy mass, I just can’t for the life of me recover some of the clothes he’s claimed as his own.

To be fair, we don’t usually share underwear or pants, and he’s only worn my leggings once, during an emergency bathroom run when an old roommate’s guests were around. We’ve all had crazy moments of desperation, OK?

But it’s gotten to a point where he has effectively subsumed a lot of my clothing into his own rotating rack–too much of my clothing, in fact.

(Author’s Note: I love the word subsume. Please try to use it today, if at all possible.)

I can’t quite cry foul play on this, though, because I wear a lot of his clothing. In fact, I wear his clothing daily. I think what the culprit must ultimately be is that we have the same taste of clothing. Like, he dresses as I would if I were a man, and I must dress how he would if he were a woman, though I feel bad for him because I literally have the most boring clothes and still only wear leggings.

You guys might think I’m joking, but I’m not. I dare anyone who knows me in real life to recall the last time I wore pants.

That’s right.

There we go. You can’t remember, can you? Thought not.

Anyway…being that the tectonic plate of my wardrobe has been effectively consumed by his own bigger, more aggressive tectonic plate (what?!), I am forced to take my case to the internet and pose my appeal to the world.

WHO WEARS IT BETTER BETWEEN US? There must be a victor, obviously. And occasionally, I will share with you all the evidence of our rampant clothing swapping so we can decide who it looks better on.

And unfortunately, or maybe inevitably, Jorge will probably win. I married this guy, I know how stinkin’ cute he is. And he just looks good in anything. So I’m already starting the race with a twisted ankle.

But all that my husband is prettier than I am whining aside…let’s see who wore it better this week!

Shannon in Puerto Varas, Chile

Here I am, crouching in the woods in southern Chile for no apparent reason, wearing the token green sweater! Jorge tries to claim it for his own, but I resist his advances.

Jorge in Potosi, Bolive

But on more than one occasion he’s been able to steal it from me, and it looks like this when he does.

What do you guys think? Comment below, or tell me to my face, which of us wins this round of WHO WORE IT BETTER, the Jorge & Shannon edition!

Anniversary Unintended

This blog title sounds like the name of a bad TV drama series, like something destined for Lifetime. I swear the contents of this post won’t be that melodramatic and full of bad acting. But I can’t promise there won’t be any babysitters wielding kitchen knives while the parents laugh gaily in the other room.

*looks around*

What? Anyway, I’ve been in reflective mode recently. Call it the full moon, the blood eclipse (that doesn’t sound right), the start of fall or the fact that I like to test my memory every once in a while; any way you slice it, I’ve been ruminating on facets of the past. In a good way. Like, the stroll down memory lane that makes you want to roll around in meadows and stuff your orifices full of flowers. Not the stroll down memory lane that leaves you mass-facebooking your friends for a new therapist recommendation.

It occurred to me, about two weeks ago, that just around this time two years ago, Jorge and I were moving into our first home together in Valparaiso, Chile.

What serendipity! What memories! What an accidental yet totally appropriate way to celebrate our unintended Moving Into A New House Anniversary. From here on out, I think we’ll ALWAYS have to move into a new place at the beginning of September. Even if it would be more convenient to do it in April…nope. Gotta be September. Just to adhere to the tradition that we started on accident.

But it’s true—on September 17th of 2013, I wrote about the sweet, new, empty house we had just scored in Cerro Carcel.  Ohh, there’s that lovely stroll down memory lane again (the one with the flower-stuffing). And this stroll includes that time that Jorge and I found a free mattress on our way to visit the house before we moved in. We thought, hey cool, free mattress. The house wasn’t so far away, we figured we could just haul it ourselves. On our shoulders. But then before we left with the mattress, the owner of the mattress was like hey, I have another mattress, do you want another mattress? And we were like, how can we say no to TWO free mattresses? To be fair, they were twin-size. So, two twin mattresses on two pairs of shoulders–easy, right? Well, when you haul two mattresses on your shoulders up a vertical,  twisting hill in Valparaiso, what seemed like a no-brainer turns into a hellish, gasping, panting sort of trek up a mountainside.

And this time, in 2015, I didn’t have to haul any mattresses anywhere, but my father and Jorge sure did! They lugged a memory foam mattress up to the second floor and my dad swore he almost had a heart attack. I’m glad to have missed the mattress penance this time around.

In that post from September 17th, 2013, I wrote the following:

In several more months, I will know what the next step will be. But for now, I’m excited to upcycle, recycle, compost, and create new collaborative works within the walls of this delightful house in Cerro Carcel.

And I feel like those words are still true, except this time for Vine Street. We don’t know what the next step is after our (year) lease runs up. But in the meantime, we’re upcycling, recycling, AND composting—in fact, my dad just made me a compost bin using some scrap (upcycled) wood that Jorge got from his job, so, I consider than a big win.

To me, it sorta looks like maybe I buried someone next to the compost bin, like the flowers are marking the grave...but I swear I didn't.

To me, it sorta looks like maybe I buried someone next to the compost bin, like the flowers are marking the grave…but I swear I didn’t.

And in the vein of unintended anniversaries…

Anyone remember that time I crossed from Chile into Argentina en route to go meet Jorge’s family, and it just so happened to be the EXACT DAY that I had arrived to Chile for the first time a year prior?

Pretty weird stuff, ya’ll. It’s like unintended anniversaries are woven throughout my life like the glow-in-the-dark-fabric of this new shirt I just bought.

But it’s not done yet.

Jorge and I started dating on March 18th of 2013. That day is ALSO my maternal great grandfather’s birthday.


Also, our wedding day—August 18th? That’s the wedding anniversary of my grandfather’s parents.

If you asked me to describe these unintended anniversary phenomena? In a word, I’d say ‘cray’.

I don’t know what the strange proliferation of shared, and unintended, anniversaries means. Maybe it’s coincidence; maybe it’s a cosmic, higher-level funny; maybe I’ve got a real knack for accidentally celebrating dates that are not only important to me, but to others within my family.

Whatever the reason, I’m happy to note the occurrences.  It provides a fun, glow-in-the-dark background to my otherwise pretty normal t-shirt. And if you shine the light on it long enough…you’ll see the spectacular array of strange patterns and designs that congregate in the background.


What about you guys? Any strange repetitions of dates, anniversaries, or other important events? Have you celebrated anniversaries without meaning to? Do you even care about anniversaries?

5 Things I Forgot About the USA

Pretty frequently these days, Jorge and I look around with wonder and think, How the hell did we end up here? Three months is all it takes to change hemispheres, get married, rent an empty house, and fill it with love and random crap you forgot was hiding in your dad’s spare bedroom.

To be fair, this isn’t the first time we’ve attempted such a feat. We did something pretty similar in Valparaiso, where we found an empty, four-bedroom house, bought a couple things to put in it, and set to work really making it our space, full of love, friends, and random crap I forgot I had been carrying in my backpack.

That is, after all, what it’s about. To cultivate home, wherever we are. Because this house will not be the last. Our lease will expire, our desire to be in OH might expire as well. Who knows where we will be in a year, or a couple years, or ten of them?

Nobody can say. But home comes with us, inside our hearts, inside our backpacks, inside the special touches that we add to make any space really ours, for whatever length of time.

But there’s something to be said for actual home. The place where my family and friends reside, that little place called northern Ohio. Unfortunately, those people don’t pack up as easily into my backpack, though I might be guilty of having tried once.

Cultivating home on the road is a special feat; one that is equal parts gratifying and difficult. By the same token, being back home, away from the road, is its own mixture of gratifying and difficult. And here are some of the top things I totally, completely, freaking forgot about since living pseudo-permanently abroad.

1.  DEAR GOD, THE ALLERGIES. Late summer is one of my favorite times of year. The cicadas crackle their special song, the evening sun hovers on that cusp of fall-time and July-time. Heat waves are delirious yet appreciated, because we all know winter is slinking up on us like a poison viper. And then, somewhere in late August, just when you thought life couldn’t get any more beautiful or spectacular…the allergies begin. FALL ALLERGIES, the bane of countless millions’ people’s existences. I tried to hold off as long as I could this year—first using nothing, then just the regular-grade Claritin, and then by early September, I broke. The pollen count exploded, and all those little allergen assassins reached up into my face and strangled my sinuses. I bought the Claritin that you can use to manufacture really illegal drugs, because that’s the only shit that works.

2.  EFFING CARS. I don’t mean the mere existence of cars on the road; no, no, the USA is a breeze when it comes to traffic and general rule-abiding on the road. Jorge has had a wonderful time driving around here, because not only do we use our blinkers, 95% of the cars are automatic transmission, so like, what are we really even doing behind the wheel? Basically just fiddling with the radios. Anyway, the point is this: being back here means I need a car, and having a car again SUCKS. As in sucks GAS, sucks TIME, and sucks MONEY. Jorge also bought a cute little truck (The Danger Ranger), and between our two cars, they’ve already both been in the shop at least once in three months. Here, body shops. Let me just give you a $5,000 advance right now, because surely you’ll be bleeding it out of me over the next few months as my car finds new and creative ways to completely foil my savings plan.

3.  Fall is coming! Yeah, yeah, pumpkin latte whatever-the-crap, but seriously, you guys. FALL. IS COMING. (Actually…hang on…*checks calendar* FALL IS HERE.) WHY IS FALL SO EXCITING AND INVIGORATING? The same reason why spring approaching is so invigorating, and summer approaching is so invigorating, and winter approaching is, well…an inevitable and soul-sucking portion of the year through which we all must struggle to survive. What I love about this region, and what was sorely lacking down there *nods discreetly at Chile and Peru* is the fact that we have four marked seasons, and they all are wonderful and special and distinct (yes, even winter), and that is so rare, and so lovely, and some people in the world don’t even know the crippling joy of transitioning from snow piles into the first blossoms of spring, and isn’t that sort of sad?

4.  The Corner Store is DEAD. This has a lot to do with all those newfangled automobiles roaming around the paved areas, and our general abuse of spatial organization when it comes to suburbia planning. Corner stores are, I dare say it, the backbone of Latin America. Are you in the middle of baking a freaking cake and have realized halfway through that what you thought was baking powder was actually salt? What about getting home after a hard day’s work, tired to the bone, just collapsed in your favorite chair, and you realize, Oh, shit! Nothing for dinner!

These are the times when the neighborhood corner store saves your ass. You walk 20 feet out your front door, and BAM—baking powder, bread, eggs, a small selection of vegetables, even some over-priced beers for dessert. (Just don’t get the deli meats out of that refrigerator that looks like it hasn’t been turned on in 20 years.) I miss this, deeply. Now, when I realize I forgot something, I’m looking at a minimum 45-minute endeavor between driving the car (which will probably find a way to cost me more money on the way) to Kroger, parking, perusing a billion different brands of the same product, navigating the traffic once more, and then finally making it home. Sometimes, the thing I need doesn’t even warrant the money or time spent in going back out to the store. This is a product of our far-flung lifestyles, especially in smaller cities or regions.  When everything is densely packed together, like in most Latin American cities, and even larger USA cities, getting what you need on foot is much more feasible.

5.  Nobody is touching. I still feel incredibly awkward when people enter my home or a general social gathering, and I am socially required to NOT hug them or physically acknowledge them. I hug my friends when I see them, so there’s no issue there. But what I love about the Latin American Social Warmth Policy is that this extends to EVERYONE—people you’ve never met, that random acquaintance you feel lukewarm about, your third-cousins-twice-removed, even your brother-in-law’s cousin’s wife who you maybe met once but can’t remember. EVERYBODY is embraced or politely kissed when entering or leaving a social space.

If this sounds uncomfortable or time-consuming to you, well, you know what? It is, at first. But after a while, benefits are reaped. And what it fosters is a greater space of acknowledgement—I see you, I recognize you, and you are part of this environment. I miss this when participating in social spheres here, because I feel like we Americans have a tendency to overlook people we ‘don’t know very well’, or pretend like we haven’t seen them/don’t care. Which, whatever, is fine. But this is why a lot of cultures describe us as ‘cold’. Acknowledging people around you, despite how well you know them, really makes you feel good—both for the acknowledger, and the acknowledged.

There are good parts and hard parts to every chapter, every place, every transition in life. The important part is that things feel and fit right–and here, back home among my loved ones and my community, things feel so right. 

IT’S GOOD TO BE HOME! Just expect a lot of bitching about maintaining a car again…

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