Thursday, November 26, 2015


So here's the thing about being thankful... it doesn't have to be for the big things.  It doesn't have to be for Peace on Earth (there's a strong likelihood that that will never happen anyway), or a sweeping amazing thankfulness for all the good that is all around you all the time.  You don't have to thank everyone for everything.  Hopefully all of the people I am lucky enough to know have some knowledge of my gratitude and feelings toward them.

The thing about being thankful is that being thankful can be about all the small things.

Except for a few minutes when the puppy had to go out and we had an impromptu run, I've gotten to spend the day with my husband.  For that I am thankful.  I got to listen to Journey... a little less thankful for that one... followed by Kelly Clarkson, on an utterly absurd playlist, while dancing around our living room.  I got a wreath, as a gift, from a Scrooge.  Thank. You.  Thankyouthankyouthankyou.

And that's just the tip of the small things iceberg.  This is Thanksgiving, you know?  It's the holiday that's about food and laughing and loving and categorically NOT about gifts and shiney things and commercialism- at least not until tomorrow.

I have a healthy, happy (and recently bigger) family.  I get to go back to the States for Christmas Holidays to see them.  I got to talk to one of my best friends this morning via Skype.  I will see another one in less than a month.  My dog is currently sleeping (small things, remember).  It only just now started raining (that might be a big thing, actually).

To all my loved ones, near and far and far-fetched and wonderful...

Happy Thanksgiving.

Be good, be happy, and eat well.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Short Version.

I could probably pen a treatise on why- and how intensely- I dislike public transportation.  Seriously.  A treatise.  A footnoted, quote-laden, properly educational essay on how much I cannot stand public transport.

But I'm getting ahead of myself... It's really just buses.  I loathe buses.

And here's the thing- I get public transportation.  I do. And it's not like I hate all of it- honestly, it really is just the buses.  In fact, I totally support trains, metros, subways, etcetera.  There is all manner of really grand, functional and functioning, cheap, and environmentally friendly public transportation- which is a win no matter which way you turn it.

But there's something about buses.  (And here's where I have to step back from the edge of the treatise).  It doesn't matter what township, city, county, country you're in- buses are buses.  And pretty consistently awful in some way.

Take China.  In all of my blogging, I think the bus only came up once during the China posts.  Nevertheless, this one's personal.  Every time I got on a bus, which was often then, I was gawked at.  I was scrutinized.  There was pointing, whispering, nudging- and that was between everyone else.  And it was in far too close of a personal space zone.  I mean, there are 1.4 billion people sharing the same poorly planned roadways there- and it frequently felt as though 1.3 billion of them were on the same bus as me.  Hanging onto the same hand rails and bars and grips as me as we navigated potentially deadly trips to the grocery stores.


Which brings me to my next point- hygiene.  I mean, it sort of brings me to my next point.  Think of how hygienic 1.3 billion people are when crowded into the same small space as you.

So I'm riding in to work (of course on the bus) today and I notice that the seat next to me has something that resembles dried poo crusted to it.  That's the seat I started out in.  Yup.  So I can only imagine what the bottom of my pants looks like now.  And let me not get started on the two dozen coughing, sneezing kids surrounding me.  Did someone say Flu Shot? (Actually, someone did.  But that process is another story for another post... trust me.)

Buses are dirty.  They are gross (even here in pristine Scandinavia).  And I'm not a germo-phobe.  Far from it, actually.  I rarely remember to to wash my veggie, don't mind at all eating day-old something that has sat out overnight.  And if you could see the things I've plucked out of my puppy's mouth... I'm not grossed out too easily.  (Oh, but wait... Back to China...Do you know how much- and the number of different species- blood I stepped in or had dripped on me while riding on the bus?  I'm not a germo-phobe- but I don't do juices.  And those buses transported a lot of juices. )

Okay- so far: crowded, check.  Gross, double check.  Vehicles for cultural confusion as well as transportation, check.

But wait, there's more.

And this one is the real clincher for me. Getting on a bus is tantamount to surrendering all locomotive  independence (to be fair, almost all public transportation has this same effect on me). Which is basically the same insult as taking any of my cherished, hoarded, careful independence away from me.

Hear me (read me, I guess) out.  You get on the bus. You are then subject to the whim of both the bus as well as it's driver: mechanical error is just as possible as human- and easily worse.  But I digress.  You are on someone else's schedule.  You are in a moving vehicle over which the only control you exert is your physical placement- if you have even that luxury.  You are on a road, in a flow of traffic, but you have no control over either of those things.  You're not active on a bus, but supremely passive.  I hate passivity.

There could be no stops between you and your destination, there could be every stop. The passengers might start a fight with the driver- thus delay, delay, delaying you.

You could be waiting in wind, rain, hail, snow- or some combination thereof.  (And I have).

You could be running and miss it; you could be standing there and wait f.o.r.e.v.e.r.

You could get where you are going 10  minutes late or half an hour early.  You have no control.

No control at all.  You are utterly dependent.

On a bus.

And that's where this gets curtailed- because I could go on.  And then it would get not a little philosophical, not a little psychological, and not a little at all ridiculous.

A bus is a bus is a bust.  Oi.

And until next time... I think I'm free of the bus until Monday.  Happy sigh, Dearhearts.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

November Notables

Oh yes, the monthly (well, almost monthly) obsessions blog.  And, like any other obsession post, this one is scattered: multitasking schools, podcasts, the challenge of staying warm just below the arctic circle as we crawl toward winter. 

Amongst other things.

But let's begin at the beginning.  I am super late on this one, I know.  And to be honest, it would not have been on my radar at all had I not recently rekindled my love affair with BBC News- especially online.  When I lived in China, I compulsively checked BBC every day.  It was one of the unblocked news venues we could get there- and it became my inlet back into the 'real world.'  Anyhow, I checked BBC on Saturday morning to find this article.  I don't know why it really caught my eye, but I followed the link and fell down the rabbit hole.  

About thirty seconds after reading the news brief, I downloaded the entire season of Serial.  I then had a rather impolite argument with iTunes when it refused to sync the podcast to my iPod (yes, I still have one of those- which I also use obsessively).  Several words later, I started listening to the first episode.  I'm actually dreading the end of the season.  It is incredible, interesting, provocative and terribly terrifying.  

And with that teaser, I'll move on.  In October I found out that I was accepted to Oregon State University to pursue a post-bacc (a shorter, second bachelor's degree) in Environmental Sciences.  Those of you who know me know that I was that kid in college who never took math and science because I was convinced of my own failure (rightly so, I would have argued).  Two self-fulfilling prophesied degrees in History later, I still did no math or science.  In fact, two weeks ago as I sat at my computer and took a math placement exam for my new school, I realized that I have not done anything besides 'making change math' in over a decade.  Seriously.  

13 years, to be exact.  

Anywho- I've got no business fearing failure these days.  I've tasted it for sure, I've been there, and now I'm back.  And I'm utterly obsessed with my class schedule.  Building it, molding it, pouring through course offerings and catalogs; I'm getting to know how the skeleton of my time will look for the next couple of years.  It looks a lot like letters: ATS 320; GEO 323; BI 360... you get the idea.  And I'm having a blast. 

This website.  Outdoor goods on supersale?  Living in a somewhat cool locale?  Win. Win.  (Also, the  "Current Steals" are outstanding.  And addictive.)

And Thanksgiving.  It's getting to be that time- when the turkeys go off the shelves and people begin sorting out pumpkin pie? Or cherry? Or both?  Sweet potato casserole or sliced yams with mini marshmallow?  Pearl onions (no thanks but they are a staple at our house)?  Thanksgiving is sort of an ongoing obsession of mine.  This year it will be a new experience.  I've had it overseas before, that's nothing too new to me.  But this year I am mistress of ceremonies- I'm the big kahuna... I actually have to clean the bird, and stuff it, and cook it... and not kill anyone in the process or aftermath.  Plus, I will have guests.  

Yeah.  This will be entertainment at it's finest.  Stay tuned for that post. 

And until then, or maybe before.