Category Archives: Traveling



Last night Jesse and I went out on a date. Baby-less. It was a Christmas present from my sweetheart, he got tickets for the musical, “Footloose”, it’s 10 year anniversary tour (10 years since the musical, not since the movie, obviously) and we went out to dinner. We got dressed up, me in a black dress and boots and Jesse in a tie. I wore a new necklace and earrings from santa and a bra that was not built for nursing (it was strapless and I took it off halfway through the night). First we went to dinner at Cheers and had fish and chips and a smokey burger. Then we sat in the car in 17 degree weather while I pumped a whopping 1.5 ounces (it was too cold) before walking down the street to the show.

We had a wonderful time, but in the 5 hours we were gone, I missed my baby so much! I worried that she was having trouble eating from a bottle. I worried that I hadn’t gotten enough milk ready for her for the evening. I worried that she wouldn’t want me when we got home. I worried about nonsense.

When we got home, I was so happy to see her, she was more beautiful than I remembered. She was happy to see me, too, we sat on the couch and gazed into each others eyes (no, seriously) for awhile before going to sleep. It was the longest I’ve been away from that baby since she was born. The longest by, oh, about 4.5 hours! I kept wanting to tell people about Elena, that I was a mom and that she was the best baby, ever.

Geez, having a kid makes you weird.


Freaking out less


Jeez. If you thought I was waddling before (which you probably weren’t because you’re not here), you should see me now. I’m like a caricature of a pregnant lady. I groan and struggle to get out of bed (mind you, the bed is on the floor and about 6 inches tall) 4 or 5 times a night to pee. I can’t remember anything, it’s like the baby ate my brain. I did laundry today and forgot the last load in the dryer. I didn’t realize until hours later when I gave up finding the matches to 2 pairs of socks and went back to the laundry room to see if I left them there. I did not remember this load until I opened up the dryer to see if I’d left the socks there and found the whole bundle. It’s a good thing I found it, because if another person had taken these clothes, they would have got my only remaining pair of comfortable pants. I don’t really think it’s nice of me to assume another fellow Berkeley Student Family Housing Resident would steal my clothes, but in the first week here I washed a lovely flowered dishtowel that Mom got me at Powell’s Books for Cooks and left it folded in the laundry room, only to find it taken (or what, thrown away?) that evening.

So that’s a rambling paragraph to say my pelvis is uncomfortable. Jesse and I went to a childbirth class yesterday. He’s been studying so diligently that I think the 8 hours we spent together learning how to relax and how freaky birth is was like a little vacation for him. He kept saying what a good time he was having. The class definitely made me feel better about giving birth, but made me start to worry about the weeks after and being lonely. I think I’m going to need to be driving up to Redding every few weeks for some company. Jesse has some good friends here and we’ve seen them a few times, but they’re living a different lifestyle than we are. We’ve also met a bunch of other very nice fellow student families, but meeting somebody once or twice does not make them a friend to go to for comfort and reassurance. I’m glad the holidays are in the next few months so we have family vacations to look forward to. Also, Oakland airport is very close and a cheap place to fly into on Southwest. Come on over! San Francisco awaits your visit a short BART ride under the bay. Also, Berkeley has fan-damn-tastic food.

Thanks so much to Melissa and Megan for your reassurances after my last post. You’d think once a girl was 31, she’d have too many baby hand-me-downs than she knows what to do with, but you 2 are the only ones of my friends and family to have jumped on the baby train. Yours and all the other gifts we’ve received are not only kind, but extremely helpful. Thank you cards are coming! I just have to buy some stamps.

Also, my completed *52 books list* is up! I have got time, time, time on my hands tonight as Jesse is working at reading his 900+ pages of stuff and preparing a presentation for one class and a paper for another. (Hey, did you know in Grad school “classes” are called “seminars”? Whatever.)

So the booklist, in somewhat chronological order is available for your perusal. Questions and commentary welcome unless your question is, “Aren’t you embarrassed for reading all three books by Meg Cabot about a girl who is not skinny and also reading them almost straight in a row?” To which I would answer, “You try moving to China and only getting your hands on quality literature that is also interesting and being a bit lonely and also not skinny.” But still, don’t ask such questions, because I can only talk back so rudely to myself, not to you my kind friends and family.

And that is all for tonight.

Times Up


Ok, I did it, I’m done.  I left for China a year ago tomorrow (Tuesday, September 11th) and read my first book on the plane.  It was a Nora somebody book that was on a shelf in the back of the plane and the flight attendants said I could have it.  It was something like 2 or 3 of her shorter books in one and was quite fluffy.  I ended today by spending an hour and a half in Barnes and Noble reading the Tao Te Ching.  It’s 82 poems.  Ha!

It wasn’t so hard reading 52 books in 52 weeks.  I kept up without really trying most of the year.  The problem came with all the traveling this past month.  I was right on track when I left China, but then read one book in 4 weeks, which left me with 6 books to read in 2 weeks and we still had a week of company and traveling.  So what it came down to was me reading 4 books in the last 4 days.

But it’s done now and I’ll write up a complete book list for y’all in rough chronological order.  Later.  Right now I’m busy making black bean soup and resting my wimpy pregnant body.  I could never have imagined that sitting could be this uncomfortable.

Also, baby alien has the hiccups.

Baby and Vacation


Gah! I did the “worried pregnant lady” thing today and called the doctor to ask questions about some minor weird little things from the past few days (do you really want to know? Are you all women out there? I’ll tell those of you that would want to know on the phone, how’s that?). She surprised and scared me by telling me I should have come in immediately! It’s my third trimester! I have to be careful! Come to the office! Gah!

First off, of course, nothing is wrong.

So after a short cry (she scared me) while I was changing out of my houseclothes (boxers and a ripped up old t-shirt of Jesse’s) I got in a cab to the doctor’s office to see a giggling, 50-something, French ObGyn. They went through all the motions; weight check, blood pressure, pee in a cup, etc., and then took a look at my cervix, which was, as always, pronounced very healthy. It’s actually quite reassuring to have always been told how healthy my lady-parts are. They always get praise.

And then I got another ultrasound. Score! I have another set of pictures of a chubby baby face. I asked the technician how the size of the baby was and it’s measuring just right – 60th percentile or somewhere around there and somehow from measuring around it’s head and body and legs or something like that, she came up with a weight of 1.23kg which is somewhere over 2 lbs.

All together, it was a good time! All is well in my uterus. I jumped the gun on my scheduled monthly appointment, which was next week, so they canceled that and have decided to check my cervix (great) just once more a day before I fly.

Geez, I’m sorry. I think I’m rather single-mindedly tuned in to all-baby-all-the-time talk these days. There must be more I can share with you. Ah, yes! I taught my last class at Jesse’s school yesterday, finishing up a course I created for beginning students where we read, discussed, and played around with some short (simple) stories. It was fun and I’m going to miss those students. Jesse’s really darn excited about coming home, too, but feels he’s going to miss teaching quite a bit. You know what? He’s a very good teacher.

Oh, also, we went on a little mini-vacation this last week. We took a 4 hour bus ride to the base of the nearest mountains to Shanghai (hills, really, but craggy ones) and then a taxi up the mountain to a small town. The “taxi” was actually a mini-mini-van (smaller than my honda) and the road barely fit two of them to pass. We careened up the mountain around hairpin turns so tight they had mirrors to see who might be coming and a 20 km/h speed limit. Our driver went around 40km/h despite his engine starting to steam (or smoke?) alarmingly about halfway up.

Once there we settled into our very nice and clean hotel and found a sandwich to eat at a “lodge” ran by a foreigner. It was not so hot as Shanghai, but really steamy and thunderstormy. We went for a walk around some trails and through bamboo forest, but after my 7th mosquito bite, found a place to have a real lunch. After our lunch of bamboo and tofu, we returned to the hotel and reclined in the steaminess and read our books. For hours. It was awesome.

We had a late dinner of some more bamboo (don’t get me wrong, all this bamboo was delicious) and egg and something else. Back in our hotel we rinsed off in the shower and drifted off early, like barely after 9pm.

Jesse (purposely) woke up at sunrise (this means 4:30am in China) and took a walk through the forest, getting some really fantastic pictures. He came back around 7:30, just as I was waking up. I went in the bathroom to pee, at which point the power went out and I accused Jesse of turning the light out on me. The power never came back on, but it made no difference, except we missed having the fan. Also? The proprietors never mentioned it even when we were checking out, despite the lights flickering on and off while we were chatting with them.

We had an awesome traditional English breakfast at the “lodge” and read our books again for a few hours before a taxi came to careen us back down the hill. We had been up in the mountains for exactly 24 hours. After another bumpy, swervy, horn-honking, 4 hour bus ride, we were back in Shanghai and grabbing some McDonald’s to go for dinner.

And that was our vacation! Actually quite relaxing and beautiful.

Daddy, This One’s For You


We had an absolutely gorgeous day today! It must have been over 50, clear blue skies (very unusual in Shanghai) with a gentle, springy breeze. Ahhhhh! And I got to spend it all with my sweetie! Jesse is still spoiling me, though it’s post-birthday now, so we spent the day completely relaxing. We walked a bit, sat around a lot, read our books, and sipped hot beverages most of the day. Now he’s studying Chinese next to me while I tippity-tap a bit on my computer. I wish every day were the weekend.

I’m 31 now, which seems just a bit old for someone who still claps her hands in excitement and likes exotically flavored chap sticks. But you know what? It’s OK! I don’t mind at all being a bit older. I’m pretty happy with all I’ve done thus far in life, and I’m sure glad I wasn’t in too much of a hurry to enjoy it. I’m pleased with the five years I invested in a career at OMSI, and I’m also glad I left and have had the opportunity to see so much more. Our year in Japan was amazing and eye-opening and sometimes, I miss it so very much. My students were sweet and so crazy, Hachinohe was beautiful and we made fantastic friends.

Our short but sweet months in Spain we so very awesome. Living and studying in Europe! With your love! It was, far and away, the most romantic months of my life. Once we’d moved home to Portland, Jesse and I both felt a bit at odds with ourselves, what to do now? We got random jobs, took an embarrassingly long time to move out of Erin and Adam’s apartment and, ultimately, both ended up back in school. Jesse got a second Bachelor’s and I had a fantastic time learning Chemistry (Biology, Microbiology, A & P) and working my butt off to learn it well. We had so much fun hanging out with my expanding family and reconnecting with old friends.

And now here we are taking it to the next level, folks, living in crazy Shanghai, loving and learning even more about each other every day. CHEERS! To living my life to it’s fullest! I can’t wait to take it to the next level and see where we go from here.

I was talking to Momm and Daddy today and he told me how very much he enjoys reading my updates. He said I write in my voice and he can hear me laughing when he reads them. That makes me feel so good! This one’s for you, Daddy.

Snowy Memories


It’s snowing today. Nice big fat flakes that stick for about 5 seconds before melting into the slush already accumulated. It’s peaceful (aside from the screeching brakes and honking still audible from the street) and makes the city seem somehow cleaner.

It reminds me of a day in Japan, when I was walking across town to meet Jesse at his High School. There was a mall near his school that had recently opened up a coffee shop with actual whipped cream on top (rather than whipped weirdness, I never figured out what they were topping with at other establishments) of the mochas. It was snowing in Hachinohe that day and I was walking along with a few of my students, gathering snow flakes on my tongue, saying goodbye to them on the way as they dropped into bus stops, down side streets, etc.. I felt so good that day. The world seemed brighter, richer, promising. I think we’d recently passed the 6-month mark in our stay, that would be February, and I finally felt I had banished the demons that had been with me through Oct, Nov, Dec….. I was no longer embarrassed about looking so foreign, no longer feeling quite so fat, no longer struggling to ask for help from other teachers, no longer desperately missing my comfortable place at OMSI, no longer afraid of falling into a stomach-clenching anxiety in the middle of the night.

That fall in Japan was the most humbling period in my life. The time when I realized my own body’s power, my mind’s ability to make me feel like a crazy, anxious, awful shadow of myself. I have never felt worse and think I never will again. I was so scared about this year in China, that I would feel that way again. That I would psyche myself out and feel so frightened, so out of control and also, so hateful of myself that I could not look in a mirror for fear of seeing that ugly person. You can read about it here, on Diaryland, but I don’t recommend it. It’s not going to make you happy. I can’t stand to read them.

The good news is, I don’t feel crappy. I’m not just OK, either. I feel pretty damn good. That’s not to say I’m not looking forward to going home (counting down the weeks, actually!), but that I think I’ve got a little control over my fears. And I’ve got Jesse. When we left for that year in Japan, we’d been together less than a year, and now it’s been over four. I’ll tell you something – I didn’t exactly show him a good time that fall in Japan, but he stuck it out with me. He’s my life and my love.

All that to say, it’s snowing in Shanghai and I’m going out into it. Good day, folks. Mine will be.

Hi, I’m Here


The server at work is down, Jesse’s at work and Momm and Dad are out seeing a museum, so here I am at home with my first few free minutes in front of a computer for quite some time.

My computer had an “episode” (for want of a better word) last week and I’m afraid to turn it on again for fear it will still be busted. It simply would not go past the startup screen. Leif said I probably fried either my CPU or motherboard. Mostly I was worried about our pictures. All our traveling from the last 4 years was recorded on my computer. I was going to send the dumb machine home with the parents for Leif to try to get the pictures off for us, but that evening I tried turning it on and it started right up. I had blown a large ugly mess of dustbunny/hairball from around the fan (whoops) but it still seemed to be running really hot. We copied all of our pictures and random other music and documents to an external hard drive we have (a gift from Jesse’s Dad, it was full of music that we had to partially delete). Now my computer is sitting arse up, waiting for me to get up the guts to open up it’s underside and blow out all the dust and gunk. Leif seems to think this is my best bet. I may have just gotten lucky that one time to get it to turn on again for us to take our precious things off. And it may be fine.

So I’m using Jesse’s computer. (I’m going to check and see if work’s server is back up…)

OK, it’s hours later and I finished work. Whew. Computers are t.r.o.u.b.l.e.

Tomorrow, Momm, Dad, Jesse and I are leaving on the early train (only we don’t quite know when that is) for HongZhou, the most beautiful city in China. It has a man-made lake in the middle of it and I don’t know what else. I suppose we’ll find out. We’ve all been having a fabulous time together.

Having worked for the past 4 hours, I’m a bit computered out. I’ve got to do something else.