a chipmunk in fall

This was me, 10 days ago:
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This was me on steroids, 7 days ago:
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I tested negative for the mumps and allergies have been ruled out.  Steroids were my happy pills but I am off of them now and have gone back to looking slightly like the first picture.  Now I’m being tested for every auto-immune they can think of. Lupus, anyone? I feel like I’m on an episode of “House,” and I don’t even get to kiss Hugh Laurie. (Sidenote: have you noticed the sexiest thing about House is his voice?—Hugh Laurie’s nasalized British accent just doesn’t do it for me. It was such a let-down when I saw him in an interview.) My doctors called specialists and have had whole meetings just to “discuss your case.” One doctor told me, “I bet you’re tired of being the most interesting patient we’ve had in a long time. You just want to feel better.”  YES. I’m ready to explore Pittsburgh, get a job, and have a normal life.

On the worst days when I’m in pain, I’ll watch lots of cooking shows and click on every single Buzzfeed/trashy internet compilation of “10 Stars who left Hollywood. . .you won’t believe what they’re doing now!” etc. I click on those banners despite EACH star being on their own page. . .which means you have to click and click and click. Don’t judge. . .even my professor husband is caught by the headlines. What if we miss a star who is particularly interesting?

I know it’s not technically fall yet, but our little Victorian apartment gets cold enough to use several quilts at night, so I’m calling it. Fall, the BEST SEASON EVER is here! There are some exciting recipes I’ve been testing and will post soon. Am I the only person who hibernates in summer? I mean seriously hibernates. Maybe one of these years I’ll lose the rolls around my waist and the faintest breeze will make me reach down to my skinny waist and peel off the cardigan conveniently placed there for when it dips down to 70 degrees. But until that day happens, I’m seriously miserable with anything above 75. Michael and I actually went out last night to our favorite tea place and the iced tea with the wind whipping through the cafe every time a new customer came in got me all shivery and excited. It’s the best cuddling, cooking, and reading weather.

I won’t be posting any more medical things on here because God knows it’s a boring rabbit hole and I hate those bloggers who are all woe is me when other people in the world are permanently disabled/debilitated, but just say a little prayer/send positive, healthy thoughts my way. I also accept dark chocolate, funny YouTube videos, and gourmet coffee. And a big THANK YOU to my gorgeous friends who have cheered me up on the phone/Skype—you and Lucy Jane make this chipmunk smile! :)

anyway

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.”

:: Mother Teresa ::

lately (in pictures)

I was diagnosed with the mumps this morning.  At least my doctor thinks that’s what it is but is “doing more research and asking [his] colleagues during lunch.”  Go parotid glands!  I look like a chipmunk and can’t wear my glasses because EVERYTHING is puffy. It’s been like this for two days, and I’m starting to feel like Bates in “Psycho,” peering out from the motel curtains and hoping no one guesses my secret shame.  In hindsight, thank the Lord we canceled our get-to-know the neighbors mixer on Saturday night.  Can you imagine?  “Hi, nice to meet you, here’s your whiskey sour!  Congratulations, you may now have mumps!”

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Medical problems aside, we are LOVING Pittsburgh.  Here, as requested, are some prettier pictures of what’s been going on lately.

almost to Pittsburgh!

almost to Pittsburgh!

Pitt stop #1: Trader Joe's

Pitt stop #1: Trader Joe’s

first cooked meal: fried chicken, baked mac and cheese, edamame, green beans

first cooked meal: fried chicken, baked mac and cheese, edamame, green beans

Grandmas are awesome

Grandmas are awesome

inside the Cathedral of Learning

inside the Cathedral of Learning

Michael between the Cathedral of Learning & Phipps Conservatory

Michael between Pitt’s Campus & Phipps Conservatory

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Pitt Stop #2: Phipps membership

rooftop garden

Phipps rooftop garden

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Bedroom window looking onto porch

we have a back porch too!

We have a back porch too!

my closet is a winding, closed-off staircase.  Creepy.

my closet is a winding, closed-off staircase. Creepy.

every time she rolls over, she makes this proud of herself face :)

every time Lucy Jane tries to crawl, she makes this proud-of-herself face :)

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Michael’s classes start tomorrow! Send good vibes!

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helping Mama with laundry

helping Mama with laundry

She used to be the length of this eye mask.  Seriously.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. . .

I’m always the photographer so there are no pictures of me.  The chipmunk one will have to suffice ;)

confession: I can be a misanthrope

First time blogging in over a month! Say what? I didn’t just take a break from the blog, I took a break from writing, Facebooking, . . .pretty much everything but Instagram, and I didn’t even post on that much. I didn’t return phone calls, texts, or emails.  At least not immediately.  Sometimes a break from—what should I call it—production!—is sorely needed. To “lay like broccoli”—what movie is that from? I was a very good piece of broccoli ;)  Even people-people need breaks and a chance to breathe and not be held accountable for anything but the bare necessities.  Like wifi installation and finding my deodorant, which was buried in a box labeled “books.”  I’m pretty sure the woman in line at Ikea switched checkout lanes because I lifted my arm.  Which no one would have done in actual Sweden.

This is my 28th move. You’d think I’d be a better packer by now and label boxes properly?  I agree. Anyway, someone asked me what each new move feels like, and I said, “Like the cylons felt being reborn in Battlestar Galactica.” I feel right now like I’m sitting in that pink bath, all covered in mucus, trying to breathe.  Naked as a jaybird.  (And in this daydream I’m as hot as Starbuck.)  Those of you who are BSG fans get extra coolness points.  I keep telling my anthropologist friend to watch the show and she’s like “It’s unrealistic!” and I’m like “But you’re an anthropologist and this is a show about the depths of human nature and the building of a functional nation-state,” etc.  But I digress. . .

In the past month, I got some pretty crappy news that I’m only sharing with a few friends and family for now.  We also downsized our stuff, Michael’s mom stayed with us for a few weeks, and we had the craziest move next to that time I was almost deported in Japan and was interrogated by police for five hours (that should be another blog post, come to think of it).  Throw in an emergency hospital visit last week and you get the idea.  But every time I move I’m reminded: great things happen when we feel incredibly insecure and are floating in the unknown.  God is also incredibly close.  I have a feeling he doesn’t mess around with secure people who have all the answers and big egos, and that’s good news for those of us trying to figure things out.

Lucy Jane just woke up singing in her crib. Her talking lately sounds more like singing, like she’s testing out different octaves.  I’ll try to take a video of it if I can, but usually she only does it by herself.  It’s like Wall-E meets the Little Mermaid and is the most beautiful sound on earth.  Michael and I were stressed out last night after church, Ikea, grocery shopping, unpacking and moving furniture—so we watched the “best of” Lucy videos in bed.  Hearing her sweet voice makes me feel grounded, and no amount of social media or blogging can do that.  Still, I’ve missed blogging (and my favorite blogs) so this is me dipping my toes back into the water.  More importantly, I’ve missed you, sweet NYC and New Jersey friends.  We have a back patio, perfect for enjoying a drink (Don I’m looking at you), with your name on it! ;)  Come visit.  XXOOO

Lupita Nyong’o on beauty

“Your skin is beautiful.  How do you get it so white?” my Japanese students asked.  Some of the bolder girls came up to the front of the classroom before the lesson and tried to touch my arm, as if expecting powder to fall off.  This happened enough that I felt like a monkey being groomed.  Did I mention it was an all girls’ school?  They would notice my lipgloss, eyeliner.  . .and when I didn’t wear makeup.

I didn’t get why they couldn’t see how beautiful they were.  One weekend I went to the beach with my friend Kazu and forgot sunscreen.  We were at the beach all day (he taught me how to juggle!), and the resulting sunburn was so bad that I ran a fever and had blisters.  When I came back on Monday, looking like a cross between E.T. and a crab, I pointed to my blistered shoulders and said in Japanese, “Do you still want my skin?  This is what happens to it in the sun,” and then I taught them the aphorism “The grass is always greener on the other side,” and they taught me: “Tonari no shibafu wa aoi.”  After that they didn’t treat me like some exotic, rare bird.

Lupita Nyong’o’s speech is one to keep in your heart and pass down to your daughters.