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.

look-back

I get retrospective and weepy around moving time. Suddenly the New York City subway no longer smells like urine and trash—it is merely “earthy” or what I like to call “post-apocalyptic modern,” which is a cross between Mad Max wasteland and the Matrix after Neo takes the pill.

All this nostalgia and everything coming up roses made me think of last July—and how quickly everything can change in a year! Michael’s birthday was on Wednesday, and thus this week in July is always easy for me to remember. This little look-back makes me proud of all our homes and everything we’ve accomplished.

One year ago this week: We were vacationing in Maine. I was 4 months pregnant with Lucy and nannying for Ella & Addy. On our trip I was hired back as a personal assistant because my old boss realized her full-time personal assistant got less done than when I worked part-time. Michael had two job offers on the table—one in South Carolina and one in NYC. We decided on NYC on his birthday. We were about to go completely public with news about Lucy. For his birthday I made breakfast, then we drove from the farm we were staying at up the coast. Book-shopping, coffee date, farmer’s market, and dinner at a perfect little inn.

Two years ago: I was planning Vacation Bible school at our church in Tokyo, and Michael was working on his dissertation and packing to move back to the States before me. I was on in vitro treatments and injections. I made Michael friend chicken and mac and cheese for his birthday and we watched Manhattan.

Three years ago: I left a $70,000/yr teaching gig after four months at a private school in Chiba, Japan. Choosing sanity over money is a good choice every time. We were doing fertility treatments. I was hired as the Children’s ministry director at our church. Michael was researching like crazy.  I don’t remember what we did for this birthday!

Four years ago: I started my second year teaching at a private girls’ school in Tokyo. We were packing to move to Tokyo from Yokohama but were spending the summer house-sitting for some friends in the middle of Tokyo. I made Michael a fancy breakfast that made him sick because he wasn’t used to eating meat, and we had a big group of friends over for a party that night.

Five years ago: We were living in Dallas and had just come back from our honeymoon. We went record-shopping and then went to Cuba Libre for dinner, which is now obsolete but was awesome. We were getting ready to move to Japan in just a couple weeks. We drove to Houston to do a belated bday celebration with his family.

Happy birthday week, babe!  The next couple weeks are gonna be crazy as the house fills with boxes, but I can’t wait to have more adventures ;)

passion

There’s one way to get out. You need to get over your fear that by you pursuing the life you want, that will NOT leave you alone, it will not make you unimportant, and it will not make you unlovable. When you believe that, you wont be afraid to shed the weight, and follow the path you want. If there’s something you are passionate about, you need to do it.”

:: Jillian Michaels ::