Category Archives: WILT

Where I Live Tuesdays

WILT #28, in which I lacquer on

Ever since I was a little kid, transition was a challenge for me. My mom tells me about bringing me home from preschool and putting me in my room to play quietly for a while. She knew even then that I needed extra time to decompress from the bustling activity of a classroom full of newly-socialized 4-year-olds and Playskool toys and chubby crayons.

Sometimes, as an adult, it’s easy to forgo that essential decompression phase during a time of adjustment. Sometimes, even a really positive change (*ahem* new job with no commute *AHEM*) can trial one’s equanimity. It might just be where I live right now.


So today, I am going to paint my nails.

Back in college, I shadowed a very sassy neurologist who kept a little vinyl bag in her desk. It was her emergency baggie, she said. In it, she had a few sachets of Black Cherry Berry tea (yech), a tube of crimson lipstick, and a bottle of sheer shimmery pink nail polish. If the day was really going to hell, she could throw on a coat of polish or a swipe of the lipstick and through some mystical femme magic, strike an emotional reset button.

ooh that one's sparkly

I don’t mean to take something so purely whimsical to such a rational place, but listen: it’s grounding to look at your fingertips and see a color that you chose, that you made time to lacquer on. It’s a reminder that you have a little little tiny power over a little tiny thing–little and tiny, yes, but you see it every waking moment of your day.

And it’s cute, dammit.

yes. the gold stars and the purple.

Painting my fingernails provides some (perhaps false, but still effective) sense of control over my life, and reminds me to take things lightly. Whimsy is an essential co-factor in the synthesis of resilience.

awwww <3 <3 <3

Now, if I could just pick a color…


WILT #27, in which it’s springtime

My goodness. It’s springtime.

See? Trilliums! Proof!

I took that proof-picture on Sunday. Jesse and I went to Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, a mere 7 minute drive from our new place, and blithely ignored the “CAUTION, TRAIL CLOSED” signs for a brisk risky stroll. Looks like there had been some recent mudslides on some of the steeper hillsides in the park.

Woah, pony. Back up. That’s right–we moved. We re-empty-nested my loving in-laws. But we still visit! And bring laundry!

And they got a puppy, so it’s OK.

We retreated into the city some. I’m closer to work, to my yoga studio. We’re closer once again to yummy phở. We’re a short walk from a public golf course, from a fruit stand, from Reed College, from a rhododendron garden with friendly squirrels.

We have been celebrating a clutch of changes since my last post. New Portland-based employment for my man, my 10-monthiversary of working as a nurse, the acquisition of an amazing new appliance about which I’m trying my darndest to get Jesse to write a blog post:

It’s a whole lot. I’m knitting an ottoman about it.

And soon, I’m told, we’ll have sunshine. Not yet, though, because that would just be too much all at once.

WILT #26, in which I like it salty (or, “welcome to my stereotypically excessive American kitchen”)

I’ve been known to have  a salt problem.

If you’re trying to figure out what’s missing in your soup or sauce or chili or whatever, don’t ask me. I’ll usually tell you it’s salt. Even if it’s already too salty. Few are able to make it down to the last kernels of popcorn in the bowl when I’ve been the one to salt it.  I’m a chronic over-salter. Fortunately, my blood pressure runs low. But the day I have to reduce my salt intake, you’re going to hear about it.

The other day, I ran out of kosher salt. The stuff in the big navy blue box–perfect crystals, big and grainy, pleasant to pinch. “Oh no!”

But then I realized…

Maybe I don’t need to run out and grab a new box.

WILT #25, in which I’m still at the same latitude…

…but man, it’s different here.

I’m human. Every now and then, I make unfair comparisons.

We left Minneapolis 10 months ago. I haven’t worn my winter coat since.

Here, we have green thinking about pink.

Urban backyard chickens are feeling fine.

Yesterday, I got a voicemail fr0m the City of St. Paul announcing a snow emergency. I never un-enrolled from the phone notification system.

I don’t know if I will. Not this winter, at least!

WILT #24, in which we have a mountain

Milwaukee is home to a thick glob of my maternal family history. My grandparents rooted themselves in the lakeside Wisconsin city and proceeded to raise their family with corn tortillas warmed on the stovetop and floss tied through the girls’ earring holes in case fights broke out in school.

My first memories of my grandparents happen in Milwaukee. My grandfather’s boat, El Miguelín, bobbed along on Lake Michigan. I remember the smell: industrial, cold, navy blue, pipe smoke. Lake Michigan was Grampa’s Lake. I think I even referred to it as such in conversation with my
little elementary schoolmates once or twice, and then had to explain myself to my teacher.

Out here, Mount Hood is everybody’s mountain. A significant factor in real estate-related decisions is the view–a foreign concept to this girl from the flat Midwest. But I’m starting to understand. Jesse and I went up to Timberline earlier this week and skied and took a snowboarding lesson and
spent a night at the lodge. Driving up, the mountain was pink and snow-covered. From our room at the lodge, clear weather from a crisp cold front brought us unlimited visibility and a wide-angle view of the Cascades. Mount Jefferson stood strong as we made our way down runs called JoJaMi and Jeff Flood Express.

When it’s clear, Cheryl looks out the dining room window and observes, “The
mountain’s out!” I snort every time. This October, we saw the steel gray stony mountain and then slodged through a week of fog. It lifted several days later to reveal a bleach-white snowy peak. Magic mood-ring mountain. Winter!

On sunny days, I can see Mount Saint Helens when I drive to work. I come around the bend in 205 northbound by the Johnson Creek exit and occasionally feel the need to scream “VOLCANO!!!!!” There it stands with its blunt top, the unmistakable result of irrepressible forces working beneath our feet.

The mountain provides a sense of unconditional grandfatherly approval. Look up and it’s there, steady, watching you while you drive home from an afternoon fishing or getting your tires rotated or something. I can’t fathom the emotional boom that must have followed the bursting of Mount Saint Helens–if all of a sudden Hood opened up and shot off its peak, I think my sense of place, my groundedness, might go with for a while.

Tadasana, mountain pose, is practiced standing strong with feet flexed and legs activated, muscles wrapped up long and tight and tall. Quadriceps become the red stripe travelling up your barber pole spine. It’s a confident pose, intentional–but it’s okay to fake it til you make it. Mountain don’t judge.

WILT #23, in which, indeed

Can’t post now. Watching Sleigh Bells and The Black Keys tear it up at the Crystal Ballroom.

That’s right!

WILT #22, in which everyone should live with their in-laws (at least for a while)

There are so many wonderful things about living with Jesse’s folks.
I’m still trying to figure out how to adequately express my gratitude and appreciation for the incredible graciousness of these people. One bonus in particular is on my mind at the moment:

24/7 access to pictures of (and stories about) Jesse’s childhood.

I mean, I feel like I *know* this guy. Everyone’s full of surprises, of course (and his are delightful–no, it’s not just the newlywed in me talking). But the slightest twitch of his mouth or tilt of his eyebrow gives me a window into pretty much exactly what’s going through his head. Looking through these kid pictures of him, I see the same looks–unbridled joy and excitement, exasperation, focus, boredom. And my personal favorite, the pout.

In spring of 2009, Jesse and I went to Greece. On the way, we had an 8-hour layover in Amsterdam. Jesse’s sister Sandra was also traveling in Europe at the time, and we planned to rendezvous at a cafe in that big city. We decided to meet at a cafe that claimed to serve the best apple crisp in all of the Netherlands… which, when we got there, we realized was every cafe in Amsterdam. After hiring a taxi to take us to the cafe we thought we wanted (only to discover that it was, in fact, closed), we plodded in cold drizzly weather towards the nearest Internet cafe in the hopes of connecting with Sandra. (Turns out it’s a lot harder to microplan without a smart phone.) We were pissed, and cold. Categorically optimistic, Jesse suggested we take a picture of ourselves with our most disgruntled faces so we could illustrate for Sandra our frustration and laugh about it when we found each other.

So here we are:

After several hours of traipsing around the streets of Amsterdam, popping into cafes (not coffee shops–big difference) for sustenance and walking through an open-air market, I had assembled a working understanding of our tourist map and the layout of the old city. So, when we finally caught Sandra on Gmail chat, I got us from our Internet cafe to hers. We celebrated. And ate tomato soup.

Then the other day when I, flipping through old family photo albums, came across a picture of a baby Jesse in his grandma’s arms making the pouty face we had captured in Amsterdam, I about died.


I have a theory that we really don’t change all that much from infancy to adulthood. I mean, when you’ve got a cranky baby on your hands, it’s usually because he needs to eat, to sleep, to be changed, or to cuddle. It’s not really any different at 25 or 30 or (I can tell you now with professional certainty) 80. Hang out with the in-laws for a while and you’ll see how well this applies to your darling!