Friday, October 26, 2007

body object

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The buka got a test shot for tuberculosis. She was bothered less by the needle than by the silly green “teddy bear” that just won’t rub off. She’s as hardy as a Harley girl, but not ready for a tattoo. Speaking of rubbing things (sorry), here’s a bit of entertainment from the stack of papers I had to mark yesterday. A 16-year-old boy wrote: Usually I like in my free time to go to my bed and stroking my dog.

Don't we all? A+.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

begotten, not made

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image by hfrost

My friend is holding as steadfast as ever to her clerical ambitions, but she’s no dummy. She doesn’t waste her time. Like you or me or anybody else, she inhabits the world of the flesh. I didn’t mention before that her son was adopted. It wasn’t relevant then, and it’s only relevant now because there was talk of a second child, a girl. An infant. A Godsend for her because her son was adopted at an advanced age, as adoptions go; there were lots of years of being screwed up in innumerable and immeasurable ways that she undertook to resolve. It remains a demanding enterprise, to say the least; rewards for her efforts, when they come, are modest. Who in her situation wouldn’t want to start from scratch and watch a child’s full potential unfold? A child of her own, with a name she picked out, raised in an environment within her control. Other parents take these things for granted.

The adoption fell through. And she fell apart. She really wanted that baby. The amazing part is this: she fully expected to nurse. So not only is she grieving the loss of the baby, but also, like so many mothers, the inability to nurse. As the due date neared and the stress mounted, she tried one doctor after another: they all put her off with excuses, delays. She made a list of things to pray for. The first -- before the resolution of legal matters (which ultimately gave rise to irreparable disagreements), even before the safe and healthy birth of the child itself -- was spontateous lactation, without the intervention of doctors or drugs. Call it a miracle, but it could have happened.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


A technician came to install something. He did it all wrong. Another technician came the next day to fix it. He fixed it in some respects and made it worse in others. A lot of phone calls were made. The salesman came and offered to pay out of his own pocket for whatever else needed to be bought to make it operable. So many patches, each one uglier and more visible. The thing is, once your faith in a company is gone, it’s usually gone for good. The president agreed to take the whole thing back, repair the damage, and refund the money. I’m waiting again for the technicians to come. They didn’t come on time when we were paying customers. I know they won’t come on time now.

Everything is so hard here, I told my fellow expat friend. It’s not about being “here,” she said.


The same rainbow appeared to me twice this morning, once in the sky and once in my email.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

at least there's one

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neighbor that we like!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Monday, October 15, 2007


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Thursday, October 11, 2007


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So I bought this doll. In Greece, there are all these “collections” you can buy one piece at a time, one week at a time, at the corner kiosks. In principle, I’m against this kind of collecting. In practice, I couldn’t resist Madame Bovary, the first in the series of Ladies of Literature, each porcelain beauty dressed in exquisitely detailed period attire. I won’t collect them all, but now that I have Emma Bovary, I need Jane Eyre, Constance Chatterley, and Anna Karenina, at the very least, to keep her company: each of them aloof and composed in their tiny tailored clothes, their pearls and purses, all delicacy and innocence, no hint of the regular passions, salacious affairs, and suicides within.

I know their stories well.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Bread pudding

One of my favorite places to eat out in Baltimore, during my good old Hopkins days, was Donna's by the Museum of Modern Art.

Every single time, I would go through my lunch or dinner in anticipation of topping it with a bread pudding. I loved that pudding...

And now, almost 10 years after my last Donna's bread pudding, I found a recipe that looks right and doable, and I'm thinking of giving it a try.

Monday, October 08, 2007

home improvements

The house seemed like a real find last year, but (I realize now) I would have said anything to put more than a rented roof over my soon to be born child’s head. Not that I regret buying this house. It cleaned up nicely. The guest room served its purpose.

There are still issues with the neighbors, front and back (separate lawsuits pending). Even the ones to the side, otherwise perfectly discreet and unassuming, wake up at 7:30 or 8 and start frying onions. And fish. The smell enters my office through the shaft. In the evenings, when I have my lessons, they fry steaks, causing my stomach to turn and my students’ stomachs to rumble. But this is life in the city. You get used to the sounds and smells of others, the constant traffic, and conversations through the wall. At least I hope you do.

It’s the house itself that worries me now. The plumbers came (or were supposed to come) every day for two weeks to repair the radiators, then the furnace guys followed. The pipes are old, but, with a little luck, still in working order. The windows and doors, also of a certain age, aren’t so charming anymore. They need to be replaced. A big chunk of the enamel came out of the bathtub, so the whole bathtub needs replacing too. We were already holding off on replacing the floors, and tearing out and replacing one whole wall, lined with closets, which apparently has some moisture issues, because everything in those closets is molded. (I can’t face it.) These are not small projects.

And there is one other thing.

It seems... the house... is haunted!

Thursday, October 04, 2007


The lovely Madcap initiated a haiku contest -- ongoing until tomorrow. She got some great responses. My submission was the following:

sunrise repeated
tummy tight with panic when
baby rustles, coos

I watched The Number 23 last night -- as much of it as I could. Thinking in numbers is no more esoteric (and no less) than thinking in words. Oof.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

all a fiction

Your Brain is Purple

Of all the brain types, yours is the most idealistic.
You tend to think wild, amazing thoughts. Your dreams and fantasies are intense.
Your thoughts are creative, inventive, and without boundaries.

You tend to spend a lot of time thinking of fictional people and places - or a very different life for yourself.

party poopers

The buka was invited to her very first children’s party. It was Onion’s 4th birthday. But poor Onion. That naughty boy in the baseball cap blew out her candles before she ever had a chance. (There were more tears later when she spilled orange juice on her blouse, and this just after her mother had warned her father not to fill the cups all the way up.) A dog livened things up, as dogs will do.

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The group consisted mostly of mothers from the European school, which Onion attends. All the mothers were English and/or English-speaking. But something very Greek happened: nobody introduced me. The buka is an excellent source of social cohesion, but the scene was chaotic: the mothers were too occupied with their own children to take note of mine. So we kept each other company. The buka ate cheese puffs and whatever she could find on the floor. I sipped vodka that I thought was Sprite. We found a crown, presumably abandoned by whichever bigger kid had made it. It was great entertainment for us both.

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Monday, October 01, 2007





Was it...

... YOU?!