Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tuonane baadaye

That means 'see you later' in Swahili - also called Kishwahili. Boy, are my ears in for a treat!

With that, beloved readers, I will see you later!

Internet access will be spotty as all get-out in Tanzania; we've identified maybe 2 or 3 times it will be possible to jump online. So, it's unlikely I'll post here - but you never know.

Plan on when I return, August 6 to the U.S. and really part of this world again on August 7, to look for daily entries. They'll be in chronological order, as-written while in-country.

So between now and then: Be well, and do good work.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

34 hours til wheels up

The countdown is really on. Having planned this trip when I had a different job, the timing then made sense. At a new job? It's frantic - to say the least. There are about a hundred things to do between now and 4 AM tomorrow morn

But, merrily we roll along, and a few decisions made over the packing process in the last few days:

  • I need to take my lucky lighter from Sean; college graduation gift that he got in Japan.
  • It was time to purchase an extra large Pack Towel and not try to take a real towel.
  • I have three courses of antibiotics - 1 penicillin and 2 cipro - which feels uncomfortable to be in possession of.
  • How many pairs of underwear? 4 quick-dry backpacking kind. 3 extra cotton kind.
  • The shoe dilemma ends with me wearing my Danner hiking boots on the plane, and packing my clogs and beat-up sneakers.
  • Yes, I am bringing mascara. Sue me.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Sunny weekday afternoon, I've got my headphones in, walking with purpose along a busy sidewalk in the middle of proper downtown Portland. A small gaggle of young, homeless men sit on the sidewalk, nearly on the curb and well out of the officeworkers' way, with a couple cardboard signs in front of them, their black markers out to improve witty panhandling sayings they'll use on tourists all weekend.

One is standing over the rest, observing, and he looks up to see me coming. I set my jaw and keep walking, as he says, "Miss, do you happen to have -" and then he stops. Before I've passed him. He looks down, and now I am passing him by, totally ignoring him, my usual approach.

As I move past him, he says with a genuine shrug, "You know what, never mind. I want you to have a nice day!" It's not aggressive, it's nice and sounds totally natural; he may even be saying it to his buddies, rather than to me.

I don't keep my tunes turned up very loud when I'm walking; I want to hear buses and sirens and possible emergencies that might need my help, so I start to laugh, and turn around, but am still walking. I catch his eye and smile and chuckle. I look forward again and keep walking, and hear him say, "Yeah! There it is! A great smile!"

Sunday, July 7, 2013


Here we are, just past the midpoint of the year. How are your resolutions going? Oh, I'm sorry - is that you, cackling with laughter? To be fair, we ARE closer to making new 2014 resolutions than we are to maintaining 2013 resolutions.

But at this halfway point in a year where I chose grounding as the word to guide me, I'm reflecting on what I've done this year - you know, instead of staying grounded.

  • I switched jobs, from the federal government to start-up high-tech software - and immediately had to ask for time off for a 4-day trip and then a 20-day trip later in the year.
  • I prepared to go on said 20-day service trip (including buying insanely long airfare (27 hours +) and raised funds from friends and family for the volunteer portion) to a hemisphere I've never been to, a continent I've never been to, where a language I have not really even heard is spoken, where I'll clearly be a differently-skin-toned foreigner visible to all, and in a truly developing country (which I have never been to).
  • I chopped all my hair off. 
  • I went backpacking (i.e., overnight into the woods with no outhouse or car nearby in case of emergency) for the first time ever.*
  • I bought a fancy bike and started riding in the city, including commuting to work and riding home at 1 in the morning (hands-down best time to ride, it turns out!). 
  • Then I rode in Portland's famous World Naked Bike Ride and was a topless (but helmeted) and whooping rider with 8,000 new naked friends at 10 PM on a seven-mile route through Portland where literally thousands of clothed people stood along the route and saw me.
  • I quit Facebook, and then rejoined it to help with fundraising... and I (say) I'm committed to quitting it for good when the trip is done, photos are posted, and thank you's are completed.
I'll be going to Zurich for the first time too - only my second country in Europe - and I'll be staying in my own home for all of Thanksgiving and all of Christmas, which is (amazingly) also a first since leaving home at 18! 

But while none of this is outwardly grounding, or appears to be, I'm looking back at how I intended to use the word grounding - and all of these actions are right in line. 

I was (am) aiming to be more open, more connected, more in-awe of life and less concerned with plans, shoulds, perfection, coordinating, creating orderliness and having control. This has been, hands down, the most out-of-control six months I've had in years - but it's a self-propelled bit of disarray. I am choosing it, every day. 

I find myself pushed to a different kind of limit so far this year, and just beyond that limit, I sense this loving circle, a caring safety net, that's going to envelop me as I get to the place I want to be. I'm a bit off balance right now - going a little fast, a little hard, doing a little too much... but it feels less like bad habits, as it has in the past, and more like part of a larger plan that ends with a better understanding of what grounded really means for me - and how I'm going to do the work to stay there, where it - and I - evolve rather than stay static, or cling to a thousand shoulds.

*Stay tuned for the review of this new experience!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Taking the Advice

I've been trying to figure out the best way to wear a bike helmet and not be annoyed about sweaty, matted, swinging-into-the-eyes hair. I looked at bike helmets with a ponytail cut-out. I looked at bike helmet airbags that you wear around your neck like a scarf, and they sense unusual/extreme motion like a car's airbag (or your MacBook's internal drive-saving-device) and pop out when needed. I read Bike Portland's advice for new riders forum, their women's forum, and various cycling fashion forums.

And in the end, I just took the overriding advice, and went for what people kept saying will work every single time, no rider excepted, for beating helmet hair, helmet sweat and helmet crankiness:

That said, there were honestly more reasons, bigger ones, that I decided to go for The Chop. But with each passing day (it's been a week now!) I love it more, and on the warm bike ride to work this morning, I was rewarded with a perfect coif at 8 AM and no need to carry brush/gel/pins/elastic bands. No matter how cliche it is, this is liberation.