Sundays In November When the Weather Bothers Me

I don't like Mondays, but this bright grey skylight Sunday has got to end. Unfortunately, it's going to end slowly with sweeping and scrubbing and mopping. Wanting money is a horrible motivator that gets you into bad situations, like working closing shifts four nights a week three weeks in a row.

The sky is glowing the worst glow it could, an oppressively bright grey, almost white but in no way reminiscent of snow. From my room, it feels like our attic is floating in a vacuum, just us and these ugly, naked weed trees. There isn't a break in the clouds in any direction, which is all too clear thanks to my three skylights. It's smothering, how the heavens are ceaselessly reminding us of mediocrity right now. I feel horrible about life, and it's not my fault. Sundays like this are the worst.

Emma just walked into my room: "The sky's so big. There's like nothing that would make me happy right now." If I didn't have to go to work in a few minutes, I could maybe have escaped this feeling today. There are cheerier places to work on your computer or read a book. It will get dark, and the Christmas lights that have been on the trees for three days will turn on. But I'll be in a kitchen, or at a cash register, and I'll miss it.
On certain Sundays in November when the weather bothers me, I empty drawers of other summers where my shadows used to be...

Thinking about the summer won't help. Nothing will help besides maybe a shower and getting lost in a good book and some candles to lighten the atmosphere. But here's a cheerier Sunday, two weeks ago, that I forgot I took pictures of. I was in Detroit, and an apartment-warming party took place that Saturday, and I baked caramelized apple upside-down cake, which I have baked so many times in the past five years, in a cute little old oven.
It doesn't normally look exactly like this—here it's capturing the afternoon sun. That weekend's Sunday sky was less bleak than this one's, even if the steam in coming out of this street in Midtown is a little ominous:
Here, now, in Ann Arbor, the clouds broke a little, but then everything just got darker.

Emma: Whatever you do, don't look up the weather for the next ten days. It gets worse. So much worse.

On to Phase Three

Starting tomorrow, we face November's fall. I can't say I'm pleased. November has a bad track record, the colors will all fade away, and though the heat in this building is finally on, I'm still shivering.  

Best and Worst (Warning: My Life Is Mundane)

Last week, I finally finished sewing the curtains for my bedroom windows. It took a while because I had to cut the fabric—a nice, white, vintage cotton (bedspread? it was reeeeally long, but not symmetrical in all four directions like you'd expect a tablecloth to be) originally from Italy, hand-stitched together, with a handmade lace border on one end that's a great detail for curtains, that my aunt had had in her attic in Rochester, NY since an old Italian woman gave it to her—and that requires a clear table. I had to iron and pin the seams and hems, and I hate ironing and pinning. Then I had to sew it. But I finished, although I don't have thread in the right red to hem the grosgrain ribbon I'm using for the curtain tiebacks, and this was exciting, because I made something! Something pretty. And I could stop potentially flashing the pedestrians on the street three stories below. The streetlights still filter in, but at least there's that.

During the sewing process, I came across this little packet in the sewing machine's kit:
As it dawned on me that "3 STK" stood for "drei Stück" (3 pieces) because it said "einfache Nadel" (basic needle), I thought to myself, "This is the best thing I've seen today!"* Sometimes, it's just a nice feeling to know that some things aren't made in Asia. And the design of the little needle packet is simple but pleasing, and it's cool that it wasn't translated into English.

Now, the reason I was looking for extra sewing machine needles is that my theoretically higher-quality German needle did not withstand its meeting with a pin:
Oops. I hate pins.

This broken needle unfortunately foreshadowed events that evening. I was biking to work, canvas bag hanging from the handlebar because the handles on the bag are too small to stay on a shoulder, and suddenly there was this loud horrible noise and my bike wasn't moving and RRRRIP and my bag was caught in the wheel. Okay. I took out the small things that could get lost, put them in my pockets, and hoped I wouldn't lose my glasses case through the gaping hole at the bottom of the bag.

I stopped at the bike racks by the restaurant and pulled out my bike lock, expecting the usual sight and sound of all my keys coming out with it because I never pull the bike lock key out when I unlock it. Nope.
Instead, there was just a little stub of key sticking out. The head of the key was still attached to the errant keychain. Worst sight of the day. Look at how stretched out my (previously perfectly round, two circles thick) keyring got from getting caught in the bike wheel! Thank goodness my brother was walking down the street at just that moment, because he was able to lock my bike up in his building, and I rushed to work. The worst part was that my extra bike lock key met its death while loose in my pocket one day this spring. It folded just enough to crack. I had known the keys were low quality and had been meaning to get a copy made for months, but hadn't gotten around to it.

It turned out that the locksmith I went to the next day (Vogel! Another German word! Since 1913!) could make copies from the stub of key that had been stuck in the lock, so I didn't have to waste money on a new one. But seriously. That picture. My keyring is hilarious now. (No, it didn't occur to me to buy a new keyring while I was at a locksmith.)

The worst sight of today undoubtedly occurred while I was preparing broccoli to go with my lunch. I had three little pieces in the pan already and then accidentally lopped off a huge chunk. I picked up the chunk, preparing to cut it into smaller pieces, when I saw something wriggle.
I don't have a problem with caterpillars, but I do have a problem with bugs in my food. I shrieked. The cats were perturbed. Upon closer inspection, I noticed there was a nasty, webby material in between the stems. I threw it all back in the bag and back into the fridge. (The fridge! Where it had been for a few days! Why were they alive?) When I got it out tonight to show Emma, I discovered there was a second caterpillar, half out of a cocoon-like structure. Don't they know they're supposed to come out as butterflies? And not in my broccoli. And not in the fridge. Ew.
Eeeeeeeeeeew. (Also, Blogger has captions now? This is great. Except for the apparent double spacing.)
This was nothing like Sunday's caterpillar experience. So cute, so fuzzy, so happily (until I used the flash to get his stripes) and appropriately on the ground on Belle Isle. He wasn't so safe either, being in the middle of the path, but I think he was doing all right.
To round this out, let's end with the best sight of today. Emma and I made an expedition to IKEA and had a delightful lunch/dinner. I guess the scary broccoli was (meant to be) part of my lunch, and IKEA followed that and the FREE cupcake at the Cupcake Station, so IKEA was probably dinner.
Look at that. Meatballs, mashed potatoes, apple cake—wait, didn't mean to give away that we got dessert after cupcakes, but there was a misleading buy one dessert, get one free deal so we couldn't help it also let's not talk about the 1 a.m. donuts in Ypsi last night—and beautiful sunlight through the huge windows. Sure, the view out of IKEA is never great, because it's bound to be a huge parking lot, but the clouds and the sun were pretty enough to temporarily make up for the commercial sprawl.
Freiburg's IKEA does have a better view than Canton's, parking lot and all, because there are the hills of the Black Forest
with wind turbines atop. But Canton's was good today.
I think dinner might not have been the best sight. I think it might have been this:
Stuffed animal mountain, yes. Customary giant hot dog ad, always funny (in a lame way). I love the elephants. Giant sharks, hilarious. But wait. Wait. Is that—? Could that be—?
Weasels. Maybe ferrets. We considered stoats. But weasels is funniest. There's nothing not funny about a weasel. Just say it. Weasel.

I didn't buy one, no matter how funny, or how cheap stuffed animals at IKEA are. (The huge sharks are surprisingly affordable.) I do own an IKEA rat, because who buys a stuffed animal rat? My mom owns one too. We love them. But I didn't buy a weasel. I'm broke, remember?

*You might think the paycheck I received that evening was better, but I'm not sure. Paying the bills isn't that exciting. It's just one of the basic things I require.

Windy Tidings

I got up half an hour ago, but the feeling of dread from the dream I was having right before I woke up is still gusting within my chest—I stayed at college for an extra semester but for unclear reasons never went to art history lecture, which was taught by my sixth grade science teacher (??), and then I accidentally skipped the final exam, and was hanging out with my ex-boyfriend (let's double the stress), and there was severe weather outside so we couldn't go to the beach...mhm, U of M was somehow on a beach—well anyway, this pointless anxiety is holding steady, making me not want to go to work.

I can hear the wind outside. Through my skylights, I can watch the trees directly above my attic apartment shake in said wind. I think about how most of my most treasured belongings are in this room. The Midwest is looking at a wind storm of epic proportions. Like, maybe 60 mph winds? I'm walking to work today instead of biking.


Did I mention that Emma and I live in an attic? We don't have access to the basement, as far as I know Good thing I'll be at work until four o'clock. We've got a basement there. I just hope I don't have to hide in the walk-in freezer. Emma says if it comes down to it, she'll come to the restaurant and hide in the basement with me, since we don't really have one. She'd even hide in the freezer with me. Thank god I can't think of a reason to be in the freezer, 'cause I definitely don't want to be in it. That thing is COLD. If full of cheesecake.

La Vida Es Dura

Everything is hard. I know, I know. It's not true. We're all just whiny, spoiled (in one way or another), lazy college students/grads/whatever else we are. Crappy adults, I guess. Anything that requires us to tear ourselves away from the internet—even if it's just to write an email, which is on the internet for god's sake—is hard.

My assertion that everything is hard probably shouldn't come as a shock, considering I routinely refer to the following things as "the hardest thing":
  • Lunch.
  • Brushing my teeth, washing my face, and going to bed.
  • Getting out of bed.
No, seriously. Getting out of bed is my number one hardest thing ten months out of twelve, at least if you're analyzing the frequency with which I say things. To be fair, term papers only come twice a year on average, whereas the morning comes without fail every single day, and it's discouragingly cold outside of my covers probably seven months a year in Michigan. It was still September when I started writing this post (maybe blogging belongs on the list of hardest things), but if I made twice as much money as I do (read: enough to pay my rent, eat, and pay back college loans), I would have been out buying flannel sheets that very day. And come to think of it, sometimes even in May you need two comforters if the heat's no longer on.

The first two years of college, I wasn't really ever cold. The dorms are heated more than anyone really wants, and my mom was concerned that walking was my only mode of transportation, so I owned snow boots for the first time in at least five years. Also an umbrella, even though I tried to resist. (Why?) The rain boot population on campus was starting to rise, and I got these great pink and orange polka-dotted ones that were at least a half size too big but made me look forward to rainy days. Braving the elements to make it to lecture in the MLB, or class in the USB—buildings on the opposite side of campus, how trying!—and arriving still warm and dry was a pleasantly tangible accomplishment. That I could do this in under ten minutes made it better. My reward at the end of the brisk walk was that I got to sit in a warm auditorium in a nest of my coat and scarf and hat and gloves, full Nalgene on the floor next to me, and relax. Lectures are easy, at least when they're literature or anthropology. They were usually anthropology. All I had to do was pay attention and write down everything important the professor said. I'm good at notes. Even if I struggled to stay awake in some lectures, the topics were interesting in general, if sometimes poorly executed.

Wait, what happened to life being hard? Where has my complaining gone? The key here is that I'm remembering freshman and sophomore years. (The good old days? Not exactly, but okay.) Senior year, back from Germany, I lived ten minutes off campus and down a hill. The solution was my bike—but even with a rain jacket, that was awful in the rain. And then the snow. And the lack of decent plowing in this town. I didn't touch my bike for at least two months. One day this September, I walked to work because it was raining. It turned out that it was barely raining, and I might as well have biked, but oh well. Walking gave me more time to think about how I didn't want to go to work and interact with my coworkers. It was my first full day working at the restaurant I now spend about twenty-five hours at per week. (Newsflash! I have a job!) I walked across the Diag, through the throngs of students on their way to class, something I usually avoid when on a bike. As I walked under the Engineering Arch—such a familiar sight my first two years of college—I thought of it resplendent in its October ivy, and how I used to walk the opposite direction under it in the morning, and oh how I wished I was on my way to learn about kinship structures, or human evolution, or even that silly class on Scandinavian civilization. Instead, an unfamiliar industrial kitchen. Customers.
Here is the arch in the beautiful colors of fall 2006.

Now I live practically on campus again, but on the other side. I'm close to everything. But unlike the dorms, there's no heat so far. Someday (soon? please?) the landlord will turn it on, and maybe getting out of bed will be hard only because of the weight of my legs pulling me down, and not because my hands will freeze if I get out from under the covers. But, to add to my life-is-hard list, a disturbing discovery I made last week: there are only two heat vents in our entire attic apartment. One in each bedroom. In addition to two bedrooms, we have a bathroom, a big area containing the kitchen and a random couch and the staircase, and then a nook coming off the kitchen which we call the living room. And only two heat vents. Heat rises, so the attic should be warm, right? Or, maybe not. The roof and the old windows and the skylights may just invite the heat out into the big, cold world around us.

This is pretty much the post I wanted to write originally. Then life got even harder. It was almost one a.m., and I was about to get ready for bed, but first I wanted to get the last few pieces of the pizza Emma had made me off the cookie sheet and into the fridge. It wouldn't budge. I did as Emma had done, prying the pieces off with a knife. Alas, she used a butter knife, whereas I used the sharp knife I had used to cut the slices. You see where this is going. I pretty much stabbed myself in the left palm right under my pointer finger, because I am an idiot. We were at the ER until four a.m. I have two stitches, I'm not supposed to do dishes, and I work in a restaurant where everyone does dishes. I went back to get my stitches out after the seven to ten days were up, but no luck; instead, one more week of stitches for me. I'm allowed to do dishes now, but I'm still not supposed to keep it wet for very long, so that's a problem. Life is hard.

Almost Out-of-Season Nostalgia

Summer always used to be about water. The centerpiece of the summer would be a week on Lake Huron, supplemented by the constant pull of the city pool from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The importance of Up North was cemented by the time I was in first grade—I remember making a book entitled "Summer," in which I described each vacation from the time I was two, which in my understanding was the first summer my family had headed north with me. The previous summer had been the best, because my family had rented a mustardy yellow house directly on the lake, where we were joined first by one set of grandparents, then the other, and my oldest, silliest uncle. I can only remember the photographs now, and that I didn't understand why I needed sunscreen on my ears and neck when my brother, who had shorter hair (but darker skin), didn't, and that I think the water there tasted sort of funny, unless that was the summer before. I remember that my grandpa put a penny on the train track behind the cottage and then showed us how a train had flattened it, and we had dinner at a nearby German restaurant—I ate spätzle with just butter. I guess I do kind of remember that trip.

The summer before second grade, we spent a week in an Oscoda condo with my cousins and their son, two years younger than my brother, and probably my aunt and uncle. Over the years, they invited more cousins and their children, and our grandparents, and sometimes my parents, and we moved up in the world, to a private house (bigger than a cottage) with its own beach, and then both of the houses that shared that beach. The last two years, I had my own room in the "kids' house," where I read book after book in peace away from the boys, especially around noon when we weren't allowed to be outside.

I don't think I could really even approximate swimming until I was six or seven. When my parents subjected me to swimming lessons at our pool, I didn't pass level one, although I did learn to put my head under water and kick myself around, which was good enough for me until middle school made swimming a more public event. The summer after sixth grade, my cousins made their first blunder—they tried to switch us to Lake Michigan and Petoskey from the Au Sable River area. Instead of a private beach, we would have a bluff, and a drive to the beach. Worse than that, we'd been the victims of false advertising and broken promises, and the morning after we got there, we left the house with a farm on the bluff. We stopped at an aunt's and uncle's in Traverse City and tried to enjoy their smooth, rocky beach, but that was all the Great Lake we got that summer. It all fell apart after that. My cousins thought the Great Lakes were too big and cold for the little kids. We went to water parks and Lake Lansing, and I turned twelve and always got my period during vacation, and everything sucked. The last summer my brother and I were invited on the family vacation, I was fourteen, and we went to Higgins Lake. We had a dock, not a beach. You can see across Higgins Lake. I like depth. I like waves. I ran out of Robert Jordan books halfway through and the used bookstore there didn't have even one of his books.

There was one more idyllic summer. I was sixteen, Ali fifteen. Summer had begun to be about summer concerts and road trips with friends and my mom (we weren't the sort of kids to get our drivers' licenses or anything) and that summer's trip far up into Wisconsin had been great. Chelsea, Ali and I saw the week in Bayfield with their family as part two of our summer tour. We biked to get ice cream in town, and all around, and snuck down to the beach after everyone else was in bed. The next year, life got harder, and we had to head back to Michigan after a few days. Since then, I've only been on day trips to the Great Lakes.
The state park beach in Muskegon (pictured above) was really nice, even if Ali and I were only there for a few hours at the end of July. However briefly, I did reach Lake Michigan, the number one destination on my list of places to go this year (which admittedly could have been more thoughtfully written to allow for greater successs—oh well). But I miss the way I used to enjoy the beach on vacation with my cousins: pancakes for breakfast, slather on the sunscreen, wait 20 minutes, run down to the water, hang out as far out in the lake as possible until I turned blue, dig "baby pools" with masterful irrigation systems with the help of my engineer uncle, swim, swim, swim, eat Bugles and Cheez-its, make s'mores on the beach. For a whole week. I think those weeks on Lake Huron were the best thing about my childhood, but they are no more.

Too Late for Titles

I love fall more than any other season, but this year, it's too cold, too fast. Summer was important, but summer still feels incomplete, and I was counting on the heat lingering into September. I don't know why, exactly. I have one or two summer dresses that didn't get their fair share of use, there are lakes I haven't swum in, and with the empty, boring spaces of a laid-back summer came a refreshing, carefree feeling I don't have that often, even if those empty, boring spaces were surrounded by obligations and the pressure of the future. And now it's cold, and I do have to plan for the future, but I want warm weather to continue the illusion of freedom.

I've got several mostly-finished posts about summer that are nearing their expiration dates, and maybe I'll get them up soon. Lately I can't bring myself to care about this. Everything I write wants to be too introspective and boring for the internet, but I try to steer myself toward entertainment and in the process, prevent myself from really thinking. So, we'll see. I like writing in this blog, but I've lost momentum. I have an almost crippling need for things to be in order and complete, so I don't want to just surrender August up to unchronicled oblivion, but at the same time, August is done. I write this blog in the present.

The present involves a lot of this:
And a lot of this:
We just can't stop ourselves from calling it anything besides making out.

Im Juli = In July

If any of you out there are students of German—which some of you are—then you recognize this title. Im Juli is a film by prominent Turkish-German director Fatih Akın, probably the most positive of his that I've seen, though I've only seen four. I think the other three (Gegen die Wand, Auf der Anderen Seite, Soul Kitchen) are more powerful or just plain better, but a lot of people really like this movie, and, well, I'm writing about July. Im Juli is a road movie with a love story. The two main characters travel from Hamburg in northern Germany all the way to Istanbul. They travel by borrowed car, hitchhiking, stolen car, more hitchhiking. In July, I traveled by plane, and car, and boat. I didn't hitchhike. I didn't even get on a train.
I started the month celebrating the Fourth of July in West Michigan with Ali and Drew and Cooper, spent twelve days in Rhode Island with dear old Rachel and co, then ended the month with Ali and Drew again—first Ali came to Detroit (she got to take the train), and we went to a concert, then we drove back to Gobles and Mattawan with a puppy in tow who was on her way to a new home, which she reached via the ferry in Muskegon that crosses Lake Michigan to Wisconsin. In between these trips, I was in Ann Arbor off and on. I spent twenty of July's thirty-one days as a guest.
This backpack and I have gotten real close this summer. (And, the boots from this post.)

Rhode Island was a big commitment. There was no way I'd drive that far, by myself, in a car without air conditioning, so I had to buy a plane ticket. Once you're spending that kind of money, you want to stay a while, but not too long because you set the dates and generally stick by them. Her family had told me, again and again, that I could stay as long as I wanted. Since college started, we had only caught Rachel for days at a time except at Christmastime; then, last August, her family finally made the long-postponed move for her mother's job, so she doesn't even come back for the holidays anymore. I hadn't seen the whole family the way I used to—going over after school, staying for dinner, spending the night on weekends—in a while. I hadn't really seen them like that since sometime in high school, but even though they're in a new house in a different state, and Rachel's a college graduate while her little sister has accumulated many more sisters through her sorority, a lot was the same. We did touristy trips, went to the beach a couple times, but also just existed together.
Ali, Rachel, Maddie, and me, with Emma above us. This is actually in Ohio, in May, but it includes three of the people I stayed with in July.

The weirdest thing to think about while in Rhode Island was that I didn't actually know when I would see the whole family again after that. Rachel, I would probably see in the not-too-distant future—about a week from now, it turns out, coinciding with Emma's return from Poland—but she won't live in the woods of Rhode Island with her parents for too long. Rhode Island's not that far from Michigan, and definitely not from the rest of New England, but it's not somewhere I'm likely to go with any regularity. Staying with Ali and Drew was completely different.

On the Fourth of July, hurtling along the country roads at sixty or so trying to follow Ali from her grandparents' to Drew's place was challenging. After a couple days going back and forth during my visit at the end of the month, I knew exactly where to go, although I would forget to watch out for Drew's driveway. And even though Drew, like the rest of us, won't be where he is now for too long, I had this pleasant feeling that driving under the arching trees past the ranch houses and the fields was going to stick, because Ali and Drew intend to stay in the area. As the years go by, they'd like to move up from the five golden chickens Drew keeps at the house he lives in now to land of their own where they can grow their food and raise the children they might one day have.

I can picture the next year of my life, sort of. I've got the setting and a lot of the characters picked, at least, if not the plot. You could even say I know some of the conflicts. After next summer, though, it becomes much hazier. I live places. I make money, I hope. I have a life, eventually, but maybe not in close proximity to the people I have willed to stay close to me. Ali and I sat one evening on the raft, dangling our feet in the little lake, talking about her future, the jobs she'll have, the dinner parties she'll invite me to. Her mom and her five siblings, who have always been of utmost importance, will probably spread farther apart than she would have once liked. "But they'll visit," she said. She always insists I'll stay, or end up, in Michigan. I don't know. I hope that I'll end up living close enough to visit often. I realized that evening that this vision she's been forming of her future gives me a glimpse into mine, because I will be part of it. I don't know where I'll be getting my mail and paying my taxes, or who with, or when, but at some point, if everything works out to the bare skeleton of our dreams, Ali's home will be a fixture in my life and my children's lives. Even if they're a decade younger than her kids. Hopefully not all of them—it would be inconvenient.

By the time I finally said goodbye to Ali and headed home, it was August 2nd. The month of travel was over. Back at home with my parents, I missed living with my friends. I had tried my best for a month to be homeless, but now I want a home of my own again. And so I found one: I'm moving back to Ann Arbor mit meiner lieben Emma and those silly cats come September. Come, September! No, you can wait. I might be impatient during the next two weeks of limbo, but they're full of guests, which will be nice. And despite the stickiness and the sometimes isolation, I don't really want this summer to end.

Also, watch Im Juli. I think I'm going to for a second time.

Dusk on Lake St. Clair

 The color changes gently and was hard to photograph, but I like it. There was also a freighter, a nice red one, but I wanted to keep riding my bike so I didn't stop again when the angle was right.

I promise I'll write about Rhode Island, or something, anything, soon. Once so much time passes, there are so many things I could say, but no convincing way to decide which I should say, and then I think about the things I won't say and fall asleep. Good night, world.

Last Week, I Was in Michigan

On Monday, my primary goal was to not fall asleep until bedtime. My secondary goal was to fill the time until then. I wanted to clear enough space on my desk to use it, or tune my harp, or, you know, eat dinner. But all my energy was directed toward goal number one, leaving nothing with which to fuel actual activity.
The night before, I was at a house on a small lake with some of my favorite people, and it was the Fourth of July, and we ate burgers and swam and got squirted with water guns and watched fireworks set off up close and personal on the lawn. We got bug bites. Exhausted but unwilling to end the party, we ate delicious popcorn and stared at boxing people on TV and I tried to fall asleep against the side of the couch. And then, finally, finally, we retired to our beds or makeshift beds and cursed the heat that kept us up for much of the night. Monday, I drove all the way home, yawning and scratching and yawning. In Wayne County, where I wrote this part of the post, we had a heat advisory. It was so hot, and I was so tired.

I hoped that if my parents fed me, which could realistically happen within two hours, I would wake up. Food did happen to me eventually, but first I fell asleep twice. So much for goal number one.

But, several triumphs!

To swim happily in the lake, you find someone who can sort of steer the raft with its tiny motor, so that you bypass all the horrifying plant matter by the dock and can jump off into refreshing but warm lake water, weed-free. None of this seems too difficult, although I'm sure I'd be a failure at steering. Anyway, in the end you have to get back on the raft, and there is a "ladder" to aid you in this. A ladder with one metal rung, if that even counts as a ladder, and then a chain hanging off that with a loop. That is the first rung, a rung that moves around in the water as you try to position yourself on rung number two and then haul yourself up onto the raft. The guys struggled. I was worried. But then I did it easily, and Ali's youngest sister followed me up, also no problem. And I don't even exercise anymore! (This is where I'm not going to go on a thing about how I miss the CCRB at U of M, but where I will stop to tell you that my bedroom floor—and my desk—are now essentially clear, so when I return to Michigan, I can unroll my yoga mat for the first time in months!)

To tell the truth, I had only one triumph in mind (not the previous one) when I started this list, but felt it could only be noteworthy if there was a succession. So here's another one, one with more lasting benefits:

Over the past few weeks, I've discovered that some of my favorite clothes from pre-Germany times fit again, which means I can wear more things! Without shopping! This is especially good because shopping trips are becoming increasingly frustrating. Dresses that fit my bottom half are too big for my top half. Jeans that fit me are ultra low-rise and I don't approve. Even good t-shirts are hard to find. But a miracle has occurred: a pair of jeans that I have owned since fall 2006, fairly skinny jeans purchased before the label "skinny jeans" had stuck, jeans that I realized were too big at the waist after I bought them, which were then too tight when I tried them on this spring—now, mysteriously, fit me almost perfectly. Okay, they're not perfect. But after wearing them for three days, they still hadn't even tried to fall off. This is unheard of. After a taste of jeans-wearing-security, I'm thinking I might have to renew the quest for jeans that actually fit me. But it's so hard.

And finally: my denim miniskirt (possibly my favorite clothing item of 2006-2007) fits again, which enabled me to build the perfect outfit to head west to Ali and Drew on the Fourth of July: the miniskirt, a black scoop-neck t-shirt, and my ten-dollar, not-leather, red cowboy boots. (If Emma had had her way, I'd have been wearing a black leotard for my top, but American Apparel is too far away and expensive, and Emma's already starting trends in Pittsburgh. I think she's doing okay without me following along. Plus, how do you explain to someone why you are wearing a leotard?) The outfit seemed right, and I've been dying to wear my cowboy boots because it's been months since it was coldish. And the miniskirt had been out of my life for well over a year. I usually feel that it plus not winter (read: bare legs) is sort of questionable, and I have this idea that sometime soon after college you have to start dressing somewhat more modestly or elegantly, but I'm not sure when that happens. Ali and Ali's mom approved of the outfit—as did some guy at the gas station in Detroit.
This is unrelated to the gas station. This is the bonfire from Sunday night. Those flames are much taller than a tall man.
I'd pulled to the pump ahead of him because it's the one I always use and I didn't think they were ready to leave yet, but then felt bad when I realized he wasn't pumping gas anymore, so I'd inconvenienced him. As I was starting to pay for my gas, I heard him yell out that he liked my boots, and asked where I got them. The answer was some random secondhand place. Then he asked me where I was going. Was it to church? Uh, right. Right, friendly gas station man. I'm headed to church at 12:45 in a short skirt and cowboy boots. On the Fourth of July. He kept talking but I had a hard time hearing him, especially while trying to get my gas and not do something wrong and embarrass myself. I had to insert my card three times before I pulled off my zip code—you see, I tend to get flustered when people talk to me at the gas station. People being strangers, always. But he won for most friendly.

Anyway, I would love to grace you, the internet, with a photo of my beloved inferior red cowboy boots (my real leather ones are nicer, but less interesting), if not the outfit which I have attempted to describe, but because I am the photographer of my life, I have no photos of myself, and my boots are in Michigan whereas I am in Rhode Island, the Ocean State, or as my friend Rachel's dad told me, "the Kentucky of New England. And we live in the sticks." On Friday, I reacquainted myself with the Atlantic after eight years away, but that is clearly a story for another time. Since my photos are not plentiful, I will leave you with another picture relating to the Fourth of July celebrations:
This honey-whiskey liqueur was my birthday present from Ali. I like the pretty goldy color (accentuated by my bedroom window) and the mysterious turkey silhouette. Yes. Such a mysterious turkey. Now laugh.

It must be summer 'cause [I'm] never around*

It's July. Cop-out post. I'm backdating it to June, though. It's not July until I go to sleep and wake up.

Pittsburgh was almost four weeks ago. So long since I've seen Emma. Summer is half gone—if my summer ever ends. The future is still uncertain, but July should be a busy succession of fun fun fun and gone gone gone*(**).

West Michigan, Lansing, Ann Arbor?, Rhode Island (and hopefully Boston!), Lansing, probably Ann Arbor, West Michigan (I like to visit the same people, obviously)...and then on to August, but let's try to let July take its time. Let's not rush on to August. Let's try to hold onto the present and make it count.

Also, if you find yourself in Ann Arbor without a place that you live in and several hours to kill and you want fresh air but enough shade to see your computer screen and have a table but you don't need a power source, the tables outside the art museum are great. Yes. I'm blogging about how great it is to sit around on campus, again. But it's so pleasant. If only I had been drinking Eisschokolade while I skyped with Maraia. Lucky Maraia in Berlin! Skype is great, so is sitting outside the museum, here's a photo the end:
*It's a song.
**Or it could be "fun fun fun and gone so gone." Choose your own adventure.