...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Monday, January 21, 2008

Shalom bayit

If there is a more peaceful, pleasant way to spend a wintery Sunday morning than in one's own apartment, drinking coffee, listening to music and arranging one's books on the shelves while homemade matzah ball soup simmers on the stove, then I would like to know what it is.

(Shalom bayit means peace or harmony in the home.)

Friday, January 18, 2008


Last week I moved into my new apartment in North Portland. I'm still unpacking, but the place is definitely taking shape. I was worried, to tell the truth: I stopped by after work on Friday to do some cleaning and was having big-time buyer's (well, renter's) regret. A year lease is a long time, at least at this point in my life, and with the place all bare the scuffed-up floors looked even worse than I had remembered. Suddenly I worried that I hadn't made the right decision, that I had signed myself into a crappy place that I would end up disliking. I comforted myself with, of all people, Carolyn McCulley's words about how people who lock themselves into decisions they can't get out of are happier in the long run than people who keep their options open.

Daniel's dad rented a van and the three of us spent Saturday afternoon hauling over my stuff from my old house; after moving my stuff over we drove around to a couple different thrift stores and ended up finding a great dining room table for $30 at the Goodwill on NE Broadway. We also got two dining room chairs for only fifty cents each! You can't really beat that price. The next day parents brought up a bunch of stuff from Eugene, including two large bookcases, a coffee table, a nice set of pots and pans (an early birthday present, according to my mom), an arm chair, and some toiletries. At this point I have almost all of my books on the shelves, but they're not sorted at all; my project for this weekend is going to be to rearrange them by topic and possibly, on the fiction shelf, alphabetically. The most-represented subject area is Religious Studies, of course, and within that subject area, the largest sub-section is Jewish Studies. I'm thinking that I'm going to put all my Religion books in one case and then post this set of illuminated Hebrew letters (a calendar that I'm planning on taking apart to use as wall decoration) I have next to the bookcase. (When my parents were up in Portland, my mom asked me if I was planning on getting a mezuzah for my doorpost. I said maybe.)

I've spent almost a week in my new place, and so far it's been great. I'm only a five-minute bike ride to work, which has been great since the roads have been icy in the mornings (in my old house I was about twenty hilly minutes away). I'm close enough to ride home during my lunch break, so I'm saving money by not eating out or going to Starbucks. Daniel has spent several nights over and it's just so different and wonderful to have the whole place to ourselves and not have to worry about all the things you worry about living with roommates. The floors are still scuffed--I mean, they're really in bad shape--but that's less noticeable with my furniture in place. I'm planning on having a joint housewarming/birthday party in mid-February (my birthday is the 18th); stay tuned for further notice.

On a less upbeat note, I'm still sick. I have an excrutiating pain in my left rib area that makes it difficult to sleep or find any comfortable position lying down. Rising from a supine to a sitting position in bed is all but impossible. Plus, two of my preschoolers have recently come down with strep throat and scarlet fever (!!! except it's actually just a variant on strep throat, and is not as serious as it sounds)--so when I woke up yesterday feeling feverish and with a painful sore throat, I called in sick. I went to the doctor yesterday afternoon (thank God for health insurance) and while I don't have strep throat, blood work indicated that my white blood cell count is elevated, which suggests a bacterial infection. I'm back on antibiotics and Tylenol with codeine for the rib pain (the nurse thought that it was just a pulled muscle and suggested I take ibuprofen, which struck me as so insulting and dismissive of my pain that I started crying in the examining room). She suggested I take today, Friday, off as well. Since I have Monday off for MLK Day, that makes it a five day weekend. Daniel and I spent the morning at home then, since I was feeling better, headed downtown for a late lunch from the foodcarts on SW 5th and Stark and an afternoon at Powell's.

Finally, a recommendation: all Religious Studies-types, in my opinion, should take to reading Internet Monk, a blog whose subtitle is, appropriately, "Dispatches from the Post-Evangelical Wilderness." Fascinated as I am by the Reformed blogosphere, I can only take so much Young Ladies' Christian Fellowship-style reading before clicking over to Internet Monk, whose sensible and intellectual posts provide a much-needed counterbalance to the other blogs I read. Among the many things I appreciate about Internet Monk are his flat-out rejection of the prosperity gospel and his timely criticism of Joel Osteen. Also check out his post Answers Not in Genesis, a reference to the Young Earth Creationist group Answers in Genesis.

Happy beginning of the semester to my Lewis & Clark friends! Chris and Emilie, welcome back to the country; I can't wait to see you guys and hear all about your travels and experiences. To everyone, let's get together soon.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Mars, Venus, etc

According to Reformed blogger Tim Challies, I am a man. Who knew?

(My family used to always give me scented bath lotions and shower gels for Christmas and my birthday until I called a moratorium on all Bath & Body Works products. I can't use the stuff because of skin sensitivity and sensory issues, and I don't relish collecting it in a drawer. As gifts go, I think bath products are about as impersonal as you can get. They're like an anti-gift.

I do have to agree with Tim, though, when he writes that "putting on new socks is one of life’s most underrated and overlooked pleasures." It's so true; in fact, my dad once said that if he ever won the lottery he would wear a new pair of socks every day.

Also, anyone interested, as I am, in the Reformed Christian blogosphere should be reading Challies' blog.)

Saturday, January 05, 2008


After coughing and sneezing all through the month of December and suffering through severe chest pain that I was positive was a fractured rib, I finally went to the doctor on New Year's Eve. The doctor listened to my lungs through a stethoscope for a moment, then announced that I had walking pneumonia. (Me: "What's the difference between regular pneumonia and walking pneumonia?" Doctor: "Walking pneumonia is where you walk around coughing for a month." Me: "Touché.") She prescribed this breathing treatment, a kind of inhaler-machine of nebulized steroids that I breathed into for about twenty minutes in her office and that made me incredibly jittery, then said some of the most feared words I could imagine: "Is there any possibility that you might be pregnant?" She ordered a pregnancy test to make absolutely sure that I wasn't before sending me down to have my ribs X-rayed, since the radiation could damage a fetus. I knew that the pregnancy test would come back negative but that didn't stop me from freaking out slightly while I waited. At this point I'm still tweaking like crazy from the steroid breathing treatment. I've only had X-rays taken once before in my life and I started crying while I was waiting for the technician to call me into the lab. Luckily I pulled it together before the technician was ready for me.

As it turned out my ribs looked fine and the doctor hypothesized that my chest pain is coming from an inflammation in the lining of my right lung that's pressing against my rib cage in an uncomfortable way. She offered to prescribe me Vicodin for the pain but I turned it down, since the idea of taking something so addictive made me nervous. I went away with prescriptions for a narcotic cough syrup, non-narcotic cough suppressant pills, an antibiotic for my lung infection, and an inhaler. She advised that I take at least one day off from work and suggested that I consider taking the rest of the week off. For various reasons I ended up only taking one day off.

When my health insurance first kicked in, several months ago, I was shocked at how expensive it was and joked that I better break a leg or something to make it worth the hundreds of dollars that I've already paid into it. I take it back! I hate being sick. At this point I've finished the course of antibiotics and am halfway through the delicious narcotic cough syrup, but I'm still coughing and it still feels like there's a metal band around my lungs. If I'm not better by MLK Day, I'm going to make another doctor's appointment. It's an inauspicious beginning to 2008, to say the least.