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Originally published at Examorata. Please leave any comments there.

When I got off the plane in Manila, I had been awake for nearly 30 hours, more or less. I had the remnants of a head cold, I was airplane-dehydrated plus I wasn’t quite sure the last time I had eaten, because time was not a thing that made sense to me anymore. It was around 1 a.m. local time, and I trotted gamely through the mostly-empty Ninoy Aquino International Airport with the rest of the people from my Air China flight. I handed over my arrival card (“is someone going to flag me down because I’m sick? It’s just a cold!”) and then went through customs with no problem. At the baggage carousel, I watched as the bags and boxes went around and around and around with no sign of mine. I went to the ladies room and upon my return was informed by staff, “This is everything, ma’am.” My bag hadn’t made it, but the staff person pointed to the counter where I could fill out my claim form for Air China – the bags of at least 75 or so fellow passengers ALSO hadn’t made it, so at least I wasn’t alone.

But I was increasingly tired and hungry and unsettled and frustrated. As my dear friend whom I was visiting told me the next day, after I had rested and started to recover, “You seemed totally unlike yourself.” And I was.

Travel does a lot of things to our meaning of home. George Carlin’s famous routine “a place for my stuff” talks about how when you travel, your luggage becomes a “second version of your stuff – an even smaller version of your house!” He’s talking about the physicality of a house and possessions, but part of my sense of displacement when I found my suitcase hadn’t made it to Manila with me was that the STUFF in that suitcase was part of what I was relying on to let me make myself at home there. Because to me, a huge part of travel is learning how to be at home in different places and situations.

Without my suitcase, hungry, thirsty, beyond exhausted, and unable to understand quite where my friend was waiting to meet me, I grew frustrated as the further I walked from the airport the less I could hold onto that thin tether of wifi that was all that was keeping me in touch with my friend. He was now officially My Home Here. I didn’t have my stuff. I barely had a sense of myself. HE was what I had to find.

It was a lot to ask him to bear. But he did it, and even though I was barely myself, I got hold of myself fairly soon and began the work of being at home there.

This post was supposed to be about cats. All those street cats in Manila, on the high street in Bonifacio Global City, the one little guy at the beach, the tiny filthy kitten near the church, the cats that begged so skillfully from the tourists at Corregidor – in ways both large and small I made relationships with all of them. Cats are my constant comfort. Long talks on my vacation with my friend led me to reflect on how much emotional support I had gotten from pet cats as a child, when in some key ways my emotional needs were not being met. I love all animals but cats are more than just animals to me. For a week now I’ve been thinking about how to write this.

When I finally found my friend, when I asked an airport employee for some help and he pointed me in the right direction and I walked away from the last strand of airport wifi signal and into the warm breezes of middle-of-the-night Manila, when I finally found him he wrapped me up in a big hug and said, “Would a Coke Zero and petting a cat help?”

“There’s a cat?!” I said excitedly, muffled-ly into his armpit.

He pulled back from the hug, helped me find a seat at the outdoor waiting area, and pointed. But by then he didn’t need to, as the small orange-and-white creamsicle cat was walking towards us.

 

“HI, oh, hi kitty!” I said, but he sauntered past. No fool he, there were other people a few benches away who had food they might drop. As I let myself sit down on the bench and my friend went off to get me that drink, I breathed deep.
Though I could not name it at the time, that first scruffy street cat who had no time for a tourist without a snack in her hand – that was my first taste of home in the Philippines. My stuff, my sanity, even a person I love couldn’t ground me in quite the same way that small cat could.

Hello!
Hello!

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On distant shores

Originally published at Examorata. Please leave any comments there.

It was almost exactly two weeks ago that I stood on the shore of Tayabas Bay at the beach at Laiya, San Juan, Batangas (on the island of Luzon in the Philippines – only about three hours from metro Manila) and watched the sun rise. Afterward, when I had spent possibly too much time taking pictures and not enough simply being present, I went back to our small open cabana on the beach, pulled aside the mosquito netting, and settled back down to sleep beside one of my best friends for a few more hours.

There is so much privilege and good fortune wrapped up in that paragraph, it feels surreal that it is entirely true.

Standing on beaches – even early enough to watch the sunrise!- is a thing I’ve been blessed to do many times since I was small. And it struck me those few weeks ago, when I finally got to do it again after years without a beach visit, how calmly similar shorelines are everywhere in the world. I don’t mean the external circumstances – whether it’s a resort or a wilderness or a damn mess after a storm or a carny nightmare – but the span of horizon, the feel of breeze, the sense of seeing again and again what can never be fully seen. There is more out there, the shoreline says. There is always more.

Now is the time I could talk about how travel shows you that “more,” gives you an outside perspective on your own life, introduces you to the possibilities of an inside perspective on another life entirely, rests you, challenges you, exhausts you, exhilarates you…

Or I could tell you about the time I stood on that same beach, later that same day almost two weeks ago, and cried.

The skies where we stayed were free of light pollution in a way I haven’t witnessed since my childhood. After dinner, to which I’d worn a pretty sundress and ridiculous platform shoes, we’d walked back to the cabana. I took off the ridiculous (pretty – comfortable – fun) shoes and walked down to the couple of plastic chairs set under an almost unrealistically photogenic tree by the shore. My friend joined me. After a few minutes of talking, and more minutes of silence, I said, “I’m going to go stand by the water to see the stars better.” The lanterns hung in the absurdly beautiful tree we sat under meant I could see only hundreds of stars.

Only hundreds.

Walking twenty feet away, down to where the water could lap at my now-bare feet on the coarse coral sand, the sky – the entire universe – opened.

If you have never stood in a place where you could see the band of the Milky Way overhead, where you could get a tiny glimpse of where we are in all this vastness, then my hope for you is that you get to experience that at some time in your life. If you have felt the “more” that the shoreline’s horizon promises and felt contented, then turning your eyes to the Milky Way, to the concrete reality of the rest of our galaxy, may agitate you. There is more than the more we think we understand. “The known unknowns,” yeah? The way we age and think we have some handle on how much we don’t actually know?

The glowing band of our own neighborhood in the universe kicks that aside and says there’s more that you don’t know than you could ever imagine even if you could figure out a way to stand at the shore on one of the countless other worlds that exists and see THAT promise of THAT more and still not understand how much you don’t know.

How much I don’t know.

A week after I stood on that beach I turned 45. I spent part of that birthday on another shore, on the island of Corregidor, where too many people died too young, too horribly, to imagine. More that I don’t know.

My prayer for this year: May I learn more than I even know how to expect. May I be prepared to feel how very much I do not know. May my feet touch sand again. May I look up. To steal true beauty from the words of Hazrat Inayat Khan, may God break my heart again and again until it stays open.

On that shore almost two weeks ago, I looked up, and it broke my heart open. I cried, and then I stopped, and then I walked back up and invited my friend to join me, and he did.

May it ever be for us all.

Pesky light pollution

another Monday

Four weeks left of work. Shorttiming like CRAZY over here. In the middle of two jobs, writing project, grad school application, friend's funeral, imminent arrival of ex from overseas to spend some time over the holidays...OH let's not forget I've barely given thought one to Christmas.

WOO!

It was a nice weekend though. I did laundry and slept in and saw Moana and had dinner with a friend and baked a cake and worked and did book club holiday party.

Yay!

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hrm

Decided to check in on Brezsny because why not?


Pisces Horoscope for week of December 1, 2016
Pisces (February 19-March 20)
"I have a deep fear of being too much," writes poet Michelle K. "That one day I will find my someone, and they will realize that I am a hurricane. That they will step back and be intimidated by my muchness." Given the recent astrological omens, Pisces, I wouldn't be shocked if you've been having similar feelings. But now here's the good news: Given the astrological omens of the next nine months, I suspect the odds will be higher than usual that you'll encounter brave souls who'll be able to handle your muchness. They may or may not be soulmates or your one-and-only. I suggest you welcome them as they are, with all of their muchness.

--

Hrm. The concept of "one and only" kinda irritates me anyway...

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that happened

Thanksgiving weekend! It was mostly good! I had a tree-trimming party!

Anyway, not tons of time/motivation here, but I did want to note that I turned in my official notice at my "day job" this morning. Final day here will be the final day of 2016!

still not sure

Still uncertain the value of doing this. But I do have 15 years of weekend recaps... I need to at least archive stuff here.

It was a good weekend, not long enough. Not enough downtime. I got to sleep in on Saturday but I had so much to do at the old apartment - trips to the dumpster, and my car is full of the last odds and ends. Got caught out without a coat in the huge cold front sweeping through - totally comfy at 70 degrees when I left the house, 40 degrees when I got home. BRR.

Sunday: Long day at church. Busy, not overly challenging, went well enough. Still feel kind of ...spread too thin, basically.

But it should be a relatively light work-week for both jobs, this week. I hope for some actual down-time.

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I wonder...

I wonder how much more to use this place?

I can't possibly actually write much of substance here right now. The past week? Election. Friend's suicide. Move. Everything piling up and I am not sure when I get to set anything down.

Fundamentally I am more or less okay, but good god.
Also, work.

Basically, Friday night I came home and crashed as early as possible. I refused to get up to an alarm but had a lot to get done on Saturday, so I figured being in bed by like 9 would handle that. And sure enough I got up for good around 8:30 on Saturday. Ate breakfast and showered then headed to my Mom's to pick up a stash of empty boxes I'd had stored in her garage until it was really time to fill them all up. Checked in with her, moved a few small things, filled my car with boxes, got gas, then went home.

I got rid of SO much stuff and my closet is actually organized. Or tidied enough for me to actually organize when I get to the house. Honestly, I'm pretty proud of myself. Before my vacation I was nearly panicking about the move, but I got some perspective on it, and I feel pretty ready. Or rather I know that I can be ready with the time I have left to get ready. You know? =)

Saturday night, I chatted with Amber for a bit when she got home but then I headed up to Paul's birthday party, which was awesome as usual. Wish I could have stayed later, but "Fall back" meant I could stay out for a bit.

Home, got maybe 7 hours' sleep, then up for a day of work. Good church service, then spent the afternoon shopping for pantsuits with my (2nd job, obvy) boss. Which we will wear tomorrow. I, like the rest of the country, am SO READY for the election to be over. There was a small amount of chaos for evening classes but mostly everything was fine.

Then I went home and packed a bit and listened to the radio and ate a Pop-Tart and went the heck to bed, the end.

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busy enough to forget the Brez

Yesterday I took a few hours' sick leave so I could get a bit more work done at home on packing/purging. I didn't feel particularly well - I'm almost certain to get a cold again once I have time to allow myself to collapse a little - but I think mostly it was best to just have a few extra hours' work. And I did a good amount! Today is one week exactly before the move. Holy crap.

let's see what Rob has to say:

Pisces Horoscope for week of November 3, 2016
Pisces (February 19-March 20)
In her book, A Natural History of the Senses, Diane Ackerman reports on the eccentric methods that professional writers have used to galvanize their creative process. Poet Amy Lowell relaxed into her work day by puffing on Manila cigars. Novelist Colette plucked fleas from her cat. T. S. Eliot's poetry thrived when he had a head cold. Novelist George Sand liked to jump out of bed after making love and immediately begin writing. Novelist William Gass, who is still among the living, wanders around outside taking photos of "rusty, derelict, overlooked, downtrodden" places. As for D. H. Lawrence: climbing mulberry trees naked energized his genius. What about you, Pisces? Now is an excellent time to draw intensely on your reliable sources of inspiration-- as well as to seek new ones.

--

hrm.

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weekend/moving/work/etc.

Another quick one: Friday night to Saturday, actually got to sleep in! Like, not get up to an alarm! It was amazing!

Saturday I did two loads of laundry, then I showered and got to work. Moved a small bookshelf's worth of books to my car for donation, moved bookshelf itself to dumpster. (Put a few handfuls of selected books on it too, since I knew neighbors would pick over it...) Got all the stuff (not much) out of the downstairs storage area. After a few more "purge" dumpster trips it was like 4:30 and I needed to spend a little time on 2nd-job stuff. Then I made dinner, which was dumb, because I could have just eaten at Telf's Halloween party. But instead I concentrated on dessert there. It was nice to hang out and see folks, even if my costume was just my ratty old angel wings again. No time for costuming when you move ten days after Halloween!

Home, with a stop off at Target on the way (more 2nd job stuff), then sleep. Up on Sunday and OFF TO THE RACES. Stops at the book-donation bin in my old village center in Columbia, then Party City, then Wegmans, all for party supplies. The church Halloween party was that evening, and that is part of my job! I hauled everything into the interfaith center in time to attend the second service. Then I went to lunch, then came back for hours of Haunted House and Party prep. Thanks to many volunteers it all went well! Notes for next year: to make it go more smoothly, more volunteers! =D (I have plenty of notes for the future, boy howdy.) I was home by about 9 p.m., and I sat to relax and do some email stuff, and then I fed the cats and went the heck to bed. This week: purge and pack!!

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