First Foreign Hospital Experience

I’ve lived in Switzerland, Denmark, and Costa Rica. Two of those countries have free healthcare systems and in all of them I was insured through my study abroad program. But of course it’s not until I’m on my own in New Zealand that I actually need to visit a hospital.

I’ve been to the emergency room three times in my life. The first was when I was a kid and my brother pushed me back into what happened to be a TV stand with open glass doors- not a great design for a household with children. I hit my head on the glass corner and it wasn’t the glass that broke. I hopped down the hallway to my mom (apparently I’d hurt my foot too), holding my hand to a gushing wound in my head as it ran down my neck and stained my purple shirt. As my mom drove me to the hospital, I remember turning to her and asking if I was going to die. Her face said she didn’t know.  Continue reading

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Thank You for So Much More Than Tears

When I first moved to Switzerland, I dreamt of having a close relationship with my host family. I wanted a connection that would last longer than one year, feel more natural than just a temporary boarder. I wanted a family like they sold in the brochure, in the videos, in all the hype that makes you want to go live with strangers in a foreign country. For me, the mark of that would be crying at my departure. I don’t know why that stuck out as the mark- I think it came from watching too many post-exchange videos– but that became my measure for a successful year.

Things did not go as planned. They seldom do. I had a challenging relationship with my host family and even tried to change at one point. I’ll spare the story and just say it didn’t go well. But I did not end up with nothing.

At some point in the spring, I got really close with another student at my school, Maya. Continue reading

100 Days of Goodness

I spent the last month without a phone after mine was damaged in some drunken hot tub shenanigans. Oops. The main ways this affected me were that I was not able to receive a call saying I didn’t get a job (even though I was super qualified but whatever) and I wasn’t able to post on Instagram. Really, it wasn’t all that bad not having one, but now that I do, I’m jumping back into it with 100 Days of Goodness, a personal challenge of mindfulness.  Continue reading

Woman of Color in Wide Open Spaces

This is a fantastic piece by Minda Honey that offers thought-provoking questions. When we talk of travel, whose journeys are we thinking about? When we think of a path less traveled, less traveled by who? And perhaps most importantly, how can those of us with inherent societal privileges be better allies?

Longreads

Minda Honey | Longreads | March 2017 | 12 minutes (2,986 words)

“And sometimes you meet yourself back where you started, but stronger.”
—Yrsa Daley-Ward

I sat alone at a picnic table sipping a hot can of beer in Sequoia National Park under the stingy shade of a nearby tree. I was surrounded by families. White families. Sequoia was the first of four national parks I had planned to visit on my summer road trip from Southern California to a writer’s retreat in Lake Tahoe, and from Lake Tahoe to my hometown, Louisville, Kentucky. I needed to get out and away. I’d just completed two years as a POC in an MFA program. Two years in classrooms at long tables surrounded by faces as white as the paper we printed our work on. I felt like the black text on that paper, forcefully marching across the landscape of my…

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Affordable Yoga Around Des Moines

I was first introduced to yoga as an angsty teen at a New England boarding school. While I don’t know if it’s changed my life, I’d definitely say it’s improved it. Ever since, I’ve looked for affordable ways to do yoga. Des Moines has been one of the best communities I’ve ever found for it and since we’re coming up on warmer days (well, you are, I’m coming up on winter), I wanted to share some of the great opportunities to get flexible* with a tight budget.  Continue reading

Bag Full of Bagels

So I went in for my trial today and I got the job. They paid me the day’s wages and even kinder, they sent me home with a tablet to borrow as an alarm until I can buy a new phone. I work again, officially, tomorrow, and will be casual from there, which is perfect for my goals. But the real kicker, I got to take home a bag full of bagels at the end of the day.

Now let me paint you a little picture. Me, walking home with my brown bag full of bagels, munching on one of them as I go along because I have no will power. Then, as I’m walking, I see a cat, orange with half a tail. I call and it comes running, lunging its head high into the air to meet my lowering hand. We bop and I pet it more. It’s very affectionate and after some moments I determine it’s worth my time to just sit and pet it. So there I am, in leggings and an oversized hoodie, sitting on a random sidewalk, holding a crumpled brown bag of bagels, petting a cat. This is how I shall be remembered. This is my adulthood, and if you doubt me, another cat ran across the street to greet me on my home stretch of pavement. Y’all this walk can’t be more than 12 minutes and two- TWO- cats ran to me for pets. I’m a cat lady. But at least I have bagels.

 

My New Home

When I was a little kid, I went on a cruise with my dad and brother. Mostly it was my brother and I running out of control, getting my dad sunburnt and then leaving to play hide-and-go-seek in the hallways while he tried to nap. Always fun for a parent to wake up and find his three/four and six/seven year old gone right?

One of those nights, our ships was docked across from another cruise ship, all lit up floating in the night sky like a thousand shimmering candles reflecting on the water. The scene was magical and I remember debating whether or not I should try to run back to our cabin to get my little disposable camera or if I would lose the moment in trying to capture it.

My new house feels like a home, which hasn’t been true for me for a long time. From finding the listing online, to checking out houses further and further into the neighborhood I now reside, to creeping on my roommate and landlord on Facebook (his privacy settings started to slack in 2014, but he had some funny statuses that year). I just was excited and I wanted to live here and now I do. I have a brand new bed since it’s a first time rental and having a bed was part of my deal and I splurged on getting nice things to put on it. I have organic cotton sheets (I bought everything on the Queen’s birthday so major discounts), two- count them, two- pillows, one of which is lavender scented, a down duvet (y’all, I’ve wanted one of those since 2014), and the real lux item, a fuzzy pillow. If you could feel how soft this pillow is, hell, it’s hard not to want to trade a backpack for it.

There’s a backyard courtyard/garden area, a bagel shop down the road (where I have a work trial tomorrow!), and maybe best of all, a view of a thousand flickering lights out the living room window. It’s not lights on a ship, but it’s a bunch of little lights in the world out on a hillside in a remote southern island, and to me, that’s a view to be enjoyed. I don’t think it’s a view I can ever capture so for now, I’ll just sit and enjoy. And maybe hug a fuzzy pillow while I do so.