Still Hanging In….

Wish this had come sooner in the season. is sloooow.

It even fits over the boobs.

It even fits over the boobs.

I chose his jersey because I wanted one of our All-Stars, and I love his comeback story. I love how he was the “chaperone” for the A’s ASG delegation, and picked up the tab for some expenses, since a lot of those guys are not making a lot by MLB standards. And, to be honest, I like “z’s.” 🙂

It’s hard to say “there’s always next year” considering Billy Beane really went hell bent for leather for this year, and we are not the Yankees. So I’m still hanging on to the hope of the wild card, and a miracle. But if not I will still be wearing this jersey to games for years to come, cheering on my crazy Green and Gold.


My Team is Killing Me, Man

They spent the first half with the best record in baseball. And now they are playing like the freakin’ Rockies.

I love them and they’re still my team — speak not to me of the Giants — but after such exhilaration, this is pretty damned depressing. And I know it’s depressing for them too.

I’ve always used baseball as a substitute for therapy. I love the rhythm of the game, of the announcers (though please God stop letting Shooty Babbitt fill in for Ray Fosse); watching the managers strategize and the tension of men on base. And I love a good blowout — provided it isn’t at my team’s expense, of course. But lately I can’t even watch. Work anxiety and depression has made me too close to the edge and another damned game where we issue walks or load the bases only to get NO ONE HOME is enough to boot me right over it.

As I used to tell my ex-husband, when he would have a conniption over his football team losing: You still have to go to work tomorrow, and they’re still rich for playing a game. I know that my life, personally, doesn’t change if the A’s bomb out or win the World Series, except in a little interior way (and some exterior whooping it up). But it’s still causing a whole lot of headdesking round here.


Kitchen Antics

I hadn’t wanted to get the chalkboard labels, because I wanted something permanent, but I couldn’t find anything suitable, so I got them plus chalkboard ink, which is at least somewhat permanent. And then I wrote verrrry carrrrrefully:


Tip: Use them right away, or put them on your containers first and then write, because if they dry and then you buckle the paper, you get a shower of white, as if you had a shower of royal icing bits.

Partway through my organizational foray:


I know it looks like all I do is store sugar, but these were in easy-to-label containers and are also the ones most likely to look like each other at a glance.

I’ve been using a lot of that bakers’ dry milk, too; the white thing to the far left is my little Mini-Zojirushi breadmaker. I’m torn on it, actually. I wanted something small just for the sake of small. My pantry, while I love having one, is not huge, and it’s pretty full. I’m trying to declutter my counters, so I didn’t want one that was so big I’d just want to leave it out. This one fits the bill and makes yummy bread. However, the 1-lb loaves are tiny. I could eat one in a sitting, and I think most people probably could. So when I think of it I make two loaves back to back.

I do still feel a little guilty using it at all, though, considering I have a KitchenAid and I can and have made bread by hand. Rocket science it is not.

In other culinary news, I just replaced my microwave with a combo microwave/convection oven, which was the most economic option for getting a second oven. LOVE IT. I have just taken this recipe out of it. They are cooling now:


They smell awesome and I hope they come out of that pan in reasonable shape and taste as good as they are promising to. I’m really trying to have relatively healthy, tasty snacks for work. Gotta get through those days somehow.

And in a bit I’m going to give this casserole a go. It’s a thekitchn sort of weekend apparently.

In the annals of things I am grateful for, in the midst of this, I must say: MY DISHWASHER. It really makes cooking and baking more fun. For these bars I’m glad I recently got a set of lightweight stainless mixing bowls, because I used the second largest and it was easy to manuever when I had to pout hot honey/sugar/butter into fruit, nuts, and cereal — and since my dishwasher was already packed I washed it by hand without wanting to stab myself in the eye with a spork.

I mean, usually I’ll do anything to get out of washing dishes. Though perhaps not really the spork thing.

Thank God for the three-day weekend! We have another next month, and then a Tuesday off mid-Nov, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then New Year, then MLK, then President’s Day…and then we enter the long dearth of days off til Memorial Day. Counting, moi? Just like I have no idea it’s 15 years, 7 months, and 19 days til I retire, either. 😉

So, Yeah…

Boy, have things been… well, I would say interesting around here, but they haven’t been really. At least not externally.

As I have been whined ad nauseam, my current job rotation is killing me. I spend a lot of time taking anti-anxiety medications, deep breathing, and/or crying anyway. The powers that be have no interest in alleviating the agony, so I am hanging on by my fingernails. I will retire in 15 years, 7 months, and 27 days, and God willing and the creek don’t rise, I will be rotated out of member services long before that. I’ve been there nine months and I may be looking at eighteen more.

This coming week is slated so suck so badly they won’t need to vacuum the floors at night. So I figured it was as good a time as any to go on about why I never write.

My doctor has added two additional medications to help me deal, and actually referred me to a therapist, which is unusual for Kaiser (generally they like to throw you into their classes after work; where, tired and hungry, you can listen to other people’s problems and be forced to share your own with strangers). The therapist actually thinks I should apply for ADA accommodation, but I am still leery, because of the danger of not being accommodated and losing my job. And I liked my job before this rotation! Also, mortgage and future retirement and all that.

Basically, here’s the current rundown. If anyone has any advice (other than “suck it up,” since we know that isn’t going to work), I’m all ears.

  • Having to deal with strangers all day every day and enduring endless panic attacks because of that.
  • My private time at least partially ruined by dread.
  • Feeling overwhelmed by things I need/want to do to the house, and the fact that I don’t have anyone to help (not financially; just BE there and help me schlep things or do things that taller folks can do or even just keep me company) makes it worse.
  • Wanting to cook big meals for people but not having anyone to cook for. Occasionally I might have one person over but as a single person, coupled people seem reluctant to socialize with me. That is, I may be friends with one member of the couple, but the couple together does not invite or include me in anything. So I’d feel weird inviting the couples I know over.
  • Middle age catching up with large body and making heretofore simple movements not so simple anymore.
  • Being gone 12 hours a day, so any kind of exercise is limited. Water exercise would be best, but there is no 8 PM water aerobics class around here that I can find.
  • Being a bit overwhelmed by things like wanting to eat whole, unprocessed foods but being so exhausted by work that I don’t want to drive all over the Bay Area to find the best organic stuff and then actually cook it. (See item #3 above.)
  • Being lonely and yet set in my living-alone ways.
  • The probably universal terror/despair of being in my late 40s with pretty much no dream of mine realized.

Total FWP. I have a job and a home and I travel. My health is relatively good despite clinical depression, anxiety, and arthritis. I do have family and a few friends. I am not starving; I don’t live in a shantytown; I am unlikely to contract Ebola or anything else devastating like that; I didn’t even feel today’s earthquake.

But when I think about writing, my fingers and my heart feel like lead, and so I haven’t been. Maybe rambling about this will help clear out some of that.



I Won’t Ask, But…

When I was growing up, the kids I went to grade school with would always ask each other “what nationality are you?” Since we were pretty much all Americans, what we really meant was “what ethnicity are you?” I guess we were going on the assumption I still have, that being an American is a citizenship, not an ethnicity, and we were curious about the various places our friends’ families had come from.

Maybe this was the genesis of my affinity for heritage and ancestry. Or maybe it just dovetailed nicely with an inborn need to classify my environment — the same way I always, always have to know what time it is.

I still wonder what ethnicity people are, unless it’s obvious. But I would never ask, because I’m afraid it would seen as a version of all the “things white people say to [insert non-white ethnicity here].”

And I also wonder about gender, when I see an androgynous person. I’d be even less likely to try to find out the gender of a person than I would their ethnicity. But I will spend an entire BART ride wondering about either or both of those things respecting fellow commuters.

The third thing I always wonder about is age. I like to orient myself as older or younger than whomever I’m talking with. I’m less likely to wonder about the age of someone I simply see, but I definitely want to know how old my friends, acquaintances, and coworkers are. It’s the thing that’s closest to my need to know what time it is.

I’m just curious; I just like to have information. I have had friends and lovers of various ethnicities and combinations thereof, and I’ve learned things about their ancestral cultures, so I would at least try not to ask stupid or offensive questions about ethnicity. And I’m not just curious about whether someone is, say, Korean or Japanese. I’m curious if someone is Dutch or German, Spanish or Italian, Chilean or Argentinian. I’m an equal-opportunity busybody, apparently.

I have no real need to know someone’s heritage, gender, or age, but my curiosity is simple and sincere.

And I know I sound like some cranky conservative kvetching, “These days you can’t ask a simple question without someone getting offended!” The thing is, I don’t want to offend anyone, and so I don’t ask any of these questions except when I know for certain it won’t be taken badly. Actually, I’d never ask a gender question, but age and ethnicity I will occasionally venture into.

Oh, and I’m English/Scottish/Danish, about to turn 47, and a cisgender woman. Just in case anyone wondered.


Although I’ve thrown my hands up about the whole religion issue, there are several Bible verses that stick with me. One of them I use when I am borrowing trouble and worrying about what will happen tomorrow and the next day and the next. One is the second half of Matthew 6:34 in the KJV rendering: Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

And then there’s Revelation 3:15-16: I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

I feel so lukewarm. And by that I don’t mean that I am apathetic (although lately I’ve been having spates of apathy). I mean that in so many ways I have completely competing desires, and I find myself flailing in the middle.

  • Ethically, I would far prefer to be a vegetarian. But I don’t find a vegetarian diet satisfying; it’s much harder to plan meals; and then there’s chicken, which I love love love. My wishy-washy solution to this is to eat only chicken and, very rarely, some fish. The fact that I don’t eat mammals (or ducks) is probably not a lot of comfort to chickenkind.
  • About that not eating mammals. I do wear/carry leather. I guess at least the animals’ sacrifices are much more long-lasting than a meal, but OTOH, do I need to have a leather purse? Shoes are harder — you can’t find many comfy, breathable, decent-looking non-leather shoes in 10WW. Still.
  • I wish with my whole heart I’d been born and raised in Europe — the UK or France for preference, but anywhere in the EU really.  I can’t read accounts of people who get to move there (unless this is pre-WWII stuff), because it breaks my heart in pieces. I tried to move once and failed miserably and I became discouraged. That was 24 years ago. Now I am firmly ensconced here, with a secure job and a house and animals, and if someone handed me an EU passport tomorrow I would be paralyzed with fear and might not even go. This is my biggest “I want two mutually exclusive things” issue.
  • For a long time, that’s where I was with religion — part of me wanted to be a pious Roman Catholic or Orthodox Christian, while the rest of me was an extremely liberal feminist. At least I’ve finally given up that struggle.
  • I struggle between believing in Fat Acceptance and saying, “I’m me; get off my back” and applauding people who embrace their lives and bodies…and wishing I weighed 130 pounds. The last time I weighed 130 pounds I was ten. It’s never going to happen.

Of course I have normal conflicts like “I wish I were a morning person so I could get up, have coffee and breakfast before I leave instead of rolling out of bed 12 minutes before I’m in the car,” “I really should get up off the couch, off the computer, and do something around here,” and “I should go to the farmer’s market and get locally grown, cheaper stuff, but the time window for that is so small and the grocery store is open until 11 PM.” But that’s not the same thing, because I don’t really want to get up early, do chores around the house, or…well, maybe the farmer’s market one works.

I’m really not sure what to do when I want two completely mutually exclusive things, especially when both choices are equally attainable. With the Europe thing, I should probably just learn to live with staying in the United States, since one choice is my current reality and the other is seriously difficult to get (even if I could get over my paralysis).

Somehow I think I thought by the time I was this age I’d have more things figured out. My bedroom seems like an apt metaphor for this — when I was growing up, parents’ bedrooms looked like something out of a hotel or, at least, a motel. Neatly made bed, a dresser or two, nothing strewn about, only actual tasteful framed stuff on the walls. My room? I never make my bed, ever — never have. My dresser has random stuff dotting it. My nightstand is piled with books, and the floor next to my bed has more books, whatever purse I’m carrying, and a laundry basket on it. Often the rocker has clothes tossed over it. I do have only framed art on the walls, but one corner has no art on the walls, a big mirror propped against the wall, a chair, a foot pedaler, and a big floor fan. It looks like the room of a twentysomething.

Yeah. It’s an apt metaphor. Now if only I moved and looked like I was still in my twenties!


Giving Up, Parts One and Two

Part One

When I was around eight, I kept bugging my mother to take me to church. Something was driving me. I wanted to go so badly. My mother was a (lapsed) (Northern) Baptist and my father was a (lapsed) Catholic. Since I was closer to my mother, and she was less lapsed than my dad, eventually I started going to the Baptist church.

My Baptist upbringing was not at all like what most people describe as a Baptist upbringing. Although our church didn’t allow alcohol on the premises, my mother and many of her church friends drank elsewhere. Our pastor once described being served sherry at a little old lady’s home and rather than offend her, he drank it, even though he himself was a teetotaler. Dancing was fine. No hellfire-and-brimstone sermons were ever preached in our church.

As a kid, I took for granted that God existed and, like many other things from childhood, things seemed simple on that front. On the other hand, for various reasons I kept becoming convinced I was bound for hell. So that was fun…sort of.

My mother had gone to the same church as a teenager and a lot of the adults were her friends from that era; a lot of the kids went to school with me. It’s one of the few places in life I’ve actually felt comfortable and part of a group, for the most part. I sang in the adult choir even though I was still a kid, because I was advanced for my age and a good solid second soprano. For several years, the pastor’s daughter was my best friend — until she became pretty and popular and I, not so much. Then her father left the ministry and so that edgy dynamic disappeared.

Throughout my childhood, though, I was wistful that it hadn’t been my dad taking me to church. I was absolutely fascinated by the world of my Catholic friends — rosary beads, nuns, statues, missals, crucifixes, Fathers.  I appropriated a 1960s St. Josephs Missal that my dad had, which had belonged to one his aunts. (I still have it. Such illustrations!) I read and re-read The Song of Bernadette when I was around nine, amazed that there were actual photographs of saints — and I did consider all the saints to be saints, somehow, even if I was totally unclear on the concept of what “praying to the saints” meant. I had the usual Protestant misconception about that. I always knew I didn’t want to get married in our blond-wood sanctuary with grey vinyl padded pews, frosted glass windows, and one lone, unadorned cross over the baptismal font in the back of what we called an altar, although there was no actual altar there. I figured I probably would, though, if I ever did get married.

And then I went to college. A Catholic college, actually. For the first time I was taught by nuns — though none of them wore habits — and it was there that I totally lost my faith. I had never considered all the obvious questions about creation, other faiths, contradictions…things that cause some people to lose their faith and things that people who keep it need to grapple with. I also discovered politics, and in the volatile mid-to-late 80s that was often about the right to choose and feminism in general.

That left me in an emotional whirlpool. If there was no God, then there was nothing after death, and my lifelong terror of death was justified, because it meant I would cease to exist, and that also rendered life meaningless to me, since no matter what I or anyone did, we would just be extinguished when we died. On the other hand, those conservative Christians were absolutely wacko  … so … (My apologies to any conservative Christians who may read this, although I doubt any conservative Christians will.)

I made one last-ditch effort to save my belief by taking to the chaplain and deciding to become Catholic. When he told me how you had to go through RCIA and then be presented to the bishop — a process totally foreign to non-liturgical-Protestant me — I fled from that. And into total unbelief, and anger at the people who believed and were using that belief to keep the United States back, even as I mourned not having faith in an afterlife.

And I stayed in this conflict whirlpool until I was around 28.

I was on a plane to Alaska reading about the Romanovs. There was quite a lot about the Russian Orthodox Church, and I knew Alaska was a bastion of Russian Orthodoxy, but while visiting my then-boyfriend there wasn’t really a chance to find one, especially as he lived in a semi-rural community and this was just before the Internet was a part of everyone’s phone.

I came home, did some research to assuage my curiosity, and found that, yes indeed, they mean it when they say Orthodox. What was a pro-choice feminist thinking? (Oh, but the Liturgy!)

During my research, I felt myself drawn to the Episcopal Church. Anglican! Liturgical! Not (for the most part) right-wing! I wondered why I was so interested in religion all of a sudden — to soothe my fear of death? Give life meaning? Give me back the ritual I hadn’t had since I aged out of Rainbow? Or was it actually the promptings of spirit?

From 1996 until 2012, and then with one more last hurrah in 2013, I tried like anything to believe. I joined the Episcopal Church in 1996 and was married in a Very Very High Church wedding in a beautiful Episcopal church in Berkeley in 1997. (We had a female priest, but we had incense and stupendous music and the Eucharist.)  In 2002, as that marriage was exploding all around my head, I joined the Catholic Church — RCIA and all. (In a not-beautiful parish that wouldn’t know High Churchery if it hit it in the head, but it was dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes and the people were lovely.)

I eventually ended up in a very conservative parish where I wore a mantilla and where they didn’t sing any of the really ridiculous Oregon Catholic Press/David Haas music; offered confession in actual kneeling, anonymous confessionals before every Mass; and actually had the Latin Mass before Pope Benedict made it more easily accessible. I was trying desperately, by clinging to things — my missal, Latin, my mantilla, my rosary, my Divine Mercy chaplet, everything — to force myself to believe. I even looked into Orthodoxy again — I actually agree with them about things like the filioque and some other issues to do with soteriology, if you take the fundamental premises of Christianity as given.

I left that parish the day the priest compared Obama to Hitler. You’ve just Godwinned me out of God, I thought. I had pushed aside all of my philosophical difficulties, simply not thinking about them — because really, my social and political beliefs were simply not reconcilable — but that was too much. The fact that they thought Masons were evil plotters, when as a Rainbow Girl I’d been surrounded by hundreds of benign Masons who couldn’t plot their way out of a paper bag? Oh well. The fact that they thought yoga as practiced in American yoga studios was malevolent and spiritual-but-not-in-a-good-way, when I’d taken yoga classes, knew that wasn’t true, and also knew that just about every person I knew who did yoga was pretty unspiritual? OK, whatever. Praying for the “pro-life” cause every week? Sigh, yes, I knew this was what I was signing up for being Catholic. The edict against any sex outside of marriage and even civil unions for gay folks? Ditto. But the Hitler comparison was just the last straw.

I went back to the Episcopal Church, but I felt half-hearted about it. I wanted to want it, I wanted to believe, I wanted to have an anchor and some hope, but last year I could no longer keep trying.

I just don’t believe in the core Christian teachings.

I want to.

I wish I did.

I wish that I did and that there was a way to reconcile what I know and believe about life with having faith, but I don’t and I can’t.

Still fascinated by religion, I read a lot about people of faith, and essays and memoirs by them. I miss liturgy — structure and ritual — and I miss the practice of study that having scriptures invites. (I know, I should just join Eastern Star now that they admit Majority Rainbow Girls who aren’t related to Masons and get my ritual fix, and go back to school for the study. Actually and unfortunately, I wouldn’t fit in with the Eastern Star women anymore either, alas. I would love, love, love to go to graduate school, but that’s a whole other issue to tangle with.)

It does feel good, though, to give up. The struggle and tension between things I knew to be true (and things I suspected to be true) and things I was willing myself to believe were true was painful and exhausting, and letting it snap and fly away was like taking off too-tight shoes after a long day of walking.

I don’t consider myself an atheist, but an agnostic. I don’t think the Christian story is true, but I am not discounting that a) I could be wrong or b) there may indeed be a God, or something we might as well call God. And in all honesty, I hope there is, because simply ceasing to exist at the moment of death is, to me, even worse than the thought of being fundamentally alone in the universe while I’m alive.

In some ways I feel like I wasted nearly twenty years trying to force myself into a mold I cannot fit in. But there’s no point in ruefulness. It was interesting, if nothing else. And maybe someday I will find something I believe and a niche into which I can fit. We shall see.

Part Two

Has nothing to do with religion and is considerably shorter!

My job. Oh God, my job. For three years I loved it, and then a rotation happened and they sent me out to talk to strangers all day, right? And honestly, it’s been pretty awful. There are days that are okay, and individual interactions that are nice, but overall, I’m tired and miserable and I am counting the days until I get rotated back.

If only I knew when that was…I have joked (okay, “joked”) that at least when you go to prison they tell you how long your sentence is. If I knew when my blessed release from this assignment was coming I could count down the days. I do at least know every day is one day closer to whenever that is. It’s been six months. Six months of my indeterminate sentence completed.

A day came several months ago where everything came to a head. Not going into details, but I knew that if I didn’t think of a solution, I was going to either get fired (not an easy thing to do with my employer, thankfully) or come home and do something rash.

In the end, I combined two approaches. One was suggested by a friend who hates/is as bad at customer service as I do/am: When she had to do this sort of thing, she pretended she was playing a role. It was a movie or a play, and she was simply playing the part of The Employee. To the extent that this doesn’t work, I…simply don’t care anymore. My mantra is “OK. Whatever.” A member gets mad or agitated? OK, whatever. Someone yells at me? OK, whatever. I get asked to do something I, with every fiber of my being, don’t want to do? OK, whatever. Nothing matters. Whatever. I’ll just do it, accept it, take it, because it doesn’t matter — whatever comes next is bound to be unpleasant, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

I do my best and don’t generally screw much up, but I have ceased to care what happens. I don’t even cringe away from all the things I have to do that I am so bad at — the talking to strangers all day, the endless patience I have to project when I am the least patient person on the planet. I liken it to the way when drunk drivers get in accidents, they’re not the ones who get hurt because they’re all floppy and relaxed. I am floppy and relaxed in the face of this rotation, in the face of all the strangers I have to deal with, in the face of all the  terrifying stuff they ask me to do.

I also take a lot of anti-anxiety meds,  but without Playacting and Not Caring, it wouldn’t be enough.

And it feels so much better. I’m still exhausted at the end of every day, but less so — I don’t have to go to bed at 7:30 PM anymore. I still get depressed and full of dread on Sunday nights, but I apply Oh Well Whatever and it eases a bit. I still will go buy a bottle of real Champagne and drink it all myself when I finally get rotated back into the back, but I think I can survive until then. Floppy. Relaxed.

As the old Ashleigh Brilliant postcard says: “I feel much better now that I’ve given up hope.”

Sounds very dreary, but I think of it more as just backfloating down the river of this assignment, not fighting the current, and waiting for it to be over.

So two struggles let go. I wonder if this will give me more emotional energy for other things!




Get Your Pre-Monday Right Here

Ye gods and little fishes, it’s Sunday night again.

My current job assignment has sent me to the doctor twice in four months for stress-and-anxiety-related stuff. Tomorrow I have to go for something else, and I am so miserable with work that there is an awful voice inside half-wishing it were something serious because then I might get a break. How terrible is that?!

I am looking for ways to have some energy in the evenings, so that I don’t end up in bed at 7:45 after being gone from 6:15 to 6:15. So far I’ve come up with: Have a cool shower as soon as I’ve fed the cats, to invigorate me and help me stay vertical; have a cup of espresso; do some gentle yoga. I know exercise is supposed to be good but the walking I have recently incorporated into my days has actually made me more exhausted at night (I know that’s just short-term adjustment). Having said that, when I go abroad I walk everywhere and it wears me out, so I need to do more of it here in order to be in some semblance of shape then!

Still…this is one hellish rotation for this here introvert with general anxiety!

Today has been a day of knitting, reading, a lot of black coffee, and The Day I Saw Your Heart. Is it just me, or does Mélanie Laurent look like a cross between Scarlett Johanssen and a young Rosanna Arquette? It was a good movie, and I caught quite a bit of the language, which makes me happy, but a bit wrenching as well. Nonetheless it was good to spend ninety minutes in France this afternoon.
And now I think I am going to be a totally irresponsible person and get fast food for dinner. If I were in France I might go to the local brasserie — like the one at Place de la Nation where I had my last lunch in Paris in 2012, the yummy Alsatian butter noodles and chicken — but since I’m not, and since I have not got cooking mojo today, I’m defaulting to lowest common denominator here.

Next Year in Budapest

…and Vienna, and of course Paris.

Finally I can see my way clear to getting on an international flight. Whew. April 2015, I am outta here for three weeks. First call will be Budpest for four days, then a train to Vienna for a four-day stop, and then on to France for the remainder. I know, I know. On the one hand, I think I should explore other places. On the other hand — France!

Having said that, I’m going to take some pages from Ina Caro’s From Paris to the Past, and get out of the city at least a few times. If I’m going to be there for about ten days, I have time!

Until then, I have to attempt to save my vacation time, which is difficult, given my hellish current work assignment, which is wreaking havoc on both my mental and physical health; and also my money, which is difficult because what with the crappy work situation, retail therapy beckons. But I have to simply bear down, grit my teeth, and do it.





Space (the Elbow Room Kind)

I was talking with a friend of mine recently. He’s as much of an italophile as I am a francophile; he hopes to retire to Italy one day. (I think he has a better chance of doing it than I do of retiring to France, but we shall see.) To make ourselves feel better, we made a list of things we actually prefer about the United States, since we can both go on all day long about what we prefer about Europe in general and our favorite countries in particular.

The biggest thing, no pun intended, was space. He and his partner have a big house and I have a pretty darn big condo and while homes of these sizes do, indeed, exist in Europe, they’d be way, way, way, way out of our price range, or possibly very far into the countryside (or both).

Tonight I was watching Rachel Khoo’s Little Paris Kitchen show (I bought the cookbook on my Powell’s jaunt last June). I am amazed by what people in tiny kitchens can do —  I saw it in action in 2012 at my friend S’ place in Paris as well. I was just looking at her web site, and she says her entire apartment is 21 square meters. That’s 226 square feet. My condo is 1752 square feet, or almost 163 square meters.

So, yeah. Space.

Having said that, I have always had a secret dream of paring everything down and living in a totally efficient and cozy tiny place. My problem would be my books, although again my friend S squeezes tons of books into every corner of her Parisian apartment, so maybe I’d just have to be creative!

Besides the fact that it’s, well, in Paris, I’m also envying her kitchen tile, seen in the photo here. I am considering whether I could do something like that under my cabinets. Another thing to add to my maybe-to-do list!