My dad bought a used recliner and installed it in the living room. About two weeks later he tossed it outside. It was infested with bedbugs. Some of those bedbugs decided to move and chose to settle in the couch. My bed.

I can say that anyone whoever says “goodnight, don’t let the bedbugs bite” to me will hear plain Anglo-Saxon words. Until now I didn’t believe bedbugs were a real thing, but I know better now.

My sister gave me a spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol, which I’ve used to fight back every night since.

She took a long drug induced nap on our dad’s bed one night, having taken the meds she was prescribed in the doses prescribed. The pets and I took over her room and TV while she slept and our dad got the couch. The next day he complained the bugs ate him alive. At the time I felt sorry for him, since I hadn’t experienced full onset bedbug. Now not so much.

I spray the couch, my pillows and bedding with liberal doses of alcohol, the fumes are enough to stun almost anybody. Olive does not like it; she growls when she sees me hosing down her couch. She even sleeps on the floor most of the night because of it. I learned they are nocturnal; I rarely see any of the disgusting things during the day. But when I turn off the lamp at night they come out and it is on. They pester me until about dawn, then they go to rest up for another onslaught the following night. I take out as many of them as I can, when I find them. See last night’s bedbug carnage below.   My apologies to anyone with a sensitive nature or queasy stomach.

I tell myself there’s no reason people in the 21st century in the (still) First World should have this problem. I hate them, I hate that I can’t just fall asleep at night. Yet it reminds me that for all our technology, advanced standards of living and basic human arrogance we can be laid low by these little suckers. And I mean suckers, look at the kleenex. When we start thinking we’re above the problems of the past, not stuff like hunger or racism, but sanitation and climate Mother Nature smacks us upside the head, hard. The toxic water in Flint, the snowstorms on the East Coast, and my stinking bedbugs (a crushed one smells like nuts, why I can’t eat nuts now) are examples of how we can still be brought low by the natural world. It’s humbling, frustrating and makes us itch.




Beginning of the year

I am getting a late start training for the Memorial race. I know I’ll be able to do the 5k but I want the half.

Jet lag, being sick and the weather have kept me from walking. I’m feeling better and have been out a total of 2 times. Both walks have been an effort; I felt my breath while walking and blew my nose along the way. I am determined to continue and slowly increase my distance until I can walk 14 miles and maybe run a little of it too. It’s not going to be anytime soon and I know it.

So tonight I went to a runner’s club meeting. A friend mentioned it on facebook and I was intrigued. She said she was probably going and that was all the incentive I needed. I have been curious about this especially since they train for the Memorial race and I need all the help I can get. I’m a little leery of joining a group since my walks are solitary and I prefer them that way. I hate feeling I’m slowing someone else down or having to adjust to a slower pace myself for another person. It’s easier to go at my own pace, whatever it might be on a given day. But I still wanted to see what they do.

I went and my friend bailed. I texted her and asked if she was coming. No, she was exhausted and needed to go home. Crap. I was sitting in a crowded room full of strangers, but fortunately they were all chatting with each other and I’m left alone. I’m not usually aware of race, the ethnic kind, but I noticed 4 black folks, 3 Asian and me, the rest looked like plain white folks. After my trip to Saigon I’ve noticed ethnic differences more, I’m not sure why.

The meeting starts and two people from the Memorial race are there. The first, an older man, tells us the course is a little different this year and that there’s going to be a 5th corral for walkers and slower runners. Personally I think putting people in corrals by race makes more sense, even with people ending up in the wrong corrals. But the criterion is speed, not my call but theirs.   He shows us this year’s shirt, it’s blue. Previous years have been white. I like it. Then a woman tells us about the medals and passes them around. They are nice, and I notice the half marathon ribbon is yellow. I hold the medal a few seconds before passing it on. She passes around different shirts: the kids race, half and full finishers shirts. The marathon finisher shirt is green and gets a lot of oohs. The half shirt, the important one, is gray and yellow, with 13.1 in yellow letters on back. It’s a short sleeved tech shirt, v-neck and fitted. I want this shirt.

They had bragging rights, people who did a race or races since Oct 19 were asked to tell what they did. When they asked people what 5Ks they did I didn’t realize until the meeting started that I could have mentioned the Halloween race. Nobody else did that one. They went on to half, marathons and ultra races; each category got smaller until there were only 3 people who did an ultra race. There were door prizes and I won this.


With grilled cheese and diet cherry limeade. We need more cowbell.


I don’t know if I’ll join. I know my pace and distance is too slow and short for their marathon training runs. I rather get on with my slow but bad self and train on my terms. I am built for endurance not speed anyway. I like doing my walks with my earbuds on listening to DM. I read an interview with Dave and he admitted he was a runner. Even though he uses the evil that is the treadmill.  I did a small shuffling happy dance with fist pumps when I read that. Olive danced around me too, she didn’t understand the reason why but just shared the joy.

The main thing is just getting out there. It’s freaking cold and even wearing layers it’s still freaking cold.


It’s been 3 weeks since I came back from Saigon. I’ve been through jet lag, the stomach bug from hell, parts one and two and New Year’s. Yet I didn’t feel I was home until today.

I went to Mass for the first time this year and I walked in, right behind the priest and servers ready to go. I sat down in my usual pew and felt a comfort and warmth I hadn’t felt before, I felt welcomed even though no one said anything to me or seemed to notice me. I felt at home.

Even though I’ve been at my sister’s house, even though I’ve driven around and seen familiar sights, done ordinary everyday tasks like going to the grocery store and library, even though I’ve had several diet cherry limeades none of these things made a difference. I was back but I was as detached  as before, separate from everything around me. It was similar to the sensation I felt after Jerry passed away and I had to go back to work. The usual routine was there, I followed it but it was as if I was watching it rather than participating. People around me seemed relieved I was okay and they needn’t worry about me. When I was sick I spent most of the time on the couch, when I wasn’t in the bathroom. My sister did go to the store for me once, for juice, and I was grateful. Olive did her part, snuggling with me and sleeping when I slept. Otherwise I was on my own. I wasn’t angry or surprised, that’s just the way it is.

There has been some delayed culture shock. The weather messed with me, going from warn tropical weather to weather barely above freezing was tough. I was cold the first week, even with extra covers. Some of it was being sick and having chills but I’m only now beginning to feel comfortable indoors without a hoodie. I still have issues with the outdoors and snow.

I went to the Asian grocery store last week and was disappointed; most of the stuff on the shelves didn’t look like what I saw in the stores in Saigon and I shouldn’t have expected it to but I did. The fresh vegetables and fruit were smaller and much more expensive, even if I knew what to buy and how to fix it I probably wouldn’t have. After Mass I went to Lee’s and was thrilled to see sugar cane juice on the menu and ordered one. Which was a mistake, a big mistake. I remembered the sweet clear liquid I drank in Saigon, on the grounds of a Buddhist temple. The fresh squeezed sugar cane juice was fifty cents and came with cute animal stickers. This stuff, this toxic thing, was overly sweet with a cloudy greenish color. It tasted like it was made from concentrate and had sugar added to it. I could have laid out a dozen diabetics easily, just by waving the cup at them. It also cost 2.75, more than four times the fresh. I tossed it and hoped I didn’t do too much damage to the dead grass.

I’ve wanted to tell people about my trip but it’s like Spock telling McCoy that he would have to experience death before they could talk about it. I’ve shown a few pictures to my sisters and dad and they seem interested but after a few minutes they are bored. I can’t describe what I saw, how it was, not clearly and adequately, not even with the pictures. The best analogy I can give is that it was like an alternate universe.

The peculiar thing is my trip made my world both bigger and smaller. Bigger, because I saw and did things I never imagined I would do, or could do. Crossing a street in Saigon with constant traffic, even slower traffic, is terrifying and I felt a sense of accomplishment and relief when I made it, while clutching Bear’s hand. This was my first world city and I was stunned by the wealth I saw as well as the poverty. Both were accepted and taken for granted. I enjoyed the food, eating little or no meat wasn’t difficult, and I tried different things, from drinks to desserts and meals. My knowledge of the world, even this small part of it, grew.

I say my world is smaller because having made the trip to Saigon proves that it can be done, by someone like me. It is still half way around the world but the distance can be met, it isn’t impossible and if I had to I could do it again. Saigon isn’t as remote now that I know it’s accessible. The memories of that week in Saigon are part of my frame of reference now. I can recall sitting in the Cafe Siena across from Bear’s school, sipping on an iced guava juice, the warmth, the sounds of the motorbikes, cars and buses, the smells, the variety of people walking on the streets, the signs on the walls, all of it. Even at that time I had to remind myself this was real, that it took me fifty years to get there and that none of my relatives could ever have imagined doing what I was doing at that moment. I let myself enjoy the moment, knowing it would be over and eventually be only a memory.

Not to say I long to go back. I miss Bear. I miss him more now that I got to see him. I don’t know when my son will come back, or for how long. I know he wants to stay abroad and will go back to Saigon. I know Oahn is a probable part of his future but we’re not saying it, not yet. I know it may be a long time before I see my Bear and I may have to make another international flight to do it. But now I know I can, that is possible and if I have to I will.

More culture shock

Diamond Plaza, Saigon  and Diamond Plaza, OKC

Vietnamese Oreos, strawberry, chocolate/peanut butter and coconut. also blueberry but I ate those. Star Wars lobby card, front and back, from the movie theater at the (Japanese) Aeon Mall. My most precious and delicious souvenirs.





My craptastic diarrhea is actually a stomach bug, gastroenteritis. Besides diarrhea, there’s throwing up, chills and super sensitivity to smells. There are other symptoms I haven’t encountered yet and it usually lasts 10 days. I’m on day four. I ate 2 saltines this morning and
regretted it about half an hour later.

According to the Internet I may be contagious 2 weeks after. A good thing I don’t have a job. I don’t intend to get out and risk infecting anyone. I do wish whoever gave me tainted food doesn’t do it again.

I know it happened after I left Vietnam because my son doesn’t have the symptoms. He had some stomach acid and bile, his ulcer acting up. He’s used to it, takes some OTC stuff, unfortunately it’s pretty routine. One of the things he got from Jerry, both are/were worriers. But I have the stomach of a goat so this surprised me.

I thought it was jet lag, processed food and being upright for nearly 2 days.

I’m sick and I don’t like it, I hate being sick and feeling weak. I haven’t touched my laundry or done any unpacking other than sorting souvenirs. Normally all this would be done by now and I’d be walking Olive twice a day like usual. Instead we’re both crashed on the couch and I struggle to put her in the backyard for doggy business.

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad Jerry isn’t here. First off, he’d be sick with this and it would be worse for him. He’d probably be in the hospital with IVs feeding him fluids and I’d be here unable to do anything. I don’t think he’d blame me but I would feel guilty.

I’m washing my hands every time I go to the bathroom or before I approach the kitchen, I hope it’s enough to avoid infecting my dad and sister.

I’m also bummed because I learned a former co-worker, one I liked, passed away yesterday. It’s too soon to know when the funeral is but likely I won’t be able to go. I may send a plant.

I’m stranded here, in quarantine for at least 6 more days and my phone is the only thing I have to stay sane. I tried reading but have trouble concentrating.
Fortunately the Internet is a great source of mindless, stupid stuff that doesn’t require thought. Thank you Internet.


Pretty sure these weird spicy chips are not responsible