Contrary to popular belief, I do not sit around and pick my nose or eat bon bons all day long (only for a small part of the day). I am actually really busy most days, as is Charlie, who rarely has a chance to enjoy the beach, or much of anything, for that matter. After tests and exams, however, we both look forward to a fun afternoon and evening together. Until then, however, here is what a normal day here is like…
I get up between 8 and 10, put away the dishes that dried overnight, and do whatever dishes were left in the sink from the day before. Then make coffee or tea and have breakfast (usually fruit, oatmeal, or eggs) outside, if the porch isn’t swarmed with the remains of dead bugs (in which case I avoid going outside for as long as possible so I can put off sweeping them up. It’s pretty sick. Currently the porch is covered with the inch-long wings of these crazy rain-fly termite things. ICK!). If Charlie is media-siting (watching class lectures online) that day then we’ll have breakfast together, if I’m up early. If he’s going to class, he’s gone by 8. After breakfast I do the breakfast dishes. Then I make the bed, clean up our apartment, put away clothes or laundry.
If it’s a busy day, I’m up early for an RSO meeting, an assembly at CALLS, a day trip with friends. If it’s a low-key day, I will check emails, write a blog post, catch up on news and blogs, read about re-finishing furniture and other how-tos which I will bookmark for use in several years when we have a real home. I’ll peruse the food blogs and book mark recipes with minimal and/or tropical ingredients for current use, and ones with fancy shmancy ingredients or luxuries not available here like berries, buttermilk, and arugula for later use (again, in several years, when I can also break out those DIY home projects, like making an upholstered headboard!). If I’m feeling energized (which usually I’m not), I’ll walk to the gym and get in a nice air-conditioned work out, or I’ll visit my friend Brandi and play with her 4 week old kittens. At noon, Charlie will come home for lunch or I’ll make him lunch and bring it to him at school. We’ll sit outside under a tree by the library if the weather is nice. I’ll head home after lunch and do some more dishes. Then I’ll relax and watch some TV shows on my computer… The Wire, Big Love, Mad Men, Weeds.
If I’m feeling brave, I’ll do some laundry. Here’s how this goes down without a washer or dryer: I’ll turn on our hot water heater (which we rarely do these days, as cold showers are the only way to go when it’s just as hot or often hotter inside our apartment than it is outside), put a bucket in the shower, add a scoop of detergent to the bucket, fill it up with hot water, throw in some clothes, and swish them around for a little while with a clean plunger. Then I’ll rinse the clothes and wring them out in the shower. Then I’ll go on the porch and rig up a clothes line and hang up the clothes to dry. I’ll do this for about an hour and if I’m lucky, the clothes will smell nice when they’re dry. Sometimes, they still smell sweaty once they’re dry, and I lose my gumption and send my stiff, sweaty, horribly hand washed and line dried clothes out and pay someone and deal with them effectively.
After the laundry nightmare I’ll read for a little while and figure out and google some recipes to help figure out what to make for dinner. I give myself extra gold stars if the meal requires little to-no oven time. Here’s why: 1. Our oven sucks. When you bake anything, the oven handle gets so hot that when you touch it your burn your hand. 2. Our oven really sucks. In our last apartment, the baking temperatures were in degrees Celsius. That I could handle, I just made a conversion chart on a post-it and stuck it to the fridge. Boom. In our new apartment, however, our oven is the worst. Seriously, THE ABSOLUTE WORST. There are no temperatures. Yes, you read that correctly. No temperatures. Just a knob that says “1 2 3 4 5.” (I really wish I were making that up.) So, I just guess on baking temperatures. You can imagine how that turns out… burnt everything, all the time.
Good stuff. Anyways, I figure out what to make for dinner. Usually it’s something vegetarian because sometimes the meat here is scary and/or hard to find, or just really expensive. I wish I could say that I bought and cooked fish all the time, but I don’t. I’ve bought it once. Buying fish requires walking for 20 minutes down to the waterfront when you hear someone blow a conch shell. The problem is that where I live, you can’t hear anyone blow a conch shell, so then you trek down to the water and loiter and act sketchy and wait for several hours until you actually see someone blow a conch shell, and well, that is really not my idea of fun. Then you trek 20 minutes home with a plastic grocery bag full of fresh fish. I need to figure out a better system for this, because the fish is amazing. It’s literally fresh out of the ocean, and is usually tuna or mahi mahi, for $7 a pound. I made the best fish tacos with the tuna I bought last semester. Note to self: figure out the fish situation, ASAP.
If it’s a Tuesday, I help my friend Emily teach a sewing class at a local Women’s Center. (Actually, I provide moral support and do a kid-friendly fabric project with the women’s children, while Emily teaches the sewing class, since I literally cannot sew a stitch).
If it’s a Thursday, I tutor at CALLS, the local alternative high school that gives at-risk students a second chance.
If it’s a Friday, I spend the afternoon at the park in Portsmouth with friends and local children at In.Light.In, an after school program and ministry, where we play with the kids, do a craft project, and then feed them a meal.
Some days I’ll spend a few hours at the pool with friends, read a book on our porch or in the hammock if it’s not excruciatingly hot out, go to yoga in the early evenings, walk to the grocery story (not an option until a few months ago!), go on a hike or take a trip with friends, or meet friends for coffee at Rituals, the fabulously air-conditioned coffee shop.
Charlie and I have dinner together almost every night around 7. Usually I cook and he either comes home for dinner on the porch or I bring him a meal at school. Then, he hits the book again until midnight. After dinner, I do some more dishes, tidy up the apartment, and either enjoy a cold shower and some TV or a movie in our air-conditioned bed room (we have AC in our bedroom only and only turn it on for a little while before we go to bed since electricity is pricey here. We have don’t have AC in living room/kitchen (they are the same room) which is brutal this time of year!), or a meet friends for game night, drinks, a night swim at the pool, a cookout, or a Friday night movie on campus.
By the time the day is over, I’m usually exhausted. Between the heat, the walking/carrying everything everywhere all the time, and all the cooking and dish washing (I am the dishwasher), I am out like a light by bed time. Charlie conks out, too, exhausted from the heat, the walking, and mostly the studying. That, my friends, is how we spend out days!