My life's gone unwritten for so long that it almost feels funny to dip into doing it again -- not to catch up, but simply to mark moments.

Stretching sore hamstrings the morning after Mary Beth's rehearsal; pulling my folding bike out of the trunk and racing across campus on it in the warm night. Monday I'll be making fresh pasta, which Andrea and Alfredo will critique as Actual Italians. On Tuesday the whole gang, including Susan and the kids, is coming over. I'm excited about hosting for the first time in a place I'm proud of. I realize that for others reading this blog, these are strange names, events without context. But it makes sense to me, it'll make sense to future-Mel, and that's all I care about right now.

Allie and I cross paths in the mornings; she'll leaves for work in the pathology lab while I'm still making my ritual omelet-and-tea. Megan is often up and working when I get home in the evenings, and we'll often overshoot my bedtime because we'll end up talking about Random Stuff: stained glass window designs, the French translation of Harry Potter, dynamics equations, what to name our house network (which is now set up in Latin).

Mark, Megan, and Randy introduced me to the brilliant combination of chicken and waffles, chased by cheese, wine, prosciutto, and a Harry Potter movie marathon. I brought mom and dad to their first personal training session and watched in amusement; my little parents, learning how to run! I spend most of the day off my computer now, roaming the world and being with people in it. My shoulders are happy, except for when Craig's trying to convince me I can do more push-ups in the mornings. Then they're tired, but it's good for them.

Bri's family fed me (watermelon!) last night while I illustrated her book. I'm now the department's Unorthodox Publishing Woman, and my job is turning into "read cool things about hacking and learning, draw about them, and go around the world talking with interesting people about it." Emily and I have fun writing together; she's convinced me to leave the goofy turkey analogy in our ASEE abstract. My dissertation stumbles on towards birth; I can feel it kicking. Research is messy and difficult and alive.

I've retained my ability to randomly drop into German conversation, mostly because Abbee language-switches on me constantly. I'm tempted to pick up Italian so we can switch between three, but a couple family members are learning Spanish before winter break for fun, and I'm doggedly keeping my German studies (Aufbauwortschatz, I will conquer thee!) so we'll see. There was also the night Abbee came over after Mass and we ate mint chocolate Oreo ice cream while she got the best test-out-of-math exam prep ever: an Olin grad (me) and and MIT grad (Megan) at the same time, getting increasingly happy-math-geeky as it got closer and closer to 1am.

I'm apprenticing with Barb, Anne, and Mary relearning the community-catalyst stuff I've done for years in the tech world. The difference is that they do it very much as women. That's an awkward, oversimplified phrasing I don't like because it doesn't get what I'm trying to say, but I'll leave it at that. We drink tea at our meetings, which I love. I've got good apprenticeships here: Peg and Robin, Ruth, Alice, and Matt -- and if I get my rear in gear, Dr. Alexander.

Mary Beth was right: Ballet was a good idea. Also, ouch. And despite Ana's insistence that ballet tights are made of tough material that lasts, I managed to create multiple runs in each leg within the first week of wearing mine; I guess I'm talented. Julia is in my improv class, so I goof around with her, and Scott and Ben -- and Rebecca set things up so I could run around the studio with my eyes closed and follow directions at the same time, which was a very exciting moment for Deaf Mel.

My room is tiny and upstairs and I'm in love with it. It's the perfect size for a little Mel-hidey-hole, and I'm slowly adding pictures to the walls as I get frames, and all my running-around and dancing and hitting the gym makes me sleep like the dead for 8 hours a night which is weird

Tonight is the Zambia trip reunion at Dr. Krishnan's house, and then I fly to Rochester and visit Melanie in college before driving to Becky and Dan's wedding in Albany, blasting CDs all the way through upstate New York. Drums are slowly coming into focus for me in the music that I listen to; snare drums are there and they pop and they're crisp and there's texture!

And I've only been back in America for 3 weeks.

And I am happy. It's a different kind of happy from what I've often described here; it's not an adrenaline surge or a wild delirium, although those are still constantly there in great outbursts of happy-puppy everything because... I'm me. But it's almost like those things are just as big and just as fully there, and I've zoomed out -- they're things in a much bigger space, and that space breathes in a strange combination of peace and invigoration at the same time. It reminds me of something I read as a little kid:  a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

It is lovely, living in the whisper, where the fire is as well.