The Matchbook Diaries

My husband’s work takes us overseas where we have lived now for decades.  As a result we have traveled to a lot of places and collected loads of stories along the way.  These are those stories.


All the Japanese magnolias and flowering trees are in full force now here in Shanghai.  The other day, a few weeks ago, we were on our scooter – we travel here by ebike everyplace – and we came upon a woman who was riding a stand up scooter.  Here in CONTINUE >

Me getting blessed by a Nepali holy man.

An enormous benefit to the style with which China is governed is the complete lack of crime.  You can walk around at 3am, alone, chatting on your cellphone with your purse and not have a care in the world.  I’m never CONTINUE >

Mom and her daughter Fran, my Chamorro sister and
godmother to my boy who is sitting between them.

We did not have children in the first decade of our marriage.

After 9/11 in New York we moved overseas – first to the little island of Rota. It’s a tiny place.  CONTINUE >

There has been CNY celebration with great vigor.  Outside the night air is dense with gunpowder and smoke.  The noise was traditionally meant to scare away evil in Chinese villages.  Now it sounds like we are in the center of armed conflict.  Today it is drizzling, so perhaps that puts CONTINUE >

In Tanzania the local beach was a block from our first house.  It was considered to be one of the most dangerous places in Dar.  The police once tried to pick me up from the roadside there, to protect me.  I refused to get in the van, but I did CONTINUE >

Was thinking of how our plans for the summer this year don’t really pose much of a challenge.  Normally we are heading into a holiday where things will inevitably lead us into situations we cannot control easily, but this summer we are not so likely to have that in South CONTINUE >

It is chilly, which is terrific.

This is in the artsy part of town where local artists
keep their studios.

I was out walking the dog the other day and before I turned I heard a little scooting noise that was like a skateboard behind me.  It was a little CONTINUE >

Another iteration of my office in one of the two houses where we lived
in Tanzania.

Am just cleaning up this old trade card while preserving its flavor – all its telltale old bits.  The age marks and creases in old things make them so much more delicious than CONTINUE >

I met her in a very farflung part of Tanzania. Her name is Heaven’s Light. (Most
girls in TZ shave their heads.)

Once I spent 10 days in the disenfranchised minority region of the Miao in China.  You cannot enter that area without a minder, so we had an CONTINUE >

Me, at Christmas when I was, what, 3 ish?

It’s barely still morning; unless I finish this in 20 mins!

It’s a strange life we lead, and not for everyone.  I was reflecting on the biggest wall we face daily, and never overcome, the language wall.  I choose to live CONTINUE >

Sandwiched between the viewing deluge of Christmas films we watched over our holiday was the entire John Wick series, which stood in stark contrast to the mood and content of the films we were watching.  I wanted to see the John Wick sets which are indeed absolutely gorgeous in the CONTINUE >

When I lived in LA as a divorced 20-something woman, I made friends with a literary agent, the one who publishes Richard North Patterson and discovered David Foster Wallace.  Bonnie was a good friend to me when I was so young and alone.  She recommended a film to me, Babette’s CONTINUE >

We almost never go out on NYE.  I’m a terrible drinker.  If I drink I throw up.  I keep trying to do it well.  But I’m crap at it.  Once I tried to keep pace with my best friend in Tanzania at her place and she wound up feeding me CONTINUE >

Much warmer today.  I can almost remove my indoor slippers.  Our flat isn’t really heated so it’s chilly in winter.

I started studying the I Ching (the Book of Changes) when we lived here before, more than 10 years ago.  The philosophies of China are incredibly dense and yet illuminating – CONTINUE >

Was reminiscing last night about our trip to Luxor.  We had a physician in Qatar who was Egyptian and he said the only place to visit in Egypt was Luxor, so we spent a few weeks there.  They use donkey carts there still and the carts and donkeys are all CONTINUE >

It’s balmy after a wee dip into freezing.  Lovely English language Christmas Mass for us on Christmas Eve.  It’s the first time we haven’t traveled over this holiday since before my son was born, so more than 15 years.  We baked cut out cookies and fat stuffed cookies, watched every CONTINUE >

This morning I wrote a letter to one of my heroes.  This is the letter.

Dear Sarah:
Years and years ago someone recommended Simple Abundance to me, but I wasn’t ready for it.  Last year was a growth year for me and, around the fall of 2022 I suddenly felt compelled CONTINUE >

Last night, after we attended Catholic Mass downtown, (I’m not Catholic but it’s an English language service.) we went to make latkes with a friend of ours here.  She is Jewish, as I am, though I’m a Christian too.  So she had us and her closest friend, also Jewish, over CONTINUE >

After Mass last Sunday we went to the American place we usually go to for lunch – 5 Guys.  It’s comfort food and they play American music there.  Last weekend while my husband and son were getting the food I was sitting there at a low table near to the CONTINUE >

We normally go to Mass on Sundays but we were forewarned not to this weekend – heavy crowds and traffic at the Chinese Mass that precedes our English language one.  So I’m home thinking about how much fun it was in Qatar to go treasure hunting in the desert.  When CONTINUE >

We got the tree out of the box and then stopped.  Pinck got home after dark from work and we didn’t push it.  It’s a mini-tree for our mini-place my son says.  It’s gonna be awesome, I’m decreeing.  Lights – these are the key in my opinion.  Lots and lots CONTINUE >

Just had the BEST part of Thanksgiving – a white bread and sliced cold turkey sandwich slathered with American mayonnaise.  We hadn’t any white bread so I walked across to our market here for it.

In the mornings when I run, I criss-cross the little brick walkways that run in front CONTINUE >

In Tanzania, where we just lived for the past 7 years, it was illegal to eat turkey.  So I always made my famous (Silver Palate!) beef stroganoff.  Delish, delish, delish.  We had a table made of mango wood so we could have a seated dinner for 12-14 people. CONTINUE >

Hiya!  Seriously crispy cool out!  Love the sudden turn of season here.

On my morning run/walk I always pass a very old man who sits under the pergola and holds his cell phone in the air.  It’s playing old Chinese music and he softly croons aloud to the music every day CONTINUE >

Lovely twinkly day.  I vacuumed and mopped which deeply troubles Dandan kitten – he gives the machine stink eye until I’m done and then kind of smirks at the mop.  The greatest thing is that this place is so tiny I hardly have to work to keep it clean.  My CONTINUE >

When an item is broken to share, somehow the one intending to distribute it is able to reach into the empty space in that moment and access the purse of God.  I mean you take a loaf of bread and you break it and then you reach right through that CONTINUE >

It’s always a little more exciting when it’s Friday.  Got my eyelashes fixed and remembered again, whilst looking in the mirror, why I never buy white. Because I’m sporting my new white hoodie sweatshirt and I have a smudge on it already.  (sigh)

This is from a SUPER cool CONTINUE >

Power, I’m thinking today, tends to mean dominion, some kind of authority over a person or place or situation.  I associate that word with struggle, with grasping and insecurity.

But strength tends to mean internal authority, authority to exercise control over what I feed my heart all day long.  Strength for CONTINUE >