but the goose is not getting fat. Not here, at least--actually, there aren't any geese at all, as far as I know. There are definitely chicken. I accidentally stepped on one last night that had roosted on the sidewalk downtown. To be fair, it was sort of dark and I was motivated, there was the promise of a grilled chicken salad (irony? karma? take your pick) at the French Institute around the corner. Also, I'm still not in the habit of checking for barnyard animals in the middle of a metropolitan city. Which could also explain why I was nearly gored later by a large bull cow tethered to the curb. He came out of nowhere--we're walking along and suddenly a 600-lb behemoth of beef materializes out of the dark, nestled in between two parked cars. I was also not paying attention for another reason--we had spotted Christmas decorations, filling me instantly with a sense of a weird nostalgia and sadness that I haven't experienced otherwise. It's funny because the holidays haven't hit me that hard--Halloween was just another normal day here, we celebrated Thanksgiving but I wasn't that homesick, and now Christmas is just around the corner, but I don't miss the season until I see the random, French-owned stores that dutifully hang tinsel. What is it about tacky decorations that get me going?

I think it's more of the same familiarity complex I've been dealing with--anything here that is remotely home-like puts me in a state of mind that might not be 100% stable. I'm putting off processing until I'm back in a place where I'm not the only person responsible for me, aka home, where it's considered normal and pretty much acceptable for me to make rotating laps through all the beds in our house for most of the day, and where my parents will make sure I'm fed.

Sidenote: One of the more challenging parts of living on my own has been feeding myself--not because I'm not a good cook or not capable in the kitchen, because I'm better in that department than the average bear. But I am not quite as good at remembering to feed myself, suddenly it's 10 o' clock and I'm starving. Dinner, right? Except I never forget breakfast, A) because I eat immediately upon waking up, always have, always will, and B) because there is a man across the street who makes incredible egg sandwiches. His name is Mamadou and he's now realized that at approximately 8:30 every morning, I will be around. He's started making it without me even asking for it now, I'm that regular. So what.

But I digress. Back to the holidays and my spectacular system of emotional repression--I'm in denial and I know it. They say that's the first step, which is all fine and good, except I refuse to go any farther. I'm trying not to treat these last four days we have in Dakar as though they are my last four days in Dakar, because doing so would bring down the shaky tower of emotional stability I've built thus far. It would be a cataclysmic crash of finality that I just cannot bear. So like I said, I'm putting it off until a later, as yet to be decided date. Probably right after New Year's. It's the perfect time to breakdown and then build back up with some new, fantastic resolutions. Last year I had to look at my life, look at my choices and I decided that this year I would like to live with peace in my heart always. Also I wanted to write a book. Check. I wanted to pet a chipmunk. Still unfulfilled, which is especially disappointing because that was one leftover from the year before. Chipmunks. Who knew they were so elusive?

I've come to realize that I always do this right before a big ending--I holed up for three weeks before I left New Orleans this spring and acknowledged no one and nothing, and continued living my life there until the morning I got on the plane. I can't tell if this is healthy or not, probably not, but then again, if it were, this would have to be titled things I'm not going to tell my therapist. And where's the fun in that?

I deny that pesky thing we call the future and ignore that troublesome thing we call the past, and live only moment by moment. Well, as much as possible. I'm thinking about where I want to have lunch and what I should bring to the tailor and whether or not I want to go the lighthouse tonight to watch the sunset. Except what kind of question is that? Of course I want to go the lighthouse and watch the sunset. I guess I mean I'm afraid that considering going home at any length of time will take me so far out of being here now that I'll stop enjoying it to the fullest, and I feel like I just don't have enough time for that. I have to take advantage of everything while I'm here, and then take advantage of everything at home while I'm there. In the meantime, I've been hangin' out, finishing my project and celebrating the Muslim New Year, called Tamkharit. I went home and ate couscous with my family after they insisted when I visited last Thursday that I come home--It's necessary! You must be with your family! It would've taken a lot less to get me there but I went back and participated in all of the festivities regardless, which included but was not limited to all the men dressing as women and all the women dressing as men and then parading through the streets. Did I expect to be ringing in the New Year with crossdressers? No. But then, I didn't expect a lot of things.

What I did expect was to miss the Christmas season more than I have thus far. But it's 95 degrees outside and Islamic chants were playing so loudly last night we couldn't sleep. We found out this morning it was because there was actually a van parked outside our apartment building with a loudspeaker on top. That would explain why it sounded just like it was right outside the window...

It's good, in some ways, I think that it doesn't feel like Christmas or reminders of Christmas aren't everywhere, just like Thanksgiving was made easier because I wasn't surrounded by fall colors and turkey motifs. But I find it slightly disconcerting that it takes cold weather and garlands to put me in the Christmas spirit--I guess I always assumed that I would feel the spirit of season even without the material items that apparently, define the season. Then again, who knows? Maybe if I were actually missing the 25th proper it would be a different story, and maybe I'm being too hard on myself. This fragile psyche can really only take so much.

xoxo, Lala