Wednesday, December 31, 2003

When I was in seventh grade, I wrote a story about intelligent vampire chickens.
The assignment was in my science class, and it was to write a science fiction story. I was, at the time, a startlingly militant realist. The teacher was a man who would routinely smash a naked barbie against his desk whenever he was annoyed with us, and on the whole I did not feel that strict science fiction was really necessary.

So instead, I wrote about intelligent vampire chickens. I remember little about this opus aside from the fact that it did not, from the human point of view, have a happy ending. The chickens won. Sadly, as far as I know nothing remains but the first page, stained with red ink. There is no record of where the chickens came from, both themselves and from my brain.

This is probably a little bit sad.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

At work, I've just hung up the phone. Toby called to ask me how many men I've slept with.
"Uh, hi Tobes, and how was your Christmas?"
"Peachy, but this is important. How many?"
I'm sort of confused, wondering how my sexual history can be this important to my friend, but I'm a good sport so I answer "Six. Why?"
"That's it?"
"That's not enough?"
"I just...I thought it would be more. You always seem so wise and experienced."
"Well, buddy, I'm picky about what I put in my body, and that includes men. Experience can come from a lot of things besides sex. Now please, what is this about?"
"I'm going to be thirty soon..."
"In two years."
"And I'm worried that I haven't slept with enough people."

The conversation has me confused and I'm staring at the desk in front of me, at the base of the myrtle tree, and I realize that the leaves in the pot are moving. I lean in closer, nose almost in the dirt, and realize to my complete surprise that there's a slug crawling about right in front of me. I find a bit of paper and lift it out of the pot, watching it move along the leaf it brought with it. It extends one feeler until it touches the paper and then the feeler retracts, violently, as though stung. This motion repeats on the other side and it moves forewards at the same time, crawls, and I'm fixated because I've never seen a slug this close before. Customers come in and I greet them. They respond and I wave the paper with the slug on it at them, explaining that I've made a friend, but the slug is too small for them to see from so far away so they nod and pretend to look at dishes or something, instead.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Monica and I are sitting in the back alcove trying to figure out a client's records when Euguenia walks back and hands me the phone.
"It's for you," she says, so I take the phone.
"Hi, this is Judy from Virginia Mason. I was calling to tell you that your test results came back abnormal and so we'll have to do further tests."
"Uh, excuse me?" My heart must have dropped to my toes with an audible thump because Monica turns to look at me, eyebrows raised. She likely assumes that I'm talking to a vendor and I don't know how to communicate 'holy fuck it's my doctor's office' with just my eyebrows.
"Your Pap came back showing abnormal cells."
"Wait wait wait, does that mean, uh, that I'm jumping on the cancer bus?" Monica's eyes practically turn inside out, her eyebrows have climbed so high but I can't do anything but curl fetally around the phone.
"Probably not. There's actually a very small chance of that. It's probably nothing. Nonetheless, we want to set you up for a colposcopy, where they'll basically hold a magnifying glass up to your cervix and see what they can see."
I feel betrayed since at my appointment just a couple weeks ago the doctor said that everything looked fine. I know that there's no way she could have individually interrogated every cell but that doesn't matter right now. I try to make a joke out of it, "are you sure it's not just sun spots?" but she doesn't get it.
"Um. I want to repeat, though, that everything is probably fine. Sometimes an abnormal cell is just an abnormal cell."
"Is it, uh, contagious?"
"Oh, no. Whatever it is comes from the inside out, not the outside in. You're not contagious, just, well, malfunctioning a little bit."
I find her attempt at humor just as funny as she apparently found mine.
"Alright, so I'll transfer you to make an appointment. Please, don't worry about this. Everything will be ok. Oh, and if it makes you feel better, your STD tests all came out negative. But I'll bet you knew that."
I make my appointment and, numb, look at Monica. She looks down at my shaking hands and says "Well, if it makes you feel better, it happened to me when I was 18 and it turned out fine."
All I can wonder is why I suddenly hate the phrase 'if it makes you feel better.'

Sunday, December 21, 2003

I remember his phlegm more than anything else.
My grandfather had a tube in this throat because, I suppose, the combination of his amazing obesity and stunning counter-cultural excesses had ravaged most of his non-artificial bits.
When I was six he was in the hospital and by the time I was eight he was dead, but since I'm the oldest I'm considered the authority on my generation's view of him. My brothers ask me "what was grandpa Angelo like?" and I can't tell them that he sneezed once and snot came out of the hole in his neck, my only real memory of him, and so I tell them that he had a raspy laugh that you felt in your toes which may even be true given that whole throat-tube situation. I don't want to tell them that he had a hole in him, a place that had been cut away to make room for something artificial. That can be what my father tells them; he can report how Angelo had to place a finger over his vent in order to speak. I won't participate in the horror of -that- vision.
My father, actually, won't talk about him at all although what snippets I've been able to gather lead me to believe that my father's childhood may possibly have been even more violent and destructive than my own. This was, after all, before they really had laws about that sort of thing and he can't manage to forgive the man for whatever abuses, real or imagined, happened. I can't really blame him, although I want to.
There are things, though, that don't add up for me. My grandfather lived with us for a time and we had to padlock the refridgerator because he would eat all the food while my mother was at work. This is her story, at least, but my mental calendar shows no room for such a situation. My parents divorced so quickly; did my grandfather live with us even though my father didn't? And yet that must be the way it happened, because we had for years the small village of wooden houses that he made to go around the Christmas tree. It seems that no one liked him and so over the years I've become the champion of a man I can't even really remember out of some need to fight for the underdog.
I scan my memory regularly looking for some image, some memory of Angelo other than that of his tube and his phlegm, but I've never come up with anything. I have a few grainy pictures and I paint my demons on the easel that he used to paint the beach, but for all of that my grandfather might be a figment of my imagination. It's only because in the pictures you can clearly see the tape on his neck holding the plastic in his windpipe in place that I can even be sure that those memories are correct.
In fact, it's because if this lack of memories, I think, that I reflect on him so fondly.

"What are you doing?"
"Looking at the sky."
"But samantha, you're going to run into something."
I sigh, stop walking, and turn to look at William. I've tried to like William, I really have, but he looks like giant walking penis and it's impossible to take him seriously.
"Every time I see you, you're looking at the sky. What's up there?"
"Clouds, William, clouds are up there."
"Oh. I don't get it. Are you looking for shapes?"
I can see Derik walking towards us across the lawn and he's making shooing motions with his hands, encouraging me to get rid of William.
"William, I'm looking at the sky because looking at the likes of you isn't that interesting." I can't help but be terribly mean to him, although I'm not usually an actively mean girl. Something about him brings out the worst in me. "And here's a secret for you: I believe that someday I'm going to run smack into someone else that's looking at the sky. And you know what'll happen then? I'll marry that person."
"But...samantha, you don't want to get married."
"To you, William. I don't want to get married to -you-." I can't bear to continue this and so, before he can answer, rudely cutting the conversation off, I scamper across the crispy grass baking in the September sun and tackle Derik, who for all his faults at least never asks me stupid questions.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

The counter in my bathroom goes from wall to wall, and it is completely covered with girly stuff. By 'completely covered' I mean, well, something less than that, but honestly, there's -lots- of stuff on it. There's a sandcastle, for instance, that I got years ago at the opening week of the Florida Aquarium. It's a castle made of colored sand and it's really quite pretty for being full-on kitsch. There's a smallish wire basket full of eye makeup of varying degrees of disintigration that was supposed to (the basket) go in my shower but sullenly refused to stick. I've got small lotion and big lotion and an unstarted pack of birth control pills. I've got a pink toothbrush and a half-dozen hairbrushes and jewelery and a ceramic angel and, to top it off, a whole photobox full of hair paraphanalia.
Above the counter are -two- medicine cabinets full of perfumes and lotions and creams and salves and all other things -girly-.
I dig this.
In my last apartment I shared a bathroom with Jackie. We had little counter space to begin with and what space there was was generally covered with her things. Pete had more hair products than the two of us combined and so those took up the rest of the counter, leaving space for my toothbrush and toothpaste. Half the reason I liked this apartment so much (ok, well, maybe more like a quarter of the reason) was because of its huge counter, and the fact that I could sit on this counter and put makeup on and revel in my fairly recently awakened sense of femininity.
When it doesn't suck, being a girl is actually pretty neat.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

I have a book called Responding to Film written by Constantine Santas.
When I first started college Dr. Santas was the head of the English Department. I took one of the last classes he taught before his retirement, Romantic and Victorian Literature, and when he told me I had earned an A I threw myself at him to hug him. He was a little man with a thick, thick Greek accent and while he had never known quite what to make of me he knew even less right then.
When Dr. Lidh mentioned that he would be using Dr. Santas' recently published book as the textbook for our Film Literature class, I wondered if it was written in a thick Greek accent. I wondered if the book would chuckle dustily as it made jokes about Caliban and opium.
I wondered if it would be uncouth of me to stop by his house and ask for an autograph.

My first semester of college, I hung out with a bunch of Navy guys. There's a base in Jacksonville and the University of North Florida, where Bethany went to school, was where they hung out. I got a kick out of spending time with squids because my dad had been a squid and so my mom had once done much the same as I was doing, only she was married and not in college.
I live in Washington state now. My whole life, up until, well, now, was spent in sunny Florida. There was a little culture shock when I moved and the sudden lack of close friends promoted an almost unprecidented bout of loneliness, but other than that, I thought I was golden.
But now winter has arrived and I've come to realize that sweaters and long-sleeved shirts really mess with my self-image. You would think that a girl with my history of poor body image would revel in the chance to cover myself up but oh no, it isn't that easy. Turns out that I'm more comfortable with myself when I'm in full view than I am under wraps. I need to form this whole new concept of myself in bulky fabrics, and this is proving to be slightly more difficult than I had originally imagined.
The moral here, my friends, is don't move across the country.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

About three months ago, I thought that I was pregnant.
And of course, I didn't -really- think so because the numbers didn't work out, but underneath that I was convinced. It was like there was a clock that had been ticking inside of my skull for all these years and I've been waiting for it to stop. The problem is that having been abused sexually at such a young age I've had a lot longer to be thinking about these things than most other girls and I've just sort of been waiting, biding my time until it happened. Fortunately, of course, it didn't and life has gone on its merry way. But the minutes that I spent sitting there, alone, waiting to see how many pink lines would show up were some of the longest minutes of my life.
I hope, as I guess we all do, that when that clock finally does stop ticking it's because I've taken out its batteries.

Sunday, December 14, 2003


"I don't get it, Nick, she's so -dumb-. What do you see in her?"
"She's just fragile. I want to protect her."
I suck in my cheeks and try to wilt, willing myself to look fragile. Men have called me many things before, some of them even flattering, but fragile has never been one of them. Nick is one of my best friends and I'm not supposed to want desperately to kiss him, but I do. I won't get to, evidently, because I'm not fragile enough.
"Fragile. What does that -mean-? I could be fragile."
"No you couldn't. I mean, you're too tough."
"Yeah, tough. Like a flower wearing a leather jacket."
Garrett, sitting next to us and silent up until now, decides to chime in. "Like a flower wearing a leather jacket and driving a bulldozer."

Several years later, I made friends with a guy named Ted who would, during conversation, insert the word "rajeele." Finally, unable to figure out what he could be saying, I asked him straight out. "It's 'fragile' without the 'f', kiddo."
Seems as though I can't escape that word.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

I spent my last two years of high school hanging out at a pool hall. I thought that I was really cool, although of course I probably wasn't.

Dan was small and asian, a wrestler, and my best friend's boyfriend. He held a pool stick like he knew what he was doing...but we all knew the truth.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

I adopt other people's speech mannerisms. Inflections, accents, all of it--I make it my own. Around Jeff I hesitate, around Cindy I have to fight not to tack "ified" at the end of everything.

Driving across the country, from the south through the midwest, I discovered hiding in my throat a most pronounced southern accent, one that took days to get rid of once I reached the Pacific northwest.

It is only when talking to myself that I find I am completely rid of any regional flavor, any stuttering tics, anyone else. When talking to myself I find myself to be fluid and articulate, stunningly witty, and fabulous.

I'm beginning to believe I should talk to others less and myself more.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003


"How was it for you?"
"Er. Well. Remember how I said sex was like art?"
" do you feel about those poker playing dogs?"
"Well, I think they're quaint. You know. Especially on velvet."

I've always avoided that question since.

Monday, December 08, 2003

In a tide pool I saw the sky, and I wondered if the fish would be astonished at all of this action happening just on the other side of the water.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

There are some people around whom I talk too much, and my boyfriend is one of them.
This is already the sort of post that I wasn't planning on making here but dammit, this is my blog and I can do whatever I please.
Right. So as a rule I'm super quiet; I'm the sort of girl that stands there and listens and then just when you think you're done talking I'll ask a question that makes you talk some more. But when I get really nervous I become uncool and I can't seem to shut myself the heck up.
This boy is a revolution for me, and I'm pretty sure I like him ever so much more than he likes me. But he isn't the sort of guy that you can say 'hey, why don't you quantify how much you like me' to.

Let me start over. Jeff is the tall silent mysterious type that just makes me go weak in the knees. And if I just liked him physically, if I just wanted to jump his bones and that was it, then I wouldn't turn into such a stuttering wreck around him. But I have a sneaking suspicion that he may be smarter than me and he's certainly much more talented creatively than me and dammit, I'm not supposed to still turn into a sixteen-year-old around boys.
The whole point of this, fundamentally, is that I've finally met my match and it scares the bejeezus out of me. I think he likes me, in fact I'm almost certain that he does, but the thought that he might not still makes me very, very nervous. And so I don't stop talking and I don't know how to say 'you can tell me to shut up whenever you want' without it sounding like I'm fishing for a backhanded compliment.
The real fact of the matter is that I'm almost constantly fishing for any sort of compliment (read:reassurance) at all, and I hate that.
I hate that I've been trapped by the same insecurities that have been trapping women since before anyone even knew how to spell insecurity.
When I was a kid, I always wanted to work in a kissing booth. Not that I'd ever seen one before; I knew them from movies and books, but they always seemed like a cool place to be. People would pay to kiss you and then, if they didn't like it, you'd just be able to say 'well, sucker, that's what you get for a dollar' or something amazingly clever like that.
I imagine that kissing booths died out by the mid-nineties, but it could just be that I don't know what I'm talking about. I always thought that they happened at church gatherings, but as I grew older I started believing that churches tried to outlaw things like kissing, especially kissing for money, and so I wasn't sure.
The fact of the matter is that I'm still not sure, but I don't think I want to work in a kissing booth anymore. I get the feeling now that the sort of people that would pay for a kiss are the sort of people who I would want to pay -not- to kiss me.
I think that probably I outgrew the appropriate age for kissing booths about 10 years ago; now, I'd just be on my way to being a dirty old lady, to being -one of those girls-.

I wonder if the loyal readers of my other blog will locate this one. On some level I hope not, because I hope to be able to write in a different tone here than I do there. Here, I would rather tell stories without any of those pesky trappings of my personality.