Monday, May 31, 2004

Driving home down I-5 in the dark, the radio is tuned to a small ballad from the early 40's. It doesn't fill the car completely and so I have to strain a bit to hear it, but even with the strain the sounds are haunting. I am reminded of the twilight zone, of the one with the boy named Anthony who could get whatever he wanted. In the end of that one, you know, the nice lady somehow (my memory is fuzzed) convinces him to stop being evil and they drive away in her car. Behind them on the sides of the road the landscape sweeps into color: Anthony has made the flowers bloom.
It's this part of the episode that our drive reminds me of. We crest a hill and the Seattle skyline comes into view, a sight that never gets old, and I don't even need to look back to know that the hillsides are covered with flowers.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

My brain still generally feels like someone has switched my skull for one a couple of sizes smaller, and I find myself unable to piece together anything to say to you. I realized last night that I'm forgetting what warm nights feel like, and I have the feeling that my trip back to Florida will remind me most unpleasantly of exactly what it's like. In two weeks, I'll be sweating in my green dress at the wedding of these two jokers:

Thursday, May 27, 2004

The thing about spam emails with only one word in the subject line is that I always want to open them. I know that logically, even though it may claim to be about "signature" or "can" or "chieftain," what it's really about is making the nearest penis bigger or refinancing the nearest mortgage. But I'm always paused by the little voice down in the left corner of my head right behind my ear that wonders if it's a secret message.

In the book of children's poems called When We Were Very Young, there's a poem called 'Halfway Down.' As tempted as I may be to quote it for you I won't, because all you really need to know is that it's about a particular stair halfway down that, because it's precisely halfway, isn't anywhere in particular. I was always enchanted by that stair. It was a secret land that I could get to if I could only find the right staircase, and in that secret land no one could get to me. Anyway, the point is that I occasionally get the feeling that all I'm still doing is looking for that stair to sit on, and when I find it I will disappear.

And so what worries me about my constant discarding of spam emails with one word subjects is that I might be missing directions to my stair.
I went by the new library tonight to check it out and take some pictures. While it's true that I am personally not a library fan, I am all for libraries as a concept and, moreover, for other people. Besides, if it's the most important building in a generation, why, I'd be both a chump and a bad art history student to not check it out.
Turns out, I couldn't get in. (First, I misplaced it, so I had to walk an extra two blocks uphill and, me being out of shape and all, that sucked.) The doors were all locked and the building was mostly empty. Now, I know what you're thinking, but it was not after closing time and I was not the only one trying to get in and failing. There were a bunch of police inside and at the front door a lady saw me and came over to leave, I thought, but she was just checking to make sure the door was locked. So I don't have much, but here's what I have for you:

The fountain already has coins and dead flowers and junk in it, so that's all normal.

There is, in fact, a library there.

It looks pretty freaking neat, no matter how much I'd like to dislike it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The first time I saw these guys was in June or July. There were two of them, gigantic, right underneath the I-5 overpass coming back over the University Bridge. I tried and tried to get a picture of them but my old camera, the Vivitar, wasn't good enough quality to zoom that far. Then it appeared in one of the blogger's pictures of the huge ColdK, in his eyes.
But on Saturday I found this. We were on our way to the market, waiting to cross at First and Pine. I looked down to my side, at the trashcan, and there it was. Without thinking I picked it up. It was slightly damp and the sides wanted to splinter in my fingers. My friends jumped back, concerned that I was picking things up from trashcans. But I dropped it neatly into my purse and started babbling out the history of my graffiti watching in my excitement.
It's almost like the holy grail.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

I was interested to find that the mannequins at the Bon are really just painted ladies.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Facts Vol. 2:

1. My favorite color is blue.
2. My blood type is A+.
3. My favorite movie is The Princess Bride,
4. I have never left the country.
5. My father looks like Stephen King but isn't.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Fingers bitten and bleeding, I wait, stretched tight like a half-skinned rabbit, for the all-clear sign that tells me everything is ok and I can return to breathing.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

In case you've been hiding under a rock recently, I feel that it is my duty to inform you that summer is nearly here. Stockings are coming off, hemlines are getting shorter, coats are being stuffed back into closets. This is all very exciting.

Summer in Florida is brutal. The temperature tends to peak in the high 90's and the air is so stuffed with moisture that the locals grow gills in order to breathe. There is seldom a breeze and every day at 5:00 the skies open up and let loose a biblical deluge that serves to make things steamy.
I never dressed for the weather. My ex stepfather had slimy eyes and sticky hands, and I would cover myself with as much clothing as I could stand to keep them from coming in contact with my skin. Some things are harder to wash off than others, and so I was always in jeans and my only concession to the heat was my tanktops, usually covered by my crossed arms or a sweater clutched in my hands.
My celebration of summer clothes has been slow coming, and it's been but a few years since I once met Nate in a parking lot in July wearing jeans and a long-sleeved polyester shirt. But slowly my skirts have been getting shorter and my shirts thinner; I've been letting everything closer to my skin. And so I begin to think that every summer is another victory over so many years of misplaced hands and sweat.
Summer in Seattle is the best, anyway, because it's so nice.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

When I was a kid, Sunken Gardens felt like three steps from Paradise. There were trained parrots around every corner, sheltered in nooks lined with Hibiscus flowers the size of my head. Cartoonists sat in those nooks, prepared to draw caricatures of me with a big head and a curvy body that I'm still waiting for. When my parents divorced in 1986 I refused to speak to my father for a year; rather unfairly, I blamed it all on him. After we reconciled he couldn't afford to take me to Busch Gardens or Disney, and so we would go to Sunken Gardens where he would put tropical flowers in my hair. I always thought that I would get married there.

I see by the website that they've revamped the place, made it a model garden. I suppose that this is a good thing, since the last I remember hearing, locals were fighting against closing it. Romantically, I would have preferred that they let it fall to ruin so that in a hundred years people could rediscover it and find behind those big doors a riotous Eden.

Really, though, they probably would have paved it and made it into condos.

My final visit was in 1988. I was growing restless with the place, with its lack of excitement. I would rather have had roller coasters over serene pink flamingoes, who just stood there stupidly on one leg. But I was still mostly enchanted; the beauty of the place seeps into your bones and makes it impossible to tear away completely. The entrance and exit for the gardens were two giant wooden doors reached by a bridge that ran over a fish pond. The fish in the pond were monstrous goldfish, and I was always on a harried quest to find the perfect spot on the bridge from which to feed them. I can't say what the perfect spot would have had; all I know is that I couldn't find it. But on that last trip, on our way out, I just had to try one more time. I didn't know at the time that it would be our last trip, though...It was just one more chance to feed the fish.
And so with a fistful of fish food from the fish food machine I hunted the bridge for the Spot. And I found it. I settled myself in, leaning against the rail, throwing pieces of food down one at a time. There was a creak behind me, and one of the huge doors swung open and hit me right on the back of my big fool head, tossing me into the water.
The largest problem with the whole situation was that I had not released my handful of tasty fish nuggets when I fell. And so I landed in the neck-deep water with my fist tightly clenched. The goldfish immediately swarmed around me, pecking lightly at my fingers, trying to open them. I was terrified; I've always been a small girl, and so the fish were almost as big as I was. I thrashed about, shrieking. The two old ladies that had opened the door on me were gabbling anxiously against the railing, looking down at me, yelling for help. My father, also on the bridge, laughed so hard that he had to sit down on the wooden planks. But after what seemed like an hour and was likely only a few minutes, he got up and fished me out. He reassured the crowd that had gathered and took me off to his nearby girlfriend's house to dry off.

I know it must seem like I am always falling into or over things, and maybe I am. But I regret now that I never went back to Sunken Gardens. I was sure that everyone that worked there remembered me as the girl that fell in the fishpond, and that was not something that I was prepared to deal with. At six years old, the whole world is watching is.

And I'm always watching the fish.
Even at the risk of having to reciprocate, I couldn't find it within myself not to go for Dylan's question game. Far be it for me to pass up a chance to talk exhaustively about myself. Herewith:

1. You dis Florida a lot. Say something nice about it... or if you can't, say something nice about Jeff.
I was really, really tempted to say something nice about Florida and dis Jeff, but then I remembered that he knows where I live, so skip that. Florida, outside of the bigger cities, is often overwhelmingly beautiful. Really. If I had only ever seen pictures of it, I might want to move there. And Jeff is better than chocolate chip cookies.

2. Fess up to your guiltiest musical pleasure.
I am a gigantic Billy Joel fan. You know, not so much in his later(car crashing)years, but earlier. The first three volumes of his "Greatest Hits" albums seem to be providing a slow soundrack to my life...they always pop up at significant moments, without any poking from me.

3. If your life was a TV show, which network would show it... and at what time? Would the reruns be syndicated, and if so who would show them and at what time of day?
I have not watched television in many, many years, but I like the idea that I could be my own HBO series. I'd want to be at dinner time, and I'd want my reruns on at 2 am. But HBO a network?

4. After a year in Seattle, is there anywhere you haven't been in town that you'd like to see?
I haven't been to the SAM yet, mostly because I tend to hate going to museums with people.

5. You have a year to live and a big wad of cash. Where would you move to enjoy your remaining days?
I'd spend a couple months here and there...New York, England, Paris, Moscow,Thailand....a couple months wandering aimlessly around middle Europe and the Adriatic...and I'd die in Italy.

And the rules...

THE RULES: (see?)
1. leave a comment, saying you want to be interviewed.
2. i will respond; i'll ask you five questions.
3. you'll update your website with my five questions, and your five answers.
4. you'll include this explanation.
5. you'll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Here is the long-awaited bridesmaid's dress:

(My carpet is not really this green, sadly.)

It's quite a bit too big, which was pretty much a relief...after all, it'd be pretty embarrassing to be the smallest bridesmaid but to be too big for my dress.

Also, hooray for Tom and Rachel, who have taken their status as one of the most fabulous couples I know by getting engaged on their vacation. (This was not quite the descriptive announcement I've been hoping for, but I Couldn't Keep It In Any Longer.)

And my final bit of housekeeping here is that so far I'm not so much thrilled with the new blogger...but we'll keep looking around and see what happens.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

A couple of years ago, Sarah, Jesse, and I were lost and hungry in Jacksonville. This was not an unusual state of affairs; Sarah and I have an astonishing talent for getting lost wherever we go, and we were always hungry. We decided that we would stop to eat at the first place we saw that offered food, which turned out to be a nondescript building with a sign that said "Chinese Food."
We dug this, because we ate a lot of Chinese food as it was.
So in we walked, and found ourselves at one end of a large room decorated entirely in shades of yellow and yellow-brown, a room that suggested that at any moment a crowd of 1970 Rotarians would come in, clear the tables, and have a dance. There was no decoration on the walls, not even a framed picture of a pagoda. Nothing. The place was entirely empty, and so we were a bit surprised when the hostess, a miniscule Asian woman, led us to a table smack in the middle of the room. We looked over the menu, made our choices, and eventually sat our menus on the table and waited, staring at our hands, for the waitress to appear. She did, eventually, and she was at least six feet tall and blonde; she looked more like a ranch hand than she did a waitress at a low-end Chinese joint. She took our orders and left, at which point we noticed a crowd of employees, all closely resembling our hostess, crowded around the kitchen door, whispering and pointing at us. Do you remember that scene in Hellraiser 3 when the doors slam shut at that club and hooks and chains appear from the ceiling and shred the people inside? We began to feel a bit like something resembling that was about to happen. But it didn't. Instead our food arrived and it was terrible, but we ate it, wondering all the while if we were being fattened up for serving to the next poor suckers that came through the door.
When we finished and the waitress came back to remove our plates, she asked if Sarah was the daughter of Jesse and myself. Now, I don't even look my own age, not to mention old enough to be any body's mother. And though Jesse looks a bit older, neither one of us could possibly have produced Sarah. But she insisted, and we finally agreed.
We kept our fortune cookie fortunes, just in case they vanished after we left. We wanted them to, wanted to prove that we had just dined on the edges of the twilight zone, but they stayed put. We had to make do with driving as fast as we could to the first chain restaurant we could find.

The neighborhood that I live in here in Seattle is more of a business district than it is a residential one. It has restaurants, but they're more the type you go to with your co-workers once a month or have drink with the boss at. They're not so much having a beer and a burger type places. But Jeff came over and was hungry, so we took a stroll to see if anything was appetizing. There's a little Italian place that I've never tried and so we went there. It has the atmosphere of a steak house from my grandparent's time, and the music has a suspicious salsa beat. The hostess, platinum blonde, heavily made up, and older than my mom reminds me of those women who as children were in beauty pageants until one day they lost, and their whole life has since pivoted on that day. All of our lives pivot on something, it's just that most of us switch focal points a few times in our lives. My tomato-cream soup may very well have had lumps of gelatin in it and Jeff's pasta was just as unappetizing. At the table behind us, the woman said "you should really think before you open your mouth." The place reminded me of that Chinese joint in that parallel universe, and we've agreed never to go there again.

Monday, May 10, 2004

If I am to give a speech at the wedding, I must mention:

That Sarah nearly drove off the road during the song "Jesse's Girl" before they were officially together
Stubble in Jesse's drink
The elaborate preparations Jesse went through in order to tell Sarah he loved her (but not that it rained)
Road flares
That Jesse made all of our boyfriends look like chumps because he was -so romantic-, but that we were secretly all glad that they weren't since only a superhuman like Sarah could live up to it
Wasabi-covered peas
That I know where the honeymoon is and Sarah doesn't

I must not mention:
Jesse's chest hair or nipple piercings
That he lived with us and sometimes wears eyeliner
David Duchovney
Lord of the Flies, the musical or the Count of Monte Cristo drinking game
That time I almost had to bail Jesse out of jail and the little tart that caused it all
Where the honeymoon is.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

The bookstore in the U-District has been closing for at least a month, but now it looks like it's finally limping towards the final stage. The shelves are mostly empty, and what books are left are mostly disordered and thrown about. Jeff heads to the back, to the corner that smells like kitty litter and all the contents therein, in search of Marco Polo. I'm just along for the ride, and so I dawdle near the front to take in the scene.
It's an interesting crew. A young boy and an old man sit next to the last shelf of "Literature A-H" playing chess. A cute guy with curly hair sits behind the desk, near the cash registers, goofing with a little girl. They're messing with a magenta shawl, wrapping her up with it, covering her eyes. But it's the guy on the couch that really catches my attention. He's an older man with graying hair and beard, and he's asleep. He's also snoring. There's what looks to be a mass market mystery/suspense book open on his chest to the last few pages. Covering him gently is a quilted green and white blanket. It's not an average quilt, though. It looks like it belongs to the bed of a little girl; it's very frilly and feminine. I wonder about him, wonder about what he's doing there and where his blanket came from. But I don't wonder enough to wake him up, and ultimately I really hope he had a nice nap.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

My best friend reveals a previously unknown, kinkily sadistic facet of her personality just weeks before her wedding:

Sarah: Oh yeah, and Rockne said to tell you hi.
Samantha: Oooo, Rockne. I would have given my liver to have my way with him in the library once upon a time.
Sarah: Your liver?
Samantha: Well, someone's.
Sarah: Samantha and Rockne, in the library, with the rope? snicker
Samantha: With Tom Toast.
Sarah: giggling Hey, that reminds me; remember that time Amanda dared me to say her name in the heat of passion?
Samantha: I remember hearing about it later...
Sarah: Well, Jesse and I were talking about it the other day.
Samantha: I imagine Jesse was thrilled.
Sarah: Not so much. Well, I asked him what he would have done if I had said a boy's name instead of a girl's.
Samantha: And?
Sarah: He said, "cried."
Samantha: And rightly so.
Sarah: So I've been thinking about trying it...
Samantha: Aren't you supposed to remain pure and virginal and without thoughts of another man, even an imaginary one, until after the honeymoon?
Sarah: Well, probably...but wouldn't that be the funniest thing?

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Something slightly more than five years ago, Eric and I decided that as soon as we graduated from high school we were going to move to Seattle. We had it all planned out: we would find ourselves a gigantic loft apartment with big windows that looked over the water and green vines that climbed up the side of the building. We would have a couch and some big pillows and our bedroom would be red. Neither one of us had ever been here before.

Something around two years ago, Pete and I decided that as soon as I finished college we were going to move to Seattle. We didn't have it all planned out, but we were going to move anyway. We had never been here before, although we visited the October before I moved. Then we were sure we were going to move here. We were going to live in Capitol Hill and do something cool to become famous.

A year ago, I moved here. I haven't done much that's important, but I'm here anyway. Eric is in San Juan, California and Pete is in LA.
I think I got the better end of all of it.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

This time last year, I was heading out of Montana after experiencing the wonder that is huckleberry soda.
(And buffalo burgers, which were less than wonderful.)

Sunday, May 02, 2004

A few minutes ago I was digging through my filing cabinet and pulled out a note dated 2-3-95. It's folded in that complicated way that all schoolgirl notes are folded, with a little tab to pull to open the whole thing up. Now, I keep everything, and so as a consequence my filing cabinet is a virtual treasure trove of embarrassment. I have tried, in my filing system, to separate my Adult Things (tax forms, credit card stuff, and such) with the detrius of my adolescence. But sometimes there is a crossover and bits that had been tucked inside other things make themselves known.
But back to the note.
In rounded, girly handwriting, it says:
Hey, I wanna call a truce. Please be friends with me. I'm not joking. I was the one who wrote the letter but it wasn't my idea. I won't name names though. The reason I was mad at you was because someone (I can't say who), said you where talking about me behind my back. I don't now if it's true but I wanna put it all in the past. I'm sorry I lead you on like that and I wont do it again. Maybe I'll C-ya around.
(heart) Alexis
PS sorry so sloppy and I'm not kidding."
Letter? Oh yeah...

I had a bottom locker that year, in the middle of the seventh grade hallway. One day, apparently in late January, I opened my locker and a folded piece of paper fell out. This wasn't unusual, since my friends often pushed notes through the vent slats in between classes. I opened it and found, to my astonishment, a (poorly spelled) note from a secret admirer asking me to meet him outside the school store after lunch. Angry, I crumpled the note into a ball and went to class.
After all, I had no illusions about myself. I was short and I had bad hair. I was nearing the end of my obsession with brightly colored leggings but hadn't quite moved on. I had big purple glasses that covered half of my face, and the other half was nearly always covered by a book. I was The Ugly Girl, a huge dork, and while I wasn't too thrilled with that I had accepted it as the natural order of things. Up until right before that letter I had had any number of friends, people who told me all of their secrets because they figured I didn't have anyone around to repeat them to. I wasn't particularly happy, but Ugly Girls aren't entitled to be happy, so I always left it at that. But then someone started spreading rumors about me and my friends all drifted away.
I also knew that in the seventh grade gossip that a boy liked you got to you sooner than the boy himself did. I was friends with all the boys and had heard no such thing on either sex's grapevine, so I dismissed the whole thing as a cruel joke someone was playing on me.
So I didn't go to meet my mysterious note sender, and as it turns out that I was right: Alexis, the vindictive harpy, had heard from someone who had heard from someone that I had called her a bitch. And so she set out to make life miserable; which, of course, she did. She stole all of my friends and tried to make me think that a boy liked me.
It's fortunate that I was smarter than her or the whole thing would probably have stung even more than it did. But then, being smart and friendless (a common condition, but not one that I wanted to join in on) is really not much of a trade off when you're 12.
And it may not be very grown up of me, but I still hope she has 15 kids now and lives in a trailer in Homestead.
I broke a glass today, the first since I acquired them (and moved here) a year ago. It wasn't a spectacular break, I didn't smash it and make my kitchen a hazard for the next three weeks. I was just washing the dishes and bumped the thick base of another glass against a fault line. A small chunk fell out from the top and I quickly washed it down the drain. I held up the glass to appraise the damage, to see if maybe I could continue to use it, but it was cracked all the way down the side.
And so now I no longer have a full set.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Looks as though spring has finally, you know, sprung.