Thursday, September 30, 2004

At the beginning of the summer after my senior year of high school, three of my girl friends and I made a bet: that we would not be having sex that summer. The whole point of this bet was to lose it, of course, but we made sure that it was structured so that either way we were winners.
This comes to mind today because the two girls sitting behind me on the bus were having the same sort of frank, highly italicized conversation that we had at the pool hall and Applebees all that summer. The lady sitting next to me, vaguely late-middle-age, was making squeaking breathy offended sort of noises. She was not even remotely as entertained as I was by the discourse happening behind us, but I wanted to turn around and join in.

I don't think that we were rampaging sluts at 16 and 17, we were just healthy teenage girls. We all had standards and expected them to be at least mostly met. Because of course we all lost the bet eventually. The last I heard, one of them was married to her, um, co-loser, and the other one was rapidly approaching that state. Bethany and I reset the bet after we all lost, and she, also last I heard, was living with the second guy. I'm probably the only one that still thinks about it.
Sure, we had big mouths and an uncomfortable habit of discussing our exploits in public places. (And I can't tell you how many times this habit has made me the center of a whole roomful of attention.) We were comfortable with ourselves and our place in the universe in a way that I've never been since.
So I don't think it's fair to turn all huffy at young girls being unfettered and themselves, even in public. Maybe even especially in public. They're the only ones who are brave enough.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Overheard on the bus:

"Do you know what? Do you know what?"
"No, what?"
"That's what you just asked me."
"I didn't ask you anything."
"Oh...are you high?"

Monday, September 27, 2004

The first time I spent any time with Val, she was wearing a vinyl corset and bat wings. We all went out for Chinese food, and when she ordered her dinner in Chinese, the waitress was so startled she almost swallowed her tongue.
I had, of course, met her before at various Symposium gatherings and events. But she was just so intimidating, with her style and her brains and her self confidence. If you'd told me that she was a year younger than me, I'd have laughed at you.
Over the next few weeks I passed a boyfriend off to her, and we all collectively pounced and hauled her into our little group.
I know that I'll brag to you all any chance I get about this girl, about how smart she is and the languages she speaks and the cool things she's always doing. But the thing is that over the last few years our friendship has become a focus of light, and one of the most important things in my world. Not just because her letters have postage stamps from far away places, and not even because I once walked into a room and quickly learned that she had pierced her labia...although these are all important. Val is so, so dear to me just because she's Val, and I don't intend to ever lose her.
Happy birthday, Val!

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Early fall is one of my favorite times of year. Especially here, where the leaves change color and the roads all look like car commercials. The weather makes me feel sassy. It makes me wear short skirts to work and dance around my apartment like a maniac. It makes me want to flirt with bus drivers, touch people on the inside of their knees, make suggestive comments to my female friends, and get another tattoo.

But maybe not today. Maybe today I'll just lay about and watch that Magic Bullet infomercial.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Jeff has got some photos illustrating a sticker art story by Samantha Storey in the Sunday New York Times. Pick up a copy, and ask him to sign it next time you see him.

Friday, September 24, 2004

I'm pretty sure that you are over reacting to something right now.
A little while ago I was sitting at a cafe down the street. I looked out the window just in time to see a large herd of small children run down the hill across the street and turn the corner. I can't even imagine what was going on.
What I was doing at the cafe was writing letters. I write a lot of letters, and I noticed today that almost all of my correspondence by mail is with females. This confuses me a little bit; I have friends on both sides, so why is it only the girls that write? You know, guys, all girls like a boy who writes letters...

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Yesterday's mail brought a whole mess of wedding pictures from the bride herself. The enclosed note mentioned honeymoon pictures as well, and I was a mite concerned because, after all, Sarah is the girl that sent me a postcard from her honeymoon to let me know that she likes having sex. None of the pictures, fortunately, involve her hairy husband wearing any less clothes than I'm used to. (We were a very close household.)

The one that gets me, though, that hits me right in the softest places of my sentimental little heart, is this shot of the two of them right about to exit the church: man and wife for a matter of moments. Jesse just looks relieved that it's over, but Sarah is positively radiant with joy. I've never seen her look so happy as she does here. Looking at it makes me stop and go "oh, so that's what this marriage thing is all about."
Sometimes I'm a little slow on the uptake, it's true, and I've had trouble getting myself around the whole idea of Sarah being married. But somehow, this picture brings it home.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Things, again:

1. My favorite cake is Red Velvet.
2. I like it when boys wear eyeliner and occasional nailpolish, but not foundation.
3. The knee high socks that I bought yesterday actually are almost as high as my stockings.
4. I wear thigh high stockings instead of pantyhose for many reason, one of which is that I hate the word 'panty.'
5. When I play games with dice, I have to count the individual spots to add them up. Something about the spots confuses my already weak mental math skills.

Monday, September 20, 2004

One of my co-workers tells a story about being in China and passing street vendors selling skewers full of scorpions. The vendors, not speaking any English, would hold a stick out to passersby and try to tempt them with the phrase they heard most often: "Oh my god." She says that visiting tourists would pass the carts and hop away from the scorpions in horror, pointing and shouting "Oh my god!" (They would also try to sell postcards with the words "No thank you.") That's what she remembers most from her trip: softspoken Chinese people, saying quietly and without inflection "Oh my god" over and over again, hoping to tempt someone over to their treats.

Someone once gave me a chocolate covered cricket and told me that if I ate it they'd give me money. I talked my brother into eating it, figuring that as long as it got ate I'd still get the cash, but it didn't happen.

This is all to say that there was a bug festival at the Burke museum yesterday, and joined by the adventurous Tara, I went. I like bugs best when they're dead and pinned down under glass.
I could talk for hours about all the things that I saw, but I'll spare you that. I'll just tell you about what I ate: a crunchy mealworm, barbecue seasoned, that tasted like Fritos and a cricket leg (which was sort of pointy and got stuck in my throat). The trouble with what the man cooked is that he mixed them with peppers and onions, and I am not a peppers-and-onions fan. But other folks ate whole bugs, and no one threw up.

I once had a tarantula as a pet, named Ghengis Khan. It escaped, and may still be roaming free across Florida, and looking at one yesterday, I can't figure out how I was ever brave enough to keep it. They're creepy looking. But I guess I was a kid then, and kids are much braver than adults.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

The little boy had a very red sweatshirt and very blonde hair, and was probably no older than six. A policeman and I were both watching him, and we seemed to be the only ones.
I was waiting outside the library book sale for Jeff to finish making his purchases; I'm not a bookseller, and so I only had a few books and they let me cut in line. The way out is through a hanging wall of plastic strips, and it was guarded by a policeman--a real one, with a gun and all. I can't imagine that book buyers are a high crime group, but I guess they do get a little tense.
The boy amused himself for a while with the plastic, running into them face first and all. But that bored him eventually, and so he came outside by me and started walking like a tightrope walker on the parking lumps. The policeman had stepped outside at the same time and was keeping an eye on him. Just before Jeff joined me we made eye contact, the cop and I.
"You'd think someone would miss him eventually," he said to me, gesturing at the kid.
"I imagine they will. He seems to be entertaining himself nicely."
As I walked away, I heard him hop into a puddle.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

My childhood smells like warm oranges and marijuana. It smells like chewable Flinstones vitamins, night blooming jasmine, and overheated speaker wiring. It smells like cheap beer and the sweat that comes from a long night of a roomful of people playing music together. Like hamburgers, like the inside of a motorcycle helmet, like rained-on dirt. Like shampoo, like the newly cracked spines of Dr. Seuss books, like sidewalk chalk.
If I could, I'd make it into a perfume, and then I would be four years old every day.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Everywhere I went downtown today, there was someone with a clipboard asking me if I had voted yet. The first few times I attempted to explain that I did my civic duty the lazy way, via absentee ballot in my living room, but eventually I just gave up and answered "Yes."
I'm pretty impressed by all the hoopla over the primaries hereabouts, though. The last time the governor's mansion was up for grabs in Florida, I'm pretty sure Jeb just reappointed himself. I certainly don't know anyone that remembers voting for him, although then again, that's hardly surprising.
Anyway, the thing is that later today I spoke with my brother Ryan, the one that's 12. He's a funny kid. (This is true: his New Year's resolution for this year was to say "um..." a lot.) When he asked what I did today, I answered almost mechanically "I voted."
"You did?" He sounded impressed. "Who did you vote for?"
"Oh, lots of folks."
"My teacher says that you can write down people you want to vote for if you don't like the people that are there."
"Well, buddy, it's not that easy. I mean, it is that easy, but just 'cause you write them down doesn't mean anyone else will."
"I know, but I would feel better."
"Who would you write down?"
"Sadie [the dog]. She's pretty old and she doesn't say much, so I think she'd do good."
I didn't have anything to say to that, so I changed the subject.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

I went to the outside of the Tacoma Museum of Glass yesterday with Cat and her friend Sameer, who was in town for about a day and a half.

There's very little to say about the outside of the Museum of Glass, because evidently they've removed almost all of the exhibits. But I can tell you that, from what I saw outside, I'm pretty sure that the inside is just chock full of glass. Really.

I had such a good time, glass trees or no glass trees. And that's really what counts.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

At the corner of third and Pine, on a grate, sat four women in black business suits. One of them had her legs stretched out in front of her, tennis shoes on the ends of her black stockings. Everyone was frowning except the lady with the tennis shoes, who was looking sheepish.
I walked a little bit away and waited for my bus. After a while, maybe 10 or 15 minutes, an ambulance pulled up. It parked on our side of the street, facing the wrong way, and all the women except the one with the tennis shoes stood up. The paramedics hopped out and one knelt down next to her.
I meant to pay attention to what happened next, but then my bus came and I went home.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

I bought a little blue electric typewriter yesterday, and the noise it makes seems to fill in the empty spaces inside my skull nicely.
I've named it Esther.
I spent the day thinking about my little typewriter in the hazy sort of way that I usually think about cute boys.

Everything has been difficult lately, and it all became more so last week when my stepmother called to say that my grandmother attempted suicide. She swears now that she didn't mean it but it turns out that 10 or 15 of the 40 pills she took would have done the job nicely, and no one seems to know what to do with either her or themselves. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel.

There are all these echoing empty spots like air bubbles in my brain, and the typewriter noise bounces around inside them and gives them something to do. It makes me happy, and I like the rhythm of words. I can't yet figure out if I like writing letters on it, but that just means I'll have to write more letters to find out.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Going to the zoo is like Where's Waldo or a word search, and I like how friendly people stand together in front of cages and exhibits looking for the same thing and letting everyone around know when they find it. I did my best to make friends with folks at the zoo.

The last time I went to the zoo was around this time last year, and we avoided the butterfly tent for reasons that I'm sure weren't worthwhile. I made sure to stop in this time, and the little girl inside wanted so badly for a butterfly to land on her. It reminded me of when I was small, trying to sit very still in our garden, waiting impatiently in the hope that one of the Monarch butterflies that visited our flowers would settle on me.

One of the zoo employees was standing by the lemurs taking notes. When we walked up she was being questioned by a little girl, and was patiently answering with, "Because this is my job." We pointed out a couple of lemurs behind a screen of bushes grooming each other, and she was pleased that they weren't fighting.
My favorites are always the monkeys.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

We went to the zoo for my birthday yesterday, and I can't even express how many birthday monkeys there were. I'll cover you all with monkey pictures soon enough, but right now all you need to know is that this was so cute it almost killed me:

Friday, September 03, 2004

Today is my birthday, and I am always nine years old.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

A birthday card in today's mail says, "I hope this year brings good things to you: fun, money, monkeys, and a Bush-free White House."

Somewhere, there are friends who know me just as well as I know myself.