Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I flew home last night, over a country full of neighborhoods twinkling like low-flying galaxies from a million million Christmas lights.

Dear Seattle,

I missed you.


Dear All of the Nice Strangers I Met This Week,

It was so nice to meet you all. I really enjoyed making fun of the suburbs/rolling our eyes/throwing snowballs/being glad to go home/talking about cell phones with you. I hope that all of you (and especially the nice couple that offered me a ride home) have a fantastic New Year.


Monday, December 27, 2004

The museum was closed, so we went to the mall.

Thing number 1,943,003 that I Do Not Do Well: Ski. Actually, that's a lie. I could ski just fine, it was the stopping part that I totally failed at. And hey, that's a lie too. I stopped perfectly well once I hit the ground.

Home, home, home tomorrow. Oh how I love going home.

Friday, December 24, 2004

This morning I was in the kitchen putting together a stew for dinner. My youngest brother clomped downstairs and camped out next to the sink, asking, "Are you sure you know how to cook?" Eventually I told him that, you know, I live by myself, so of course I know how to cook. That doesn't make any sense, but he bought it anyway. He certainly inhaled the food fast enough come dinnertime.

I spent most of the day going through boxes that mainly house my porcelain doll collection. It's been wrapped up for the past 10 years, so I felt that the only polite thing would be to send the ones I didn't want to keep for future generations of samantha to other little girls who wanted them. Along the way, I came across a whole box full of stuffed monkeys, a collection of troll dolls, and the stuffed koala my grandfather had in the hospital before he died.
Later, as my brothers bickered and wrestled next to me, I watched video tapes of Christmases past. I find myself haunted by ghosts I didn't know were waiting behind me, but I'm glad that I came.

Now the presents are out and the stockings are filled, and I'm keeping an ear out for the boys, to make sure they're actually asleep and aren't going to sneak down and see the things that should wait until morning.

Merry Christmas, all of you! I love you all.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

When I handed the security check lady at SeaTac my driver's license, she looked up at me and said, "Samantha? You've been chosen!" and she smiled at me like I'd won something on a game show, rather than the chance to be felt up by a strange woman in the name of national security. Every time her wand passed over the rivets on my jeans, it beeped, and she would touch them and say, "Rivets," which actually sounded like "Ribbit."

The man sitting next to me at the terminal, waiting for my first flight, had been rude to everyone that had approached. He'd also been glancing sideways at the magazine I was reading, a science one (because, you know, I'm a big dork), and when I came to an article about weblogs he made a blustery noise and pointed at the page. "These...weblogs. I don't really get it. What do you think? Do you know anyone who writes in one?"
I had to laugh a little bit, because by now I know very few people who don't. "Yeah, in fact, I do."
"What do they write about?"
"Oh, they write about all sorts of things. Politics. Computers. Porn. Themselves. Everyone else."
"Do they enjoy it?"
"I think they do."
"Do people read what they write?"
"What about you?"
"Sure, I read what they write."
"No, that's not what I meant. Do you write in one."
"What do you write about?"
This gives me pause. Do I give him the simple answer, or the complicated one? I've spent most of the last week by myself, pacing, waiting for things to happen. I'm impatient and, admittedly, a little grumpy. "I write about, um, memory."
"I don't understand."
This doesn't surprise me. "Well. You know how, when you have a memory, it's really just a series of images that are vague, with a couple of points sticking out for reference? And then, when you try to put your memory in words, to tell it to someone, it comes out a little different than how you thought it looked in your head? What I do is, I try and find a way to make the words fit. I try to bring my life into focus. I bite my fingernails and try to tell people the contours of the jagged edges. You know. Like that."
He's nodding, and as soon as I trail off, he harrumphs again and moves onto someone else. I'm glad.

At the end of my flight, the pilot says, "Thank you for flying with us. We need your business. I mean, we enjoy your business."

I'm homesick. I enjoy traveling a lot, but there's not a whole lot happening and I'm so bored I might die. I'd love something new and enlightening to occur, but there's really just a bunch of bickering. I miss Seattle, and my quiet.

Next year's perihelion, the yearly near-point to the sun, is happening on New Year's day. On January 1st, 2005 the sun will be 7% brighter than any other time of the year. It hasn't happened on January 1st in a couple centuries. You can laugh at me, but I have to see this as an omen.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

When I was a kid I collected rocks. My favorites were always the ones that looked like plain old rocks, until you tilted them just right in the lights and could see, running along the sides in streams and pools, shimmers and colors. It was like opening a door to a room you know and finding something completely different on the other side.

These days, that's how I feel about flying across the country.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Dear Woman at the Leather Store,

I appreciate the fact that you exchanged my jacket with no fuss at all, which meant that I was actually downtown for about 10 minutes. That was great. And hey, thanks for remembering me too. It's always nice to be remembered. My next pair of leather pants is totally coming from you.
Also, thanks for the hug. I really like hugs.


Sunday, December 19, 2004

I'll be leaving on Wednesday for North Carolina, a few days out of town that I sorely need but still am not looking too forward to. I'm excited about the traveling, about spending time in airports, about interacting with people on a completely short-term basis. I like being a traveler, rather than just plain old samantha.
It does feel a little bit odd to be going to the east coast but not to Florida. A little disorienting. Posting, I imagine, will be sporadic and filled with my brothers. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I've been laid up for the past day and a half with a wrenching headache and my usual thick winter cough. These are both things that I plan to go to the doctor about in January, when life has gone back to being day-to-day and relatively solid. The holidays make things uneven. I haven't been to a doctor in ages, and they always make me nervous.
Eric will be back in town for New Years, for celebrating with Steph and Ryan. Is anyone else going to be in town? Do you want to participate in the drunkenness and debauchery? We love drunkenness and debauchery.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Downtown again today, wanting to give everyone whole bouquets of lucky three-leafed clovers.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

My, word travels fast. Thanks for all the emails and phone would think something tragic had happened. I really, really did cut off all my hair tonight. I hadn't planned on even noting it here, not to mention taking pictures, and yet here I am doing both of those very things.
It's blurry, but that's because I suck at taking pictures of myself. It's somehow less dramatic and punk rock as far as my camera is concerned, but you get the idea. The sudden lightness of my head is astonishing, and I predict that I'll be mostly bald come summertime.

For comparison? Jon has pictures from last night.
His imagination was oversized; if he could wear it on the outside of his body, he would need a size larger than his shoes. "They don't make boxes to fit ideas that big," I told him, but he didn't care. "Then the world will be my box," he answered, and walked out of the room. I watched him walk, admiring his feet and the way they gripped the earth with sureness, as though he knew without thinking that it would continue to hold him up. I was the one that was afraid of sinking into it like warm taffy. He took his stride for granted.

Happy birthday, Alex!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

When I walked into my apartment after work I was assaulted by a wave of cookie smell so thick I almost felt violated. It smelled like I imagine the inside of the witch's cottage from Hansel and Gretel would have smelled--you know, when it didn't smell like roasting children. (Actually, it smelled like the pound of butter that went into Steph's cookies.)

Oh, the baking that went on here last night. Steph made a million butter cookies, and I made oatmeal raisin cookies, gingerbread moose, and fudge. We managed to manufacture Christmas, and my hands smelled like molasses all day long.

Now, of course, my kitchen is still a mess. But it smells awful good in here!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

When I wake up in the middle of the night during the holidays, I lie in my bed with my eyes half closed and make sure the room is free of Rudolph. There are a lot of childhood fears that I've since managed to overcome, but that's not always one of them.

The winter that I was six was when the whole thing started. It was getting close to Christmas; the palm trees were all decorated and the little village of wooden houses that my grandfather had just finished building were carefully set up at the base of the Christmas tree. I woke up late one night--I was always waking up in the night because I was convinced that arsonists were lurking around, ready to burn down our trailer--and glanced at the window. Looking back at me was a giant reindeer with a glowing red nose. I knew that he was Rudolph because of the nose, but I couldn't figure out why he was so huge and standing at my window. Totally stricken with terror, I watched as he jumped through the window and ran out the open door through the hallway.

My mom, of course, didn't believe that it had happened. The glass in the window was intact in a way that it wouldn't have been if an enormous creature had recently jumped through it, and there were no hoofprints in the carpet. But I knew what I had seen.

I don't think I actually believe that it happened anymore. Most days, I know that I was dreaming, although just in case I've slept with both curtains and bedroom door shut. It's late at night that the scene returns to me, and I go back to being a little bit scared.

(PS, pictures of the 2nd annual Seattle Webloggers White Elephant Christmas party are here, courtesy of The Dayments.)

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Thing number 1,736 that I love about Seattle:

It's possible to go from one party, full of attractive people with accents and sugar cookie making (confidental to John: is it even legal to have that many attractive people with cool accents in one house?), to another party, where you don't expect to know anyone, and realize that you have an acquaintance in common with most of the room.

This is doubly cool if you're going to both parties with Cat, who knows everyone in the city.

Seattle is such a small town.

(The bonus here is that everyone at both parties will almost inevitably be really, really nice and funny and smart. Hugs from random strangers are great. One person even asked for a bite of my candy cane.)

Saturday, December 11, 2004

I drove home last night through the dark and rain-soaked streets of my city. Riding shotgun was a series of small sparkly turtles collectively named Eustace and a baby spider plant named Eloise. Folks were talking on the radio, and my car's defroster spontaneously decided to start working again.
Normally, I hate driving. Last night, peeking at windows and smiling at empty storefronts, I didn't mind it so much.

Today I braved the Christmas shopping frenzy to go purchase things for my brothers. Most of the people downtown were wearing some amount of red in their ensemble. Today's sky is so blue it looks fake, the way it only can be in Seattle and other places where blue sky in winter is rare.

Dear samantha,
Please stop buying sandals in winter. You will be tempted to wear them, and your toes will freeze off.


Wednesday, December 08, 2004

I know that somewhere, we are all reflections of the dead man in the street.

I was walking down 4th in Belltown last night, on my way to hang out with the photographers, when I came across an intersection crammed full of flashing lights. I had been walking slowly, crouched against the wind, thinking about phone calls made and not made, received and not received, and not paying a bit of attention to the city around me. I've been up and down the last few days, tired and sometimes a little sad. (I guess it's time that I admitted to you, Internet, that I'm a single girl again, having recently selfishly broken up with a perfectly nice boy.) Just as I noticed the flashing lights and looked up, I stepped past a parking attendant talking to an onlooker. He was saying, " jumped the curb and hit him. Ran into that cement wall. He's still under there."
I stopped walking, and with a faint "Oh, no!" that I didn't even realize I was uttering until it came out, looked across the street. Sure enough, there was a cab on the sidewalk with a crumpled front end and, I could see through the deepening shadows, a man-shaped figure laying underneath. He didn't seem to be moving, and no one appeared to be in a hurry to help him up. There was a crowd milling around, shuffling their feet, flexing their fingers against the cold, and storing up the details to bring home to their families. I did not want to be one of those people, didn't want to know what angle his arms had landed at and what shape the puddle of blood must have been making, and so I started walking again.
Before I had even finished crossing the street, I was annoyed with those people and how they were probably going to walk away from the scene feeling better about themselves because it wasn't them under that cab. How terrible, I felt, how darkly unpleasant.
But a few steps down the block my hat blew off, and in grabbing at it I realized that, right there, I had become one of those people, feeling better about myself because I'd decided that I wouldn't be just like them. I felt that there wasn't any way to stop being those people, because that's how people are.
I'm sorry, everyone, for so often being that sort of folk. I try not to gawk at your tragedies, but now and then my jaw falls open without my noticing it.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Dear everyone,

Hello! Winter is officially here, bringing along with it cold that wants to break off my ears like the poorly attached handles of old coffee cups. I'm feeling the cold less this year--or maybe it's feeling me less. Regardless, I've only recently noticed that it's now December and I'm always shivering. It seems sudden.
I guess you should know that today is this website's first birthday. It marks a whole year of relentless navel gazing, a year of facing two mirrors at each other and trying to make sense of the space in between. A whole year of looking for the bottom and finding only shallows.
I'd like to tell you that, after a year, I've reached conclusions that would let me shut down this vanity project. But that hasn't happened. What has happened is that, in the month that I've been tracking statistics, traffic to this website has double. What is that all about? Who are you people? I find it difficult to believe that a whole bunch of people spend any time at all watching me wiggle my own toes.
That said, I have come to a lot of conclusions lately. I've been trying to reinhabit my own head, to remove television and other distractions, to devolve. I've been spending nights and days back in my books, where I belong--chewing on mouthfuls of words, reading Raymond Carver poetry out loud to myself, squeezing myself inbetween lines and lines of hundred-year-old sentences and sleeping there curled up like a child. I find myself peaceful, and able to blush again.
I find myself.
I have decided to buy myself Nan Goldin's The Ballad of Sexual Dependancy for Christmas, her photo collection that I've been trying to convince myself to buy since I came across her work in 1999. It's all that I want for Christmas. I am contented these days in a way that surely won't last, but which I intend to enjoy fully while it's here. I am--for once--satisfied.
Things, you know, they're going to get pretty crazy for a few weeks. We'll all be running around and being festive, but part of this recent quiet is such an understanding of how important you all are to the good running of my life. Your evenings out and evenings in, your jokes, and your willingness to listen to me are the sparks that light up the darkness. So during this time for parties, you ought to know that I'm thinking about you.


Sunday, December 05, 2004

I was on the bus this afternoon, on my way downtown to see a movie. It feels a little funny to be doing things like that by myself, but since that's a situation entirely of my own making, it's something that I'll be getting used to. I was windblown and slightly curly-haired from all the moisture in the air, in grey with secret purple and green eyeshadow. (The movie that I was on the way to see was Closer, which suited my mood exactly and is extra-recommended if you are also in hidden purples and green eyeshadow.)
The casual observer, on the off chance that anyone was observing, would probably have believed that I was actually reading my Tolstoy. But I wasn't. I was staring idly out the window, thinking about how--as is usually the case--things in the past few weeks have gone in every direction except the ones I'd planned for. Recent interludes have left their marks and certain questions remain tingling in my fingertips until they can be answered. (Yes, Internet, I'm hiding things from you. Certain things belong between a girl and her typewriter, or at least a girl and her girlfriends over coffee.)
But the little girl sitting next to me was not a casual observer. She knew that although poor Ivan Ilytch was to be dying soon, I wasn't particularly interested. She looked up at me and said, "I like to bite my fingernails. What's your name?"
"Samantha's my name," I told her, "and I also like to bite my fingernails. What's your name?"
"Sarah. Is that a good book?"
"It is."
"Then why weren't you reading it?"
"Because I was thinking."
"Oh. I was thinking too."
"What were you thinking about?"
"Ponies." It's just at this interesting juncture that her mother rings the bell for the bus to stop, gathers their things together, and shuffles the girl out the door. I'd like to call after her and ask what color the pony was that she was thinking about, but before I can decide to do anything, the bus pulls away.
And now, you know, I'm thinking about ponies too.

This year's postmodern Christmas tree has officially been constructed. This year, it's made from a chair, the cushion for my porch chair, a copy of "The Age of innocence," my cane, and a stack of old middle school textbooks.
It's decorated with all of the ornaments I've made/been given my whole life, lights, and gasparilla beads.
Music, as per tradition, was The Arrogant Worms album "Christmas Turkey."

(A brief history for those of you not in the know: two Christmases ago I was in my first apartment and desperately wanted a Christmas tree, but couldn't really afford one. Frustrated and depressed, I decided that the thing to do was make one out of things we had lying around the house. My roommates at the time joined in, and we ended up with a pretty splendid tree. At that point, I decided that real trees are for families, and so until I have one I'll just make my own out of whatever I have.)

Saturday, December 04, 2004

I came home late last night from Cat's fondue party with a bag full of gingerbread men and a smile on my face. As I've always suspected, she throws a fabulous party.
Thanks for letting me join in the festivities.

Friday, December 03, 2004

I firmly believe (that's how I believe most things) that lawsuits are usually frivolous, a big waste of time and money.
But I went to high school with this girl, and we were friends, and I hope she wins.
Good luck, Lai. We're all still pulling for you.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

There was a story about an apple that I would tell myself whenever I was a sad teenager. (Ok, I was pretty much always a sad teenager, but fourteen-sixteen seemed to have been the worst years of the bunch, and that's when this happens.) The story was about an apple who was tired of living on his tree branch. So one day this bird lands on the apple's branch, and the apple starts asking it questions about being free and able to go wherever it wants.
The bird admits, at this point, that being free is pretty nice, but he doesn't fail to point out that there's a lot of responsibility that goes along with it. He then leaves the apple alone with its thoughts. The apple thinks and thinks. And eventually, it starts to swing itself, trying to build up momentum enough to release itself from the branch.
The point of this story about the story is that it was always possible to change the ending. If I wanted to, I could let the apple soar free into sunsets, never to be seen from again. The bird would always wonder what happened to that talking apple. Or I could make it smash onto the pavement below, juices mingling with the macadam, crushed. The bird would come back and peck at the broken remains.
And even today I'm not sure which ending I like better.