Sunday, February 29, 2004

Even the people we love most change into someone we don't know at all.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

In something less than four months, my best friend will be getting married. (This is a subject that is going to be much-hashed for the next few months, both here and in the livejournal, so just get out your easy chairs and lay up some snacks, kids.) Now, I go to lots of weddings: at least one a year, and sometimes up to eight. Mind you, these are weddings that I've been invited to, not even ones that I've been forced to gate-crash due to cake withdrawl or a dramatic lack of the electric slide. But Sarah is the first person I've known since I was four feet tall that I'm not related to who will be, you know, taking the Pepsi challenge. (Single or Married? Tastes great or Less filling?) And, childishly, I'm just not prepared for all the responsibility involved in having a married best friend. Buying couple gifts, remembering to inquire about the state of Jesse's backhair...these are changed that I'm just not prepared to deal with.

On an even more selfish level, there's the fact that for the past several years I've realized that Sarah is the sort of person that I've always wanted to be. She's that girl who remembers the gardener's birthday and bakes cookies for other people's grandmothers when they're sick. She handmakes all her cards for Christmas, Valentines Day, birthdays, Halloween, and, you know, Tuesdays. When I was rejected from grad school and sick with the despair, she bought me a plant with small yellow flowers and told me to pretend it was the dog that I wanted so badly. I've never met a person who didn't like her, and somehow I get to be lucky enough that she likes me as much as I like her.
Oh, I haven't always wanted to be Sarah. When we were twelve being uncool wasn't cool yet, and I wanted to be like someone much more glamourous; Claire Daines, likely, at that point. But now I want to be just like her, and so this marriage thing perplexes me. I have yet to see if I can even keep this myrtle tree of mine alive, and so the thought of sustaining a marriage is a terrifying prospect. Some day, certainly, but can't we start smaller? I'm distressed that we've reached the point in our lives in which it is possible to go somewhere that the other can't follow.

And of course, I'll have to give speeches: one at the rehearsal dinner and one at the reception. All jokes aside ('they're 20 minutes long each, and total they mention you twice and Jesse once') I'm just not prepared. How do you encompass not only ten years worth of friendship but a whole universe of love and respect? Oh, I'll do it; it's one of my duties as the tacit maid of honor. And I'll probably cry. And then I'll probably drink a lot from my hip flask, since it's a dry wedding. But it's not going to be easy.

Not for any of us.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Today felt like spring.

(Although this is from South Dakota last April.)

Saturday, February 21, 2004

When I was very small, my mother grew plants. To me, this was as much an occupation as her day job, and when people would ask me what my mom did I'd tell them she grew plants. It was her passion, or as close to one of her own as my mother ever got.
One of the plants that she grew was aloe. Aloe plants of varying sizes were scattered all along the perimeter of our trailer, and whenever I would fall and scrape something she'd tell me to break off an aloe leaf and rub it on my wound. I would, and the sting would ease, and so as a matter of course and fairly logical thought I came to see aloe as a magical healing agent. Headache? Rub aloe on my forehead. Wasp sting? Aloe please. If I had severed a limb, I would likely have tried to stem the blood flow with an aloe leaf, or maybe two.
(As an aside, I developed my own art to breaking off the leaves. If I did it wrong the tough outer skin of the plant would protrude farther than the soft, gooey inside and it would irritate my cuts further. I had to make up a special aloe grip.)
I've never been a big fan of modern medicines, and I blame this to some extent on my complete belief as a small child of the healing powers of plants. I don't take aspirins or pain killers or, if I can help it, antibiotics.
But I'm a bit concerned: I haven't seen an aloe plant anywhere in Seattle yet.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

From a very early age my dog Sadie was deeply suspicious of the vacuum cleaner. She would charge it from the side, hoping to use the element of surprise to her advantage because she rarely barks. This never worked; the vacuum kept on keeping on, regardless of her attempts to make it stop.
And then one day we bought a vacuum with a special dog grooming attachment. The two were introduced by dint of force and though wary at first Sadie eventually became a fan of the new equipment. She would run up from the side still but you could tell by the height of her tail that she was enjoying herself.

The sad part, of course, is that eventually that vacuum was disposed of, and I could never explain to the dog what had happened. She continued her sideways attacks, ever hopeful that we would wave her over, but we never did. Fortunately, I don't think she ever held it against us.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

It's time for a late(ish) post-theatre Thai meal. It's about 10:30 and so we're seated immediately, at a two-person table that has a heart-shaped balloon in a vase. Across from me, behind Jeff, are four people that I assume, it being Valentine's day, are two couples. The two girls get up to go to the bathroom and the two men, who have evidently never met before, bond instantly.
The one closest to us starts telling the story of how he and his companion started spending time together:
"The fifth or sixth time I left my wife I went down in the basement just to get away from her for a minute, man. And so she calls the cops, tells them that I'm acting funny and scaring her. So they come down--"
"Yeah, they have to do that."
"Yeah. So anyway, I'm barricaded in the closet and she calls. And I tell her I'll call her back when I get out of the closet and talk to the cops. And she's cool with that."

He talks about his first wife, and how she gained 50 pounds right after they were married, "like, 12 or 14 pounds a month!" But what pisses him off the most is that the reason they were divorced is because, after gaining all of this weight, she cheated on him. I'm proud of her.

His second wife, the last one, gained too much weight when she was pregnant.

This leads the other guy to start talking about how -his- last wife turned his hair grey.

My favorite part is when one of them says "I've been like this my whole life, I was like this when you met me."

Eventually, after more male bonding than I ever wanted to be witness to, the girls come back. It is at this point that I realize that the conversation they were having in the bathroom was probably equally as interesting, and I'm sorry I missed it. Jeff had the same thought: "When I heard that starting, I wanted to hear the other side. I was going to tell you to go to the bathroom and see."
But I think I know how that discussion went, and I'll bet that both of those guys got laid last night.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

I spent what felt like a whole year at parties that smelt like small boys had been lighting ants on fire with damp matches. I was on a search, a search for men with track marks and heart tattoos that would sweep me up in their burly infected arms and take me to a place where perfection wasn’t even an option. Everyone else expected me to be something more than nature, an artificial girl without a spine. With these people, I could be the opposite of what everyone else saw. I could be tough and angry, and I could fondle the cigarettes that I was too young to be smoking suggestively. I could be, like we all were, rebellious.

And then one day, I remembered the first time I got close enough to a firefly to see that it wasn’t something beautiful, that I was just caught in the middle of some buggy mating dance. And I remembered how satisfying it had been as a kid to drop a plate when I was mad, just to hear it smash, because there were other plates just there in the cabinet that we could use. I thought about how there were flowers that bloomed in the artificial day of the nuclear explosions, and that they once made the snow inside snow globes out of grated up bone.

I discarded the mask of the child and walked back out into the sunshine.

I wish your hands could tell me what your voice won't.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

When I was fourteen, I took my first two classes at the local community college. As I've gotten older and met more people I've seen that this isn't very unusual. I'm not sure if it's because I just know lots of smart people or if it really is that common to start college and high school at the same time, although I imagine that it's the latter. Regardless, though, at fourteen I was most certainly the only other person I knew that was voluntarily going to school during the summers.

I thought it was great. In my other life, my high school life, I was taking English, Math, and History. In college I could take things called Ancient Greek History, Western Civilizations, and Philosophy. They rolled off the tongue better, they tasted better, and they made me sound older and more sophisticated. My high school friends were going to football games and the mall while my college friends were hanging out at coffee houses, playing the guitar, and growing facial hair.

Since I had long before mastered having a double life during my previous brief experiments with drugs and straight-A's, I decided I could handle college and high school without trouble. And I did, too. It felt like cheating, like I was getting the good stuff after the torture of high school beforehand. But then I graduated from high school and went to a real college full time, and found that my special, superior feeling was gone. I was just another one of the sheep.

So I did what any one would have done: I accelerated my degree and got the heck out of school. And so I have landed here in Seattle with no more school and a terrible job, and I think that it's possible I just did everything backwards, or at least sideways.

Life's funny, and it's much, much smarter than me. So it's a good thing it's in charge. Somewhere, things are going to work out just fine.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

I did a small amount of research today, and it turns out that I am even farther out of the blogging loop than I had originally believed myself to be.

This is not much of a surprise. Since I first heard it, I've been squeamish about the term "blogger" because, at least partly, it reminds me of frogger and he often got run over by cars, drowned, and eaten by alligators. Beyond that, though, I'm very much the technophobe. I have long been uncomfortable with machines, and computers are no exception.

I have troubles with my wrists and so I used a typewriter for writing school papers from a young age. I loved the typewriter, the noise that it made, and I would rock back and forth to the music from my words. But correction tape was expensive and often messy and just generally inconvenient and so I reluctantly made the move to the computer. I had a brief but intimate relationship with the internet (the embarrassing results of which are, in the grand tradition of the web, still floating about somewhere) but it was more experiment, more testing the waters.

It was only a matter of time, though, until my exhibitionistic side made its way out and I started my livejournal. It wasn't a serious project; I saw it as something sort of like a telephone. But then I moved to Seattle and, not knowing a soul, found myself in need of someone to talk to. And being the only one I knew I was the only one to talk to and, well, you see what's happened. But I'm still uncomfortable calling myself a blogger, and in fact I avoid the word whenever possible. Like nearly everything else I've ever tried, the people around me seem to be much more serious than I myself am, and it turns out once again that there's a whole universe I wasn't aware of.

And really, it seems that even when I've quit leaving places to find other worlds, other worlds keep showing themselves to me. I make a poor intrepid explorer, with my weak wrists and unsensible shoes, but it seems as though I've appeared on your doorstep regardless.

Hello there.
We sat around a round table in Applebees, our hangout, ate chocolate cake and were willfully single. Valentine's Day 2000 was not about the boys (and girls) that we were running after or away from, it was about that peculiar sort of love you share with the people that have experienced adolescence with you. It was about chocolate cake and vodka and stories that end with "and we never saw him again." Relationships were not an issue; who wanted, after all, to have to carry a balloon and flowers around school all day?

The best holidays, the best days, are not ones marked by consumer goods and Hallmark. We knew this at seventeen and I know it now, although I sometimes forget. They are the ones where you realize, looking out over the void, that because you are a lucky loser there is someone, some others, standing next to you on the edge, and they are holding your hand.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

When Ryan was very small we called him "scooter" because although he would go to sleep laying stretched out like you would expect, by morning he would be bunched up in the far corner at the top of his crib. He had huge dark blue eyes and dimples: one that was visible all the time and another that only came out when he smiled.

Emotional like his mother, he often threatened to jump out of the window of our one storey house. My father and I, essentially unconcerned, would tell him to go right ahead.

Almost a month ago, he turned 12. I watch him like a science experiment, like a petrie dish full of mold. I'm not sure what's going to happen next and if it's going to be fatal to those around him.