Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Several years ago, my mother gave me a can. It had a tab on the top and supposedly hid a spoon inside of it, and it was full of tuna. And pineapple. And red and green peppers. Just looking at this list on the label made me want to vomit, but I took it home. I'm not sure where she got it from, but her reasoning for giving it to me was that some of my roommates were boys, and boys will eat anything. (Part of my reasoning for taking it was that some of my roommates were boys, and boys will eat anything when drunk, and how fun would it have been to tell them the next morning what they had consumed?)
So I brought it back and introduced it to the family, and they enthusiastically accepted it as a pet. We had such plans for it--we would take it everywhere with us and give it a place in weddings and mail it around the country in some complicated joint custody arrangement. It was the perfect pet. It didn't eat or smell, involved no pet deposit, and wouldn't die of hypothermia like the fish had. We placed it grandly on top of one of my speakers where it would wait for a new, fantastic home.

Except that something happened. The stuff evolved. I walked in one day and discovered that it had burst the bonds of its can and was oozing down the sides. It was coming for me, but I'm a quick thinker. I ran into the kitchen and wadded up three plastic bags, then snatched up the stuff and headed for the door. A moment later and I was hurling it with considerable force into my neighbor's trashcan. I stood a moment, catching my breath, and then made for the telephone.
"That stuff you gave us exploded from its can and leaped at me, going for my throat."
My mom was confused. "What?"
I calmed down. "That pineapple thing. It left its can."
"Samantha, things just don't leave cans. Something must have happened to it."
"This did. Are you trying to kill us?"
"Not currently..."

It was a few hours later that I looked down at the stereo, preparing to change the song, and yelped. My roommates crowded through the doorway, and we all stared, grossed out, at my speaker. There was no crusted pineapple bits, no soggy pepper. There were just a few spots where the top couple layers of paint and plastic had been eaten away. I fished around on my desk for a '78 Records' sticker and covered the scorch marks. We rarely talked about it again.

But I've been thinking, and I wonder more and more lately if maybe the stuff hadn't exerted some sort of psychic control over my mother. Maybe her conversion from rock star to Jehovah's Witness had less to do with her new marriage than I originally thought. Maybe, you know, the tuna made her do it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Eric's head is bigger than the rest of his body. When he runs anywhere his head gets their first, and when he was younger the sheer weight of it would often drag him down. He is addicted to cheese but cut off because his body can't process the calcium and so it builds up in angry maroon stripes under his skin. He once had a bone growing out of his ear and he also once got so angry at his brother that he bit a hole in the middle of our living room wall. Not all the way through, mind you, but a hole nonetheless.
I was nearly 12 when Eric was born, and everywhere he went he was mistaken for my child. I was proud of him, of how cute he was, but I also didn't like boys and was never going to get married. He was sickly and I guarded him fiercely. I wonder most days if I raised them well.

Eric is my youngest brother, and he's 10 today. 10!

Happy Birthday, Elvis!

Sunday, June 27, 2004

My neighbors are having a cookout on their balcony:

"They broke up?"
"Yeah, a week or so ago."
"But who got what was in, you know, the closet?"

I'm practically short circuiting from speculation. The closet?

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Bottles. Bottles, bottles, bottles.

I live on a hill, and at the bottom of the hill lives a very dumb scottie dog. It tries to bark at me whenever I go up or down the hill, but most of the time it misses and barks instead at a spot I've already left.
You should all know here that I want a dog most desperately. My landlords, though, don't really care (and even if they did I'm probably not home enough).

So. Several days ago I was walking up my hill after work. The scottie dog at the bottom of the hill was barking, but I was already past its house and almost to mine. I glanced over at the house across the street (they're always having a party there) and this gigantic dog was standing at the edge of their yard, staring intently down at the scottie. I stopped and looked at it and it flicked its head towards me, but quickly faced back down the hill. 'Gee,' I thought, 'that's a big dog. I should take a picture of it.' I opened my camera and raised it, looked at the screen to zoom, and there was no dog there. I lowered it, and the dog was back. I froze. I wasn't sure if I was hallucinating the dog or if it was some sort of monster dog, but neither option was one I was very fond of.
Fortunately, when I raised the camera again it was there, and I snapped a picture. But it worries me that some days I get pretty close to losing my mind.

Friday, June 25, 2004

In the south people ask me where I'm from, and in the north they ask what I do. Of the two, I much prefer the first, because the second is still embarrassing.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Dear Dancing Boy That Stood in Front of Tara:
Your joy at seeing Mike Doughty play last night was adorable. I was sorry for all of us, but especially you, that the seven-foot-tall man refused to spend the show on his knees--and I was glad that you finally found your way closer to the front. I think you should have head butted that tall man in the kidneys. I would like to hire you to stand in a corner and dance like that at all of my parties.
Thank you for not speaking in tongues or in other ways letting your religious experience completely overwhelm you. Tara and I would not have picked you up off the floor.
Yours Truly,

Dear Mike Doughty's Head and Shoulders:
Thank you for writing lovely songs made of lyrical nuggets that I would like to tie up with ribbons and give to all my friends. Thank you also for coming to Seattle playing a show so good it made a roomful of grumpy Seattleites get down and boogie--or at least nod their heads and move their upper bodies.
Were you wearing pants? I couldn't see down past your elbows--your crowd of followers is much taller thank I. (One of them is a bald giant who stood directly in the way of a dancing boy that was praying to you. I mean it. Praying.) I would suggest that the next time you elevate yourself above the stage some more. I noticed, during all of my neck craning, that there were some hooks and loops on the ceiling. Possibly you could suspend yourself from them? I advise this only because there were so many others farther back than I who probably also would have liked to know if you were wearing pants.
I hope to see you again soon. Next time, I will bring stilts.

Dear Dancing Boy in a White Shirt and Black Wristbands that Stood Behind Me:
If you elbow me in the side one more time, I'll tell all of your friends that you were wearing black wristbands like a Solid Gold dancer.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Went walking downtown yesterday, in celebration of a visit from TYD's little brother. I hope to get the older of my brothers out here someday; he may not agree with me, but I think that at 12 he's still just too little for it.

As is always the case, the cool kids were all there.

In Pioneer Square, not too far from the fallout shelter, we came across a car sitting in a puddle bright green from leaking antifreeze; its own or someone else's, I'm not sure which. Manuel and I were standing by it when TYD's brother (John?) walked up. He looked down at the puddle and back up at us, saying with surety, "Sewage."
Now that's a cool kid.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

My dad:
*Kept a rubber Nixon mask in his high school locker to wear when he got in fights
*Drove a motorcycle through his high school hallway
*Tells his story different every time he tells it
*Forgets something every time he leaves the house
*Dressed up as Dr. Frankenfurter from Rocky Horror often
*Has a tattoo on his chest that says "Satanic Mechanic"
*Hates the sound of chewing on ice
*Plays the bass
*Taught me how to ride a bike
*Likes to golf
*Tells dirty jokes
*Went to nursing school to pick up girls.

Happy Father's Day, dads!
Yesterday was my first Fremont Solstice Parade. I saw just bits of the parade (being so short, all I ever see is bits), but it looked like these clowns were having the same problem:

The promised naked people and people covered in body paint and both was everything I'd heard about.

All the cool kids were there. We missed meeting up with Cat, but we did find and then lose Manuel (with whom we watch a rather entertaining juggling act) and found and kept Oscar. I had a good time; I'm glad we got to go.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

The last of our trip pictures. These are a few of Clearwater Beach, where I grew up. The sand is white and so fine that you have to grip it with your toes to get enough purchase to walk. We watched fireworks from this beach on the 4th of July, cruised for boys during spring break, and once I even slept on it.

Friday, June 18, 2004

So here are the rest of the wedding pictures taken by me.

First, we have the before the ceremony:

And then the reception:

(Some things you should know here are that Cory caught the bouquet and Dave the garter, and that they had never met before. Also, before the garter toss, a bunch of the men tossed underwear at Sarah because as a kid she had been afraid of the word "panties.")

Thursday, June 17, 2004

So what I have for you so far is bachelorette party pictures, because making thumbnails is a huge pain but I'm pretty clueless as to what else to do. The 'bachelorette party' was mostly just an attempt to make Sarah calm down, and it only partly worked. So in the end, she wore a purple sparkly hat, we went to Applebees, and the rest of us drank too much:

(These were all actually taken by Jeff, because I was too busy drinking, talking too much and too fast, and arm wrestling to remember to take pictures. But they're on my camera.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The pictures are at home and I'm at work, so for now I'll just tell you about our trip.
Everything has been happening late this year, and so the head hadn't really picked up much. It stuck in the low 90's, which was only hot enough to be irritating, not spectacular. It rained a lot, big swollen raindrops, sometimes when it was cloudy and sometimes not. The end result of all of this was that while it was muggy and a bit steamy, it wasn't so much humid.
(As an aside here, this is the first time I've ever brought anyone back to Florida. Everyone else I've known there has at least been there before, and so I wanted this trip to be impressive. It wasn't.)
We always had somewhere to be. This is how it's been since I left the county in 2000, and I'm not sure why I thought this time would be different. I was constantly guiltily dragging Jeff from place to place and group of people to group of people--something I'll be apologizing for months, since I hadn't expected it. I forget in my quiet life here that up until a year ago I was constantly surrounded by people.
This all means that we didn't get to go looking for alligators--upsetting, since I had really wanted to--and though I tried to sound convincing when I explained that when you drop the lizards in water they become alligators, I think I failed. New species were limited to lizards, coquina, and dead horseshoe crabs.
I tried to make amends with some quiet time at the beach--white sand, sunset--but I think it fell short.
My mother's husband makes me uncomfortable because I'm never sure when he's being funny.
On the up side (for me), I got to see all of my friends again, who I miss so much it hurts. I have yet to find anyone else with whom I can be unabashedly myself. There was much hugging and kissing, ass grabbing and innuendo, knee sex, dramatic posturing, and dancing. There was also much tearing up, because big events like this (unless I can convince them to move to Seattle) will be pretty much toe only times we'll all be together. (There still is--I'm ashamed of how often I get choked up thinking about it.) I think that part of the reason I've lost so much of my momentum is the loss of them--there's no handy support system who believes unconditionally that I can do whatever I want. I'm still figuring out how to do that myself; everyone deserves friends like mine.
During the rehearsal, going over the ring ceremony, Sarah was crying and laughing so hard that all she could get out was "no." But she recovered nicely, and although the unity candle that Dave made (we make candles, among our many other talents) refused to light, there were few mishaps. Sarah, always more than pretty, occasionally blooms into radiance, was so astoundingly beautiful that she should have been put under glass. Jesse was so happy I was afraid he would explode or faint, or both. I looked at all the people there--all the people who had paused their lives and, some of them, come all that way--to show their love and longing for free buffet food for these people, and I was proud to have been chosen for the wedding party. I'm not sure what I did to deserve that, which was not even really choosing but a foregone conclusion from the beginning, but I hope to keep on doing it.
Many funny and touching things happened, and I'm saving them to run my fingers over like a pouch full of diamonds whenever I am paralyzed by the world. So whether or not I was a failure as a hostess and tourguide, at least I got to recharge myself again. By the time we got home I was so tired that I was playing the counting game, where I count everything I can see that has more than one. Jeff has been welcomed to the family--my friends each told me that they like him--for however long he wants to stay. I'm glad that we went, but I'm even happier to be home.

Monday, June 14, 2004

We are back from Florida.
I have loads of pictures from the matrimonial event of the century, and likely in the next day or so I'll give them to you all at once in one crack-like burst. But right now I'm so tired I might die, so for the moment I'll just give you this: the brand-new Mr. and Mrs. Unruh

(I am continually astonished that this lovely creature is my best friend. I am a lucky loser.)

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The first time I went anywhere by airplane was in August of 2002 when I went to Chicago for a week. We never went on vacations when I was a kid, and since the vast majority of my family lived within 2 hours, there was no one to go visit. My trip to New York the year before (July 2001) had been by car, and so I was thrilled to finally be flying somewhere.
Our reasons for going to Chicago are trivial now, though they were so important then: we were thinking about moving there, and so I wanted to look at the Art Institute and Pete wanted to revisit old college haunts and friends. (Plus, we really needed a vacation.) Ultimately, we could have gone anywhere, so long as it was by plane.
I wish I could say, after all this building up, that I realized something, had some sort of airborne epiphany. But I didn't. (That's not strictly true...I had any number of epiphanies, but they all related to Pete's need to be constantly entertained, but that's not relevant or interesting.) We left from Orlando and passed through security with only a quick stop for my unshaven compatriot. The airplane was smaller than I had imagined, the seats more cramped.
It was not an interesting trip, although it was the one that started my deep and abiding love for airports. But there was a moment, turning into the city, when my side of the plane was tilted, facing down at the water. The color of that lake and the color of the sky were the exact same shade of blue, and I couldn't figure out where one left off and the other began. I tweaked for a minute, but then relaxed and, face pressed to the window, let myself be taken by the absolute disorientation, the complete loss of gravity cues and personal history. It was at that moment, floating like a fetus in a vast expanse of nothing, that I decided I'd rather be everywhere else except for Florida, and that I was leaving in April come hell or high water. I didn't want to be stuck in anyone's land.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

I have a weakness for matrix logic puzzles (although usually the grown up ones). It started in my fifth grade gifted class, which was the year that they decided we needed to focus all of our attention on logic and math. Over the years I've forgotten and remembered how much I enjoy them, and today I remembered. I bought a magazine of them to entertain myself at work and on the airplanes, and I took a crack at a few today.
The problem is that occasionally I just can't get them, and I flash back to fifth grade when I sheepishly take a peek at the answers in the back of the book. Logically, I should just give them up if I can't figure it out, right? But I'm tortured by the thought of someone else looking at it and wondering how I could be such a dunce to not get it right. And so I peek, and feel guilty and illogical.
Just like fifth grade.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

And so I hear that Ronald Reagan died today.

Reagan was in his second year as president when I was born. I've known that since I was just a kid; it's written in my baby book along with "World Headlines: War in Lebanon, Rolling Stones Tour Europe" and "The Most Popular Song: 'Down Under' by Men at Work." But I never knew anything about any presidents. The first time politics seriously entered my world was when I ran for president in the fourth grade and I believed that everyone should vote for Ross Perot because of his ears.
What I mean to say is that neither of his terms dented my consciousness. The world outside my limited experience existed only as a color glimpsed from the corner of my eye. Sometimes the grown ups would sit around the tv and watch the news, but I wasn't interested. So I've never been able to muster up any animosity towards Reagan. Just a few years after his Alzheimer's announcement my grandmother was diagnosed with Parkinson's, which seem more and more to be different sides of the same coin. Unless I try really hard, I can't even see him as a former president, just an old man that was important once.
The lady that fixed my bridesmaid's dress is about the same size as I am but older and wizened, like the last apple in the barrel, so that she looks smaller. She has a very thick accent that I keep naming as Spanish, arbitrarily, since the only flavor I really get out of it is 'thick'.
I picked up my dress two days after I brought it to her, all the way over in Lake City. This is a rather impressive turn around considering the amount of fixing that ended up having to be done. (She had to bring it in two inches at the top and up six at the bottom, which involved cutting and reshaping the fabric, if you're interested.) I headed to the front door after trying it on, and as I reached for the doorknob I turned around to thank her again as she said, "Have a good time at the wedding."
"Thanks, I will."
"Maybe you'll be next."
I suppose my eyebrows must have raised at this, my eyes widened a bit. I'm pretty phobic about marriage. She clapped her hands to her mouth and said "I mean, I don't know if you're already married."
"Nope, not married." I looked down at my hands as though to make sure there was no ring anywhere unexpected.
"That's just how we say goodbye in my country: wishing for the marriage. Then, when you do, we're wishing for the first boy."
I wasn't sure how to respond. Far be it for me to step on anyone's cultural ways. I shrugged, waved my hands, and said, "Oh, I see. Well, uh, maybe I will be next."
There was a little bit of unreasonable paranoia there, an image that flashed in my head of Sarah and this woman conspiring to throw the bouquet right at me.