Saturday, December 31, 2005

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Good riddance, 2005!
John and I have been joking for months about buying him tight pants in celebration of his newly-divorced-and-on-the-prowl status. Yesterday, we left the office a few hours early and went about doing that. Along the way we discussed just how he ought to break up with his girlfriend so he'll be free to pursue this other lady that he hasn't spoken to in five years.
With friends like John, I don't need to watch tv.

Later, I met up with Josh at Chop Suey for Sean Nelson's Anti-New Years hijinks. Some bits were fantastic and some of it was pretty lame, but my favorite part is always Sean Nelson's hair. (And, honestly, if anti-new years involves hanging out with a really cute guy and listening to live music while new years itself involves a room full of people I don't know wearing masks, I think anti-new years wins.)

The reason I'm awake already this morning is because there was a couch caper, in which I became the owner of AJ's comfy green couch and John subsequently acquired my ripped yucky brown one. This worked out well for everyone, and took up about a half an hour of the too-early morning. Shortly I'll be off to space.

Happy new year, everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

So it looks as though I'll be having my wisdom teeth out on the 6th of January--because nothing says 'starting the New Year off right' like a little facial surgery. If anyone would like to come by and bring me milkshakes/make sure I haven't choked to death on a mouthful of blood, I'd appreciate it.

This will in no way stop me from going to see The Helio Sequence on Thursday night.

I've always been fond of the phrase "post no bills," ever since I read it in Kerouac's "Have you ever seen anyone like Cody Pomeray?" That was before I knew what it meant, before I had been to New York City and seen the words everywhere. They tasted good, those words.

My stepmother let me know today that my other grandmother has been deposited in a nursing home. This is apparently a bad time to be my grandmother, so you should all be glad that you aren't.

The plan for New Years is currently a vague one involving a masquerade at someone's house. I acquired a mask today, a black butterfly one, and so now have to decide on the wardrobe. Sadly, the new black slouchy boots will probably not be here in time.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Good news is never why my mother calls me before I get to the office. This morning was no exception--around 8:30 my cell phone rang, and my mother was letting me know that my uncle died this morning.
Allen had been sick pretty much constantly for the last half-dozen years, since he dropped the branch of a tree on his head and damaged his brain. He's been in and out of hospice three times, and each time has suddenly recovered enough to leave. Most recently he has had an infection in his leg that the doctors just couldn't dig out, and that was what killed him. He was my grandmother's first child and only son.

The last few years with Allen have been impossibly difficult for my poor grandmother. The damage to his brain left him like an unruly child, and he's been sneaking out to drive down to her house and terrify her for years. He meant well, or as well as he could mean, anyway, but she is an old lady and it's been tough on her.

My grandmother is one of the most important people in my life. She was the only thing that was steady while I was growing up, the only person who wasn't bent on hurting everyone within reach. Talking to her this morning, hearing how barely held together she is, was anguishing. There isn't anything I can do. She is all alone in my mother's house--my mom's on her way back from out of town--and there's nothing I can do.

Quit it, 2005. I can't take much more of this.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

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My mouth hurts today, because the dentist had his fingers and tennis balls and kitchen sinks in it again. I've been sick and sad and worn out, anxious for it to be next week and for things to go back to normal. I'm tired of not feeling like there's enough of me to fill out my skin.

I don't regret all of the time that I spent with Mac & Jack, Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, or Jose Cuervo this year, but I do regret all of the subsequent hangovers. A resolution for next year: hydrate!

TMS called from somewhere in the southwest to demand my feelings about the year. I refused to play along, because I am stubborn and unsatisfied in ways that'll probably seem less important once I have a full night's sleep. I am tender in too many places, and the pretence of sweeter words could likely melt me in the same way as a hand on the small of my back. I'm too vulnerable for a summing up, spending too much time pausing in doorways and soliciting hugs. I'm working on it, but then again I always am and it's what makes me so tired.

Someday I will be brave and distant. Just not today.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

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Merry Christmas to all of you, in whatever version you choose to celebrate it.

I've been thinking about this for days now, and have not managed to come up with one legitimate Christmas memory from before the boys were born. There were ten of them, so you'd think I could come up with something, but...no. I don't remember staying up late to wait for Santa or waking up obscenely early or any of those memories that other people have. And yet I'm sure that those things happened.
There are things that I feel I ought to remember, years of wanting something badly and not getting it, or the other way around. I don't remember wishing for things. I know that I must have received my first keytar, a red Panasonic one, for Christmas, and you'd think that one would have stuck. There's just nothing.

And so tomorrow I intend to sleep in, waking only to field calls from my family who will all forget about the time difference. I'll get up in the afternoon to put the new duvet cover on my bed, and then I'll go to the movies with a friend. Later, I'll come home and drink port out of my lovely new port glasses. It'll be low-key and, likely, lovely.

The doctor told me the other day that I would probably recover better from these colds if I did less walking around in the winter rain. But my late nights have been interrupted lately by clogged sinuses and hacking coughs, and so I bundle myself up and step lightly through my neighborhood. It looks different in the smaller hours, but still like home.
I have been sick, sick, sick, which has not in any way stopped me from doing things like going out and to work and in other ways spreading germs.
Man, I wish I had some apple juice.

Mike and I left the office early yesterday to go buy more Christmas presents for his girlfriend. While we were at the Sears auto center I was harassing him about giving her a battery-operated tire inflater to go with her super-expensive Louis Vuitton purse (two thumbs down to LV, stuff is awful). He stepped on my foot and told me, "Well, it's for her safety!"
It was sort of cute, so I had to stop being mean.

I went to the last show at the Empty Space in Fremont, which'll be moving to First Hill in January. As it turned out, the writer/director was filling in for a sick actor. I made friends with the people sitting on either side of me--I was there alone--and we all agreed that the show was great. Seriously. They name-checked the Still Life Cafe, did a RENT parody called "Kent" that involved a song called "La Vie Boeing", and made fun of "Mama Mia!". I think I'm in love--I've found my new Christmas tradition.

Waiting at the bus stop, a man paused and asked me why I was standing "bareheaded" in the rain, as though we were in 1907 Boston rather than almost-2006 Fremont. I love this town.

I'm off to the space store shortly, and then I plan to be home until it's time for Carolyn and myself to go to the movies tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The kitty follows me around the apartment when I'm getting ready for work in the morning. I sort of understand why people have cats now.

Walking downtown in the rain today, I ran into an acquaintance. While catching up he told me that he had recently lost someone close to him, and that he saw her constantly in books and songs, in billboards and the sound of passing cars. In the end it wasn't so much the loss itself that was causing him such pain, it was the fact that the world around him just wouldn't let her go. Now he walks with his head down, and he feels that he's missing so many of his experiences in trying to block out the constant reminders.
I'm not sure what causes these confessions from people I hardly know, but we stood under a constant drizzle and I told him about someone I like to think of, how he's a heartbreak waiting to happen, and how I plan to ride the ache as long as it lasts. He saluted the feeling, agreeing that unrequited is sometimes the way to go. After all of this normal topics of conversation seemed a little too flippant, so we parted ways.

Later, I sat in a coffee shop reading "Henry and June." While I stared out the window at the rain I realized that someone was walking up behind me at the same time that someone outside was crossing the street. Their reflections each grew until, for just a moment, they were exactly the same size. Then the man behind me turned and sat down and the one outside continued up the street, and I marveled that both of them had missed that moment of fitting together.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I woke up this morning sick again, with a throat like I'd swallowed a handful of sandspurs. There isn't time to be sick again--my trivia team is defending last week's second place win tomorrow night.

This afternoon I had my first experience with teeth-drilling, which was horrid. I came home, unable to feel the top half of my mouth and most of my nose, and went to get a haircut that makes me look like a small-featured twelve year old boy.
I know I always say that, but it doesn't make it any less true. Fellows, the way to a girl's heart is through a really good shampoo-ing. No double entendre intended.

I'm kitty sitting while Steph and Ryan are out of town, and the kitty and I are currently curled up on the couch. I think she misses Steph and Ryan and is feeling a little lonely; this works because I am too.

Last night I held a bakestravaganza. I made my traditional fudge, some ginger-molasses cookies, and white chocolate apricot cookies. Steph made butter crisps and Fester made a million little cupcakes that'll eventually be decorated to look like sushi. Caroline watched, because my kitchen really isn't that big. Today, it still smells like baking in here.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

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I have spent most of the weekend being a show rat. Friday night I met Josh and Peter at the White Horse for a delicious Pimms and a delightful chat with Joe the owner before heading over to the Showbox for the Strangercrombie bash. We missed Band of Horses due to the damnable call of hush puppies and the disconnect between the Green Room and the stage, but made it up for Fruit Bats, Dina Martina, and Wheedle's Groove. I made friends with a lovely older couple who were old pals with one of the ladies singing with Wheedle's Groove.

Saturday I worked at the Space Co., where Robert almost broke my foot with a great big stapler. Then the beautiful Caroline and her sister picked me up to go to the KEXP yule benefit, where we met up with Josh during the middle of The Divorce's set. My ears are still a little ring-y today--The Wrens are loud, and also a little bit insane. Josh ended up next to the most annoying superfan in the entire world, a lady with masses of bushy blonde hair that she could really have used as a weapon.

At various points this weekend there was a cello, an accordion, a few trumpets...it's like people are starting indie bands to make the most out of their geeky high school band instruments. Which I am totally cool with.

I've found out recently that Spencer is going to be having a surprise! baby with his shes-really-nice-but-i-still-dont-like-her girlfriend. He's a little bit wigged--he has no plans to marry the girl. And well he shouldn't: Spencer, like butterflies, ought to be free, at least until he meets someone he's actually in love with. But he's going to make a great dad, no matter how it all works out.
He's a good guy, and there really are not so many of those out there. I'm very pleased that I could make a list of you all, though. I know some really good ones.

I ought to have been cleaning my house this afternoon, but instead I've been practicing public intellectual masturbation with LibraryThing. I hit the limit about halfway through my regular collection (which excludes antiques and children's books), which proves, if nothing else, that my books are soon going to take over my apartment.
Tomorrow there will be nice girls coming over to bake with me. (From across the country, I can hear Toby's ears perk up. Girls and baking? Samantha in a cute apron? I'd not be surprised if in about nine hours a tall, thin boy with a chiseled jaw and an unfortunate girlfriend shows up at my door, asking if he can help.)

Toby's new favorite thing is to call and tell me all about what he was thinking when he was a fourteen year old boy. My brother, ye gods, is growing a moustache--and doing a better job of it than most of the grown men I know. Kill me now.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

I'm staying home alone for Christmas this year because I am tired of the complicated dance involved with choosing between my parents. They always did a very good job of not putting me between them, but even the best of divorced parents are still divorced parents, and deciding on one will always hurt the other. Picking has made me feel guilty my whole life, and so this year I decided that since I'll feel guilty anyway, I might as well just disappoint everyone all at once and suit myself. So that's what I'll be doing.

Time lays heavy on "ce monde ou il faut que le coeur se brise ou se bronze," and I cannot currently work up any enthusiasm for any of this.

A couple of years ago, Hay-den and I decided to make a gingerbread house. We were going to do a perfectly unironic job, although we were going to make the icing purple. But when it came down to it the walls wouldn't cement together and the house would collapse in on itself. So instead, we let it all fall together, and then we threw icing and candy and powdered sugar on it. We called the gingerbread hovel "Hitler's Bunker" and vowed to only eat gingerbread houses from then on.
Hay-den's nickname for me is "Orange."
One thing I learned tonight is that one ought not to wear spring-and-summer's red heels when it is cold and icy, especially if one has a tendency to shuffle every few steps. This will cause one to slip and sometimes fall down, which may be less than rockstar.

Friday, December 16, 2005

I volunteered at the ballet last night, and for my troubles found myself in the fourth row center for the Nutcracker. It was somewhere beyond amazing.
Also amazing was the 4-layer chocolate cake at Broadway Grill afterwards.

Jude has been awarded a teaching fellowship, and will be unleashed on the freshmen of Boston College shortly. Hooray for Jude! I shall purchase you a celebratory adult beverage when I'm out there in March.

My favorite things:

1. Kissing
2. Books
3. Frost on the flowers in the morning
4. Bare feet + grass + sun
5. Road trips

My stepmother sent me this year's family picture, and the older of my brothers looks like an extra from "Almost Famous." His hair is very 70's. We actually have pretty close to the same haircut again.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Hooray for Jesse, who now has his MA in being insufferably pompous! I (heart) you, Jessekins!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I am very tired of people putting their fingers in my mouth. Whoever told me going to the dentist was a good idea was a great big liar.

As of right now, I'm still without plans for both Christmas and New Years. I'm starting to figure out volunteer possibilities for Christmas Day, but my lack of planning has me a little bit worried--I'm a pathological planner. The fact that I'm seriously considering trying to schedule my wisdom teeth surgery so that I'll be out of commission for New Years worries me even more.
This is my first holiday season completely on my own. A few very nice people have invited me to spend Christmas with their families, but I don't really want to hang out with someone else's family. The trouble is that I don't want to hang out with my own family, either, and that's why I'm staying here. This used to be my time of year, with all of the cooking and the visiting and the failing at keeping secrets, with all the opportunities for just being nice, and I haven't been able to reconcile that with the way things are now.

I am, very slowly, unraveling.

I also haven't done my Christmas baking yet this year, which ought to be remedied sometime in the next week. This'll give me a chance to wear my adorable new apron and maybe hang out with nice girls that will give me hugs. I'll definitely be making fudge and sugar cookies, along with something else. If anyone wants some, let me know now, because otherwise they'll all be going to my office to keep the wolves at bay--they've been complaining that I haven't baked for them lately. Gingerbread moose will likely not be on the agenda this year because I smelled like molasses for days after cooking up those suckers.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Walking in, I noticed the lightly astringent smell of slowly rotting thin-skinned backyard oranges. There's a vaguely dotted line between overripe and slightly bad, and the contents of my fruit bowl have taken a turn to the latter. I walked over to the bowl and dipped my face close.
It smelled like 1987, and touching my collarbone I remembered the warmth of stepping on fallen fruit just after being told not to.

My eyes hurt terribly tonight--I've been sleeping poorly again--and so just before I started cooking I took out my contacts. I alternated chopping and stirring with pushing my heavy black glasses back up my nose, and when I leaned over a bubbling pot the steam coated my lenses.
And that was just like 1995, when two small boys were my recurring dinner guests, and all four food groups were largely represented (although not always in their most appetizing forms).

Some nights the fog is enough to reflect the city's lights back on it, and on those nights when I turn out all of my own lamps my apartment glows softly amber.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

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She waits for me in pictures, all tinfoil halo and elbows. I know that there is a space underneath all that hair where her head joins her neck--a space big enough to rest two fingers and a space which holds all of the world's warmth.
A front tooth is missing, or maybe both are gone, and this is not a pose. It is honest.

Friday, December 09, 2005

At some point this afternoon someone must have slipped crack into my fruit juice, because I all of a sudden decided to be a pirate. This involved a lot of running into Michael's office and "Yarrr!"ing at him, but then I would immediately forget that I was a pirate and be a ninja, karate chopping him in the head.
This is somewhat unusual workplace behavior for me. Possibly a great big mint mocha is not what I ought to be drinking in the middle of the afternoon.

"This is my friend samantha. She knows 20 different ways to open a beer bottle on a car, owns a large selection of cocktail dresses, and has a smokin' ass."
"Uh, dude? I'm a person, not a lifestyle accessory."

Tonight there will be "A Tap Dance Christmas Carol" with ladies, with a possible Persian dance party down in SoDo. Tomorrow I'm at the space store in the early afternoon and then at Tweefest, with a possible layover at Phil's house for the Christmas party. Sunday = Narnia.

I will do my best to karate chop no more people today.
Yarr! Today, I am totally a pirate.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Milagro

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Yesterday's mail brought a heart-shaped milagro along with a note from an old friend. Milagro are traditional Mexican charms meant to heal whatever part of the body they depict--so, say, if you had an earache, you'd wear an ear-shaped charm.

I only hear from Alex once or so a year, an update on his wife and my namesake. Apparently, the family was recently in Mexico when they came across a man selling peculiar heart-shaped milagros with wings. Usually, the hearts are surrounded by fire. The man explained that there are certain people who have a winged heart that needs healing.
This certain person, according to Alex, was me. And it is true that I tend to batter myself on whatever is nearest, and that even though things are going relatively nicely, all hearts are sometimes bruised.
The gesture means more to me than I can say, and I appreciate that he and his family still have my heart in mind.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Dear Internet,

Today is the second birthday of this website. I remember thinking, when I started this whole silly project, that the point was to look for patterns. My plan was to sift through whatever I was experiencing and search for, if certainly not gold, then insight. I wanted some sort of explanation.
Obviously, no answers have been forthcoming. Which is what I ought to have expected, really, but at the bottom of it all I'm a foolishly optimistic girl. And perhaps that's actually the point--perhaps relentless narcissism and unbending navel gazing really are what's at the end of it all. Perhaps we honestly can't see past the tips of our own crooked noses.
What I have learned this year is how essential it is to forgive. I have learned much, this year, about the people and the places that I came from. None of it was good news--it was all heartbreaking in the way that knowledge can only be when what is being destroyed is what you have always known to be true. Our memories are never finished, and sometimes their refinement can be razor sharp. I only really learned the answers to the questions that I asked, except of course that after I learned I wasn't sure I should have wondered. But I can't take it back, and I have spent months trying to redefine all of everything from the time I was four years old.
Right now what I'm working on is who I still am. I am still the girl who cries like a baby at movies. I am still the girl who jumps in puddles and sometimes can't help but dance, who makes forts and gets painfully excited about books and art galleries. I still love puppies and babies and flowers and exclamation points and baking brownies for my friends. I am, continually, this girl.
We were talking, the other night, about how half the people we know are on mood-altering chemicals. And I admitted to the table that I am afraid of those, that I need my moods to remind me that I'm still here. I've come too far to lose them now.
But I have also been learning how to forgive myself, for not always being brave and for often sinking into self-loathing. I'm trying to be gentle with myself, because this is the only self I have.

Things have been seriously tumultuous this year. I have been to China and back, have seen two of my oldest friends marry each other. I have confronted and seduced my high school crush while wearing an incredibly hot Italian dress, which was all much less about him and much more about how far I've come since seventeen. I've lost the shadow of my ex-stepfather, the man that forced me to flee in terror of my whole childhood. I've had parties and gotten a promotion and started speaking French.
I'm still kinda amazed that I've made it through all of this. I don't know what the next year has in store for me, you, or this nonsensical website, but I think that the biggest lesson that I've learned has come from you. I don't know how all these strangers have come to care about this little redheaded girl, but I'm amazed. I'm glad we're the same species, you and I.
O. Henry told us in The Gift of the Magi that, "Life is made of sighs, sniffles, and smiles, with the sniffles predominating." And that may very well all be true. But I'm enjoying the heck out of all three of them, if only sometimes in hindsight.
Life is funny, and it's much cleverer than I, so it's probably a good thing it's in charge.

love,
me

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

One afternoon in Hangzhou I passed a man with no hands playing the harmonica. Now, if I was telling you this story over a beer, I would admit at this point that my first thought was, "How does he get it out of his pocket?" The harmonica sounds the same in any language, and as I paused in front of him, sweaty and thinking with my every day brain, he looked up and we locked eyes. He seemed much more startled to see me than I was to see him--Hangzhou doesn't really see a whole lot of glaringly pale redheaded girls. He stopped playing and held the harmonica in front of him, propped up between the stumps of what would have been thin, delicate wrists.
We looked at each other, him and I. The back of my throat tasted like lotus seeds and the first lines of the Tennyson poem rocketed through my brain. As I stared he pursed his lips like he was going to speak and I felt my body focus. What did he have to tell me, this old no-handed Chinese man? Would I be able to understand him? He moved his lips and from them issued forth a spent, limp sunflower seed husk. Nodding briskly at me, he raised his harmonica back to his lips, and I, flustered, mumbled the Chinese word for "good" at him and hurried away.

Monday, December 05, 2005

You know what I shouldn't do anymore? Shots of whiskey. I don't care whose birthday it is.

We went out for drinks for Poppy's birthday, and the best I can say about going out for drinks with my coworkers is that occasionally I get home with enough time to sober up and watch a movie about disgruntled youth in Nazi Germany before it's time for bed.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

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My 2005 Postmodern Christmas Tree is now constructed, this year from an end table, guitar stand, and spare laptop case.

This year, there's also a small walking tour of a couple of my favorite ornaments.
I'm pretty sure that I was not made to be so social.

Friday we had our office Christmas party, out in...somewhere in the suburbs. We all left the office at two and headed out to Stepford, where we proceeded to get drunk, have a rowdy White Elephant, and karaoke. After that, I was off to the Land of Uncomfortable Situations, also known as my bar with a friend, the girl he's not supposed to be sleeping with, and his new semi-girlfriend.
I told terrible jokes and made elaborate hand motions. This did exactly nothing to dispel the tension.

After the ribbon cutting ceremony at my new park, I headed up to Greenwood for the Space Co. grand opening. I had intended to be there from 1:30 - 4:30, but the place was insane and all hands were so very much needed on deck. By the time we closed everything down around 6:30, we were all starving, so everyone walked one storefront over to the Pig n Whistle for some dinner and drinks. I met so many incredibly cool people, including Dave Eggers himself.
Then! I met Steph downtown for the last show of RENT. Which made my cry, but not a one of us should be surprised by that.

And so today I slept until one, and I plan on spending the day not answering my phone or the door and maybe making the Christmas tree. I'm beat, still sick, and need to regroup before the incredibly busy week that I've got planned. I also need to order Christmas presents and start with the Christmas cards.

Maybe it's just time to go back to bed.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Dear everyone,

Somehow, all of a sudden, it's the last month of the year. Soon enough I'll be tallying up accounts, checking off positives and negatives and figuring out the balance. Judging by the way my toes feel lately, I think I'll end up discovering that I am lacking. If I'm lucky, I'll have made a couple of half-steps forward this year.
Today is World AIDS Day, a day that's always been a little bit tough to get through. In both grander and smaller schemes, it's been a very short time since we lost Mark, and since the world lost a little bit of light and color, lost a boy with an enduring sense of childlike wonder and a relentless faith in people. But then in April of this year I learned that a local friend had recently been handed the results of a test that found him HIV+. It's a little bit hard to believe that all of these years later we're still fighting through the stigma that makes getting funds to research a cure so very difficult.
My cold is bad enough at this point that I took a drink of milk tonight, only to discover that it's gone off. This is problematic because I had sniffed the carton before I poured it in the glass.
It snowed today, great big fat slushy flakes that didn't stick at all. This caused me to overexcite to such a point that I sent my desk chair careening into a counter. Seriously, you guys? Snow is more exciting than free oatmeal-raisin cookies.
I hope that you are well, and that you have avoided this creeping plague. If you're in need of someone to thumb wrestle until dawn, you know where to find me. I hope that your holidays go well and that you are well-behaved.
I hope that you never forget that you are made of color and light, and that I am a better girl for knowing you.

love,
me
Snow!! Coming from the sky!! In flakes!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The story goes that when Tolstoy was preparing to marry Sonya, he asked her to read his journals up to that point. What he wanted to do was destroy all of her romantic notions of him, to show her just how human he was. Whatever sort of gesture that might have been--and it's certainly cause for debate, whether that was more "come here" or more "go away"--it all fell apart in the end anyway. Because really, if you insist on seeing yourself as a tragic hero, you're sort of asking for shit to hit certain fans.
Tolstoy's been on my mind again recently, is all. It's that time of year.

I know I've been wallowing in being a great big dork more than usual lately, but sometimes I get tired of suppressing all of this enthusiasm. Despite my mother's great big box of backyard oranges, I have a head cold. And, according to the dentist today, what may or may not be a malignant growth in my jaw. Which sort of covers all of my options. I'm not overly concerned because my family has a habit of growing spare pieces of bone, I guess in case we need them later. (My littlest brother has surgery on the bottom of his feet every three years or so to remove brand new bits of extraneous floating bone.) And anyway, it looked pretty cool on the x-ray, like a little star right below the roots of my teeth.

I could use some good news. Anyone got any good news for me?

Monday, November 28, 2005

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It took most of the morning for me to stop being excited like a terrier about the frost on the ground--I roamed the office, squeaking, "Ice! Outside!" at everyone I passed. They've all lived in northern climates long enough to develop a much cooler veneer about the winter than I have. While I chased my tail, they bitched about the treacherous commute. And that's really what they get for living in the suburbs.
It's just that, you know, I love my city. And when I woke up this morning and it was out of nowhere sparkling like a sixteen year old who's just gotten her braces off, well, it was more than I could handle.

I've been sneezing all day, which could mean I need a new nose or am allergic to consciousness, but which more than likely means I'm coming down with a cold. As though I have time for colds, what with snow possibly coming to visit.

My mother, ever the bearer of cheerful news, called yesterday to let me know that she was nearly crushed by a falling tree branch during her "I don't celebrate Thanksgiving anymore" camping trip this weekend. I am a well-behaved daughter and so I refrained from telling her that it's what she gets for forsaking her only child's favorite holiday (and only partially because now that she has step-children, that argument doesn't hold as much water).

Tonight's French lesson was canceled and so I've found myself with an unexpectedly free evening. If you need me, I'll be sitting with my nose pressed up against the sliding glass door, waiting for it to start snowing.
Ice! On things! Outside!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

When I woke up in the night my pillow smelled of roses. This was, I realize now, because of the rosewater splashed onto my hands at the Moroccan restaurant. At 3 am, though, with my apartment glowing softly from the lights of my city, the smell of roses was just right. Everything was sweet and warm, and I went back to sleep.

An artist I have always admired is Felix Gonzalez-Torres, who in his too-brief life created tributes to love and memory and anger through ephemeral installations. Whenever I feel like my skin is showing all of my secrets, I remember how he put up billboards of an empty bed all over New York as a tribute to his deceased lover, how his strings of individual lightbulbs were each a memory, and how a pile of candy was an invitation for passers-by to take a piece of his devotion home with them. It's those times that I take down my blue-wrapped candy and remember what the point of going further is.
These are the reasons I study art.

reason #375 I should be in a band: to try out fashion adventures that are ever-so-slightly too much for every day.

Call me if you need me, if you're looking as lost as I'm feeling. I can offer a hand and if you take it we'll head off into the woods like Hansel and Gretel.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

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The big discussion at the space store this afternoon was over whether certainty ought to be heavier than uncertainty. A small boy named Luke came in and told me that he was from the planet Seattle.
I hear it's lovely there this time of year.

People have been trying to talk to me today, and I'm only realizing it after they go away. I must seem like a terribly rude girl.

Last night I went to see Caribou and Super Furry Animals at Neumos. I was a little concerned about Caribou because there are bands who just sound better on the radio, and I worried that they would be one of them. But then I realized that there were two drum sets with each drum individually mic'ed, and I knew we'd be ok. I was really, really pleased with them.
SFA was also good, but I haven't been feeling very well and ducked out before the end of the set--I'd lost track of Kathleen anyway, and Neumos was uncomfortably packed.

Despite still feeling vaguely yucky, I'm heading out shortly for Moroccan with the Steph and Ryan crew. One of these days, I'll finish cleaning my apartment.

Friday, November 25, 2005

I hope all of your Thanksgiving celebrations were as much fun as mine was. There was much food, much drinking, a bunch of hand turkeys, and Twister.

I cooked and cooked yesterday, and only burned myself a little bit. Julie brought over a table so that we would have somewhere to put all the food. And lord, was there food. There were about fifteen people in and out of here, and I've almost recovered from my hangover enough to start cleaning my apartment.

Tonight I think I'll be going to Neumos for the Super Furry Animals/Caribou show, and then tomorrow I'm up in Greenwood at the space store.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I sat alone at a bar in a club last night, between sets, drinking Stella. Stella tastes like Tsingtao, and it was one of the few times that I have found myself feeling nostalgic for China. And not even China so much, just the night that Scott and I found ourselves drinking and dancing and babbling drunkenly until late into the night. My usual ease has gone on vacation and I notice that I'm stopping and starting sentences where once there would have been no trouble.
It makes me wonder, is all.

If you've ever wondered what the boy with the crooked smile looks like, I can tell you that he bears enough resemblance to the guy singing for Band of Horses that, when he walked in the first time, I found myself looking for a place to hide. Which I guess just goes to show how over that I'm not.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I think I'm being a little too cavalier about the whole thing. Last year I was completely twigged and over-organized. This year I'm going, "Well, I just had twenty people over a few weeks ago, and that was fine. Cooking dinner for almost that many won't be any big deal." Which is so, so wrong, and I need to get my act together. Also, I need to start my thankful list:

That I showed up two years ago with nothing but a car full of stuff and now find myself surrounded by the most amazing people I've ever known.

That there are people all over the country that will pet me like a kitten when I'm sad.

That Seattle is full of boys with tattoos.

That my family, if not happy, is at least healthy. Same goes for me, too.

That I have a job that I love and an apartment that I love in a city that I love.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

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Sometimes the nights smell softly of wet paint while an album I remember from the days before freedom plays in the background. That's the only time now when an animal faith in the length of my bones is enough. Too often I find myself looking into the wrong parts of people's eyes.

And in any case, the pitter-patter of certain feet isn't to be heard in these parts again, thanks to the tearing of membranes too fragile to be seen. I think of the story "The Veldt," and how the walls come alive--how there are lions on the other side of all of our walls. I'm not sure what the gaps in our skin are meant to tell us, but if we don't concatenate correctly, you and I, we might combust.

Monday, November 21, 2005

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Grocery shopping yesterday, I crushed my right ring finger in between my eighteen-pound frozen turkey and the side of the freezer case. It's still a little munged up today, sore and bruised. Train Wreck harassed me about it all day long, but I think that any man who agrees to the nickname "train wreck" should not be the one throwing stones.
During my walk back to my apartment this afternoon, something got trapped underneath one of my contacts, and I ended up going most of the way able to see out of only one eye. This is how I spent my freshman year of high school: with only one contact.

You know, I really like it when a band is so good I find myself grinning like a dork through their whole set. It's the reason I go to so many shows. Just a couple more weeks, and I'll get to see them again.
Tomorrow night Band of Horses is playing, and I'll probably be at the White Horse beforehand. Wednesday, I'll start peeling-and-cutting vegetables for Thanksgiving.

For a lot of years, I ate approximately four Thanksgiving dinners. Festivities would be held separately with each parent's and step parent's family, all usually on the same day. By the last stop I'd be in tears, begging them not to make me eat any more. Eventually the gatherings from my dad and my stepmother's families merged, and my mom and ex-stepfather's families pretty much stopped celebrating. Those were some of the best years, the years when forty or fifty of my closest friends and family would invade someone's house and eat until they couldn't argue anymore.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

One of the first albums I ever owned was the soundtrack to The Muppet Movie. I'd spend hours laying on the floor, giant headphones plugged into the record player, singing along with "Rainbow Connection."
And so I wonder if I'm temperamentally predisposed towards sentimentality, towards going mushy too much and yet really not often enough. Or can I use the frog defense, and blame it all on the hours of Kermit?

I finished knitting my first ever pair of mittens yesterday, and wore them out last night. As is the case with most cold-weather things, I had no idea how complicated mittens actually are. It turns out that, for one, you have to put them on before you put on your coat, otherwise the cuffs get all bunched up and annoying. Also, they have to be taken off in order to do anything, which means that when you put them back on the coat issue comes up again. It's altogether terribly confusing. Fortunately, my mittens are fantastic.

And lastly, the hand turkeys. I made them, in 1999 right around Thanksgiving, into a symbol of my frustration with the work of the artist Rothko. My humanities teacher and I argued constantly about abstract impressionism, until one day I led a hand turkey uprising and convinced all of my classmates to make them so that we could cover her room in my point. She bribed a group of younger students to tear them down, but the obsession had already started. (At the end of that year, we gave her a photo album full of hand turkeys, as well as a hand turkey manifesto that I wrote. Yes, I have always been this girl.)
Every Thanksgiving since then, we've made hand turkeys. We made them all the way through college and the last couple of years in Seattle. When the Peach People came to town, she left a hand turkey on my wall. I keep them all, of course, in a file in my filing cabinet. They go back up on the wall for Thanksgiving each year.

Of course, they have to come down by the beginning of December, because then it's time to make the Postmodern Christmas Tree.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

I went to a lecture yesterday on transgenics and zebrafish, the burden of which was that scientists really like to make things glow. Actually, it was all about using zebrafish embryos to watch development because they're see-through, and then making them glow later to help study things like TB. It was truly cool, and I got to look through a microscope at little wiggly things.
I like science.

Later, there was an impromptu happy hour with my coworkers, at which I managed to tell a joke so offensive that John swears he hadn't heard anything so bad during his 5 years in the Marines. I'm absurdly pleased with myself. Afterwards, Steph and Ryan made a yummy dinner and we went downtown to see the new Harry Potter.

Today was my volunteer training for the space travel supply store, and then a trip to pick up some stuff for Thanksgiving. Waiting for the light to change, a man told me that he liked my jeans. This was gratifying--they're my favorites. The Muppet Movie is tonight's midnight movie, and then tomorrow is grocery shopping for Thanksgiving and then the Tullycraft show.

I think I'll probably start my annual Thanksgiving wigging tomorrow. I need to make a couple of lists.

I am so, so overbooked these days. This is fine in several ways, but I keep forgetting to return phone calls and emails, and I'm neglecting the new people I've met because the friends I already have are so much fun. It's also my excuse for being even less interesting than usual. I'm not used to being so busy.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

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I had coffee with Alissa this morning. Alissa is the only Fulbright Scholar I've ever known that wasn't someone who was teaching a class that I was taking, and so even though we're friends I still hold her in a little bit of awe. We spent a bit of time talking about how nice it is to live in a place like Seattle where we can be girls that do things alone. Neither of us grew up in towns and families that cotton to things like that. It was a lot of smoke-blowing and prevaricating, really, but also mostly true. It is nice that I can be in public alone. These are baby steps.

In the spirit of this, I headed down to Eliot Bay for the John Hodgman reading. (Actually, it appears that there may have been people I know there, but I had fallen into Raymond Carver and forgot to pay attention to who was walking in.)
Now that I have heard an acoustic version of "Baby Got Back" sung by a man in a coonskin cap, I can die happy.

Mornings, I kick through piles of leaves and think about slugs. I like how a slug's feelers are its eyes, how it has to be very careful just how it's seeing things so that it doesn't get hurt. I'm not sure how I manage to smile at my city but frown at its people, but most of my trouble is that I'm scared of you. Someday maybe I'll learn how to stop avoiding your eyes, learn to stop talking so fast, and then you'll see. And I think it's that day--the day that things slow down and you are able to see--that scares me so bad.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

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According to the dentist, I have super-fine teeth, and it's the rest of my mouth that's a problem. He's going to have someone remove Edward, the lump of scar tissue on the inside of my lip. But about the real problem, he said a lot of scary things like "splints" and "jaw surgery."
All y'all bitches who mocked my abject fear of the dentist can come over and help me eat soup through my feeding tube.
(This is probably a good time to tell you all that I've never had anything done to my teeth aside from some sealants when I was a kid.)

Monday, November 14, 2005

We knew, as kids, that 32 degrees meant freezing, because it was only when the temperature got that low that we were allowed to wear pants instead of skirts to school. It's not something that happens often in Florida--the freezing--but starting around December I would put a dish of water on the top step most evenings in the hopes that it would turn to ice in the night. It never, ever froze, and while I'm not sure if that was because I picked the wrong night or because there was too much water in the dish or because the overhang on the side of our trailer kept out the worst of the cold, I am sure it's something I've never forgotten. My winter mornings for years were a little bit like finding out anew daily that there is no Santa Claus.
I was nineteen before I actually saw frozen water that hadn't come from a freezer, at a lake in Asheville with Pete and Jonas and Phil. Every winter since then I have considered returning to my little dish experiment, but I am scared and childish and shrinking from disappointment. So I don't, even though I know that someday it might.

We all realize that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, right? And that you can all expect buckets of sentimentality from over here for the next week or so? Ok, just making sure we're all on the same page.

The flannel sheets have gone back on my bed, and whichever of the fellows was here earlier this year making fun of my flannel sheets can just bite me. They're cozier than cozy.

I have a dentist appointment tomorrow, an appointment that I just remembered as I'm sitting here eating candy. I do not like dentists, and while I have been joking about having him replace all of my teeth with gold ones so that I'll be prepared to go marauding on the high seas, I'd really rather just stay away.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

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I have trouble cutting round vegetables into rectangles. This is probably a metaphor for something, but I'm too tired for metaphors. In case you were wondering, I used this recipe with zucchini instead of squash, which I added halfway through because zucchini cooks so much faster.

Josh joined me for a drink at the White Horse last night before the show, and then we made it to the Showbox just in time for Leslie Feist's set. The girl standing in front of me never stopped talking and Leslie's equipment was a little screwed up, but the woman has one of the coolest voices going.

We elbowed our way through the crowd from the bar to get closer to the stage for the Broken Social Scene set, which is something that I'm getting better at doing. While we waited, they played most of a Jackson 5 album. It turns out that after a song or two, the Jackson 5 are really, really annoying.
Broken Social Scene is made up of, I don't know, like 30 people, most of which were wandering around the stage at some point or another. I'd lose sight of someone playing the trombone, and he'd turn up a few minutes later playing the drums. I couldn't keep track of what everyone was doing, which didn't really matter, because it was all amazing. They played for about two hours, and seriously brought the rock (as Scott would say) for all of it.

Once upon a time I took pictures for a boyfriend's band, and I've realized lately that I really miss doing show photos. My new camera came yesterday and I got to try it out last night, and I'm pretty pleased. The trouble is that I like to try for a tight frame, and in a concert setting it's really hard to get that to focus with the light available. Which just means that I'll have to fiddle with the camera some more, and go to more shows. Scarlet Room, anyone? Band of Horses? Caribou/Super Furry Animals?

Friday, November 11, 2005

As I juggled my bags at the front door earlier this evening--the veterans gave me a chance to stay out of the office and do things like go shopping in the rain and wander around a Japanese supermarket--a man in a jumpsuit asked where he could find my building manager. I told him and walked inside, where everything felt darker than it had when I left this afternoon. Things that I had left on were off, and I realized slowly that the power had gone out and the man in the jumpsuit belonged to the truck from the power company.

You know how, in John Cheever's story "The Enormous Radio," the people's marriage looks perfect until some outside object comes in and shakes the cracks to the surface? Well, the first time I wrote about that story it was because I believed that their trouble came from our habit as people to believe that everyone else has everything figured out, and the snapping back when we realize that's not true. But the story has been on my mind lately, and I've decided that the problem really is that we believe that other people hold the keys to our secrets.
That's the same, only different.

I have parsnips that I need to figure out how to cook, and an acorn squash with which to do the same. I'll be cooking and cleaning and knitting, hopefully, before tomorrow night's Broken Social Scene show. I'm not going to tell you about the disturbing dreams I had last night after yesterday's evening with some of the funniest people I know, but rest assured that they were strange. And that you all were there. Occasionally, naked.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

If you've been playing along on the home version, you'll be aware that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and that it is coming up quickly. You might also remember that last year I hosted a Thanksgiving extravaganza. So! I'll be hosting again this year, kids, and you're all invited.

No, I mean it. I do not know who is going to be in town and who isn't, and so if you're going to be around and would like to join in, let me know. The more the merrier.
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I was bullied into a flu shot today, and as a result haven't been able to lift my arm all day. The people that told me that it wouldn't hurt are so fired.

I am very, very tired, in ways that cannot be cured by quitting with the going out and drinking. Which is a little bit awful, because the going out and drinking were supposed to be the cure.

(p.s.: There are a bunch of trees on my walk to work that are a lovely sort of deep peach color right now, and I'd like to make my whole wardrobe out of them. Also, my insider at last night's Def Leppard concert informs me that not only were there banana clips and tapered black jeans, there were hand painted wolf jackets.)

Monday, November 07, 2005

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Hereabouts, it's open season.

Tomorrow is happy hour with my coworkers, Wednesday is the photographers, and Thursday is Cat's going away party. After this weekend my friend Cat will no longer live in Seattle, and that's strange beyond belief.
If anyone wants to help me interpret my 403(b), I'd be much obliged. There might even be cookies involved.

Looks like I'll be in Nashville and then Boston in March. In case anyone wants to hang out.

I'm beat. If you want to thumb wrestle, then we'll talk. Otherwise, I'll be napping.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

My voice has been losing all of its higher notes lately, from going out too often and drinking too much in too many bars. I sound like I've been smoking unfiltered Luckys for the last 60 years--on the phone this morning, Tobes thought he'd called the wrong number. I kind of like it when this happens; it becomes harder for me to get shrill when I'm nervous.

My apartment smells yummy from the zucchini bread I'm making for brunch tomorrow. My coworkers will probably be getting some cranberry-raisin coffee cake later this week, and the little bits of free time I can find for the next few weeks will probably be taken up with trying out recipes for Thanksgiving.
I can't help it--it starts to rain and I get domestic.

Cat sold a few prints on Thursday and Janet sold some paintings, and in all the event was satisfactory. My plans for last night went from staying home and drinking tea to the Minus the Bear show to Will's house in West Seattle. Tonight, I'll be at movies and bars with the ladies. Everything promises to be entertaining, at least for the immediate future.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Tonight is Cat and Caroline's show in Pioneer Square, and I expect you all to be there. No, I don't care if you don't live in Seattle.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

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At night, when I'm riding the bus home from Capitol Hill, I find that my scamper from 10th to my street approaches a gallop--the closest I ever get to running unless the ice cream man is getting away with the last screwball. This is because my route takes me under the interstate, right past what is going to be a park but is currently mud quilted with Honey Buckets and homeless guys. I wouldn't look threatening if I was carrying three handguns and a Marine, so I do what any smart diminutive single girl would do: I scuttle and hope for the best.

Along with covering David Bowie, the cool thing in bands seems to be switching instruments. This is just something I've noticed recently, where the guitar player will go to the drums and the bass player will pick up the maracas...and then a song later, they switch again. I don't know what's going on there.

Hurrying towards the bus in the rain tonight, I was stopped by a bald man with an English accent and a suitcase on wheels. He asked if I happened to smoke and I said no, and a little while later I realized that I hadn't seen him come from anywhere or go anywhere. I'm not at all positive he actually existed.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Dear everyone,

Happy Halloween! I was cleverly disguised today as a girl who had a meeting. TMS called to let me know that his costume was "a jaded single guy in his late twenties"--I told him to make sure his tshirt was slightly wrinkled and showing off his tattoo. I hope that at least one of you dressed as a bouquet of roses or a cup of hot chocolate or a happy monster. For me.

Seattle at this time of year is just perfect, with all of the fallen leaves and the rain. Life is recently a little bit busy, and I know that I always say that, but I always mean it. I've spent enough time at the cafe down the street that not only does my barista know my drink, but now they'll also let us finish up my French lesson while they're closing. Do you know how much I love this town? Because I'll tell you if given the slightest chance.

I'm not sure where October went, but from what I can recall it was relatively uneventful. I honestly have to read my own archive to make sure that I'm not missing anything, which is just sort of how things go around here. And well...ok, so Andre Breton said, "Our brains are dulled by the incurable mania of wanting to make the unknown known." I have a point, although I can't seem to get to it, and that point lies somewhere in the fact that what I do here is try and figure out the nooks and crannies that I can't quiet get my fingers into. So don't worry about me.

Or, you know, something.

November doesn't look to be any less eventful, what with all of the happy hours and the shows and Thanksgiving. I'll be cooking for Thanksgiving again this year, in case you'll be in town. I'm already making new year's resolutions for next year, and today I started my second mitten. I'm chugging along. And I (heart) you--promise.

Love,
me
When I was a little girl, the orange groves started disappearing. They were leveled to make way for condos and strip malls, but we didn't really mind because we had orange trees in our yard--and we had Orange Blossom Groves.

A regular part of my routine-with-grandma was a stop by the Orange Blossom Groves for fresh-squeezed orange juice, a peek at the conveyor belt, and orange ice cream made from real fruit. All the way up through high school I'd stop there for ice cream.

RIP, Orange Blossom Groves. Now kids in Pinellas County will get to grow up with California oranges, get to taste fruit that is bred for longevity, for length of preservation, and not for sweetness. No more fresh orange ice cream for them.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

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While I recover from last night's party, you look at pictures of it, and we'll meet back here later.

Friday, October 28, 2005

If you were me, you would:

Prefer red velvet cake over all others.

Have very sore ankles today from dancing all night in your Converse rather than your usual heels.

Be cooking a casserole.

Want to write a play called "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Waiting for Godot," in which Vladimir and Estragon would meet Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in a Sharks vs. Jets-type dance-off.

Never accept the fact that no one else finds that as amusing as you do.

Have retrieved your strainer with a chair and a spatula.

Have finished knitting your first mitten last night.

In other news, my old buddy/former roommate Jesse the magician has lost what seems to be an entire child's worth of weight (as well as a whole small animal's worth of hair) since I saw him last year at his wedding. If it weren't for that birthmark on his nose I'd have thought that was another fellow entirely.
I'm glad he's looking so healthy now, and I'm so proud of him for all the work that it must have been. Hooray for Jesse!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Do you know that all of my roads look like car commercials, and that there are piles and piles of leaves that I can't just walk through for all the kicking and capering that needs to be done? And that I want to take those leaves and make them into big fluffy origami bunnies and give them to you because I like you so much?

Every time I've been out for the last few weeks I've stayed out hours later than I had intended, occasionally until the closing of restaurants and bars, because the people I know are so funny and smart and amazing. I want to learn how to make cheese danishes and give them to you, because cookies just don't feel like enough.

In the middle of the Math and Physics Club song, "You're So Good to Me" he pauses and sighs a little, as though he simply can't believe just how good she is to him. I love that, and I play it over and over and wave at complete strangers.

I still haven't gotten my strainer down. Maybe I should stand on the counter.

Tomorrow will be dancing at Neighbors for what may be the last time before Cat goes to Kenya, and everyone in town should be there, and yes, Adam, I'm looking right at you. In the meantime, I will be doing cartwheels or making zucchini bread or knitting mittens. Just in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

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I just got home from work and man, does it smell like pumpkin in here.

So it turns out that if you combine about twenty people and pumpkin carving in one small one-bedroom apartment, what you get is lunacy. Total pumpkin-y chaos. And, you know, awesomeness. (Final attendee list is: Jean and Michael, Steph and Ryan, Phil, Jeff, Julie, Natasha, Cat, Manuel, Rod, Clare, Fester, Adam, John, Caroline and Chris, Dylan, Tara and Ryan and Gracie the supercute happy puppy. Holy geez, did I forget anyone? Stace, you were missed.)

Whoever put my strainer on top of the cabinets is so fired. Anyone tall that would like to come and fetch it is welcome, because even standing in a chair I can't reach.

I'm either going to have to move to a bigger apartment for next year or y'all are going to have to become really good friends so that you can sit on each other's laps.

I've carved pumpkins every year for as long as I can remember, and this year was the most fun so far. Thanks, guys!

Pictures via Manuel, Dylan, and me.

In other brief housekeeping, the trailer for the movie that Pete is currently embarrassed to be working on is here. Says Pete, "It has puppies!"
Well, I guess you don't hang out with samantha for five years without knowing that puppies are all I need out of life.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

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On a back road in Midwestern Florida I drove past a doorstep adorned by a small crying girl. I was far enough out of the city that the house sat on about an acre of land; one side of the yard held two doghouses and the opposite end boasted a chicken coop and what looked like a rabbit hutch. From all the toys in the yard I could tell that the house must have contained a whole mess of kids, but for the moment the only living creature in sight was the weeping little girl with twin braids on either side of her head.

As we've already established, I can't ignore crying children, and so I pulled over and went to check on things. I asked if she was ok and she said yes, but her voice was thinly held together and her hands trembled. A dog trotted around the corner and shoved its head against her nose, and she hugged it to her and sniffed. With each hand full of dog fur she mumbled, her voice muffled by a canine ear, "It doesn't matter, anyway." "I don't know, it must matter a little bit if it's made you this upset."

Her brother, she told me, had that afternoon thrown an egg from her chicken at her and it had broken on the grass. A few weeks before, her mother had given birth to a baby that was stillborn, and her mother hadn't been out of bed since. (That was why she was there alone--her family had gone to visit grandma, and she was left to watch over her mom.) She was worried that her pet would be like her mother, that it would never leave its nest again because her brother had killed its baby.

Her breath hitched here, and before she could blame herself for either incident I hugged her while her dog looked up at us with human eyes. It knew what was going on. I had nothing else to give her--my car contained a blanket, a pair of sandals, and a copy of Neruda--but in the end a hug is the world's best healer. I smoothed her hair and told her that they both would be fine, and she sniffed one more time and nodded, patting the dog on the head. She took me over to meet her chicken and then I got back in my car and went on my way. When I got to Tampa and told the boys what had happened, they wondered why no one had taught her not to talk to strangers.

Dostoevsky demands to know which is better, "cheap happiness or exalted sufferings? Well, which is better?" But I think that what really matters is the space in between, the steps between the hackneyed and the sublime. I think that it's only in the ordinary every day that we get the chance to be supremely human, to be real, and to be compassionate.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

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Yesterday: A new baby and a new puppy, and bar hopping with the ladies. We found ourselves at the Green Room just before the Turbonegro show let out, and were treated to exactly the sort of show you'd expect from the Scandinavian punk crowd--drunken pseudo-rumble between a girl and a bouncer included.

Friday, October 21, 2005

On the phone with my mother:

"Samantha, why are you coughing?"

"I think I'm coming down with another case of bronchitis."

"Have you got kennel cough again? Ha ha, samantha has kennel cough!"

"Um, mother? I'm not a dog."

"Oh yeah. Right."

Thursday, October 20, 2005

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I love all of you who want to be kissing booths for Halloween. Two thumbs up.

Last night I was kidnapped by my coworkers for the seventh week in a row. This time, we found ourselves doing trivia at the Liquid Lounge. We managed alright, all things considered.

Of all the many fabulous people I've met and amazing emails I've gotten from the nearly-two-years of this website, nothing has astonished me more than the recent interest in my love life. There have lately been more emails that I would have believed about it, and I am honestly just floored by the idea that a whole bunch of folks are concerned about any such thing. The volume has been enough that I decided it needed adressing.

The first kind of email tends to be from people who are concerned that my recent melancholy is male-related, and to that I say not to worry. I am a much sadder girl here than I am anywhere else, and honestly I just haven't had a whole lot of free time lately to be sad about the boys. Really. Besides, 2005 has provided me with more than my fair share of attention. I'm doing fine, aside from the fact that my head may soon become too large to fit through most doors.

The second kind comes from people who are upset that I don't share more about that particular aspect of my life. To which I say several things. First of all, believe it or not, there are some things that I choose not to share with the internet. Yeah, I find it hard to believe too. Secondly, I am not dategirl. While my dating experiences are varied and entertaining, they're not really interesting. And although being interesting is certainly never a standard that I have held this website to, in this case, that's what I'm going for.
But honestly, it's all patently untrue. I do so tell you about my love life. I told you about how things went sour with the dancer, how the drummer showed up at 2 am after I hadn't seen him for months. I've told you about reconnecting with my high school crush, and how I'm sometimes still reeling over the boy with the crooked smile. I tell you when my dates fall through. I even tell you when I'm embarassing myself in front of someone cute (albeit sometimes late). It's all there if you speak the language.

Trust me, when I meet someone who sends me poloroids from Mars, I'll let you know. In the meantime, everything is generally just fine.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

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Now is the part where I admit to all of you that I finally saw my first episode of "The Daily Show" at our hotel in Leavenworth last night. What? I mean it when I say I'm not a tv watching sort of girl.

Leavenworth was not my office, which was pretty much the point of going. Oh sure, it was pretty and kitschy and odd, but also it was Out of Town, which is where I wanted to be. The man at the hotel said that there would be salmon, and they would be almost as big as me, but there were no salmon. Except that's a lie, because there were salmon, they just weren't as big as me and were also mostly dead.
But man, those trees. Trees and trees and trees.

I also mean it when I say that all I need is air in the spare. I have always been a fan of road-based adventures. I can't resist them.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

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I am now in possession of a six-string guitar with five strings. It was sitting near the recycling when Cat dropped me off last night. Aside from the missing string, it seems to be in perfectly good condition. This is obviously the universe's way of telling me that I really ought to be in a band. Not that I plan on learning how to play it.

Man, this weekend. Friday night Cat and I decided on the spur of the moment to head downtown to see the new Cameron Crowe movie. It was so cute, and we all know how much I like so cute. Afterwards we headed to Dragonfish for the late happy hour to deconstruct Cat's move to Kenya.

Yesterday was girl's day. I met Cat and Caroline for chai. We made a trip to Frye's to look for solar powered thingies and then over to the Traveler's Lounge for diner food. Back at Cat's furniture-free apartment we drank girly pink martinis, watched Sex in the City, and played with pretty miss Erin's boyfriend's new kitty.
Then I came home and found the guitar.
At which point (this is exhausting), I went downtown alone to The Stranger Genius Awards to see Voyager One and the Helio Sequence, as well as take in the super fun crowd that filled the place up. I came across Josh and Peter there, and we milled about, occasionally pointing at, say, a man in a full-length raccoon coat.
I want to run away to the south of France with the drummer from Helio Sequence. He's the most entertaining drummer ever. Him and that lovely pear tart from Thursday night. And a tambourine.

Today was a trip to Fremont with Caroline to see "Frozen" at the Empty Space, which you should all run to see, rather than walking. It's astonishing theatre like that that makes me keep going to see plays.

Tomorrow I'm off to Leavenworth, and in a week it will be time for extreme pumpkin carving. I'm so excited. Last year's special carving guest was Jacob, who I would soon develop a great big crush on, but who that night came over, carved a pumpkin, and left...and all we knew about him was that he had a hot tub. This year's party is sure to be equally full of celebrities.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The first time I crossed the Mississippi was in the afternoon of our third day on the road. Andrea and I had reached our stride, reveling in being young and in a car with the windows down in the middle of nowhere--elbows out the window, wearing tank tops we'd picked up at a store somewhere in Kentucky, bras tucked into our duffel bags. The cd player had broken in Nashville and so we were stuck with local stations or, when those faded out, whatever words we could make up to the noises inside the car. We were having an adventure.

And so we made it to Mark Twain's river and realized just as it came into view just what it was. I looked at Andrea, who was driving. "Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer."
She nodded and answered, "When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained."
(This is the code recently graduated English majors talk in.)

There were fields on either side of the bridge that crossed the river, and in one of them was a farmer on a large farm tool--a tractor, or a plow, or something. He nodded to us and tipped his hat, and as we reached the bridge we waved back and he tipped his hat one more time. And then we were on the other side and we knew in the way that you know when you grow up in the South that the Mississippi is the line that divides what you know from everything else. It was the point in our adventure that we knew we were driving off into what happens next.

It felt good, so we turned around and did it again.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

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Last night's Killers show confirmed that I am not two more types of girl--the arena show type of girl and the all ages show type of girl. It's always just as nice to find out what I'm not, like Noam Chomsky or Papa Smurf.

British Sea Power, the openers, were the most entertaining band I've seen in a while. A guy from the band dressed kind of like Mushmouth wandered out into the audience and down the stairs right next to me. The bass player broke a string and discarded his instrument, finishing the set by walking around and harassing his band mates. I've never seen a band have so much fun.

The Killers, obviously, need a tambourine player. (Jean's husband might recruit me as the tambourine player in his band. Then I would be the happiest girl alive.) They really pretty much rocked, although they took this weird intermission 3/4 of the way in to set up extra keyboards.
Evidently, all the cool kids are covering Bowie these days.

Pumpkin carving. My house. The 24th. I'm no longer taking no as an answer to anything.

You know what smells really good? The yummy cauliflower-potato-tomato-mushroom cheesy casserole I just made. Yum.

I am still conflicted about all of the shows happening Saturday. Do I go to Bird Show? Harvey Danger/The Lashes/The Saturday Knights? The Genius Awards, where Helio Sequence is playing? The Hold Steady/The Constantines? Too many shows. Any ideas? Anyone wanna join me?

I am still without plans for tomorrow night. Maybe a movie?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

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I fell asleep last night reading Henry and June, and when the light finally forced me back awake I found myself on the other side of the bed, cheek creased from laying on top of Anansi Boys. I never venture over to the other side of the bed; these days, it is used solely for the storage of books. And yet there I was, and I am firmly convinced that the cause for this somnambulant jaunt lies at the feet of Anais Nin.

I have always loved Anais Nin, loved how she regularly set her world on fire just to see how it would change the landscape. But at the same time I'll never forget the disappointment I felt the day I learned that the copy of her journals I was reading was heavily edited, and that in fact she had been married the entire time she was exploring other people. It was the first time that I realized that my idols could be, and in fact often were, fallible human beings.

Monday, October 10, 2005

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It only took a minute to realize that the women sitting behind me were planning a wedding. They were each bent so far over the table that their heads nearly touched in the middle, and swatches of pink were strewn all over the space between them. The conversation was familiar: formal vs. casual, traditional vs. nontraditional, full bar vs. sober mother-in-law. I don't currently know anyone that's getting married--the rush has died down now--and I sort of miss the details. It eventually dawned on me that one of the women, the one with all the answers, was a wedding planner.
There was no husband in sight.


I would like to wring out the last few weeks, which have been rife with disappointments, and head to the ocean. Just me and a coastline. But I know that it's much better in my head.

My French teacher's baby, Eva, was fussy all evening. This is because Eva thinks I'm great, and because babies can smell a sucker from a mile away. She knows that if she makes noise I'll pay attention to her. If you've been playing along on the home version you'll know that I love babies and small furry animals, particularly, at this point in my life, when they belong to someone else. Tonight's lesson was excruciating, because I have been working at translating from English into French and it's a lot more difficult than the other way around. I need to focus and study more, because I have so much more shit to get together if I'm going to make it in France in the spring. What I need is someone who is fluent to hang out with (and if that someone was tall, skinny, and tattooed, well...that would be a bonus).
So today I have been completely defeated by a children's book, and that's a new and different kind of humbling.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

On the phone with my stepmother:

"I'm taking an EMT class for work, and last week I had to do an excercise where I pretended that five people in my life were someone we were responding to, and I had to ask them questions about what their problem was. The first one I asked was your brother, and I told him to just make something up. You know what his problem was?"

"Hair in his eyes?"

"No. Spontaneous human combustion. He said it had happened to him four or five times in the last week."

"You're going to blame this one on me too, aren't you."
Somehow, last night went from Rod's birthday party at the Elysian to running into Drew and his friend on our way to get frites, to getting and consuming delicious frites, to heading to West Seattle for Will's birthday party and finally ending up watching both "Old school" and "Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death" on Will's comfy couch. That last one has Bill Maher in it, and more skimpy costumes than you can shake a stick at.
I (heart) Seattle.

Anyway, you guys, I need Halloween costume ideas. One of the Halloween parties this year is an 80's party and my hair isn't long enough for Punky Brewster. I'm seriously debating stealing the idea for Haley's Comet from last year, but I'll bet you could come up with something much better.

Friday, October 07, 2005

I had just walked out of my office and was deciding what song to start the walk home with when a large German shepherd ran up, checked out my bright green shoes, and looked up at me like we had plans and it was sorry it was late. I looked down and asked it, "What do you think would be good today? 'Down Like Disco?' Do you like the new Dandy album?" It sat down, so I nodded and selected the song.
She was very well cared for, very pretty and well-fed, but she had no collar on. I reached down to pet her while I scanned the vicinity for potential owners, and was rewarded with a little lick on the hand. I couldn't see anyone, so I looked down into her serious brown eyes and asked where she'd come from; she responded by putting her paw on my knee and her nose against mine.
We were obviously best friends.
Just then I heard running, and looked up to see a little girl and a very red-faced man in a suit coming around the corner. The girl held a leash with a collar attached to it in her hand. He apologized, explained that the dog had run out of the car when he opened the door, that the collar had apparently not been closed right. At the sight of them the dog had jumped up and wagged her tail three or four times. It appeared that they knew each other, so I gave her a pat on the head and asked the little girl what the dog's name was. She answered, "Graciemonkey," and the dog trotted over to her. I nodded, said, "Nice to meet you, Graciemonkey," and the dad thanked me while I put my headphones in and started home.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

I don't even need to tell Florida stories anymore to prove that the place exists in an alternate universe. It's doing all the work itself, what with exploding snakes and the new plan to turn the state into one big bar fight.

My home state is obviously going to be the site of the upcoming apocalypse. Just in case you were wondering.
She wanted to tell me a secret.

The top of her little brown head barely reached over my table, and I bumped my jaw as I bent down obediently to answer her command, a brief "Secret!" accompanied by the stamp of a pink shod foot.
I wasn't sure what role I was playing in her movie, but as I looked up you and I traded glances, destroying the game we had played all evening. I had studied your chin while you looked at my cheekbones, and not once did our eyes touch the same space. The half-smile looked like a road I've already been down once this year, reminded me that the doors at the end of that road only led to a year's supply of Rice-a-Roni and not to the vacation in Maui.
Her secret had no words, just a hurried "Psssh pssss psssh" noise. Satisfied, she turned to go. Her barrette caught the lights and twinkled at me while she raised her fist to eat the last of the cookie she'd been clutching. I smiled at her mother, who looked up just then and noticed that her little girl was no longer at her side, to let her know that the child was doing no harm. I watched as she bent down, picked up a leaf on the floor, and pressed it to her nose. Her little finger held it there while she followed the lines on the floor tiles back to the square between her parents.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

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As is the usual way of Seattle, I headed to the Mike Doughty show alone last night and ran into people that I knew. Those people were Holli and Casey, who I ran into at the last Mike Doughty show at Neumos, and who are together now and cuter than a whole mess of buttons. We then came across two more of their friends, and at Holli's behest squished all five of us into the photo booth at the Showbox.


Dear Mike Doughty,

Thanks for coming to visit us again. How come you weren't wearing your hat?

I have to ask you not to play the Showbox again. It's too big for Small Rock. Small Rock just kind of disappears in ceilings as high as those. Also, we were pretty spoiled here in Seattle by the Bumbershoot performance of "Hungry Like the Wolf". Please play "The Gambler" forever.

But seriously, the Firetruck/It's Raining Men remix was just freaking amazing. You could tell who in the room had listened to "Smofe and Smang" because the people who hadn't were just plain confused. If you ever find yourself in need of a tambourine player, you know who to call.

love,

me

I have been a total slug today, and so instead of doing all of the things I'd planned to do, like go buy milk to make soup, I'm going to stay home and eat pizza. I'm actually a little fuzzed about going out right now because I'm still a little tweaked about the crazy late night doorbell ringing incident--even though I know who it was and that he's harmless, and I wouldn't have answered the door anyway, well...in the end I'm still a single girl who lives alone and it would be a couple of days before people noticed I was missing. And that's not something particularly fabulous to be reminded of. So if you need me I'll be at home, willfully not cleaning my apartment or cooking.

(Also, you should know that Cat and I are famous. And that even cool people appear in public with major fashion don'ts sometimes.)
A note to all boys:

Please don't come ring my doorbell at 2 am on a Tuesday morning if you haven't called first. Especially do not do this if I haven't seen or heard from you in a month. I will think you've done gone crazy, and I will so not be answering the door. Further, I'll really be pretty annoyed, because I have to work in the morning.

Thanks,

me.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

I've got a bunch of little lumps on my head from yesterday's hailstorm. I ran back inside, but evidently not quickly enough.
Honestly. A hailstorm in October?

When I first met Paul, coming up on a million years ago, he was really just moments from bursting out of the closet like a little kid playing hide-and-seek that just can't wait any more to be found. His mom wasn't a fan at first, and so Alex and I took turns hosting Paul at nights. When it was my turn, I'd sneak him through my window after I went to bed, and we'd huddle under the covers and giggle for hours--it was a month long slumber party. Eventually his mother came around and started trying to set up blind dates with her friends' sons rather than their daughters, but the giggling like eight year olds has held.
He called this afternoon to let me know that he's moving to Maine. He can't take Florida anymore, and I can't blame him. The place is a sink, and since Mark has been dead for years and his mother passed the spring before last, there's nothing for him there. We talk in song lyrics, which is a game that has always been great fun because we don't listen to the same bands so it's like speaking in two different codes.
He stops me with an audible sigh when I get to, "She got a call requesting that she use her words accordingly, but she'll never stand a chance with the one who moves her." I can hear him shaking his head, but all he says is a disappointed, "Mouse."
A million years of friendship lets you know just which buttons to push.

I once dated a man with deliberately rockabilly hair. I didn't hear a thing he said for weeks because I was so distracted by that bouffant.

I'm pretty sure that my headache has reached a point where it's producing BTU's. Ow.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

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Dear everyone,

In just a couple of days, it will have been a year since I started my job. And I still love what I do, regardless of the days that are long and frustrating and full of ornery folks. I'm lucky to have fallen into the place.
But man, the things that have changed in the last year.
I got home late last night, after another marathon happy hour with my coworkers, and I wanted to call you and tell that I understood. I even wrote myself a note and left it here on my desk--it says, "Phone call: you understand!" But now in the daylight I don't remember who or what or how or when. I guess it doesn't really matter, because I still do get it. And if I don't, just let me know.
In case you haven't heard, my dear friend Cat will be moving to Kenya in a couple of months. This is going to be such an adventure for her, and she will be able to do good things for so many people. Doing good things for people is what she does best, after all. But we will miss her. I'll have to find myself a new local single girl friend, someone I can talk about dates and nondates and the general every day workings of being a single girl with. And with any luck I will make it to Africa next year for a visit.
I am sitting at my desk with my feet on the baseboard heater, and my soles are starting to tingle a little because the heat has turned itself on. When I woke up this morning, my cheeks were cold to the touch. Fall is here, and all of the streets look like car commercials. I'll make my second batch of potato-leek soup this season tomorrow, and on the way to and from the store there will be puddles that I'll consider jumping in. It is time to put away my spring-and-summer research paper about e e cummings and the rhetoric of textual impressionism and pick up something for fall-and-winter. (I'm leaning toward something about sentence structure in Tolstoy, but I need to make sure my translations are good.) Only spring is better than fall.
October is a busy month, with shows and shows and shows. Tonight I'll be seeing Math and Physics Club again with some other folks, and Monday is Mike Doughty. (Anyone else going to that?) There will be Moroccan food and readings and my third annual pumpkin carving. And boy do I have plans for the next year.
You've all been great friends while I've been loaded up with mean reds, with doubt and with dislike and with occasional outright loathing. I am trying to do better.

love,
me

Thursday, September 29, 2005

I found myself ducking out of the office this afternoon to head downtown and fight the winds. When I was in college and the mean reds had me I would wait until dark and then slip down to the seawall by the Castillo de San Marcos and try to stand against the winds. Now that I am an urban adventurer I tend to fight my reds in the streets, up and down city blocks.
Plans of all sorts have fallen through for the night. My original Thursday plan was to go see Clap Your Hands Say Yeah at the Croc., but I tossed that plan in favor of a girl's night. Only the other day my girl became homesick or boyfriendsick or both and headed to Pennsylvania to rejoin her other half. Sadly, the CYHSY show had sold out. And now I am at home with Neil Gaiman and Minus the Bear and tea, and that's fine, but the only way to get from there to here was to go downtown and put myself in my place.

As I was fighting the wind and trying to lick the rain off my nose I realized that a man had fallen in step with me. We reached the same bus stop and ducked under the same awning, and so I looked up and smiled. The folds around his eyes gave him a concerned air, and in a moment of paranoia I wondered if my edges were showing. He smiled back, and commented on how much of a struggle it had been to make it down the street. I agreed--the winds were heavy and I am light, and as a result I had gone a half step backward for each one forward. (This is pretty much par for the course, these days.) After a little more small talk he introduced himself, reached out to shake my hand, and that was when I realized that he was only in possession of three fingers. His middle and pinkie digits were missing, and as his hand closed over mine I tried to tell the difference. But the pressure of his thumb on my palm was firm and reassuring, and I looked back up at his crinkled eyes and smiled. He smiled back and nodded, and in that moment in the wind we understood each other.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

There was once that you told me about how you hated to hear what other people dreamed about. That night I dreamt that you were roller skating through the dreams of others, hands over your ears, singing songs from Sesame Street. I can only guess at what that means--or, I could if I wanted to--but when I told you the next day you put your hands over your ears again.

I am a shy girl around the people I actually want to talk to. This works out nicely in my professional life where I can be charming and get things done, but after hours I spend a lot of time looking at the ground.

My way home at night is always a little bit treacherous, always a bit of dodging between pools of darkness and hoping that no one is already sleeping in them. It is some amount of hoping that no one wants to make an after-dark snack out of a small girl. My grandmother would scold me if she knew about the places I wander at night.
But it is at night that I glance through windows, look briefly at the scenes behind the glass. I like looking at people as vignettes. But the best part of my walks are the times that I skirt around what are very likely first kisses. They make my sentimental heart go all pitter-patter, and in my head I cheer for the potential for a lifetime of fluttery moments.

And then the lights of my city come into view through houses and across trees, and it is often all I can do not to skip the rest of the way home.

Monday, September 26, 2005

When Ryan was very small, his main concern was sharing with whomever he could get to stand still whatever it was he had in his hand. When he was overtired he would get hot to the touch, a sleepy littleboy furnace.
Eric wanted to make sure that everyone was covered with his blankie if they were sitting on the couch. When he was very sleepy he would suck on the fingers of his right hand backwards.
When I am overtired, I rub my forehead. It pushes back some of the pressure between my skin and my brain.

Being a good sibling does not run in my family, if my father's stories of adolescent knife fights and broken limbs are even partially true. Our family was always more a game of psychic dodgeball than it was anything resembling what was on tv. Maybe that's why I've never really watched it.

I have been on auto-jitter lately, imagining palmetto bugs out of the corner of my eye. On top of that, I have been cultivating a talent at putting myself in awkward situations. Somehow my better judgment has gone on vacation.

My mother called a few days ago to let me know that my cousin, a year older than me, is now pregnant with her fourth child. There is also some story about her ex-husband's girlfriend coming to beat her up while she was pregnant with the last one, but my attention drifted.
She does not, she assures me, want me to worry about catching up. Which is good because the thought had never crossed my mind. I find myself comparing our timelines, my mother's and mine, tracking where she was in her various marriages and the raising of myself when she was my age. I think, "At this time twenty-three years ago, she was two years away from her first divorce." And I realize that twenty-three years ago isn't really that far away, and that my imaginary parallel mom is shortly going to face the betrayal and the lunacy that would shape the rest of her life.
It's really then that I come to admire my mother. All of my own serious wounds have been from my family, who are people that you can't really trust to be on your side anyway. None of them have--yet--come from someone I have chosen to be around.

I apologize. I promise to be big-eyed and full of wonder again soon. It is shaping up to be a lovely fall and there are such good things coming. I have a terrible habit of dwelling on what I can't fix.