Sunday, July 31, 2005

People come and go from the little park down by the water, walking down the steps to take in the view and then, unsure of what to do next, turning around and sheepishly leaving. I had been there for a while, yesterday, propped up against the cement wall and balancing sideways on the wooden steps, my dress adjusted primly around my knees. In the water floated a set of three geese and five ducks, all honking and quacking and occasionally chasing each other. I wasn't sure if what I was seeing was a game of waterfowl tag or a grumpy bunch of birds, but as long as they stayed in the water I was content to watch them.

A man and his dog sat down a little distance from me, and the man pulled a beer, a carton of raspberries, and a sandwich out of the plastic bag next to him. We touched glances and nodded, content to leave each other alone.

While we sat there, he with his dinner and I with my book, a little boy showed up with two women and half a loaf of bread to feed to the geese. He was small, maybe three or four, and unable to manage throwing the bread out to where the geese were. The geese, suspicious of the boy, wouldn't come any closer. In the water between them, there floated a line of soggy bread.

Off to the side, suddenly, the ducks took flight, answering some secret duck call. The man and I exchanged glances again and shrugged, not sure what to think about the sudden departure of the ducks.

Hours later, walking home, I'll try to explain this story to my companion. While using elaborate gestures to try and convey exactly what happened I'll stumble on the sidewalk and lose my footing, saved from a full tumble by a steadying hand on my arm.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

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Dear everyone,

Hello and welcome to the end of July! As is always the case, I find myself wondering where the time has gone. I'm a bit afraid to try and break down my month, to find out that 63% of my time has gone to laying on the floor, chatting with the ceiling about all of the other things I ought to be doing.
Largely, though, I am glad to see the month gone. July has been one of the toughest months I've had in years; it's been a month full of just trying to keep my head above everything bad. For weeks now I have largely laid off the boys and the better part of the drinking and have fought, daily, to make it through to the next morning. But I have not reverted to old bad behaviors, have not reopened old wounds and headed for the damp comfort of self-destruction. I have made it through one more month, and that puts me one month closer to being a girl you might all be proud of someday.
I have spoken to my grandmother three times in the last five days because I am possessed of a fear that something will happen to her while I am out of town and largely unreachable. I need my grandma.
What I have been doing, recently, is going to shows. I spent my childhood at band practice and at shows, and I did my time as a band girlfriend a few years ago. I have always loved live music. Thursday night's Math and Physics Club show was splendid, just like I knew it would be. I fell briefly and delicately in love with the jumping fellow in Tullycraft, the show opener. And this weekend is the Capitol Hill Block Party. (Monday is Aleksandra's show at ToST, for those of you who have met her or who just like to see a pretty girl rocking out.) I don't remember until I'm there just how much I enjoy the energy that you can only find in a small club, and if it were possible I would vow to go out more often.
But let's face it, I already go out too much. Which is sometimes, of course, not quite enough.
Today I am practically bursting with a secret that involves no one, I think, even remotely involved with this website. But secrecy has been requested of me until next weekend, and so even though you probably won't be able to stop me from talking about it in person, I'll refrain from telling the whole internet. But rest assured that things are most exciting and that I can't wait.
As of yesterday, I am no longer a car owner. This is sort of refreshing, as I haven't really driven my car much since I moved out here, because it is often broken. It's one less unnecessary thing to worry about, and that makes me thrilled.
I did something that was exceptionally bold for the likes of me this week, and have found exactly none of the exhilaration and strength that everyone says you're supposed to get out of going against your character. What I found instead was a good amount of untrustworthy anxiety, and I think I'll stick to at least some of the paths that I'm familiar with, regardless of the fact that what I did in the end produced some amount of the effect I was going for. Not to be, um, cryptic or anything.
My trip is in twelve days and I am scared witless. With any luck at all the month of August will be somewhat less heinous, and maybe I'll throw a party.

The contents of my goody bag from tonight's party are:

1 green Christmas tree ornament in a smiley face cupcake thingie

1 mouse cat toy

Spongebob Squarepants stickers

1 Spongebob Squarepants water game without water in it

1 condom

1 packed of "Warm Lovin'" personal lubricant.

Stupid thing I did tonight:

Forget my cell phone at home.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The problem with being the sort of girl who does things like go to bars all by herself is that one generally has to deal with certain questions:

"Hey there, what are you doing all alone?"

"Considering changing my career path to barfly."

"Need a degree for that?"

"No, I'd just have to learn how to ooze sad glamour, like I'd once believed that I could do everything but now am not sure that I'm allowed believe I can do anything."

"That all?"

"Well, I'd also have to learn to consume cocktails at the exact right speed so that I become confessional but not sloppy. I'm a little young for the job, but I'm a quick learner."

"It sounds like you've got it all figured out."

"Does it? I'm really just making this up as I go along. But maybe it's more of a viable option than I had thought."

It isn't so much that I mind needles--a girl who likes tattoos as much as I do couldn't possibly. But I do not like being injected. I do not like the way it feels, and I do not like that my arm will hurt all day tomorrow. You should just keep telling me that this trip is worth all of this.

The Math and Physics Club show is tomorrow night, and you all better be coming with me. Is anyone surprised that I like them so much? Sometimes I stop and realize how ridiculously hopeful I continue to be, and it kills me. My belief in magic is going to be what does me in.

Dear samantha,

Being bold does not work for you, and you ought to go back to being shy and flustered. That doesn't work for you either, but at the very least it doesn't work for you in ways that you are accustomed to.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

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A message from my brother today went, "Yeah, I hated the end of the new Harry Potter book...and I got contacts. Bye."

I believe that I have pretty much stopped sleeping altogether, pausing only to hallucinate lightly around 3 or 4 am. It is yet again likely for the best that I live alone, because little is more irritating than trying to sleep next to someone who can't. Especially when that someone who can't is me, because I am a vindictive insomniac. Nobody is sleeping if I'm not sleeping.

What all of the not sleeping provides, though, is a complete lack of excuses for not staying out way too late. So last night we headed out to see two shows: Chris and the drummer. And I have to tell you guys, my buddy Chris knows his way around a saxophone. The drummer, who is surprisingly endearing and just as cute when I'm sober as he was when I was drunk, had been made to wait a lot longer to play than I suppose they had intended. Still and all, though, we were entertained and a good time was had by all.

The countdown to China has begun, as I get on an airplane in 17 days. Anais Nin, when she heard that we were sending men to the moon, wrote that she was not overly impressed because man has so much farther to go within himself. And this is true. I am so nervous about getting there, but I think that what will be good for me right now will be to land somewhere that I don't speak the language. I'll spend my time with a girl I haven't seen in two years and a boy I've never met, and if I'm incredibly lucky and observant I might come back having made a baby step toward something important. And that's just the sort of adventure I need.

Monday, July 25, 2005

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Seriously, kids. All I need is air in the spare.

The nights that Alex would knock softly on my window, a light roll through each of his fingertips, were beach nights. This was not too long before I introduced him to the woman who would become his wife, a beautiful girl with long black hair and blue eyes, the only one who could ground him in all the right places--who would stand on his feet while he danced. We'd head down to the beach, just the two of us in his beat up old car, and camp out on an empty lifeguard stand to tell stories. On warm nights it was always hard to find an abandoned stand because they were often already occupied by couples taking advantage of the little privacy to be found on the beach. Alex and I weren't a couple, and all we wanted was a spot to thumb wrestle in out of the wind.

I am a city girl, but my city life is always underlined by my proximity to the water. I grew up on the Gulf of Mexico, after all, and went to college by the Atlantic.

This is all just to say that we drove out to the Pacific Ocean today. Steph and Ryan had never seen it before, and it is always necessary to complete these cross-country trips. I have only seen the Pacific once before myself, and that was well over a year ago.
And I love just climbing in the car and driving places, with a general direction or a vague destination in mind. I love singing along to the radio regardless of whether or not I know the words, eating in roadside diners, and looking at everything. There were daisies in bloom all along the roads and I'm pretty sure there was nowhere else that I could possibly have been today.

It's been an extraordinary weekend, and it looks to be a busy week as well. Tomorrow we're off to Tost to see my buddy Chris play his saxophone, and then we'll head to The Rainbow to check out the drummer we befriended the other night. You are, as ever, welcome to come along. Hijinks will very likely ensue.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

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Now and then I find, while going from someplace to somewhere else, that I am on your street. It's impossible at those times to not look up and see that you still live there, see that the cats are still sleeping on the balcony and that the plants are still blocking the window. Those times, it's hard to pretend that anything else happened, that you didn't one day just start forgetting to call.
And it makes me so mad, that a pair of maverick sunglasses, a crooked smile, and the persistent smell of vanilla have managed to infiltrate all of my secret places. It's unfair that I can't forget you, no matter how hard I don't try.

I am lightly sunburned tonight from a delightful day spent out at the Bite of Seattle. We were up too late last night, Steph and Ryan and I, at my favorite bar--drinking too much beer and chatting with a drummer that we made friends with. Everything really is perfect more often than it's not, and I ought to have very little cause for complaint. Everyone ought to experience summer in Seattle at least once.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

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There have been several nights, now that it has warmed up enough for my thin Florida blood, spent down at the dock comparing the reflection of my city with the city itself. These are nights when the rustle in the bushes knows that I'm there and stays put, nights when the water is so still that the two cities are identical.
These are the times I feel most transparent, most made of glass. That rustle in the bushes could break me to pieces with a look.

In the interest of gloating about the talented people I know, I have to tell you that Onalaska is playing at Chop Suey on August 16th. I'll be in China, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't go. Also of interest is the fact that Dykeboy is back, drawn by the fellow with the large spectacles that some of you have seen hanging on my wall in portrait form. His name is Hay-den.

I have these little round scars on the back of my left knee, the relics of some mysterious malady that appeared suddenly a year or two ago and then, just as mysteriously, went away. No one ever notices these scars, but I tend to touch them when I need to remember that I am not vanishing. They anchor me, and I feel sometimes that if someone were to notice them and touch them, too, I might remember the key to keeping myself attached to the ground.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

When I moved to public school and parent/teacher conferences started happening, what they always told my mom was that I was a good student but that I wouldn't ask for help.
The same comment showed up on my six-month review at work back in April. There are some things, you know, that never change.

Saturday nights are hardest for me because they lead to Sunday mornings. There are reasons beyond my deep and abiding love of my bed that I tend to sleep through Sunday mornings--and if I ever end up with a roommate again, it will largely be to save me from them.

I will be out of the office tomorrow, shopping and walking and generally not being at work. It has been a very difficult couple of week. I spoke to my mother yesterday, and she let me know that my grandma isn't doing well, that she's sick and depressed and not good. I called grandma (to thank her for all the articles on Asian bird flu), and told her that she had better be taking care of herself because her daughter will tell on her to me. One of the many wonderful things about my job and my coworkers is that they understand that I am overwhelmed and need some time that is specifically a break. My piles of work will still be here on Friday. In fact, they’ll probably be higher.

What will be best for me will be to sit in the sun and read e e cummings to the squirrels--I shall above all things be glad and young.

Monday, July 18, 2005

On the nights that I have my French lesson I always want to come home and write to you in French. I don't, because as has become abundantly clear the last few weeks, my sentence construction skills suck.
The question I've been getting a lot lately is, "Wait, why are you learning French when you're going to China?" And I guess that this is what I deserve for telling everyone and their brother that I'm going to China, but honestly folks, I'll only be there for nine days. I'm not moving to China. And who says I have to know the language in the places I visit, anyway?

I have done something, in the last few days, that has seriously messed up my left knee. As a result I've been limping around town, cursing and scowling at the ground.
All coarser suggestions for the reason why have been considered and discarded. There's been none of that happening around here, these days.

Please, cross your fingers that someone wants to take my stupid car off my hands.

Also! Before I forget one more time! Craig is officially in business for himself, so if you're in Texas and need photos taken, I recommend him. He's so talented, cuter than your average button, and inadvertently responsible for the fact that I know most of the people that I know in Seattle. And he has almost no accent.

So anyway, a while ago someone got mad at me and called me naive. I deserved it--I'd been behaving abominably--but really, what's so wrong with that? Experiencing the world as a naif is my circle of stones. I can't go into situations believing that I already know the outcome, that I've been there and seen what happens, because then what's the point of having experiences at all? I might as well stay at home and do the same puzzle over and over again.
The trouble here is that I have no idea how to take criticism or, I suppose, how to let it go.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

A few years ago, Paul's boyfriend Mark died of AIDS. That's not entirely correct, of course; what actually killed Mark was pneumonia. But since Paul wasn't supposed to be Mark's boyfriend--because Mark wasn't supposed to have boyfriends--we were actively not invited to the funeral. Paul pretended to be ok with it, pretended that he understood, but he has crucified himself with it ever since.

This is all rehearsed, you know? None of this is ever spontaneous. I find myself trapped at the line between telling you too much and not enough, between removing my own poisoned thorns and dropping them on your feet. I try to not make you too uncomfortable, because whatever I have left to tell you isn't pretty, but by not exposing what it is that tortures me things sit where they are and ferment. I have kept too many secrets for too many years.

The night of the funeral we took Paul down to the beach. The moon hung somewhere between halfway full and completely full, and his cheekbones cast shadows on his face. We were a bunch of screwed up kids: Toby and Brad and Alex, whose parents had not wanted him so much that they never got around to giving him a middle name, a fact that they informed him of on a regular basis. There was no drinking and no crying and no holding hands and singing. All that we did, hunkered there in the sand, was tell each other stories about our childhoods. It amazes me, thinking about it now, that we did any such thing. Not a one of us came from a place that was good: we were each of us the stuff of PBS specials. But for some reason, what we remembered wasn't the psychodrama, it wasn't the hitting or the bleeding or the screaming. All that we remembered was innocence and peace. And we wove our little web in a safe place on the shore, and we dealt with our grief the way we dealt with everything else--by looking for something beautiful and holding on tight.

There are certain nights when what I need is for you to take me by the shoulders and tell me that I am not them, that I have moved past where I'm from. I try so hard not to lean on you all too much but now and again I just can't hold up the weight of my skull. I do believe that most people live lives of quiet desperation, and I know that such quiet is deadly. I won't tell you the stories you don't want to hear, won't use the words that make you flinch and squint your eyes, but I will let you know that occasionally I need help. I can try to keep it light if you can hold my hand while I'm doing so.
When I got to the Paramount tonight, Le Tigre was a song or so into their set, and they were rocking the fucking house. I was still a little hesitant about going it alone, but the vibe was great and so I went for it.

A man and his boyfriend took me under their wing, making sure I could see, after looking me up and down and stating, "You should have worn your platforms today, honey." (I had on the same shoes as half the audience. You know what shoes you wear to a Beck show in Seattle? You wear Chucks.) As soon as the first song hit, the crowd went completely insane. Everyone was thrilled to be there, and they were all dancing like nobody's business.
About halfway through the show, when he broke into "Loser," the people in my immediate vicinity were so overwhelmed that there was a spontaneous group hug. Seriously.
I cannot even express how splendid the show was. I'm very glad that I made myself go.

You know, I want to marry a man like Beck, quirky and a little strange. Beck would have no trouble renaming my toaster oven three times a week. He would wear orange tuxedos and make forts on my balcony and thumb wrestle until dawn, and none of it would seem even a little bit out of the ordinary. And that's as it should be.

Friday, July 15, 2005

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If I were a pirate, I would leave you in charge of my wooden leg. And you, over there, would keep a watch on my parrot.

When I came home yesterday and checked my messages, there were two. One was from my stepmother, looking to see how things are going, and the other was from a private number that played Sonic Youth's "Little Trouble Girl." And so I ask, which one of you guys is screwing with me?

I was enjoying a bad mood all day, making much use of my favorite, "all y'all bitches can bite me." I'm headed to the Beck show by myself tonight, and all that's keeping me going is the fact that I've had the ticket for a month. The fact that I don't want to hang out in a crowd of strangers by myself is the exact reason I ought to be going. And so I will be there. If you will be there too, come find me. I'll be the lost looking redheaded girl in blue.

Today's Cat and Girl made me smile and think of you all. You're my favorite.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

There's something about this time of year that makes me want to go pawn your old trumpet for a hot air balloon. It makes me want to go someplace that everything is not. But even with a flying contraption, you really never get anywhere. I have been up all those stairs and down all those elevators, and at the center of it all is the same damp heat and the same plastic palm tree.

I cannot figure out how to keep my white cotton skirt from wrinkling. I tend to spend the day preoccupied with smoothing it. Not sitting is just not an option.

I spend these notsleeping nights sitting at my little blue table, going over my options with the Space Needle. The Space Needle gives the best advice by not giving any advice at all, by standing there and flashing sympathetically. I haven't really got any options that need going over at the moment, no big decisions looming, no little decisions waiting in line. I don't need to be doing anything aside from what I've already got going, but I do like to keep in practice. You never know when a choice will need to be made.

To some of them, I would say, 'No, you may not bench press me. You probably could, but you may not.' To one or the other of them, I'd say, 'Girls, like plants, do a whole lot better when you talk to them now and again.' To others, I would say, 'Just because you remember what jeans I was wearing when we met doesn't mean I'm going to let you put your hands down them.' To a few, I would say, 'Thanks.'

You know, though, a point I never quite make is that my name means 'listener.' I could cobble together some sort of forced line about that, but I've done enough of such things for the day and there really wouldn't be a point, anyway. I just thought I should point it out in case anyone wonders what it is I'm really doing up in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Things that I made reference to today that resulted in blank stares:

Greek mythology. I tried to tell a coworker about my phone calls from Cerberus, but the explanation got to be cumbersome.

Ozymandius by Percy Shelley, when I finally finished a project and struck a pose, going, "Look on my words, ye mighty, and despair!" I then attempted to clarify by adding, "you know, 'two vast and trunkless legs of stone...'" I realized that Sarah is the only one I can rely on to be there with me for that, since we both had to memorize it in eighth grade gifted class.

Eddie Izzard. Talking about talking to a crush--the "hello Sue, I've got legs" bit.

The Jean Paul Sartre Cookbook. We were talking about things my buddy has been cooking, and I encouraged him to challenge the very definition of the word "food", mentioning that I'd had a page of 'Remembrance of Things Past' ignited by blowtorch for breakfast.

Evidently, the whole concept of pop culture references and I have only a passing acquaintance. It's possible that, in fact, pop culture and I live in entirely different physical planes. Fortunately, I amuse the heck out of myself.

Monday, July 11, 2005

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I spoke to my grandmother this morning, who informed me that not only did her sister die this weekend, but that also the hurricane knocked a basketball hoop onto her car, she locked herself out of my mother's house in the rain, and the storm surge from the hurricane backed up her pipes and her house was filled with sewage.
The lady is not having a good few days of it.

I woke up in the middle of the night convinced that there was a pile of snakes next to my bed. This takes my recent sleeping issues to a whole new level. Normally, I wake up in the middle of the night convinced that my refrigerator has stopped working. Someone keeps calling from New York, but they come up on my caller ID as "Cerberus" so I'm afraid to answer the phone. I think I'm losing it just a little bit, but that's only common sense when you're getting phone calls from a three-headed dog, I feel.
He never leaves a message.

And you know how I'm always trying not-very-hard to forget about this guy? (He once informed me that he liked me for my brain but preferred my best friend for her body. He's a real winner.) I heard from someone this weekend who also knows him. Seattle may be a small town, but the rest of the world isn't that much bigger.

I'm not having a good few days of it either, and I alternately feel about three feet tall and about seventy miles wide. Toby always tells me that it's impossible to hide if I keep jumping up and down, and that's probably true. The only days-or-nights that I don't have planned this week are tomorrow and Saturday. Anyone want to join me at the dive bar down the street? I mean it. You all know where to find me.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

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The restaurant that Manuel and I had dinner at the other night provided delicious crepes, hours worth of entertainment via a write-onable tablecloth, and a house magician. A house magician in leather pants with a generic European accent. How do you even get to be a house magician?
(It actually happened to be the place that Michael and I had drinks at one night waiting to eat sushi one night, but I don't think either of us realized what it was. Or that there was anyone else in it.)

The magician told us a story involving two foam bunnies. He handed one to me and when I opened my hand there were two bunnies there. Then he gave the two bunnies to Manuel and ordered him to shake his fist--no, faster, like a rabbit--and when he opened his hand, a whole family of foam bunnies popped out.
Now, my old roommate Jesse is a magician. He spent years-and-years going, "Hey, ok, so pick a card." I was for the longest time so tired of magic tricks. But this magician in the leather pants, he was pretty darn good.

I'm trying to come up with stories for you, but it's hard. This has been a weekend full of world-rocking news, and I'm still trying to catch up. I miss Sarah and could use about seventy-three hugs.
So here's a bonus for you: What do you do when you want to have a barbecue but have no grill? You have a fauxbeque!
My Auntie Grace died this morning. She was 88 years old.

It isn't as though we didn't know that this was coming. She's been in and out of the hospital for the past few months. When my grandma called me last week to tell me that she didn't think Grace was going to make it, I knew that the end was near--grandma never admits that someone might die.
Grace was a tough old bird, the way I guess people named Grace are supposed to be. She always spoke her mind, and her marked resemblance to the wicked witch of the west made her a terror to every kid that she came across. And even though in later years her mind went a little muzzy, people were still afraid of her. I think she liked that.

I'm very worried about my grandma, who has come through much but has, for the last few years, spent a lot of time caring for her sister. She's a tough old bird too, but I worry about what will come along and undermine her. I'm afraid of losing her.

Goodbye, Auntie Grace. May there be no small yapping dogs wherever you end up next.

Friday, July 08, 2005

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Thanks to everyone that stopped by the gallery last night. I spent a good chunk of the evening hanging out by the door, directing people down to the space, smiling and just generally being charming. We had a pretty steady flow of people, and Jon did an amazing job as DJ. A good time, I feel, was had by all. (Pictures are here and here.)

When I heard yesterday about the terrible things that had happened in London, I immediately started to panic--my Sarah-and-Jesse are living somewhere in the same country. Whenever I hear about anything terrible happening anywhere I run through a mental little Mouseketeer roll call, making sure I know where everyone is. I worry about you all when you're not in immediate hugging distance. It's like being in a car accident and running your hands over yourself to make sure your limbs are still intact. My loved ones are safe, and that just makes the facts of the whole tragedy stand out even further. I cannot even make myself believe all of the terror and the pain and the loss of the lightness of steps. It's an awful thing to feel unsafe in your own home.
England will recover. I'm not worried about it. It's the people that I'm concerned about, the people who will spend weeks and months looking over their shoulders and refiguring their lives. People are resilient and all memories fade in time, but they don't ever go away.

I walked to work in the rain this morning, protected only by a blue velour hoodie. I make such a point of how I didn't move to Seattle to be afraid of the rain that I sort of had to walk. The rain doesn't matter so much walking home, but first thing in the morning my points tend to be weaker and I find myself a little sad that I haven't just had a slumber party that would result in a ride to work. (It's possible, looking at that, that my relationship ethics are a little on the thin side these days.) There were slugs all over the sidewalk, and I like them so much with their cute eyes standing out on stalks. I worry about them even more than I did about the earthworms. I haven't really been sleeping lately and I've found myself up at all hours trying to lull myself to sleep with the chattering of the typewriter. It isn't working.
I'll be leaving for China in ever-so-slightly more than a month, and I'm just so excited. I haven't had anything new to tell you lately; I have been short on epiphanies. But I am winning the fight against myself, going with certain currents rather than fighting against them. I am looking for sunsets at noontime, using small children as role models. I promise to try and come out of this weekend with a good story to tell you.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Also, this? Did one of you guys, um, nominate (?) me and not tell me?
I was at the drugstore tonight perusing hair products when I noticed an elderly gentleman looking at me funny. I smiled at him and went back to my shopping, and he lowered his eyebrows and walked off into the next aisle.
A minute or two later I heard him come back, this time with his wife. He muttered something to her and pointed at me, and I stood facing them, uncertain, in the aisle. Did I know them? The lady walked a little closer and I realized she was staring at my shirt. "World's...Best...Grandma?" She sounded confused. "You can't be a grandma."
This is the sort of reaction you expect to get when you're a girl that looks fourteen and you're wearing a shirt that says 'World's Best Grandma.' And yet even though I expect it, I still never know how to answer it.
"No, but I might be someday," was my answer. "Besides, I have the world's best grandma, so that has to count for something."
She nodded at me and patted my arm--I'm pretty sure I was no longer on her mind. Her husband smiled and looked a little confused, leaning back to give me room to move past him down the aisle.

(By the way, the sleeves of my sweater had the word 'Hooch' embroidered on them. It's the brand of the sweater and wasn't meant to be a comment, but it amused me anyway.)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

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I'm sorry I didn't bring you all to my house last night. The fireworks over Lake Union were the best I've seen in Seattle. (With the possible exception of the fireworks at the Space Needle on New Years--any holiday that practically requires you to kiss a cute boy with your fireworks gets extra points.)

When I was a kid the 4th of July was another excuse for my family to have a party. We'd gather in someone's back yard and have a barbecue, and my Nana would make enough potato salad to feed four times as many people. In the late afternoon the chilled watermelons would come out of the fridge and we would all run shrieking around the block, spitting seeds at each other. There would be squirt guns and excited dogs and sparklers and lukewarm wading pools. From outerspace, we would have looked like a Florida postcard.
Some years, after nightfall, we'd pack into cars and head down to the beach, claiming a lifeguard stand from which to watch the fireworks off of Pier 60. There would always end up being sand in our sandwiches made from leftovers.

I struggle a lot with my family troubles, with how hard it has been to see my family as anything else. And this year I just didn't have it together enough to put together a party, to deal with all the cleaning and the shopping and the disappointment when people can't come. Instead I spent the evening alone, listening to my neighbors try to set the building on fire by throwing bottle rockets at each other (again this year). I'm good at being by myself most of the time, and last night was not a lonely night. My apartment is close enough to where the fireworks go off that sometimes it looks almost as though they're coming to visit, and I hopped around and squealed and clapped the same way I would have had you all been here. My neighbors had radios tuned to the proper soundtrack, and my cold beer fought my camera for position in my right hand. I am trying to reinvent my traditions.

This year for the 4th of July, I stood content on my balcony and watched my sky catch on fire.

Monday, July 04, 2005

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Cat and I decided at lunch on Saturday that the thing to do would be to go to Canada for the weekend.
I'd never been to Vancouver before, and driving in it looks incongruous, clicked into place against a painted mountain backcloth. Like a stage for a movie set in 2095. The scene in Vancouver--anyway, the downtown Vancouver scene--reminds me of Ybor city only bigger. (Also, when did the jeans and sportcoats look come in again? And when can I usher it back out?)
Anyway, we had a great time. I bought some jeans and a sweater, went to Chinatown's night market, had a tofu-walnut-beet burger, tried on a dress cut down to my belly button, and found a bar with the most fabulous name ever--El Furniture Warehouse. Cat got honked at by some firemen, I chatted with a strange French man, and our hostel's fire alarm went off in the middle of the night.

It was good to get out of the city for a few days, without having any plans at all, and good to be away from my cell phone. I imagine that my building will turn into a great big 4th of July party any minute now, and maybe I'll even join in. But more than likely I'll clean my house and hang out and get ready for all the things that will be happening soon.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

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The show is hung, and you should come see it.

Thursday, July 7
6-10 pm
619 Western (At Yesler), 5th floor

Friday, July 01, 2005

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On the last day of second grade we had a make-your-own-ice-cream-sundae party. I, unsurprisingly, brought the sprinkles.
Halfway through second grade I transferred from a private school to a public one. One of the very first things that my new teacher did was point to a boy sitting separated from the rest of the class. "That's Billy, and he's a trouble maker." she told me, "You make sure to keep away from him." Billy of course became the first friend I made in public school--I had a habit of hanging out with the wrong sort of boy even then. He taught me how to swear and that I didn't need to sit with my hands folded anymore, stuck up for me when people picked on me, and got me out of whatever trouble he'd got me into.
Anyway, Billy was suspended for the last three days of school, and so he missed our ice cream party. And I remember being so sad for him, that he couldn't keep himself in line long enough to join in on the ice cream. That was the day I learned that ice cream tastes better if you're eating it with a friend.

We had a make-your-own-ice-cream-sundae party at my office today, to celebrate making it through the June and summer and the fourth of July. It felt a little like the last day of second grade, even though someone else brought the sprinkles. The last time I saw Billy was at Sarah's wedding last year, and before that it had been a good eight years. I used to wonder if he was sad to have missed the ice cream that day, if his missing it follows him the way it always has me. I never asked him about it, and I suppose the answer matters less than the question anyway.