Sunday, February 27, 2005

Our favorite thing to do during my seventh grade English class was to get a copy of the latest weekly and match the personal ads up. Josh and I were especially fond of this game, hunching over the tiny print and whispering excitedly.
"Ooh! This one likes long walks! And so does he! Matched!"
We were practically made of exclamation points, enthusiasm, and romance. We were always on the lookout for a doorway into a story book, and we believed in fairy tales.

This is still a habit of mine, although I tend to do it online these days. Sometimes at work when I'm having a rest or waiting for a budget, I'll hop onto Craigslist and match folks up. Occasionally, I'll also have a peek at the missed connections. I still believe in fairy tales, and I like the idea of these people tossing out so many messages in bottles every day. It helps me continue to believe in hope, and in romance, and in exclamation points. And now and again, I'll wonder if anyone is out there missing connections with me.

But you know what? This weekend someone did.

Friday, February 25, 2005

I left work a little bit early today. All afternoon I'd been waffling back and forth between leaving early and staying late, but then my mom called and told me that I sounded like I was coming down with something and should go home. As I've always done whenever it's convenient, I listened to my mommy. I presented myself to my coworkers with, "my mommy said I should go home early, so I'm leaving," and then I gathered my stuff together for a leisurely stroll home.
I may be coming down with something. I've been feeling a little under the weather lately, along with being a little grumpy and a little blue. It's seemed like everything has been in 3-D and I've forgotten my red and blue 3-D glasses in the glove box. Walking home would be just what the doctor--or, anyway, my mother--had ordered.

I pressed the button for the elevator and waited. I play this game, waiting for the elevators at work, where I listen to the beeps and try to guess which of three sets of doors are going to open. Today, the elevator that came to get me was the farthest one down.
Inside, that elevator was padded, head to toe, with a little cut out around the buttons and the screen showing the floor's number. It's not usually padded, but after the week this has been, I'm not entirely surprised. The doors slid shut and I slumped back on the soft walls and sighed. Someone must be looking out for me.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Alissa called today to ask me questions about grants and to see how things were going. Her department recently moved down the street from the rest of our offices, into the building behind which my car was parked when it got broken into.

S: My car got broken into behind your building a couple of weeks ago.

A: Did it? Mine got broken into not too long ago too. Did they take anything?

S: Just my broken stereo. You?

A: No. They didn't steal anything at all. But they left behind a bunch of shot glasses and a thighmaster.

S: They...wait...what? A thighmaster?

A: And shot glasses. And now whenever I get into my car I get this picture of a drunk Richard Simmons type breaking into my car to drown his sorrows and work out his thighs. It's a little touching.

Monday, February 21, 2005

I was only sixteen when I tripped over your smile and hit the ground, blinded by a glib sentence and cufflinks shaped like martini glasses. And by now I manage to forget about you for weeks, even months at a time. It's only when I'm preparing for a trip back to Florida, these days, that you really creep back into my brain and take up residence, right there in the bottom left corner of my skull, just beyond the edge of where I can see.

I'm going back for a wedding, and a trip back there always takes a certain amount of preparation, an amount of reinforcing certain walls. I am far too fond of being wounded. But this trip for this wedding is going to be especially dangerous because it's going to haul me right smack back into that most dangerous of years for this nostalgic girl. It'll bring me right back to you.
I've still got to buy plane tickets, and to prepare myself for taking the actual steps involved in going on this trip I pulled out all the cd's I listened to then. I swear I'm trying to be less sentimental and frail, but I am still a creature of habit and there are still things that must be done.
There are whole albums that remind me of you.
I wonder how you're doing, but I will not take that step and find out because there are cliffs here that I will not be falling over. That may be the point of this, in fact; I'm just letting you know from here that I'm still not talking to you.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

My mother once told me that she and my dad made the decision to have me while they were on a ferris wheel.
I can see the whole scene. The two of them in their hanging wire basket, lovely and younger then than I am now, younger in many ways than I've ever had the chance to be. In my imagination it was early fall, the sun just setting and the air still warm enough that she didn't feel chilly in her tank top. The last pieces of daylight would have been laying lightly across her waist length straight brown hair and she'd have been kicking her feel in their sandals like a little girl. His glasses would have covered half of his face and his short sleeved shirt would have been pushed up enough to show off his tattoo. She would have been snuggled back into his arm laid across the back of the seat behind her. They were young and in love and so full of youth and love that they thought they might burst.
If you would have told them, at this point, that in a very few years they wouldn't even like each other all that much anymore, that for a while their tiny towheaded offspring would get lost in the shuffle, they'd have stared at you with pity. It's often a good thing that we can't see into the future, that we are only able to look through the glass darkly.
I have never seen a picture of the two of them together.
In my baby book right after I was born she wrote, "Always remember, you were made out of your daddy's and my love for each other. We have so much love that we wanted to bring someone into the world to share that love with." I came across it not too long after they divorced, when I was four or five, and was instantly convinced that it was my fault that they had split up--that in making me they had used up all of their love--that I had stolen it all. I didn't tell anyone about it for ten years. Instead I kept that idea inside like a stolen treasure and sometimes I would curl myself around it and stroke it softly. It was my dirty secret, my hidden bag of drowned kittens.
It took a long time to come to terms with the fact that people make their own decisions and that what they do is not my fault. I'm always working towards being more thankful for that afternoon talk on the ferris wheel and less guilty about what happened afterwards. I am always working towards being more thankful, period.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

I have made it a rule for myself that I am not allowed to watch any television shows involving crimes, because I am a great big fraidy cat and now and again have trouble telling the difference between what's real and what's my imagination. I live on the bottom floor of my building, which means I can hear all of the stomping and hammering that goes on above me, and I tend to get a little jumpy.
Except the other night I broke that rule. I was tired and thought that laying on the couch sounded like a fantastic idea. I only get 2 1/2 channels anyway, so it's really less watching television and more interpreting it. And so I watched one of those shows and then went to take a shower.
My shower curtain is see-through, and what this means is that now and again I catch myself standing frozen in the shower, soap clutched in my hands, staring at the doorknob. What I'm waiting for is for it to start turning, slowly, the way it would on tv. In my brain I can see the closeup, the door slowly starting to crack open. I find myself doing this and I make myself stop, but by that point I've gotten myself started and I can't shake the thought. So after I finish my shower I open the door slowly, waiting for someone to jump around the corner or emerge from my bedroom to, I don't know, hit me in the face with a lead pipe. No one ever does, but just in case I check out the whole apartment and then lock all the locks on my door.
After I go through this whole routine I always feel really silly, and thankful one more time that I live alone so there isn't someone around to watch me do these things.
This is just one more reason that I won't be getting cable.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I had intended, yesterday, to come home and tell you all about how you were not going to be getting any grumpy anti-Valentine's Day posts from me. There are no hard feelings between myself and the day, which I like so much just because of the goofy spectacle it has turned into. I believe in love, I really, really do, even if it's not at the moment sitting on my couch doing a crossword puzzle. I'm a satisfied single girl--a busy, hopeful single girl. Valentine's Day and I, we're cool with each other in and out of relationships.
And I had planned to tell you all about this in excessive detail. But first I was going to go have a couple of beers and a few games of pool with some friends. And that's where plans went awry. By the time I stumbled in at 4 a.m. I was no longer in the mood to talk about any of this.
In case you were wondering, the traffic here skyrocketed yesterday from all of the people searching for things like 'kissing lessons.' I love that.
I'm not going to tell you about what happened last night, because honestly I'm still not believing what I remember. I've been saying the phrase "Did I really...?" a lot today, and so far the answer has been yes. I really did. But I will tell you that while I've had more romantic Valentine's Days (last year springs to mind), I don't know that I've had one that was more fun.
Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Some things:

1. I bought those shoes up there today. They are bright red and impractical and totally worth building a wardrobe around. They make my heart beat a little faster every time I look at them, and I think we might be in love. Now if only we could hurry past this stage where they give me blisters. (Yes, I did take that picture with my feet up on the living room wall. What? I was getting tired of taking pictures of stuff on my ugly carpet.)

2. My little brother broke his foot, because he is my brother and we are clumsy folk. It still just kills me, though, whenever they really hurt themselves. I'd do whatever I could to keep them from pain of all sorts, unless it's the kind that I inflict.

3. If anyone wants to buy me a Mark Ryden piece for my birthday, you have a few months to start saving up. This show was the first time I've had the chance to look at his work in person, and I'm even more in awe than ever.

4. I hate answering emails. And telephone calls. If it were up to me we'd all communicate via letters and smoke signals.

5. I find it likely that my plumeria will bloom this year.

Friday, February 11, 2005

It's been a long week, and I left work early this afternoon followed by a storm of paper airplanes fired by my coworkers who chased me away from my desk. I have great coworkers. The Seattle that I walked out into was shiny and blue and so pleased with itself it fairly squeaked, and I decided to walk home. A handful of steps down the road and my lovely city had already handed me back the bounce in my step. All at once I was pleased again, smiling at folks in cars and staring at the sky, trying to look so hard that I could burn this whole place into the back of my skull. A busload of kids drove past and waved at me, and I waved back with both hands.

Arthur Miller died last night. I heard about it first thing this morning, not too long after I came into work sleepy and grumpy and ready to go home. As is always the case when this happens--and it's always happening, my writers dying off--I fled to the one perfect bunch of words that's distilled his work for me: "And so there is hardly a week that passes when I don't ask the unanswerable--what am I now convinced of that will turn out to be ridiculous? And yet one can't forever stand on the shore; at some point even if filled with indecision, skepticism, reservation and doubt, you either jump in or concede that life is forever elsewhere." It's been looping in my head all day in a dusty corduroy voice.

I'd say that we'll miss you, Mr. Miller, but I've got you right here in my house.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

I am always up for trying new things. I really believe all that junk about how I only have the one life to live and so on. So tonight, I got to ride in the back of a police car for the first time.
Sorry, though, that's the coolest part of the story. What happened was I was sitting on my floor trying to figure out how to make my vcr record things, because I am very slow where technology is concerned, and also at least 10 years behind. In the midst of this my doorbell rang, and I thought, "Score! Someone's come to visit me!" And I admit that when I opened the door and saw a rather attractive policeman standing there, my first thought was something along the lines of how they make porn that starts like this.
He asked me my name and we verified that I was the one he wanted to be talking to, and then he said, "So, your car has been broken into," and I stared at him as though I was at a party and had just realized we were wearing the same dress. He had to be kidding--I just got the stupid thing fixed last week! Sadly, he wasn't kidding, and my passenger window has been smashed. But hey, Mr. Cop, bonus points to you for tracking down my address and coming to find me so that I would know about it. (Minus points, however, for telling me all the ways someone could try to steal my identity with the things in my glove box. Don't scare the single girl, man.)
We decided that we should go to my car, which was a couple of blocks away, and he offered to give me a ride if I didn't mind sitting in the back. Mind! It was the best part of my week. As we were leaving one of my neighbors was coming up the stairs, and I could see him thinking "Oh man, there goes that troubled girl on the first floor again," so I tried to explain. I don't think he believed me, not when I got in the back of the car.
A very nice man living in his van that was parked behind my car had called the police for me, and he told me good luck and God bless, which really doesn't seem to be happening. This has been a vaguely poor week and I've been feeling a very light shade of blue, and at this exact point in the evening I'm wondering if it would make more sense to cover my broken window in plastic and draw attention to the great big hole there or to just leave it and hope for the best. The glass people will be coming by tomorrow afternoon to fix it, and I'm back to jumping at little bumps and thumps all around me.
I am, as they say, at a little bit of a loss for what to do now.

Dear jerks who broke my window to steal my stereo:

It's broken, you jackasses. Has been since Tennessee.


Sunday, February 06, 2005

Dear everyone,

I've been avoiding you for the last few days. Not so much because I haven't had anything to tell you--after all, when has that ever stopped me?--but because everything I've had to say has felt like I'm repeating myself. I'm always poking at this language of ours and sometimes I get to feeling like I've overkneaded bread dough and exhausted both it and my fingers.
But this afternoon it's cozy and raining and I'll be leaving shortly to go make donuts, and I realized that it's already February and I ought to check in.
Most of my free thinking time has been taken up with worrying about Sarah, who will probably be having surgery next week to either glue, sew, or staple her lung back into place. I disapprove of the whole thing most highly, because if I had to pick a place for her to be having surgery so far away from me, her chest would not be very high on the list. If I got to pick, they'd be operating on a toe--a middle one, one of the less important ones. But I don't get to pick and so instead all I get to do is worry.
Fortunately, I'm a fantastic worrier.
Last night there was a whole herd of birthday parties, parties for John, Kathleen, and Aleksandra. Cat went with me to the lot of them, which meant that I finally got to introduce Cat and Aleksandra to each other. It's always a really exciting thing when I get to put people that I like and admire so much in the same place, like I'm putting together pieces of a really big puzzle. I love birthday parties.
In all other ways things, at least the important ones, are going almost disbelief-suspendingly well. I love my job and my fantastic coworkers, and my evenings and weekends are crammed full of spending time with people who are smart and funny and astonishingly cool. I'm making lots of stuff--food, scarves, memories. It could all end at any moment, of course, which might be the best part of all. I'm pretty aware that these are the good old days.
So what I'm doing is trying to teach myself to look people in the eyes rather than the forehead or left cheek. It's important to have small, manageable goals.


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

You've been waiting for this, haven't you? Christ, I'm predictable.

Yes, I did indeed go see Douglas Coupland read last night, and yes he was incredibly funny and shook my hand twice. And I asked him to sign not only my copy of his newest book but my copy of Generation X, which is one of those books that have been my crutches for many years. I managed to keep my shit together reasonably well--or anyway, I spoke in complete sentences and made a moderate amount of sense. I don't usually get all that flustered around people but last night I shook and turned red and wrapped my scarf around and around my hands. (That, by the way, is a total lie. Get me in a room with a boy I have a crush on, and I absolutely get that flustered.)

The thing is, you know, that books are better than people. They just are, and there are a certain number of books that keep me going and steady my hands so that I can scrape together enough of myself to fill in the holes. This is the only one of those books written by someone I'll ever be in a room with, and so it's understandably close to a religious experience.

In case you're just tuning in, I have this irritating tendency to be overwhelmingly affected by small things. The last time I saw him read, in July of 2003, I had just moved out here and was feeling transparent and dreadfully lonely. I left the bookstore that day feeling like the world's biggest loser and if you touched me I may just have dissolved.

All this time later, I'm still feeling transparent but less dreadfully lonely. I left the bookstore last night still feeling like the world's biggest loser, but exuberantly so. I was samantha, world's biggest loser, and I felt like I was bursting with all this potential. At the moment, it was a cosmic thing to just be alive on a Tuesday night walking downtown with amazing folk like Steph and Ryan. I felt bigger than the whole world.

Today, of course, I'm back to being me. And that's a touch unfortunate, but it's all I've got--so for the moment, I'm ok with everything. And as always happens in these moments, I'm overwhelmingly grateful to the lot of you for indulging me. You're a star.