Tuesday, March 29, 2005

My coworkers chased me out of the office this afternoon to go to the doctor, admittedly not with pitchforks and clubs, but close.
When I woke up this morning my right wrist was stiff and a little red, and it hurt like crazy. I tried to break my fall yesterday after my encounter with a moving vehicle, and evidently my scrawny little wrists are not built for bracing all ninety-something pounds of me. So I did the conscientious thing and wrapped it up in an ACE bandage and toddled off to work.
Do you know how embarrassing it is to tell people that you've been hit by a car when you're standing there in front of them not noticeably any less three-dimensional than you were the day before? My office full of moms connipted at me for coming in, for not having gone to the hospital, for not having gotten her insurance information. (They must have forgotten who they were talking to--I'm the girl that told the ambulance to go away when I got in a high-speed head-on collision with a concrete wall because 'there were people who needed them more than me.' Right.) But honestly, I'm pretty much a walking Laurel and Hardy episode, and it'd take a piano being dropped on my head to worry about it that much.
My boss was out today, and as she's the only one I actually have to listen to, I thought I was safe. But my coworkers called her and told on me, so I promised I'd stop by the doctor after work. And I did, because I am a sucker and a rotten liar.
The doctor told me that, indeed, being hit by a car was probably bad for my health and that I should probably find a houseboy to do any heavy lifting until my wrist heals. But I'll be fine, and if I'm lucky should live through the week.

Some of you are familiar with my Dr. Seuss obsession and my ability to quote from his books at inappropriate times. One of my favorites was always "I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew." And me, I'm just plain tired of things going the way they have been. Stuff? Has been sucking. "But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready, you see. Now my troubles are going to have trouble with me."

Monday, March 28, 2005

I've taken to walking to and from work lately. There really isn't any reason not to, since it takes almost as long to wait for the bus, and I do sit at a desk most of my day. And as I've told you many, many times before, I love this city.
This last week or so I've been in an exceptionally foul mood, just really grumpy. Work has been overwhelming, and I keep breaking things at home, and if one more person anywhere asks me if he's called I might kick them in the shins. (He hasn't, and if one more person says 'but I thought he liked you' I really will kick them in the shins. Fucking quit it, people.) I'm grumpy at work and I'm grumpy at home, but during my daily walks I'm bouncy and smiling and just thrilled to be young and alive and in Seattle. I probably should just keep walking, but do I have places to go and so I go to them and try not to take out my shitty mood on other people.

On Mondays I have my French lesson at a cafe down the street. I've been leaving work a little early and walking down there, too--it's only a few extra blocks. Today I was waiting at a light to cross the street, singing along inside my head with a song and smiling at the sky that was suddenly blue. (The song was "Preaching to the Perverted" by Pop Will Eat Itself, if you're wondering.) The light turned green and the crosswalk sign flashed to a little man, so I stepped into the road and continued on my way.
Anyway, I tried to continue. But so did the car in the turning lane next to me. And though it shuddered to a halt before totally running me over, it did manage to nudge me rather roughly in the left leg. I, of course, fell ass-over-teakettle sideways and backwards into some grass. The driver sat there stricken in her car for a minute and then heedlessly threw open her door in front of another car and ran over to me. She found me laying in the dirt, one headphone fallen out, cackling hysterically and trying to stand up. There are moments when things have been going just rotten, and then that one extra thing happens, and you have to make a choice between laughing and breaking into a million pieces.
She apologized profusely, but people were staring and I really wanted to get out of there so I told her that I was fine and hobbled off to my French lesson. A half of a block later my cell phone rang--it was my French teacher calling to cancel.
I don't really want to spend the next couple of nights alone in my apartment, but it seems as though the universe is trying to tell me something. So if you need me I'll be here, eating ice cream and poking at my bruises.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Happy Zombie Jesus Day. Or, uh, Easter, depending on your preferred celebratory world view.

When I was little my mom and I would color eggs a few days before Easter and then on Easter morning I'd get up and find them. But then one year I didn't find them all and she didn't remember where she'd left them until a few weeks later when the smell became noticeable.
With that in mind, we always used plastic eggs for the boys to find.
They'd make me hide them three or four times on Easter, waiting with their heads under the bed until I called for them to come hunt. I enjoyed the hiding as much as they enjoyed the finding, so we'd play this game all afternoon until we collapsed in a sugar coma.
In the evenings, Kelsey and I would write vaguely suggestive, silly sentences on bits of paper and put them inside the eggs. Then we'd sneak out of my house and walk around the neighborhood sowing them broadcast in yards and mailboxes and open car windows. She and I would nearly kill ourselves laughing at how confused the people would be when they found our messages. We were overwhelmed with our own cleverness and daring.
At home Jet the cat would be crouched on the kitchen counter trying to get through the plastic and to the Peeps. He loved those little marshmallow chicks.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

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Tara and I went to see Lou Barlow play at the Sunset Tavern last night. (Added bonus? The guitar player from Mudhoney, who has stopped being punk and started being folk-y, but continues to be totally hot.) I haven't seen Tara much lately--we've both been so busy and our schedules just haven't been meeting up--and I've missed Lou the last 5 times he's been in town, so I was really excited at the prospect of combining them both into one evening. As we ended up with a bunch of time to kill before the two sets we wanted to see, we got to indulge in an awful lot of people watching.
Watch out, Seattle: Tara and I are watching you, and we're making up stories.
"See those three over there? Well, I think that those two are hooking up on the side, and that other guy is so in love with her and doesn't realize that his two friends are sleeping together. And they don't want to tell him, so they're keeping it a secret. Someday soon they're going to get very drunk and have a threesome."
"Ok, so that girl?"
"Which one?"
"The one with the cool shoes. She looks like she's been doing way too much heroin."
"Yeah, she is a little shaky."
"All her friends call her 'black tar heroin.'"
"Hi, my name's black tar heroin, but you can call me 'tar' for short."
"Dude, that guy is nine feet tall! He'll probably stand in front of us."
"Ok, so if I got to take home anyone in this room? It would be that guy over there. No, the other one. Holding his jacket? Yeah, him."

Lou's set was fantastic--he was funny and brilliant and made me feel smiley and hopeful and fourteen. My favorite shows are the ones in a small room played by a dude with a guitar. He showed us what to do when someone passes out while you're playing, which is to finish your song and then do a cover that everyone knows. It was worth getting home four hours before I had to get up.

Dear Lou Barlow,

Congrats on the new baby! Thanks for coming back to Seattle and playing some old Folk Implosion stuff. Did you feel like the Beatles when two people fell down at your show? I often forget how free and goofy your songs make me feel.
What I think is that you and Mike Doughty ought to get together and play for a show. But then I think that if you did that, I might die.
I'm willing to risk it. Sorry your cat left.


Dear Guy Who Passed Out,

Man, are you ok? That looked like it hurt, when you cracked your face on the edge of the stage.


Dear The Rest of the Audience,

By the end of the show, I felt like you were all my new best friends. Let's go have drinks.


Thursday, March 24, 2005

Dear everyone,

Here it is now, almost the end of March. I go back and forth every day between, 'how is it March already?' and, 'oh, christ, is it still March?' I won't say that I'm starting to write you letters every month--that's too much like a commitment, and we all know how good I am at those--but I will say that occasionally a summing up is necessary.
Things are still going well. I could tell you that and leave it and completely ignore the fact that I've spent most of my free time this week curled up reading Francesca Lia Block books and feeling fragile. But all I'd be doing in that case is lying to myself in front of all of you, and lying to myself is what I'm trying to do less of. Things are going well and I have no reason to be unhappy, but I still sort of am. It happens. I could also pretend to be welcoming to platitudes about the nonlethal nature of rejection and to cliches about seas and the vast numbers of fish in them, but honestly I talk to my grandmother regularly and can get that sort of stuff from her. I am grumpy and rejected, but I'll get over it. Promise.
Cat and Steph came over last night for a girl's night in. Cat brought brownie fixings and Steph, who is obviously somewhat psychic, brought ice cream and flowers, both of which were completely fantastic. It's only been in the last few years that I've started cultivating relationships with other girls. Now I can't imagine life without my girlfriends, who are all amazing and strong and wonderful women that anyone should be proud to know. (We plan to go dancing next Thursday. Anyone else? Ass shaking? 80's night at Neighbors? Be there or be trapezoidal.)
I'll have been at my job for six months in about a week, and occasionally I just have to marvel at the total about-face my world has done in the last six months. Seattle has indeed been good to me. The Peach People's wedding is in just a couple of months, and I'm looking forward to presenting myself as a samantha more myself than I've ever been before. Moreover, I'm looking forward to this whole summer, which promises to be full of traveling and parties and cocktails and friends, and all of the other things that make life worth it.


Monday, March 21, 2005

For a while my mother drove a station wagon. I would do whatever I could--lie, cheat, and cry--to get to ride in the back. I wasn't interested in sitting in the front and watching out the windshield: I had lived in that town for years, and I wasn't interested in where we were going. I'd been all those places before. Where I really wanted to get to was wherever it was we'd just been.

Someone gave me a pogo stick once, but I never weighed enough to make it pogo.

A few years later Maria had a slumber party. She had a pogo stick too, and I couldn't make hers do anything bouncy either. The party was for her birthday, and we were going to the drive-in for a double feature of Aladdin and 3 Ninjas. I'd never been to the drive-in before. We all piled in Maria's mom's station wagon and drove to the movie. Just before we got there, she ordered us all to get in the back and hide under a bunch of blankets, because she was sneaking us all in. The drive-in was the most wonderful place I'd ever been to, even though I mostly lay on top of the car and watched the stars.

I used to photograph people's hands, because I believed that they held all a person's secrets.

A few years later he and I went to the drive-in. But when we got there the movie had already started, and although we wanted to feel like the 1950's there were other things on our minds. So instead we drove off in that big white van filled with music gear, his thick hands with their long guitar player fingers alternately laced with mine and tracing the inside of my thigh. Some time later we found ourselves in Sarasota, stumbling on the beach, drunk with each other. He collected empty coquina shells, putting them in my hair and pressing them into my skin--he always made me feel like a princess at night.

They've since torn down that old drive-in.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

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Aside from a jaunt to the Frye today with Manuel and Chas, I have officially spent my whole weekend in. (I advise you to run, not walk, to see this Joseph Park show.) I came home after work on Friday and didn't leave again until it was time to meet these two in Pioneer Square this morning.
As I've said time and again, things have been sort of crazy lately. This is a direct result of being single: there's no reason to stay at home if I'm just going to be hanging out with myself all the time. So I have been going out. A lot.
It ended up being a perfect weekend for staying in, as the unseasonable spring weather has been overtaken by normal Seattle drizzle and wind. I don't mind being out in the rain, but I do love to stay at home with some tea when it's like this. And that's what I did.
And so I spent some quality time with myself. I asked myself important questions and got satisfactory answers. I cleaned out my closet. I tried on all my clothes and assured myself that I looked totally hot, and that if I hadn't been currently involved in eating a sandwich, I certainly would have done me. I read, I watched movies, I knitted, I worked on some literary theory I've been mulling over. (What? You can take the girl out of academia, but you can't take the academic out of the girl.) Spring always get my brain going, and I'm full up to here with all sorts of theories. I always feel smartest in the spring.
And now I'm ready for you, week, and all you've got to show me. You're already filled up with plans. I'm still all antsy for adventure--even though it's raining I know spring is still there just behind, and I want to go hand out e e cummings poems on streetcorners like religious tracts. I want to follow the baloonman, but I want to be him too.

Friday, March 18, 2005

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I have mentioned before that my mother was a grower of plants when I was a kid. I, however, was never an active participant in her hobby. Although I appreciated the flowers I did not like the work involved, and so I made sure to hightail it out of there whenever she would enter the living room dressed in her gardening clothes.
I find myself turning into my parents in a million small ways, in exactly the manner I swore I never would. And so it was with a little bit of sheepish mumbling that I asked my mom for a couple of plumeria cuttings when I was in Florida last June. But I was missing the lovely tropical flowers of my childhood living out here, and I found myself thinking longingly of the smell of plumeria by night and the silky thin feel of hibiscus between my fingers. So I brought them back with me and stuck them into pots, hoping. They sprouted leaves last year, but it was too late for flowers.
This is my first blossom, and I of course find something unspeakably appropriate in the fact that I have managed to cultivate warm-weather blooms in my frigid apartment. In the usual way, this makes me hopeful.

I'm alone tonight, back inside my head. Life has gotten away from me the past couple of months and I realized suddenly this morning at work that I hadn't even the prospect of plans for this evening. It's quiet in here, and my brain is spinning, not yet willing to calm down. Old philosophy jokes keep coming to mind, stuck in my head like bad radio songs and perhaps suggested by my plumeria. A couple of years ago, Friday nights would have meant a late night down at the spot, guitars and stories and sneaked cigarettes, aura boys and jokes and knee sex. A couple of months ago it would have meant dinner and a movie. Recently, it's meant drinks.
I'm glad for tonight's quiet. The recent social whirl has left me a little grumpy. But I'm thinking of you folks that I'm not with tonight--Steph and Ryan with family, Cat all far away, a certain boy that always smells of vanilla, and everyone else.

My favorite time to look at the Space Needle is just as dark is falling, when the flashes of the cameras on the observation deck are visible. It twinkles like a galaxy all its own, and it smiles at me.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The thing is, you know, that I've been settled here in Seattle--in this apartment--for almost two years. That's longer than I've been settled anywhere, ever. And since the grand cross-country road trip, I haven't gone to hardly any places that I haven't been before.
I think that's what's wrong with me these days. I'm jonesing for an adventure. It's spring time and I want to be going places and doing things and exploding myself all over new terrains. I want to be meeting ugly people with three fingers in towns with less people than my high school. I want to run through your sprinklers and wrestle with your children and glue myself from head to toe with flowers.
I'm not going to pretend that I haven't been giving in to my impulses these days--that I haven't been stumping around the office pretending to be a pirate or winking at strange men or dancing right in your living room.
So if you see me, skipping through dowtown with a giant or a unicorn or the president of France, remember that I have spring fever. And then wave to me, because I will be waving to you.

Monday, March 14, 2005

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As is usually the case after a couple of weeks of sassyness and self-confidence, of short flippy skirts and tall leather boots, I can feel myself starting to ebb. I start to panic when this happens because I know these depths and I don't want to revisit them. And so I start to talk too much, and the difference between this and my normal talking too much is that I'm trying to build universes and crystal towers and pretty little bugs out of all of these words. I'm trying to make myself someplace to go because if I don't this momentum will continue and I'll smear myself all over your windshield like a redheaded bugsplat.
I don't want you to have to scrape me off of anything.
The problem is that everything I've ever seen is trying to press itself out through my eyes. It wants to get to you but I don't know how to jiggle the handle of the door and let it out. And I'm sure that if you touched me, just here on the backs of my knees, I would smash into a million pieces.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

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It ought to surprise you not at all that I ran off and married this big hunk of climbing rock yesterday.
On the way, we also had a whole lot of pictures taken of us, ran into Clark, had a small dance party in the Nordstrom BP, and ate tofu pillows.
I do so enjoy getting dressed up and making a spectacle of myself.
"Are you marrying this because, you know, life is rocky and stuff?"
"No. We're marrying it because it's big and hard."

Because I love it so, here's this picture of me and Cat, one of my fellow brides:

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Friday, March 11, 2005

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The beaches I grew up on were made of white sand so fine that your toes have to grip it to gain any purchase. After a few steps the arches of your feet hurt from the effort. My favorite place was always the wavy line where the water came up, and I would walk along that line and read all the things you were writing in the sand. The sun would reflect off the sand, blinding me, causing lazy whorls of sunstroke to start wheeling in the back corners of my brain.

I remember my mother and myself on a road trip in my old car, singing as loud as we could, feet bare, arms hanging out the window. My hair wasn't windblown, it was perfect.

You all look familiar today, and I want to carve lucky five-leaved clovers out of flower buds and hand them to you personally.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

"Are you sure you don't want to tell me a story?"

"Yes. Why are you always asking me to tell you a story?"

"It's my hook."

"I could read you a story. Would that work?"


There is rummaging here, off to the side, and I'm watching the movement and the smoothness of muscle, amused. The story is one of the Brothers Grimm's, about a girl who unmasks a group of robbers who want to cut her into little pieces.

"There. Was that a good story?"

"Honestly? With that voice? You could have been reading the phone book backwards and it would have been a good story."

Sunday, March 06, 2005

On certain creeping hot Florida nights Toby would knock softly on my window, three quick smacks to the glass punctuated by a rap with the knuckle of his second finger. I'd clamber out, usually scraping my knees on the way, and we'd drive off into the dark in search of adventures. There were always matches in the car--we both smoked like damp brushfires--and I would light them, one by one, and drop them out the window. I loved to watch them flare brightly, struggle in the wind, and then die right by the passenger door. It seemed, at the time, an exceptionally poignant thing to do.
Tobes was in a bad place at the time, his mother having recently taken off with a man she met at the gas station. He'd sleep on the couches of various relatives sometimes, but more often than not he'd spend the night driving around until he couldn't stay awake anymore. He wanted his death, like his life, to be an accident.
I was also in a bad place at the time, spending days and nights shrinking in fear of the next round of random violence from my stepfather. I wasn't talking to anyone about what was happening because, at the very least, what I knew was better than whatever would happen next. But Toby and I didn't need to talk, we just needed to drive.

I apologize for not having pictures for you lately. I feel a little guilty, giving you all these words and no images. But I've been feeling many things lately, and not a one of them is creative. I'll try to step it up a little bit.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

I've been meaning to tell you that I finally saw my first rat downtown this week. People talk about rats in most of the cities I've been too: in Florida they joke about how the rats have to be especially vicious to fight off the alligators. In New York City, old bums would whisper out of the shadows of doorways at me, "Be careful of the rats, little girl. They like to nibble." In Chicago the locals spoke about the rats in the same whispers they'd use to speak about cancer and racism. And here in Seattle people have always mentioned the rats in the skeptical tones they save for urban legends. But I saw one, I swear.

It was Tuesday, and I was downtown on my way up to Capitol Hill for my date that would last for eight hours and which I'll still talk about incessantly if you show even the smallest amount of interest. I was twitchy and nervous and looking all around and glanced at the sidewalk just in time to watch a big rat run across it and pop down into a sewer grate. No one else seemed to notice, but since I'm not in the habit of hallucinating rats, I'm pretty sure it actually happened.

Friday, March 04, 2005

There was giggling coming from somewhere in my office. Giggling in my office is pretty normal, since we're a rather merry bunch and we all like each other a lot. We're good at having fun--we do trivia every morning and, starting today, Friday Mad Libs--but this giggling was not from voices that I recognized.
After a minute or two I realized that there were small children around, and they were the ones laughing. Small children are also not too unusual in my office. I peeked around the corner of my cube but I couldn't see anyone, although I was pretty sure that the noises were coming from the unused reception desk by the elevator. I snuck over to the desk and peeked over, and there wrestling on the ground were two little boys. One of them had the other pinned and he was biting him in the head. I recognize that hold, the 'stay still you jerk so I can bite you in the head' hold--my brothers have perfected it. They seemed to be enjoying themselves and no one was bleeding, so I left them to it.

Last night someone told me to "Go on, do it," so I went on and did it only to spit it right back out into my napkin. I haven't done that since I was six, but apparently there are still some foods that require one to make the choice between spitting it out and throwing up.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I have recently found myself spending way too much time thinking about earthworms.
I walk to work some mornings, if I've just missed the bus or the morning is particularly sparkly or if I happen to hear a song that makes me want to stroll. Recently, the weather has been lovely and sunny and it's felt like spring is here. And so often on my morning walk I find dozens of thin little earthworms strung along the sidewalk. I say hello to them, of course, but I don't have the heart to let them know that it's only just March and that anything could still happen. But once I get to work I imagine the guilt that I'll feel if it suddenly gets cold and snowstormy, knowing that I didn't at least give warning.
I try to shake myself for anthropomorphosizing so entirely, but it's hard to firmly grasp my own shoulders. So instead I just worry.