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!!