Sunday, December 31, 2006

My cab driver home tonight was new, which always involves a lot of Abbot-and-Costelloing about just which street named -lake I actually live on.

A friend of mine has been out of town for three months, and as she has low-key plans for tomorrow she wanted a night out tonight. What she got was something else entirely, although at least we were out. A whole impromptu comedy routine about her drink at the bar? Check. Mid-nineties alternative favorites with sushi? Also check. (Seriously, I haven't heard a Filter song in forever.) If nothing else, I guess she remembered what she'd been missing.

Happy new year, internet! I spent most of 2006 going to see about nine million bands and dating boys who were mostly not nearly nice enough to me. Next year I intend to do more of the former and less of the latter.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

During the last few months of Mark's life the hospital staff relaxed their rules on visiting hours, allowing us to come and go as we pleased. His body had stopped responding to the drug cocktail a couple of months before that and his skin had started to break down, opening small wounds that wept softly into a crazy quilt of bandages. I'd skip school to spend afternoons in the narrow room, listening to his sandpaper breathing scored by all of the beeping machines. When he was awake I would push aside all the tubes and wires and climb into the bed with him, and we'd whisper stories about the people we knew. I was nearly as thin as he was then, worn transparent with the weight of my own secrets, and unprepared to deal with the heaviness of both mourning and carrying on with life. Often, leaving the room, I'd meet his boyfriend Paul huddled in the hallway, trying to work up the courage to enter.

I have recently realized that I'm now about the same age that Mark was when he was wasting away and fighting to get his T cell count back up. It hadn't ever occurred to me before, both because at the time those seven or eight years that he had on me seemed to be vast expanses of experience and because in my head he has always been older than me. And here I am at the end of this year that has been a struggle each step of the way, but still the easiest yet of all the years he's been absent for, and all of a sudden I miss my friend. He would have loved to have been here for this endeavor.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Not a lot has been going on over here the last couple of days, and to fill the time I've been cooking. The best part about all the culinary adventures is leaving my apartment for a few minutes and coming back inside--inside is warm and smells like tomato sauce and balsamic vinegar and rosemary and thick creamy soup. Getting the dishwasher fixed was one of the smartest things I've done lately.

The rest of the time has been spent curled up between lines of Fitzgerald or camped out on the couch with Catherine Deneuve. It's been the next best thing to a vacation, honestly.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

It is disconcerting to mount an expedition in search of trolls only to find under each bridge little but a collection of clapped-out mattresses and carburetors. Except you have heard that there are trolls and so even though there's a small voice behind your left eye that keeps pointing out trashcan fires in the place of ogres, you look. You look under each damp tissue and through the eye of every broken needle and though you never do find the trolls you were looking for--the big hairy ones with the oversized hands and fewer teeth than they have spaces--you find something. And that's always the moment when you remember that something was really all you needed.

If I were a smarter girl I'd take off for a while to someplace with a lot of windy coastline and the sort of people that can pass a whole day talking about their labradors.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas, boys and girls.

I'll be headed over to Steph and Ryan's tonight to eat ham, play games, watch movies, get drunk, and open presents. Once we've dealt with our hangovers tomorrow afternoon we're probably going to meet up with a friend of mine for a movie and fried macaroni and cheese wedges at the 5 Point. (Since Steph and Ryan are both funnier and more even tempered than my actual family, we're going to call this one a win for me.)

I never did get around to doing any baking this Christmas, and for that I apologize. I've been feeling a little too much like a Mark Ryden painting for the past few weeks to get into the spirit, but the fact remains that for the first time in about thirteen years I didn't make my traditional fudge and Christmas cookies, and I feel like a slacker. So those of you that have been perhaps waiting for packages of deliciousness to come to you in the mail should, um, stop.

I hope your Christmases are as much fun as mine is going to be, because I think you deserve all the happiness you can get.

Friday, December 22, 2006

I waited for the bus last night, reading in the dim glow from the streetlights. The power lines above me collected flecks of the misty rain and then loosed their supply of drops onto my book or the too-long sleeves of my soft pink sweater. As I stood there a man walked past, bald and with no hat, in a suit and a red striped tie. A few feet past me he stopped and turned back, said, "Excuse me..." and then pulled a quarter out of my ear. He handed the quarter to me and continued down the street, and I dropped the quarter in the shrubbery. Ear quarters, even conceptual ear quarters, kind of freak me out.

A little while ago I was rifling through a book, trying to find that Baudelaire poem where he compares a lady to roadkill (which, you know, needles and haystacks and all, but my copy of Les Fleurs is entirely in French and I'm just not that patient) and I came across lines from a Beckian Fritz Goldberg poem scribbled on part of a sheet of graph paper: "Each time we fall out of love we/ say it wasn't really love at all as if/ landing, a plane would say no, not/ actual sky."
So then there's that.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I've still never managed to conjure up a concrete memory of Christmas from before the boys were born, which makes a certain amount of sense because Christmas has never been my holiday and the boys were always the best part of it. It's a little sad to miss them this year, now that they're both old enough that they're becoming actual people.

Monday, December 18, 2006

I can feel the look from across the room, but I am afraid that if I look up and catch those eyes that I might burst into flames. So instead I feel the glance like a thumb along the line of my stubborn jaw, like the moment when lips part and you realize that you have just been kissed.

And there are certain places that I simply cannot visit because they are dark and full of monsters. Those are the stairs where I stop halfway down and sit until the desire to explore goes away. In the evenings I walk home from work, dawdling through the blueblack streets, enjoying how every window is a perfect vignette.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Downtown was very, very cold today, and I huddled under the bus stop with a whole bunch of people that were heavily laden with packages. I refused to see the cold wind as a nuisance; in fact, I currently refuse to see everything as anything but charmed. I'm pretty lucky to be me sometimes.

I'm starting to tally my accounts for the year, to figure out how many steps I've gone backward for each one I've gone forward. The year is almost over and I don't know if I've accomplished much, but I have had an awfully good time.

You just watch out for me, because when you're not looking I'm going to throw an impromptu dance party in your parking space. I'm looking for fireflies in your backyard, Seattle, and I'm not going to stop until I find them.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Man, I have been all over the damn place lately. I've been at the Crocodile watching cute boys play miscellaneous instruments. I've been out drinking with the Metbloggers. Last night I got all dressed up to have fancy drinks and see goofy musical theatre with my lady friends. Today I went to space and tomorrow I'll be at Steph's. I am tired.

Sometime this week I fully intend to not answer my telephone and instead camp out on the couch with Humphrey Bogart. All of this being social goes against my nature and I have to make myself leave my cozy apartment and my books most of the time, but there's so much interesting stuff happening.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

You know, I really should have bought a flashlight before this whole windstorm thing started.
For the first half of my (quick) trip to Boston in the spring I was alone, wandering. Everyone there looked familiar and so instead of feeling lonesome in a new city it was all a lot more like hanging out with a friend I have known long enough that speaking isn't necessary. It was all very comfortable, and were I less tired of running I would perhaps have moved there, changed my name, and bought a hermit crab named Fritz.

I grew up at band practice, the child of very young musicians, and part of the reason I go to see so many bands is because I am comfortable at shows.

What I am is tired, tired of wanting to go somewhere else and start something new. I took a clipping off one of my plants at the office and have been watching it slowly grow roots over the past couple of weeks, and I have found myself jealous of the biological imperative that forces plants to either grow roots or die. And jealous of plants is no way to be, so maybe next I'll work on roots myself.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I have been all scrunched up like a samantha-in-the-box lately, just completely incapable of normal human interaction. This cough that I picked up somewhere simply won't go away, so my voice has tended to cut out in the middle of a word or become high and reedy midsentence. Like I'm actually a samantha hologram and the real samantha is phoning it in from someplace better.

What I'm trying to say is that if I have recently looked at you as though you were made of lettuce and were requesting that I eat you, well, what was really happening is that I was trying to remember how to string together the letters to make the words to reply to you, only my brain was busy contemplating its navel. It's not you, it's me. Honest. (I find lettuce to be one of the most abhorrent substances on the planet, to clarify, and yes my brain does have a navel. Don't judge.)

But on the way home today my iPod spontaneously decided to play the wonderful Tragically Hip song "Scared" twice in a row, and I have decided to take this as a sign of better things to come. You know, eventually.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Is there anything better than an evening of free ballet and delicious tapas with the French/Harrison household? (I volunteer for the PNB sometimes, which means I get to see the shows for free.)

No, I don't think that there is.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Dear internet,

I don't know if you noticed, but today is the third birthday of this website.

Three years ago I probably would have laughed at you for suggesting that I'd still be doing this so steadily three years later, because I'd have figured that by now I would have gotten bored and gone off to something else--basket weaving or crime fighting or whatever. That's what I do with everything else, after all. Which just goes to show that we should never underestimate the staying power of narcissism, but the fact is that I have never been very good at writing endings, so I imagine that as long as I'm incapable of creating a conclusion I'll probably just have to keep going.

Sorry about that.

In the past seven hundred and something posts I've cobbled together something over 200,000 words, and I honestly have little to say about that. I read a short essay by Norman Mailer once--all the Mailer I can stand--about a friend of his who would write and rewrite constantly even though the whole act was anguish for him. And when Mailer asked him why he did it, why he continued to write even though it caused him such pain, the friend said, "The only time I know the truth is when it reveals itself at the point of my pen." I have come to realize recently that the purpose the Kissing Booth serves for me is to understand just how I am doing, to resolve and solidify whatever it is that I'm feeling. I can't say for sure whether that is good or bad, whether anything useful has come out of this experience, but I feel that I have been honest. And honesty was, originally, the point.

When I came home tonight a giant urban raccoon and I scared the heck out of each other, and then I walked into my apartment and noticed that something had changed. Eventually I figured out that the trees right off of my balcony that have been ever so slowly obscuring my view for the last few years have been lopped off. I'd gotten so used to squinting at the city through the branches that the unobstructed look at downtown and Queen Anne is astonishing. I had forgotten how the city twinkles. It reminds me how much has changed since I came here, and how much I've changed.

I don't know who most of you are, internet, but thanks for coming along on the adventure with me.



Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I rarely touch anyone with an exposed palm, instinctively closing my fingers and brushing people with the tougher outsides of my knuckles. I don't trust you with any of my softer spots, needing to avoid the way I sometimes hurt, not in my heart but somewhere to the left, and deeper.

And I never manage to line the facts up until after the test is over, going through the major exams on instinct rather than consideration, noting the lighter skin of your forearms but never recognizing their vulnerability. It is how I unconsciously have held you captive, like the man who kept women to torture in a pit he dug in his basement, only to tell the judge when caught that they had come with the house, as though he honestly thought a pit full of women was what his real estate agent had meant by "bonus room."

I notice my curled-under fingers at intervals over the years, remembering the day my father asked why I never hugged him back when he hugged me. I don't think we get to pick the way we protect ourselves, only reacting in whatever way our little brains have decided is the safest.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Not purchased: a hat.

Purchased: a pillow for the new couch, which should arrive in about two weeks. Clearly my fiscal priorities are out of order, although I'm currently refusing to believe that I've made it to a point in my life where I'm using the words "fiscal" and "priorities" in that order and meaning it. Although I did get a Christmas present for the prettiest Steph in town while I was out, so something productive happened.

I think it might be time for me to explore my fondness for textiles with airplanes dropping things other than bombs, as aside from the new pillow I also own a shirt with one dropping cupcakes, and I'm always considering one dropping televisions. I'm also currently very fond of tentacled sea creatures, especially on jewelery and skirts. If I could find a skirt with the giant squid attacking the Nautilus on it, my wardrobe would be momentarily complete. Please keep up, fashion; you're lagging behind.

I'm still a bit sick, so I'm at home tonight drinking tomato soup out of a Yellow Submarine mug, because creamy soups are not for spoons. The dishes are mostly done and I think I'll be watching a movie about a French drag queen here shortly. I need to do something about all of the things that I have--buy them more shelves or set them on fire or something. It's getting kind of cluttered in here.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Postmodern Christmas Tree 2006 is completed. Materials: three storage containers, a cooler, a hatbox, and my fencing foil, as well as the original gasparilla beads and all the usual ornaments.

As always, the music was The Arrogant Worms album "X-mas Turkey", with a little BOAT at the end.

2005, 2004 (with the story), and 2002, the orginal.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

My thin Florida blood decided sometime last night that it was tired of all the walking around in the rain and snow and hail, and if I wasn't going to stay home on my own then it was going to make me. So I'm parked on the couch today with a throat like a porcupine and the chills, along with some juice and fashion magazines and potato chips. I guess I should probably buy a hat sometime this winter. A hat that I'll actually wear.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Holy freaking christ, people, do you know how cool it is to be going from someplace to someplace else in the SNOW? (Sleet? Hail? What's the difference?)

It's snowed a wee bit in the three and a half years I've lived here, but it doesn't do it much down in South Lake Union and never during the day. So I commuted home in the...whatever. And it rocked. Completely.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


(P.S.: I haven't been able to check my email for days, so if you sent me one I haven't gotten it yet.)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sometimes I am nostalgic for the fear, feeling like I missed my chance to be afraid out loud of things that were tangible. And so now it's easier to be afraid in retrospect, to say, "I was afraid then because he was on smack and wouldn't stop hitting her" rather than, "I am afraid now because in ten years I might turn into the punchline of a joke I'd tell today." In trying to be brave and quiet and not make waves I completely lost the opportunity to admit to feeling something other than fine.

Which isn't to say that I miss the years themselves, miss clutching my birdlike bones together so that no one could hear them clattering against each other, because I don't. There is a comfort in being sad sometimes rather than scared all the time, and the relief that comes from the middle-class blandness of a visiting mild depression is something that few can understand. And it's only when I tell the stories, when I talk about being frightened and hungry and huddled in the closet of a trailer full of shouting that I remember what a luxury the distance is.

But the nostalgia is there, the quick longing for the stark blankness of terror. Being a child is easier than being a grownup, even if it's being a child in the dark corners and dank recesses. It's easier when the bogeymen are real than it is when they're you.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner is about a six-hour project, mostly because I am way too OCD to let other people into the kitchen to help out. I get all, "No, wait! You're chopping those carrots wrong! Do it with a smoother wrist motion, so it doesn't make so much noise." I'm aspaz , and it's much easier to do it all myself than it is to figure out how to calm down and let go of whatever. It's why I'm so good at living alone, and everyone has to be good at something.

Besides, I honestly love entertaining, spending all day making things for the people that want to come and spend their holiday with me. I find that I'm most comfortable in my skin when I'm worrying about the comfort of other people.

My skin is lined with the softest razor blades but I try to rub everyone the other way, and the thought of your satisfied smile is like a biological highlighter, which is kinda the point. I read somewhere that they keep a pike in the fountains at Versailles to prevent the carp from getting fat and complacent. It keeps them on their toes, theoretically, and if fish had long-term memories they'd remember that and be scared and wary all the time. Only they don't, and that makes me think that the pike are wasted on the fish. So to speak.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope that your turkeys and nonturkey isotopes are delicious and your gatherings are friendly!

Monday, November 20, 2006

You know what the best part about not traveling for the holidays is? The not traveling part. Any other time of year I'll go anywhere gladly and make three new friends in each airport, but this time of Next year I'll have to spend at least Christmas with my family, but this year is another pseudo-orphan holiday season. Just the way I like them.

I bounced home in the rain tonight, inappropriately dressed for the weather but having a great time. I love all the other people who are walking in the rain, all the other people who won't fight the dark and the cold. (In the mornings I tend to feel differently.)

And the turkey is purchased and the fixings waiting to be fixed, and my apron is hung by the stove with care, and I'm so excited about Thanksgiving. It starts to rain and I get domestic, so it's real convenient for me that Thanksgiving falls after the rains start. I sort of dated a cook earlier this year and he taught me how to cut my round vegetables into rectangles, a skill I was missing for last year's feast. So that part should be interesting. You know, for me.

Anyway, this time of year makes me even more sentimental than usual, and I am tired and feeling worn through, like my skin is showing all of my secrets. I don't promise that I won't greet you with a hug that'll last just a little too long, that I won't forget to finish a thought mid-sentence. It's what happens to me in the fall.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

In the middle of the night the bridge was up, and I wondered who the people were, gliding silently on their boats in the dark and the cold and the rain.

In my head I had already leapt onto their boats like Errol Flynn onto a passing carriage or James Bond onto a speedboat, dressed in something high-waisted and pumps without a broken heel.

On the bus my fellow late-night passengers grumbled about the delay, muttering imprecations and looking pointedly at their watches. In front the driver hummed softly, in no hurry to get over the bridge.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

My internet connection has been occasionally hosed lately, which accounts, largely, for my general absence and haphazard posting. (It does not, unfortunately, account for all of my typos.) It's not something that I'm technically allowed to complain about, though, since what I really am is a wireless mooch.

Yep, there you have it. That's my dirty secret.

I am the sleepiest girl in King County these days, because sleeping is for suckers and I am no sucker. So I've been out instead, roaming the streets with packs of hungry wolves, drinking in bars, seeing bands, and frequently combining those last two. I need a haircut and a new family of sea monkeys, and possibly also to have a funeral for my plants.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I read a story the other day about an absentee ballot in Florida that may or may not have been sent in with some very valuable stamps as its postage. But the box that it's in is sealed now for 22 months, and so until then it's a little like Schrodinger's mailbox.

I like to think that the stamp in the box is the real thing, that something worth so much money has been stamped and reduced in value, and then closed up in a box. I like to think that the person who used the stamp had no idea what it was, that they were cleaning out their grandfather's desk and found the postage and though they'd be efficient and use it.

Mostly, I like to think of the people that will wait for it, that will spend the next two years thinking fondly of laying hands and eyes on this rare thing that they've always dreamed of. I hope that they won't be disappointed although I know that they will, because while we never know if our secret boxes hold a scary monster or a brick of gold, we do know that what we make with our hands will never match up with what we make with our brains. And so even if the stamp in the box is what they hope it is, it won't ever give them the satisfaction that they dream it will.

And there's something perfect in that.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Sometime this weekend I will buy a new couch. (This will thrill all the people who are very tired of hearing me talk about doing such a thing.) If you were me--and I know you're not but pay attention anyway because it might be your turn next--then this would be a very big commitment for you. It makes me very anxious, spending all of this money on a piece of furniture that someone'll just spill a glass of wine on anyway. But the other option is being stuck with this ripped brown monstrosity forever, and I just can't take it anymore.

Which is more than you ever wanted to know about my furniture situation, but I can't be cool all the time.

Thanksgiving!! is coming up. I am, as expected, so freaking excited and gearing up to cook way too much food for some currently nebulous number of people. I would make an awesome housewife, especially if I had a functioning dishwasher and a little robot vacuum.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I walked down 2nd last night, hood up, hands jammed in my pockets, leaning stubbornly against the wind. Half a block in front of me strolled a couple cuddled under one green umbrella, his hand striking sparks as it hovered at the level of her waist. Her belt was black and studded just like the red one I was wearing, and the slant of his back said that if he were just a little braver he would hook his thumb over the top of it.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

We spent all of the time gathering all of the facts, only to find out, once we had the facts spread out on the kitchen table like a puzzle we had borrowed from someone, that it wasn't the facts that were important. It turned out that it was the harvesting process we were meant to be paying attention to, and that the facts themselves were only a byproduct of the finding out.


In my head we go to your old cabin to talk about it, a cabin that outside of my head and in the middle of Georgia has long since been reclaimed by the woods. It is always in my head that our conversations work the best because in there you don't always have to be right and I don't always have to be defensive. (In my head we are considerate of each other and slightly British.) And there for the first time we ignore both distance and ire and come to a delicate agreement.

And outside of my head I miss the taste of menthol cigarettes and the creeping smell of vintage bourbon splashed on the upholstery by a careless gesture, both long since reclaimed by the years.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Regarding the ongoing disagreement between myself and gravity, well, I'm afraid I have to say that gravity is winning. This time it was aided by my very low blood pressure, and now I have one very busted up toe.
I will not surrender. Gravity, I will get you yet.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dear everyone,

Hello and welcome to the end of October. I'm not ready for it to be time for the damnable holidays yet, but since no one asked me I guess the month is going to be over no matter what I say.

I know that you have heard this from me before, but I am tired of all of this wretched sun. It is fall and this is supposed to be my time of year, time for the rain and the dark and the commencement of weather that doesn't glare in your eyes, and I feel cheated. Global warming is really, really messing with my groove.

Happy Halloween to you all. This is not my holiday, because I am a great big baby that hates being scared, but I'm in favor in general of any day that encourages people to dress up. We carved pumpkins last week, and there were too many people in my apartment yet again, regardless of how I tried to cut down the guest list. Now my pumpkin is sitting outside my apartment, slowly rotting away, and I am trying to ignore the fact that it will soon become squishy. Mold, obviously, is yucky.

If was to be perfectly honest I would tell you that my pumpkin is not alone outside my door, and that in point of fact I am writing this from the comfort of someone else's apartment. It has been a ridiculous year, it's true, but thistles may at any point bear figs. And that's all I have to say about that.

I hope that at least one of you was a scary monster for Halloween. I was dressed as a hyacinth girl, but then I am always dressed as a hyacinth girl only no one ever notices. (Does anyone but me even read T. S. Eliot anymore?)

Next month will be Thanksgiving, and you know I get all excited about that. I intend to find a much better recipe for molasses cookies than the one that I already have, and there will be jubilees. I am staying here for the holidays, so if you'll be orphaned too let me know and we will go on walks and pretend to be fireflies and look for shapes in the clouds of each other's breath.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

If you have kept your skin through all of this time, well, that isn't because of anything that I have done. Because the space between you and me is like a familiar old doorknob that has to be twisted in just the right way to be opened, and I can't reach to the end of my skin often enough to turn it.

And so I sit instead on the porch and listen to the cold approach of fall, waiting for whatever happens on the other side of heartsickness and youth.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I lopped off the top of my pumpkin and then stood to get a drink. The newspapers spread in the cracked linoleum kitchen of that old brown house slid underfoot and I lost my balance, catching myself on the edge of the counter.

When I sat back down you smiled at me with a knife in your hands, and I wondered just which of my organs you were after.

Monday, October 23, 2006

I don't know about you, but when I woke up this morning all I wanted to do was crawl into a warm bathtub with a nice big bottle of scotch, and not get back out until the sad that has taken up residence under all of my furniture returns the toes it's taken from me. I am at least four toes short of walking without a limp, and while I don't think the sad is actively trying to render me useless, I do think that it would be indifferent towards doing so.

I will need hugs until it goes away. More emphatically, I will need hugs until.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I got my first comment spam in all the almost three years of this website yesterday. I feel like I've finally arrived.

When I got to the bus stop yesterday I found the old man sitting there, waiting. His eyes swam a bit as he looked at me, trying to place me, and then came into focus like the slotting of puzzle pieces. "Ah, Red," he said to me, "Come sit down here." (Red is what all old men call me. My hair is my most recognizable feature.) I sat and asked if he had been waiting long, and he patted me lightly on my right leg like we have known each other forever.

We chatted aimiably, clearly pals from way back, and across the street a small lady pushed a cart with one hand, the near wheel smaller than the far wheel and both of them squeaking in rhythm. Her other hand held a cane on which she balanced the majority of her small weight, and I though of a conversation I had just the other day with some friends. They were discussing how they never see the elderly around the city, and I realized that I see them everywhere. I wondered, briefly, if I am continually hallucinating geriatrics. But the man's presence was solid and warm and I knew that he, at least, was real.

He paused, and I brought my attention back to our conversation. He put a hand on my chin and turned my face toward him, and said, "Child, you have the saddest eyes I've ever seen." I shrugged uncomfortably, but since this sort of directness is something he has earned by virtue of his many years, I answered. I told him that most days it doesn't feel like I have any skin at all, that the sound inside my head is like the noise between two strangers dancing, and that I have been here too few years to feel so old. I knew that he was itching to give me advice; it was the reason he started the conversation in the first place, but kindness is hard to find and I will take it wherever I can.

I was right. He took my right hand in his soft left one and chuckled lightly. "Red, it's girls like you I wish I'd chased when I still had the legs for it." He told me that in his experience the people that start out feeling everything too much never stop, but that if they can get through it it'll be worth it in the end.

I had no answer--I never have an answer--and so we sat there quietly, hand in hand, until the bus came.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The dentist was not wearing tracksuit on Thursday, which is probably the best thing that's happened so far this week.

So, tell me a story. Something has to be happening to one or the other of you that I should know about.

Last night outside of a dry cleaners there was an old press, which I would have loved to take home and make into furniture somehow. It was a great big ironing board with a heavy lid, and I think it would be very satisfying to be a dry cleaner and use such a thing. Matt chatted with the dry cleaner through the window, and it turned out that he had gotten his hand caught in it only once, and I imagine that was time enough.

At some point this weekend, I simply must clean my apartment.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My bicycle built for five has been stolen by a suitcase full of rodeo clowns, so I'll be getting to wherever I'm going slowly and with my hands in my pockets. For now. I should have taken the unicycle of the one with the flower-pot hat and headed up to Point No Point on Vancouver Island, but I didn't think quickly enough and he strapped it on the back before I could make a grab.

I honestly do want to go out to Point No Point, which seems like the only place to go after these few weeks of no more dogs and dying plants and general weirdness. They're painting my building in the rain and so everything is covered in green streaked plastic, and it feels a little like a Japanese horror film. I find it likely that the soft rustling of my apartment's new dress will keep me up most of the night, waiting for ghosts to emerge from my closet.

Monday, October 16, 2006

My youngest brother insisted on going to the vet today. There was something there that he had to see, and though he apparently sobbed during the whole thing, with any luck he also found what he needed. I'm not sure I could have done the same had I been there.

And I am of course all worn thin, a pile of slightly cracked bones that could really use some cookies with raisins in. (This is something I find especially difficult to locate when I really need them.) I stayed home from work today, choosing to do my grieving at home, although when the final phone call came I was in the car, leaving the art store, and so I sobbed into my companion's fortuitously waterproof jacket.

The weekend was lovely, a show on Saturday night and a trip to Volunteer Park and the cemetery yesterday. Tomorrow I'll have dinner with the lovely Manuel, and sometime this week there will be a dentist appointment at which I will be scolded for slacking in my flossing duties. My dentist is a very nice man but he wears track suits, and so I have trouble taking him seriously.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Thirteen and a half years ago, we decided it was time to get a dog just as friends of the family learned that their dog was going to have puppies. We went to their house and from the wriggling pile I picked a black-and-tan baby with a white tip to her tail. My stepmother named her Sadie, and she became part of the family.

She helped Eric learn his body parts, sitting very still while he poked her in the eye and chanted "eye" at her, stood solid next to my Nan when she developed Parkinsons and had trouble walking. She chewed and dug and decapitated Power Rangers, groomed the cat, and slept on the couch when she thought no one was looking. Whenever I would go back to visit, during college and after, she would sleep by my door at night. She has always been my dog.

Yesterday they found out that she has cancer, and they'll be putting her to sleep on Monday. My brothers are understandably devastated, as they can't remember a time without her. I am equally devastated. She's off her diet for the weekend, eating as much pizza and cheese as she wants, and come Monday morning my family will be one member less. We will all be worse off for the loss.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A squirrel and I have been on roughly the same schedule for the last couple of weeks, so most afternoons when I'm walking up the sidewalk to get to my hill it is digging in the loose dirt right next to me. We execute an odd little dance, the squirrel and I, because it clearly does not want me to steal whatever it is digging about for and I don't want to scare it away.

So I will walk a step to my right and it will stand up straight, and I'll turn sideways and raise my hands, palms up, to show that I mean no harm. It'll drop back down and hesitate back a half step, and I'll mince a little farther to the right and up to assure it that I really mean no harm.

Most days, this ends when the squirrel gives up on the whole thing and runs up a tree on the other side of the fence.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I stopped to change my shoes and an old man sat down next to me, the rasp of the near leg of his pants against the far and the rasp of his voice very nearly the same. He said hello and I realized that he was much younger than I had thought, that I had mistaken the knowing in the corners of his eyes for age.

I am sad, and looking at you like you've got microphones curled behind your ears, listening to use this against me when I'm patched back up again. I can't seem to shake the summer time, and what I need is a vacation. I used to take off, to remove all the vowels and toss them in a duffel bag and hit the road, and while I don't need a car to do that very thing I haven't yet found the presence of mind to reinvent my habits.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I have always hated to vacuum, and when I was younger and my stepmother would ask me to vacuum the house while she was out I would invariably turn sullen. You could tell whether or not the job had been done by the wheel marks on the rug, not easily effaced by just a few hours traffic. While she was gone I would pull out the vacuum and run it over the rug without turning it on. I'm sure that felt like a victory at the time.

So when you ask me if I have always been this passive aggressive, I think we can assume that the answer will be yes.

My dad always wanted to play the "let's see who can punch the softest game," which is game you only play willingly once. Whoever went first would punch as softly as they could, not a punch at all, and then the other person would sock the first one as hard as they could on the arm, announcing, "you win!" Even when I went second I never won because my hardest punches are still too soft.

And so you found me, sitting at the bar like a spilled drink and trying my level best to disappear. But just like my punches my level best is never very good and I haven't yet managed to vanish.

Friday, October 06, 2006

You know, I've spent most of this week laying on various couches and slumped sideways in various chairs, not really doing a whole lot. Next week seems to have sucked up all of its normal plans and all of the rest of the month's plans, too. Everything I have to do in October? Happening next week.

When Mark died I lost the person who was best at seeing to the bottom of things, who could look at any situation and know just what was happening. It was a clarity borne of an entirely lack of the capacity for unkindness; Mark was the one person who honestly never though to say something mean. (Mark is also the one who introduced me to thoughtful surprises--he was the first one who ever showed up at my door and said, "Here, I was just thinking about you when I saw this." My early friendship with Mark has been a bane to most boyfriends since.) I miss him most days, but I could really use his calm head and friendly smile right now. Work is a little bit crazy and taking up more of my head than it should be.

But it is a quiet Friday, post happy hour, and I intend to do my dishes and my laundry and fortify myself for next week. I'm glad that it is getting dark earlier because it meant that my walk home from happy hour was made in the dark, and I'm more comfortable in the dark than I am in the daytime.

(P.S.: Manuel is the cutest tech support in Seattle. Yay Manuel! Although seriously, we already knew that.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Something happened to my plants when I went to Florida in August, and when I came home they were all wilty. They're recovering, slowly, but they're very wan and sad looking, like they've had mono. Unhappy little Dr. Seuss plants.

If was planning to be anything for Halloween, I would be a robot. A robot made out of boxes.

I need new jokes. Tell me jokes, people.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

What I need is to borrow a three-or-four year old who will just romp the sad right out of me, because most of lately feels like the morning after a night where you've cried and cried in your sleep and can't remember why. Those are the mornings where you wake up all red-faced and swollen and sticky, and even though you don't remember what was happening in your brain during the night, empirical evidence would suggest that it was not good.

I don't know why I need to break everything, why I make myself go see-through and then try to close your eyes after you've noticed. And when I sift through the boxes that sit between my ears all I can find are roadsides that tell me that the next turn will make me a bad-tempered diner waitress named Verna, and that the one after that is a long straight road to power suits and sneakers, and none of those corners make any sense.

What I am waiting for is whatever is behind a softly lit, rain-speckled glass door, whatever is underneath hot lights on a backwoods bar room stage. And in the meantime the scars on the back of my knee throb like they know the secret and aren't telling.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Dear everyone,

Hi. Wasn't it just, um, May? And now it's very nearly October? How has this year managed to feel so slow and yet have gone by so quickly? I've lost something, somewhere.

A couple of days ago when I was downtown I ran into an acquaintance. The last time I saw him was sometime last year, and his wife had just died. We stood in a drizzle while he told me that he was having trouble dragging his gaze above the sidewalk because everything he saw reminded him of her. I, as usual, had nothing very important to say, and so I hugged him and told him that although it was cold comfort, I have found that nothing very very good or very very bad lasts for very very long.
When we bumped into each other on Thursday he looked me straight in the eye and smiled. He wasn't good yet, he told me, but he was better.

Most of my time this month has been taken up by a very tall distraction, which is so far proving to be fun. I have only tripped and fallen once this month and my knee is nearly healed. October means pumpkin carving and pumpkin beer, and lots of shows. I will be making ribbons out of whatever I have on hand to tie in my hair and if you look out your window that will be me throwing an impromptu dance party in your parking spot.

I'm not good yet, either, but I am better.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I have a cedar hope chest, a gift from my mother during her furniture building phase, a phase that also provided my standing mirror/curio case that I use every morning to check that my stockings are straight and my blacks even. Hope chests, historically, were meant to hold all of the things that a girl would need to be married, but since I am a modern girl and my family's black sheep I was left to fill it myself.

And because I am me and this is my apartment, my hope chest is filled with the past. This is unfortunate because when I am looking for a place to stow a spare blanket that the recent heat has rendered useless, I can't find a space in there.

In one corner I keep certain creeping hot Florida nights with the sarong over my bikini hiked up to mid-thigh, and in another I store the stuffed koala my grandfather kept with him in the hospital, one of the few physical relics of the man. Over here are decorations for the postmodern Christmas tree and here are souvenirs from the prom I didn't go to. At the bottom is a box of letters from the boy who was supposed to be the last one and then wasn't, cushioned by caps and gowns and honor cords.

No room for blankets, or for linens or trousseau for that matter, but there is room for all the small things that keep me grounded.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The two things that I don't actually write about here--work and my love life--are both recently leaving me exhausted and relatively incoherent. Things are busy, y'all. My right eye won't stop twitching.

I bought an external hard drive for backup. Its name is Harvey. It came today and we are getting acquainted.

I am very tired and in need of a cocktail. Also in need of: gloves, things with polka dots, green or blue shoes, and twelve hugs. And, the rain went where? Come back, rain-and-earthworms: I miss you.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Today was supposed to be Oktoberfest day, but Sunday bus schedules suck and my throbbing head and I just could not commit to spending over an hour trying to go just a few miles--and, worse, another hour and a half eventually trying to get back. (My head was throbbing not because of my fondness for The Drink, since The Drink and I have made only passing acquaintance recently, but because of my habit of The Stress. The Stress twists my shoulders until they pinch a nerve that retreats to my head and hurts there. It's a very complicated and difficult to get rid of headache.) Instead, I spent a large chunk of the afternoon napping. As I haven't had a single activity-free day in at least a month, the napping was awesome.

Eventually I went to have coffee, where I read the Book Review and my companion read the sports pages, of all things. Eventually dinner was had and then I met a very nice dog. It's been a very pleasant weekend.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

According to my calendar, summer is finally over, which is ok by me. The earthworms are out in the mornings and I want to gather them up and give them to you in handfuls like bouquets of flowers. ...Squirmy bouquets of flowers.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I'm walking home through the dark, slowly making my way down the chilly two blocks back to my apartment. Halfway there I meet a policeman who is peering at the back of a parked car. He looks up and notices me, nods and asks if I need an escort home. I tell him no, I'm fine, that I'm only going a little farther up. He nods again and I make my way down the sidewalk, arms wrapped tightly around my ribcage.

But twelve steps farther on something smells like rosemary and I am feeling suddenly and desperately alone, wishing that I was not the one making this cold and solitary walk home. It hits me out of nowhere and I instinctively gasp in a breath and jam the heels of my hands onto both of my eyes. When I gather myself and look around the policeman is looking at me, concerned, so I give him the thumbs up and go home.

When I get there I drop my things and turn on the shower, getting ready for bed. I see a little spider on the side of the bathtub and turn the spray away from it, glad for anything else alive in this inconsiderately cold apartment. But I have not moved fast enough and it drops down into the water, not holding its breath long enough for me to fish it out.

I can't bring myself to force it down the drain and so instead I watch it, swirling insensate around my feet.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The rains make me want to be in seventeen different places at once, making soups and reading books and drinking cocoa and cuddling.

I've been reading about chemosynthesis lately, about how things live in places where there is no sunlight. I've read stories about people that have been in submarines and things down near volcanic vents where entire vivid ecosystems live. Near these outpourings of chemicals creatures have not given up their colors, have not gone albino. They live in these places of extreme heat and pressure and not only do they live, but they thrive.

Any other fool would have gone back and started at the beginning.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Last weekend TMS called to tell me that he had walked into his girlfriend's apartment, intending to surprise her with a night out, only to find her in bed with not just someone else but two someone elses--a boy and a girl. He called me from the sidewalk outside her building, pacing, asking me what I thought he should do.
I was speechless; this was beyond me. She ran outside just then, hastily wrapped in someone's button-down shirt, so I recommended tequila and let him listen to her story.

He stopped by tonight just as I was finishing a nap and deciding if the No Reasons were weighing too heavily for me to actually get up. I answered the door and he blustered into my apartment, cranky with me for having encouraged him to Gesture with this one. I pointed out that I'm really the last one he should be taking advice from, and that I'd said that already months ago.

We grabbed a bottle of wine and went for a walk. I'm no solution for either heartbreak or humiliation, but I am always good for a hug and helpful invectives, and we cheerfully called her names for a while. After a while we reached a park and sat down and he said that what really worries him is that each disappointment hurts just a little less, that he's afraid of becoming used to it. He said he's aching around edges he doesn't know how to dull. I smoothed his hair as he wondered whether some tunnels just don't have ends.

I still didn't know what to tell him. I'm good at believing in fairy tales for other people but I don't know how to see them for myself, and that was what he needed just then; he needed to hear that I believe, unilaterally, in happily ever after. So I told him that I am a poor soothsayer and don't have the eyes for ends of tunnels, but that I stand by my advice to Gesture with abandon. I gave him a patented samantha speech all about dragonflies and snails and Magritte and though I don't think he believed a word of it he was at least poking fun at my own romantic failings at the end of it, a sure sign of improvement.

I'm not worried about him. TMS is a romantic too, and will have made the whole event into a funny story to tell his mom the next time she calls and asks when he'll be getting married. But I wonder at you, people, and I wonder at myself, at just how careless we are with each other.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

It's too late to be sitting in this bar and yet here I am, halfheartedly wishing that we could still smoke in here so that I could light one up to put out in my eye. It would be quite a charming bar, I guess, if this man sitting next to me wasn't currently involved in weeping into his drink about having cheated on his girlfriend yet again. I don't invite these sorts of confessions, but I get them anyway.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The situation called for gravity, but since all that I had on hand was thinly veiled contempt, that was what I went with. It complimented your own disdain nicely, a disdain that created an echo even though we were nowhere near walls. Somewhere in the shadows cast by your cheekbones there had to be an answer, but if there was I couldn't find it.

Even still I'm not sure where we would have gone had the molten promise in your eyes proven to be an option, but I am sure that we may not have come back.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006're all going to laugh at me, but here's the deal. When my old roommate was in town in July he attempted to make my toilet stop running (no, please, no jokes) and instead made the noises worse. I finally convinced them to fix the thing today, after weeks and weeks of infuriating running water noises, and I came home just now to a brand new toilet.

But, uh...I'm a very small girl. And my feet don't reach the ground when I sit on the thing. Which just feels completely ridiculous, because I am a grown up, dammit, and the one time my feet ought to reach the floor is in the bathroom.

(Additionally, today I am [ok, a couple of weeks ago I was] ever so slightly famous, which makes me an inordinate amount of excited. Huzzah for slow afternoons tending store at 826.)

Monday, September 11, 2006

I leave early in the evening, wondering why I didn't stay to be petted softly until I fell asleep. My heels echo on the quiet street and though I'm not paying attention to my face my brain knows that it is lightly painted with a smile.

My free time has been taken up lately in ways that I haven't figured my way around yet, in ways that I am for the moment treating like a butterfly that has landed on my shoulder which might, if I breathe in too quickly, fly away.

But rest assured that I am having fun and sleeping well, and that soon the sun will go away and I will return to my habits of strolling through my city at all hours, grinning madly and whatever crosses my path. And then we will take a net and go hunting for moonbeams and any cloud shaped like a dragon.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

When I woke up this morning it felt like rain, and walking outside confirmed it--the rains are back. It makes me want to go shopping for warm fuzzy things to wear and bottles of wine and new gloves with polka dots and stripes. Outside it feels like I've come home.

I took back the no touching rule when I got back from Florida, just like I promised. So far that's turned out to be a good decision, so it looks like I was wrong and TMS was right. Not that I intend to tell him that.

Today waiting for the bus I met an old Czechoslovakian man. He sat down and said, "I think you are eighteen years old," and when I denied it he asked how old I thought he was. I answered, "Twenty-nine," and his lady friend elbowed me and whispered, "He's plenty nine." I figured that was a joke, so I laughed.
The bus was late, and he told me most of his life story. Since he's 81, that story took a while, but the gist was that he was a rich, successful man in his country up until the revolution. He's been here for 27 years and thinks that Maria Cantwell should be president (and that I should be her assistant). He also told me that he's very funny and writes very good poetry, and at the end we all concluded that our wait for the bus was a worthwhile time.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

It is a soundtrack made of a softly closing door and reluctantly fading footsteps that plays in my head during these nights that I sit waiting for the rain. And although the reluctance and the footsteps--and, for that matter, the door--have not ever existed, it is the possibility of them that echoes in the back left corner of my skull. That's the place where I keep the chance that anything might still happen, the place where the secret smiles live.

But in the dream that I had we drove down a road strewn with the ribbons from cassette tapes, all melted into the asphalt and with no intention of leaving. And though the reflection of the sun burned the lines into my eyes and all I wanted was to get away, I have not quite stopped wondering what that street would have sounded like if we could only understand how to play it. In my dream the joke that you made was not funny.

And I have tried to describe, scribbled on cocktail napkins and paper placemats and packets of sugar, all the ways that I would dare you to come and find me. Only hide-and-seek was never my game, because though you promise to look under all beds and behind all drapes your fingers could very well be crossed behind your back. So hiding is where I will not be, nor will I be driving down highways crisscrossed with music. I will only be waiting for the rain.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The birthday weekend went well, with lots of Bumbershooting and drinking and tea and phone calls and inappropriate text messages. Today, because evidently the weekend now lasts until Tuesday, I cut off all of my hair and made a disastrous batch of cookies. (So now I look like a boy and my apartment smells like burned. In case you're taking notes.)

Have you noticed that I still have not split town with a houseboy named Enrique? I am doing such a good job of both staying put and not panicking. I deserve three gold stars. I'm so anxious for it to be fall already, for there to be clouds and drizzle and piles of leaves for kicking through. Summer is useless for me. I need spring and fall or nothing at all.

Until then, your job is to work out a secret handshake. I will be here, thumb wresting with the cookie-burning goblins that live in my stove.

Monday, September 04, 2006

I stopped to tie my shoes and somewhere--either while you were moving ahead or while I was falling behind--something broke. I would have caught up and told you, I swear, only I had tied those laces so tightly that I found myself incapable of running. I waited with my hands over my eyes until you came back and told me that it was all fine, but neither one of us believe that any more than we believed in the migratory patterns of butterflies. What we believed, instead, was that whatever was beautiful was also stationary.

What we believed was that we would always find what we were looking for.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Today is my birthday, and I will be nine years old again this year.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Dear everyone,

Inexplicably, some of you seem to have stuck around since the beginning of the month's flummoxing vote of confidence in my powers to entertain, regardless of my consistent show of performance anxiety. Thanks for that. I promise to try and be less stricken and frankly poleaxed by the traffic shortly. (That, or I'll bribe Brandon into pretending to be me.)

Walking home this afternoon I met a small white kitten. It has been suggested that I live in a different Seattle than everyone else, and I admit that I had to consider that possibility when I lifted the little guy only to discover two ladybugs, one on the end of each paw. Either this city is charmed or I am, and today we were a perfect fit.

In any case the weather is changing and I have had very little time recently for either mean reds or No Reason Sads. In the fall we'll see if that three-ring circus I planted in your yard bears fruit, and if it does we can plan weeks and weeks of dancing bear jamborees and practical jokes on the ringmaster. My last year has been wildly out of control and is only now starting to slow down, and for the first time in ages I truly feel like we should be playing hide and seek in each other's eyes and deciding to be fireflies when we grow up.

I noticed that sly ampersand in the side of your gaze the last time we looked at each other, people, and I know you have something planned for me. For the moment, I'm ready for whatever you've got.


Monday, August 28, 2006


Somehow recently I have both read a few stories and been told a few anecdotes that all relate to remote jungle villages in wartime. The burden of each of these stories is that conflict forces people out of their little towns, leaving empty buildings and civilized husks, until the war builds to a point where those villages are reoccupied by refugees from somewhere else.
And I think there's a point, is all, in the fact that no place is ever empty for long.

My nights are still, as Neruda says, "peopled with echoes and nostalgic voices," each whorl of my fingerprints set of fire by something just on the edge of noticing. Earlier I started to drop asleep on the couch, book drooping in my hands, only to be yanked back by what I was certain was a whisper in my ear.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

If I could find the way to take these moments that weigh on my hands like quickly formed balls of lead and change them into something light enough to lift into the sky, I would. I'm not sure that handing me back the responsibility for my own steps is going to end well for any of us, and the last thing I want to do is trip over your feet because I'm too busy watching my own.

It isn't only in walking down the street that I have a habit of stumbling, after all.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

1. Ok, so anyone know who sent me Steve Keene paintings? Because I got a package today with 11 of them, and I'd really like to express my gratitude.

2. It's fucking fantastic to be me today. Seriously.

3. My birthday is next weekend, and you know what that means. It means it's time for my annual trip to the Zoo (the one with the monkeys, not the one with the drunks). Steph and Ryan and I will be headed there on Sunday, because Steph and Ryan are my favorite. You could be invited too, as long as you don't mind my habit of poking you until you see the hidden snake, like we're playing a big 3-D version of Where's Waldo.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Philippe Park

I sat next to my mom, the car's air conditioning drying sweat on my temples and in a thick trail down the small of my back. My mom and I have always been pretty close, regardless of the landmines in our past, but those landmines have always been the elephant in each of our rooms. We'd been wandering in Philippe Park and then we were back in the car, chatting aimiably about the huge renovations she and her husband have done on their house. I mentioned that it looks like a completely different house, which is when she looked at me out of the very corner of her eye and said, "I'm not afraid to stay in it anymore."

And there it was, like the flipping of a light switch in a room full of monsters, anticlimactic and over in seconds. It was the very first time she has ever acknowledged how scary those years were, the first time she's ever referred to them at all. In that moment I felt myself take one step closer to forgiving, to a place where all elephants become incorporeal and able to be blown away like smoke.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

In high school we were inseparable, but by college Bethany and I started to drift apart in the exact ways everyone does. We spoke infrequently for years, as I accelerated my degree and got out of town and she foundered in schools and relationships and opposites.

Tonight we sat at a bar in Ybor City, drinking and gesturing. As it turns out we've both become adept at screwing up: we keep making the decisions we know we shouldn't because we can't come up with any reason not to.

And I suppose that, if last August I learned just how simple it was to outgrow certain friendships, I have to admit that this trip has taught me, unexpectedly, that it's also possible to fit back into them later.

Friday, August 18, 2006

I walked through the Houston airport, bleary, past where security is checking incoming travelers for exploding shampoo. There is the usual round of announcements--do not leave baggage unattended--and then a very nice female voice informs whomever may be listening that any inappropriate jokes about security could get you arrested. Houston, I decide, has absolutely no sense of humor.

Later, in my grandparents living room, I realize that even though they are bickering gently, as usual, he does not take his eyes off of her. I would bet that he realized while she was in the hospital that he will lose her someday. I don't know that, when she goes, he will stay for much longer.

Spencer is a brand-new daddy and is still working out how he's supposed to behave. He's high strung and nervous, fidgety, but when he calms down and watches his daughter he looks like a man who has only just realized that the stars are actually other worlds.

It isn't even midnight yet, but I am coming back to the house, or anyway I would be if the key would turn in the lock. But it won't, and we confer briefly. Should we see if it fits in the back door lock? It doesn't. I have turned into a fifteen year old, worried that my mom is going to catch me out with a boy, and locked out. I've got no choice but to call her and let her know, and she comes out to fetch me.
As it turns out, she gave me the wrong key.
In case one was in the habit of wondering, Florida is still hot and humid and raining at 5:00 every day. Grandma 1 out of 2 is very frail and little and fiesty.

Today we will see a brand new baby, grandma 2/2, and some miscellaneous moderately estranged family members.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Last year, it was all about samantha being the "missed connection" girl. This year, it's all about samantha being that girl you see every day when she's walking to and from work until you just have to stop her and introduce yourself.

Boys of Seattle, you are nothing if not entertaining.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The trouble is that being sad sneaks in like cold around a poorly fit doorframe, and I'm up to my elbows in it before I realize that it's here. I keep hoping that they're going to start handing out subscriptions to butterflies and puppies with my morning coffee, but it hasn't happened yet. And it might be a little bit because everyone is behaving as though the first person anywhere to just be nice is going to be depantsed or something, but it could also be because of too much sun. I don't know. Your guess is as good as mine.

I'm leaving for Florida on Wednesday, and we already know that there are a whole lot of things about that town that make me feel small and mean and twelve-years-old. But there are also whole rooms of people who will obey when I demand that they hug me, a nice boy who will pet me like a kitten without even being asked, and a delicious brand new baby. They might all look at me like I'm some sort of critter they've never seen before and aren't at all sure how to classify, but it's a familiar perplexed look, at the very least.

I've been trying to get over it, but Seattle, you are still freaking my shit out. When I come back you'll invite me over to listen to records and everything will be cool again, ok?

Late night airports are one of the (many) place I imagine myself meeting someone who will elope with me to Coney Island.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


We've been playing the most ridiculous game of phone tag for weeks, occasionally connecting long enough to ask if one or the other of us can call back the next day. It works for me because I hate the telephone, and even though you're one of the very few that I can stand to speak to on it for more than thirty seconds, I still would really rather not.

Gravity and I are often at odds, and today was no exception. I could blame this afternoon's pavement body slam on the kitten heels I was wearing, but since I'm equally as stumblefooted in flats, it isn't really an excuse. The end result is that I sprawled on the ground like a big-headed nine year old, complete with skinned hands and knees and, somehow, the tops of my toes. (Fortunately, the scraped toes are on the foot opposite from the one that had the sprained toe a few weeks ago.) The only good part is that it happened before my pedicure, so at least my feet look fabulous--I'm going to Florida next week, and I need all the help I can get.
If you are also in Florida next week, you'll be able to recognize me easily--I'll be the girl in the skirts with the bruises for kneecaps. They'll coordinate nicely with my cranky pants.
It's late when I get home, so I try to open the door to my mailbox quietly. As I turn and walk up the stairs toward my front door I notice my neighbor open his own door a crack and peer out, talking on the telephone. He sees me looking and closes the door quickly.

I spent most of the afternoon reading about serial killers, and so I am a little jumpy. I tiptoe into my apartment and then turn, quickly, to lock every single lock I can get my hands on. Just in case.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I have been trying to curb my habit of wandering the neighborhood in the middle of the night, because I'm not very scary and so it's just asking for trouble. I've already got plenty of trouble, so I've been forcing myself not to head for the clothes and the door when I wake up convinced that my apartment is the last place I need to be. I've been staying in bed and going back to sleep, only to wake up five or six times more, still possessed of the same need to go anywhere else.
Last night, each time I woke up, my feet were wound so tightly in my quilt that I couldn't move either one of them independently. It would appear that the conviction that I need to stay the heck put has finally sunk in.

Monday, August 07, 2006


I have said it before and I will say it again: wearing clothes with dinosaurs on them will help you along the path to social splendor. I can't say why it is, exactly, but people are twice as friendly whenever I'm wearing my dinosaur t-shirt, and I'm thinking of covering my entire wardrobe in prehistoric creatures. Just in case. After all, who doesn't love dinosaurs? No one, that's who.

According to TMS I have been on hiatus long enough, have pretty much cleared out my shopping cart, and am currently just being self-indulgent and hysterical, to which I say, "...and?" But he's sort of got a point, and as a result I'll be taking back the no-touching rule as of when I get back from Florida, and I will stop actively avoiding your fingerprints.

But you're still not coming home with me, Seattle, and we're still keeping room for the holy ghost in between us. I need to figure out how to quit doing everything backwards, how to stop smashing things that I don't want to see broken, before I'm allowed to take any steps in any direction at all. Just because I can leave this corner that I've painted myself into does not mean that I have any idea where I'm going.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

This time last year, I was getting ready to go to China, to leave the country for the first time ever. China taught me a lot of startling things, about how friendships can have expiration dates and about how we can outgrow what we knew of as our old brains; about how very disposable we each are. Herman Hesse wrote about how we are always hatching from new eggs, how it is impossible to emerge into new worlds without destroying the shells of the old ones. When I came home it was to a new world that was rounder, it's true, but a trifle thinner nonetheless. There is a difference between a landscape painting and a portrait of a place, and when I came home I realized that I was desperate to discover that very difference in my own tiny keyhole.

It's an unfortunate time of year for y'all--my birthday is in a couple of weeks and so I'm currently stuck in my usual birthdays-and-new year recursive vortex of reflection. I'm trapped in this ditch full of mirrors trying to figure out if I've actually accomplished anything worthwhile in the last year.

So this time this year, I'm getting ready to go to Florida, to see the grandmothers for what is always possibly the last time. Grandmothers are all that small delicate girls can count on to be kind and stable when young mothers insist on marrying crazy junkies and every-other-weekend fathers jump to selfish conclusions and exchange fondness for sarcasm, so they've always been my solid place.

And I have been reading lately about how sometimes the Earth's magnetic field vanishes, and when it reappears the poles have reversed themselves. It's expected to happen again sometime in the next 2000 years, and during the time before the reversal compasses won't work and there will be a lot of very lost sailors. I think that's what's going to happen when I lose the grandmothers--that what I know of as up and down will be turned on its head, that I will be very lost until I locate a new place to fix my bearings.

As they grow weaker and older it becomes my turn to be the solid place, to become the point from which they see the rewards of the kindness they've given. It's my job to gather their stories and create a place for them in whatever future generations of my family they won't be around to meet. I need to remember portraits, and I'm not sure that I'm strong enough for more than outlines and soft brush strokes.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Even though I have stepped on the bus with the sort of headache that always makes my doctor shrug and suggest a houseboy, I can't help but notice that the smell of the man behind me reminds me of a taste I once loved. The memory of that taste, one of Camel lights and bourbon, forces me to remember the feel of a rough thumb tracing the line of my stubborn jaw. If I didn't know just where you were I'd be wondering, but since I do know I'm just sitting there, thinking. But then the middle of my forehead throbs sharply and I remember that I don't actually care, that it's just my confounded tastebuds taking the wheel yet again.

Friday, August 04, 2006

My stars, boys and girls, I don't know what to say, aside from, y'know, thanks.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Making new friends on the bus is an entirely different thing from being talked at by old drunks on the bus, a distinction that was made painfully clear tonight when I sat down next to one of the latter on my second bus home. During the course of his monologue he warned me off of tequila, men, and wintergreen-flavored anything. I'm sort of curious as to what the connection was between the three, but not curious enough to actually have asked.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Dear everyone,

The heatwave has confused the roadberries that I pass on my way to work: some of them are still green, but even still most of them are cooked. As I don't have a yard I refuse to see the brambles as a nuisance; I refuse, in fact, to see them as anything but charmed.
Of course, I feel that way about most things.

I spent most of the weekend at the Capitol Hill Block Party (with Josh and his awesome sunglasses), watching bands and people and trying not to trip over my own broken feet any more than necessary. The Murder City Devils reunited for the night, and I found myself wishing that I'd gotten to see them the first time around, before I'd gained any regard for my limbs and subsequently a desire to stay out of the pit.

A lot of my time this month has been spent at home, sitting very still and trying to decide if it makes more sense to let things unravel on their own or if I ought to take them to pieces myself. Sundays are still the worst for me, when everything gets all shrill and I become convinced that I've used up my third wish without even noticing. I wonder, usually in midafternoon, how many chances you get to track down new genies. When we still lived in the trailer and I still had stuffed animals I spent a lot of time snugged down in the pile of them, holding very still and pretending to be stuffed with cotton, because I was preparing for the next time things went very badly. I was never sure that I'd be able to get out in time, and nowadays I find myself doing the exact same thing only without the stuffed animals.
Which is, of course, not the way to go about things at all.

Old southern-fried wisdom tells us that these sort of times are meant for hollowing you out so that you're ready for whatever comes along next, which is the way I'm trying to think of it. Because something has to happen eventually; I've had a run of bad luck lately, is all.

And it's you that I'm really pleased with, the way that you all seem to have learned to run without scanning the ground for crooked paving stones. I love that you have largely stopped being so afraid of falling, understanding that skinned knees will heal and are no reason to avoid using your limbs. I am pleased as punch that you're realizing all the astonishing things you're capable of.

I'm not there yet, but I'm right behind you. I'm having a lot of trouble keeping my temper, lately, trouble not saying sharp unkind things. I'm not ready to take back the no touching rule yet, so we're still keeping room for the holy ghost. But I am a believer in the softness of things, in you and me and magic, and I'll get to where you're going one of these days.

My dream is still to play the tambourine in an indie band. But just once I'd like to play tambourine during a loud yelling hardcore set--standing in the middle of the stage in a sundress and high-heeled shoes. I'd need some sort of forcefield, I think, to keep the scream-y thrashing musicians from slamming into me, but for just the once it would be fantastic.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Scott and I, stepping up onto the bouncing dance floor, created what could only have been referred to as a sensation. Even though the crowd was stuffed tightly onto the platform, leaving no room for dancing and only room for jumping, it parted in front of us.

Sometimes China made me feel charmed.

Val had left us at a bar at some point hours before, new best friends, and after another bar and a dozen bottles of Tsingtao and a frantic discussion about the Southern novel we were ready to dance. We settled into a charmed circle of open floor near the dj and the flailing transvestite and ignored all of the murmurs that our arrival had caused. The reason for the whispers was obvious; we looked like no one else in the room. I in my skirt, vast expanses of transparent white skin glowing in the black light, was shorter than most of the delicate Chinese girls, and had red hair and blue eyes to boot. Scott was a foot and a half taller than me, heavily muscled, with long black hair and tattoos showing through his thin white shirt.
He looked down and smiled, slid his hand onto the place on my side reserved for the hands of boys, and we fell into the heavy electronic beat.

If we had been paying closer attention we would have noticed the hands that reached across the open space to hesitate, briefly, over our heads and arms, touching them lightly with unsure fingertips before drawing back.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

We learned the stingray shuffle early on, almost as soon as we learned to swim. If you were old enough to put your toes in the water by yourself then you were old enough to know not to lift your feet off the sand, to move forward by pushing rather than stepping. If you forgot then you deserved what happened, something I only remembered once I felt the squirm next to my foot and moved away in time to catch the edge of the barb on the underside of my toe. Wanting to avoid the teasing I told them that I had stepped on a broken shell and winced whenever I stepped down for weeks.
It's that stingray lash that I've been thinking of, walking, since yesterday when I tripped mid-stumble and bruised the ends of each of my toes on one foot. Graceful is among the many things that I am not. (Other things that I am not include: a tugboat, twelve bouquets of flowers, smaller than a breadbox, and interested in moving to L.A.. In case you were keeping track.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


A significant number of the things that could go wrong, the last couple of days, have, and so I'll be here on the couch with a cantaloupe and my boyfriend Humphrey Bogart until someone provides me with a compelling reason to leave it. Going to the office tomorrow does not count.
I ought to be cleaning my apartment--if it's cool enough to wear pants it's cool enough to do the dishes, and this place has fallen into disarray--but nuts to that. I'd rather mix up a pitcher of everclear and arsenic and pretend that it's not only Tuesday.

(See also, X.)

Monday, July 24, 2006

I really enjoy late night cab rides home. It always feels like the cab driver and I have a secret, even though, since I gracelessly extracted myself from the situation with the bartender and instituted the no touching rule, we don't.

It has, officially, been Too Hot to Wear Pants this weekend, so I have been thanking the gods of fashion for short skirts and strapless dresses and other bits of hobaggery that have made the heat bearable. How did I live in Florida for so many years refusing to wear anything but jeans? The mind boggles.

Saturday night Steph and I took advantage of her other half being out of town to go to Havana, a newish bar in Capitol Hill. The place was pretty dead when we got there but by the time we left it was quite crowded with the most peculiar bunch I've ever seen. We're pretty sure that the Havana demographic is based largely on who can actually find the hidden entrance, rather than just being the usual Hill crowd. But it was air conditioned and we got a chance to chat and gossip and crowd watch and talk a little bit of Wedding, which is always a lot less fun when there's a fellow around.

After a day comprised entirely of trying not to move--it's hotter in my apartment than it is outside--I met Josh at Neumos for Camera Obscura and Georgie James (hello, hot bass player). We were completely charmed by their Scottish accents, and when they informed the crowd that they'd be headed to the Cha Cha for margaritas we decided to give it a shot. Neither one of us had ever heard anything special about the Cha Cha's margaritas, and for good reason. We didn't end up running into the band but were more than sufficiently amused by the usual Cha Cha crowd, as well as the inexplicable playing of Supertramp's greatest hits on the sound system.

After which was, of course, my cab ride home, and now I'm trying to convince myself that sleep will be possible regardless of the melting off of my flesh. Since we're not allowed to complain about the rain our here, I intend to whine a whole lot about the heat. Make it stop.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I spent a small bit of time this afternoon with a wee baby named Maisy, a name that has an unfortunate association with the careless mama bird in "Horton Hatches an Egg." She's just a few weeks old, which is one of my favorite baby-times: you can tell that they're just taking everything in and figuring it out. You could see her personality developing right inside her little head.
The evening was passed mostly lying in front of the fan, eating plums and cantaloupe and pretending that at any moment a houseboy would appear with a frosty rum drink.

Before Toby's mom split town they lived next door to a withered old French Canadian lady with a terribly quaint accent and a withered apple face. She spent most evenings on her porch, chewing tobacco and spitting daintily in a bucket next to her chair, and some of those evenings we would join her. Tobes and I had a habit of sitting on the steps and going over the last few days, and when something caught her ear she'd jump in with a story. If anything unpleasant happened, invariably she'd sigh and say, "Well, I'll just take a brace and carry on, and if I can't look pleasant I'll look as pleasant as I can."
I spoke with Tobes tonight--hearing a telephone conversation while lying in front of a fan is no easy feat--and at the end of the conversation he made an uncanny impersonation of his old neighbor. And that's just what I plan to do. After all, thistles may at any point bear figs.

Besides, Miss Manners has always told us that, "Good hearted people who hit others with their burdens are rude," and not even melancholy and malcontent are reasons for rudeness.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The weather evidently plans to be unbearably hot this weekend--and yes, I know I'm from Florida, but they have air conditioning there--so if anyone's got any sprinklers I can run through I'll be their best friend. I'll bring a frisbee, and afterwards we can play leap frog. We'll forget, for the weekend, that we are grownups and subject to the ridiculous consequences therefrom.

I must admit that I am, at this exact moment, feeling a little lost. Everywhere I look there are people having babies and getting married and looking for PhD programs, and I am doing...not a lot. I feel like I should be getting my shit together, except the fact is that it's got together as much as it can be. I'm slowly getting ready to re-apply to grad school in the winter and am trying to transition to quality rather than quantity in my interpersonal relationships. I've got a great outfit picked out for tomorrow, a steady volunteering gig, and a good job that I enjoy. I just wrote a letter to my nan. I'm one together girl.
But for all of that I'm still lost, still missing the piece in the middle.

The problem is that I moved out here with all of these plans, and when those plans fell through there wasn't anything to take their place. The little girl who drew flowers on her knees and the insides of her wrists is gone and not a whole lot has filled in the blanks. What I want is to be a person of substance and knowledge and kindness, a person worth being around, but increasingly I feel in my marrow bones that I'm really becoming a girl of not-knowing, narcissism, and walking in circles. I feel like I've gone blind.

After a game or two of leapfrog I'll be able to pull together scraps of my philosophy, remind myself that I'm too young to have anything figured out anyway, and make a new friend at the bus stop. It's all just cover, though, a tissue paper layer over all of my holes. Just so you know.
Holy freaking Christ, you guys--Stace is a mom. Little Ever Charis was born about 2 hours ago, and you know it's probably a good thing they moved to Canada because it'd only be a matter of time before we'd all be plotting when to descend on them en masse and meet the baby.

So, when are we road tripping to Canada?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

So in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh and Enkidu have a mighty battle. Enkidu had been made essentially for the sole purpose of being a rival and a distraction for Gilgamesh, but after this battle Gilgamesh just sort of stops and proposes an adventure off into the forest to kill a demon. (I don't remember why he stops, though--I haven't read the Epic in years. Anyone?) And that's it, right: the first time ever that someone wrote down the possibility that what we're fighting against might actually be what we're supposed to be fighting with. They figured it out in Sumeria in 2000ish BC, 400 years or so after the battle supposedly happened, but still a heck of a long time ago.

It's a good idea to occasionally remember that everything I'm just figuring out has always been known, and that it might be high time to start reconciling me with myself.

Monday, July 17, 2006

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The other half of the bench, when I sat down, was already occupied by a man on the declining side of aging. His near cheek was mapped with broken blood vessels, his baseball cap sweat stained all around where it snugged to his head.
As is the custom at the bus stop, we chatted idly about Metro transit's inability to be on time. He told me that he had been waiting for twenty-five minutes and that it wasn't so much that he had somewhere to be, it was only that, when you get to be his age, you find yourself tiring of waiting because no one wants to die preparing to be in transit. He couldn't move quickly, I should notice, but he could still move.

He volleyed questions at me, about where I was going and where I had been and what I was reading. Every few moments his hand would pass itself across his eyes, as though it was moving on its own, checking to make sure he was still seeing. I was glad to talk with him, glad for a connection that was uncomplicated and fleeting but deeply satisfying, a conversation like a soft chair after a long walk. He tossed a few chestnuts at me, something about the best apples being the hardest to get to, and something else about the people that are willing to climb for them being the people that deserve to have the apples.

I told him that I had been thinking, lately, of the rerum concordia discors, the discordant concord of things--something I first read about many years ago in Nietzsche and then, in college, came across in Horace. I told him I'd been fighting both for and against and that I couldn't figure out if the way to harmony was to stop fighting in either direction or to keep going. He nodded, understanding my struggle at a glance, and laid a hand on my arm. The skin of his fingers was so soft it was almost not there at all, his fingerprints worn off, his pulse light. We touched eyes for the first time as the bus pulled up and he looked straight at me, kind brown eyes steady. "Young lady, I have faith in you," he said slowly, and then he broke our eye contact and stepped on the bus. I would have thanked him, I think, but there was neither time nor need. We spoke the same language.

Friday, July 14, 2006

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I met a snail yesterday, walking up to Capitol Hill in the rain, and I hunkered down to have a chat. Snails are real easy to talk to because they're always on the way to someplace else. I like snails, and the way that when they decide it's time for growing they just close off the parts that aren't working anymore and build something new.

I have been your inbetween girl, your stopping point between here and wherever else. That's been just fine--sometimes you were on your way somewhere and sometimes it was me in transit. But the thing of it is that I'm getting a little tired of being a waystation. I'm thinking about trying to be a destination. The trouble is that I don't know how to go about getting there, how to make this stop being a game of tag where we each touch each other and run away. But I am sleepy and idly reviewing other ideas, thinking of moving to Mongolia to study wind patterns in the sand or to an island in the middle of the Pacific to become a malacologist. Perhaps if I learn how anything else works I'll accidentally figure out how to insert my own self into your bloodstream.

I suppose I'll figure it out. Even snails get where they're going eventually.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

While you weren't looking I went out and exchanged this too-big skin for one two sizes too small. I had it lined with the mean reds, too, because I have checked the forecast and the foreseeable future will involve quite a bit of stomping. (I've developed quite a taste for the stomp, recently.) Plus the mean reds, for all their faults, at least actively cancel out the delicately blues, and I am quickly growing tired of that particular shade.

I spent a portion of yesterday evening getting hilariously drunk with Brandon, who always gets funnier the more that I have to drink. Brandon's a delight, so you just go ahead and be jealous.

Sometimes when I see you walking down the street you remind me of old abandoned shops with plywood on the windows, the sort that you find in Florida where the proprietor just couldn't be bothered to come back after the threat of a hurricane never materialized. You don't see these buildings so much anymore, what with the inconceivable boom my homestate is in the middle of now, but during the road trip years they were everywhere. Those shacks always felt resigned, like they knew no one was coming to clear the cracked vinyl chairs out of them and make them someplace new again.
If I knew you I'd be able to take you by the shoulders and shake those old chairs out, but I don't. You're just there, walking down the street. And when you see me with that chair-shaking look in my eye, you'll have to know in all your secret knowing places that it's for you, because I won't be telling.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

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My friends are gone, and I am sick, sick, sick. (Thanks for the cold, Jesse!) Having them here was amazing, like when you're having a dream where you find a new room in your house but in the dream it makes perfect sense that the room is there. They slid right into life here, fit perfectly with everyone I introduced them to.
Half of me is so sad that they've left, because the visit reminded me just how much I've missed them the last couple of years. The rest of me is just pleased that the three of us have managed the trick of being able to stay relevant to each other even with all of the intervening time and distance and life, because there wasn't any awkwardness or readjusting to ourselves. I am such a lucky punk.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Sarah and Jesse will be here in a handful of hours and I'm so excited I could very well spontaneously combust. I've been doing little excited jumping in a circle dances all day long, which are very difficult to do in adorable stiletto mary janes, but which were the only possible outlet for all of my excitement. I'm going to go vacuum my apartment and then try as hard as I can to make it be time to head to the airport.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The first thing I realized when I woke up this morning was that I was completely incapable of speaking to anyone. There isn't anything wrong with either voice or throat, but I'm positive that if I tried to answer your questions nothing would come out at all. Just a panicked look about the eyes and a fish face.

When you walked over your smile had that new car smell and I knew somewhere in the backs of my knees that you were just the sort I'd like to test drive. I didn't, but right now I like to think of us sitting on the dock with a bottle of wine between us, talking about our individual unrequited love affairs.

The care-and-feeding tag of one of my new shirts advises me--in several languages, one of them, fortunately, English--that I ought not dry the thing in direct sunlight. Which makes me think of Gremlins.

Eventually I found myself in West Seattle at a party full of acquaintances. Sitting on the seawall alone, missing my balcony fireworks, I realized that the place to have the No Reason Sads on a national holiday was probably not where I was. And that was good to know. (I've decided to turn all the No Reasons into learning opportunities. It's the only way to get through them.)

I ended the night in a convertible, top down and freezing but thrilled with being windblown. It reminded me of my very first Seattle Fourth of July, after the party guests went home and Mark and I drove around town very fast in his little red car that he'd brought back from England, scared and shrieking about being a passenger on the driver's side on the Viaduct in the middle of the night.