Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Dear everyone,

I have spent the better part of January pretending to be a monster, stomping around with my hands like claws, yelling, "Graar! I am a monster!" (According to Steph, absolutely no one finds this scary.) Consequently, there have been a lot of people shaking their heads ruefully. When we were in college Sarah would say that she could tell when I was in a group of people--I was always surrounded by people, then--because she could see them moving out of the way of my flailing hand gestures. Nowadays, I imagine you can tell where I've just been by the trail of raised eyebrows and shaking heads.
We learned this month, as well, that it's a poor idea to feed me cocktails and then hand me a sharp sword, because I will immediately thread it through a belt loop and start pretending to be a pirate. Pretending to be a pirate is what I do, people.

A couple weeks ago all of my solid lines turned dotted when I received a surprise (probably drunken) email from the boy with the crooked smile. I spent a few days furious, absolutely fuming, at the thought that he was trying to reenter my life after he'd vanished from it without so much as a post-it note last year. After a little while, when there was no further answer to my short but perfectly polite response, I calmed down. Perhaps it was just an apology. And in any case I finally feel like the whole mess is closed, like I can put a period at the end of that particular episode.


This afternoon I was an accessory to a little romantic subplot when my coworker's husband wanted to sneak into her office to surprise her with flowers. I created a diversion to get her away from her desk, and he snuck in and hid behind the door. I'm just the girl to have aiding and abetting in these schemes--I love that sort of thing.

I do best when it's cold and rainy; I've never gotten used to the combination of cold and sun. My neighbor is currently singing along quite badly to some very loud, very bass-heavy music. (Perhaps Floater?) I'm feeling a little bit like a ball of rubber bands, like I won't be sure until I hit the ground which way I'll bounce next. I am content, and pretty sure that if I wasn't going to be traveling for work in March that I'd be going stir-crazy. I always think that I need an adventure, but I need to quit with that because I sort of am an adventure.

I don't have a lot of plans for February yet, but I'll make them. And they will be little colored beads on what I am still determined--in spite of January's proof to the contrary--will be a very good year.

Kiss yourself twice on either elbow for me. I think you're tops.



Sunday, January 29, 2006

I wandered home from Chinatown today in the usual rain, eventually giving up and collapsing frozen onto a sticky bus seat. Each damp block looked like a poem that is meant to be written on postcards and left in farmland gas station racks, hazy and grand and meaningful. As I walked I watched children try to light firecrackers in the drizzle, succeeding only when they least expected it, leaping backwards right on the edge of losing fingertips.

This is the year of the dog. I was born in the year of the dog, and so I have decided to take this as an extra sign that this year will be better than the last one.

It's been a busy weekend, full of music and drag shows and movie screenings. There was even a fist fight once.

Stendhal talks in "De L'Amour" about how in the salt mines of Salzberg the locals each winter toss a branch down into an abandoned shaft. When they retrieve it a few months later, the branch is, "covered with sparkling crystallizations: the smallest twigs, those which are no larger than the foot of a titmouse, are covered with an infinity of diamonds, shifting and dazzling; it is impossible any longer to recognize the original branch." And that's what I'm trying to do with my days, trying to toss them out into the darkness in the hopes of someday being able to find them again, transmuted into something lovely.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

I fell asleep, and when I woke back up the rains had returned, the outlines of the city only just visible through the mist. I had been dreaming about orbits, about the four places where elliptical orbits and circular orbits connect.
There is something I ought to have known about those connections.

I am paralyzed by touch, admitting that the brush of a hand could keep me breathless for weeks. I stay up late at night looking for meaning in it, manufacturing building blocks of glances to construct meaning.

Late last night on the bus I touched a piece of paper leaning against the window, turned it so that its words and my eyes were in line. It said, "everything is not what it seems."
I decided to believe it.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I never did make it to the office today--I woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a truck; not sick, just tired and tense. So instead I spent the day sleeping, reading T.S. Eliot to my cactus, chatting with the guy painting the laundry room, and writing letters. (I am woefully behind on my correspondence.) The evening will involve cooking veggies and looking at things through a magnifying glass.
And then tomorrow I'll go to work. I swear.

The laundry room painter had me stop each time I came through to look around and see if he'd missed any spots. What he said, in fact, was, "Do you see any vacation spots in here?" I thought that he was maybe talking to himself, that the fumes had gotten to him, but then he added, "I can't tell if I missed anything. All looks yellow to me."
As far as I could tell he hadn't skipped an inch, but then, it all looked yellow to me too.

At the coffee shop where I was writing letters, two women were sitting behind me chatting over cookies. I had focused on what I was doing, but stopped altogether when I overheard one of them say, "So I told him, 'Ok, forget that one. Try for spots A through F!'"
They both cackled loudly, and I looked around to see if anyone else had heard.

Monday, January 23, 2006

I try to warn people when I'm grumpy, when I know that I'll be unpleasant to talk to, when I'll want to hit you with my hula hoop. It's only fair. Those are the days that I answer every, "How are you today?" truthfully, with a, "Cranky." So it isn't my fault that everyone who tried to talk to me today about football--to talk to me about anything--got a snarly answer. They ought to have known better.

I liked the way you looked at me like fingernail scratches, like I was a new species of girl that you weren't quite sure just how to classify. Like you were starving.

I found on my camera today what amounts to camera porn, from Saturday night's drunken carousing. It's a video of me putting a new cartridge into my Polaroid and ejecting the blank film cover from the other side. If I were a camera, I'd have been aroused.

Vegetarian dim sum is squishy but delicious. There. Now I feel like part of the club.

I am still masquerading as Little Miss Crankypants, and will be camped out here in semi-formal clothing with my arms crossed until someone presents me with some good news. I mean it, people. Cocktail dresses and tennis shoes and bottles of wine, until everything smells like daisies and blue beverages again.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

You know what's good at turning me into a little puddle of samantha? A thank you note from my grandma for the flowers I sent when my uncle died. If I could, I would put my grandma under glass. She ought to be saved for future generations.

Pleasing: "You guys? Are like siamese twins connected at the strange."

Things have been a little busy lately, what with the housewarming party at John's and the space store and the shows last night at Mars Bar. (I came out as an MAPC groupie to Saundrah last night, because I ran into her in the space girl bathroom. Caroline and I were busy getting a condom and a ring out of the machine in there, so it looks like I am now engaged to the condom machine at the Mars Bar. Dear beer, I love you too.)

Also, myself and Steph: "I will be a robo ninjapirate, who plays the tambourine in an indie band."
"What will your sound be? Will you yarrrr?"
"I will go, "Hi-yarrr!"
"You are a special woman."

You are not allowed back in my life. I appreciate the apology and the acknowledgement of the fact that you acted like an asshole, but now you are banned from here. A year later is too late for reconciling, and my brain is screaming to abort your smile. I know that I said that I wanted another little heartbreak for spice this year, but I didn't mean it literally or so soon.

Two things have been taking up my brain these days. First, I have been thinking of the statue of Coatlcue from 15th century Teotihuacan. She was the Aztec goddess of earth and death, and around her neck she wore a strand of hearts and hands. And I've been thinking how different, how refreshing it might be to try that out--to turn my fingers into snakes and your hearts into accessories.
But I have also been thinking of the unicorn tapestries at the Cloisters, how they have hung on walls since the end of the sixteenth century, slowly fading. But because they had faded so slowly over so many years no one really knew how brilliant they could be and had been. Except one day someone started a project to fix their tattered backing, and the colors that had been hidden for years were suddenly revealed.
Hands and hearts and hidden colors--they're all on my mind.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

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I was examining my tattoo last night, and I realized that it's changed a little bit--the outlines are a little fuzzed, making her skin color a little darker. (Those of you who have seen my tattoo would do well not to consider the contortions involved with getting a close look at it. Just a little tip from me to you.) While Val was taking a break from inking it to let my legs wake back up, he told me that over the years it would become different. The test of a good tattoo, he said, was that you still like it, regardless--that you and your piece age well together.
At the time, I thought it was a bunch of sentimental tattoo artist junk. And I hadn't thought about it in years, right up until last night. We'll have been together six years in September, my tattoo and I, and so far I still love it.
It's just nice to check in with these things, sometimes.

I know I've said this before, but I really ought to be in a band so that I can play the tambourine and dabble in extreme fashion.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I appear to have quit sleeping again. This leaves me with a lot of time for standing at my windows at 3 am, looking at the city. Somehow in the last few hours before dawn the colors of this town are super-saturated, Dick Tracy colors. I like to think of all the meetings that could happen, all the elevated sentences that could be uttered, in a world that was those colors.
My neighborhood looks charming during witching hours, the new park less muddy.

I have decided that perseverance ought to be rewarded, and as such shall be making plans for a second date. This sounds completely ridiculous and I feel a little foolish, but the fact is that at my best I'm awful at returning phone calls and emails, and have been even more so the last couple of months. The idea of creating a whole new history with someone has sounded exhausting. I've heard all my stories already, and I'm sick of them.

It looks as though tomorrow night is going to be a lecture at Town Hall rather than trivia or meetups. Apres, Caroline and I will still be downtown, and I vote for drinks. Drinks, anyone? Field trip to the White Horse, maybe? I haven't been back yet this year.

Monday, January 16, 2006

I rode the bus down to Pioneer Square earlier with three old men in tweed hats who smelled strongly of cigars. I quickly found myself a prop in a conversation about how young people--but not nice girls like me, understand--had ruined everything with their running around and tearing things down. I never did figure out which young people, where they were running around, or what they were tearing down.

A little bit later the guy behind the counter at the bookstore teased me about making a "schizophrenic selection"--Kawabata, Kundera, and John Berger. I told him they'd be in good company, as they'd be joining a pile made up of a German mystic, a Hispanic-American artist who died of AIDS, and a collective of uppity women. I like that this town is made up of inside jokes for the overly literate.

On the way back up to the bus I was stopped by a man in striped trousers with an extremely thick Italian accent. It turned out that he owned the restaurant right there and was taking in the air outside before it was time to get ready for the dinner crowd. As I turned to continue up to third I told him, "Al lupo," one of the few phrases I remember from my childhood Italian--it's a shortened way of saying good luck that my great uncle Benjamin used to toss around a lot. (Benjamin never remembered that I had learned to spell exceptionally early, so he'd often try to spell words that he didn't want me to hear. As he'd had a relatively spotty education in Brooklyn, growing up a hoodlum, my spelling tended to be better than his. One of my favorite games was to correct his misspelled whispered words--because I've always been a snob, apparently.) His accent reminded me so much of my aunt's uncle Dominick that it just sort of slipped out.

I had my first French lesson of the year tonight. Cecile has decided that from now on we're only speaking in French, which made for a good two hours of her talking and me nodding, and then when she'd pause saying, "Wait, quoi?" I ought never have told her that I'm going to France in the spring.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

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So. After the space store on Saturday I had dinner with Steph and Ryan (which Steph cooked and which was so tasty) before Harold and Maude at the Egyptian. It's one of my favorite movies, and I watch it all the time, but seeing it in a theatre full of people was really neat. And the theatre was relatively full, especially for a midnight movie. At one point, the film broke, and everyone gasped like we'd all had our feet stepped on at the same moment.
I love this town.

This morning, Caroline and I went to Rod's for brunch, which was yummy spinach and feta omelets and scones. Brunch makes Sunday morning worthwhile. I then met Jean downtown to go shopping, and bought (among other things) an argyle sweater that makes me look like I'm about to caddy a golf game.
I also love argyle.
We shopped ourselves out and then went back to her new house, where her husband and his brother were rewiring things and wrangling Tate, who is two. There was dinner in Greenlake, and Tate and I are now best friends.

Tomorrow is a holiday, and I'm just not sure if I'm going to go down to Elliott Bay to hang out before I have to be back here for my French lesson or not. Currently, my inclination is not, but that could just be because I'm tired.

Now! Ice cream and couch time!

Friday, January 13, 2006

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I had intended to work on a few projects and write some letters this evening, but pirate movies and ice cream conspired to keep me on the couch. I'm powerless to resist pirate movies and ice cream, even when they're my own suggestion.

Toby and I got into a fight this afternoon that sort of degenerated into trading insults about his inability to break up with the girlfriend he doesn't like and my inability to be bold. Which is really just the both of us being unsatisfied with situations that we don't know how to change, but it was a poor start to the weekend. (He believes that fellows are usually completely clueless about ladies and their inclinations toward said fellows, and I'm pretty sure that since girls are the same only the other way 'round, we are all out of luck. Which equals an argument where he thinks I should make moves when I don't know if moves would be welcomed. We've been fighting about this for years.) I don't like fighting or being mean, and even though by the end we'd made up like twelve year old girls it left a bad taste behind.
Fortunately, there's ice cream for those things.

Reading through one of my cookbooks earlier, I realized it's probably a good thing that I'm not near a grocery store or I'd be cooking way more than I can eat. This would be less of a problem if I wasn't such a baby about cooking for other people. Maybe I'll start making food for the unrecoverable alcoholics down the street.

Some of my friends are getting phone calls from people concerned about how we're dealing with all this rain, which is something my grandma and I were just giggling about yesterday. All this rain. I haven't even had to swim home yet.

I started making travel arrangements today for my spring conferences. Nashville and Boston (and Raleigh/Durham), I'll see you in March.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I must say, I think my favorite part of all this rain--which I am enjoying, by the way--might be the opportunity to come home sopping wet and change into my bathrobe, rather than the sound of the raindrops on my hood or the quality of the light. I am appreciating my bathrobe more tonight than I may have since it was given to me.
We're on, what, 25 days of it now? More, please.

Today was an angry day, angry about a recent gay bashing of a friend, angry about sports, just angry. It's not something I get very often, so I had a good time just being mad. The rain provided lots of puddles for smashing, which I did with abandon after a bus splashed a great big one all over me on the way home.

I can feel my stitches with my tongue now. This might be yucky to you, but it's awesome in here.

The plans for the next few days are as follows: ...actually, I've got little planned. I imagine I'll be in space on Saturday, and then having dinner with the Steph and the Ryan before Harold and Maude for the midnight movie. Sunday morning is brunch at Rod's.

After happy hour tonight I headed down to my favorite dock to regroup. I'm just...I dunno, worn thin, I guess. There's been a lot more attention than I'm used to lately, and a lack of the attention I'm always hoping for.

Last night I had a drink with Caroline. She's one of those girls that I don't see often enough, but every time I do it's kind of a surprise that I get to be friends with this sort of people--she improves the quality of life of everyone she meets, and that's just astonishing. I don't know what I did to have such funny, genuine, amazing people in my life, but I really need to figure it out so I can keep doing it.

I feel like I ought to be pretending to be a monster, making claws out of my hands and shouting "Graaar" at my victims. I do not know what to think about the way some things go.
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Indulge me. (Or, if you're Caroline and have heard this already, ignore me.)

What did moths do for ineffective masochism before lightbulbs? Before lightbulbs there was fire, which would certainly light them up but only just before it killed them, and there was the moon. Which much have served much the same purpose as the lightbulbs--in that the light was just impossible to get to--but in a much more distant and hopeless way.
It was the invention of the lightbulb that allowed the moth to batter itself against a light source that it could only get so close to, a light source whose heat it could feel but whose glow it could never actually touch. The lightbulb must have given the moths the chance to hope against hope that this time they would really get through even though there wasn't actually ever a chance that their tiny, ineffectual wings would beat a hole through that glass. There are some places, after all, that even willpower can't reach.
And so by inventing the lightbulb what we really did, rather than lighting our own darkness, was to provide a little creature with a means of slow self-destruction. What we did was manufacture an excuse for not moving on, for not seeking out a light that provided an end. What we did was open the path to a cycle of stagnation.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

There is something about this time of year that makes me think of summer nights in Crystal River, floating in Aunt Susan's pool, peeling the sunburn off my shoulders in strips. My cousins tried nightly to fool the bats that swung over us into thinking that quickly flung drops of water were insects, and I cupped captured lightning bugs in one fist, watching for their flash between the gaps of my fingers.

Likely this comes to mind because these two points are so different, and because the path from there to here is overgrown and hard to see down. Because these shoulders are the same, thin and freckled, but the hands that fold over them have changed. (Because it has rained for 22 days but this rain feels clean, not the sort of rain that keeps a girl stuck to plastic beach chairs each afternoon.)

This morning, under the unforgiving lights of my bathroom, I noticed that my jaw was shaded--bruises on my face, where no bruises have been for years. The week cruelly brings over flowers laced with memory, and I retreat to the daylight and the ice cream. I'm still swollen and sore, recovering slowly, not easily fixed. I've never been a quick healer.

Monday, January 09, 2006

In further news of my face, it still hurts and I still look like Marlon Brando. I've switched down to the lesser painkillers today because the Vicodin makes me dizzy, and I seem to forget to continue conversations.

Everyone has been so amazing, with all of the company and ice cream and Monopoly. With all of this attention...well, no, I wouldn't do it again. Because ow. But the attention is still fantastic, and I've been sleeping in between visits from people.

Now my face has today and tomorrow to stop being swollen before it becomes an issue. Do you hear that, face?

Friday, January 06, 2006

You know what I don't ever want to do again? Let people cut open the inside of my mouth.

Apparently, right after I woke up and was sitting in the wheelchair waiting to go down to the car, I started making phone calls to my parents. This appears to have also involved a call to the voicemail at my dad's house, where I hummed happy birthday to my brother. I remember being upset that I hadn't called him before my surgery right before I passed out, so it must have been on my mind.

Also, I seem to have kept asking for crab apples to carry in my hands so that when people asked why my mouth was swollen I could say my cheeks weren't swollen, it's just that my hands were full of crab apples.
What, like you don't make Catch-22 references when you're on sedatives?

Currently, my mouth will not stop bleeding and I'm craving a cheeseburger like nobody's business. Also it hurts, and I'm not allowed another painkiller for at least an hour.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

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I am completely freaked out about this whole wisdom teeth thing. People keep telling me it'll be fine and then looking at each other all wink wink nudge nudge, and I have myself convinced that you are all lying. Please come over and pet my poor cut up head like a doped-up kitten.
I actually had a dream last night that I was home from the surgery and sleeping on my life sucking couch until an earthquake came. If there'd been some birds and lawn mowers, and maybe some strangers trying to talk to me, it would have been the worst thing ever.

Yeah, ok, I have a thing about lawn mowers.

For months now someone with an unknown number has been calling my apartment and leaving songs on my voice mail. I realized tonight that together, they'd make a decent playlist. (Little Trouble Girl, Terror Twilight, Science vs Romance, Rosalita, and so on.)

Tomorrow I'll be taking my teeth out for one last show. Chris brought me some butternut-squash-and-pear soup, which he thoughtfully pureed, and the Hoosier crew will be here Sunday afternoon to play Monopoly and try to steal my painkillers.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

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Internet! Steph and Ryan are getting married! To each other! No, I mean officially now, via a whole lot of cuteness by Snoqualmie Falls on New Years.
Hooray for my friends being cute and getting married! (Congrats can be directed here, even though Steph hasn't, er, told the internet herself yet. What? I'm excited!)

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Dear 2006,

Hello, and welcome! My name is samantha, and I believe in magic. I just thought we should get that out of the way right up front.
When you arrived last night, I was in the middle of a group hug with several very nice girls. I'd been a little worried about how the evening would go--I'm not very good with strangers. But people are so nice here, and somehow I found myself having fun. Earlier, TMS had stopped by to try out my new couch and be snarky about my wardrobe ("Samantha! Be sassy! I know you can do sass. Short skirt and tall boots, right now!") before heading off to the Central District to meet up with his newest girlfriend. Eventually, the night degenerated into a drunken dance party and macaroni and cheese.
I am very glad to see the end of your predecessor, 2005. Even though the joke is on it and I survived longer than it did, it was still as a whole a pretty shoddy year.
I'm not going to do a year-end review. While I did come up with a few things that don't make me want to stab myself in the eyes, I largely wrote a whole mountain of rubbish. It's a little embarrassing, really, the twelve months of poorly constructed sentences. But then, it's been years since I've claimed to be a writer. I know better now, especially since 2005 introduced me to a few real writers.
I noticed, scanning my archives, that I threaten to break into a million pieces at least once a month. And I have exposed my weakness to touches on the backs of my knees and the small of my back far more often than is ladylike.
But it's best not to dwell on what's gone by. That's something I'm trying to teach myself not to do. Instead, 2006, I'd like to look at what I'd like to see in the future, during you. I'd like to make new friends and actively appreciate my old ones. I'd like several miracles, a few days of sheer joy, and maybe another heartbreak or two for spice and to keep me on my toes. I'd like flowers and adventures and monkeys, five epiphanies, and a few new really good recipes.
I want to learn to not take things so tragically, to shave the edges off of my lows so that I quit stabbing myself with them. I want to savor the things that make me happy so that I can make other people happy, too.
I plan to use you up, 2006, to squeeze everything I can out of you. And I dare you to do the same thing to me.