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.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Dear everyone,

We're not going to talk about June. June and I made an agreement and one or the other of us broke it. Either way, we're currently dead to each other, until one of us breaks and walks over to confess to being the 'tard here.

You know, today was sort of perfect. Steph and Ryan and I made it to the beer festival at happy hour, which meant that we got extra tickets. We sat on the grass in the sun and drank beer for hours, surrounded by dogs, several of which were bulldogs. A cute boy with fantastic sunglasses (awesome sunglasses are sometimes an acceptable substitute for visible tattoos in this new game of looking) stopped by to chat about my dinosaur shirt and then went away, which is exactly what he was supposed to do because no one new is allowed to touch me until I feel differently about things. We stopped by the wading pool, I came home and took a nap. Everything is just. Perfect.

I did not set my hair on fire with the grill, although it was a very near thing. They're not kidding when they talk about fast-lighting charcoal.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I'm holding at a steady 7. Which is so much better than the 3 I was two months ago and the 5 I was on Friday. Right now has a pretty good beat and I could likely dance to it.

If you've been playing along on the home version you'll remember that I am obsessed with your fingerprints. And mine too, but it is yours we have to talk about. Because I have spent a long time now meeting new people, and it has recently occurred to me that dozens and dozens of people have, in the last year-and-a-half, left their fingerprints on me. And I just can't take that kind of pressure. This is why there is the new no touching rule. If your fingerprints are already here, fine. If not, let's just keep the holy ghost between us, shall we?

So, whatever. It's July and the year is halfway over and I know I probably should care, but who can work up the energy? I'd rather use all that effort to figure out how to plant a three-ring circus in your yard like flowers, so in early fall you'll be able to look out your window and see clowns and highwire artists and lion tamers. I'm going to find all of the songs with a trumpet in them and make a mixtape, and then we can get in the car and drive until the tape is over. We're not talking about June and we're not preparing for July. We're going to start looking at our year as not made of parts, but just one lump sum of time that we've got to spend before it runs out.


Saturday, July 01, 2006

The grill will be broken in tonight, in what is certain to be a touching ceremony. A touching ceremony likely to be filled with beer and third-degree burns.

If you know how to get here, you're invited! Come over, uh, later. I'm going to space right now, but I'll be back in five hours. If you don't know how to get here but want to be invited, let me know and perhaps I'll tell you when I get home.