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.