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.