Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dear 2007,

Man, 2007, you were the garden of forking paths of years. Every time I try to stop and take stock of you I'm looking at a different year, like cross sections of a rock where all years are possible. Sometimes when I look at you you were the hardest, and sometimes you were the best, and in the places in between you were both in varying doses. I'm all mixed up about how I've felt about you.

December, certainly, has been a very hard month. The way the year is ending couldn't be more different than the way it started. My brain has felt softened this month, and everything has made me go all damp in the eyes. I have felt broken and incomplete and like a deep sea creature that might explode if brought to the surface.

I spent a good part of the year with what I can only describe as a broken heart, and in attempting to distract myself and recover I did a lot of things that surprised even me. And that was the part that was terrible--the surprise of feeling any such thing, since it snuck up on me, and all of the wrenching feeling that went with it. I spent much too much time this year trying to pretend that none of it was happening.

But that isn't the important part. And it's funny, because if things had gone the way I thought they might in January, everything would have been so different. So it's a good thing that life is smarter than me and also in charge, because I had so much fun this year. And that's what's important. There were Tuesday nights and Sunday brunches at Linda's, trips to New York and Vegas, driving fast around corners, rollerskating, drinking in the sun, the speakeasy, my ship in a bottle, drinking champagne and playing in the bubbles in a fountain, kissing lots of boys, falling in love with bands, obsessing about nature documentaries, a hot tub full of Swedish boys, and a ton of nights where I felt completely full of glitter. I think that I was more myself this year than ever before, less afraid. I've spent my time with people who don't look away when my edges are showing, and I'm thankful for it.

The unofficial motto of 2007 was Sleep When I'm Dead, and the results were ridiculous and amazing.

I think that it can be summed up like this: when Giacometti painted a portrait of James Lord he painted and repainted the canvas over eighteen days. In the finished piece Lord's head is detailed and accurate but the background and the rest of his body is merely sketched in. When it was finished he sat it down and walked down the hall to look at it from a distance and said, "Well, we've gone far. We could have gone farther still, but we have gone far. It's only the beginning of what it could be. But that's something, anyway."

But then there is also e e cummings: "Miracles are to come. With you I leave a remembrance of miracles: they are by somebody who can love and who shall be continually reborn, a human being....Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question."

And somewhere between those two is 2007 and, with luck, more years to come.


Friday, December 28, 2007

My trip went well, and it was lovely to see my family, but it doesn't take very long before I start to miss the long quiet walks and empty spaces of my life in Seattle. I have been much too fragile and deeply blue lately to deal gracefully with the game of psychic dodgeball that is spending time with my family, and I'm unaccustomed to the level of noise.

Last night I came home after a couple of very delayed flights. The luggage took forever to arrive, and I stood there with my sweater coming apart at the sleeves and the rest of me fraying at all of my edges, overwhelmed, and considered leaving my suitcase at the airport. I didn't, but I probably should have.

In any case, it is nice to be home.

I'm starting to work on summing up 2007, but in the meantime here's 2007 in pictures. The set itself is here, if you want captions, and this is an alternate version that includes other people's pictures. Variety being what it is and all.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas, internet. I hope all of your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are the best ones.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The airport shuttle driver and her GPS argued the whole drive. Whenever the GPS would tell her to turn right she would turn left, and the machine would wait a minute before announcing that it was recalculating the route. By the time we made it to the freeway, the little electronic voice had fallen petulantly silent. It didn't pipe up again until we had been stuck in traffic for a while, when it told us that we were approaching slow vehicles.

In the van we sat frustrated by the stop-and-go traffic and listened to the one-sided conversation of the dispatcher on the radio. "Are you completely lost or is your van not working? Help me out here." A long pause. "You're completely lost? Well can you read a street sign and tell me where you might be?" Pause. "Ok, who wants to go on a rescue mission?" Later, he advised the other drivers to avoid the interstate. "No one's getting anywhere, so good luck if you go that way." At this point the other passenger in the van and I spoke up. "He does know that we can hear him, right?"

After an hour and a half of hardly moving we passed what was left of an awful accident. A crumpled car with the top sheared off was being loaded on to a tow truck on the left side of the road. I felt a little foolish for worrying about missing my flight. It could have been worse, and it frequently is.

I did miss my flight, but a sympathetic ticket agent worked some magic and found another flight that involved running through the airport with my shoes untied. My connection in Charlotte was on the other side of the airport and, sleep deprived and tired of running, I found myself annoyed with the smugness of the airport and its rows of rocking chairs. Charlotte was mocking me and my rushing, the lack of time I had for rocking.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I am slowly planning a trip to Italy in the spring. It'll be my first time there, and, for that matter, my first time in Europe--the only place I've been is China. I'm sort of an obsessive researcher and planner, and at the same time I'm trying to avoid all of those impulses. I had no plan for China, mostly because I was visiting friends, so I just sort of showed up at the Jinan airport and waited for entertainment. So I'm torn between working out a detailed itinerary and just sort of showing up in Rome and going from there. My compromise will probably be a loose sketch of what towns I'm planning to be in and when, so that I can make reservations, but right now it's a big fight inside my head.

More immediately, I'm leaving tomorrow evening for parts East, to watch my brothers argue and to scratch behind the ears of some dogs. They live in the woods, and woods make me nervous, so I imagine I'll spend a lot of time pretending that I don't believe that there are axe murderers hiding behind all of those trees.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

We rushed past all of the scenery because it looked like only trees. By the end we had forgotten both the journey and the destination, and we stood, lost, in an expanse of white space like the end of a chapter in a book. One written in a language that we didn't speak.

I wanted you to go away because you made my brain feel like laundry.

In quieter moments, waiting for the neurochemical tide to turn, I wedge myself into nooks and stare fondly at copy errors in my antique books. I love these misplaced letters that have sat quietly in those pages for a hundred years. The person who printed them wrong is likely long dead, but their mistakes have lived all this times on shelves in people's homes.
I like to hope that my mistakes will be so lucky.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Not too long ago someone emailed me suggesting that, if I'm stuck for stuff to say, I should start telling stories about the objects in my apartment--since pictures taken here and put in my Flickr would suggest that I have a lot of things. Which is true enough. I don't believe in clean, modern decorating. I spend a lot of time here, and I like my apartment to feel like home; to have my stories scattered on shelves and walls and everywhere else.

I've been hemming and hawing about it ever since (hemming and hawing are two of my greatest skills), but the thing is that December has been awful and just keeps getting worse, and all I'm good for right now is complaining and drinking. So I thought I'd give it a shot.

And I thought I'd start with this little elephant. My paternal grandmother, my Nan, collects elephant figures. A number of years ago, right around when they first diagnosed her with Parkinson's disease, she requested that I pick one of her elephants to keep. He's maybe 1 1/2" tall and he lives on top of the bookshelf that has all of my reference books, right next to my desk. My grandmothers are important ladies, and it makes me happy to have reminders of them right on hand whenever I need them.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I promise to have actual content for you soon. I've been reeling a bit this week from Anita's death on top of everything else, and it's all left me with little to say.

So! In lieu of all of my whinings, here's one (er, or so...) more thingie(s):

Ellen: "You started in Florida and are now in Seattle but it seems you've been some places in between, and yet you're approximately 12 (okay, 25?). Please make a timeline of the cities/town you have lived in from birth until now."
This is actually the sort of thing I expected more of when I tried this experiment. Anyway, no, only Florida and Seattle. (Yes, 25.) The timeline is:
Jacksonville, Fl, 1982-1985/6ish
Pinellas County, Fl, 1985/6ish-2000. My parents divorced when I was very young, but they always lived within 20 minutes of each other. My whole family lives there, too, pretty much. I lived with my dad every other weekend until my brothers were born, and then it was more like every weekend until I moved in with them completely during my senior year of high school. My dad and stepmom moved around quite a bit when I was growing up, but always in the Largo/Clearwater/Dunedin area, and my mom moved once, right before my sophomore year of high school.
St. Augustine, Fl, 2000-2003 (College.)
Seattle, WA 2003-now
Now my dad and his family live in North Carolina, but they just moved there a few years ago. And my mom intends to move to the woods in Georgia at some point in the near future, but I've never lived anywhere else.

And more! I'm just editing this post instead of making a new one. Just to shake things up.

M: "What size shoe do you wear?"
Usually a 6 or 6 1/2. I have giant feet for only being 5' tall. You'd think my balance would be better.

"And what three things, besides Thanksgiving, make you happy?"
1. The moments when I realize that wherever I am and whatever I'm doing, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else doing anything else with anyone else.
2. Scratching behind the ears of friendly dogs.
3. Books.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Round two!

Keith: "You mentioned 'pen and paper'. Do you prefer to write with a pen or a computer?"
Depends on what I'm trying to write. I write differently here than I do in my paper journal, just like how my handwritten letters are vastly different than emails. And the typewriter is what I use when I'm too annoyed for pen and paper to be forceful enough. Mostly, I use pen and paper for the sort of things that I don't write about here, when there's too much feeling for me to be comfortable. The paper journal and this one are two completely different ways of thinking, and there are two totally different voices involved. It's a lot like being textually schizophrenic, so the fact that both options are there is good. And I prefer to write my letters personally because it's a slower process, so each letter is a little act of devotion toward the person I'm writing to.

Jake: "Heavy partying is certainly a good reason for not posting more. Does this mean we should hope for depression and a downturn in your social life in order to get more posts?"
Really, what you should hope for is a downturn in my social life and a case of the Delicately Blues, because depression does nothing for me. December has been pretty relentlessly awful, and that's reflected in what I've been posting, which has been uninspired. I'm at my best when I'm just a little bit sad and wistful.

Amon Ra: "Sum up the experience using no more than 3 haikus."
only men question
even though women also read
should form a theory

comments as content
make for a very nice break
A+ for effort

questions full of thought
readers are shockingly kind
like early Christmas

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Huh. This game is kind of fun. Alright.

Brandon: "If you were a boy and wanted to impress a girl, what would be the absolute most fantastic question you would ask?"
Um. 'What's your ring size?' Kidding! Kidding. Although someone did ask me that at a bar once, and I was so appalled that I couldn't even collect myself enough to say something mean. I had a dream the other night in which two nice-looking boys were sitting at a bar, and as I walked past one of them stopped me and asked, 'I'm sorry, but could you help us solve this argument? We're talking about the mimic octopus. Do you know how many creatures it can imitate?' I'm a little concerned that I'm dreaming about cephalopods, but I'm also pretty sure that if something like that actually happened, it would be makeout gold.

Ryan: "I've always wanted to know if your vignettes are planned and worked on and edited or if they just kind of tumble out of you in the form they arrive in on your blog. Or, perhaps, a combination of the two?"
I don't edit. I can't edit. What happens when I edit is I go from overwrought straight to stilted. The way this website tends to work is that I get a sentence stuck in my head like a really annoying song, and as soon as I can I type it out and then sort of go with whatever makes sense next. Which actually gives a pretty accurate picture of what it looks like inside my head, because things like this make total sense to me. It's all a lot more like coughing up a hairball and less like, you know, actual writing.

Rob Lightner: "Does Samantha the character secretly resent the intrusions of Samantha the author? Does Samantha the author want more, or less, or something different, from Samantha the character? This reader has enjoyed his interactions with both, though it's been far too long for the one. Are you a happy couple?"
I actually really hate the whole writing compulsion thing--I always refer to Nietzsche when people ask me this question, and his, 'A: I am annoyed by and ashamed of my writing; writing is for me a painful and embarrassing need, and to speak of it even in a parable disgust me. B: But why, then, do you write? A: Well, my friend, to be quite frank: so far i have not discovered any other way of getting rid of my thoughts.' Samantha the character wishes that samantha the author would just shut the hell up already, because it would be nice to experience something without automatically thinking about how I could describe it, or figure out how I feel about something without writing it out. And I imagine that samantha the author wishes that samantha the character would quit whining.
So, you know, not a very happy couple.

Mike: "What do you look like? Why do you never post pictures of yourself, since this is such a personal blog?"
I look like a Muppet. Specifically, this muppet. And I don't post pictures of myself here because no one needs my giant muppet head on top of all of this general gnashing of teeth. But the internet is chock full of pictures of me--five days old, fourteen, seventeen, this summer, wearing glasses, kissing a girl under an umbrella in a bar, two weeks ago. There are plenty, and those are just from me. One thing the world is not lacking is pictures of me.

Jake: "How come you don't post more often? Some weeks you only have a few posts. I know its probably hard to keep up such a high quality but when you do post daily (as you have recently) its a very cool thing."
It's a complicated algorithm involving free time and inspiration. I'm out four or five nights a week usually, for live music or drinking or dinner or general carousing, and it doesn't leave a lot of spare time. And of course when I'm dating someone, which I was recently, there's even less free time. Plus, when I am home, I'm usually too tired to do much beside lay on the couch.
Sometimes I just have nothing to say. I don't always let that stop me (ok, I don't usually let that stop me), but now and then I feel like I have already used all of the words I know in every possible combination, and there's nothing left. Or maybe I'm working on something for someone else, and that's using up the voice I usually use here. I try to stick to posting at least every other day, but sometimes it doesn't happen.

Dylan: "Why do you write?"
Because, like Norman Mailer's friend said, 'The only time I know the truth is when it reveals itself at the point of my pen.' Because I don't know how not to.

"Are you looking for love in all the wrong places, or are you looking for places in all the wrong loves?"
I'm not really looking for love. I go out with lots of people, because I like kissing, but mostly I'm pretty fond of being single, although I guess if it happened I'd be into it. I just want to get drunk, make out, and talk about books, and probably some day I'll do that with someone and realize I'd like to keep it up for a very long time. There are a lot of different kinds of love to have fun with, and I am surrounded by them. Maybe love is something I'll just trip over like shoelaces.
On the other hand, I am probably looking for places in all the wrong loves.

"How would you describe your relationship with your ten year old self?"
My ten year old self and I are probably on pretty good terms, because at the bottom we're both the exact same scared little girl. I know a lot more about some things than she does, but then, she probably knows a lot more about other things than I do. Of course, she gets made vicious fun of a lot more than I do, but that's only because I have since learned about kicking people.

That was amusing. Anyone else?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Alright, so here's what's been on my mind lately. (I mean, aside from how sick and tired I am of being sick and tired, but how I wouldn't mind keeping this low, kind of sultry voice...) I've been at this for four years now, and in that time I've gathered you, this collection of readers, who are an interesting combination of people I do know and people I do not know. And you are not commenters so much as you are emailers, and as a result I've gotten the most random selection of questions and things emailed to me, but remarkably little of that sort of stuff in the comments.

So in these four years I've been doing all of this for me, without considering who my audience might be or what they might want, because this is an outlet for me like none of the others, and I've found no better way of clearing out all of the sentences that get stuck in my head. And I have no intention of stopping that. But I've been thinking about you, and our relationship, and all of the summing up and considering that go with the end of the year. And I've never done this before, but now that it's on my mind I have to see it through, so: is there anything you want to know that I haven't told you? Maybe after four years, it's time for an "ask me your questions" post.

Someday, I should probably analyze why this makes me so nervous.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Today my acupuncturist put some things in my forehead. I'm sure this is old news for lots of you, but I've never had a needle in my face before. It was a surprisingly itchy experience.

Afterwards, I detoured through the park to spend a few minutes on the swings. I've still got this epic trial of a cold--have had, for about a month now--and my voice is all shot, and I ought to have gone straight home to do my laundry and have soup and whiskey and watch Gregory Peck be the only possible Atticus Finch. But I'm never one to pass up a race on the swings. I am still the champion of swinging the highest.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

I've been feeling very deflated and bruised and broken lately.

Yesterday I rode home on the bus through the dark, my spine gathered tight and hollow, my voice beginning to crack from a cold. The bus pulled up to a stoplight and shuddered to a halt and I looked out the window through my reflection. Across the sidewalk and through another window a group of people were gathered decorating a Christmas tree. A little girl put a string of lights around her neck like a stole and struck a pose, and the people all dissolved, laughing. Just then the light changed and the bus slid away and "Handle With Care" came on my headphones, and I snuggled deeper into my scarf and defiant green coat.

Later, I walked through piles of leaves to a cocktail party full of strangers. There were no cars parked along the curb, and piles of shattered window glass glittered in the streetlights. From the looks of it, all the cars in the neighborhood are missing their windows.

Some nights, all of my steps kick up clouds of strained metaphors.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Happy 4th birthday yesterday, website. Let's you and me stay friends for a long while.

Friday, December 07, 2007

I was reading today about a study that some scientists did on Beethoven's hair, which turned out to be full of lead, which was probably what killed him. The lead, not the hair. But what really got me is this talk about the lack of trace-metal patterns that are associated with all manner of things like genius and irritability and malabsorbtion, which just slays me. What metal gives you the genius? And if Beethoven didn't have the metal-genius, what sort of genius did he have?
Also, I find it entertaining that there were all of these people that were sort of crazy and brilliant and history has always been like, "Well, sure, that's because they had syphilis." Only now science is pointing out that sometimes, that's not actually the case. (See: Beethoven.)
The hair that they studied was cut off his head by a young Jewish musician whose family kept it as a keepsake until the Nazi occupation, when they gave it to a Danish woman who helped a whole lot of people escape, and her daughter auctioned it off at Sotheby's.

You know, I do this to people in conversation too, where it's a lot less easy to escape. I just find everything in the world very, very interesting, is all. This sounds like it would be very endearing and cute--I'm a pretty endearing and cute girl, by most accounts--but it really isn't. It might be, if I could work these things into a conversation like a normal person, but instead I remember halfway through talking about something else that I'd been thinking about this neat thing, and I flail around and shout about it right in the middle of whatever is going on. So it's really only amusing for people who already know me. Strangers just think I'm nuts.

Anyway, that made me think about Newton, and about how he (once? often?) stuck a knife behind his eyeball to "induce ocular effects," because plain old drugs just weren't good enough for him. But it could easily have blinded him, and then where would we be? If an apple falls on Newton sitting under a tree, and he's severed his ocular nerve and can't see it, does he discover gravity? These are the things that keep me up at night.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I have this bad habit of weaving when I should be ducking and ducking when I should be weaving--poor emotional reflexes. This last couple of weeks have knocked me off balance, and I am officially discouraged.

A few days ago I was walking home in the dark, and crossing the street I looked the other way where I usually don't. Down the street the docks and their shelters were lit, brilliantly, and I wondered how I've made that same walk all of these years without noticing it.

Yesterday, I went the acupuncturist for the first time. It's a peculiar feeling, having needles in earlobes and ankles, but maybe it'll help shut my angry robot down.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Well, internet, I went and bought a sewing machine today. It makes me laugh that it's a "Project Runway Limited Edition," because I love that there are actually people who would go and buy it just for that reason. I plan on covering that part up with a sticker, to hide my shame.

It was actually a very simple purchase--I walked in and told the man that I needed a sewing machine, he asked what my experience level was and what I planning on doing with it, and then showed me a couple of machines. It was all very pleasant.

So now I'm going to become one of those girls who makes (some of) her own clothes. I'm very excited.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

In 2002, I started the Postmodern Christmas Tree project. I did it because I was broke, mostly, but also because a Christmas tree was a symbol to me for something that I was lacking, and it seemed inappropriate to have one. So I decided that until I had a family, I was going to make a tree out of things that I already own--use the objects in my life to fill in that absence.

But the thing of it is that I do have a family here. Not the sort that I had in mind when I made that decision, of course--in fact, this weekend's breakup puts me back at the farthest point from that I can get, which is fine--but a family nonetheless. A really great one. And it makes the sentiment behind the postmodern tree feel a little silly.

So today a couple of my best ladies and I went to the tree lot and picked out real live Christmas trees. Once I made it home I turned up the heat and put on my favorite Nat King Cole album (I worked in retail for too many years to listen to Christmas music) and decorated it. My heart hurts a little, having been much used lately, but my tree makes me very happy. Retiring the postmodern Christmas tree was a good decision.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


I love snow in Seattle. Snow in Seattle is like meeting a beautiful stranger while on vacation and spending one perfect week with them. You never see snow here long enough to get annoyed that it leaves its socks all around or hates your mother or gets really bad PMS. Snow sticks around long enough to make an entirely new city for a day or two, and then it melts. As a girl who comes from a state with no natural ice, snow is like Christmas only better.

Friday, November 30, 2007

All manner of different things that I care a lot for have gone away or changed recently, and mostly I'm ok with that. After all, things change, or open or close, and there are always new places to love and adventures to have and situations to enjoy. But I am riddled all over with very small holes of not-dealing-very-well, and I think that I might be very slowly turning transparent.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I had a dream last night about ladybugs. Millions and millions of lady bugs, all over me, in my clothes and outside of them and in my mouth and ears, making a terrible crunching noise when I tried to brush them off and steadfastly refusing to move. I usually try to avoid talking about what I've dreamed--honestly, who cares?--but this one is still freaking me out. In fact, I've become more uneasy about it than I was when I woke up this morning.

Three boys I've known in three paragraphs, in honor of dudes who think "my friend has a crush on your friend" is a good line to use in a bar and not in, say, the fourth grade. Boys of Seattle, I think you are so funny, and I want to pinch your cheeks:

1. I asked for a glass of water, so he slid out from under the blankets and pulled on his jeans. We were at my apartment, and he didn't know where the glasses were, opening and closing cabinet doors. I could have yelled out where to find them, but I wasn't quite ready to hear or use inside voices. I waited instead, arms growing chilly, and eventually the sound of running water signaled that he had found what he was looking for. He walked back and stood in the doorway for a moment, debating something, and I noticed that in his hand was a coffee mug and not a water glass. At the moment, it didn't much matter.

2. We sat on his couch, disheveled and breathing heavily. Inevitability crackled in the space between, and with his strange and lovely hand tangled in my hair he paused. I raised an eyebrow and he cleared his throat and said, "I, uh, have to tell you this. That I always say that I, you know, love someone. While I'm, you know...yeah. It's just a, you know, a reflex." He punctuated his stuttering with a hand gesture. I sat there for a moment, considering, and then readjusted my clothes and stood to leave. He walked me to the door, apparently unsurprised.

3. The club was hot and full of attractive gay boys and 80's dance hits, which is why we went there, but the confident straight boys had started to wise up and infiltrate. I knew when he looked at me that he was straight, regardless of the fact that he could dance. He walked up and put a sweaty hand on my sweaty shoulder and I put my hand on his waist, fingertips taking notice of the definition of his abdomen under his damp shirt.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I seldom touch people with my palms, reflexively curling my hands into loose fists and bringing only the back sides of my fingers into contact with people. It just seems like a very personal body part, and I often don't realize that I'm doing it. Still, whenever I feel insecure or out of control or just plain worn thin, the palms of my hands are the first things I try to hide.

Sometimes I surprise even myself.

The rains have yet to stick around for any significant period of time, although I had a damp and freezing walk home in a shower today, strolling in my own fog of damp synthetic fibers and watching the drops surge in the headlights of cars. But I could use a few days straight of it, if only to wash away the sinking feeling. The thirteen little elves who run on my treadmills are all running in different directions lately, and they're all thinking too much about the future.

Friday, November 23, 2007

I don't know about you, but I ate more bacon-wrapped turducken yesterday than is both prudent and ladylike. We had food enough for another half-dozen people, and spent a cozy day watching terrible movies and cuddling with the puppy and drinking mimosas and wine. I love my people, and I love things that are wrapped in bacon. Thanksgiving is the greatest.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

This tail that I keep chasing gets away from me every time. But you know, my dog used to chase her tail when she though no one was looking. She caught it once, and I've never seen a dog look so surprised. So maybe the chasing is better, because what comes after it ends?

Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow, everyone! I hope your dinners are delicious and your gatherings as much fun as mine is going to be.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I have a whole backlog of melancholy and metaphor and sentiment to get to, but I can't be bothered right now because Thursday is Thanksgiving, and if that doesn't make you so excited that you sort of want to throw up, well, I'm not sure if we can be friends anymore. Thanksgiving is the greatest holiday of the year, because it is centered completely around eating things and being thankful for the nice things in life, and I sure do like eating things and being thankful for how fierce awesome my life has turned out to be.

I won't be hosting this year, since a friend of mine has a lot more space than can be found in my little apartment, and I can't say I'm super sad about it. While there's a certain satisfaction in constructing a full dinner for a dozen people with my bare hands--going out and chasing down a turkey and shooting it with my musket and whatnot--mostly the point of having it here has just been to guarantee that it happened at all. Instead, I'm going to make some stuffed shells and a blueberry cobbler, and go sit around somewhere else and laugh and laugh with most of my very favorite people and the world's cutest teensy dog. And I won't even have to worry about my sink clogging up with turkey bits again this year.

So really, it's all pretty much a big win for me.

And for everyone else, too, as I had planned to wear a bright yellow vintage dress that I just bought. (Nothing says "Happy Thanksgiving!" like a little retinal burn.) But it's very small, even on me, and I'm the smallest person I know that isn't 12 years old, and so their eyes are safe. There's no room in that dress for all the things I plan to eat.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Hey, you know what else I made? I made a worm box, so that I can start composting. My worms came yesterday in the mail, all cute and wriggly, and now with any luck they're busy eating things and turning them into dirt. In order to make it I had to buy a drill, and I must say, drilling is lots of fun. I think everyone should make worm boxes right now. You can borrow my drill.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Internet, I done went and made myself a skirt! It's not technically finished--it needs shortening, since it is long and I am short, and then a hem--but I did not sew my fingers together even once. It turns out that I'm actually not too bad at sewing, which I had honestly expected to take to like a duck to investment banking, not being the sort of girl who is very good with her hands. But sewing seems to be all about paying attention, and if there's one sort of girl I am it's the sort that is good at paying attention. I am excited about the wardrobe possibilities that this will open up.

I've made most of two things now, and I haven't bled even once so far. That's definitely a new record for me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I apologize for the even lower than usual quality around here lately, but I've been working on something for a friend who is going to be doing a workshop with at-risk kids. It's the first time I've ever attempted to write anything about some of my experiences growing up without resorting to euphemism or talking in circles, and I honestly have no idea what I'm doing. It has really taken a lot out of me. As repayment, here's a little of what has been occupying my time.

Sometimes, late at night during my middle school years, we would all wake up to a pounding at the back door. We rarely ever used that door because it stuck, and so anyone banging their fists on it in the middle of the night was always a sign that life was about to go sour. Good news, I learned early, never comes in the dark.

Every now and again we had warning, and my mom would take me to my grandparent's house to spend the night on their fold-out couch. We never really asked questions, my grandparents and I, because none of us wanted to learn how to handle the answers. Instead, they would make up the sofa bed and we would all spend a restless night, rising blearily in the morning to step gingerly around the subject and avoid each other's eyes.

The knocking was always accompanied by shouting, and our trailer would shake as my stepfather jumped out of bed and ran down the hall. My mother would follow, shrieking at me not to leave my bedroom, that they were not wearing clothes and that everything would be alright.

I can’t imagine that much fazed the sort people that came to our door, but my stepfather wrenching open the back door in the nude probably gave them pause. Whether or not everything was alright was something I never stuck around to find out; it only took a matter of moments to pull on my clothes, raise the window, and pop out the screen. For most of the year the Florida air would be warm enough to require only jeans and a t-shirt, and I would wander the dark streets of our trailer park under broken streetlights until the night felt safe and smooth again. Now and again I’d meet other kids out wandering, fleeing from homes holding much of the same, and we would go to the park and sit on the swings and not talk to each other. It was enough, at the time, to know that we were all part of the same secret club.

I fell asleep during math class most days after these late night jaunts, the desk safe and cool against my forehead.

There was only once that I remember anyone offering an explanation; mostly we all just used the daylight as a screen from our nights. I think that what triggered the frantic chatter on that particular evening was that the person who was threatening us this time was a family friend who had been dealing drugs with my stepfather until something went wrong and they ran afoul of each other. In any case, after a late phone call and a loud argument my mother grabbed me by the shoulders and told me that we had to leave for my grandmother’s because Ken was coming over to kill us all. There was something about dealing heroin, but not doing a very good job of it, that at the time washed over me completely. But it made an impression, as Ken was someone I had always been afraid of, and even if I didn’t understand I quickly gathered my backpack and went to wait in the car. When my mom walked outside her face was shiny and red, and we drove to my grandparent’s in silence.

What transpired in the night is anyone’s guess, as the next day came and no one ever spoke of it again, silently righting picture frames that had been knocked askew and resettling furniture. We saw less and less of Ken and his wife after that, though, and I spent more and more nights roaming the sidewalks, nursing bruises, and hoping that high school would change everything.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I think that I should build a tiger pit by my front door, to trap all of those feelings when they step over the threshold, to feed them to something stronger and more ferocious than they are. Because I am soft and tender and they storm through my thickest woods and cut off my toes, and I can't even fight them off because I am too busy figuring how to disguise my limp.

My heart is still crossed, even if your fingers were too, hidden where I couldn't see them.

Some evenings, when the light is right, I can feel your stars shooting through my skies, making blurs and streaks just off to the side of where I can see them. In the false neighborhoods of my memory I remember walking out into the desert and waiting for them to rain down on my head, a thousand little meteorites made of something warm and soft, heating the cold clear air around my shoulders.

Friday, November 09, 2007

You know, up until just a couple of months ago, I still completely believed that some dinosaurs had two brains.

I didn't necessarily believe that the hind brain had its own separate personality, of course, although not for lack of trying--that seems like a fantastic thing to believe, and I certainly spent no small amount of time telling myself stories about a Stegosaurus who constantly got into fights with his tail, which would act out and cause embarrassing situations that his tiny front brain would have to deal with.

The day that I found out, I was wandering sleepily through the Museum of Natural History, a place I hadn't been to in years. We had been at the bar until very late the night before, and I hadn't gotten much sleep and was already suffering from the fright that giant blue whale model always gives me. I had been talking about the dinosaurs for days, because I love dinosaurs, and for a long series of moments I just couldn't process what the sign on the cage was trying to tell me. If I could have called an emergency meeting of the Babysitter's Club I would have, but it was the middle of the day and so everyone would have been at work. Fortunately, just then, Tal called--we had tentative plans to make out in the Planetarium, a dream of mine that is still unfulfilled, and I snatched open my phone. I had to tell someone.

Tal was exactly the sort of boy you want to meet when you're only in town for a week. (He might have been the sort of boy you want to meet in general, but I was only in town for a week, so I can't say. Juliekins, did you ever see any of those people again?) He was cute and smart and funny and nice, and he spoke fluent Hebrew, a fact we learned a few days later when his cousin from Israel came to town and we all went out to drink vodka. Boys like Tal are the ones that you think of fondly in your most wistful moments as ones who maybe got away, the ones you could perhaps have brought home to mom; the ones that you think of calling whenever you're back in town. (It is one of my more useful talents that, given a town and 24 hours, I will usually meet someone worthwhile to smooch. I am often at my most charming when I'm leaving, after all.)

He had finished shooting for the day and was calling to see where I was, but I had no time for any of that because my whole fossilized world was crashing down around my ears. "I am at the museum! And! Dinosaurs didn't have two brains!" He was confused, so I tried to explain further. "They just had an extra cluster of nerves! Which is so not another brain! And...and I'm very disappointed." This made little impression on him--I guess I'm the only one that still believed that--so we made plans to make plans after my nap in Central Park and I hung up the phone and sat down on a bench, dejected.

While I sat there, a little boy walked up, pulling on his mother's hand. He stood there for a minute, mouthing the words, and then his shoulders drooped and he turned and walked away. So maybe I wasn't actually the only one left that still believed in a two-brained dinosaur.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

This morning, for the first time since I moved to Seattle four-and-a-half years ago, I fell down my hill.

It has actually been a while since I have fallen all the way down, although I've certainly done a number of remarkably clumsy things in the interim. (The finger that I sprained fighting off a bear with a gun that was holding a number of limbless children hostage only recently finished healing, for example.) I've walked up and down that hill in heels and in flats, in rain and snow, drunk and sober, and have not, until today, left any of myself behind.

I walked out of my apartment this morning in flat shoes and jeans that already have a hole in them from skinning my knees last year. The bass line of a song that I shouldn't even be listening to came through my headphones, and whether I was pushed by the memory or slipped on the rain-slicked leaves is anyone's guess, but down I tumbled. I landed on the same knee--apparently, I catch myself with my left knee, or maybe that one's just bigger than the other one--and slid on the top of my foot downhill until the stairs built into the sidewalk stopped me.

Amazingly, the contents of my purse all stayed put, and I'm not terribly banged up; just a bruised knee and a skinned foot and an aching calf. I'm also not a very quick thinker before my morning caffeine, so rather than going back home and bandaging myself up, I wobbled pathetically off to work, little droplets of blood beading up on my foot and running down into my shoe.

Glad I got that out of the way before the ice and snow show up, really.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Lately I have been thinking a little bit obsessively about my compulsive tendencies.

I think that we all have these things, every single one of us, something that has to be done before life can go on, something that will just grate on our brains if left alone. And some of them I'm improving on. For example, I don't go back and check to make sure the front door is locked at least three times before I can catch the bus anymore. (Walking back up and down the hill got to be more annoying than the possibility leaving my home open to burglers, I guess.) I don't avoid cracked paving stones anymore, either, or hold my breath at red lights.

Most of them are little and cute compulsions. I have to have a stove burner that's just been turned off covered by something, usually the teapot, but that's a safety issue. People get hurt by those things. My mother once put her hand on a burner right after I had turned it off and told her to keep away, that it was hot, and while her hand eventually healed the part of my brain that houses the image of the aftermath has not. All cabinet doors have to be shut immediately after whatever is inside has been fetched, but again, that's safety--my head is on level with the bottom corner of most cabinet doors and I am already likely to bump myself on them when they're closed. Still, if a burner is left uncovered or a cabinet door ajar, it's all that I can think about. And I won't even start in on my need for even numbers, although I'm sure that some members of the studio audience have some things to say about all of that.

And, of course, we've already spoken before about me and elevators.

But none of this is the point, because the one I've really been noticing lately is my deep need to have everything in exactly the right place. This is remarkable because I'm not actually a very tidy person; I am a person who makes piles. But those piles have to be in the right place. Which sometimes moves. Which is just one more reason why it's a good thing that I live alone.

But it goes so, so far beyond that. Are we playing a game with cards? I can't continue if they're not neatly stacked. I'll try and try and try, but eventually the pain will get to me and it'll have to be fixed. My bookshelves and cabinets and surfaces are arranged in a way that makes perfect sense to me, and I simply can't focus on anything else when anything is someplace else. The other morning I walked into the bathroom and the toothpaste was somewhere other than where I usually keep it, and my first thought was how glad I was that I hadn't known about it before going to sleep the night before, because it would have made sleeping impossible.

I hate forcing these things on people, and will sit and fidget and try to keep my crazy in check until it's impossible to do so anymore, because if I don't fix whatever it is that has moved out of place, the world will end. It will. Has the world ended yet? No, and that's because I always give in and put things back where they go, probably just before the universe explodes. You're welcome.

Anyway, for whatever reason, this particular thing has lately been making me feel crazier than a sprayed roach. Trying to suppress it doesn't work, just makes it like an itch that I can't scratch in public because it's impolite. And yet at the same time, I feel like a jerk when I give in and readjust something that someone has just put down. So maybe what I need to do is develop some sort of other, more distracting behavior, something that will move people's attention away from the fact that I've noticed that they've just placed something two inches to the left of where it's supposed to be. Like throwing the contents of my pockets in the air. Or blow an air horn. Or, I guess, letting the universe explode.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The thing that breaks the heart of this ghost the most is the echo of a lifetime of cardboard guitars and paper drums and spun-sugar blanket forts, of forming and disbanding bands called The Zach Morris Jubilee, of opening and closing doors. The reflection of what almost was but wasn't is always brighter than the reflection of what was.
Walking, the ghost turns off the streetlights over my head, leaving me in ambient city light and piles of leaves.

And behind your eyes a parking lot, open and flaring in the in-betweens with the sulfur-yellow that both masks and attracts ghosts.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Halfway down the block walked a man carrying a giant bunch of multi-colored balloons. The strings got caught in the barbed wire of a fence--one of them popped--and by the time he had them untangled I had nearly drawn even. He walked to his car and opened the hatchback, and then stood on the sidewalk looking confusedly back and forth between the inside of his trunk his fistful of balloons. He smiled sheepishly and shrugged as I walked past, and then attempted to wedge the balloons between bits of detritus on the floor of the trunk while struggling to keep the balloons from escaping. A little farther down the block he passed me in his car. One balloon had broken free of the back and was drifting gently toward the back of his head.

On the other side of the crosswalk a girl held a vase full of flowers in the crook of her arm, her other hand clutching the bottom of it. The light changed, and as we walked toward each other I saw her steps falter every few feet, her attention following her nose down to nuzzle the crown of an orange daisy.

Near home, a man stood on the corner waiting for the traffic to part, hoisting a box in his hands. The cars paused for a second and he darted into the intersection, stumbled, and lost his grip on the box which in turn lost its contents; sheets of paper went cascading across the pavement. He paused and considered them for a second, shrugged, and jogged the rest of the way across the street.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dear everyone,

Happy Halloween! For the second year in a row I am sick on Halloween, and that's alright; I don't ever want to be anything but a hyacinth girl on Halloween. Or, for that matter, ever. We are each our own ghosts.

I've been cooped up for the last couple of days, trying not to spread more germs than I have to, and it makes me restless. At the beginning of the summer I made a pact with some people, like in a 1980's summer camp movie, to take full control of the summer, to not get to this point of the year wondering what happened to summer 2007. And as a result, the last few months have been full of amazing days and nights, of adventures and champagne and frantic crazy talk. The last few months have been the greatest yet.

When I moved to Seattle I was sad to leave behind a group of people that I felt myself around, people that I could show my edges to without any judging. But I've found that in Seattle now, too, and am more prepared for it. I don't know what I'm going to do next, but whatever it is, it will be great. That's the only option.

In fall I always fall into a self-esteem rut, because it is cold and so I wear the same things all the time. They're just as cold as everything else I own, though, so for November I've resolved to do two things: wear my glasses in public more, and contribute to wardrobe remix a few times a week. I'd like to avoid the usual bottoming out, and ruining all of this momentum.

Especially since my favorite holiday is coming up, and should be celebrated in an expanded version this year, and I am excited. Excited to make things and to be things and to watch you turn into whatever you're going to be next, too. If we are all our own ghosts, then we should make our hauntings worthwhile.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

You know, back when I lived in Florida I would spend all winter with an awful, deep cough, bronchitis, or pneumonia. (And once, memorably, with both of those last two at once.) The air was so damp that whenever I'd get sick it would stick around in my lungs and linger. It doesn't happen anymore, which is good, but it doesn't make me any less annoyed that this almost-cold I've been fighting for the last couple of weeks has won and shown up and couched me. I am not a very pleasant sick girl, so I promise to be grouchy and uncommunicative for the next few days.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

In recovery. Baberaham Lincoln has a tall hat, goes to wild parties, and only goes for the big hangovers.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Just as I walked through the revolving door of the mall on Wednesday the fire alarm started going off, flashing and blaring and, in case anyone had missed the first two parts, also announcing stridently that there was a fire alarm going off. (My doctor is on the top floor of a mall, which is simultaneously one of the things that is so wrong and so right with this country.) I paused in the entrance, waiting to see if I needed to turn around and evacuate, but everyone continued with their business as though there was no alarm whatsoever screaming overhead. So I stepped on to the escalator and rode up the three floors, with the clamor going on the whole time, thinking about how thankful I was that the alarm started before I got to the doctor rather than while I was there. Little makes one feel more vulnerable than a fire alarm shouting while they're sitting in a cold room and wearing a paper dress. I arrived at the doctor and walked up to the window to check in, raising my voice to be heard over the noise, and the woman on the other side of the wall did the same, negotiating with me about which physician I was actually going to see.

It eventually stopped, although to all outward appearances it might never have started at all. Not a single person that I could see showed anything but blissful unconcern. I guess not one of us believed that the way we are going to die will be in a mall fire.

Later, the phlebotomist took one of my arms in her hands, squinted at the crook of my elbow, and sighed heavily, switching to a smaller needle. She wrapped the tourniquet around what passes for my bicep and waited for a vein to appear, and when one didn't she slid the needle in under my skin anyway. With one hand holding my arm steady and the other placed on top of what was presumably the tip of the needle she moved it halfway back out of the small hole in my skin and then thrust it back in, wiggling it from side to side and around and then back again. I broke out in a cold sweat and tried to look as far away from my arm as I could.

This continued for a few minutes, the retracting and re-rooting of the needle, before she finally went "tsk!" and said, "I'll have to try the other arm; this one is starting to bruise." (I thought a lot of things very loudly that weren't particularly polite. Being stabbed hurts.) She slipped the needle all the way back out and went to cover it with gauze when she suddenly stopped and squinted at my skin. "It's not even bleeding." Her voice was filled with disbelief. "I don't think I hit anything at all."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I've been so tired lately, internet, just completely run down and feeling on the verge of a cold that never seems to show up. I'm going to the doctor tomorrow for a long-scheduled check-up, but as a totally awesome alternative to just waiting and talking to the doctor, I've been self-diagnosing. A lot of my close friends have been feeling the same way, and I've decided that we're all dying of Legionnaire's disease. Because of all that time we've been spending in prison.

Hey internet, what are you going to be for Halloween? (I'm going to be Baberaham Lincoln.)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

We wandered out to Snohomish in the rain today to go to the farm, pick out pumpkins, and venture a little way into the corn maze. I like farms, although I don't think I want to spend more than an afternoon at one. Pigs and sheep and fake trout fishing are awfully interesting, though.

Friday, October 19, 2007

When I left the office this afternoon, I stepped out into the coldest, sunniest rainstorm I've seen yet. Whatever is magical about a warm sun shower goes right away when that rain is cold enough to be ice on the other side of town, and I was foolishly dressed for such weather, having left my rain boots at home.

I rolled up my jeans and squished down the block, my shoes quickly filling with water and a damp synthetic tang starting to rise from my jacket. I stopped short and stumbled a little, trying to avoid a crow's wing sitting in the middle of the sidewalk with the rest of the bird nowhere around. As I regained my balance and looked back up I noticed a rainbow spreading across the clouds still sitting to the north.

Thanks for that, sky. It made the rest of the walk home, with all of the dripping and shivering, almost worthwhile.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's the minutes that build up under your fingernails as you move through time, compiling moments into gritty half-moons that pack into crevasses and sit there, ticking. The look on your face when your meticulous hand-washing scrubs them away is the same one that I've seen on a child with a fistful of ice cream cone and the top scoop sitting forlorn in the dirt, and anyone who didn't know better would have thought you'd have learned eventually. Would have thought that you'd find a better way of collecting your moments than just passing your hands through space and hoping that something sticks. Would have thought that you found yourself fond of the loss and the sinking sensation it brought along.

But I have seen the bright orange of a semaphore flash in the back of your eyes as you pick up the soap, heard the hitch in your voice when you talk about becoming a cartographer. I know the romance of ultima thule and way the pads of your fingers itch to pin it down and surround it with fantastic monsters. I think that the reason you wash away your built up moments is really because you think your plumbing is all full of monsters, monsters who eat minutes, and sending them down the drain is much nicer than losing them to the belly of a monster. At least if they're in the water, you might get to drink them again someday.

We are frequently a little too serious for our own good. Next time perhaps I will remember when to say when.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Oh, hello there, fall. I spent some time on Saturday afternoon sitting on my balcony, reading a book that tells all of my stories, and listening to your cold approach. I put my hands against my collarbone and didn't feel the humming of the Angry Robot, took a walk and savored a mouthful of diesel fumes and sweet decay when a leafblower kicked up a cloud of fallen leaves in my path. All of the strings I've held so tight for all of these months in the sun have unstrung and I am exhausted. Everything has changed and nothing has changed, and its all done or not-done so at a remarkable speed.

Lake Peigneur was an 11-foot-deep freshwater lake that sat on top of a salt mine, until one day when someone accidentally drilled through the top of the mine and drained all of the water. The water fell away so quickly that the force of it reversed the flow of a canal that led out to the Gulf of Mexico, and two days later Lake Peigneur was 1,300 feet deep and salty, home to an entirely new ecosystem. Just like that. Just-like-that is how all of my changing and not-changing seems to happen, filling all of my lakes with never before seen fish.

I'm happy to see you, fall, and very happy in general. This is not something that I've ever been good at expressing, because I'm more than half afraid that admitting it will jinx it, and tomorrow everyone I know will get hit by a bus and a stray space ship will take down the Space Needle and all of my hair will fall out. Twice.

But when you remember me, in that dream you always have where you are at a party and you don't know anyone, but that person in the gorilla suit looks like they might be familiar, I want you to remember me like this: windkissed and rainkissed and kissedkissed, green-coated and tasting of whiskey and champagne and salty winter soups. Back to mostly touching people with my palms, pretending to be Godzilla, making plans, and talking to friendly strangers.
This is what I'll need you to remind me of, tomorrow, when we're bald and huddling in the ruins of the EMP, hiding from space invaders.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Something about this chilly-raining-sunny-raining weather has me listening to "Baby Britain" by Elliott Smith over and over and over again. Am I the only one who has this problem? And can it even be considered a problem, since it's such a great song?

Hey, Seattle? I don't remember taking back the no touching rule. In fact, I'm pretty sure that there's only one name on my dance card right now. You're still sort of freaking me out, Seattle, so much so that I threw a bunch of ice at one of you last night, and only refrained from throwing the whole glass because it would have been terribly rude to my dear bar staff. And I'm not really a 'throwing stuff at strangers' sort of girl. (I am a 'throwing stuff at friends' sort of girl, though.) So if you could just take your fingerprints and climb right back out of my shopping cart? That would be great. Thanks.

The thing is, you know, that I like all sorts of touching from all sorts of people that I like. I'm all for hugs and friendly socks on the arm and 87 games of thumb wrestling and twister. It's just that for some reason strangers always want to touch me, to lay a hand on my arm or my knee or whatever, and I am Not OK with that. I vote against touching until I've decided if your fingerprints are really something that I want on my skin.

I realize that I have a unique talent for starting my evening calmly drinking champagne and pomegranate soda and talking about the weather and ending it somehow across town being psychoanalyzed by an annoying blond guy in an ugly sweater and introducing myself as "Sarah," and being completely sober the entire time, but still. (Remind me to tell you sometime about the night this summer that I started out eating pie and talking about shoes in Roosevelt and ended up in Ballard telling a drummer from California in a band I hadn't heard to please put his equipment away as it was not coming in contact with my body, thanks, and then escaping with the cab driver that we had convinced to come to the party with us. It's a prime example of this phenomenon, and also wicked funny. Although now you've already heard most of the best parts.) I don't really have a point here, except maybe that I should become a girl who throws things at strangers, because it seems to keep room for the holy ghost between me and the interesting assortment of total freaks that I meet on my adventures. Maybe I should become an enforcer.

Maybe what I need is a little pink switchblade and some silver-plated brass knuckles. Just in case.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Last night I found myself penned into a booth by a group of the douchiest of douchebags, who kept going to the bathroom in a group like sixteen year old girls. Only to do coke instead of to fix their lipgloss and talk about boys. I'm not sure where they came from because they certainly weren't invited, and they were all wearing baseball caps. After we escaped I sort of hoped they'd all be wiped out in a freak napalming incident, but no such luck.

My second and last beginning sewing class was tonight. The next one is learning how to make skirts, next month, and until then there's still work to be done on my pants. It's too bad that this project is less interesting and full of bloodshed than the ship in a bottle, but I suppose that's appropriate--I'm not attempting to recover from a broken heart, I'm just learning how to make some clothes.

I was thinking about that tonight, being blown home along the same blocks that I always walk. Near my apartment I ran into a nice man with a nice dog that I first ran into before the ship in a bottle was thought of. Everything seems to go in very, very small circles.
What I need from you, internet, is advice: Say you were a person with a couple of potentially awesome radio mixtapes from the early '90's, and no way to listen to them. What would you do?

Monday, October 08, 2007

I am often unreasonably afraid to enter most rooms, paralyzed by the void on the other side of all closed doors. My senses are each already overloaded with memories, and I worry about what will happen when I simply can't fit in another one. Every whorl of cloud reminds me of something, each landmark is populated by a little ghost, every scent connects to another taste. All of the jukeboxes in the world are just waiting in corners for me to wander too near, waiting to trip me and sit on my chest and crush me with all of the songs that make me think of someone. Which, let's face it, is all of the songs.

Since the rains came back and I can see without squinting, I've been able to feel my brain again. I spend a lot of my hours under the spell of feckless call and response over glasses of whiskey and slowly melting ice, the rings of condensation lit from all around, and I love them. Fiercely. And it is only now that I can touch the corners of my brain once more that I realize how much of my space has been taken up with those memories, hours replacing other worse times, everything reformatted into something better. Boxes and boxes of what used to be wallpapered over by what is now.

What tortoise became the oldest, once Darwin's tortoise died? Why has no one thrown it a party, wherever it is?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Internet, I went roller skating last night. I stopped going roller skating in probably the sixth or seventh grade, and I assumed that everyone else did, too; that skating rinks are populated entirely by new rounds of 11-year-olds. But this is so very much not true. Last night was adult-only skate and those people were nearly all people who had just kept skating every week, spending countless Thursday nights speeding around and around to Top 40 hits. I am completely in love with them; in several different parallel universes, those are my people. The woman in the high-waisted mom jeans and poodle haircut? All of those people skating a line-dance? That lady in white jeans and a high ponytail? Totally my people.

I can't skate very fast, but I didn't fall down at all, so I consider the evening a triumph. Roller skating as an adult is a lot more fun than it was in the 5th grade, which was when I went most often. Back then we'd gather a group of girls and go to the "all-night" skate, which lasted until about 2 am. We'd all tell our parents that we were spending the night at Becky's, since her mom was always gone, and then put on our best short shorts and tank tops and go looking for boys. It always took a couple of rounds to work up the courage, but my friends were bold and eventually we would join a group of 7th or 8th grade boys who were usually drinking rum out of a red coke cup. At some point Becky would go off to breathe heavily in a corner with one of them and I would sit awkwardly on the outside of the rest of the group until it was time to go home. And then when we got back to her trailer Becky's sister's boyfriend would tell us scary stories about Cabbage Patch dolls until we all fell asleep in a heap.

Last night was fraught with much less angst and much more delight, and a complete lack of awkward pawing in dark corners.

(PS, I hate you, Seattle housing market.)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

When I was a very small girl, we had a pet tarantula. It was named Genghis Khan, and it had at one point belonged to one of my uncles. Genghis was a terrific pet, quiet and light pink, and it ticked when it crawled on your hand. But it does get cold in Florida every now and again, and we didn't have money for things like heat, so Genghis froze to death one winter. I had always assumed that he just ran away, and never really bothered to research it further until this last trip to Florida.

My mother looked at me funny when I asked--I doubt she'd thought about that tarantula in years. Next, I plan to ask her what really happened to my dog, that day I came home from school and it was gone. At the time, they told me that my dad had sold it, which seems like an awfully mean trick to play on a little girl.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I bet that you would die before running a finger along those circles under your eyes, before admitting to being run-down and tired and maybe a little bit weathered. No one wants to hear about that time that you made the winning touchdown or saved a baby in a burning building, and those stories linger brownish gray under the curve of each of your lower eyelids, waiting.

But I see them there and know just what they are, and if I cared just a tiny bit more I would slice open those pouches and set those stories free, squeezing that space below your eyes like an orange and collecting all of your words in a pile like sticks destined for a fire.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dear everyone,

I'd like to keep September in a little box. September was all birthday parties and telling secrets, funny jokes and adventures, delicious food and cute company and a glint of silver in the beam of a flashlight. I wore a lot of green and did a lot of laughing. It's my favorite so far this year.

Florida is hard. Family is more important to me than it perhaps should be, and it's tough to split my time here between my disintegrating grandparents and the splintered rest of my family. I have a bad habit of feeling guilty for things that are not my fault, and the fact that my relatives have become distant and crazy definitely falls under that category. I miss my life, and I'll be so glad to head home tomorrow.

But if the fall keeps up the way it started, we're going to have a great time. I'm going to be making clouds and ribbons and happy bunnies out of whatever is handy, wearing scarves and a green jacket and making soup. Right now is the next big thing, I just never noticed.


Friday, September 28, 2007

I recognize this sky. This sky is bleached pale blue and limp, every molecule of air tired of having to move so fast.

As soon as I step out of the airport it's there again, the wave of damp air that wraps its fingers in my hair and kisses me full on the mouth. The heat down here is that guy in the bar with three fingers and the smell of cheap bourbon and urine, the guy who puts his hand on your upper thigh and whispers stickily in your ear while you try frantically to dissolve into molecules and disappear. This heat is pushy and refuses to go unnoticed, and it only takes the trip from the airport to the car to remind me why I left.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I see that you've drawn your maps without oceans, there.

I've got all of my pencils sharpened and my tights laid out for winter, and listening to a certain bass line almost doesn't make me wince along all of my vital organs anymore. But I've still got only this one hammer, and still only enough iron under my skin for this one nail. I don't want to pull all of this left over together with strings but I really can't say how long it takes to grow back the stuff for one more nail. If growing ever really happens again.

The scissors that you used to cut your strings were scissors you bought from a shark, their teeth matching and sharp and strangely fitting together. You used clothespins that opened like eyes to hang your bundle out the window like a sign, a flag announcing what could only be called open.

And still there's this landlocked map waiting here. I would hold the mirror up to it, to see if it fogs the glass, still breathing, but you stole all of the silver to line your eyelids. The soil misses the ocean, I can see it in the droop of the continents, but I have used up all the longing for this year, and all that's left is to hold this map close while the sun breaks over the crest of its brown hills.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sometimes I find myself sleepwalking, waking up to realize that I am already awake and standing, moving in a direction I don't recall intending to move. From what I can tell, since I live alone and can't be sure how often it actually happens, the things I do when sleepwalking seem to be directly related to two things that I worry about. When I am thinking too much about home concerns, about furniture or rent or my plants, I'll wake up in the middle of checking to make sure my refrigerator is working, which is something that I tend to obsess over in my sleep. When I am scared from a movie or book or thinking about the past, I find myself checking the locks on the doors and windows, convinced someone is coming in.

All of my dreams lately have concerned my ex stepfather and going to Florida, and last night I woke to find myself locking and unlocking the front door to make sure the locks worked.

But sleep and I have always had a difficult relationship, and I'm still not sure what it means when I wake up believing that there is a pile of snakes next to my bed, when I'm not even afraid of snakes normally. Since I live alone now there is much less documentation of my embarrassing sleep-talking habits, but my college roommates would be perfectly happy to tell you all about the ridiculous conversations we had while I was sleeping, all of which they wrote down to provide years of future embarrassment. Which, you know, is part of why I've lived alone ever since.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I get to be a little obsessed with getting my hair cut before each trip to Florida, to make it as short and red as I can handle. I think that what happens is that when Hair and Shoulders meet, they start passing notes with Shoulder Blades, and I start thinking like long and brown and wavy. And really, friends, I'm just not that girl anymore. Thankfully.

For fall I am very into bright green coats, cozy asphalt grey sweaters, pink high heels, guitar solos, friendly dogs, telling secrets, lasagna, shocking people with inappropriate jokes, champagne, kissing, and learning how to make things. Please plan accordingly. I learned to silkscreen last night, and once I learn to sew, which starts in two weeks, I will perhaps be able to realize my longtime dream of owning a skirt that has the giant squid attacking the Nautilus on it. I don't think there are words to properly convey how excited this thought makes me, and I'm fairly certain that I'll end up compulsively documenting the whole process. That is my way.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I apologize for standing so still lately, but I am trying to remember things too important to be forgotten. My earliest memory, of sitting in a wicker chair with a parasol in hand for some sort of studio picture. The exact shape of the dimples at the base of baby fingers. Certain trees from below and others from above, the taste of a too-ripe orange, and the sound of waves on white sand just before dawn. Nights when the sound of your breathing might have saved my life, the feel of a rough thumb across the line of a wrist joint. The taste of vintage bourbon and cigarettes, the wiggle of an accidental snake between my toes.

I am standing very still because what I want to say has landed lightly on my shoulder like a butterfly, and I can't move to see what color it is because it might fly away. Because everything is landing softly on my toes like champagne right now and if I step away it might chase off all those tiny bubbles.

And you remember the poem about the man who built a Cadillac in his attic, right? Who left it there to be found by the next tenant, by the landlord, with no explanation. "For the looks/of astonishment he'd never see but could imagine." I stand very still and think about that, about the sound of sprinklers turning on after midnight, about the soft thump of a pulse under my palm.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Summer ended pretty firmly this weekend. Somewhere between playing frisbee in the sun and soft chill on Saturday and waiting in lines in the rain at the fair today it was over.

I am so ready for the fall, for sweaters and coats and scarves and gloves, for watching the Dick Tracey colors of my city blend in the rain, for kissing and sitting in steamy bars and making gallons of soup.

I'd like to say that my last sunburn for the year has come and gone, but I'll be in Florida melting into a cranky little puddle next week. But after that, it'll be time to start planning for the next big thing.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

There was all of the time spent half-drunk on the fumes of your gaze, taking the moments when it shifted to catch a breath and squeeze my eyes shut, trying to settle the frantic whizzing of my brain. Looking steadier than I should have, certainly, a three-legged cat on a greased ridgepole. Not time wasted, but a lot of it spent nonetheless.

I would have moved your mountains, but you turned them into caves.

On foggy mornings I might eventually consider that the spins that you kept in the bottom of your eyelids could have led in a different direction. I think I would find myself remembering them fondly in that case, like an old blanket that was very soft in memory but when on hand, pulled out of an attic full of boxes, also gives a rash.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Just when I think it isn't possible for one small girl to get any clumsier, I manage to find and conquer whole new levels of stumblefootedness. Last night the doorbell rang while I was napping on the couch and, skipping the transition between asleep and awake altogether, I careened around the end table and against the back of the couch in such a way that the last finger on my left hand went in an entirely different direction from the rest of them. By the time I woke up this morning whole sections of my hand that I didn't even know existed were making their presence known.

My doctor--who you, if you've been playing along on the home game, might remember as a lady who likes to laugh and prescribe a houseboy whenever I do things like get hit by a car crossing the street or come down with strep throat--laughed again, told me that spraining my finger was a bad idea, and told me to keep my fingers taped together for the next few days. (And also to get a houseboy.) Do you know how hard it is to type with two fingers taped together? It's not very easy at all.

This afternoon I bought new pillows again, which involved spending a lot more time on the floor of the store than some might deem ladylike.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

I met a noodler once, in a dank bar down alligator alley during the road trip years. Alex slid in next to him at the counter; or at least, he would have slid, but the stool was sticky and had one leg that threatened to buckle, so he lifted himself gingerly on to the seat. The man's hands were scarred, the skin buckled and twisted, wrapped around his glass. Half of his right index finger was missing, lost to a snapping turtle. That's the danger with noodling, with plunging your hands into murky holes in the hope that what bites you on the hand is what you want to be bitten by. I remember hearing stories about noodlers who accidentally stuck their arms into a nest of moccasins, men who had not compensated for the weight of the creature they would be pulling to the surface and drowned with their hand clamped firmly in the mouth of a fish. Swamp justice is harsh and biblical in that way.

Yesterday, as the bus sat at a red light, I watched a man in khakis and a button-down shirt stand in the park and practice his fly fishing casts, tossing a bright yellow line back and forth across the grass. At least from a distance, both of his hands appeared to be intact.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

I found my bicycle built for five the other day tucked in an alley behind a mound of tangy rotting oranges, drops of juice seeping from fissures burst in their skin and soaking into the pavement. Some of the fists have melted out of my hands, and I sat on the middle seat, ready to ride away, only I got jumped just then by that same old jukebox. It was still playing the one song that runs faster than I do and man, did those fists jump back into place right quick.

I guess it had been hiding on the other side of those oranges.

What I wanted was to fold a bit of my DNA around a few of those seconds like scotch tape around an inchworm, but they moved faster than I did. And now I'm tired of waiting for them to come back around. Let's move to the desert and start a seafood restaurant instead. Let's find a swingset and go as high as we can, daring the momentum and the sweet breeze to fall in love with us.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

And now we are 25.

The thing of it is, friends, that I'm very happy these days, in ridiculous, hyperbola-inducing amounts. Life is a lot smarter than I am, and even though I keep thinking that I should be doing other things with my life, that's not actually true. I think I might be doing exactly what I ought to be right now, and I'm doing it surrounded by people who will play at the park until 3:30 AM on a weeknight, people who leave trees on my doorstep, people who don't look away even when my edges are showing. I'm surrounded by and overwhelmed with love and affection right now, the luckiest girl in town.

Everything is always getting better somewhere.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Today is my birthday! Since midnight east coast time--which is, after all, the Timezone of My People, since I was born two weeks late and backwards in Jacksonville, Florida, to a Floridian and a transplanted New Yorker--there have been: a handful of dirty drunken east coast text messages, a phone call and an email from a cute boy, a birthday whiskey with some really fantastic people, a poignant Amy Grant moment on the sidewalk between us and a stranger, a whole lot of high fives, a few other emails from equally splendid and adorable people, and a handful of myspaces.

I'm pretty much overcome with fondness already, is what I'm saying, and it's only morning. Everyone, I like you so much too. I will see you at Linda's tomorrow.

Dear samantha,

Try not to screw this one up quite so badly, huh?


Friday, August 31, 2007

Dear everyone,

I don't know why it always takes me so long to figure it out, but of course the problem with me these days is all of this sunshine. It keeps the angry robot awake in my ribcage, not punching anyone in the throat but still alert and still keeping me from what I want to say. I need spring and fall and a bit of winter. Summer makes me want to sit outside and wear skirts and drink beer and talk about fashion, not think up adventures or live big or make anything at all. This time of year I'm wilting from not enough wet and unable to move from under the thousand-pound weight of my collarbones. I'd rather summer stayed scattered as single weeks all over the year, but then, no one asked me.

In the spring I want to kiss you like cotton candy, sweet and soft and melting in the rain, and in the fall I want to kiss you like apple cider. But in the summer I don't want to kiss you at all because the bright light makes me nervous and freaked out by your fingerprints. The no touching rule only seems to happen in the summer time, you'll notice.

July and August were hard, friends. The year keeps pulling sneak attacks on me and my reflexes just aren't very fast. There has been little cause for me to do any Godzilla-stomping-on-Tokyo endzone dances, and that's just a shame. I am anxious for the fall, and the rains that will follow. I'm still considering changing my name and running off to Chile to be a perfume designer who makes butter sculptures in her spare time. You just never know.

I found myself in a lake for the first time ever the other day, and the lake was just as I have always suspected that they are: very cold and full of slimy seaweed that grabs at your toes and hides monsters. I couldn't make it past the line of seaweed, mostly because I hated the feel of it tangled around my legs. It's really remarkable, though you'll all laugh at me for it, that seaweed manages to grab so firmly at a person's limbs. I think that seaweed is poised to take over, and I for one do not welcome our new seaweed overlords. Still, the lake was awfully pretty and made for a lovely adventure, if an adventure full of rocks.

And I'm storing up all of the smiles in my bones, so that come winter I'll have them on hand to give out. I'm still pretty sure there are stories buried in the lines of your palms, and I intend to learn them all.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Internet, I have decided to have a birthday party at Linda's next Tuesday, and I think y'all should come, especially if you don't bring anything that might explode/used to be alive. I'm pretty sure we're friends, and if we're not, I'm pretty sure we should be. I'm anticipating a bunch of lovable geeks in sport coats, maybe a motorcycle gang, and someone to push the prom queen into the pool. Birthday party, 80's's all the same thing.

Seriously, I spent most of 24 being vaguely sad and definitely intoxicated, spending too much time with boys who were not nearly nice enough to me. I also had a whole lot of really great times and made a bunch of truly excellent new friends, but mostly we're going to call 24 a wash. So I intend to start 25 off right--by getting drunk and doing things I'll regret. In a party dress. With, if I'm lucky, some candied bacon.

It's not just the whiskey talking; I really do love you, baby. Let's have a party.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A couple of months ago I finally admitted to myself that my ancient, nicely flattened pillows were perhaps not the most sanitary of sleeping aids, and so I went and bought some new ones. But these pillows I bought are much too thick for my narrow shoulders, and no amount of throwing them on the ground and stomping on them seems to flatten them. Most of the time I find myself sleeping just below them, the soles of my feet resting against the hope chest at the foot of my bed.

I blame pretty much everything on mixtapes. Everything in the world. The summer has been stuffed full of so many good things, but so far there has been no: fishing, frisbee-ing, playing catch. Someone bring a couple of baseball gloves and a trout and let's go to the park.

Last night I slept on the other side, twisted unusually, and woke with my shoulders full of knots. I didn't mind a bit. It might be that my heart turned inside out just a little. Maybe it's the end of August and time to rethink the no touching rule. Maybe it's already rethought.

I hope that every penny you find is a lucky one.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The man getting on the bus seemed unsure of his prosthetic leg, as though it were new to him. Watching, I admired that he was confident enough to wear shorts even in the face of his obvious wobbling--he didn't care who knew that he was down half a leg. Both of his legs were smoothly muscled, the left one ending just below the knee, both ankles covered with athletic socks.

The bus driver was looking elsewhere and didn't seem to notice that the man could have benefited from the kneeling bus, and I was reminded briefly of the stranger who handed me his fake leg last year. The smooth segment was colder than I had expected, and I wondered suddenly if it ever warms up, or if the stump's terminus is always chilly from the contact.

He hesitated by the door, shifting his weight, unsure if he should step up with his good leg or his false one, clearly not trusting the prosthesis to hold his weight on its own at either step. After a few moments of dithering he suddenly took a deep breath and stepped forward with his good leg, pulling the other one up behind him in a little hop, and sat down in the first seat.

He looked down the aisle of the mostly empty bus, searching, and it was then that I noticed his hands curled into fists on his lap. Satisfied that no one was watching he too looked at his hands, apparently surprised to see them clenched, and quickly relaxed them. His left hand hovered over his knee for the rest of my ride.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Oh, internet. I've got something to say, but I can't quite get to it. I'm feeling all wrung out, my little brain soft and limp and incapable of compiling sentences, and I've gone back to not touching people with my palms. I need a rest, another dozen encounters with friendly dogs, and approximately fifteen hugs. Sometimes language just isn't enough.

Instead, here is a list of some of the things I've been reading about and thinking about that I will explain in greater detail as soon as I figure out how to make them into a story and a metaphor:

Stockholm Syndrome.

The SS Eastland, a passenger steamer that just fell over sideways in the Chicago river in 1915 because the addition of a whole lot of lifeboats, thanks to rules made after the sinking of the Titanic, made its center of gravity too high. 844 people were killed, including some entire families that were wiped out.

The Radium Girls of Undark, a group of women who worked putting radium-based glow paint on watch faces in the late 1800's. They used their lips and tongues to make the brushes keep their shape and eventually all succumbed to radium poisoning, the bones of their faces riddled with holes.

Charles Bonnet Syndrome, where people that are going blind start to have vivid hallucinations, often of faces, because their brains have gotten just plain bored with the lack of information coming in from their eyes.

The 1814 Beer Flood in London, which drowned eight people, and the one guy that died of alcohol poisoning in it.

Lake Peigneur, the 11-foot-deep freshwater lake above a salt mine that was drained in an oil drilling accident in 1980 and was turned into a 1300-foot-deep saltwater lake.

Lake Vostok.

Adam Rainer, who was a dwarf until he was 21, when his pituitary kicked back in. By the time he was 32, he stood 7'2".

Proprioception Deficit Disorder, when a person loses all knowledge of the relative positions of their body parts, and anosognosia, when people are completely unaware that there is something wrong with them.

All of these things (plus a bunch more) are sloshing around inside my head trying to reverse their own polarities and figure out a way to stick together. I'm sure that something interesting will happen--our brains are nothing if not pattern identifying machines--but in the meantime maybe someone should tell me some jokes.

Monday, August 20, 2007

When everything comes together right, I can go for days speaking to almost no one, hiding in my apartment and office, voice harsh and breaking on the few occasions that it's used. The last couple of days have been that sort, settled firmly at the base of my skull. I've been redecorating, writing letters, sitting at my little table watching the rain fall and conducting a listless Proustian review of the fingertips I've known. It's very restful, but at the same time it makes me anxious, like I'm missing something. I'm all hollowed out and still waiting for the next big thing.

I feel on the verge of something, about to fling myself off of some cliff I don't see yet. In two weeks I'll be a year older, and we all know how fond I am of symbolic milestones. Maybe it's finally time for the year of samantha.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Last night we drank champagne in the park after last call, sang happy birthday to Josh as loud as we could, and played a wobbly and disorganized game of duck duck goose. Someone had soaped the fountain and we took off our shoes and scampered around in the water and tossed foam and when the cops showed up to chase us off I slipped back into my shoes with my feet covered in rocks, damp and suddenly shivering, there was no where else I should have been. And as we hobbled off, swigging the last of champagne, I was pretty sure that I could be struck down right then and it would have been fine.

And then this afternoon I sat potting my new flowers on my balcony, in old jeans and a sweater, the Mountain Goats wafting through the screen door and a pirate ship having a battle on Lake Union, and I stopped and checked again. And yep, I couldn't have been anywhere else.

Everything is both harder and better than it's ever been before, and I'm having a great time.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

On my 12th birthday, the ice cream man died.

My mother had attempted to throw me a surprise party but, due to the fact that I had few friends coupled with family trips out of town for labor day weekend, it was sort of a flop. She pretended to send me angrily to my room when I came home from the park, and I opened the door to my tiny bedroom to find four girls scattered stiffly on the furniture. Each of them was at the time embroiled in a feud with at least one of the others, including, for one of them, me. (Her mother made her come.)

She shooed us off to the pool and we draped ourselves around the cracked concrete, chatting listlessly, too overwhelmed with the heat to put much effort behind maintaining our pre-teen animosities toward each other. After a while a man rolled up in a golf car--he was one of the guys that did maintenence around the trailer park--parked next to the fence, and honked. He asked what we were doing and I told him it was my birthday party, with a wave that took in the brittle beach chairs and wilting girls around me. He answered, "Well, the ice cream man died this morning, and he owned everything in his truck. So, you know, if you girls want some free ice cream, you should go for it." And then he drove away.

The ice cream man lived in a trailer on the corner by the pool, and he'd been the ice cream man for our neighborhood and the two or three neighboring trailer parks the whole time I had lived there. Nearly every day for 8 years I dashed after him with two dollars clenched in my fist, hoping he still had some screwballs left. We were unsure about looting the dead man's truck, but on the other hand all the free ice cream we could carry was a tempting proposition. Wrapped in towels we crept over to his carport, our long hair leaving a pattern of chlorinated drops behind that evaporated almost immediately. Standing next to the truck was his wife, who was waiting for us.

"Samantha, dear, I hear it's your birthday! Please, help yourselves; it's what he would have wanted. Ha! Do you remember that time, when you were around five, that you ran out to his truck straight out of your bath? He always got a kick out of that, thought it was the funniest thing." Uncomfortable with the damage that the story was doing to my almost-teenaged dignity, I hustled my friends into the truck through a door in the back and we stood there, cramped and a little creeped out. Our eyes shifted around the space, looking to make sure that he was not still in there somewhere. It had only been a day or two since I had bought ice cream from the old man, after all, since he had been standing there handing out his treats himself. We piled what we could into our arms and hurried out into the sunshine--one of the few times the hot Florida sun has ever been something I welcomed.

My mother looked at us funny when we crowded through my front door laden with quickly-melting treats, but she cleared space in the freezer without questions. We all ate cake and I opened presents and then, with a considerable pall cast over the party, we watched a movie on tv until it was time for my friends to go home.

The next ice cream man was a seriously PTSD'd Vietnam vet with a habit of throwing candy when he was riled. I never once ran after him straight out of the bath.