Saturday, March 31, 2007

Dear everyone,

I spent a remarkable amount of the first half of March holed up in my apartment with my books, feeling fragile and curmudgeonly and awkward, going whole strings of days speaking only to my coworkers. (Last March was all about the traveling and the startling confessions, and I much prefer that. Where are the startling confessions, folks? The only one who has been drunkenly confessing is me, and that's embarrassing.) Books are better than people anyway, if notably less cuddly, but since my edges have felt particularly sharp lately as well we've made a good match. The rest of the month I spent out in places making new friends and telling bad jokes and coming home too late and drinking and shaking my fist at the opposite sex. Well, shaking my fist in my head, anyway. Boys have been causing trouble for a significant amount of the people I know that take a recreational interest in them lately, including me. What gives, guys?

The month also contained a bunch of excellent and amusing things: Josh finished his PhD, Jessica got into Harvard, Brandon wrote a lovely guest post, and East Coast Paul found an old tape of me wailing along to a bunch of Monster Magnet songs, which include such lyrical gems as, "I squeezed out in hump drive and I'm drowning in love" and "you're looking for the one who fucked your mom; it's not me." Oh, Albertsons brand vodka, we had a lot of fun in high school, didn't we?

Earlier this week, the water in my shower inexplicably turned orange. It's back to normal now, but the bathtub is weirdly stained. There's no story other than that, I just thought you should know. Also, I am cat sitting while Steph and Ryan are out of town doing wedding things, and having something else moving in my apartment is constantly unnerving. I'm very used to being alone in here, and the cat seems not very pleased by all of the absence and all of the movement when I'm here. Singing and dancing and pacing is what I do, kitty.

I've been experiencing things in strange ways, lately, super-saturated and a little buzzy, perhaps weirder than they are. Or maybe everything has actually been strange and colorful and vibrating softly. I can't really say.

And spring is nearly here, bitches, like the half-second before the chorus of a song kicks in and you can feel it welling just behind your ribcage. It'll bring with it skirts and sandals and summer sheets and boys in short sleeves with their tattoos showing that I just want to bite. We're going to get sunburned, you and I, chasing cars and cocktails and cigar store indians and fireflies and unruly genies. Seattle, prepare to have your pants charmed off. I've got tricks still that you've never even thought of.


Friday, March 30, 2007

I am a girl who likes ruins, pausing most often to admire the corners of something only when it is crumbling to dust. In much the same way I am fond of you more for your cracks and wildly contradictory neuroses than for anything that comes to completion under your hands. I like best the grooves where everything has had a chance to settle, where the paint has been scratched away and I can see what used to be.

Perhaps I am sentimental and overly precious, writing encomiums to your kneecaps and dressing up in a striped shirt and Lone Ranger mask and making friends with every passing snail. Those are my own grooves, where I have somehow decided to settle.

But I like best on my hands the dust of what has been loved and hated and fought over and won, the smell of things lost and found. I'm better in the middle than I am in the beginning, better when your newer layers have worn away in places and your old wallpapers are there. What happens under your floorboards and the grooves of your fingerprints is much more interesting than what happens in your pockets.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

If I came with a card of instructions it would say on it, somewhere, "Not to be trusted with soft rainy days or hearts tied to strings like little red balloons." Because I've got a little bit of magic here, held with a bow on my wrist, and I'd write your name in sharpie on the waistband of its underpants if I could only be sure that you'd remember to feed it. Except I've watched you walk, and you leave a trail of empty bird's nests in your wake.

I know which rocks your monsters come up from under, and how to turn them into billy goats, too, but I'm not telling. Just to prove that I can keep some secrets from you. Because the spiteful elves that live under my collarbones think that you deserve some monsters, and all of the splinters that come from their sharp horns and pointed toenails.

When you think of me, squint your eyes and think real hard. That's where I am, right there on the backs of your eyelids, in pin curls and a half slip. Be careful with your yo-yo, please--this room is covered in vases.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I've been thinking a lot lately about Nancy Drew. Because the stories have stayed, at their core, pretty much the same since the 1930's. They're all about the same girl who goes on the same adventures and has the same harrowing escapes. Only every now and again someone goes back through and updates the clothes and the language, makes the characters and their world a little more contemporary.
So the girl that I wanted to be is the same one that my grandmother wanted to be, only her Nancy was blonde and wore tweed suits, and my Nancy was a redhead and drove a convertible.

I don't know. I'm just trying to plug holes in the boat with whatever I can get my hands on. To concatenate correctly between this and that and everything.

Because I was reading today about autism, and about how they're starting to figure out that what happens in our brains happens everywhere else too. How maybe our environment is what's causing our children to be trapped inside their brains. How we are delicate and easily broken but not so easily repaired.

I've still never found any actual proof that there's a pike in each of the fountains at Versailles, to keep the carp active--this comes from John Huston's eulogy for Humphrey Bogart, because all the really good information comes out when people have died--but I like to think that it's true. And even if it isn't true, I'm pretty sure it's important.

Friday, March 23, 2007

I don't know if you realize that you are only in my head.

When I am gone I want you to gather up whatever is left and set on fire. When that cools I want you to set it on fire again, and that remnant of remnants is what I want you to give to an airplane. They should use it to skywrite a smile with no eyes, or a small dog with a stack of horse hooves for one leg.

Gathering each perfect object in my fingers like mayflowers to lay at your doorstep, planning to ring the doorbell and run away. Only because it is just as likely that you will crush these things that I find beautiful under the toe of your unthinking shoe as it is that you will take them inside and place them carefully on a shelf that you can see from your bed.

Just because I tossed you bodily in front of that rain of bullets doesn't mean I didn't intend it in the nicest way possible.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Things I am very into right now, a list:

Bar banter.
Playing "would you sleep with him" with the gay boys. They answer "yes" a lot more often than I do. Who would have thought that I was the one with standards!
Cherry blossoms.
Plum blossoms.
All tulips that are not white. Also, daffodils.
Talking about drinking whiskey.
Biscuits and gravy.
Making up stories about a pangolin and a star-nosed mole that become unlikely friends and go on adventures together.
Bogie and Bacall.
Wishing we were courting via the postal system.
Answering invitations with a, "you bet, bitches!" and sometimes an imaginary-maraca-shaking dance.
An email from an old friend that said, "You are the strangest girl I know, but in a cute way."
Calling people "sugar."
Impromptu choose-your-own-adventuring. "Ok, you have been press ganged into service by a bunch of gnomes. Do you: teach them to sing Aretha Franklin songs or: chew your arm off to escape the shackles?"
Laying on the couch and being curmudgeonly.

Things I am not so into right now, another list:

Anyone telling me what to do. Ever.
Me, actually. I'm sort of intolerable.
Blisters. Why do you hurt me, cute shoes? Love is painful and sometimes requires bandaids.
Boys. Boys are trouble.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I am pretty sure that your Boo Radley is looking out from behind different blinds in a different town than my Boo Radley, so even if help comes for the both of us at the same time it won't come in the same place. And I think you realized that the day that your gaze slid from the inside corner of your eye out to the opposite edge. Your eyes narrowed, then, and you looked at me like fingernail scratches. Like you were starving. Those moments flared like signal fires, which I would have noticed, I think, had I not been walking in gently curved squares around you trying to build you into my circle of salt. It was only after the door closed that I noticed the smell of sulphur on the air.

So I left early in the morning, already forgetting. Before I walked I whispered into your softly sleeping ear about a snake that lives in Japan and borrows the poison from the toads that it eats. I think that I was happy, passing my hand across the shadow of your bones like skeleton keys, created solely to open whatever doors they come across.

I took to whispering with my ghosts, hiding all of my treasures in the crook of that tree. A girl with any courage might have cut her hair and changed her name and left town, but I have always searched for my hermit crabs on the same banks, imaginary claws clutching acres of imaginary flesh.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sundays are always my hardest days, always the time that I spend wandering in circles in my apartment, second guessing all of my decisions.

So while a brunch that turned into 10 hours of miscellaneous beverages and two meals is probably an ill-conceived idea, it did at least save me from what else I'd have been doing today. You know, like laundry. And pacing.

Friday, March 16, 2007

In your dream, I should be spinning slowly, a pink plastic ballerina standing on your 45.

I am at my best in darkened, lip-biting moments, pretending at half-lidded eyes and smooth convex inches. When your words get caught in my throat. Because I always get what I want, except for when I mean it.

Like how you are all only ever in love with me when it is the same as a lie: during sex, or when I have given the last of my chances and am leaving, or in hindsight, or from far away. As though I have been elected the patron saint of what might have happened. In its own way this is so much easier, the adult equivalent of pulling my hair and running away, giving you the rest of recess to pull the wings off flies and me a story to tell my friends over juice boxes. But in most other ways it is like trying to get out of the funhouse through the rotating barrel, never knowing where my footing is going to be next. And while I don't know what I'd do with it if it were sincere there are times that I think I might relish the challenge. Which is not an invitation.

I am still not the builder of bridges you think that I am, but I will continue to take your lack of guidance to mean that you like to be surprised.

And if I ever got myself a you? I know exactly what I'd do.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

One of the greatest side effects of writing this website was meeting Brandon, my very favorite person to get hilariously drunk with. (This is only because this website has never gotten me laid. If that happens, B, you are demoted to second greatest. Maybe. [This is an excellent thing to be corrected on--it turns out it has and I just never knew the correct sequence of events! Awesome.]) The first time I met Brandon, way back in the olden days of 2005, he was standing near a wall with a beer in his hands, and I thought, "Hey, that guy's cute! I'm going to go talk to him!" It only took a couple of steps before I was blinded by the light flashing off his wedding ring, which is what always happens to me.

A few days later, once I got over the crippling disappointment that Brandon was married, I went and read his website. (Yes, I met Brandon before I read anything he had ever written, which is unorthodox, I know, but that is just how I roll.) And I could mention how great he is at it, how he sometimes bruises the backs of my eyes with the things he writes, but I'm still mad at him for quitting and taking up one-night-standing all over the internet and otherwise leaving me with only his archives for general inspiration.

Anyway, I don't know about you guys, but I am awfully goddamned tired of me lately, so here is my very first guest post. He always says what I have to say better than I do, anyway. That bastard.

i find it disconcerting, this shaking of the ground beneath me, only to turn on the news and find no reports of seismic activity in the area. these isolated, man-made or tremors otherwise imagined and isolated. i walked on shifting soils through the field behind my house today. perhaps it was the memory of an imaginary picnic with my parents, down along the river banks. my father took me swimming. my mother set out a blanket with Fun Dip and Tab. it sounds nice, but i don't know. we never did anything like that. when the child psychologist told me i dream in black and white, she must not have been referring to the colors.

just because i'm reeling doesn't mean i feel pain, because i don't. or that i'm willing to take the short cut, because i'd just as soon take the long way around and stretch this out as much as possible. that's so pretty, all these misunderstandings. 'you just go on now and take your time,' i tell myself. 'there is too such a thing as a long cut. and a reason for it.'

i didn't want to wake up holding my own sides today, spikes dropped into an otherwise sinus rhythm. but i don't know how else to recognize the little changes. i see, i see, i see. but it's mostly the sides of this rut i'm in. and occasionally i am helped out, invariably dragged into a new rut. but i'll be goddamned if a good old fashioned rut doesn't make me want to do nothing but write and write and write, until i become so goddamned insufferable that the only way out of the rut is to close my eyes and make my way into a deeper rut, where the sun has a more difficult time finding its way to my light-sensitive temples, and i'll be goddamned if i don't like this next rut even better. and in case you think i'm misusing the word 'rut,' i just looked it up, and it means 'sexual arousal among large animals,' so, whatever.

but writing when you're rutting is a growling dog asleep on your favorite pair of shoes. you love your dog, but she snaps when she's tired, she can't help but. you go to work in different shoes, and think, i really like that old dog. i'm going to miss her. and those new shoes are just a long list of arguments, times you remember thinking you were right and misunderstood, and you appear to have found some answers at the bottom of your rut. you come out swinging, and she parries with 'i feel alone.' and you say, 'well, you're wrong, because i'm holding you as tightly as i possibly can.' and she says, 'i feel alone, even when you hold me.' and you say, 'WELL OBVIOUSLY I'M NOT DOING IT RIGHT. YOU'RE BLAMING THE SENTIMENT WHEN IT'S THE TECHNIQUE AT FAULT. SEE? WRONG.'

and so i wrote today, angry, feverish writing that had me yelling at children equally feverish over their own basic needs, and it left me feeling miserable, both about the yelling and the godawful words i committed to paper. i don't want to have to shoot myself in the head to be remembered but i'm willing to embarrass myself in other ways, and damn near started a new blog, because if that's not the way a failed writer offs himself these days, i don't know what is.

i gave up on becoming famous
i'm much more interested in falling in love
with life
i said this out loud on my way to work
and laughed and laughed and laughed

i wrote all commercial-like, before, and i don't hate myself for it, but i'm glad it's done. i want to write like someone else and that means starting over, or just not doing it at all, which is fine by me. i just want to laugh, anyway, and get on from the deep thoughts part of the pool, where it's warmer. no, that's a horrible analogy, because the truth is that my favorite part of the pool is where it's 12 feet deep and i have to strain to get to the bottom, and remember when i was a kid and thought my head would burst from all the pressure. so this can only mean that writing is nothing like swimming, in terms of my taste buds. plus, no one can hear you laugh at the deep end, and my god that sounds like a horrible cliche. i'm holding her as tight as i can and still she feels alone, and that must mean i'm just not doing it right.

Monday, March 12, 2007

So, guess who's got the plague?

I spent all of Sunday feeling yucky and insubstantial and dizzy, but I figured it was just, you know, garlic and hangovers, and both of those are bad for me. But when I woke up this morning the feeling hadn't gone away, and while there was a lot of garlic on Saturday evening I'm surely not that sensitive to the stuff. By the time I made it up the hill to my office this morning I was pale and sweaty (uh, more than usual, even) and faint and shaky. It's the feeling I get when my blood sugar has bottomed out and I'm about to fall over, or when I have to make small talk with people I don't know, or basically any situation where my body doesn't know how to handle what's going on and is all, "abort consciousness!"

My blood is bad, sluggish and sentimental and tending towards mutiny. But this is something new.

Now that I've come home and slept for a couple of hours (discovering, on my return, that I had neglected to lock the front door on my way out this morning, which never happens since I always check it about three times), I've decided to blame the whole thing on alien possession. I also intend to blame this alien for my recent impatientness and malcontent and habits of harassment, my lunatic hair, slant rhymes, and the tragic meeting between Elvis and sequins.

When I woke up this morning it was to find myself saying out loud, "What would Henry Miller do?" I haven't a clue what I was dreaming to make that happen, but I think we can all assume the answer would be, "get drunk and sleep with exotic women." And while I have no intention of doing any of that, it does vaguely fall in line with my general wish lately that my evenings would turn into bourbon and fist fights. So, perhaps worth noting.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

In my natural habitat I am awkward and without charm, timing slightly off like a satellite delay. Always thirteen, knock-kneed and anticipating falling just a little bit short.

Listening, I flinch from that most seductive of pronouns as from a blow. My fingerprints and the small of my back treat each "we" as a promise, never minding the slideshow my brain is presenting of all the times that didn't work. Each one travels the paths of my spine like champagne bubbles, and I am always going down with my own poorly constructed ship. I won't learn my lesson. Can't.

And so I wait for something to happen, impatiently and likely gracelessly, but waiting nonetheless, where I once would have declared waiting off limits. This is a corner I have little hope of being invited out of, having put my horse miles to the rear of my cart, and likely fooling no one anyway. The soft smile before a first kiss is a leitmotif for my more wistful daydreams, a life raft in otherwise vast and empty waters.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The old man across the street from our trailer died in his bed, in flames. At eleven I was well acquainted with both cigarettes and their burns, and my friend's habit of nodding off in his porch chair worried me whenever I stopped by to chat. So when my mother interrupted an afternoon by ordering my best friend and me to room at the very back of our lot, out of fear that his car would explode as his trailer was engulfed, my first instinct was to clamber out of my window and run to the street. In my head I knew that if I could only get out front I could make him walk out the door, coughing and shrugging ruefully. I knew that through sheer stubbornness I could force him to stay alive.

But my mother would brook neither argument nor escape, and we were herded into her bedroom and left to clutch at each other while the smell of smoke grew heavy and the sirens arrived. By the time we were released, tear-streaked and weak in the knees, the fire had been bested and had left behind only a scorched and melted aluminum shell. The new silver car, driven rarely but cherished as a sign that he had not yet grown too feeble to drive it, sat largely untouched save for a broken headlight. I looked up at my mother and she shook her head slightly, knees popping as she knelt down to look me in the eyes. She explained that he had probably fallen asleep and that the smoke had likely suffocated him before he could feel any pain, but in the back of my head I knew that part of the responsibility was mine. Had I only tried a little bit harder, I knew, I could have thrown the full weight of my childish willpower against sixty years of habit and won. It's a conviction I've never quite managed to shake.

A few months later they hauled away the wreck and placed a big new grey double-wide in its place. The family that moved in had a daughter only a couple of years older than I was, but though we became friends I never could force myself to go inside.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A girl who moved away from the water and still somehow manages to drown, and a boy who, lacking a basket, puts all of his eggs in his pockets. From across the room she takes the last sip from her tall glass of water and her eyes scan the exit signs. She could have avoided his eyes, if only she knew when to duck.

She watched them pull a body out of the river by helicopter, the enormous tongs dwarfing the form they delicately lifted from the rocks. It spun in lazy circles above her, soaring, for the first and last time, independent of the weight of its bones.

Hazy and impossible, promising all the same. Conceivable, the day that she tripped over the mask of the child and fell in a crumpled beautiful heap at the bottom of the stairs. The night that he dreamt of his heart, bloody and thumping hollowly, pulled down firmly and snipped free of its moorings. Playing house, playing with fire, playing dead. Sometimes all three at once. A soft song heard through windows across the street, hanging like iron on the tongue, turning to eyes suddenly cold in the moonlight.

He remembers the first time, the warmth and the smoothness, as less like learning something new and more like recalling something distant and forgotten. Finding himself at the answer of a question he didn't remember asking.

He rolls his tongue across his teeth, slowly, considering. Casting ideas and flailing delicately against their return. If he stood, she'd be too small to look him in the eyes.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Having once been set in motion, peering down the crooked alleys of my bloodstream, I am unable to pull the more wistful sections of my lower brain away from the memory of the soft whorl of an ear. Like a brighter drop of rain shining on an everyday diamond, or the first breath at the end of a long good-luck tunnel. Like hearing a steel drum somewhere underneath your favorite song. Impossible to both articulate and live without, felt somewhere in the backs of your knees and the small of your back.

A half-forgotten poem of an image waiting just behind my left eye clears its throat, remembering. Had we yet made it past the borders of this city, to a town with miles of empty windy coastline, I might have fallen asleep in the sand with my head on your leg, a fistful of your shirt clutched in my childish hand. Not safe, perhaps, but content.

Monday, March 05, 2007

I have been sleeping both little and poorly lately, because the inside of my head is all spinny, so I've spent the last few days in a sort of haze. This has involved a lot of standing slack-jawed in my living room, going, "Ok, what am I doing? Oh yeah, clothes...I'm going out. Where am I going? Oooh, that sunset is pretty. Does this match? I care? Say, I like this song! Dance party! Hold on, my plants need watering. I think. Wait, what am I doing?" This happens every couple of months. If I were a car, the aerial view of the tight circles my brain is making would look like the Daytona 500. No, really.

The weekend started with staying out too late drinking champagne and whiskey because, hey, it's not like I'd be sleeping anyway. Unfortunately, subsequent to that decision I came home and made a fool of myself, since part of being samantha is making yourself sound like a total nutbar occasionally. Occupational hazard. Aside from some lunar eclipse hunting and a frustrating trip to Ballard, the rest of the last few days were largely devoted to food. I lost a bit of weight in February, pounds that I can ill afford to be shed of because I am a wee thing, but the last couple of days should have put me well on the way to rectifying that, with all of the pasta and biscuits and gravy and hashbrowns and lamb.

When I came home last night a small orange post-it was stuck right below my doorknob. It said, "the future is just like today, only longer." Sometimes, Seattle, you worry me a little.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

It is perhaps 7:00, and you are probably still asleep, snuggled in a nest of blankets and pillows with perhaps an elbow or a foot leaking out where you twitched the covers over during a dream. I am not asleep, having been driven from my bed by nightmares of vitrification. I am terrified of losing my fingerprints, even in my dreams.

But what you are missing, here at 7:00, is this sky that's soft blues and light pinks and pearly greys spreading slowly out from the sunrise that is surely happening on the other side of the hill. The air here on my balcony smells nice and sweet, like being young. There are no birds chirping--this is not Snow White--but 7:00 feels like something good might happen today.

Friday, March 02, 2007

I'm not sure exactly when my attention left my work, but when I realized it was gone I found that I was watching them, three tables away. They were deep in conversation, both leaning far enough over the table that, were one of them to be bumped from behind, they would likely knock foreheads. He laughed and touched her wrist, and she dropped her eyes and blushed.

As I toyed with my coffee cup, swirling the leftovers, the phone at her elbow chirped. Her eyes started to widen a few seconds into the conversation, and to fill with tears moments after that. She nodded mutely and hung up the phone, head sinking slowly into her hands. I turned away--this was so very much not for me to be watching--and as my head moved I saw him reach one hand slowly across the table to slide softly down her hair.