Saturday, June 30, 2007

Dear everyone,

Leaving the bar at closing time last night, after an impromptu dance party to "It's the End of the World as We Know It" and a disappointing round of, "Hey, who is that guy you were just talking to?" "Oh, he's [some guy]. But he's also gay," someone spotted a guy in a penguin suit across the street and down the block. And without a second thought we all took off running after him, chasing him down to take pictures with him.
And I've been having a tough time of it lately, but there was absolutely nowhere else I'd rather have been.

I finally had to sit myself down this month and point out to me that I went and got my heart pretty thoroughly cracked during the first half of this year. It's my own stupid fault, because I decide I want something and then pursue it with a stubborn single-mindedness of purpose, regardless of any bearings on reality. Which doesn't make it hurt any less, just makes me feel foolish on top of it. I've spent the rest of my time throwing myself into situations that are going to end badly, if they haven't already, because I've been trying to ignore the aching around the edges of those cracks, but I finally gave in and brought back the no touching rule. I just don't know what to do next.
I guess I wait until everything heals back up.

And today my horoscope said this: "It's tough to let go of the way we want things to be and learn to accept how they really are. But once you do, you'll see that reality is the only safe place to stand -- and that it's not such a bad place after all." Which is pretty much what I've been thinking myself.

Today is the 99th anniversary of the Tunguska event, the 1908 meteroid explosion in Russia that leveled 850 square miles of Siberian trees and meddled with the Earth's atmosphere for months. This is important to remember because everything is important to remember. Because something could knock down all of my own trees any minute now, and there's really no way to be ready for it.

Next week is the 4th of July, and maybe people are coming over to watch fireworks. I haven't had a party yet this year, but I do dearly love getting the people that I love into one place and basking in their collective presence. I know a lot of really amazing people.

I keep wanting a reduction in the size of the feeling parts of my brain, but that's not actually true. It isn't what I really want. Everything has been hard, but it's been hard in a way that I am extraordinarily lucky to be able to feel. As long as I keep that in mind, I should make it through alright. As long as you're all there with me.



Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Internet! Jeff is a daddy! Little Benjamin is cuter than a whole sack full of buttons. (Yes, it does feel a little weird that my ex boyfriends are doing things like having children, and my existential crisis is certainly currently frugging around the inside of my head, holding up a little sign that says, "Just what the fuck are you doing with yourself, Fonz?" But let's not think about that and go look at the wee baby instead, shall we?)

It was possibly a poor idea to make the twin bad decisions to break in some new shoes and go dancing last night, and my feet are currently bumping fists with my existential crisis, pointing at its sign and nodding emphatically. Fortunately, I bought a whole new box of bandaids.

The bandaids are mostly for my fingers, though. You can always tell the state of my life by the state of my hands, as I've never quite been able to shake the habit of biting my fingernails and cuticles. I only do it unconsciously and when I'm stressed, and it belies all appearances of self-confident or well put together.

Several of my friends are getting ready to camp out for the iPhone, and even though I've been making a whole lot of fun of them for it, I'm secretly charmed by their enthusiasm. Nothing's cuter than enthusiasm. Except maybe brand new babies.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I walked home from post-brunch in a drizzle that threatened to become a downpour at any moment. As I plodded toward the very edge of the hilltop, hands in my pockets and headphones on, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. And then just as I reached the part of my walk where the view opens up and the mountains and Lake Union are just sitting there, unconsciously breathtaking, my iPod swung into the chorus of "Life in Rain" and the skies opened up with the sort of rain that fills the throats of all the flowers.
It's tough to hold onto any shade of sads when your city is sending you love letters like that.

I wanted to be a cowboy, stomping through rooms with my six-shooter slung low on my hips, knocking bottles off fences without even aiming. But then you swung open those saloon doors with an unbreakable sort of glass behind blue eyes, and I'll bet that stealing my sheriff's badge was just icing on the cake. You could have your ten paces out in the street, but I'm not sure I'd remember to turn and shoot.

Friday, June 22, 2007

In my dreams lately I have found myself in holding places for the criminally insane, long hallways lined with dark holes of cells. Every night for days I have walked down them, terrified and in a full biohazard suit, cowering at the faces that leap towards the bars and scream epithets and gibberish in my direction.

This morning I woke up with a faint bruise on my left wrist, just to the side of the veins that wait purple-blue under the surface of my skin. I think that the flailing and cowering that I've been doing inside my brain is flailing and cowering that I've been doing in my bed as well.

Sometimes I think that love is a bad, bad idea.

When the weather starts to turn warm and my sleeves get shorter I find myself tempted to write lines and lines and lines of poems up and down the insides of my arms. The lines would be uneven and patchy, because the tip of the pen would tickle and clog. I want to cover my skin with someone else's perfect words. And then when I'd go to hug you they'd be there, between your skin and mine. The way it should be.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

There are a lot of things that I disapprove of most highly, and one of those things is guys on a scaffolding outside my balcony first thing in the morning. What's up, construction guys? Just stumbling out of my bedroom in my underpants. My hangover and I are glad to see you too.

The ladies are good for one drink too many, for wandering the bar looking for that boy you wanted to kiss. The ladies are good for dancing and laughing and telling funny bedroom stories. The ladies are good for telling you how great you are when you don't feel so fabulous, for planning weekend trips to Vegas, and for being super sexy. The ladies are good.

Also, inspired by my pal Buster, a letter to my younger self:

Dear little me,

You will survive all of this and, one day, be thankful for the person it has turned you into.

You're going to spend too much time feeling guilty about things that are not your fault. I can't tell you how to fix this, because I still don't know, but you can help it feel less important by realizing that these things really aren't your fault. Once you stop blaming yourself for everything, stand up for yourself. Do not let anyone hit you or belittle you ever again.

Don't worry so much. Break what you're thinking about down into what you can fix and what you can't, and then break what you can fix into manageable pieces and fix them. Take control of what you can.

Eat a sandwich. People aren't going to stop calling you their "little friend samantha" because you get fat, you dolt, but because they're adults who don't need qualifiers for their friendships. Working up all of that self-loathing takes up too much energy that you could be spending doing other things.

Go ahead and lose your virginity in the back of a van filled with music equipment, because you will eventually love that story, but then write that boy off as a business expense of growing up. Don't waste so much time stressing over a boy who thinks he can dismiss you because you are smarter than you are pretty. Also, you will spend a significant portion of at least your early twenties dating emotionally stunted musicians, so you'd do well to develop a sense of humor about it as soon as possible.

Don't expect so much of people. Be vulnerable and open to everything, even though people will hurt you. Love everyone you can, anyway. Stay up all night to watch more sunrises. Take as many road trips as you can. Learn to play an instrument, because as an adult you'll really want to be in a band. Try everything at least twice, and don't be so scared, because people are more forgiving of your faults than you give them credit for. Live with honesty and kindness and be gentle with yourself.


older you

Sunday, June 17, 2007

On the day that they met he paused by her table to read a menu posted in the window, somehow not noticing everything that the part of her hair was trying to tell him. She cleared her throat from right below his chest and he jumped and looked down at her, startled. "Oh no, you can't stand there," she smiled apologetically and shrugged, "Your shadow weighs much too much."

He moved and the sunlight flooded the space where he had been. He noticed that her fingernails were the same color as a candy apple, and in that beam of light her face and the curve of her arm looked open and fragile and invincible. He thought he might be having a stroke.

All of this, down to the fire in his fingertips, were details that he had forgotten for years. And then one night she sighed and told him that her hands were too heavy to lift. He touched the side of her throat and she rolled over, slowly, like a luxury liner settling into the ocean, and as he watched her shoulder blades turned into plates of armor. He wasn't ever sure how she did that; how she turned, suddenly, into the surface of the moon.

In a beam of light from a streetlamp he noticed a light scratch on the back of her neck, left there absentmindedly by a too-forceful fingernail, and the curve of her nape looked so fragile that each whorl of his fingerprints burst into flame. He thought about tracing the line of it but hesitated, unsure if he was afraid of breaking her or himself.

(Related: 1, 2, 3, 4. This series is happening because I lost a bet, but it's nearly over.)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Alright, everything in the universe is currently freaking my shit way the hell out, so the no touching rule is back in place: no touching except for hugs and thumb wrestling and friendly socks on the arm, until I feel differently about things. Everyone, out of my shopping cart. We are keeping space for the holy ghost between us; let's just play frisbee and listen to records this summer.

Last night I was in a room full of people who all knew each other except for one guy who didn't, and someone said, "hey, let's go around the room and introduce ourselves and say a fact," all nonchalant like this is what people actually do outside of ninth grade English class. My friends are all doers, really, so they started right up, but me, I panicked and fled the room as a reflex, without even giving it a second's thought. You want to know a fact? About me? No, I'm afraid I only deal in half-truths and innuendo. Cripes.

I've developed a habit lately of coming home too late and falling asleep in my clothes. Not, I don't think, because I am too drunk to change into pajamas--I'm really not, most of the time--but because I'd been having a really good time that night in those clothes, and I'm usually not quite ready to give that up. Which leads to a lot of uncomfortable mornings with a skirt wrapped around my neck, since I am such a restless sleeper, and it's something I need to stop. Eventually. I keep asking myself, self, just what are you doing, and self tends to answer back by drinking or getting all misty and watching cheesy movies or making out with someone in a corner, all of which is tons of fun, but maybe not quite healthy. So I'm going to take whatever comforts I can get.

And anyway, it's becoming summertime, and summertime is the time for falling in love with boys for twelve seconds from across the room, probably because of their awesome sunglasses or visible tattoos. Other miscellaneous reasons I have set my cap for boys in the past include: walked by just as Pete Doherty sang "I like the cut of your j-i-b"/vintage World's Fair t-shirt/unironic handlebar mustache/spoke Hebrew/talked enthusiastically about dinosaurs/looked good in pink/complimented my broken red loafers/looked like a Venetian waterboy/could juggle, but didn't/tattoo of an atom/played the drums while wearing glasses/dangerous crooked smile/excellent haircuts/always brought me oatmeal raisin cookies/was overprotective of his little sister.

I promise to try not to end up in jail or on a train headed east or in clown college any time soon, but last night I discovered that a whiskey soda with muddled strawberries in it tastes just exactly like the greatest thing ever, so I'm not making any promises. A girl can only do so much.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Today, while watching some coworkers of mine play ballsports outside, the top of my head got sunburned. I had put sunscreen on my part, but it is always hard to be sure nothing untoward will happen, and the fact of the burn made me suddenly and completely angry at the sun.

The step after the run-aways is usually the smash-everythings, and it makes me glad that almost everyone is window shopping around here lately. I am too expensive to buy right now, and would probably void my warranty almost immediately just to spite you. Even I can't say for sure what I'm going to do next right now, not with the angry robot still largely in control.

But then Manuel invited me over for a beer or three. (From where I finally retrieved my suit! Mike Whybark wins person of the year, mostly for just existing, but also for passing along a beautiful vintage suit that I plan on figuring out where to wear posthaste.) If you don't have a Manuel in your life I advise getting one immediately, because he is the sort of person who, if you say, "I'm going home now, but on my way home I'm going to stop at the swings. Want to come?" will come with you and race on the swings and climb things and slide slides.

Which is just what happened, all of the swinging and sliding and laying in the grass, and it's pretty much impossible to keep hold of the smash-everythings when all the swings remind you of is hot nights at parks in high school, of boys you once knew, of hills you once kissed on.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

I woke up this morning wanting to run away.

Before I was even fully awake there was planning inside my head, weighing the pros and cons of Boston and Chicago and Kansas and the south of France, working through wardrobe options and new names. Theme songs. Accents and hairstyles.

The wanting comes in waves, and today I woke up drowning.

So I pulled on my raincoat and walked through the softened streets to the store for champagne and cheese, stopping to meet damp friendly dogs and their owners all along the way. It's the conversations that I have in the rain that are most satisfying, their edges evened out by the mist, sweet and fleeting like a mouthful of something soft. At the park a lone duck stood knee-deep on the almost-beach, still. Watching. It didn't move when I walked up--whatever it was looking for, I clearly didn't have. In my head the planning tumbled like a washing machine with poorly distributed laundry: if I would tell anyone. Should I get a hermit crab or start making butter sculptures.

When I eventually came home, jeans damp around the ankles and rain beaded on my jacket, I decided to stay put for now. Because I had just bought this bottle of champagne and all this cheese, and the things in my fridge weren't going to cook themselves. Because I only just unpacked my suitcases. Because a train to anyplace is not the same as a train to someplace, and someplace still sat just out of reach.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

After Chernobyl blew, the surrounding towns were all looted and their radioactive left-behinds sold around the country in various black markets. No one stopped to put a little orange sticker on them warning prospective buyers that the things might leave them glowing, and so unmarked radioactive loot was quietly strewn all over the country. And no one knew.

And maybe I'm feeling a little bit like a chunk of secretly radioactive girl material, as though if you asked me where I came from I might say, "Cherno---er, Hoboken." And since you wouldn't listen even if I told you, maybe I'll crawl under your skin and give you tumors. Just because. It could happen.

And maybe I'm just looking at you like this because you're my new ship in a bottle, and as long as I'm distracted I won't have to stop and pay attention to what I've been doing. To the black holes I've been carrying in briefcases like a cartoon character all this time. To the fact that the toothpicks I've been using to prop up my heart this whole time are pointier than I thought, and making inroads where they weren't invited.

Maybe I want to try and distract you by throwing the contents of my pockets in the air and running away, because you are looking at me like you're already scheduling the nostalgia. And that's both scary and unwelcome.

Or maybe I've been feeling like a hangover in a country song, like I fell asleep on a train, missed my stop, and ended up in a completely new town. Like I got off the train at the general store someplace dusty and sparse and thought, "Hey, this is where I live now." Because there are never really any warnings that everything's about to change, so a train whistle and a tarnished clock striking the hour are as good an indication as anything else.

Maybe I'm confusing my love songs with my drinking songs and my drinking songs with my love songs, and maybe my drinking love songs are all the same anyway, still directed towards you, and still in the wrong key.


Monday, June 04, 2007

My vacation smelled of warm strawberries and spent gasoline, of hot sidewalks and sneakers and strangers.

A day into my trip, I found myself at a barbecue full of pleasant strangers via a cute bar and a pleasant couple of fellows. Friendly accidents and happy adventures and I are best friends.

Sleepy and wandering aimlessly through a museum, I was unexpectedly pinned by a painting I couldn't have anticipated, nearly overcome with an urge to distract it by throwing the contents of my pockets in the air and running away. Only my pockets were empty, and I was sure that the painting was smart enough not to be fooled.

Very late at night I sat in the window of a bar making up stories to myself about the all-night flower vendor on the corner below.

At the diner a man with a heavy accent carried my plate to me with both hands, arms outstretched, like an offering. I moved the little paper cup of coleslaw on to the table top and took a bite as he stood over me. "Is good?" "Is very good," I answered truthfully. "Do you know why?" Mouth full, I shook my head. He winked heavily, his upper eyelid folding over the lower. "No, you don't know why. Is secret."

For days I forgot about Seattle, but sitting in the airport listening to my headphones the bass line of a song from home turned something at the bottom of my spine and I found myself suddenly hungry for my life here, for its green smell and its clear open spaces and its funny little pockets of loneliness.

Sitting next to me on the airplane was a very old man doing a crossword in a Cyrillic alphabet and a monk in orange robes. Had we spoken any of the same languages, the Russian cowboy, the monk, and me, we could have written a musical together.

Flying home four hours later than expected through completely cloudless skies I watched the moon catch the surfaces of rivers below me, serpentine bands of gold in otherwise vast and empty landscapes.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Hi everyone,

I just flew in from New York, and boy are my arms tired. (Of course, I sat on an airplane that didn't move for four hours before I did any flying, about which I have to admit to being pretty irritated.)

Ok, I apologize; I accidentally saw some bad comedians in the Village Thursday night, and I still haven't completely recovered. New York and I actually get along really well, which is something I forgot. On whichever other hand, though, it would probably be a bad idea for me to move there, both because it would be too easy to retreat completely into my head and because my urge to kick people in the backs of the knees when they're walking too slowly would get the best of me.

I think I'm going to speak only in haiku from now on--I'll get in a lot less trouble if I have to count my syllables before I open my big mouth. Same goes for email; it might get a little annoying, but consider the alternative. Better for us all, i feel.

I slipped a little on that whole "well behaved" thing this month, largely because a girl can only pine for so long before the rest of her body is like, "Ok, heart? You've been driving for much too long, and it has gotten us nowhere. It is our turn to make bad decisions." (Says Toby, "There's only a certain number of people in the world who like to get drunk, make out, and talk about books, so as long as you're otherwise unoccupied you might as well do that with as many of them as you can. One might stick eventually, and if not, at least you spent the time doing what you love." Which is very, very funny, but also mostly true.) What I've done is the emotional equivalent of stubbing my toe to distract myself from the fact that I just crushed my thumb with a hammer. I've created quite a situation, and I've decided that I'm only going to settle for some sort of spectacular solution to the whole thing. Since I'm going to come out of it all smashed on the rocks anyway.

Because I'm starting to realize more and more that this is the only life I've got--that in the end I'll lose everything anyway, so I might as well try to ditch all of my unwanted momentums and just go for the whole living thing. Which is hard, because I am naturally timid and very afraid, but worthwhile, I think. I've been thinking a lot about Rilke lately, because it is spring and I am sentimental; about his whole idea that we should live all of our questions in the hope of someday living the way to an answer. It's the only way I can think to go about it.

New York and I were in love, but in a dangerous, Bonnie and Clyde sort of way. Its constant action and my habit of sacrificing my health for anything interesting wouldn't be good for either of us. But you and me, Seattle, we're in love in ways that might just fail to kill us both. I'm sort of a mess, but I'm your mess. I missed you.