Monday, July 30, 2007

I am home from Las Vegas, not religious, arrested, or married. (I did agree on the airplane to marry a fellow with an excellent villain-in-a-western mustache if we ran into each other, but we didn't.) I danced and doubled down and drank and kissed boys and looked at very bored lions and tigers. I smoked too many cigarettes and napped at the spa.

The whole weekend was excellent, and proportionally superb--of the approximately 50 hours I spent in Vegas, I spent about 30 of them laughing, half of one gambling, and about two in a hot tub with six Swedish guys and one of my favorite ladies. (Do we need an ambassador to Sweden? I'll volunteer.) We even managed to do a little bit of sleeping and swimming in a circle.

The trip was really perfectly timed, like cutting the right wire to defuse a bomb at the last second. It turns out that I like Vegas a lot--there's no love there, only boredom and lust and flashing lights. A few days away from feeling anything but amused or tipsy was perfect, since I've been feeling a lot of sad and broken lately, and my ladies are the best company. We skipped lines and drank champagne and ran away from gross dudes and wore very small dresses. I had a vacation from being me, and I really needed it.

Pictures look like this.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

By this time tomorrow I will be in Las Vegas for what is sure to be a weekend full of debauchery, dancing, and champagne. (So, you know...a weekend like the rest of them only with clubs, casinos, and strippers instead of hipster bars, after parties, and speakeasies.) I will try not to get married, arrested, or religion, but I make no promises that I won't find my calling as a showgirl named Lola, who sits at the blackjack tables oozing sad glamour when she's not working. I mean, a girl can only do so much.

You behave yourselves while I'm gone, hear?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

If I came with a warning label, it would say, "Not to be trusted with crossed ankles, tophats, or complicated costume changes. Do not shake or bench press. Bites." My glass would order you not to tap on it and, if you tried, an alarm would drop confetti and rattlesnakes from the ceiling. The label would say, "Only dangerous when provoked. Likes to be pet like a kitten, but only if your fingerprints have already been registered."

The label would be plaid. Pink and green and tan. Looks friendly, but isn't.

There's a valid argument that could be made which would say that I am addicted to the more dangerous parts of you. We needn't comment on that.

On the few evenings that I have been home resting and healing and not being social, I have been learning about bugs and things that creep and crawl. This is neither euphemism nor obfuscation: it is fact.

Monday, July 23, 2007

She hated how everyone called it a reconciliation. They hadn't meant to come back together, but his stars kept falling from her skies and landing at her feet, and a girl could only fight for so long before she had to give in to the fact that sidewalks and billboards and the noises of passing cars were trying to tell her something.

He thought of foot-long poisonous centipedes in Venezuela that climb the sides of the caves of bats and dangle until they catch a flying creature in one of their many pairs of arms. And then he thought of Mayflies, who live underwater for two years and then, rising to the surface and molting to find themselves without mouth or stomach, are given only half an hour to both take to the skies and find a mate. There were, he figured, only certain currents that were worth fighting against.

Monsters have a way of multiplying when they shatter, scratching up the linoleum with their sharp toenails, stealing the cool on the other side of the pillow. She rests her chin in her hand and contemplates the sleight of hand required to steal all the eggs from his pocket and hide them in the bread basket. He eyes her over his wine glass, deciding to block the way to the exits if she makes a run for it. He's stolen her life jacket, but she's bought herself a ladder.

(Finished. I'm not making any more bets without agreeing on the terms first. Others: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Dear Universe,

I am really, really ready for something amazing and wonderful and out of the ordinary to happen. In case you were wondering. You know where my house is.



Friday, July 20, 2007

I walked home this afternoon through an appropriately-timed summer rain, suddenly feeling made of glass. My shoe slipped off mid-stride, went sliding down the sidewalk ahead of me, and my stockinged foot landed in a puddle that crept slowly up my leg as I squished down the street. The only way to avoid shattering into a million pieces was to laugh.

Too often, it seems, those are the only two choices.

I've been pretty sadly used this year by people who are not out to harm but are sometimes shockingly indifferent to doing so. Some of it I brought upon myself and some of it I did not, and my heart grows a little bit bigger in diameter each time, trying to become more adventurous instead of more tender and afraid. Trying to keep the hull of my ship free of barnacles and the floor free of sharp me-glass, to avoid slicing any of us open, to hoard all of the good parts like a squirrel and not be poisoned by the bad parts. It's always a fight, a million tiny heartbreaks.

My world keeps getting turned upside down, but don't worry about me; I took the time to glue everything down in anticipation of such events. It just takes a little while to remember how to find my way around, to remember how to interpret all the hobo signs I have scribbled on the walls.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The rains came back just in time to settle the dust in my head, to cool the burn on the undersides of my eyelids. On the way into work this morning I could see my breath if I looked hard enough, the hem of my skirt dampening and growing heavy, rain beading down my legs and reviving the sticky mix of alcohol that has recently been spilled in my shoes. It won't last, but for the moment it feels like a cool cloth on the forehead during a fever.

Right now I want to sleep for a million years.

I've been rewriting some of my memories, revisiting spaces, turning the last time I was there with you into just another time there with them. Hoping to force the old memories out like the last marble in a tube. Wanting to walk in and remember not drinking beer and pushing debris around the table with a finger but instead drinking whiskey and conspiring to kidnap a rockstar.

I think you are pretending to be Michigan J. Frog, singing and dancing in front of some people, blinking slowly and ribbiting in front of others.

On the way home the sun was winning its fight with the clouds, and a patch of sidewalk smelled like a coffee shop I once knew, of speculating on the Virgin Mary, practicing my James Dean impression, and learning to roll a pack of cigarettes up in my sleeve.

I worry about what you are leaving in your wake, the poison that pools in your footsteps, the smell of burning that lingers when you leave a room. All the relics cracked and bruised and covered up with cotton candy.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I cut my volunteer hours in half a few months ago, so most of my Saturdays pass without seeing the old man. Still, each time he's not there, I find myself gazing at the empty bench with a hitch in my breath. Perhaps I should be less attached to this stranger, but his imprint has become important. In these days of drowning he's like the last life raft at the bottom of the box--better than nothing, certainly, and fitting given the situation. I don't know how to drown as efficiently as you'd like.

He wasn't there when I stepped off the bus yesterday, and I looked at the bench for a moment, short of breath. But he had just crossed at the light and he shuffled up and smiled, and the gremlin with its fingers in my lungs relaxed its grip.
I sat, but he stood in the sun, his jeans too long and bunched at the ankles, the shoulder seams of his button down shirt resting a few inches down his biceps. I raised an eyebrow at him, and he shook his head slightly, making a slicing motion with his hand. "My bones are cold. I'm like a plant, trying to store up the heat for the winter. Winter seems to come earlier and earlier these days."

Sleeping still hasn't been going well for me lately; I've been haunted by dreams and heat and trying not to remember the nights of sleeping that were different. So I leaned against the bus shelter, eyes half closed, ignoring the heat from a shaft of sunlight falling between the trees and across my lap. He hummed under his breath, holding a plastic bag in his left hand. His right hand passed sporadically in front of his eyes, a familiar tick. "You doing ok over there, Red? You look mighty worn out." I opened my eyes the rest of the way and shrugged. "I'm fine, I guess. Just tired." "Those fellows giving you a tough time, huh?" "Always." "You tell them that I said to take care of my girl, or I'll haunt them when I'm dead."

I winced at that, which he must have seen because he sat down next to me and took me by the shoulders. I think he enjoys our moments as much as I do, likes being able to play the sage, because his cloudy eyes shone and his hands were steady, folded over my thin bones. "You don't ever stop giving people the chance to hurt you, Red, because if you close yourself all up you'll miss the ones that are trying to love you, too. And I'm allowed to die whenever I want--I've earned the right. But I don't plan on it any time soon, so don't you worry your pretty little head." He studied each of my eyes individually and nodded.

And I smiled at him and shook my head softly, but it was with that same hitch in my breath, remembering how empty that bench had looked when I stepped off the bus and found him absent.

(#1, #2, #3, #4)

Friday, July 13, 2007

I think that I accidentally left the keys to something secret with your skywriter, because things have been painted in smoke through your airspace that I don't remember letting out. And while I do have a habit of offering too much, that doesn't mean you have to pick it all up. There's only one china figure in this bull shop and you've left fingerprints all over it, but you don't want to keep it--that shelf by your door is already full, and what sits there probably won't break if you close the door too hard.

Sometimes the volume of near misses is nearly overwhelming, a softly suffocating pile of baby powder and good intentions. I am frequently afraid to open my eyes in case what I've accumulated scratches the delicate lenses.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The heat wave and its indifferent way of killing off my sleep have me feeling all hazy and insubstantial, as well as incredibly cranky and irritable and sometimes irrationally on the verge of tears. I'm being a real peach these last few days, is what I'm saying. As this is how I felt for most of my childhood, too, I can only assume that I would have been a better-tempered adolescent if I hadn't been living on that godforsaken swamp. The heat sucks the energy out of my bones and then refuses to get its hands off of me so that I can sleep and get it back, and I guess that's a good thing because I'm feeling a lot like poking the eyes out of everything I can find that has them. In the world. Only I can't muster up the willpower to do much besides a lot of complaining. It's lucky for us all that summer only lasts for a week here.

That no touching rule applies to you too, heat. Out of my shopping cart.

So to remind myself, a list of some things that are good:

Harold and Maude
whiskey sodas
funny hipsters
dusting off and trying again
not settling for "fine"
cute shoes
cute friends
going to Vegas in two weeks
pretending that the constructions guys can't see in my apartment because it is too hot for both clothes and caring
trying things twice
unrequitable crushes
giant sunglasses
deviled eggs
green clothes
making plans
bullying people into taking me fishing
the lean-in
oatmeal raisin cookies
stomach butterflies
outside butterflies

Monday, July 09, 2007

It's only really summer for about one week in Seattle, and that week is here. My western-facing apartment becomes as hot as the surface of the sun during these times, so if you need me for at least the next week I will be anywhere that is not here, up to and including: most of Capitol Hill, the North Pole, your house, inside an ice cream freezer. Bring plums.

In the meantime, I have stories that involve things like calling everyone in a room Balky, a boy attempting to use his uninvited genitals as a persuasive device, and misbehaving in new and vaguely epic ways. As it is only Monday, I can't imagine that things will do anything but get even more amusing.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

It's always 3:30 when I find myself more awake than any one girl ought to be unless she's got company, restless and uncomfortable and wanting to walk and go back to sleep at the same time. 3:30 fits like somebody else's wool sweater.

But I've seen a lot of 3:30 lately, tossing and turning, walking down to the water and back, pressing the Dick Tracy colors of my night times into the backs of my eyelids. I know that my nocturnal ambulations are probably a short recipe for a dramatic story, and maybe I feel a little too safe. Too invisible.

Except in the wrong hours my bed feels just as unsafe, haunted by the watery thump of a heart that may never have actually thumped. There were different words behind our same goodbyes.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th of July, internet! The lake is all full of boats and there are a million sexy people coming over to my apartment in a few hours to watch the fireworks.

My uncle once nearly lit me on fire on the 4th by accidentally ricocheting a bottle rocket off of a palm tree right towards me. I hope that all of your celebrations are casualty free. Mine too, for that matter.

Monday, July 02, 2007

I thought that I told you a story about a tall tree with antlers halfway up its trunk, left there by a deer that had lain down to die years before at its base. The tree grew up around them, absorbing the antlers and raising them above the earth, branches made out of what branches had never been made of before. That story always makes me think of flightless birds, about how they must look up and see their more evolutionarily endowed relatives and wonder what it is like to leave the ground. I would have told it to you watching the sun come up and make a new proposition to the land, only it looks like I mentioned it off to the right of you, on the typewriter or in a letter or written on a sugar packet in someone's diner.

Still, the antlers can wait. There are always new sunrises.