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.