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.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Oh, right. The rest of the weekend held a pet parade led by a guy dressed as Flash Gordon, an all-nighter at the speakeasy, during which we ran out of money and I decided to go over there and gamble with those guys' money, and a miniature sidewalke parade with a unicycle and a saxophone, viewed from above during the worst margarita I've ever had. And, today, the near total loss of my voice, which I'm blaming on the awful margarita, rather than, say, all the whiskey and the six million cigarettes I smoked on Saturday night. I totally should have predicted all of that.

It was one of those great weekends where, out of nowhere, everything just got increasingly weirder and more out of control. Certainly worth spending the whole day communicating mostly via hand signals and facial expressions.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

One of my adorable old roommates was in town for approximately 24 hours, on her way from Alaska to Boston, where she'll be getting her Master's at Harvard. We spent almost the whole time looking at and talking about books, eating things that were delicious, laughing, and drinking. While we were out we ran into Phil. I love how easily my old friends fit into my new life, and I wish they could come together more often.

Today in space two boys came in and hung out for a while. One of them asked us if we wanted balloon hats, as though there was any way that we could have said no. (Actually, that would probably be an excellent wooing technique. Fellows, take note: the ladies always love impromptu balloon animal-ing.) He pulled a whole mess of balloons and a pump out of his bag and, sure enough, made us hats.

On the way home, the man who carries a ferret in his fanny pack was on the bus, holding forth about the superior nature of ferrets as pets. The lady who was sitting across from him didn't appear to have asked, but she nodded politely the whole time anyway.

What else do you have for me, weekend? Am I going to find myself wrestling some gators? Running into my first boyfriend? Heading over the state line?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

For a few moments I was sure that my heart was in the last stages of St. Vitus' Dance, thumping and twisting in my chest so erratically and hard that I found myself sure someone across the room could hear it, face flooding with embarrassment and confusion. I looked at my hands as though my fingernails were magic mirrors that could tell me what to do.

I like ghosting home through the empty streets in weekday taxicabs. I like that for the length of the road home no one knows just where I am, that that perfumed car with its ripped upholstery is the whole world. I'd like to travel the universe in a taxicab.

On the one hand I have too much, and on the other nothing at all, and clapping just won't make the two meet in the middle. I want to cut these strings and let my heart free to continue its dance released from the confines of my ribcage, a bloody throbbing fist moonwalking and doing the cabbage patch and not hurting anymore, but it's all tangled up in the threads you left behind.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Hey there, Florida, I'm coming to your house at the end of next month, so if you could do your best not to be so hot and humid that I want to go on a really slow, stop-for-a-mint-julep-because-I've-got-the-vapors, murderous rampage, I'd appreciate it. I'm planning on seeing some sassy grandmothers, snacking on a delicious new baby, visiting the pool hall and the beach at night, hanging out with some of my favorite exboyfriends and funny girls, shopping with my mom, and more inside jokes than you can shake a stick at. This will all be a lot easier if I'm not in jail for heat-inspired murderin'.

By the way, anyone who says that you can kill fruit flies by putting out a little cup with whiskey in it is lying. Unless my fruit flies are mad that I used the Jack instead of the Makers, in which case, whatever fruit flies. Relatedly, I should maybe stop taking housekeeping advice from friendly homeless guys.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

This summer so far has been one of overfilled and spilled drinks, of House of the Rising Sun covers or songs that should have been covers. The insides of the cheap black flats I've been wearing all summer are frequently coated in spilled drinks, so that if one was so inclined they could read the nights of my summer like sticky tree rings. Layers of whiskey from nights at the Cha Cha, thin spreads of beer spilled down a leg by clumsy or enthusiastic boys. Champagne slopped out of glasses during overzealous conversational gesturing. The shoes are sticky and a little gross, but friendly and comfortable too.

Scientists started studying the mechanics of smiling by experimenting with electricity on freshly severed heads. It's always most interesting when my "what if's" turn out to be "rather nots." I'm pretty sure I'm unravelling, which is confusing because I am usually a raveller, but it's funny how when you step out from between the things you're taking care of they all fall together. Like the walls of a lean-to when the roof has gone.

Friday, August 03, 2007

My birthday is in one month. Maybe I'll have a party. In the meantime, some lists:

Things I want for my birthday and will probably get:

friendly pats on the back and socks on the arm
more hugs

Things I want for my birthday and probably won't get:

fancy paintings
a pet dinosaur
an all expenses paid trip to anywhere
all the good bands at Bumbershoot covering "When Sunny Gets Blue"

Things I do not want for my birthday

a samurai end table
a punch in the nose
all the ice cream anyone can eat
a hangover

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I'd like to find a way to smell like warm blackberries all the time. It's just exactly the time of year where the bramble I walk past on my way to and from work is in the sun all day long and it smells sweet and perfect. I'd lay down in it, if there weren't so many thorns.

I can feel myself building up to a major case of the Crazypants Jabbers, which means two things: this round of No Reasons is finally starting to slack off, and I will probably invite each and every one of you to elope with me to Coney Island sometime soon. Feel free to say yes; Coney Island is for winners. Bonus points if you let me wear my mustache during the ceremony--I'd do it anyway, but it would be nice if you agreed.

And then I want to make you all a secret tower out of cotton candy and seltzer water from the fake flowers on a clown's lapel, a secret tower where we could write songs on a kick drum and pen sonnets on our knuckles. I know that somewhere behind your forehead you speak my language.