Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dear everyone,

Happy Halloween! For the second year in a row I am sick on Halloween, and that's alright; I don't ever want to be anything but a hyacinth girl on Halloween. Or, for that matter, ever. We are each our own ghosts.

I've been cooped up for the last couple of days, trying not to spread more germs than I have to, and it makes me restless. At the beginning of the summer I made a pact with some people, like in a 1980's summer camp movie, to take full control of the summer, to not get to this point of the year wondering what happened to summer 2007. And as a result, the last few months have been full of amazing days and nights, of adventures and champagne and frantic crazy talk. The last few months have been the greatest yet.

When I moved to Seattle I was sad to leave behind a group of people that I felt myself around, people that I could show my edges to without any judging. But I've found that in Seattle now, too, and am more prepared for it. I don't know what I'm going to do next, but whatever it is, it will be great. That's the only option.

In fall I always fall into a self-esteem rut, because it is cold and so I wear the same things all the time. They're just as cold as everything else I own, though, so for November I've resolved to do two things: wear my glasses in public more, and contribute to wardrobe remix a few times a week. I'd like to avoid the usual bottoming out, and ruining all of this momentum.

Especially since my favorite holiday is coming up, and should be celebrated in an expanded version this year, and I am excited. Excited to make things and to be things and to watch you turn into whatever you're going to be next, too. If we are all our own ghosts, then we should make our hauntings worthwhile.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

You know, back when I lived in Florida I would spend all winter with an awful, deep cough, bronchitis, or pneumonia. (And once, memorably, with both of those last two at once.) The air was so damp that whenever I'd get sick it would stick around in my lungs and linger. It doesn't happen anymore, which is good, but it doesn't make me any less annoyed that this almost-cold I've been fighting for the last couple of weeks has won and shown up and couched me. I am not a very pleasant sick girl, so I promise to be grouchy and uncommunicative for the next few days.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

In recovery. Baberaham Lincoln has a tall hat, goes to wild parties, and only goes for the big hangovers.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Just as I walked through the revolving door of the mall on Wednesday the fire alarm started going off, flashing and blaring and, in case anyone had missed the first two parts, also announcing stridently that there was a fire alarm going off. (My doctor is on the top floor of a mall, which is simultaneously one of the things that is so wrong and so right with this country.) I paused in the entrance, waiting to see if I needed to turn around and evacuate, but everyone continued with their business as though there was no alarm whatsoever screaming overhead. So I stepped on to the escalator and rode up the three floors, with the clamor going on the whole time, thinking about how thankful I was that the alarm started before I got to the doctor rather than while I was there. Little makes one feel more vulnerable than a fire alarm shouting while they're sitting in a cold room and wearing a paper dress. I arrived at the doctor and walked up to the window to check in, raising my voice to be heard over the noise, and the woman on the other side of the wall did the same, negotiating with me about which physician I was actually going to see.

It eventually stopped, although to all outward appearances it might never have started at all. Not a single person that I could see showed anything but blissful unconcern. I guess not one of us believed that the way we are going to die will be in a mall fire.

Later, the phlebotomist took one of my arms in her hands, squinted at the crook of my elbow, and sighed heavily, switching to a smaller needle. She wrapped the tourniquet around what passes for my bicep and waited for a vein to appear, and when one didn't she slid the needle in under my skin anyway. With one hand holding my arm steady and the other placed on top of what was presumably the tip of the needle she moved it halfway back out of the small hole in my skin and then thrust it back in, wiggling it from side to side and around and then back again. I broke out in a cold sweat and tried to look as far away from my arm as I could.

This continued for a few minutes, the retracting and re-rooting of the needle, before she finally went "tsk!" and said, "I'll have to try the other arm; this one is starting to bruise." (I thought a lot of things very loudly that weren't particularly polite. Being stabbed hurts.) She slipped the needle all the way back out and went to cover it with gauze when she suddenly stopped and squinted at my skin. "It's not even bleeding." Her voice was filled with disbelief. "I don't think I hit anything at all."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I've been so tired lately, internet, just completely run down and feeling on the verge of a cold that never seems to show up. I'm going to the doctor tomorrow for a long-scheduled check-up, but as a totally awesome alternative to just waiting and talking to the doctor, I've been self-diagnosing. A lot of my close friends have been feeling the same way, and I've decided that we're all dying of Legionnaire's disease. Because of all that time we've been spending in prison.

Hey internet, what are you going to be for Halloween? (I'm going to be Baberaham Lincoln.)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

We wandered out to Snohomish in the rain today to go to the farm, pick out pumpkins, and venture a little way into the corn maze. I like farms, although I don't think I want to spend more than an afternoon at one. Pigs and sheep and fake trout fishing are awfully interesting, though.

Friday, October 19, 2007

When I left the office this afternoon, I stepped out into the coldest, sunniest rainstorm I've seen yet. Whatever is magical about a warm sun shower goes right away when that rain is cold enough to be ice on the other side of town, and I was foolishly dressed for such weather, having left my rain boots at home.

I rolled up my jeans and squished down the block, my shoes quickly filling with water and a damp synthetic tang starting to rise from my jacket. I stopped short and stumbled a little, trying to avoid a crow's wing sitting in the middle of the sidewalk with the rest of the bird nowhere around. As I regained my balance and looked back up I noticed a rainbow spreading across the clouds still sitting to the north.

Thanks for that, sky. It made the rest of the walk home, with all of the dripping and shivering, almost worthwhile.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's the minutes that build up under your fingernails as you move through time, compiling moments into gritty half-moons that pack into crevasses and sit there, ticking. The look on your face when your meticulous hand-washing scrubs them away is the same one that I've seen on a child with a fistful of ice cream cone and the top scoop sitting forlorn in the dirt, and anyone who didn't know better would have thought you'd have learned eventually. Would have thought that you'd find a better way of collecting your moments than just passing your hands through space and hoping that something sticks. Would have thought that you found yourself fond of the loss and the sinking sensation it brought along.

But I have seen the bright orange of a semaphore flash in the back of your eyes as you pick up the soap, heard the hitch in your voice when you talk about becoming a cartographer. I know the romance of ultima thule and way the pads of your fingers itch to pin it down and surround it with fantastic monsters. I think that the reason you wash away your built up moments is really because you think your plumbing is all full of monsters, monsters who eat minutes, and sending them down the drain is much nicer than losing them to the belly of a monster. At least if they're in the water, you might get to drink them again someday.

We are frequently a little too serious for our own good. Next time perhaps I will remember when to say when.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Oh, hello there, fall. I spent some time on Saturday afternoon sitting on my balcony, reading a book that tells all of my stories, and listening to your cold approach. I put my hands against my collarbone and didn't feel the humming of the Angry Robot, took a walk and savored a mouthful of diesel fumes and sweet decay when a leafblower kicked up a cloud of fallen leaves in my path. All of the strings I've held so tight for all of these months in the sun have unstrung and I am exhausted. Everything has changed and nothing has changed, and its all done or not-done so at a remarkable speed.

Lake Peigneur was an 11-foot-deep freshwater lake that sat on top of a salt mine, until one day when someone accidentally drilled through the top of the mine and drained all of the water. The water fell away so quickly that the force of it reversed the flow of a canal that led out to the Gulf of Mexico, and two days later Lake Peigneur was 1,300 feet deep and salty, home to an entirely new ecosystem. Just like that. Just-like-that is how all of my changing and not-changing seems to happen, filling all of my lakes with never before seen fish.

I'm happy to see you, fall, and very happy in general. This is not something that I've ever been good at expressing, because I'm more than half afraid that admitting it will jinx it, and tomorrow everyone I know will get hit by a bus and a stray space ship will take down the Space Needle and all of my hair will fall out. Twice.

But when you remember me, in that dream you always have where you are at a party and you don't know anyone, but that person in the gorilla suit looks like they might be familiar, I want you to remember me like this: windkissed and rainkissed and kissedkissed, green-coated and tasting of whiskey and champagne and salty winter soups. Back to mostly touching people with my palms, pretending to be Godzilla, making plans, and talking to friendly strangers.
This is what I'll need you to remind me of, tomorrow, when we're bald and huddling in the ruins of the EMP, hiding from space invaders.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Something about this chilly-raining-sunny-raining weather has me listening to "Baby Britain" by Elliott Smith over and over and over again. Am I the only one who has this problem? And can it even be considered a problem, since it's such a great song?

Hey, Seattle? I don't remember taking back the no touching rule. In fact, I'm pretty sure that there's only one name on my dance card right now. You're still sort of freaking me out, Seattle, so much so that I threw a bunch of ice at one of you last night, and only refrained from throwing the whole glass because it would have been terribly rude to my dear bar staff. And I'm not really a 'throwing stuff at strangers' sort of girl. (I am a 'throwing stuff at friends' sort of girl, though.) So if you could just take your fingerprints and climb right back out of my shopping cart? That would be great. Thanks.

The thing is, you know, that I like all sorts of touching from all sorts of people that I like. I'm all for hugs and friendly socks on the arm and 87 games of thumb wrestling and twister. It's just that for some reason strangers always want to touch me, to lay a hand on my arm or my knee or whatever, and I am Not OK with that. I vote against touching until I've decided if your fingerprints are really something that I want on my skin.

I realize that I have a unique talent for starting my evening calmly drinking champagne and pomegranate soda and talking about the weather and ending it somehow across town being psychoanalyzed by an annoying blond guy in an ugly sweater and introducing myself as "Sarah," and being completely sober the entire time, but still. (Remind me to tell you sometime about the night this summer that I started out eating pie and talking about shoes in Roosevelt and ended up in Ballard telling a drummer from California in a band I hadn't heard to please put his equipment away as it was not coming in contact with my body, thanks, and then escaping with the cab driver that we had convinced to come to the party with us. It's a prime example of this phenomenon, and also wicked funny. Although now you've already heard most of the best parts.) I don't really have a point here, except maybe that I should become a girl who throws things at strangers, because it seems to keep room for the holy ghost between me and the interesting assortment of total freaks that I meet on my adventures. Maybe I should become an enforcer.

Maybe what I need is a little pink switchblade and some silver-plated brass knuckles. Just in case.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Last night I found myself penned into a booth by a group of the douchiest of douchebags, who kept going to the bathroom in a group like sixteen year old girls. Only to do coke instead of to fix their lipgloss and talk about boys. I'm not sure where they came from because they certainly weren't invited, and they were all wearing baseball caps. After we escaped I sort of hoped they'd all be wiped out in a freak napalming incident, but no such luck.

My second and last beginning sewing class was tonight. The next one is learning how to make skirts, next month, and until then there's still work to be done on my pants. It's too bad that this project is less interesting and full of bloodshed than the ship in a bottle, but I suppose that's appropriate--I'm not attempting to recover from a broken heart, I'm just learning how to make some clothes.

I was thinking about that tonight, being blown home along the same blocks that I always walk. Near my apartment I ran into a nice man with a nice dog that I first ran into before the ship in a bottle was thought of. Everything seems to go in very, very small circles.
What I need from you, internet, is advice: Say you were a person with a couple of potentially awesome radio mixtapes from the early '90's, and no way to listen to them. What would you do?

Monday, October 08, 2007

I am often unreasonably afraid to enter most rooms, paralyzed by the void on the other side of all closed doors. My senses are each already overloaded with memories, and I worry about what will happen when I simply can't fit in another one. Every whorl of cloud reminds me of something, each landmark is populated by a little ghost, every scent connects to another taste. All of the jukeboxes in the world are just waiting in corners for me to wander too near, waiting to trip me and sit on my chest and crush me with all of the songs that make me think of someone. Which, let's face it, is all of the songs.

Since the rains came back and I can see without squinting, I've been able to feel my brain again. I spend a lot of my hours under the spell of feckless call and response over glasses of whiskey and slowly melting ice, the rings of condensation lit from all around, and I love them. Fiercely. And it is only now that I can touch the corners of my brain once more that I realize how much of my space has been taken up with those memories, hours replacing other worse times, everything reformatted into something better. Boxes and boxes of what used to be wallpapered over by what is now.

What tortoise became the oldest, once Darwin's tortoise died? Why has no one thrown it a party, wherever it is?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Internet, I went roller skating last night. I stopped going roller skating in probably the sixth or seventh grade, and I assumed that everyone else did, too; that skating rinks are populated entirely by new rounds of 11-year-olds. But this is so very much not true. Last night was adult-only skate and those people were nearly all people who had just kept skating every week, spending countless Thursday nights speeding around and around to Top 40 hits. I am completely in love with them; in several different parallel universes, those are my people. The woman in the high-waisted mom jeans and poodle haircut? All of those people skating a line-dance? That lady in white jeans and a high ponytail? Totally my people.

I can't skate very fast, but I didn't fall down at all, so I consider the evening a triumph. Roller skating as an adult is a lot more fun than it was in the 5th grade, which was when I went most often. Back then we'd gather a group of girls and go to the "all-night" skate, which lasted until about 2 am. We'd all tell our parents that we were spending the night at Becky's, since her mom was always gone, and then put on our best short shorts and tank tops and go looking for boys. It always took a couple of rounds to work up the courage, but my friends were bold and eventually we would join a group of 7th or 8th grade boys who were usually drinking rum out of a red coke cup. At some point Becky would go off to breathe heavily in a corner with one of them and I would sit awkwardly on the outside of the rest of the group until it was time to go home. And then when we got back to her trailer Becky's sister's boyfriend would tell us scary stories about Cabbage Patch dolls until we all fell asleep in a heap.

Last night was fraught with much less angst and much more delight, and a complete lack of awkward pawing in dark corners.

(PS, I hate you, Seattle housing market.)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

When I was a very small girl, we had a pet tarantula. It was named Genghis Khan, and it had at one point belonged to one of my uncles. Genghis was a terrific pet, quiet and light pink, and it ticked when it crawled on your hand. But it does get cold in Florida every now and again, and we didn't have money for things like heat, so Genghis froze to death one winter. I had always assumed that he just ran away, and never really bothered to research it further until this last trip to Florida.

My mother looked at me funny when I asked--I doubt she'd thought about that tarantula in years. Next, I plan to ask her what really happened to my dog, that day I came home from school and it was gone. At the time, they told me that my dad had sold it, which seems like an awfully mean trick to play on a little girl.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I bet that you would die before running a finger along those circles under your eyes, before admitting to being run-down and tired and maybe a little bit weathered. No one wants to hear about that time that you made the winning touchdown or saved a baby in a burning building, and those stories linger brownish gray under the curve of each of your lower eyelids, waiting.

But I see them there and know just what they are, and if I cared just a tiny bit more I would slice open those pouches and set those stories free, squeezing that space below your eyes like an orange and collecting all of your words in a pile like sticks destined for a fire.