Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008, you were a total asshole, and I am not sorry to see you go.

I mean, of course I had some serious fun--I always have fun--and there were Tuesday nights and Sunday brunches at Linda's and shotter pops and laughing so hard my face hurt and making out and Elvis singing to a chicken and mustaches and going to LA and Delaware and Philly and hayrides and sledding and sewing and an ever-increasing amount of high fives. And there was Election Night, which was one of the greatest nights of my life so far.

But there was also all of the crazy and broken and crying in cabs, the getting dismissed and played and freaking stood up for the first time ever, and spending all of this time just sick and tired of myself. Man, am I annoying. Plus, 2008, you took my grandfather, who by all rights I should have had for years to come, or at least have been able to say goodbye to. I am pissed that you took the chance of knowing my grandfather away from my hypothetical future robot children, and I am really angry that you did this to my very important grandma, who has been grief-stricken and just got out of the hospital yesterday on what would have been her wedding anniversary. So, really, to hell with you, 2008.

But, whatever. After all, as Rumi said, "strong hooks hold you in this wind," and as always the only really important part is that I am surrounded by amazing people, healthy and mostly happy and definitely safe, and I really should just let the rest of it go and focus on being useful to all of the people that are left.

The only thing I did of real personal value was my solo trip to Italy which I pretended very hard to be cavalier about and which actually scared me silly. And in the end it turned out that I loved being somewhere foreign all alone for that time, feeling a very specific sort of brave and the same sort of lonely, and more importantly feeling all of my colors calm and shift. Even now I miss that quiet with an ache just below my breast bone.

in 2008 I wrote this and this and this that are all maybe not so bad. And from what I can tell, all of the tiny wrinkles appearing around my eyes and nose and mouth seem to be falling in smiling sort of patters. I think that all counts as victory.

Happy new year, internet! May your fireworks go off on time and the person that you kiss at midnight be prettier than you deserve.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Stevenson said that Treasure Island started as a map, that he was drawing one day, filling in names and measurements and notations on a map, taken with the spirit of the map itself, and realized on looking at it that what he had was actually a book. And then that first map was lost, and he had to make another, but by then the story was written and the map had to be made to fit it rather than the other way around. And that second one was never Treasure Island to Stevenson, not in the way the first one was, even though it's the map that has been the adventure to generations of people since.

I bought calendars this weekend, for my apartment and my office, although everyone I know looks at me like I've just told them about inventing this great thing called the wheel when I mention it. I suppose that computers and telephones are supposed to have taken over these functions for me, but I love calendars almost as completely as I love maps. Calendars are maps, really, maps of each day of each month laid out in an orderly way, hung on the wall with my handwriting marking the spot. I know that if I follow what my calendar tells me to do--Saturdays here, dinners with people there, shows and brunches and doctor appointments in other places--I will come out of the month with some idea of where I have been.

And that's part of what's so magical about maps of all sorts, honestly, that they manage to place tangible points on which we can fix our memories. Maps give us both bigger and smaller views of everything we can and can't see, and if perspective ends at the tip of each of our noses at the very least maps let us remember that there are still other views beyond that. Other oceans and towns and tiny tiny galaxies. They point us to where we want to go because maps are smarter than we are and know those things even when we don't, and they're always waiting to tell us.

Books are the same thing, of course, with tiny maps hidden in the spaces between all the letters and words. Maps to the vistas inside ourselves that we wouldn't have otherwise realized were there, maps to the tiny ladders between our brains and the brain of the author and the brains of everyone else everywhere, too.

The map that I think I'm missing is the one to where the adventure has been all along.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

As a rule, 2008 has blown. In between all of the awful parts, though, there was a lot of fun and a whole mess of laughing. I'd say more, but honestly it's time right now for another nap. We'll talk about all of that later, I'm sure, but for now here is what 2008 looked like in pictures from me:

and in some of my favorite pictures from my pals (this one involves a whole lot of my big muppet head):

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It is raining more than snowing now, and in the next few days both the snow and my happy snow face will be gone. All of the snow has caused a lot of trouble for a lot of people, but it has kept me almost completely out of work for a week and given me days and days of excellent crunching noises, and I will be sad to see it go. (Although I will not be sad to be able to finally leave my apartment after dark, when everything that melted during the day unmelts and turns my hill into a solid sheet of ice.) Between the snow and election night, there have been so many people smiling on the sidewalks lately, high fiving and helping each other out, and that is perhaps the best part.

Shortly I'll be on my way to trek through the slush up to a friend's house, to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas celebrating at the bars whiskey style and next to her fire watching movies. I hope that all of you have lovely quiet Christmases as well, snug and cozy and warm and full of tofurkey and lil smokeys and champagne.

Happy snow face

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Turns out, this weather in this town at this point in time is exactly perfect for my disposition. There is a crust of ice over the snow that makes the most satisfying noise in the history of noises crunching through it, and today I walked and walked in the snow to have brunch with my funny and attractive friends and later explore a new bar. And then eventually I crunched back home, alone on the streets and running through empty lawns shin deep in uncrunched snow, watching the gloaming settle over everything, listening to Billie Holiday sing "Stormy Blues" over and over and feeling exactly the right amount of melancholy.

I'm back to this tight feeling in my chest like something is about to happen, and though this feeling so often proves false I am still excited for the possibility of the next big thing. Maybe this is the next big thing, the crunching and the lightly blue and the sledding with strangers. Maybe it will finally bring entirely good things instead of bad things I have to remodel into good things. Maybe the snow is just going to my head. The anticipation makes me giddy, and the weather appears to be in full support of that.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A few nights ago I ran home through empty streets late at night, lungs straining in the cold, songs of rebellion singing low in my ears. I only run when no one is looking, uncoordinated, elbows and knees moving ungracefully. Sometimes the feel of running is reason enough to run. Just as I hit the bottom of my hill the first flakes of the morning's snow sifted down from the sky and wetly kissed my cheeks.

On Thursday, waiting for my sledding companion, I turned a corner intending to get coffee only to unexpectedly nearly collide with my favorite tall-dark-and-handsome. Confused and flustered I immediately turned another corner and found myself caught in the crossfire of a knee-high snowball fight. It paused, considering, while the snow layered itself on my hat, and then the smallest combatant shrugged and threw the snowball in its hand at my shin and then ran. I gave chase, staggering through the snow, until we both fell into a little drift and lay there, laughing. When we stood we were both white from head to toe.

Yesterday afternoon I stood at my door and watched the dark and the calm sky. A crow flew up and perched on a branch on the other side of the fence, and almost immediately another crow landed on the branch directly above it. The branch bent and shook a large clump of snow right on to the head of the lower crow who shook himself indignantly and flew up to the branch above his companion, sending a clump of white down on to his back. Both crows cawed loudly and flew away.

Sometimes I think the world puts on little shows just for me.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hi. There are zillions of snowflakes outside and I have had two and a half snow days and though people who hail from snowier climates have been doing their level best to grump on my parade, it has been awesome. I am very very busy making snowlumps and throwing snowballs and going SLEDDING for the first time and sustaining tragic sledding injuries and getting in snowball fights with packs of miscellaneous children and taking incredibly slow penguin walks and drinking warm things and reading books under blankets.

Anyone who says that sledding in a skirt doesn't work has clearly never gone sledding with me, because I managed it with aplomb and without exposing the top seams of my tights even once. I would claim to be a sledding prodigy if it weren't for all of those injures, and my total terror about the whole careening downhill thing. Sledding is scary.

I'm sure this would be very easy to get tired of, and it looks like we're in for something worse in the next couple of days, but for the time being at least I am very much in favor of the weather forcing fun to happen. Freezing cold with a purpose I am completely ok with.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Seattle is stupidly cold right now, and I am honestly not even remotely equipped to deal with a week where the temperature never gets above freezing. This is part of why I moved to Seattle, in fact: the temperate winters. It's supposed to snow for a night and then go back to being 40 degrees and raining, and this relentless cold with no rain is not what I signed up for. If this was what I wanted out of weather, I would have moved to Chicago.

When I was a kid and would leave dishes of water outside to never get frozen, because it never got cold enough, I would make my mom bring me my school clothes so that I could get dressed under the blankets in the warm. (The average low in Tampa in December is 52 degrees. It might hit freezing once every other year.) This week I have been sleeping with my clothes in the bed with me, although trying to put them on and not knock over the covers is much more difficult now that I'm a little bit bigger. I've been wearing pants every day, and tights under my pants. Every blanket in my apartment is on my bed, and I'm considering investing in a heating pad, or a dog, or a date. Last night I was trying to cut fabric and had to stop because I couldn't feel my hands, since my baseboard heaters are no match for this cold. My hair is all full of static and my skin is dry. I am very, very cold, and not at all happy about it, is what I'm saying.

Complaining about the cold helps me stay warm, though.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The thing you don't learn growing up in Florida is how the first snow of the winter changes everything for as long as it lasts. It softens and dampens and muffles, smooths out all of the edges, on streets and sidewalks and inside heads.

I walked up to the bar in it last night, surrounded by the soft rattle of the snow falling, faulty hat curled inside my purse, happily listening to sad songs about love and feeling only the gentle brush of snowflakes on my head. The streets were mostly empty but all of the windows glowed, and in the park snowball fights were won and lost in minutes.

Everything is iced over now, promising a treacherous walk to the office over unsalted sidewalks. This week is vowing to be desperately cold and mostly dry, and getting out of bed will likely be nearly impossible. But that first snowfall was pretty close to perfect.

Friday, December 12, 2008

In the deep ocean there's a creature called the Pacific viperfish, one of the scary ones that is usually not so big but can be six feet long. And which have in any case evolved teeth so large that they no longer fit inside the fish's head, thin spiny teeth so long that if the viperfish lives for enough years it can stab its own eye out.

It has grown these fangs so that there's no chance of prey escaping once it's been caught, but the problem with searching out food in the dark and the cold is that if the viperfish miscalculates and latches on to something too big it is stuck just as surely as its catch, unable to either release it or eat it. Dying, therefore, just as surely as the prey latched in its jaws.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I am not feeling even moderately Christmassy these days. Christmas has never been my holiday, coming as it does so soon after the greatest of holidays, and I worked in retail for too many years to not have a deep-seated dislike for Christmas music. Unrelated to the holiday, and really to anything else, I have been spending most of my days being wildly grumpy and stomping a lot, as well as doing a lot of sneezing, and sometimes running through one of the remaining dwarfs just to shake things up a little.

With luck it'll snow this weekend, which should improve my disposition at least a little bit. This winter has been so very dry.

The other day Jay said to me, "Please describe yourself in six words -- no more or less -- six on the nose." I still haven't been able to manage this--brevity is not my strong suit--but I was talking to Captain Toby of the HMS Poor Judgement about it earlier. Toby has spent approximately the last 11 year watching me make a fool of myself, so he had a few ideas. "Looks like a mouse, but bigger." "Warning: dangerous curves ahead. Approach cautiously." "Contains dangerous band of murderous psychopaths." (To which I wonder, what other kind of band of murderous psychopaths is there?) There were others. Six words is not a lot, and yet also it seems too many. Especially since there were seven dwarfs.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Website, today you are five. I guess that means I should be thinking about where to send you to kindergarten in the fall.

We are still together mostly because I am an OCD sort of person and you have become as much a compulsion as re-checking my front door constantly to see if it's locked. I need everything to have a place, and you have become the place where certain kinds of thinking go. I have other worse habits to get rid of before I start to work on getting rid of you.

We've been together for several relationships and many miscellaneous adventures with the opposite sex, two big international trips, a few major illnesses, a handful deaths, and all but the first few months of this insane discovery adventure, where I quit everything I knew and moved 3,000 miles away to a town that had no friends or job waiting. It's been a big five years, and a whole lot of fun. We have written a bunch of nonsense in the past five years, but maybe we have figured a few things out along the way.

Hm. Maybe in honor of this anniversary, we should play that question game again.

Friday, December 05, 2008

You remember when they took the backing off of the Unicorn Tapestries and uncovered colors that hadn't seen the light in 500 years, right? And then they took a zillion tiny pictures and tried to piece them all together, except it turned out that when they took the tapestries off the wall, they changed. Started to breathe. Gravity had been working on them one way for so long, and when given the chance they stretched out their spaces and twisted their fibers until looking at them in pieces meant that their stitches showed.
Of course, once their backing fabric was replaced and they went back on the wall the changes were mostly lost to memory and digital pits. Still, for a little while those threads were free from the pull that they had always known.

Although I shouldn't, I like it when people carve names and hearts on young trees. I like that as the trees get older and taller the names and hearts stretch and stretch until you can only see the suggestion of them like a whisper of the romances that used to be. The names may or may not still be together off of the tree, but on them the feelings that make tree carvings necessary are always there.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I read somewhere, once, that when the Berlin Wall came down the people of West Berlin met the people of East Berlin at the now open spaces with bananas, because in East Berlin bananas were a delicacy. Big yellow bundles of welcome back to the world.

I remember one night, walking bareheaded in the thinly falling snow, and the streetlight made the flakes glow in a nimbus around your head like you'd just had a really good idea. I was only as tall as your chest and pretty sure there was no matching glow around my head, so I reached up into your halo. I think I was expecting the light to warm my fingers, but they met only more snow, and you flinched from my unexpected movement.

They say that humans don't spontaneously combust, but that when they get lit on fire the heat melts the fat inside their skin and then their clothes soak it all up, acting like a candle, burning hot and low for hours and hours. When it's done with little else in the room is burned but the whole body and its bones are gone, turned to rubble, leaving only sometimes part of a leg behind. None of that really gets the point across like spontaneous human combustion, as far as images go. Far better to burst into flames unprovoked than to accidentally spark and then belabor the point.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Whenever I'm waiting for test results, even minor ones, I find myself drifting off into thinking about all the other people out there waiting for test results too. This whole community, connected by nothing more than bitten fingernails and escalating imaginary conversations, tons and tons of people all hoping for good news. And how for some portion of those people life is about to change forever, while the rest will soon move past and forget this blip.

Mornings when the fog covers the Space Needle are always uncomfortable mornings for me, because the Space Needle is so much a part of my daily routine--one of the first things I do when I wake up is look out the window, at the lake and the Needle, to make sure that nothing has happened to my city overnight. (And to check if it's raining.) I am less uneasy when fog covers the whole of Lake Union and makes everything look like a Japanese horror movie. I expect things to go wrong then, but with only the Needle covered there's no telling what only the sky could do.
Yesterday the fog was thick on the lake, but not thick enough to completely hide a line of boats with Christmas lights floating slowly north. In fact, from here I could likely see them better than they could see themselves.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Joe's turkducken is a brilliant creation for many reasons, but the main one is that he makes a stuffing to match each bird so that none of the birds taste like the others. This frankenbird is art in poultry, and I am thrilled to be eating sandwiches made out of it for days.

The only trouble with a turducken is that all of the birds are de-boned for maximum stuffing capability, so there's no wishbone to be broken. Josh's tofurkey promised fake wishbones, but turned out to be made only of lies. I'm not sure what I would have wished for in any case, so maybe that's all for the best.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tomorrow we're going to wander around a table full of food like in a Dickens novel, all covered with birds and cheeses and bread and wine, all warm and safe, fielding phone calls and text messages from people who are also warm and safe but elsewhere. Not just well-fed, but overly fed. Stuffed, and only capable of watching Step Up 2 for the eleventh time and imitating the puppy cam yet again.

And this is perhaps what I am most thankful for, to have the great good fortune of being safe and warm and loved and full, in times when so many everywhere are none of these things.

Happy Thanksgiving, internet!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Shockingly, I have come out of this weekend with an enhanced version of the cold I started on last week. This is almost certainly a direct result of doing things like coming home at dawn after piling onto a couch like the puppy cam with a bunch of my friends and kissing all manner of people, and I accept full responsibility, because it was awesome. I should probably learn to comport myself with more decorum, but there's time for that later, when there isn't so much fun to be had. After all, it's not like anyone ever looks back on their life and thinks, man, I wish I had had less fun. I could really use some more frown lines.

Honestly, I just can't think of a better way to be spending this section of my life than by drinking champagne at a tables full of people who are funny and passionate and creative. These are the times to enjoy, and sleeping and head colds can wait until later. In the meantime I will be romping harum scarum all over Seattle.

Tonight we're having a pre-Thanksgiving potluck with a bunch of people that I won't see on The Day itself. Because I don't know if you've heard, but Frankenbird Day is this week, and I will spend all of it cooking and cuddling with the dog and watching dance-off movies and laughing and probably playing Rock Band really badly.

This is what I plan to be paying attention to for now. In matters of the heart, I am on hiatus.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My counselor called a few days ago to let me know that today is National Survivors of Suicide Day, in case I wanted to go to Redmond or Tacoma and talk to strangers about my dead ex boyfriend. (I didn't.) In a little over a month it'll be a year since Dream killed himself, and I can say without hesitation that it has been the hardest year of my life.

I am a girl with the arrogant trait of taking blame for things that no one has offered blame for, for seizing burdens that no one has given up. This year has been a constant fight to get not just over but past that, because it would have destroyed me this time. It was a fight to stop feeling guilty for ending a bad relationship with a good person, and to stop feeling guilty for needing to cut off communication with him in the couple of weeks between our breakup and his suicide. I didn't kill Dream, Dream killed himself, and even today I have to remind myself of that regularly.

Even still I often feel like poison.

In any case, I am spectacularly lucky to have the people in my life that I do, that all of those friends and family and strangers rallied around me and kept up a constant stream of support. Not a single person ever let me feel like I was burdening them with my grieving and recovery, up to and including the night that my next door neighbor heard me crying through the wall and came over at 2 am to make sure everything was ok. In January I quoted Love is a Mixtape where he says, "You lose a certain kind of innocence when you experience this type of kindness. You lose your right to be a jaded cynic. [...] People kept showing me unreasonable kindness, inexplicable kindness, indefensible kindness. People were kind when they knew that nobody would ever notice, much less praise them for it...I had no idea how to live up to that kindness." And that has never stopped being true. I don't know how I ever deserved such kindness, but this is not a gift horse whose mouth I am going to open.

Although I have dated a little bit since Dream I haven't yet had another relationship, and I am constantly rehearsing that conversation in my head, the past relationships conversation, where I have to admit that my last boyfriend committed suicide just after we broke up. This is always going to be a part of who I am, now, and it has shaded my color just a little. It will never go away, no matter how far into the background it fades.

It always gets easier as life moves on, and I've tried to use the experience as a reason to grow deeper, to try harder to live with deliberation and kindness, to not waste this time that I have here. Henry Miller said, "What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such." I think that's the only way to make getting through this worthwhile, to not have wasted the lessons of this terrible year.

(PS, Jon Madison also has a SOS post up.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I am on the exhaustion plan this week despite my oncoming cold, because apparently I didn't learn anything at all from my throat infection in March, back when my throat was so swollen that all of my speech was muffled and thick and sounded like a bad Kermit the Frog impression, and my doctor took one look and gave me a fistful of vicodin. I don't heal very quickly, and spending a lot of time in crowded rooms full of germy strangers is not going to help me improve, although I would prefer to avoid a repeat of March's experience. (Although, for the record, none of this week should involve ugly male strippers or shotter pops or running into exboyfriends outside of strip clubs or Canadians taking off their pants in the street, like the weekend before that epically disgusting round of illness did. So maybe I'm safe.)

What the next week will involve will be a whole mess of shows, at the Showbox and Neumos and Sole Repair, and a last-minute visit from my favorite girl in San Fransisco, and a hilarious dinner party, and probably a lot of whiskey and champagne, and hopefully also a whole lot of soup. I'm getting a little alarmed whenever I look at my calendar, because there are a bunch of other things that I also need to put on there even though there are no open days left, but at least it keeps me from staring at my telephone that is stubbornly not ringing.

All of which is just to say that I am waiting for a phone call that I am not getting, and if I have to infect the entire Seattle metro area with head colds to avoid thinking about it, well, that's just what I'll do.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Constantly washing up on the white sand beaches where I grew up were tiny clams called coquina. It's not hard to get tossed along by the drag of the sea when you're so small, and each retreat of the waves would leave the sand strewn with their soft pastel shells. They would immediately and speedily rebury themselves in the dirt, heading back toward the water. It was easy to find them if you dug up a whole deep shovelful of sand, but individually they were always a lot faster than we were, always just below where we thought they would be.

Near the roots of the mangrove trees on the bay coast behind my grandparent's house lived sand crabs, who vanished almost as suddenly as they were seen into holes they'd dug in the ground. Sand crabs can hold their breath for six months, and so they had no interest in popping back out to check if we were still there. Where the ground had once been covered with scuttling legs was suddenly only emptiness and dismayed seabirds. I like to imagine them gossiping by clicking their little claws and listening closely at the walls of their tunnels, talking in crab Morse code.

In China, Scott and I met a man at a noisy crowded nightclub who had learned English in Ireland and therefore tried to speak to us in a garbled Chinese-Irish accent. The only word the three of us had in common was "Budweiser", but it seemed to be enough.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I have no head at all for heights, although you wouldn't know it by the way I keep climbing up to the top of the wrong buildings and peering down, just to make sure the ground is still there. I like the feeling of spinning, and it seems that the only way to get near to that is to trick my own brain. Outside of my head the world has a tendency to stay disconcertingly still.

Sometime in the last few days I tripped over my big stupid feet and fell back into this rut, which must be following me, or else I'm going in circles. I splashed down knee deep in memories, memories that are staining my tights and seeping into my shoes, memories which do not smell as good as one would think that they should. Feelings are pretty boring, especially since I keep having the same ones over and over again, and I think I have already used every single word I know in every possible order. I must be going in circles. (Fortunately, next week is Thanksgiving, and nothing hauls a girl out of a rut like a roomful of friends and a bunch of dance-off movies and a plate of meat wrapped in meat wrapped in meat and covered with meat.)

But you know what I've been thinking. In Trinidad there's a member of the order Embioptera, the web spinners, that makes sheets of silk with its forearms. It uses them to build a tent wrapped around trees, and it lives under these webs, safe from predators, waiting for rainstorms so that it can chew tiny holes in its covering and drink from the droplets. They might not be the cutest of creatures, but I think they have the right idea.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My favorite sign today was held by a small boy with giant eyes and brown curls. He had clearly made the sign himself, and it read, "Marrie hoo you want." All around us today were families of all kinds, and tons of kids who had made their own signs. This morning my hangover and I walked up the hill to my best gay's apartment and we rallied and then marched under a clear blue sky, because he deserves the same opportunities for joy and misery as I do. It all no longer felt futile and frustrating. It felt essential.

When we reached downtown, at the bottom of the hill, there were people as far ahead of us and as far behind us as we could see. We marched with something more than 6,000 people today, and I will tell you for free that seeing that giant line of people stretched for blocks and blocks and blocks made me all wet in the eyes.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tomorrow, I'm going to my first protest/rally, to protest a vote that was made in a state that I don't live in. Which feels futile, and frustrating, but not as futile or as frustrating as it feels outrageous that a state constitution is potentially going to be amended to take away rights that people already had. Florida is disappointing too--and I donated just as much to the No On Prop 2 campaign as I did to No On Prop 8--but California is terrifying.

I think that this will all end sooner rather than later, but now feels like the moment where to stay silent is to agree. We like to do this, in America, this thing where people vote to deny their fellow citizens the same rights that they themselves enjoy. I have a pretty privileged position, being a white heterosexual middle class female, but it wasn't that long ago that people just like me had to fight for the right to vote, and the right to marry men of another color. Everything that feels like a given to me was something that someone else had to work for, and now it's my turn to struggle for the rights of my friends.

All we can do tomorrow is say, "Sorry your neighbors took away the rights your courts gave you, California." We don't have gay marriage in Washington State, either, but we didn't get a chance to vote for it, so I guess we have to start with the places that did.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In the stories the Lotophagi sit under trees on a mysterious island and eat a fruit of forgetting, a fruit that leaves their visitors shore-bound and without a thought for returning home. Maybe Odysseus bundles them back on the ships and ties them to the floor and makes them go back anyway. Maybe. In Tennyson, certainly, the weary seafarers stick around to "live and lie reclined." And why not? The only thing waiting for them after they leave the land of the Lotos Eaters is a cyclops and a lot of going around in circles. Better to stay in the hollows and keep forgetting.

It could be that what they were eating, stretched long under the trees, was a kind of persimmon. Science and poets are still unclear on that point. Persimmon are the sort of fruit best eaten gently rotting, because when they are firm and ripe they are also bitter and astringent. I remember that there was a persimmon tree in your yard a lifetime ago, and one afternoon we pulled the old couch outside and under the limbs, lounging there for hours drinking vintage bourbon and waiting languidly for the afternoon rains. Each bite of fruit numbed our tongues and kissing in those seconds tasted like nothing at all, not even ourselves.

Sometimes when this lifetime's cooler rains roll in I think about that warm day in the hollows, the sound of cicadas rising on all sides, the soft thumps of ripe citrus dropping from the trees, the clink of ice in our glasses, the worn upholstery itchy on my skin. The warm drops that soon flooded over our skin, and the light kisses that tasted only of forgetting.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I wonder how many times we are going to have to do these circus acts before we are freed from this wizard's enchantments, how many times I will douse myself in kerosene and try to run across this tightrope before the flames burn through under my feet. We didn't sign up to be carnival folk, but then we did offer up our skins in the name of progress in the only language we knew at the time.

I wonder at the effort, though, not sure why I am constantly scraping off the salty charred remnants covering my bones and only waiting until the next layer grows back still shiny and pink before picking up the lighter again. It occurs to me that there must be a less costly way to pay myself out of this pattern. Misadventure is only fun in hindsight if we all make it out alive.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I guess at one point there had to have been some water. Steam, maybe? In any case, glances condensed like fog and dripped down inside my eyeballs, that's for sure. And we all know that water's super power is that it wears away, incrementally, without notice. So that before I knew it your winking had broken through my cornea, had leaked all into my vitreous humor, had streamed down my cheeks and soaked my clothes.

All of this I could have stopped, had anything other than those drops been driving the car. Laying down in front of the wheels is only a romantic gesture as long as it stops them from moving.

Once we caught a field mouse, because it stood frozen there in front of us and it seemed cruel, somehow, to leave it there paralyzed in the path. Better to stoop with our huge hands and settle it gently out of harm's way, in the way we so earnestly wanted something larger than ourselves to do for us. Because we couldn't relocate each other, with hands so cold they would freeze to skin, and so we stood there stricken in each other's path and looked to the mouse to show us how to be lifted.

But I remember the frantic beating of its heart against my fingertips, the way it looked up into my face, terrified and bold, watching for a hint of its last moment. I was sure in that second that we were not saving the mouse from anything, that it would have been infinitely less cruel to leave it there gently trembling in the grass and instead merely stepped around it. To have left it to the momentary fear of our shadows rather than introducing it to the air and our skin and to a new patch of land where it was probably not even attempting to travel.

Things would probably have been less confusing, later, if I had paused then to notice how my own heart sped up and throbbed in my own fingers in concert with the mouse's. I missed the warning from my own blood, crouching bent below your shadow in the grass.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Enceladus, one of Saturn's moons, is maybe covered with volcanoes actively exploding with ice, in defiance of what we want volcanoes to look like. Those volcanoes could not only be shooting the ice into the air, forming clouds and clouds made of cold little particles, but out into space itself. Enceladus' ice volcanoes could very well be what makes up Saturn's mysterious blue E ring.

A cold volcano is somehow much more frightening than a hot one, possibly because we have no rings made of lava, no matter how high our own mountains throw their insides.

I was reading recently about a volcano in Japan, Mount Mihara, which has a spot close to the top from which you can jump straight down into the lava. (It's also where they imprisoned Godzilla in Godzilla 1985.) Thousands of people have likely hopped into the fire over the years, no matter how much a fence at the bottom might have discouraged the uncommitted. It erupted for the last time in 1986, and I can't help but wonder how many molecules from those people were tossed into the air along with the lava plume. Perhaps we don't have rings made of fire, but instead rings made of the missing, rotating softly, never actually gone.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Friends, I am still high from Tuesday. We've still got a whole lot of work to do, a lot of things to fix and build and swap around, a few state constitutional amendments to knock down, but it doesn't feel like we're going to have to go it alone anymore. We try so hard to make the world worth living in and safe for other people, because we honestly want to leave behind a better place than we've inherited (although my worms probably wish I would not take out my enthusiasm on their taxed digestive systems). But for so long it's felt like we've been trying to make paper snowflakes with safety scissors, and all of a sudden someone has walked up and said, hey, I've got the keys to a place where there are real tools. Let's make something beautiful together.

On Tuesday I stood there in a room packed full of friends and acquaintances and strangers, full of people I have laughed with and volunteered with and with people I might never see again, and every single one of those people was laughing or shouting or crying or hugging or kissing or everything at once. One giant joyful organism. We wandered from street party to bar to dance party and eventually, it was time to go home. My cab driver was elated, and I was elated, and the streets were blocked and people were laughing and hugging and dancing still, and our eyes met in the rearview mirror. My cabbie--who will be a citizen in six months, and thrilled to be joining this America--and I shrugged at each other and hopped out of the cab and melted back into the throng, which welcomed us with open arms and open beers.
Nothing else would have made any sense.

Later, in the earliest hours of the morning, the street party broke up and the revelers grabbed brooms and trash bags and cleaned up the party before daybreak. Always trying to make things better, and finally believing that we can.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I have finally come home from celebrating, stone sober, and it is only now starting to hit me what has happened. Because this is History. In Washington State, it's beyond that--not only did Obama win, but Gregoire is winning, Darcy Burner is winning, Death With Dignity is winning, mass transit and parks and happiness and hope are all winning, and Florida managed to not ruin it for everyone.

I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that this has been the best night of my life.

Once we knew what things looked like, we took to the streets. I have never hugged so many strangers, stopped traffic at so many intersections, felt so much a part of anything before. After everything that has happened, everything we've been through, suddenly none of it matters.

I think we clogged the city tonight with thousands of people who felt the same way. Thousands of people who finally feel like they have been heard. The real work is yet to be done, but this is the best of all possible starts. This is really why I have taken tomorrow off of work--to be able to walk the streets of this new world.

Monday, November 03, 2008

What with tomorrow being election day, and all, I'm feeling constantly a little bit queasy. On top of that, I suddenly find myself deep in some totally unexpected potential-romance angst (resolved), and then there's all of this with my grandfather. So basically, tonight feels like every Christmas morning ever all rolled up in all of the stage fright I've ever had, stuffed into a concrete ball in my stomach. I swear I keep getting the vapors. None of this was what I had in mind when I said I was thinking about giving up No Feelings. Foreign friends keep sending messages of good luck from all over the place, which makes me all wet in the eyes each and every time.

So I guess my plan for tonight is to turn up the tunes, eat a pizza, and figure out something to wear to election night parties, and try not to injure myself while doing any of the above things and staring at the telephone. I'll slip a little booze into some hot chocolate, maybe, watch something in black and white, and hope that by tomorrow at least some of this will be over.

Good luck tomorrow, America.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Dear everyone,

Aside from the giant, devastating loss of my grandfather yesterday, October was the month I have been waiting for all year. It was made of sweetly crisp evenings and technicolor trees, a beautiful wedding, new friends and old friends and a little bit of heartwrenching change. I love that we have so much rain in Seattle, but even I can not argue with how lovely all of these clear blue and white days have been.

Losing my grandfather feels like falling and having all of the wind knocked out of me. He was a gruff and difficult to know man, I'm sure, but he was the best grandad a little girl could have had. My family has decided not to have a memorial service, so I'm struggling with whether or not to go back to Florida, wondering if there is any use in showing up a week late and stumbling around town trying to find some sort of resolution and starting things over for my mother and grandmother who would have had all that time to grieve. He was an old man who died quietly at home, and that's the best that most of us can hope for.

Last night I gathered myself together and went out dressed as a giraffe to have too many drinks and hug a lot of people and afterparty at the speakeasy. It was a pretty epic evening, and I think that the events that were set in motion will have interesting effects in the months to come. Might be just about time to roll up my No Feelings work.

Housekeepingwise, I started one of these things to keep track of things I want to keep track of, lots of which will probably end up back here all twisted around into a metaphor. The air is thinner out here, but I like it better.

And just now it started raining again, and I am preparing to fill my freezer with food, and thinking about my next steps. They look more like dance steps than ever before.


Friday, October 31, 2008

When I was little, my grandfather had a clock that would tell the time when you pushed a button. He told me that inside the clock lived a little man that he fed peanuts to, from the can of salted peanuts that he always kept next to his chair. I stuck one under the edge of the clock, in a little groove that fit the peanut perfectly, and sure enough when I went to look later the peanut was gone.
We kept this game up for years, long past when I was old enough to know that he was taking the peanuts out himself.

My grandparents met at a dance, my grandad 17 years younger than my grandmother, who had already had one marriage and two children with her first husband. He had come through a complicated and painful childhood and though he never said much, I remember him always watching me, his only grandchild, and smiling indulgently. He was always there, this big firm presence, always smelling of cigarettes and whiskey, always with his deep gruff voice and big laugh. We lived so close that I saw or at least spoke to my grandparents often, frequently several times a week, and my grandad always felt like my personal special grandparent. Growing up, he was the most solid thing in the universe.

He died today, my grandad, in his chair sometime while my grandma was at work. The world already feels emptier.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

You know, I really don't like Halloween, and not just because it stands between me and Thanksgiving. I am always in favor of getting dressed up in silly costumes--I will be an awesome giraffe--but I hate being scared. And Halloween seems to give everyone an excuse to hide around corners or send emails that scream or tell stories about things that hide in dark places, and I am so not down with that.

Some of this is probably related to that time when, trick or treating, a man in a mask scared me so badly that I fell down into the space between his trailer and his steps, which hurt quite a lot. And when I am thoroughly startled I tend to cry, which is embarrassing. But I have always hated being scared. I remember as a kid catching part of Jaws when I was supposed to be sleeping and having one of the worst nightmares of my life, all about my family getting eaten by sharks or killed by assassins on the run from sharks, if they managed to escape the sharks. I don't watch horror movies, and it makes me so mad when the trailers for them come up at other movies, because why spring that on an unsuspecting public? Not cool.

When I was dating my college boyfriend, I perfected a trick of looking carefully only at one corner of the movie screen at scary movies, so it looked like I was watching when I was in fact bracing myself so I wouldn't shriek and hit the deck when something noisy happened. The suspenseful ones are the worst, because I hate it when things jump out unexpectedly more than I hate it when people touch my ears, even. I've never understood why anyone would think it's so much fun to be scared. (I have the same confusion in relation to spicy food. It hurts! How is that fun?)

All of which is just to say that while I am super excited about pumpkin carving tonight, I can't wait for Halloween to be over. Time for Thanksgiving, already.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A few nights ago I left the bar early enough to walk home through the dark, scurrying between pools of light from the streetlamps. They've been building a house along my route, the frames of the walls raised and covered in plastic, now that the rains are on their way. I walked past, nearer to midnight than anything else, and found the place lit up inside, the plastic striped by the shadows of the inner beams. Probably heavily inhabited by ghosts who had been wandering the greenbelt, waiting for a new place to inhabit.

I am probably more superstitious than not. There's no real reason not to believe in ghosts, or at least, not just because I can't see them. Which is actually a pretty accurate picture of how everything else works for me, too, because I am a lot more afraid of what I can't see than of what I can. I will talk to you for hours with total enthusiasm about all of the dead babies in jars that I saw in Philly, all of the things that should turn anyone squeamish, but I will run from silent houses.

What isn't there is always worse than what is.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A serious drawback of having absentmindedly gnawed off all of my fingernails over the last few weeks is that it's now tough to open necklaces, which not only makes it difficult to accessorize but which also made my attempt to untangle and hang up the jewelry on my bathroom counter take twice as long as it should have. I've been cleaning my apartment in anticipation of having people over in a few days. My apartment was a lot cleaner back when I went out less often and had company more often.

I like to blame all of this anxiety on the election, which certainly does give me a metallic panicky taste in the back of my throat whenever I think of it. I have broken myself of most of my more fidgety habits except in times of trouble, and these are certainly those. I have been spending too much time rattling around my apartment when I would much rather be distracted, I think.

In any case, I've only got about another week's worth of use out of this excuse, and hopefully soon I'll be able to wear necklaces again. I hate feeling under-accessorized.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Right now feels like the second before the chorus of your favorite song kicks in for the first time, tight with the upswell and waiting for that crash that almost always makes you involuntarily pump your fist in celebration. The air is waiting.

A few days ago I was sitting on my living room floor, cutting out what will be a ruffle on the bottom of a dress and watching a documentary on FDR and that was when the air changed, when it crystallized around me, when everything suddenly became weighted with a teenager-load of anticipation. Like life could at any moment turn into a rock video. These feelings get farther apart as the years get longer, and they fit less comfortably, but it's still a better fit than the alternative.

Beyond that, a couple of weeks ago I was sitting in a park looking for four-leaf clovers and waiting to go to a party, and I couldn't find any. I never have. So instead I fished a lucky penny out of my purse and nestled it carefully down in a clump of clover, figuring that at least this way the next person looking for good luck wouldn't be disappointed too. A man walked past as I was doing it and looked at me like I was participating in suspicious activity, but I couldn't have explained even if he had asked. It feels more important to leave luck than it does to take it. Because maybe everything is about to change, and we could all use all the help we can get. Plato said, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle," and that never really stops being true.

Someone told me that there is a word in Russian--razbliuto--that is for the feeling you have about someone you used to love. Those are the best words, the ones that fold around an otherwise indescribable feeling, providing a perfect spot to nestle what is too soft to be described otherwise.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Five scenes from the last two weeks:

1. Forgetting my cell phone set to silent in my purse and taking it out late in the evening only to find on the screen a text message attached to an unrecognized area code, but still knowing instinctively as my heart careened toward my rib cage who it was from. Mastering my reflexive urge to throw the telephone across the room, like finding a cockroach on a plate of cookies.

2. Sitting half-drunk on a too-high stool in a crowded bar, telling lies to an irritating stranger with my favorite girlfriend, much less interested in the conversation than in the story it will make for later.

3. Crouching on my living room floor enjoying the satisfying snick of my dressmaker's shears through pink and black fabric, and the way the sound melded with the soft music wafting from my stereo. Breathing in deeply the smell of soup cooking in a shiny-skinned pot, and contentedly admiring the glow of the raindrops in the streetlamps just out the window.

4. Nestling happily in the corner of a booth in our regular brunch spot, hands curled around a cup of coffee, humming along with the Beatles and watching out the bright window for my friends.

5. Sitting laughing at the bar and realizing that a familiar stranger is standing in front of me. Feeling all of my cells lean forward without permission when he bends forward to examine my Spider Man bandaid and thinking, well, hello there. And then immediately oh no, not this again.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cryptozoologically speaking, of course, a lack of proof-in-hand doesn't necessarily mean that something doesn't exist, just that it hasn't yet felt like explaining itself. Megafauna cryptids could live in numbers to small for breeding populations but not like relationships anyway, and under the bed monsters could conceivably go transparent in the light. Just because their slices won't go under our microscopes doesn't mean that they're not sometimes as solid as solid can be, and only ignoring all of our rules.

It all turns out true in spite of microscopes and eyesight often enough, and often enough is plenty frequent for me. There are enough mysteries out there that some of them are bound to pan out in the end.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I've been having a lot of voting-based dreams lately, dreams where my ballot comes and I go to fill it out, only to find that every pen in my apartment has run dry, and then I leave to buy new pens but an earthquake hits, trapping me in the rubble of my apartment, civic duty unfulfilled. Leaking blood on to my ballot. I had intended, when the day came, to deliver the ballot by hand--have, in fact, taken the last couple hours off of my workday on the 4th for that express purpose. But I've become more and more filled with this sinking conviction that something will go badly wrong, and so this morning I sat at my little blue table in my slip and filled out the form, signed and sealed and stamped with more postage than required, and mailed it off.

It's all out of my hands now. I can be pinned under a fallen bookcase with no regret for that lost opportunity now.

Physically, I am a total wreck lately. My hands are bitten and bleeding and covered in bandaids, my left foot throbbing with some sort of muscle spasm from putting migrating insoles into my shoes. A few days ago I got a whooping cough booster and haven't been able to lift my arm since. I should be quarantined, because it's all too pathetic to stand.

Instead of quarantine, I think my Spider Man bandaids and I will go and party tonight. Now that I have voted, I can go ahead and fall apart.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

We met in the cool of the morning, stopped at a crosswalk light. I was thankful that you had paused in your running rather than running in place while we waited, and as we stood there your skin steamed lightly, exhaling softly into the frosty air. In the dim glow of the cloudy creeping dawn your smile looked like aspartame, but I figured that was only because you were tired.

I can't say for sure what it looked like in the outer atmosphere and farther when we started lighting up our world bright enough to see from satellites, but I have a pretty good idea. We had already managed to alter the daytime landscape, but then, daytime landscapes already alter themselves frequently and with little thought for asking permission. Mountains and rivers and lakes and deserts have been blooming and dying for much longer than we care to consider. Except that then we invented our lights and brought them all together, slowly at first, in clumps and small spidery projections, in defiance of the darkness. And that changed our landscape from far away in a manner that only we could have done.

When we're gone, that will be the first to change back. Dark will be dark from the farthest corners, and passing by new visitors would never know that we had ever been around.

Yesterday I watched a mouse crossing the street, and though there were no cars around I still found myself holding my breath, willing the tiny thing to make it all the way there.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I always say that spring is my favorite over fall, but that's probably a lie. Spring and I have a lot in common, certainly. Both of us always promising a lot of things that are beautiful and new but usually falling a little short and lapsing into rainstorms and unseasonable snowfalls, better in theory than in person, best in retrospect. I always find myself frustrated with spring when it gets here, and the fact that it hasn't ever quite managed to be what I wanted it to. Which is usually the same way I find myself with myself.

But fall always lives up to its reputation, hiding the sun in soft rains and cool layers of clouds, making home the coziest place to be and steamy bars more intimate and fun. Fall is when the real adventure happens, not during the trying-not-to-waste-them frantic days of summer.

And I have been falling it up, wearing coats and tights and waiting to use my clear umbrella, making gallons of soup and planning for pans of lasagna and nice warm casseroles. Developing quick crushes on fellows in sweaters, and spending nights on my couch with blankets and tea and Bogey. I have sitting at my little blue table in the dark, watching my city laid out before me and twinkling, and calling boys on the East coast too late so that I can read them Shel Silverstein poems over the phone by the light of the streetlamps. Preparing to do a whole lot of sewing, and high fiving with my mittens on, and talking much too fast.

We are about to have so much fun. Fall is twice as good as summer.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I thought that I told you a story about the Local Group of Galaxies getting together for tea, gathering from all over their 10 million light years to put their feet up and complain about their most unruly of stars, how difficult it is to slick down that black hole that sits right at the hairline. Where Andromeda got that particularly fashionable peak of dust, and how to combat solar wind drying. Like a chapter of the Foreign Legion or a knitting group, gossiping scandalously with the Irregular galaxies and feeling unsure exactly how to approach the Dwarf galaxies. Tittering nervously over their cups of emptiness and dark matter.

But thinking back I instead remember deciding to tell myself a story, tired with the effort of re-polishing that which disdain and indifference had tarnished. Tired of propping up smiles and anticipation with the dullest of toothpicks, attempting to keep inside and outside humors from mixing, to keep acids and bases separate and explosions minimal. I felt like Michigan J. Frog, sure that you would sell me to a flea circus the minute I started singing.

In The House of Seven Gables Hawthorne mentions a mirror that keeps each image that has stood in front of it, layered over and over and over and over, your face on top of my face on top of grandma's face on top of the mayor's on top of the vacuum salesman's on top of the religious pilgrim's. It seems like an awful lot of time for one mirror to hold without throwing itself to the ground and giving us all bad luck.

Or maybe it has, and we didn't hear the sound of shattering for all of this glass stuck in our feet.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

They sure did get hitched!

And we sure did get fancy and wear ties on our heads and meet Crosby and Nash in a bar and have dance parties and accidentally trash a hotel room. And make new friends and see old friends, and go on a hayride full of booze, and have my first s'more, and run down empty streets, and wind the whole thing up with nudity and makeouts.

Man do I love weddings. Someone else should have one as soon as possible. I will, as soon as they make my union with bacon jam legal.

In Philly there was lasagna and cheese steaks and babies in jars and more gangrene than you can shake a stick at. Philly is a pretty ok town.

And then I flew home, following the sunset for a while, watching neighborhoods full of streetlights turn on as the dusk folded its hands over them. Later, flying next to the big dipper, steady and unchanging and feeling closer than it should. Finally coming home to find the fall settled firmly in and unpacked, ready to stay a while.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I am heading to the airport shortly, to fly away to Delaware to watch these two get married, and then heading back to Philadelphia to hang with the famous Steph and Ryan. I will be back late Monday night. Don't wait up.

It should come as no surprise to anyone in the world that I love weddings, for all the sappiest of reasons. I'm pretty bad at that whole relationship thing, unless I'm forming an intense bond with an inanimate object or complete stranger, but I'm thrilled when, in the face of overwhelming evidence that things will go bust, people I like a whole lot are so stoked about each other that they want to give that whole forever thing a shot. Marriages, done right, are the ultimate show of enthusiasm, and you know how I feel about that.

And hell, I'm never going to pass up a chance to get all fancied up with my friends. Weddings are the greatest.

Anyway, since staying in town is for suckers, and because I want to stab anyone who uses the word 'staycation,' I'm also super thrilled to get to see Chang and Eng's conjoined livers and Grover Cleveland's tumor in Philly. My hope is that I will find someone there who is just as excited to talk about using maggots medicinally to remove the squishier remains of your conjoined twin when they die as I am, because I am really into that lately and everyone just looks at me funny. I hear Philly has other interesting things, too. Something about a bell?

Since I'm not going to be in town for this excellent rainy weekend, I think that you should do what I would be doing in my stead: listening to this song over and over while wandering around Eastlake under a clear umbrella. And then probably drinking too much and maybe kissing a stranger, but definitely giving high fives and talking too fast about the kind of things that prompt raised eyebrows. I am a creature of habit, but some of my habits are pretty awesome.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dear everyone,

People keep rolling their eyes at my NO FEELINGS fall 2008 plan, but the fact is that it has been my best idea yet. As a rule, I am barnacled with feelings, and this year has just spackled on layer after layer of crazy and broken and made of health hazards, and frankly that is no fun at all. No Feelings has given me a pass to ignore all of that, because I have to give myself permission to break my own rules, and my waters are the calmest I can remember. This must be what it's like to live with anything but a head full of saturated Dick Tracy colors. Curious.

Curious, but a little boring. Since I just got...well, not quite dumped, but definitely discarded, I've been trying to avoid spilling poison into anyone else's waters, but honestly over the last few years I've developed a bit of a taste for causing trouble. I've been keeping my hands to myself, and my hands are getting restless. So to speak.

I spent most of September living almost entirely off of tomato sandwiches, because my tomato plants turned out to be the greatest tomato plants in the history of the world, so there was no reason to eat anything else. They're almost done for the year, and I will miss them most of all. Other people's tomatoes just won't taste as good. The rest of September was spent running around, as my giant pile of shoes and junk mail, and my end table can all confirm. The end table is covered with flight times and sunglasses and buttons and guitar picks, a giant Jim Beam belt buckle, an unsmoked pack of flavored boutique cigarettes, stickers, and all manner of other flotsam. Clearly, my habit is to walk in the house, take off my shoes, drop my junk mail on top of them, and toss the extra things in my purse on to the end table.

But, you know, fall is here, and the only thing better than fall is spring. And you know what that means. It means soups and Humphrey Bogart, lots and lots of rain, pumpkin carving, dressing like a giraffe for Halloween. Cider, and sweaters, and hiding my hands in your coat pockets. Re-learning how to run without tripping over loose stones, and carrying boxes of bandaids in the backs of our eyes just in case. Waiting for the first walk through a dark filled with the smell of homefires, and then the second.

The economy might be about to turn us all into hobos, but we will be happy and friendly hobos, with our hair full of smoke and our hands full of orange and red leaves, and our face full of smiles.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

The obvious course of action, when presented with an unexpectedly lovely day and an expanse of empty afternoon, is to gather up everyone at the brunch table and take an impromptu family outing on a boat. The water taxi to West Seattle is not going to be running for much longer this year, so it was the perfect opportunity to take our annual trip out there, to exclaim over dogs and have margaritas. The waterfront was covered in little girls in sparkly dresses preparing to go on a princess cruise, and we saw some sea lions, and it was just generally the greatest Sunday ever.

Seattle really is an impossibly lovely town, and my people are pretty high caliber folks. It's an unstoppable combination.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Y'all, I'm not even going to pretend that I'm not having serious election anxiety these days.

You have to remember that I was in Florida for the 2000 election, just turned 18 and totally thrilled to finally be able to exercise my right to vote via absentee ballot. I had spent the summer following the election in the newspaper, picking my candidates and becoming upset when they dropped out before the primaries because man, they had positions I could get behind. Just before I left for school I had had an enlightening argument with a family friend about why no one should vote Nader, no matter what he stood for, because splitting the vote meant a loss for everyone. I figured I was well-informed and prepared to vote for Gore and win, because how could anyone not see that the other way was the way of destruction?

We all know how that went, especially in Florida, and I was totally floored. I had been resolving for my whole life that I was going to get out of Florida as soon as I could, and that election solidified my resolve, encouraged me to speed up my degree and get the hell out in three years instead of four. When I moved to Seattle people were still tender about that election, wincing and comforting me like I had just announced I had cancer when I told them where I came from. So in 2004 I was very once bitten twice shy and refused to believe that we could win, although I certainly did my part to help drink Chop Suey out of booze when we lost.

But the stakes constantly get higher, and more personal, and it gets easier to believe that people would rather be ruled by their fears than their hopes. Easier to believe that people would rather have their choices and rights taken away rather than have those choices and rights extended to others that they somehow feel are different and therefore bad. Living in a liberal enclave like Seattle it's easy to get lulled into believing that everyone understands that I am the same as you, and that we've only got this one planet, and that men in Washington should keep their suits and ties out of my uterus, but that's not true. And every time I think of the way things can go in the next month, my extra heartbeat starts doing the mambo around my ribcage.

I'm a worrier by nature, and we have so much to lose.

I'll be watching the debate tonight with my pretty and entertaining friends, and spending the next month trying not to hold my breath and eying my tiny white pills. I am constitutionally incompatible with election season.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My nervous habits give away all of my secrets, and my fingernails are bitten to the quick, cuticles shredded. Raw and giving a painful throb when they brush against something, bleeding unexpectedly, reminding me that though even I think I'm evening out, I'm probably not. I catch myself with a thumbnail absently gripped between my teeth and curse at the little elf that runs my tics, who is camped in my skull and giggling.

But today the rains came back with a preview of what they'll be like in earnest soon, and I felt like the little fish who thinks it has drawn its last gasp only to be thrown back for being too small at the very last second. The air is cool and wraps around my skin like cotton wool and it is almost possible to open my eyes all the way. I am almost not afraid of what may fall from beneath my eyelids again.

I can pinpoint the moment when the bands around my chest loosened this year--it was while I was standing on the Arno, having just finished visiting some early versions of the Inferno and swooning madly. I paused near a bridge and it started to rain, and as a flurry of umbrellas opened around me something broke and, just like that, I could breathe. Not free, but with the cupboard door open. It is only when it rains that I find it possible to walk through those doors, not around the monsters, but with them.

When I went to open my blinds this evening, for the first time in months, a fortune cookie fortune fell from somewhere, saying, "you will have much to give thanks for this month."

This month, and every other month too.

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's spider season, the time when they all pack their webs in their little suitcases and come inside to hide from the cold and the coming rains. I don't mind spiders, as long as they're not poisonous--I like the precise way that they walk. I just don't want them in my bed. I was clearing some of the finished books off of the other side of my head--there were a bunch of them, giving a pretty accurate picture of what's been going on around here lately--and a tiny black spider scurried across the sheet and down the other side.

A few years ago, just after I moved to Seattle, a spider got trapped between the back of my knee and my pajamas in my sleep and, panicked, proceeded to bite like crazy. Anyway, that's what we figured happened, because a few days later the hinge of my left knee was peppered with welts that turned into something deeply disgusting that eventually turned into the scars that are still there. (I have a long history of accidentally ending up with bugs in my pants, like the time some wasps built a nest in some red Winnie the Pooh pants that my mom had left on the clothes line for too long when I was a wee thing.) So no spiders in my bed. That's what the corners of the ceiling are for.

(Hey internet, I finally finished my damnable dress. Freaking Vogue and their complicated patterns.)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The main problem with being trapped in these brambles is that I worry about leaving too much behind, snagged on the thorns. I'm never very whole to begin with, riddled with blank spaces, and struggling to get out only drives me deeper in. It's the ribbons and hunks of flesh stuck on the branches that bother me, less than the wounds themselves. I'm not sure there's enough of me to go around.

In my dream you exhaled a cloud of bees and they swarmed, stinging my hands until they were plump with venom. I couldn't move my fingers, but I could cover my eyes until they blocked out the world.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Having found myself in a forest made entirely of sharp edges, I am fairly certain that the only option is to avail myself of these edges and roughen up my tender skin, encourage calluses on everything that is soft. We can be content for now with hardening ourselves against the promise of whatever is on the other side of these woods, no matter how pliable others might like us to be. At some point you have to learn to protect what others may try to slide under and damage. We can't forever be made out of cotton candy and T S Eliot poems because eventually it always starts to rain.

There are roots, you know, and then there are branches. But mostly there is the space in between. Sometimes you show up expecting to ride a bull and find yourself hiding in a barrel. There are always other days.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Naive, I keep trying to solve for x, even though I have always believed that letters and numbers shouldn't mix, that unyielding numbers and soft doughy letters go together about as well as rocks and ice cream. The universe is run by mathematical constants, and I figure that brains and hearts have to work the same way too, somewhere. If I could only figure out what x equals, what the shape of the Higgs boson is that gives so much weight to the space between yourself and myself, I could figure out how to re-thread this projector and get this movie back on track. Science is so hard to understand because it always works the same way, even when we can't see it. And we ourselves are more variable than the most unpredictable of weather patterns.

Smashing all of these particles together just makes a mess. I looked for vintage luggage loudly and you looked for other people in secret, an equation with a negative solution. Math makes an unyielding metaphor for life, and one that I don't even completely understand.

I live in the soft spaces, because outside of more forgiving atmospheres the air is cold and the denizens short of breath. My lungs have much more room than this.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I swear that we did things other than go to beaches, but I was mostly too busy laughing/joining in the dance party/getting lost in the hills to take pictures of it. I am constitutionally unfit for beaches, which is why I left Florida, but there is one benefit to all of the smog in Los Angeles, and that is keeping our mother star's hands off of my delicate skin. In a perfect world my friends and the Museum of Jurassic Technology and that lobster ravioli I had for dinner on Saturday would all live in Seattle, because those are the best parts of LA.

Still, this is what it looks like when you go to LA with me.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Los Angeles, you are hilarious, and I am so glad I don't live in you. Wacky hijinks ensued, although nothing up to Vegas' standard. (It's hard to beat a hot tub full of Swedes.) Still, there was a Mexican tranny/hipster bar, an identical copy of a place I hang out in here, a funny, funny party in the hills, and the Museum of Jurassic technology. And some sunglasses of truth. And reminding myself of something I haven't forgotten. My favorite what-if.

Los Angeles, I don't like you at all, but I love the people that I already know in you and all of the ones that I met. I needed a weekend out of town without having to work at the No Feelings plan, and I got that alright. Getting out of town is the greatest.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Los Angeles! I am going to be in you tomorrow! Are you prepared for this, ready to have this girl and this girl and this girl and me all in the same town at once? The last time I had a girl's trip I ended up nearly married to a mustache and then in a hot tub with six Swedish boys. You've got a lot to live up to, LA. (I will never forget those Swedish boys, whatever their names were.)

I would like no earthquakes, please.

Internet, you will not be coming with me. I think you're swell and all, but I plan to be much too busy making friends and joining dance parties and recovering from hangovers to get anywhere near anyone's computer. I will see you on Sunday. Maybe.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I've been reading a lot of plays lately, or at least a lot of character descriptions and stage directions. They're the best part of a play, I think, the part that the audience never gets to know and the part that is entirely the author, what everything looks like inside their head. In a novel you get those things, too, but there they're part of the narrative, and they're happening inside your head, not for a room full of people. In performance a play's characters are divorced from their descriptions and they way they are intended to move through space.

Because on the stage the curtain goes up and there's a character, sitting at a table. But what you don't know is that this is NICK, or whoever, and he has a quiet dignity borne from watching his father get gored by a bull when he was a child. Or whatever. And it's even odds that NICK himself doesn't know that, although the actor playing him is sure going to try and make you get that by the way he's slumped in his chair.

I'm not explaining myself very well, as usual, but I've just been thinking that character descriptions would probably help all of us in regular social interactions. If a little explaining box floated before you into a room. If every time you were about to move italics told you what you were going to be doing, and how. And why. I confuse even myself sometimes with the things that I do, and it would certainly help if the author would just step up and do a little authoring now and again.

In the meantime, I'll just crawl in between the lines of characters who know what they're doing, because someone made sure to tell them.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

I slept for 14 hours last night, accidentally falling asleep on my couch while watching The Muppet Movie in anticipation of going out. It was like being in college again, except in college I would have needed to sleep for that long because we would have been up all night for a week playing cards and watching for the raccoon, rather than drinking gallons of whiskey and sitting around after hours and then getting up early to work and volunteer. Birthday weeks are exhausting, and awesome, and the No Feelings plan is giving me a chance to evaluate and go, you know, that boy's cute, but he's too much work. Rather than just running ahead, like I usually do.

So far, 26 is not sucking at all. I hope it intends to keep it up. I will sign that petition.

When I arrived at Linda's for our usual brunch they were playing dance remixes of old Madonna songs, so I'm clearly not the only one who was well-rested and excited about another Sunday. I had pancakes and then got a bright purple pedicure in anticipation of going to LA this week, and still made it home in time to do laundry and watch a dumb movie and get some sewing done all before sunset. Sundays used to be my hardest days until I added brunch to them. Bacon is the great motivator.

I am in a confusing sewing rut, because the pattern I am working on is too advanced for me and giving me nonsensical instructions with no good illustrations. I should just copy this dress and make it over and over again, since it's simple and one of my favorites. But I like solving problems almost as much as I like making them, and however much I screw this one up it can't possibly turn out worse than this one did. I hope.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Oh, friends. I wish that more of you identified yourselves to me in bars and at dance parties and in general, and that fewer of you googled me by name and didn't mention it, even though I can see you there. I am awkward, but I love knowing who you are. Especially when you are people who like dance parties. (Amanda! Let's hang out. I saw you breaking it down to Scotty/Eli's dj set.)

Friday, September 05, 2008

There are loops of dense, relatively cool plasma that hang over the sun on their own magnetic fields. If you look at the sun straight on they appear as dark lines on the otherwise bright surface, but if you turn and look at them against the blackness of space they are bright, burning with their own heat. Still fire, if not as hot as that of the nearby sun.

I've been thinking a lot again about Tolstoy handing his journals over to Sophie before they got married, to destroy any romantic notions she might have about him. To go into their marriage unshadowed by the specter of Tolstoy as the well-known writer. But I think that underneath that Tolstoy was afflicted with the same sort of Chekhovian talking disease as the rest of us, the same need to dump our box of toys out at the feet of the people we wish to invite in to our lives. Because we don't trust our own allure or the idea that anyone might stick around to sift out on their own the fun toys from the broken ones. Spalding Gray told us that it was almost impossible for him not to tell everyone everything, and then he jumped off of the Staten Island Ferry.

I've been thinking about mystery, is all, and whether it's better to talk myself into corners right away or to do it slowly. If I'd make it into different corners somewhere else, with faster-drying paint and fewer mousetraps.

More than that, I've been thinking of Saroyan: "In the time of your life, live — so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it."

I think I've been falling down on the job a little bit, lately.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Today we are 26, although since 25 has pretty steadily and consistently blown, I may call for a re-do. I have spent so much of the last year crying in cabs and in a humiliating heap in my hallway, and that's such a waste. Stupid boys.

Clearly I cannot be trusted to use feelings responsibly, so I am just not going to have them any more. I'm not allowed to feel anything but things that resemble drunk, detached, and ready for adventure for the foreseeable future. Feeling like this is an awesome plan falls completely within the rules. Also within the rules is feeling like going to Italy in April was a genius plan. It troubles me that there are so many other amazing places to visit because I sort of just want to go back there. And stay. And eat.

Of course, 25 wasn't all bad, and wasn't it Saroyan who told us that even though madness is the world's only constant, it doesn't preclude joy and laughter? I'd rather spend 26 doing mostly that part and less of the heartbreak and general angst. So that's the plan for the next round.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I'm still coming down from Bumbershoot weekend, too tired to go to sleep even given the healing powers of the post-festival drink Josh and I just had. Working the festival is a lot of fun, but it's also work--in three days I saw part of the sets for approximately 40 bands, crossing and re-crossing Seattle Center at top speed, all with a terrible head cold. I hurt all over. It's not all backstages and cute boys.

The first day was super crowded with things to see all starting 15 minutes after each other, and after that we could have slowed down, but concentrating on a festival is like drugs, and once you get used to it you start itching to see more things. The first three songs of a band isn't really enough to know how you're going to settle in together, but there's time for that later. I didn't see anything that I wish I hadn't seen except for a few minutes of some multi-cultural dance-rap effort, although I will tell you for free that I am not much of an Old 97's fan. There was much that I am glad to have seen, new bands I'm excited to pay attention to, old bands I'm glad to have stopped listening to years ago. A group of teenagers even mistook me for the lead singer for Paramore, which is actually pretty insulting.

This was not a relaxing Labor Day weekend, but it was worth it.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bumbershoot weekend starts...well, I guess it actually started Thursday night, with the first of two "industry events." I feel like Bumbershoot is getting to be like Christmas, where it creeps up earlier and earlier, and industry things are usually like dating a guy who wants to talk all about his car. These ones haven't been so bad, and really, I'm behind anything that involves free food and drinks and a kazoo.

But it actually starts today, and I'll be down there as soon as I finish these waffles and get dressed, scampering for the next couple of days between various back stages and beer gardens, high fiving and plotting to kidnap the cutest boys in order to have my own indie rock harem. We're going to try and use the press room as it's intended, for more than clean bathrooms and water, and fire off dispatches as we go along rather than trying to sum everything up at the end of the weekend. If you want to know things like which band has the most enthusiastic tambourining or worst teenage crowdsurfing, I'll be over at Metblogs.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In my dreams lately I find myself back in Venice, sitting in the mist on the edge of the canal by the violin maker's. I loved the quieter alleys of Venice in the rain, a cat sitting in an open window, all of the foundations sinking incrementally lower every second. Doors at water level waiting to flood slowly from underneath, unseen rotting draperies and buckling wallpaper and still pools reflecting quiet chandeliers. I miss the quiet that would have deadened any footsteps, had there been any. The silence at the back of my neck.

I've been reading Apsley Cherry-Garrard's account of the Terra Nova expedition. It might seem a bad idea, given my admittedly-fragile state and the fact that half of them died along the way, that Cherry broke most of his teeth from the chattering and that nearly everyone got dysentery or scurvy or frostbite or snow blind. But they were true adventurers, men who knew that a choice between possibly dying and not knowing is no choice at all. Any explorer worth his astrolabe would have made the same trip in the face of the same odds, gotten excited to find half-digested fish in the stomach of a seal, hunkered in an ice cave and sang over the roar of the winds. To aim to be the first one there, and to fail.

And to come back anyway, and describe it all.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I haven't tried any of my tiny white pills yet, although I should--my heart is still careening crazily around my chest whenever I pause to think about it. I just haven't been home much, lately. Dance parties and tea parties and party parties and what have you. Always moving.

In the mornings I wake up to find sparrows sitting on my balcony. This is because my plants are all blooming and going to seed, but I don't mind because an old psychic once told me that sparrows are my spirit creature. Normally I am terrified of birds, but these birds make me feel like the universe is watching out for me. Perhaps I should make them a house.

The weather the last couple of days has been perfect, all cool and rainy but not cold. I have had my summer, have worn tiny clothes, spent a few months with a beautiful tattooed boy, kissed strangers on dance floors. I'm declaring it 2009 for me on my birthday next week because so much of this year has been so bad, and the rain and the new year make me want to spend the next few months huddled on my couch watching Humphrey Bogart movies with a boy who dresses like he works for NASA in the '50's. (Do you dress like you worked for NASA in the '50's? Call me. Bonus points if there are tattoos hidden under those rolled up sleeves.) I think that the weather should be on a year-round school sort of schedule--three months of lovely cool and rainy and one week of warm and sunny. Plenty of time to make soup and eat ice cream.

I need a change, and as soon as I figure out what it is, I'll make it. Swear.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Most of my thinking time recently has been taken up with thinking about explorers.

I figure that, when explorers first started going out and finding things, there were only a few of them and they wrote home with all sorts of fantastic descriptions of what they had seen and also what they had heard. A mammal with a bird's bill that lays eggs, and people with mouths in their chests. But I don't think that they often came home, not in the beginning, because why go back when there was still so much forward to discover? And no one would believe that these fantastic beings could exist, not without running their own eyes over them.

But then there were more and more people getting on boats to have a look around, seduced by the possibility of something new. And they came back, bringing with them samples of some of what no one had wanted to believe in. Which probably called into question everything that everyone knew that they didn't know, right? If some of the impossible was true, was all of it? Are there monsters at the edges of our maps and giant people behind trees with only a single eye in the middle of their forehead?

I think that the answer is yes. The world is always bigger than we give it credit for.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The doctor says that the thumping that my heart is doing is thumping that it has always been doing, a beat in the upper chambers of my heart that happens before a beat would be expected. Faulty wiring. I think even people who have never put a stethoscope to my chest could have figured out that my heart moves in different ways, but it turns out that I'm not being metaphoric when I say that my heart beats in 3/4 time. Which is funny.

But then I had this panic attack and it brought all of my attention to my heartbeat, which doesn't appear to like the attention because it got faster and thumpier and that made me worry more, until apparently I just went and built myself a recursive anxiety feedback loop without even the payoff of having a parasitic twin to blame the whole thing on. Just life and boys and a heart that beats a waltz instead of something you can dance to.

The doctor gave me some tiny, tiny pills that are supposed to divert my attention and in the bargain perhaps help with the nightmares, but I don't know. I am wary of pills in any size, even tiny. Maybe especially tiny. Perhaps just having them in case I really need them will be enough. A tiny white safety blanket.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I have talked about this before, somewhere, but it is a weird thing to be a part of someone's art show. It's also a terribly flattering thing, humbling, but for someone as self-conscious about their big muppet head as I am, it's bizarre.

I hang out with a lot of very talented artists, so I have done this before, but it adds a whole new dimension of weird when it's up in a place that I hang out at all the time. It's already strange that people are looking at you as an art object, when all you can do is stand there and be appalled at just how pointy your face is. It's hard to distance yourself from being self conscious, as long as by 'yourself' you mean 'myself'. Being recognized for being on the wall in the other room is, actually, only slightly less disconcerting than being recognized for writing this website. That one still freaks me out a little bit too, in an awesome, awesome way. Anyway, it's like entering some strange new world to be standing in one room drinking while people are in two entirely different rooms looking at you. I'm sure that some people are accustomed to this sort of thing, but I am not one of them. (Our family portrait doesn't count, since everyone is in that.)

Regardless, I will be on the wall for the next two weeks in my amazing friend's show at my other amazing friends' gallery. It's awkward, but mostly it's all pretty rad. I'm an awfully lucky girl.