Friday, February 29, 2008

Dear everyone,

Happy leap day! I've been wishing for weeks that I knew someone with a birthday today, because a leap birthday party sounds like a lot of fun. When you only get one everyone four years, you pretty much have to do it up properly.

A friend and I actually declared it February a week early, attempting to leave January well behind, but February was in a lot of ways harder. I hit bottom this month, but only in my own head, because I've felt guilty abusing the friendliness of the people I know. It's one of my worst habits, and I've been exhausted.

But as a result I've also been very busy, almost over scheduled, and it's left me little time to dwell. And today when I left the office I walked out into rain and bluster, and it felt like breathing again. The cold sunny days we've been having are pretty, but I need a few months of wind and rain to clean out what's sitting like marbles under my skin, and there just hasn't been enough of it lately.

Still, I have spent much too much time already this year crying in cabs and doubting myself, and I'm bored of it. I'm ready for a change. In just over a month I'll be off on my trip, and in the meantime I need to shore up my self-confidence and fondness for adventure. I need to pull my skin back around all of my holes.

Lucky for me, that's one of the things I do best.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

A few sunny afternoons ago I took a walk down to my favorite dock, intending to watch the city's reflection in the lake and read a book, and found the old man who also hangs out there on sunny afternoons sitting on a bench. He looks homeless but he doesn't smell homeless, and we get along in the effortless way I can only ever manage with relative strangers.

"Hello, little girl, how are you?"
"I'm lousy!" It felt good to announce it without needing to explain.
"Me too!" He grinned at me, reached into a pocket in his shirt, and pulled out a colorful pack of cards. "Want to play Go Fish?"
It turned out that I wanted nothing more than to play Go Fish. We've done this a few times now, and each time he chatters away, unconcerned with whether or not I'm listening, and this is always satisfying.

For a while I wasn't really listening to him, focused on the call and response of the game, but eventually I realize that he's telling a story about a friend who fell asleep on a steep hill overlooking the freeway. In his sleep his friend rolled over and kept rolling all the way down to the freeway, where he slid feet first on to the street and in front of a passing car, which ran over his legs and kept going.

He smiled pleasantly the whole time he told the story, and whether it is true or not is hard to say. I lost that game, though. We played two more rounds of Go Fish before I left to read on my balcony, wondering about the fate of the man with no legs.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Under your bed I found a box full of bottles stuffed with genies, and I smashed them. Those wishes were past their expiration date anyway.

The space between you and me has been like the last page at the end of a chapter. But that may soon change. In the winter I went and planted my name in flower seeds in your yard, and now that spring is nearly knocking on my front door like a suitor in a tuxedo shiny at the elbows, well, I'll be coming up in colors outside your window any day now.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sometimes the lesson is that there is no lesson at all.

Sometimes I find myself digging through a closet looking for my bell, book, or candle, and somehow rummage out whole reams of things that should be left on shelves. Tea parties and old shoes and scary, scary monsters. Rummaging frequently gets me in trouble. I don't think that when I'm not around people describe me by saying, "She spends a lot of her time looking for writing on blank pages and forgetting first names," but it wouldn't be inaccurate if they did.

Still, when I leave here, I'll miss this.

Carved into the bottom of my walking shoes will be, "Wanted to throw her wrenches at you, but forgot. Is frequently distracted by unnoticeable things. If lost, hold up a buttercup and look for what is stained yellow."
It'll be stamped into all of the dirt and pavement and superheated air that I cross. I'll leave easy trails to follow.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I think that your pockets are full of magic. Mine are too, I suppose, but the magic in your pockets is something different and shiny. And I've only got a handful of all this this magic left.

I would like to build you a spaceship out of cotton candy and compliments, set it off from the corner between there and here. Inside, I think there would probably be cages full of paper birds and the astringent smell of too-ripe citrus.

I'll meet you at that corner, hands cupped around secrets, magic pockets full of all keys, a bathtub full of gin and flower stems.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Hey look, internet, I done went and made myself a dress. It's not a perfectly made dress, by any means, but it's not too shabby considering half of the pattern instructions sounded like gibberish.

I have to say, I find this sewing thing very satisfying. It has long been really frustrating for me that the country is getting fat much faster than I am, and so as a result vanity sizing is taking away a lot of the clothes that once would have fit. I doubt that I'll ever make all of my clothes, but having the option to make what I can't find is pretty excellent. It's also ultimately cheaper--materials for this dress ran around $25--and I know for sure that it wasn't constructed by small Indonesian children, being that I'm from Florida and all.

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with myself, internet.

Friday, February 15, 2008

This year I spent Valentine's Day with a gift sampler of very funny girls and gay boys eating pizza and Lil' Smokies, drinking champagne, and watching dance movies. Eventually we ended up at 80's night in my second favorite gay bar, drenched in sweat and breaking out our best old school moves. There really aren't many ways that a Thursday night can be better, and it was so much healthier for me than, say, that time a few years ago that I accidentally got blackout drunk on Jaegermeister on Valentine's Day and nearly went home for a threesome with two gay boys. (I'll be forever grateful to Chris for putting a stop to that.)

Honestly, Valentine's Day has never been a thing for me. I've been in relationships on the day before--I had the best college boyfriend a girl could ask for, and this guy once sent me on the world's greatest Valentine's scavenger hunt around the city--but more often than not, I'm single for it. Right now that's especially for the best, because I'm still in a really really bad place in my head and attempting to keep a safety distance from any nice single guys, lest they end up broken too. But, as I've said before, I am a lucky and well-loved girl, and I can't see the point in being sad over something like Valentine's Day. Someday, maybe, but not yet. Not when there is champagne to drink and dance movies to watch and people to hug whenever I need them.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I write about a lot of bands for Metblogs, and I have this secret fantasy that there's a band out there paying attention. One day I'm going to walk into a show to find a charming, enthusiastic, and well-dressed band with one member in a costume, and they are going to have a trumpet and a lot of extra drums for the other band members to play and whistling in three of their songs. They'll open the set with a cover of the Tragically Hip's "Scared" and close with a cover of Nat King Cole's "When Sunny Gets Blue" that involves all the members of the other bands on stage with them.

If this ever happens, it will be time for me to retire in style from the show-going business, I think.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fighting my cold is a lot easier than fighting myself, and so I have been out. Sitting in dim rooms, mostly, wheedling people into one more drink. Sometimes even angrily cajoling people into one more drink so I don't have to go home and deal with myself. I am unreasonably angry lately, mostly at all of the things I can't control, so I've been trying to control everything within arm's reach. These fists start at my elbows.

There's only a photon's worth of difference between filtered and unfiltered samantha lately, and I've been having difficulty keeping inside my head the sort of thoughts that make you back away with raised eyebrows. Just the other day I let slip an enthusiastic ramble about the epic story in my head about the pangolin and the star-nosed mole that go on adventures together. On angry days I hate the curious look that people give me when they get a look at the synesthetic road maps underneath my skin. The truth is risky, and if I could I would snatch my words back before they made it all the way to your ears, like a dollar bill on a string.

Still, there is something soothing in the company and smiles of strangers, something familiar in the heart-thump I get when my favorite tall-dark-and-handsome walks up with a grin because he already knows what I want to order. Outside of my insides is a cool towel on the back of my angry neck. I'm letting my thunder clouds fight all of my battles.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

In the 4th grade, I campaigned for president of the United States on a platform that consisted almost entirely of my promise to "basicly [sic] be very helpful and encouraging" and to increase the number of school days so that we could catch up to the Chinese. Shockingly, I lost. I think my classmates voted the kid who promised free pizza in the cafeteria into office.

Last night I woke to someone scrabbling at my front door. Drunk neighbor or overly friendly raccoon, I can't say for sure, but I stumbled to the door half-asleep and piled a bunch of things in front of it. Like the burglar alarm made of tin cans that I'd set up every night by my window and bedroom door during the years where I spent too much time reading R. L. Stein books.

I've had a hard time working up the enthusiasm to do much lately beyond taking very long walks or sitting--in bars and on my couch, mostly. My living room is covered with a scrim of movies and half-read Italy travel books and science magazines, and I am ignoring the pile of pink vintage-lampshade-inspired fabric that is sitting by my sewing machine waiting to be made into a dress. All of my metaphorical windows are covered in tin foil.

Earlier I was standing in my bedroom measuring myself in order to make pattern adjustments, noting the distance between neck and shoulder or belly button and thigh. I've been thinking lately about the day that art met math and everyone finally figured out how to make the third dimension one that you could see rather than just one you could experience. I've been wondering just how many levels are left to go.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Oh, earthworms. This winter's staunch refusal to give us a few consecutive days of clouds and rain is working out even worse for you than it is for me. I've still got this angry robot humming away in the back of my throat, speaking with my tongue and trying to punch with my hands, but I keep coming across your powdery dried-out form strung across the sidewalks when I walk home through these discomfittingly bright evenings, and that's even worse. Your habit of crossing the sidewalk to get to the other side is always mildly distressing, and my habit of moving you off of the sidewalk and out of squishing range is why I'm late to work more often than not. But there are all of those hours when I'm not walking past, and those are the hours that find you stranded on the pavement. When it is raining you stand a chance of moving yourself out of reach of an uncompromising shoe, but lately you have been out of luck.

I'm doing my best to help, earthworms, but I think you would stand a better chance of making it through this winter intact if you got a little bit of the weather you are healthiest in. I think that I would too.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

So! Things I have in my house!

One of the ways I have been occupying myself in these not-so-hot times is by buying stuff. Dresses, new sheets, airplane tickets to Italy, and, of course, vintage aftershave bottles shaped like Lincoln, Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, and Benjamin Franklin. (I don't know why he's included...maybe because he was president of Pennsylvania?)

When TMS came over the other night and saw them on my floor, he wondered if I had perhaps sustained brain damage when I hit myself in the head with my front door last week, but no. They are still full of their aftershave, which smells just like four old dead guys should smell.

I realize that I am well on my way to becoming one of those old ladies who dies in a tiny apartment full of peculiar artifacts and stacks of books, and while people are looking for my body in my labyrinth of junk they'll mumble to themselves things like, "I wonder whose skull that is" and "was that really FDR's bathtub?" I'm pretty fine with that, honestly. And I don't really like cats, so at least when they locate my withered form crushed beneath a pile of Russian novels and still clutching a bottle of scotch, nothing will have eaten half of my face. Hopefully.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

On Thursday night TMS showed up at my front door with a slumber party in a bag--ice cream, potato chips and dip, fashion magazines, High School Musical. And then we had a pillow fight. TMS, clearly, believes that we are twelve year old girls. Before we went to sleep he spritzed himself with an extra shot of cologne, to make sure that my pillows smelled of someone friendly.

Last night I went to a birthday party for a teacup poodle. For months we've been talking about pitting two sets of cute brothers that we know against each other in a cute brother-off, and last night both sets of brothers wrote a song about Charlie for his birthday. Having a brother-off was the most brilliant idea anyone has had in months, and I think I actually pulled something laughing. When you add in the dogs wandering all over the party, I think it's pretty safe to say that one of the best parties of the year has already happened. And that life, inevitably, incrementally, gets better.