Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dear everyone,

Operation: More Adventurous has been...well, sort of a wash. I think that deciding to do the opposite of my decisions is, at its core, a fundamentally me decision, and that sort of undermines the integrity of the whole experiment.

Honestly, this year is sort of running roughshod over all of my softer bits, and I have found myself fantasizing about building an exoskeleton like a cockroach, so that I could let the fall out hit me and do no lasting damage. About building a house out of my skin like a snail, hardening my hair into spikes like a porcupine. I am covered in holes from trying to weave through the constant missiles falling through the last few months, and I am honestly concerned about making it through the rest of the year with my faith in magic intact.

As a result, I am formulating a new plan, Operation: NO FEELINGS fall 2008. I think this one is going to be a winner, friends.

Which isn't to say that everything is all bad, because to say that would be to lie, and I am a terrible liar. I am still stupidly lucky to be living this life that I live, surrounded by people that are beautiful and creative and funny. I was on tv in a blue wig for approximately one second recently. There are always people to buy drinks and give high fives and listen to me talk about how, say, if we were a band of murderous psychopaths, what method would you play? (I would play the Colombian necktie.) I still have my adorable and cozy and centrally located apartment, my job, and the comfortable fact that people let me go watch them play their instruments for free all the time. Frequently, I demand that strangers tell me jokes, and they do. Today I even got to walk home in the rain, pet a very, very soft newborn baby and eat a cheeseburger, although in the opposite order. Mostly, things are swell.

It's just that I find myself so angry lately, find myself having trouble holding my temper, find myself wanting to climb a clock tower and reload just so that the whole world will understand that I am serious about how it needs to quit it with everything. This is not an angry robot kind of angry but something deeply red and roiling. When I was a very young girl I had a terrible temper, and would sometimes get so angry and frustrated that I would actually bite our dog at the time, a black cocker spaniel named Beauty. By the time I was 10, though, I was frequently in charge of an infant, and I had to learn to reign in my frustration, to swallow it, because it seemed even less fair to take it out on a baby. And I've done pretty well with that.

But I am losing my energy, losing my ability to stay upright while all of these layers of rugs get yanked out from under me, and as a result seams that rarely find themselves showing are becoming strained. I know that with time everything that is turbulent eventually becomes smooth, but it is a matter of both finding solid handholds and maintaining the strength of my arms in order to ride it all out. And my muscles, never one of my better features, are quickly tiring.

In the meantime I will just have to cling with whatever I have left, try to remain both calm and kind, and take every opportunity presented to drink champagne and stand in fountains and run through sprinklers with strangers and pet very soft babies. These are my good old days, after all, and it's the laughing so hard my face hurts that I'll remember in the end. Not the crying in cabs.

And like I always say, thistles may at any point bear figs, so it doesn't do to get too distracted looking for bandaids to cover scratches to notice the uncommon fruit.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On Friday night I sat in the window of a bar I used to hang out at, drinking beer and getting high fives from the passing crowd. I think this is how I'd like all of my interactions to be for a little while, just sitting in windows being high fived by strangers, only metaphorically.

It's just that I'm deep under the mean reds right now. Everything that has me thinking is the sort of thing I don't tell the internet, but man, it sucks. I feel like Charlie Brown with the football, and I'm tired of this mean right hook that the universe has, tired of the fact that it doesn't seem to know what the letters TKO mean. I am out, and done, and through. On the way home my usually homicidal personal music player attempted to help out by playing in a row, on its own, "When Sunny Gets Blue" by Nat King Cole and "Scared" by the Tragically Hip, which are my #1 and #2 favorite songs in the history of songs, but I'm still fucking tired of all of this. Still feeling like all I want to do is get in a bar fight.

I'd like to buy some furniture and give the cat a name, you know, only I can't find a real life place that makes me feel like Tiffany's, at least not for more than a moment.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Brandon proposed--well, repeated, I guess--a reductive experiment that I've been mulling over tonight: picking out the five posts that define myself and this particular vanity project. I've been at this for years, and there are an awful lot of words here, but mostly it's all the same thing over and over again. So, ok. This I can do. In excerpt:

The little girl: "I stopped. How could I not? From across the street she had already broken my heart, standing there so perfect and alone on the sidewalk. When I asked what was wrong, she sniffed with all of the power of her little nose and told me she was cold."

The touch tunnel: "I worry over what we are ruining, whether things will ever grow back up in our footsteps, whether we leave poison behind. If I could I would build you a city from pirate's gold and cotton candy, keep you there safe and far away from anyone who might want to slide under you and take what doesn't belong to them. I want to put marks on our foreheads so that all who pass know that we breathe only metaphors, that our fingerprints might burst into flame, that we will give those who might trespass copies of T.S. Eliot poems and soft kisses."

The old man #4: I leaned sideways, resting my head on his shoulder. He smelled of old books and sweat, and I could feel the warmth of his shoulder through my hair. "I think that you are a very, very great man."

The perihelion: "I told the sun about laughing so hard I could see the tops of my cheeks, about a baby on an airplane that lurched into my arms when I said hello to it. I told it that there are always going to be things under the water that no one has ever seen before because nature always wins. I whispered a few not-out-loud things, my voice vibrating softly all along the string and into space."

Phobos and Mars: "Eventually some of everything has to meet, falling invisibly into and through each other's orbit, what was separate becoming altogether something else. In those moments, I think, the past becomes like the second when films falls off of the projector, burnt through by the light, everything suddenly white."

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I watch a lot of documentaries, but they're mostly about two things--nature and people. I want to know everything about everything, but I want to know everything about those things particularly. I don't really want to be in nature, don't go hiking or swimming or any of those charming Northwest activities, but in these times of despair about the terrible things we have done to the world it eases my mind that nature is so large and perfect and ineffably wise, and always wins.

I want to know about you, of course, but I especially want to know about people who are great, people who inspire those they encounter to dream of greatness. I feel like there is a secret, somewhere inside of great people and the lovely clockwork of biology, that could give me a hint about how to get someplace new. I'll never shine like a star, but I wouldn't mind shining like a candlestick some day. Until I figure it out, I'm collecting notes.

Notes, and a lot of trivia.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

You called to say that the weight of time hangs heavy on your shoulders, that in your quieter moments, when you put out a hand to still the whirring of your gyroscope, you feel prematurely old. I think that you think that I hold cupped in my hand the secret key to our sandy misspent youth. But all of my drawbridges are up and I'm not even waving to the crowds from the parapets. I have hit a wall and have nothing left to hand out, and I melted down all of those keys to make a helmet. Perhaps it pays to be prepared for the future by covering my head with the galvanized past. Anyway, it couldn't hurt.

I like to drop pennies when I am walking, in hallways and on streets and across parks. I figure that, statistically, some fraction of the pennies I've sown will become someone else's lucky penny, will live in their pocket and bring them only good things. Which is almost as good as being someone's lucky penny myself.

When I think of you now I think of just one night, our skin reddened from an afternoon in the sun. I know that those were stars that we were looking at, but they were also the current between us crystallized and cast into the sky. I didn't mind that the sand on our hands constantly flaked off into the bottle of whatever sweet thing we were drinking, or that the taste of that sweet thing mingled poorly with the taste of our cigarettes when we kissed. Nor did I mind that the rough planks of the lifeguard station slowly drove small wooden splinters through my jeans and deep into the soft flesh of the backs of my thighs each time I moved. I had, after all, found the spot between your shoulder and neck where my head fit perfectly, where the smell of you breathed up through your collar and straight into my hair, and I would have suffered any number of splinters to make those hours stay unmoving forever.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My favorite flowers are the ones that might grow anywhere, that are not discouraged by weather or concrete or human neglect. That grow in spite of these things, that colonize walls and cracks in the sidewalk and sad neglected plots of land. The first small bright blooms to come back after a fire has seared the earth.

I am a sucker for anything stubborn enough to make things beautiful where beauty shouldn't be allowed.

I'm already excited to go to Philadelphia-and-Delaware in October, because September is going to bring both my birthday and a large helping of unwelcome change as a present. I'm trying not to dread it because there is still August to get through and enjoy, but it will undeniably be nice to go to the other side of the country to be distracted by travel and new friends and love that actually works. If this year has taught me anything, it's that having a point to move toward is important when I have any number of unpleasant things to move through.
Internet, I will be in Philadelphia for approximately 24 hours in October. I've never been to Philadelphia before, so you should start thinking about things that I ought to do while I'm there, please.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

In the 17th and 18th centuries, mapmakers were sometimes called "world describers." Even given the sadly solid fact that in geometry to trace or draw the shape of an object is to "describe" it, it is still a shame that to be named in such a way has fallen out of fashion. Oh, sure, people still trace the contours of the world, over and over again given new information and better technology, but I am not sure that even they feel that they are truly describing the world any longer.

Which means that that particular work is left to the rest of us.

I have all of these secret plans that hang in my skies like beacons to other galaxies, but all I really wanted was to combine my wishes so as not to waste them entirely. Only it seems that in combination wishes lose some of their potency, some of their shine; they are rainbows well on the way to becoming only air. It was a shame to find them already worn thin with use, but I suppose that is what I get for handing my agenda to the universe and pretending that I am in charge. For confusing economy and selfishness. Again.

What I wonder is, what if all of the statues suddenly came to life? Would they know enough, having long watched us, to keep perfectly still and never let on about their sudden animation? Would they creep through the streets at night conducting their own secret plans, becoming more and more human through the simple facts of their powers of observation and locomotion?

These are the things that keep me up at nights. Perhaps I am only a statue myself.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I find myself, in the last few years, frequently repeating something that we always made fun of my father for saying: "Oh, someone gave that to me." Each time someone points at something in my apartment or office, at some peculiar artifact, I shrug sheepishly and mimic my dad. It's genetic. People just give me things. It works out really nicely for me, because I collect stories and the stuff that they fix themselves to, and someday I will die buried under the weight of all of those tales. Happily. I love that people think of me when I'm not there.

I am the back-up girl for a lot of boys with a rainbow of sexual orientations. As we've all gotten older, and everyone has started to enter their 30's, the dates have been pushed back, so now it's a lot more of, "If we're not married by the time we're 40, let's get married to each other." It used to be 30. Then 35. I don't mind, frankly. I like the imagining, the theoretical safety net, the warm assurance of eventually having something that I don't really want now.

We're good at planning, my back-ups and I. I'll start a sheep farm with one of them, buy a big house with a wraparound porch and rocking chairs with another. Pancakes, and dogs, and the same fights we've been having for years. I'm a sentimental girl, and these days when everything is uncertain and I am constantly overthinking and giving my heart a stern talking to about timing and feelings, it's nice to have a solidly pretend future to lean against.

I like being #2, in case #1 never shows up, and my friends are equally gratified by being, well, all tied for #2 in case my story book never opens. Sometimes things stay both away and closed, after all, but that's no reason why any of us shouldn't get most of what we want anyway. You know. Eventually.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rummaging under the bed, I found a camera that shows the future. A camera that shows the future is more of a liability, as it turns out, than it is an asset, because the future is washed in the same shade of nostalgic sepia that the past is. I don't think we needed to know that our past and our future are exactly the same color. It certainly doesn't make moving forward any more inspiring, and I think that perhaps we ought to stay right here, crouched in our cabinets, eating cherries and contemplating the futurepast. Rather than inviting it in to throw a party in our shoes.

At night I wait for the sound of deepening breath, filling the room like the ocean. I should have made all of these valentines waterproof.

I'm not sure if the wish I made on that shooting star would count if I found out that it wasn't really a shooting star, wasn't really a small bit of space careening toward the surface of the Earth, but was instead an astronaut fallen adrift from his moorings. Or if, perhaps, it would count even more.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Restless never really goes away, just gets turned down, like the stereo when the telephone rings. It always turns itself back up unexpectedly, and without warning I can't stand to have you in my dance space, because even from a safety distance of a few feet the thought of your fingerprints gives me the unpleasant shivers, and I want to run away. This time around I want to quit everything and change my name to Whiskey Jones, start fronting a jug band called the Bad Idea Factory. I'll need someone to play the washboard and spoons, someone to whistle through their broken tooth, and an old bloodhound to play an old oil drum with his tail. I think that as Whiskey Jones I'll be a mean drunk with a fondness for truckstop cat figurines and half a pinkie missing.

The guilt never really goes away either. This afternoon I was switching my phone book from my old cell phone to a new one, and scrolling I came across Dream's number. There was no reason to keep it, since there's no one to answer, but I'm not ready to delete it just yet either. We should be being friends now, if only things hadn't gone so badly wrong. And as I sat there, staring down at my hand, the guilt turned back up and washed over me in waves, and I felt myself turning delicately blue. The Restless turned down and the sads turned up, and I stopped being Whiskey Jones and went back to plain old samantha.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Oh, internet. I am lightly sunburned from spending the weekend in a park with my friends listening to a cross-section of the past 20 years of Sub Pop's releases. If you could find me a time machine, I would like to travel back and tell little late grunge-era samantha that she will one day see the goddamn Vaselines and Green River, live and in person and from not too far away. She will probably die from anticipation, which might cause some sort of unfortunate Back to the Future-ish rift in the universe, but just before she died she'd be stoked.

The Vaselines. Seriously.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sometimes you're sitting at a table in a bar just after the boy that you are dating has left, catching up with a couple of pretty friends, discussing the difficulty of getting through the labyrinthine passages of relationships alive, when a couple of mustaches walk up. But these are no ordinary mustaches, no mere novelty clusters of facial hair. These mustaches mean business. These are Snidely Whiplash mustaches, mustaches that just got done tying a damsel to the train tracks or getting into a shootout with the sheriff following a dispute about cattle rustling. One of these mustaches is even wearing a coordinating hat that should really have a complimentary poncho with it. When these kinds of mustaches approach, you just have to sit back and let them happen to you.

People say that it's difficult to meet men in Seattle, that everyone is too standoffish or shy or self-involved. I have always found it difficult not to meet men here, if not always the sort of men I want to be meeting. I seem to be a magnet for all sorts of miscellany and amusing adventures, which is great.

If you let the mustaches happen, let them tell you earnestly how you have somehow made their bad day better just by sitting there and drinking whiskey, let them give you tax advice in case you get married and then divorced, they will soon attract a gift sampler of other exceptional types. A film maker/cook. A man with sartorial delusions of Tom Waits and half a canoe. A completely silent fellow in a striped shirt who will fall out of your booth and still never say a word. This might completely derail your plans for the rest of the evening, but you can always go dancing another night. Mustaches like these just don't come around that often.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

There were just over 40 cartoons about the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, approximately four hours worth of time devoted to what is only a fanatical quest in pursuit of something that had started as a snack. I was never interested in these cartoons, bored by the coyote's single-mindedness of purpose, and figuring that by the time he caught the bird he would have forgotten what to do with it anyway. We can only chase things for so long before the chase becomes the point.

I had yet to learn about just how seductive the act of pursuit could be.

Walking to work this morning I found my sidewalks for half a block scattered with puzzle pieces. It appeared that someone in one of the apartments above had become frustrated with their puzzle and flung it out the window, a gesture that I enjoy. More things should be flung from the windows, if only to give them a chance to interfere with someone else's orbit. I considered gathering up the pieces and bringing them with me to the office, piecing them back together, but I knew that it was highly likely that I would have missed at least one piece and become distracted by a need to find it and complete the picture. A failure to find it, softening in the grass, would almost certainly ruin the parts that I had made complete.
So I left them, and on the way home failed to notice if they were still there at all.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The 4th of July is my second favorite holiday, after Thanksgiving. I like the ones where the only requirements are to surround yourself with friends, eat a lot, and start drinking in the afternoon. Those are the things we need to celebrate more often, I think, officially.

As is frequently the case, my balcony turned into a prime fireworks viewpoint, filled with a lot of my very favorite people and a few people that I don't even know. We grilled things, we drank beer, we told a lot of bad jokes and gave more than a few high fives. I think that when I pictured where my life would be now ten years ago it maybe didn't look like this, but it certainly felt like this. Life could possibly be going a little bit better, but it could absolutely be going a whole lot worse.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

I believe that in military parlance what they call this is mutually assured destruction--in a spaghetti western, perhaps a Mexican standoff. In any case, my move would be met with equal force on your side, and I find it likely that neither one of us will come out of this maneuver alive.

I wanted to push through those saloon doors with guns blazing, knocking all of this year's dust off of my spurs, top lip a-snarl, but you just had to be sitting at the corner table of the same damn bar, hat pulled low, counter-measures at the ready. Prepared to fire at my feet until I improvised a jig. In a world that was aligned properly we would be sitting at the same table, boots propped on adjacent chairs, reminiscing about that time herding cattle and finding a nugget of gold just shining at the bottom of a stream, taking it home and making it into new teeth. In a world that was aligned properly our smiles would blind our adversaries.

Instead, you are trying to shoot off my toes, face creased in a grin, no gold in sight.

Someday I need to learn to remember that just because my brain thinks something is a good idea doesn't mean that it actually is.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I would rather have spent the evening tangled under the quilt, telling stories and secrets and jumping at the thunder. It seemed a shame to burst through a space that had been so exquisitely constructed.

I have been thinking a lot about ghost towns lately, settlements built in boom time and filled with all the hopes of a bunch of people trying to make themselves into something they weren't already. More specifically, I've been thinking about the moment when that hope turns, when all that can be extracted from that world has been extracted, and the people start to drift away. Even more specifically, I've been wondering about the first person to leave what is destined to become a ghost town. I think that those people must be standing in the way of winds different from the winds felt by everyone else, winds that let them know when upward and onward is the way to drift.
Everyone else goes after that, slowly, in clumps, and eventually all that's left are a bunch of walls and maybe some tumbleweed. And soon, not even that.

The other day I met a cat with a tag that said, "I'm not lost, just friendly." I am thinking of getting one for myself.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

In the gloaming last night, avoiding returning to the heat in my apartment, I wandered down to the dock. I've been hit badly lately with late night restless feet, and those are the times that I always regret deciding not to walk late at night, decided that there's a difference between risking my safety and flaunting my disregard for it. I miss the quiet, and the water lapping against the wooden piles, and the soft sigh of a homeless man as he tosses in his sleep. Helps me sleep.

As I sat there, debating whether or not it was too gross to put my feet in the water, a man walked down the stairs. He looked startled to see me, and marginally homeless, possibly scoping out a place to stretch out later. Hesitating, he put his foot back on the step behind him as if to go, but then shrugged and walked over to the bench.

That was fine with me. I didn't want to talk to anyone, was content making conversation inside my head. As the sun went down the air started to chill, and I stood to leave. I started up the steps just as the man, who I had forgotten, coughed and said, "Hey, ma'am?" I turned and raised an eyebrow, found him standing at the start of the dock, and he smiled dustily. "You dropped something."

It was possible--I could have dropped something from my enormous purse--so I walked back down the stairs and near to him. He leaned over and I flinched, watching his hand flourish in my peripheral vision as he pretended to pull a quarter out of my ear. I have mentioned here before how much people pulling things out of my ear creeps me out, so I shuddered violently, took the quarter, and hurried away. I might have said thanks, but then again, I might not have.