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.