Friday, May 29, 2009

This morning, at the intersection of the lake and near the lake, I found myself waiting to cross the street in a snowstorm of dandelion fluff. The breezes had picked up and the plants had let go all at once, and wisps and clumps of white cartwheeled all through the air. Had I been a little less sluggishly under caffeinated I probably wouldn't have been able to resist doing a pleased little pirouette in the middle of the street. It was just so pretty, all of those wishes suddenly set free, spiraling gently up into the soft blue morning sky.

Standing on the corner I looked wildly around, at all of the cars stopped at stop lights and the bicyclists whizzing past, trying to make eye contact with anyone to share the second with, that sudden flurry of fuzz and sunshine and sweet-smelling breeze. But everyone had their windows up and their morning frowns on, looking at their telephones or catapulting on two wheels through the red light. It was just me on the sidewalk, in a pink and blue sun dress, suddenly even smaller than usual and trying to hold in my eyes all of those wishes for all of those people who never even noticed them.

I still have them, here, just under my lashes. In case you need one.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It is always in these better hours that I am always unwillingly thinking of those Greek soldiers that Herodotus told us about who, charged with holding the gates against the Persian army, first sat down and combed their hair. When Xerxes, shocked at the display, asked what it was all about, they told him that before they left their lives the men were going to make their heads beautiful.

It is that I think we are unwittingly doing with these days, stretched full-length in the grass with cheap beer in a plastic cup and salted caramel ice cream melting slowly towards our knuckles, pausing only to register unselfconsciously exactly how alive we feel. We have been through these battles and held our gates but know full well that the next rush might topple us altogether, that no one comes through this war alive. And so it turns out that the only thing that sticks is friends gleaming in the golden hour, is leaning out in to the wind from the very top of a museum in Italy, is catching a firefly only to let it go. We are making days beautiful while we still have them to make.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The sign on the outside of my picket fence reads, "Gone Fishin'". I took yesterday and today off of work, and combined with the long weekend, that's going to end up meaning a whole lot of sitting outside in places having fun. My tomato and strawberry plants are already putting out flowers, and something bright pink is seconds away from blooming.

On Wednesday night I ran home from the bar, the empty streets and sidewalks overwhelmingly tempting, and yesterday I woke up one solid ache from ankles to shins. My shoes are only just barely walking shoes, never mind made for running, so I plan to get around town this weekend mostly by piggy back ride.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The antipodes of most places are in the water, somewhere at the bottom with the dirt and the dark and the eyeless fish. Oh sure, some of New Zealand is in Spain and some of Indonesia in South America, but almost all of us are swimming in our opposites. Which leads me to believe, generally, that the exact opposite of where we are standing now is in the middle of some underwater mountain without a name and coated in magic that we won't ever see, not even if we dive down deep and close our own eyes.

Even there I think our opposites are still just us, propped up on elbows and Tennessee Williams and sketches of what probably won't ever be.

I think the apiarists have the right idea, surrounding themselves with the bees that would sting other less-prepared people, gathering only the sweet things without getting hurt. It's a path that seems less strewn with landmines than something more exciting like snake charming, which is really just lying by playing a flute to an angry snake without ears. But then I guess the bees are all dying and the snake charmers, too, propped up only on myths and flowers and the tales of somewhat less than one thousand and one nights.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I spent pretty much all of this weekend outside, planting tomatoes or drinking mimosas on the patio of my brunch spot or throwing a bbq on a rooftop deck belonging to some friends who are out of town, and the rest of it involved in dance parties or otherwise engaged in hijinks. There was no real reason to go home except to sleep, not when there were so many new inside jokes to make up and cocktails to drink and piggy back rides to go on. And now I have come out of this weekend with one sunburned knee, twice as many freckles, and a burning wish that it would just go ahead and be Wednesday already so that I can get started on my five day weekend and do it all over again.

I have a whole plan for summer that is almost exclusively made of outdoor drinking, barbecues, and playing catch in the park. There are a lot of sundresses to wear and a lot of high fives to give, and I honestly can't be fussed about doing anything but having as much fun as possible with whoever happens to be around. This is sort of always my plan for the summer and it generally works, but I intend to make it work twice as much this year through sheer force of will. I need a break from all of the everything.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I am running incredibly low on both inspiration and energy lately, wrestling with another bout of bronchitis and waiting for the spring to hook me. I am thinking only of taking naps and growing things, of how many people there are and how many years are left and how many miles can be covered by how many steps. I am exhausted by the sheer volume of numbers available, all the time and distance and options available. Just now, the world is too big and time is too much.

My garden this year is running more and more toward falling and climbing sorts of plants, plants that will wind around all of the metals of my balcony and greenly cocoon the end of my apartment. I'm growing three-leaved clovers in the hopes of growing a four-leaved one, and I've sown flower seeds and seedlings in whatever containers I could find. I won't even know what some of them are until they bloom, my usual need for order trumped by this sudden strong longing for the unthinking beauty of growing things. I suspect that this is related to how gray and flat I've been feeling myself, lately.

Some number of weeks ago, a cluster of balloons got tangled in one of the trees I walk past every day on my way to and from work. Most of them managed not to burst on impact and have slowly deflated over the space of days, victims of the wind and small twigs like spikes, of visiting birds, of too many hours. On Monday there was only one left with any air in it at all, a small lump of balloon still holding on while all of its compatriots lay exhausted and tangled in the branches.
By this morning the leaves of the tree had filled in completely, obscuring anything higher than the bottom most branches. I like to think that the final balloon was still a little bit alive when it was finally covered all the way by that tree's leaves. It held on long enough to deserve the shade and the green.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

All rectangles are squares at some point or another, and probably circles too, secretly, somewhere underneath.

We are happiest when fixed in motion, soothed by the motion of winds and ideas across our cheeks, like shipwreck survivors still somewhere longing for the swell of the waves. All of the laughing waiting to happen, resting in our throats, clinking against our vocal cords like ice cubes in a glass.

Our skin looked stained under the halogen lights, all of those shadows burned into our cheeks, eyelashes in place of eyes. Each time the lights buzzed I though about reaching up and loosening their hold on the socket, idly hoping that a touch would cause the bulbs to blister and explode. And each time I thought the same thing about my own skin, that one more touch would weaken all of the strongest bonds, causing all of my pale inches to rupture, both explosions leaving the room in darkness.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

This morning I mailed off my grad school application, and now there's nothing left to do but wait. Waiting is not a skill I actually have, so instead of doing that I'll probably pace around my apartment talking to myself a lot, and drink too much and lie loudly that it doesn't matter, anyway, because the point was trying.

The reason I moved to Seattle, all those years ago, was grad school, and after I didn't get in I came here anyway because the thought of staying in Florida was much worse than starting over somewhere else. But that first rejection was big for me, the first time I had ever not gotten what I wanted academically, and the first time that simply deciding to do something didn't result in actually doing it. My stubborn single-mindedness of purpose ran head first into reality, and it was a long recovery. (It was also what I deserved for being just like every nineteen year old girl ever and writing an application to a literature program about Sylvia Plath. For crying out loud.)

After visiting the mailbox I went to the farmer's market for plant starts, because it's growing season again. I don't think it's possible to explain how much has changed in the last six years, but the girl that talked about flowers in the market, redheaded and wearing a sun dress, was not a girl that most people from before Seattle would have recognized. This town has been good to me so far.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

In the half light you traced the veins running blue under the thinner layers of my skin, hands floating soft like fog down the street. The summer died not that long after, but the heat from that second lingered for months, crackling like the moment after a lightning strike, tasting like oranges and ice cream and salty gulf water.

But we cashed in all our chips and took off down a long straight road, confusing alligators for bourbon and daily shimmering in the heat. I took off my shoes and walked down the middle of the scorching highway, feeling the searing blacktop open the bottom of my feet and blacken the wounds. Driving the wrong way for both sunrises and sunsets, the days all getting shorter but not noticeably so.

Even still now and again a raincloud passes by, gently dropping the feel of soft hands and the savor of long afternoons, and somewhere in the back of my eyes I can taste salt and oranges and heavy heavy sunshine.

(PS, Seattle and I have been together for six years yesterday. In celebration, today I reorganized this and did this.)

Monday, May 04, 2009

A few weeks ago, a man at a bus stop gestured to the starlings hopping around in the grass and told me that these were birds that were not native, that they were introduced to this country by someone who wanted to live in a land that had all the birds in Shakespeare.

I looked it up, later, and learned that the starling only shows up in Shakespeare once, in the first Henry IV, when Hotspur says that he will teach a starling to say Mortimer's name and then give it to the king to keep his anger up. If it's true that this is how the starling landed on our soil, I have to admire that person's dedication to Shakespeare's world, to recreating all of those tiny visions from someone else's head on someone else's land.

In any case, now there are more starlings here than most of the birds flying here as natives. The starlings in the grass by the bus stop, it turned out when I looked closer, were picking at the grass for insects just around the remains of a crow.

Friday, May 01, 2009

There's not a whole lot of difference in the atomic weight of lead and gold, which explains why it is that I can't be quite sure yet which one of them has slipped inside the lining of my pockets. It's possible that I might not find out until the lead settles in my bones. Maybe I only think that my footsteps weigh a thousand pounds, but then maybe they actually do.

There's this toxic pit in Montana, the Berkeley Pit, that was abandoned by a copper mining outfit and slowly filled with water, leaching all the minerals and metals out of the rocks, becoming sterile and dead and full of heavy metal poisons. No one thought that anything could ever live there again, that it was too acidic for even the most basic forms of life.

But one day someone found a bit of slime floating on the surface, slime made up of protozoa that had decided to take up the challenge. They used the sunlight to turn the water around them livable, increasing the oxygen under the surface and making the metals oxidize, eating all of the lead and keeping it under their own skin. And when they die they sink to the bottom, little envelopes of lead, leaving sludge easily scooped up and mined for the useful leftover metals.

Given time, and a little sunshine, these tiny little organisms might just save the unsaveable.