Monday, June 29, 2009

On Friday night I made my debut as a cocktail waitress, which seems like it should have been a spectacularly bad idea, given how clumsy I tend to be. But a friend of mine needed help and in this post-Michael economy we could all use a little extra cash, so I gave it a shot and didn't fall over even once. My next trick will be to pull a rabbit out of a hat.

Saturday turned out to involve piling 10 people into a van with a side door that wouldn't close for a trip to the beach. Five of those people had just finished a half marathon and were in varying states of injured, sore, and bloody. Marathons, like cocktailing, are not as easy as they look. (None of it looks even remotely easy, actually.)

And yesterday was the end of gay pride weekend, so I closed out the night dancing at a leather bar in a sweaty press of shirtless men all kissing each other and yet still, somehow, ending up kissing someone myself. So far I am quite fond of the shape of this summer.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

You know, I had something else I was going to say, but I am too busy being bummed about Michael Jackson. In my baby book my mom wrote that one of my first phrases was, "Michael Jackson! Yeah! Alright! I like that!" When I got a record player in my room I listened to "Bad" over and over and over again, and no one will ever be able to convince me that the video for "Billie Jean" is not the greatest video ever made. With the shoes! And the light up sidewalk!

He was a tragic, brilliant mess, and most of my early years were lived to his songs. His death has kind of derailed me.

Monday, June 22, 2009

In World War II Japan built bombs tied on to balloons that they released into the jet stream in hopes of bombing forests and cities from across the ocean. They launched 9,000 of them, and about 300 were found or seen in North America, although they were hoping to land about 900 of them. (The rest, I suppose, were eaten by whales or sank all the way to the bottom of the water to give the Kraken a nice massage.)

They were assembled out of mulberry paper and edible paste, which the young girls putting them together frequently stole to eat, and their bombs were set to be lit and dropped after three days in the air. The balloons made it as far as Detroit, some of them, exploding all over the West coast and even short circuiting the power at the Hanford nuclear site.

The balloon bombs didn't do a lot of damage, except for the day that one killed six people in Oregon during a church picnic, while they were trying to pull the balloon from a tree. There had been a media blackout about the bombs, because no one wanted Japan to know if any of them were reaching land, so none of the people in the cities where they were landing had any idea that they should stay away.

The rest of them could still be out there, somewhere, in forests or ponds or trees, waiting. Maybe they're all corroded and unexplodable, all of the cracks in their metal pieces exploited by the plants, covered over, disconnected. Future archaeologists will find them someday, faded bits of parachute coated in muck and haphazardly preserved, attached to those sad lumps of metal by the impression of strings. They will look just like planters or lawn ornaments, as whimsical as gnomes and flamingos, stripped of their danger and therefore unrelated to bombs.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

We set out a box on the curb labeled "Free!" and full of everything we no longer needed. Bouquets from the weddings of couples who are now divorced, math books full of equations that never added up, ghost stories and butterflies and sugar packets and the bones we found papered in behind the kitchen wall. The neighbors took most everything in the night--well, someone did, and whether it was the neighbors or the squirrels or a roving band of hermit crabs is anyone's guess--and the sides of the box crumpled a little in the morning dew. It all smelled of mildew and roses and celery.

Left at the bottom was a tumbled layer of crackling flower petals, exclamation points, and a snake oil cure for heartache. We held our breath as we looked at it, waiting for it to be sad in the way all left-behind things are, but just at that moment a shaft of sunlight broke through the tree behind us and coaxed a rainbow from that snake oil like a turbaned charmer with a golden recorder.

There was nowhere to go from there but sideways.

Monday, June 15, 2009

We have two weapons in the summer of not overthinking, and those are drinking and remaining well-behaved. And I must say that though it is boring, keeping my hands to myself certainly does calm everything down. I haven't smashed anything in ages, and there are few people that I am embarrassed to run into on the street. I can see the appeal, although I am having a hard time with it lately.

I guess that's not entirely true, though. There are other weapons. Hugging and making plans helps. Dancing for hours on a twisted ankle, eating french fries, sitting in parks. Playing catch and sleeping until afternoon. Napping with all the windows open.

It's all very pleasant, of course. Like an ad for jeans, all sunny and carefree, attractive people with sunglasses and terrific hair. Which is making it a little difficult not to spent a lot of time thinking about how everything will go wrong. I usually am my own biggest obstacle.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My mom has been scanning some of the photos that she found after my granddad died. My granddad grew up in Pinellas County, and so did my mom and so did I, and my veins are all tied up in that ground. Like this photo, taken under the old Kapok tree, which is over 400 years old and right down the street from my mom's house now. Back then, it was still on my great grandpappy's property. By the 1960's someone had opened up a restaurant with crazy ballrooms and giant gardens. Now there's a music store there, but the Kapok tree is still standing.

All these photos of picnics in the park that was eventually my mother's backyard and where I learned to drive, of people that I've never even heard of, of beaches I went to to kiss boys. My favorite photo of my grandparents, evidence of where my love of books came from, the origin of my giant clown ears and unconscious smirk. All of it in black and white but under the same hot blue sky of my own memories. I can hear the cicadas rising in all of these photos because it's the same sound that lines my own ears.

It's why my whole relationship with the place is so complicated, I think, why I ran so far but still dream in heat and sand.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Walking home in the earlier end of the night, Self got a conspiratorial grin on my face and nudged me in the ribs, eyebrows raised, suggesting that we have been so well behaved for too long, that it's time for running away and changing names. Time to go hunting in the Palouse for those worms that smell like lilies, time for bonfires and holding hands and kicking shins and talking too much about boats. Time to move to Argentina and learn how to cook.

I scowled at Self, shook my head firmly. We will not be moving to Argentina or kicking anything or finding fragrant white worms. We have things going on, plans coming up, drinking on patios and sitting in parks to do.

Self grumbled, and for a moment we paused and considered the poppies grown up along the road, trying to regather our truce. Those poppies are almost done for the season, their petals almost flat, nearly falling off. A month ago their petals were all furled, tucked under a little cap. I looked at Self and Self looked at me and we both shrugged and continued walking. Some of our conflicts won't bear resolving.

Monday, June 08, 2009

You would think that only having two weeks to go before my first quarter of grad school starts would put a limit on how much worrying and overplanning I am able to do, but you would be wrong. I am extremely fond of planning, and knowing exactly what is going to happen, and it's been three whole days since I got my letter and I still haven't been able to register for a class. (Ok, so two of those days were a weekend, but still.)

I like to do things as far in advance as possible, because it's too easy to forget important details at the last minute. Sadly, the universe generally refuses to conform to my plans for it, and right now is no exception. Also unfortunate is the fact that I will do just about anything in the universe to avoid talking to people on the telephone, which means that I will be waiting for things to silently resolve themselves for as long as I can possible stand. (Tomorrow, probably.)

In celebration I drank a lot of whiskey and then bought myself a tiny gray computer. Now all I need is to know where and when my tiny new computer and I should show up.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Internet! Starting in about two weeks I will be a graduate student at Seattle University. As late as yesterday I had myself convinced that if I did get in it would be for summer quarter of next year, so now I am kind of hyperventilating. Though not in a bad way.

Holy moly, I got in to grad school. The third time, as it turns out, actually is a charm.

So it look like big changes are coming! I'm only planning to take one class this quarter, to ease back into this school thing after being away from it for six years. And then, in about two and a half years, you will all be able to call me Master. I mean, officially.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Captain Toby and I have declared this the summer of not overthinking, which, given that overthinking comes to me even more naturally than breathing, means that it is probably actually going to be the summer of strenuous denial. But I've never yet been able to turn down something done in the name of adventure, and in either case the outcome should be fun.

I went on kind of a fun bender there for a couple of weeks, out every night and all available afternoons, sitting in parks eating ice cream and drinking tequila, having and going to bbq's, making up nicknames and always, always laughing. I came home at dawn for the first time in ages last weekend, having been snugged in a basement nest full of friends for hours watching a movie with a warm hand resting just above my knee. In my garden, everything is growing, even the experiments that I was sure would fail, and every day each one of those plants is different.

My instincts always lead toward smashing, toward lighting everything on fire, but just right now that seems like too much effort. My angry robot wants it, but my hands are too busy petting friendly dogs to do anything else. Seems like as good a time as any for the summer of not overthinking to start.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

This is a thing I don't normally do, but: some friends of mine are running the Rock n Roll Seattle half marathon to raise money for another friend's AVID class, since the universe is kind of made of budget cuts these days. These are kids who are mostly from low income or minority families, who will probably be the first in their families to go to college, and they need support for SAT prep and college visits and all sorts of good things.

So, I mean, good cause. This is a first marathon for everyone, I think, which is kind of a big thing. We're into changing the world, though, especially while wearing silly costumes, and so this is happening.

I will not be running, because that would be embarrassing for everyone, since I run like a five year old, but I will be handing out shots at strategic places and doing a lot of jumping and screaming and high fives at the end. Although maybe if enough of you donate from here we can work out some sort of something awesome.

Really, though, you want to sponsor this marathon team. Promise.

Monday, June 01, 2009

We asked only for heat and movement, careening wildly forward with elbows out scraping the walls, both leaving behind and taking along. Talking like a rabbit warren, all twists and dust and dead ends that only we with our long ears and swift feet could navigate safely. When we emerged we were always cracked and bloody and covered with dirt and sweat and tears, but also unselfconsciously convinced that we had never before been so alive.

Only one day we held a buttercup up to the moon and found all stained yellow a light riddled with cracks and broken places, solid proof that the meteors we had been flinging at each other were damaging everything else, too. And we learned too late that running over a daffodil too early will force it never to bloom again, all greens but no yellows. So in the name of no longer tearing down we tucked in our elbows and kicked dirt over our flames, and learned to walk in running ways. We came strolling out of doors we had never entered, like cameos in a cartoon.

Even still I am not convinced that saving the moon is worth the absence of fever, and coming home at dawn clearheaded and friendly makes my hands curl in smashing ways, makes my elbows reach for the jagged walls. Restless, I tear at my hands unthinking, noticing only when a casual movement causes a jolt of pain through my fingers.

The moon has been around much longer than I have, and withstood far more rocks than I could ever throw.