Monday, August 31, 2009

We went to Mt. Rainier this weekend, mostly because my friends have tired of my steadfast refusal to believe that the mountain exists. This is a thing that I do, sometimes, decide to not believe in something despite clear evidence to the contrary. (See also: snow, live armadillos.) I do it partly because it amuses me to gently exasperate the people I love by claiming outrageous things and refusing to believe all proof that I am wrong, but mostly because it's a convenient shorthand to use to remind myself not to lose a sense of wonder at the world. I find that things are more amazing when I try not to take them for granted, and I am into things being amazing.

Mostly I am poorly timed, just a little too late or a little too early, awkwardly trying to make up the difference and failing. I laugh too often and sometimes too loudly, fidget too much, stumble through my sentences riddled with unwieldy enthusiasm. Volcanoes and I have these things in common, I think.

The mountain was mostly shrouded in clouds, clearing sometimes to show us whole sweeps of meadows and a glimpse of the glacier. We picnicked cocooned gently in a cloud that muffled all the noise from the road and other picnicking families, walked up to Paradise barely able to see in front of us. And then things cleared, the way they always do, and we walked up to a waterfall surrounded by nuns, moisture sparkling on all of the greenery. By the time we started back down, the clouds had returned, covered all those footsteps we had just left in the air.

I sometimes forget that we live just past the base of a volcano, that one of these days it's going to get fed up and explode and spread lahars all over those meadows. I'm glad it turned out to be a place that is actually there.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In the summertime we went to minor league baseball games, all the cousins and friends that could be gathered and stuffed in cars to be chaperoned by my nan and her partner in crime, the unsinkable Mrs. Webster. My friend and I weren't interested in baseball and instead roamed the small stadium in our bruised shins and giant tshirts, picking at mosquito bites and eyeing the boys running the speed-throw booth until they noticed and we could run away shrieking, her blond and my brown hair trailing behind us like capes. Back up in the seats, the sun beat evenly, the railings too hot to touch and the seats searing the backs of our thighs.

In the evenings we would shut ourselves in my room and choreograph dances to the latest R&B hits, talk about those boys behind the booths and what we would have said to them if we had had the use of our wits.

In the usual way of things my nan has ended up trapped barely speaking under a mountain of Parkinson's Disease and Mrs. Webster is long dead, my friend and I on different coasts and my hair no longer brown. But we are still not interested in baseball, our shins are still bruised. I still run away from boys and only later have something to say. Everything is changed except for what is exactly the same, and walking through certain patches of sunlight on unthinking afternoons the pavement smells just like those baseball games. For a moment, then, fifteen years ago is the same time as right now.

Monday, August 24, 2009

On my doorstep I found a bag of plums, still seemingly warm from the sun. The waning days of summer always make my angry robot strongest, so I am trying hard to remember the things that I will miss instead of being impatient for crisp afternoons and tights and steamy evenings curled in bars. The angry robot likes how all of this sun hurts my eyes, likes how unhappy I am getting to all places red-faced and sweating.

And so I am trying, eating ice cream in shaded parts of the park and reading books on my balcony until sunset, trying to ignore these all reason sads and spend time only in happy doings. Trying to just plain make fewer mistakes until I at least figure out how to make new ones instead of the same old ones over and over again. I've got ambitious plans to cram the fall full of attitude and fashion and hijinks, but there's still so much summer to get through, and my angry robot is humming along.

Until the rains come back I'm looking for straws, for friendly bags of fruit and the warm evening sun on the soles of my feet, for new friends and new recipes. Until the rains come back I'll be waiting on the couch, watching James Bond movies and biding my time.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

And then there was the day we stopped holding our breath walking past graveyards, figuring that ghostly possession would at least be interesting. All of those dead people probably had the answers to questions we'd never think to ask, and who were we to argue if they wanted to take a little ride around town? The astrolabes we'd implanted under our skin weren't giving us the sort of fix on the stars we were looking for, and there was something compelling about all those brown and crumbling headstones, something comforting in the words and numbers rubbed by time almost to nothing.

Under the Hagia Sophia they discovered under water some 800-year-old graves of canonized children. They're in mysterious tunnels 1,000 feet below tourist Istanbul, but history doesn't seem to have left us a record of just what all of those sainted children were doing down there. If Rome taught me anything it's that there are tunnels underneath everywhere, filled with secrets and mystery and the ponderous weight of the past.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Yesterday in the park a mostly-toothless Native American man with a can of beer in hand approached us and introduced himself as the mayor of Seattle. We were sitting under a tree enjoying the breeze, and he sat down nearby and offered to buy me some socks. I declined, so he escalated to pantyhose, a girdle, and finally false teeth. I agreed to the false teeth.

Later, in a different part of the park, the mayor came by again. He told us some terrible jokes and then fixed me with an unstable grin and some sincere finger guns, enthusing about my potential new false teeth. I think that false teeth for everyone is a platform that I can get behind.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yesterday was my final presentation, which means that I'm done with my first quarter of school, which means that I am on vacation for the next few weeks. I took the next couple of days off of work, so I am going to spend a lot of extra time sitting in the park.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Franz Reichelt was a tailor who invented an overcoat parachute. No one seems to know if he tested it alone before he brought it to the public, hopping off of fences and rooftops to drift slowly down and land with a satisfied thump on his own two feet. What we do know is that one day he jumped off the Eiffel Tower, confident in the integrity of his garment, and plummeted 60 meters to leave a measurable dent in the turf at the bottom. The whole thing was caught on video, the seconds of falling and the dust cloud raised by that final thump, and just before he jumps you can see him hesitating, looking at the ground, wondering if leaping was in fact the best idea.

And then he jumped anyway.

I think that we'll soon enough run out of ground to bury ourselves under, that we're going to get wider and wider and not like the thought of the dead laying under our feet. And then we'll only have space and water left. In the deepening shadows of most early evenings I want to settle my eyes in the half-moon shadows under you cheekbones and ask for your preference but I can't quite manage. I'm not yet sure exactly why.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I found my first four leaf clover yesterday, sitting on the grass under a tree with some friends, fuzzy from too few hours of sleep between the end of a dance party and brunch. I shifted the napkin from my ice cream cone to the side, looking for a place to put my hand, and found that it had been there all the time. Half an inch to the right and I would have covered it completely.

Later, a leaf covered in the softest down tumbled from the tree into my lap.

Friday, August 07, 2009

It started out as a story about, I don't know, revelations and sincerity and the empty shuddery thrill of looking into an empty sky and seeing a lone bird winging out toward the horizon. But it didn't fit, not really, like sitting in front of a panel of psychotherapists and being asked to, without using the words "happy", "life", or "I", describe what it means to be fulfilled. You would answer, if you could, but all you can think of is the moment, earlier in the day, when your sweater snagged on the door of the bus and started to unravel. And that's not a story to fit the situation, even if it is the one that feels the best.

I wake up in the middle of the night often already standing somewhere else, and though I can sometimes remember leaving my bed with conviction I am usually confused about why. Lost in my own apartment and a little bit in my own head.

In the kingdom of forced metaphors it's almost always the birds who wear the crown, inhabiting as they do all of the vast open spaces. Revelations are usually the saddest things with wings.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The one battle I'm always losing is the one with gravity, coming out of even the quietest of weekends dappled with bruises and scrapes. My knees and shins are always bumped and shaded purple. A couple of weeks ago I had a suspiciously hand-shaped bruise wrapped around my left side, and this week the back side of my shoulder is healing itchily from presumably careening wildly into something or another in my apartment last weekend. I don't ride a bicycle ever mostly because I'm sure I'll end up losing a leg. As I get older I become more and more convinced that the only reason I haven't yet broken anything is because my bones are made of rubber.

My birthday is coming up, and last year at birthdaytime was when I started the No Feelings Plan. It's worked out pretty well, about which more later, but I'm thinking about implementing a plan for this year that's more about physically feeling less, in falling down ways. Learning to be graceful and not quite so covered in bruises.

Monday, August 03, 2009

In truth, all I want right now is this:
On the grass in the slowly cooling evening, fuzzy with whiskey and wine and chocolate and laughing, and suddenly a telltale his and rattle just across the path. Two yellow dresses and one blue one running shrieking through the sprinklers, too suddenly for documentation to follow, describing a bright parabola through the gathering dew and the quieting night. And then collapsing back on the blanket, dabbing at dark blue spots on my lighter blue silk, breathless and ready for champagne and later hot dogs. Unplanned and perfect.