Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Most nights I wake up alarmed, pulled through sleep to lay rigid, scared of the shapes the dark has turned my familiar objects in to. A small section of my brain always clears its throat and tries to think logically, but the rest of it is too sure that my standing mirror has become an axe murderer to pay much attention.

This is an old habit by now--almost nightly for the last few months--and I deal with it almost reflexively by imagining all of the lives I could be living elsewhere right now. A house on an empty stretch of beach, maybe, smelling of the sharp tang of salt water, with a dog and a small girl with long curly hair trailing sand through the doorway. An apartment made of glass, high up, smelling of furniture polish and tomato sauce, with my hair pulled back and glasses on. Standing on a front porch near a mountain, someone else's horses in view just near a distant line of pine trees, hand on a rough wooden rocking chair. Other lives in other places. Slowly my muscles start to relax and my brain resolves what I think is there with what is actually there. A mirror, a bathrobe, the sound of a bus rumbling past outside. Quiet and softly lonely, and definitely actually mine.

There's always a phrase I am thinking of that is comforting (lately, "happy in the bathtub in the abacus of the rains" from an Elvis Perkins song), and I repeat it to myself, running it through my fingers like beads in a dark room that is familiar and safe again. Finally my hearbeat slows, and I settle back to sleep.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

It was the weakness of the floorboards that drew us inside, holding hands and waiting to crash through, smears of char on our cheeks, yesterday's bourbon still filming our tongues. The house had burned down a week before, at the end of a long road just outside of town. Neither one of us had spent any time in a house with more than one level, and stairs and danger held an allure that we couldn't deny.

The floor held and we were grateful, limbs and skin unbroken.

In the dark under the streetlights you smelled of citrus fruit just turning sour, a hank of my hair wrapped around your wrist, speaking deep and slow. It was only there on the sidewalk that the ground finally broke and we fell through.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's fall now, and all I want to talk to anyone about anywhere is clothes, because dressing for fall is far more interesting than dressing for any other season. It's difficult to keep myself from steering all conversation to the merits of dusty pink tights and mustard cardigans and my foray into high-waisted skirts and slightly hilarious pirate-y boots. I'm finally getting the hang of the whole layering thing--they should give you an introductory class in it when you move out of the South, because it does not come naturally--and clothes make life so interesting.

The weather is not yet cooperating, of course, which is making me growly. I'm impatient for piles of leaves and hugging boys in cozy charcoal sweaters and making soup. The spiders are packing up and moving inside, but the outside places are just not paying attention yet. I am restless, and waiting for something to happen.

(PS, I made it through a Monotonix show, and nothing even got lit on fire.)

Monday, September 21, 2009

We spent the last weekend of summer the way that we've spent most of the rest of these summer weekends--eating and drinking and laughing. (Although yesterday I met a walrus, which was novel. And gross. Walrus, as it turns out, are unsavory creatures.) I get the feeling that in the future this summer is the kind that will always be sort of soft and sepia whenever we think about it, all full of inside jokes and ice cream and dance parties and little adventures and long, lazy afternoons. And a walrus, chewing on his fingernails. Flippernails? Whichever.

My intention is for all of this to lead smoothly into a fall full of soft sweaters and hugs and steamy bars. It's neither interesting nor exciting, which is certainly an idea that I am having difficulty grasping, but it's working out pretty well so far. I'm sure that life will get harrowing again eventually whether I want it to or not.

Friday, September 18, 2009

In the dark I watched your teeth shine as you spoke. I could see you wondering about my folded hands, about the curve of my spine away from your space, but I couldn't tell you that in my mind I was fighting an image that kept rising up, unbidden, of you leaning over with those shiny teeth and biting open my eye. The image won, in the end, and I sat there writhing, almost feeling the slight resistance and plump watery pop, the taste of all the things I have seen coating your tongue. It wasn't fair, but I was always afraid of your teeth after that, flinching whenever your mouth drew too near.

What I remember most, though, is standing on the shore late one chilly night and watching the waves shatter against your shins. The broken droplets flung themselves to either side of you and hung in the air for a moment, considering, before dying on the sand just behind where you stood. Inside each of them, for just a second, hung a tiny moon.

(PS, if you want to read about how Elvis Perkins in Dearland charmed my pants off--not actually, but very nearly--at Bumbershoot, you can do so here.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Three music memories:

1. Driving home at 2 am, during the end of the summer of 2001. A rainstorm is pounding on the top of my car, one of those tropical Florida summer storms with fists, and I am in love and driving a little too fast on the Courtney Campbell Causeway above a Tampa Bay that is roiling and seething. Poe's "Haunted" album is in my stereo and just as the chorus to "Hey Pretty" kicks in all of the lights on the bridge go dark, and suddenly I could be driving straight into the water or to anywhere at all, but the Morse code of the rain mixes in with the song and I know I'll make it home safe.

2. Fall of 1993, Salt-n-Pepa's "Very Necessary" has come out and "Shoop" has taken over the radio. Closeted in my bedroom my best friend and I are trying to make up our own choreographed dance, but we are 10 and 11 and the lyric "lick him like a lollipop should be licked" makes us laugh so hard we can't stand up.

3. Late at night in the fall of 2005, softly lonely. I have been curled around a book of E E Cummings poems all evening in my glasses and bathrobe and, frustrated, step out onto my balcony. The night smells of fires in fireplaces and damp and leaves that are changing color, and from some other open window nearby drifts a song from The Sea and Cake's 1995 album "The Biz". I can feel the frown in my forehead smoothing itself and something soft and warm thumps down in my heart. As I turn to go to back inside and to bed the music turns up louder, just for a second, and then fades away.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

In the Ural mountains in 1959 nine hikers died under mysterious circumstances. They got lost in a snowstorm and set up camp somewhere unfamiliar, and they never came down again. Three of the hikers had terrible internal injuries--skull damage, chest fractures--but no external wounds. One was missing her tongue. They were all found outside of their tent, under dressed for the snowy conditions, and their footprints the only ones around, their tent ripped open from the inside.

Officially, they all died because of an "unknown compelling force".

They were all maybe blinded and maybe covered in radiation, maybe all rendered gray haired that night. They were maybe killed by military testing or avalanches or UFOs or a yeti or the Iron Giant, irradiated and angry about being blown up. The Soviet government closed the area for three years and made all the files secret for thirty years, piling mysteries on top of tragedy. There could be an explanation out there somewhere, buried under everything else, but not one that would suit. Mystery always tastes better than fact.

In case you were wondering what I've been thinking about, lately.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Bumbershoot weekend is hard on my knees and feet and shoulders, but it's worth it. There's something physical in hauling myself at top speed back and forth across Seattle Center for three days, watching people play instruments, taking photos for three songs and running somewhere else to do it again, that is missing from most of my days. (Which is for the best, since I am poorly put together and would likely disintegrate after more than three days of hard labor.) My shoes are covered in mud and I can't straighten my left leg, but man, did I ever see some good music.

At one point yesterday I limped into a giant empty room early for the next set. The band was still doing their soundcheck, and there were only a handful of us standing in that room full of echoes and reverb and guitar, and I couldn't imagine being anywhere else.

Now, I just need someone to carry me around until my knee heals.

(PS, the Bumberphotos are here.)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Any birthday that ends in magic wands, a cake with pink icing and jam, and drinking champagne until 4 am is ok by me. Having fun is one of our marketable skills.

It's Bumbershoot weekend, so if you need me I'll be over on the Metblog talking about music, magic, and probably the rain.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Today is my 27th birthday.

Being 26 wasn't all bad, but it was boring. I've spent the last year healing and distancing and figuring things out, and while it has undoubtedly been good for me, it has also not been very exciting. I miss heat and motion and color.

So to kick off 27 I'm taking back the No Touching Rule and abandoning the No Feelings Plan and, oh, all of it. I think too much, and it just doesn't do me any good. I'm in the market for less thinking and more adventures.

Tonight we'll cram too many people into my regular bar and I'll probably laugh until I cry at least twice. It makes my heart creak to consider all the love I have directed straight at me lately. I am a lucky girl.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

On our way up the mountain we stopped a a viewpoint between clouds and next to a rocky outcrop, one that looked down on a valley ropey with trees. A group of people stood clustered at the base of the outcrop, and one man stood at the edge with a metal box in his hands. I figured they were geocaching, and while I found it unusual when the man mentioned something about surgical staples I didn't even pause to think about it. Who knew what one might find in those boxes, after all, and I had flowers to catalog and trees to introduce myself to.

It was only when we were heading back to the car and my friend offhandedly mentioned the people scattering ashes that I really paused and considered what had transpired on those rocks. The huddle of people, the forced laughs, the surgical staples. Standing in the wind and the traveling wisps of clouds, saying goodbye.

We tumbled back into the car like puppies, eager to continue toward the top and our picnic, forgetting in minutes about those people and their sad errand. I like to imagine that they too had a picnic planned somewhere up in the clouds where they would reminisce about the person they had just surrendered to the breezes and the carpets of purple wildflowers.