Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hey there, 2009.

At the beginning of you, I said, "I am going to go ahead and decide right now that this year is going to be awesome, and full of cookies and aardvarks and pangolins and robots and movies and whiskey and friends and memories and smiles and high fives." And man, I should consider a career as a prophet, because that is totally what happened.

2009 was a calm, calm year, full of laughing and not a lot else, which was exactly what I needed it to be after all the turmoil and crying in cabs of the last few years. I didn't have any relationships so I didn't have any breakups to recover from, and none of my people died. I found my first wild four leaf clover. Nothing happened in 2009 aside from starting graduate school, and I am ok with that. I wrote some things, but by and large 2009 looked like a jeans ad, all attractive people smiling in the sun, and I imagine that I will always look back on it fondly but absently.

The year can be summed up, I think, by two photos: this one, in which I have just cooked dinner with some of my favorite people and we are planning a surprise party when someone said something funny and we all laughed until we cried. I laughed so hard it hurt a lot this year. And then there is this, looking straight down a mountain covered in flowers and fog and seeing only a quiet beautiful field with something else beautiful behind it, just hidden in the clouds.

I really needed you, 2009. Even though I fought hard against all of my impulses for shattering and breaking and setting on fire, for heat and motion and madness. I have called you boring, and you were, but boring isn't really bad. Not always.

But for 2010, less boring! In a good way. I spent a lot of time deliberately not doing things because I didn't want to deal with the fallout, and there has to be a way in the middle. So that's my plan: finding the middle way toward hilarity and fulfillment without being either monastic or destructive. No problem.

Thanks for taking it easy on me, 2009. I'll pause in the middle of my dance party to drink in your honor tonight.


Where the chalk-white arrows go

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hey, tradition! Here is 2009 in pictures:

and my favorite things documented by other people:

2009 has not been amazing, but it has also not been awful, so I am ok with how it has all turned out.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The whole traveling experience turned out to be alarmingly easy, with not a single line at security and all flights on time. By the time my last flight came in early and my luggage even earlier, I was prepared to face something like a burned down apartment when I got home--my luck is never that good, and I am usually a pretty lucky flier.

I always forget about flying over the country at Christmastime, all of those towns that I may never go to twinkling sweetly with Christmas lights, little constellations strung across the dark ground, not thinking about the airplane flying lonely and quiet above them.

There were deer only 20 feet or so away from us on Wednesday--closer than I have ever been to a deer--and I would have liked to have paused and looked at them except that I was on the back of a renegade horse with a serious dislike for mud and also for me. (Probably because I kept up a running monologue about how I didn't trust it, although to be fair to me I only started that after the first time it took me into the the trees.) I'm sure that they were adorable or majestic or whatever it is that deer are when they're not running away, but by that point in the ride all I wanted in the world was to not be on that horse any more.

Christmas morning is a lot more my speed these days, now that my brothers are old enough to sleep past 6 am and the event can start with bellinis and end with eating a thing made almost entirely of cheese and ham.

The best part of going away is coming home, cresting the hill on the interstate by the West Seattle bridge exit and seeing my town spread all glittery just ahead.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, friends! So far there has been a very, very Southern variety show, a movie about blue cat people, a lot of dog petting, and getting a knee trapped between a tree and a horse. Some of these things have been more fun than others, but on the other hand my knee is turning a lot of festive shades of red and blue and green and yellow.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm heading to North Carolina tonight for Christmas, which should be entertaining because I love airports, even during the holidays. I like how anonymous airports are, and I like watching people going places. I don't particularly like sitting on airplanes for a million hours or dealing with the time difference at the end, but that's just what happens when you move 3,000 miles away from your family.

It will be nice to get out of town for a week, since I've had my fill of awkward run-ins in this town for at least the rest of the year. This time last year it was snowing snowing snowing, and life was about to get all brokedown like a French film. (I miss the snow.) This year I'll be lounging with my family and petting some dogs and wrapping presents and going to sleep at reasonable hours.

I take traveling fashion very seriously, because I do not believe that being on an airplane overnight is an excuse to wear sweatpants in public. (I don't believe that anything but the flu is a reason to wear sweatpants in public, and then only to the corner store for nyquil.) I think that the most comfortable traveling outfit is a long-sleeved black dress, tights, and my favorite gray ankle boots, with a scarf that I bought in Italy that is big enough to double as a blanket for freezing airplanes. Now if only I could figure out how to sleep on airplanes, everything would be awesome.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holy crap I'm standing on a lake!

You see? I sure did stand on a lake.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

People are starting to round up the last decade in lists and things, and I can't even deal--10 years is a mighty long time, y'all. I have trouble enough just pulling together my thoughts on each year on its own. (Which reminds me, I forgot the six year anniversary of this thing here. Happy anniversary, thing.)

But! The facts are these: a whole lot of things are different from what they were 10 years ago. When it turned 2000, I was 17 and walking along a sidewalk in a neighborhood in Pinellas Park, Florida with a friend and my ex boyfriend who was about to start dating that friend. I was also grumpy, and presumably half drunk on some concoction involving peach schnapps and Albertson's brand vodka. The boy was a baseball player who had Jared Leto hair.

In the intervening time I have done all of the things that you can do in 10 years--gone to college, moved 3,000 miles to a town full of strangers, built a pretty incredible life full of amazing people. I've been to Canada and China and Italy, started graduate school, met David Crosby and Graham Nash in a bar in Delaware. There have been births and deaths and boyfriends and notboyfriends and a whole lot of makeouts and shenanigans. A whole decade is quite a lot of time.

Really, the main thing is this: things have been good, and are always getting better.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We made it back from Whistler not even a little bit frostbitten. The weekend involved the usual amount of impromptu dance parties and hilarity, and a very memorable afternoon spent dangling a whole lot of feet above the ground in a little box strung between two mountain tops. Which would have been a whole lot scarier were we not fortified by the bottle of cinnamon whiskey I had hidden in my purse.

On Saturday afternoon a couple of us broke off from the main group and rented what were possibly unnecessary snow shoes in order to crunch our way out to a lake. Snow shoes are a whole lot louder than I would have thought, but we hauled ourselves around the lake and walked out on to the beach right at the prettiest of hours. The ice was smooth and some people in the distance were playing hockey, and we stepped out of our shoes and gingerly out on to the ice. The only sounds were the cheers coming from the game across the lake and the boom of the ice cracking a little somewhere in the distance, and then right under my feet.

(Hey, bonus: here is a video that Josh made when we didn't know he was making a video, in which I stare at my snowshoes a lot because I am so incredibly in love with snow.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

We're heading up to Whistler for a long weekend, to revisit the hilarity of the out of town life and find the Bumble and establish a peppermint mine, or whatever it is that people do in snowy mountain places. I will probably end up freezing to death in the woods somewhere, as this past week has taught me that I do not have the required arctic wardrobe, but fortunately for me there is also a hot tub involved. So that probably all equals out.

I'm actually really excited, because there will be SNOW everywhere for days, and I'm sure there will come a time that I am a big snow grump like everyone else, but that time is not now. I don't think the altitude of Whistler is high enough to give me space poisoning, and it is basically going to be a solid four days of fun times, with luck.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Sitting around a table the talk turned, as it often does, to technology, and then to the invention of cars and the way it must have felt the moment that it became possible to move so quickly. I made a joke about how I probably would have been something of a Luddite even then--what are you doing with all that time you're saving going so fast, what's wrong with good old horses--but it really wasn't a joke. I genuinely don't think that newer is always better or that faster is more fun than slower. What's wrong with taking the long cut or talking to the people in front of me instead of fiddling with a tiny computer in my pocket? I wish all this technology would get off my lawn. Maybe progress doesn't always mean something new and extra shiny.

But I guess some of us have to be old fashioned, if only to stay a fixed point that everyone else is moving away from. I already have in this bag all of these quaint ideas about love and friendship and manners, so maybe I'll stop feeling guilty about preferring my own slower, quieter ways. Some of us just aren't made to move so fast.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The bank down the street from me left its sprinklers on overnight, so when I left to walk to work this morning the sidewalk for half the block was a solid sheet of ice, all sparkly in the morning sun. I thought that I had prepared for the cold by wearing pants instead of a dress, but navigating an ice rink before coffee was very nearly beyond me.

It was a waste of water, all that ice spread over the sidewalk, but it sure was pretty--all layers and ribbons and tiny ice confetti. I would rather have stayed there to watch what happened to it, what melted first and where it all went, but there were other things that had to be done. It's supposed to be record-breakingly cold this week, though, so with a little luck there will be more ice to come. I'll have my snow boots ready, just in case.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Sometimes the weight of all of this looking pulls too heavily on my elbows, until I'm not sure that I can any longer hold up the heft of all of these things. There is too much to see and no way to cram it all into my eyeballs, to fix it in the back of my brain.

I think sometimes that we are mithridatizing ourselves to all of this beauty, letting these slow sweet poisons drip through our veins because we can't get enough of seeing. Is there any way to keep from becoming immune to what is perfect if we are noticing it all the time? Mithridates himself tried to poison himself and failed because he had spent his life trying so hard not to be poisoned. Surely he knew that it would go wrong but had to try anyway. He tested his immunity and found it true when he least wanted it to be. Someday all of this will cause us to miss what we most want to see.

And sometimes with my eyes closed I can still feel this cupped in my hands, throbbing with tiny mouse heartbeats. I'm never sure then what to say or to who, how to describe when my fingers feel like light blue lace and my arms burnt through like Sunday morning. Sometimes I think I think too much.