Thursday, July 29, 2010

The trouble was that when we jumped out of the stars it was with the sun in our eyes, so we could really tell where we were going until we got there. And then we just had to make the best of it.

Recovering is easier in the summer, visiting other neighborhoods, sitting in parks and petting kittens on leashes. (Seatown, why are you suddenly bringing your cat with you everywhere?) Chatting with people I usually only wave to, corresponding in secret, starting dance parties and collecting mishaps in my fingertips and beautiful things in the backs of my eyes. I'm painting myself into wherever just because I'll have to wait for it to dry. I don't want you in my shopping cart quite yet, but I haven't lined it with spikes and tigers and razor wire either. Not yet.

Sometimes this sort of calm feels false, but for now I think I'm honestly bobbing on top like a little cork girl. I'm not too worried about how heavily I might be weighing on your aqueous humors. In the summer time, there's light enough for all of us.

Monday, July 26, 2010


When I started grad school I had to mostly give up going to see bands all the time, and a lot of the time I miss it. Festivals are their own whole other universe, but there is a very particular thrill involved in all of the running around and shooting a million pictures, pausing for a moment to realize that I was standing in a photo pit taking pictures of a band during the golden hour on the mainstage that was once a band that I first wrote about in 2007 after a free weekday show at a bar that has since closed and then reopened. A little bit of unearned pride in how far people have come and could go next, just in the time I've been watching.

Photos from the weekend are slowly going up here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I consider what you would think, coming across me buried to my knees in a field, scaring away the crows, smelling faintly like jasmine only later, in your memory. I think I would like the feeling of the soil warm around my shins, the sun darkening my freckles and scalding the soft pink of my scalp, the rustle of things growing around my toes. No need for explanations when your only companions are stillness and breezes and thin papery leaves, earthworms and the occasional wandering dragonfly. Perhaps the best way to become tall and strong is to plant ourselves in new soils and see what happens. It could be that I am actually a tree even though I have spent all of this time curled like a fern. We can't always be sure when our secrets are lies.

A few years ago a farmer cobbled together some pieces of fossils, and science called it an archaeoraptor, a missing link. The farmer had told people he found something they all wanted to believe in, hope in the dirt somewhere in China. Everyone got mad when it turned out to be a hoax, but I don't know if it was. Maybe the only way to find a missing link is to make it ourselves.

(Seattle, I'm coming out of retirement for the weekend to take Block Party pictures for these guys. Let's drink beers in the street.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

We keep inventing new ways to look inside and underneath and through, to make it easier to see what before couldn't be seen. Rocks and skins and bones and space. I'm just not sure we're always solving the right mysteries. Everything doesn't need to be made clear.

I'd rather you not see my bones, or any of the universes I keep under my skin. I'd rather we stick strictly to fresh cherries and mantis shrimp and champagne, the mechanics of catching an anteater by the tail, where in the park we plan to sit and lure friendly puppies. Maybe we should play to our strengths. Just for the summer.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The buttercups are mostly gone now, fallen to the lengthening afternoons and rising temperatures, taking back with them their poisons and their shine and their ways of telling the truth. In their places are dandelions, brightly incubating our wishes for the summer. Soon our skies will be full of them.

I keep hoping, you know, like an idiot. For whatever. An explanation or an olive branch or an apology or a carrier pigeon or an explosion. A time machine to last month. I'm not very easily won, but I am pretty easily won back, and I am finding it difficult to believe that it is so easy to disappear on a person. Some lessons I am unlikely to ever learn.

In my garden everything is blooming, falls of bold orange and yellow nasturtiums and climbing shy pink sweet peas, spikes and clumps of red geraniums, little yellow flowers and smaller blue ones. Everywhere I go lately seems to be with an escort of soft white butterflies, and I'll be hanging a hummingbird feeder just as soon as I can figure out how to get up that high. One of these mornings I hope to wake up and find bunnies and baby deer picking out my outfit for the day. All of this color and growing and newness is inexplicably calming. Still, I am ready for the breeze to be burdened with wishes.

If I'm not careful, my face is going to freeze like this.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sometimes I am amazed by our hearts like holy grails, emptied and refilling against science and reason. Crying crumpled in a bathroom full of strangers and later planning 30 new adventures, cracked and leaking at the sight of a blanket bought out of the back of a truck but stretching to find room for new friends made in the late nights. All that time surrounded by laughter that coats your bones like a forcefield, strong and warm and heavy in the hands. All of this serendipity and these warm soft adventures, the jokes and the babies and the flowers and the long walks home.

If this is all, this would maybe be enough. This is more than most are allowed. I have to keep remembering that.

After all, it's only parts of my heart that are broken.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The sad fact is that I was hooked like a largemouth bass, and no amount of distance, common sense, or shouting is going to easily change that.

You learn not to expect much, to avoid thinking about all of the things that should go without saying but somehow have just gone, shaking your head ruefully in your more exhausted moments about all the work of navigating what would be better were it just open road. I have never been good at being coy or mysterious, and I generally want to skip all of the nerves, all of the counting days and calculating hours, and head right to the high fives and open communication. (My way has its own faults, though, since along that path things quickly overwhelm and explode and burn down acres and acres of forest.) My instincts are terrible and without a map my sense of direction worse. And yet this time there were maps and signposts and declarative statements and when that happens, you know, you start to think that this is a path that is new and different and leads to somewhere interesting and worthwhile.

But it wasn't and it didn't. Maybe the maps were wrong or maybe they got left behind. I don't know, exactly, since the declarative statements dried up like a shallow pond and the path up and completely disappeared. Turns out, nothing is different.

You like to think, after all of this work, that you at least have changed. But all you are is that same china figure in that same bull shop, a little more cracked than before, still waiting.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Some of the nights when I'm not sleeping I re-read my grandfather's old Hardy Boys books. In my favorite one they have some trouble with some pirates disguised as smugglers. Which seems to be a pretty ridiculous cover--pirates disguised as smugglers disguised as people on boats. I recognize this thinking, in layers of bad ideas like Russian nesting dolls, figuring that it will all work out because enough bad ideas must cancel each other out.

This thinking never works, pirates disguised as smugglers, take it from me. It always gets uncovered by a couple of upstarts with too much money and an unlikely amount of luck.

I don't pretend to know how any of this works, why we treat each other the way that we do, how regard turns to disregard without even sending a memo. Some days it seems like that's all this is, just a series of people treating each other poorly because it never occurs to them to do otherwise. You know? Only uphill everywhere, bad ideas inside bad ideas.

But then in the late nights, when I have exhausted all of my recriminations for both myself and everyone else, I think about how it's 50 years this week since Atticus Finch told us all that courage is knowing you're going to lose even before you start and going ahead anyway. And how maybe all we're each doing right now is the best we can against the worst odds, even if most of the time our best isn't nearly good enough.

Monday, July 05, 2010

I waited until I got home to ask, because I knew the answer or lack of answer was going to make me cry, and if 2008 taught me anything it's that public crying is worse than any other kind because it's more real and it's impossible to deny. I had gambled big, and I was about to lose big. I could sense it. These are the risks.

So, fine. Everything was broken but there were still parties I had promised to go to, and I could be that girl. Wanted to be that girl--sparkly and shiny and hard, brittle and compelling and more charming than made sense. Just because I had stopped quite some time ago didn't mean that it wasn't easy enough to slip back into being that girl like into a dress too revealing to often wear. That girl did a lot more breaking than being broken, which seemed like the best idea going. It was so nice to see me, said my acquaintances. They'd missed me. As though I had been on a long trip instead of calming down slightly and honestly trying to be less of a jerk. Their smiles clinked against my skin.

But the next night at a wedding I couldn't do it any more. I could write a book on bucking up and smiling and faking "I'm fine" even though your heart is rattling hollowly behind your ribs, but I was spread just a little too thin, had wanted just a little too hard, had believed just a little too much. I love weddings, but they're a very specific kind of difficult, especially for the recently discarded--they allow plenty of time to think about how you accidentally ruined everything without even realizing it while all of the couples are up slow dancing together. And the world tends to look awfully narrow through the bottom of a champagne glass. If I am unlucky in love, though, I am also incredibly rich in friends, and they gave speeches and danced and told jokes and made faces, and even though my date passed out before the cake, at some point I found that my smile was almost no longer fake.

It isn't enough, not really, but it's good enough for now.

Friday, July 02, 2010

I'm pretty simple to figure out, you know, just this clown who went over Niagara Falls in a barrel because it seemed like a good idea and got my stupid clown shoes stuck in the rocks. Sheepish, I might ask you to fetch my red foam clown nose from where it is bobbing in the shallows. My flowerpot hat is probably full of water and already sunk. I won't drown, most likely, but I'll definitely spend a lot of time sputtering foolishly and cursing the waterfall for being so tempting.

Those electric blue butterflies you find in all the shadowboxes, the sparkling Blue Morpho, have tiny ears hidden on their wings, ears more complicated than moth ears--ears that can tell the difference between pitches, not just hear a sound and fly away. They don't know quite why a butterfly might need such advanced little ears, although it probably has something to do with the difference between a singing bird and an attacking bird, between resting and running away. But think of all the songs you could hear, as a butterfly with ears, moving so often and ranging so far, all of the winds moving through all of the stems, all of the gossip from all of the bugs. The different tones in shafts of sunlight at different times of day and the soft fall of the leaves. To be so beautiful and hear so much, spending all of your days sitting quiet on flowers and just listening.

I think I would have made a much better butterfly than I do a girl.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

I'm seeing thistles everywhere lately, climbing hills formerly lined in ivy but now guarded by thistles, rounding corners to find thistles looming, purple-topped and foreboding, thistles in every neighborhood garden and roundabout and curbside grass. Small thistles masquerading as clovers but secretly covered in spines. Thistles where formerly there was nothing. TMS says that it's a sign that the universe is listening to my oft-repeated mantra about thistles bearing unexpected figs, and that the only thing left to do now is to figure out what sign the universe is trying to send me.

Is it mocking me with all of these figless thistles everywhere I turn, or is it promising an abundance of upcoming rewards from all of the up again and at anothering? Have the thistles been reading my horoscope, which has been telling me for months that since Saturn has spent the last two and a half years teaching me lessons it's eventually going to start handing out presents for working so hard to become a better person through all of the death and sorrow and bad luck and failing and near misses and crying in cabs? (Dear Saturn, do you need my address? I could use a serious break.) Or are noxious weeds more interested in rain than sun and therefore faring better than the plants who are waiting for nicer weather?

Life being what it is (a total dick), the universe is probably mocking me, and a weed is probably just a weed. After all, the whole point of combining figs and thistles was originally about how good things don't come from false prophecies, even if Millay sure managed to extract a lot of brilliance out of all of those things.

Here, though, it's more about how thistles are related to asters and daisies, their sweeter, less rebellious cousins, and my irritating tendency to believe that somewhere behind the thorns there might always be flowers--that everything spiny and unforgiving might one day decide to relax and grow fruit. And though I am both very tired and very merry, as a rule, I am also lately plagued by thorns, and a little worried about what that might mean. This kingdom of metaphors always gives us answers, but not always the answers that we want.