Thursday, June 30, 2011

The First Girl

There were officially 5 ways to get into the forest, 10 more unofficial ways, and only two exits anyone had ever been spotted coming out of. As a young girl, she herself was expected to take the easiest way, so that's where they led her, and that's what she took. Because why wouldn't you take the easiest way? They were all headed into the same place, why get yourself all tired and worn out before the story even started? This isn't a metaphor. Nobody is going to learn anything, or become a better person here.

So after a while, her escorts dropped off, and she found herself walking alone in the new part of the forest. All the trees here were young, less than 100 years old, and the ground was covered with soft grass, bushes and flowers. It was pretty out, sunny but not hot. She leaned over to notice in particular these tiny yellow buds, they smelled sweet like vermouth. The girl gathered them in handfuls and stuffed them in her pockets, because this was back when people still picked flowers. Also when people had room in their pockets.

An hour later she was fast passed out against one of the larger tree trunks, on the edge of the center, the forest primeval. You should never just pick flowers without knowing what they are. Okay, so maybe there's one lesson today. Don't pick flowers. You will end up vulnerable and weak, flopped like a rag doll and all alone, while inside the dark shadows of the trees there is a rustling and the Spider King is coming to take you away.

If you have a minute, pop on over here and write me in for best local blog, so if I win I have something to put on my grant applications :) Thanks! Voting ends tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Instead of Telephoning

From Letters of Note

Other blogs I like sometimes more than others:

Crowded Ruins
Back of the Cereal Box

Futility Closet


The Pop Up City

Now gimme some others.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Solstice Party

Let me tell you about the Cleveland Museum of Art. It is one of the unquestionably good things about this city. There is no debate. We have this amazing building, and an awesome collection, and it's free all the time. We all went there on school trips. On weekdays with our Mom. Dates in high school when no one had any money, and then dates later when the two of you were pretending to be more cultured than you actually were. Off days from your shit job when you lived over there with the college kids, and could walk to the reflecting pond there with your coffee and book just to get out of the house for a while. When you were unemployed for those couple months, and would bus around dropping off resumes, then go there and spend the rest of the afternoon just sitting around on various benches thinking about things and people while staring at strange frozen faces in European oil paintings.

This place, that whole Circle of the Natural History Museum with Steggie positioned outside for school kids to climb on, and the Botanical Gardens where that guy kissed you one night after a concert and also where they have the Teddy Bear show and the Orchid show Buddy goes to every year, the art school with its movies and Western Reserve with the pretty cars, and the treat of going to Severance Hall every once in a great while when you can afford it. I mean can you even imagine the hole in your heart that would grow if University Circle didn't exist? It would be like someone chewed off a part of your soul. Raw. Also, how would I get to the East Side ever if it weren't for MLK Drive? I wouldn't, is the answer. That's a memorized path. Always take the Shoreway to MLK, then on the way back go through Clinic Land to 490, for everything over there, which is of course Coventry for bands, and Little Italy for dates and Cedar Lee for movies.

When people who live here tell me they haven't been to the museum ever, I judge them. Sorry, but true. If you want me to stop judging you, then go. It's FREE. What's wrong with you?

So a few years ago, the museum started undergoing huge renovations, which are still in progress and probably will be forever, but hey, it took 200 years to build some churches. And then they started doing this annual Solstice party, and it was the very best idea since the Parade the Circle idea. You can see my pictures from the first one here. I didn't break out the camera that much this time, mostly because I'm trying to be more careful with it, like not having it out all the time when I'm drunk in huge crowds, or swimming out in the water with it to take pictures of the shore. It's a fight.

There were 4000 people this year, it sold out again. I love the way they have the tickets set up. Like, if you want to be fancy, you can buy a 160 dollar ticket to come really early and have food and drinks. Or if you want to be somewhat fancy, you can pay 60 to come a little bit later and drink a little more. But lastly, you can show up 10pm for the 20 dollar ticket, which is when us riff raff shows up, the ones drinking at friends' apartments beforehand and the college girls in their modcloth dresses, and the place suddenly becomes a giant dance party in the courtyard, and the bars get packed, and it's a vortex of socializing. You will say hi to 10 people you know before you even get in the door. You will then bounce around for 30 minutes just saying hi to other people. I wasn't sure I wanted to go this year, who I was going with was up in the air for a while and I was overworked and tired that Saturday, but then Julie said yes, come with us, and I ended up in sparkly eyeshadow and a nice enough dress without even trying, a few shots of vodka in us already as we tripped through the crowd in heels and smiles. Well, I didn't wear heels, I know better to try and walk around courtyard stones and up marble steps drunk in heels.

I separated from my friends after the marching band played, and wandered drunk around the galleries, still running into people constantly, but also having some quiet moments alone to be in the museum at night. I made a point to compliment girls on their dresses, because everyone worked so hard at being cute it was like being in an alternative universe Nutcracker. If I had thought about it, I would have done some Sartorialist style picture taking. Everyone in costume. Everyone dancing around the crowd. Feeling yourself caught up in this Whirlpool Wander, just around and around, and other people were also caught in the Wander, and you were all moving around each other in this vast pattern that maybe if they took the ceiling off the museum, and someone looked at us from space, they would have seen the swirl instantly. I ran into my friend Erick and his friends every time I turned a corner, because we just happened to be near each other in the Tide.

There are three paintings I have to see every time I go there. (Also, did you know the CMA collection is online? It is! Man, the love I feel for that place is a tight balloon in my chest.) You know how sometimes, before you could afford actual grownup prints, you would stop in the gift shop and buy postcards to put on your bedroom mirror? Well, these three. So when I got a little too drunk, and tired of exchanging the three word conversation with people, I got myself to them, stood quiet and still and solid in front of them, and I thought of all the other times I've said hi to them, and that particular sense of disembodied lightness and calmness and glow hit me in my wine flushed cheeks, a combination of the childhood sense of needing to appear respectful and proper mixed with the very specific kind of soft loneliness you feel when faced with great accomplished beauty, and I could try to explain to you why these three, what is special about them, but that's like trying to explain why a certain song makes you play it 17 times in a row, or how one person's opinion matters more than the rest of the people you know.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Story Ideas

Two people meet in a very old and stone part of the library, and find it impossible to talk to each other, plus also you are supposed to be quiet in libraries after all. So they find passages in books, and mark them for each other with bright day glo post-its, so that they can spot them while going through the stacks. And once you did finally talk to them, would it be disappointing, after all that time expressing yourself through masters? Or would each simplistic little cliched sentence sound like a diamond being hit, just because it was out loud? Would the very sound of their voice be enough to make you shake a little?

What if every person you slept with infected you with their attitude about life? So like, you sleep with the angry confrontational drunk guy, you become angry and confrontational. You sleep with the lonely emotionally addicted completely passive boy, and you become unable to go anywhere by yourself. What if you knew this, and slept with different boys to prepare you for doing different things in your life? Like, you have a big test or evaluation coming up, so you sleep with the very focused and practical career professional. Or you know you have to comfort and be there for a friend, so you sleep with the supportive and eager to please divorcee.

What if there was absolutely no way to vaccinate yourself against this? How differently you would choose.

The states become countries, and require passports. This completely redefines illegal aliens, and each state becomes selective in unusual ways, only allowing the type of person they want to settle there. As a side effect, an entire segment of the population becomes unwanted, welcome no where. They live like gypsies, hiding from state troopers in rural hills, or living in communal houses hidden among the poorest neighborhoods. They are known as tricksters and hustlers and thieves, but their ranks grow every year as high school kids dream of avoiding cubicles and piercing their tongue. Eventually the government gives them New Mexico, after the entire original population dies of rampant albinoism caused by an unknown fungus.

The eclipse of the full moon happens, at 2pm in the afternoon on a Wednesday, and every single woman on earth feels it happen, feels the moon literally pulling every emotion out of their chest that could possibly exist (and in a woman, this is ten million plus forever the amount of hairs on their arm or colors in their irises). For 2 hours, every female member of the human race exists in a state of panic, and stress, and like the proverbial little ripples of society's pond, the evolution of the race is irrevocably altered. Just like it's been altered every time there is an eclipse. And this wave of feminine unrest, this global chemical change, is the reason behind the moon myths of apocalypse and evil and doom.

And what if comets are the male equivalent of this?

A man is neither Irish or Polish or German or Thai or Ecuadorean. He is unknown. He plays a game where people try to guess where he's from, and from their guesses he learns how to find out what religion they were raised, if they are liberal or conservative, if they make good money, if they are slutty, if they are lonely, and what ethnicity they are themselves. He then sells this information to the state police, who use him as a spy to track down illegal aliens and round them up for the state work farms. One day he falls in love, and runs away with the girl. She is also unknown. Nobody can ever remember who they are, or what exactly they look like. They live on the lamb for years.

They have a child who is the most unique looking child in the world, and are forced to go even further into hiding.

A small boy performs science experiments by himself in the yard. He uses a car battery to turn the swarm of midges on the side of the garage into an angel, which curls up and disintegrates as soon as the current runs out. He spends a week teaching a cat to sing Red River Valley. He breaks a glass, and uses the broken pieces to build a robot, which he then animates unwittingly with blood from his cut fingertip.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

These Days, My happiness is completely dependent on my proximity to water

Yesterday my sister and I went to the beach, walked around the Market a little, saw some childhood friends, and then went to a psychic.

We went to the one on 117th and Detroit, that's been there forever. Because it's the place you used to see every time you went to Red Star, or My Friends, or every time I drove to work at the Pizza Hut. We ran the doorbell, and the woman poked her head out from the apartment above, and shouted she would be down in a minute.

I'm not going to go into the ridiculousness of a psychic, or tarot cards, or any sort of oracle. We all know how false the last gypsy's prophecy turned out to be. So I'm just going to put this down in cold hard insensitive type, and you all can judge me as much as you like.

The witch said I should move west, to San Francisco, by this Fall. She told me my entire life was on a wrong path thanks to a mistake of a relationship, and in order to meet anyone or do anything, I had to get West ASAP.

Let me just point out, right now, I'm disturbed by the trend of all psychics I've seen to give me specific deadlines. The last one, you may recall, gave me 6 weeks to find a soulmate. This one wants me out of the state by November. And they both told me I was a thorough perfectionist, which is the opposite of true. But I'm starting to think maybe I dress like someone who wants deadlines? Or maybe the obvious doubt in my face causes them to make crazy claims that guarantee I won't ever come back to them.

I mean, I don't think anyone is going to disagree that my life got derailed by the Bad Ex.
And I want to move, so badly.
I tried to argue with her that San Francisco was too expensive, all of the West Coast was. She told me I just needed to look at areas outside the city, that the important thing was to be able to get into the city. She was pretty vehement about it.

Now whatever, of course I'm not moving somewhere because a psychic told me to. But I will move somewhere because a stranger told me to, in addition to my sister telling me to, and my friend telling me to. Because other than the cost, San Francisco has everything on my short list of requirements. It's a place people "leave to", there's a large population of single people, there's an arts scene, and most importantly, there is a large body of water. It's not too hot. It's architecturally interesting. There's history. I can't think of a single reason I wouldn't like it there, if I could find a job and a place to live. So why not? Why stay for another Ohio winter?

In the end, doesn't one go to people like this in order to get some validation of what you already want?

So, you know, I'm going to start looking into it. And this is a plea from anyone on the West Coast who read this, to send me any leads or ideas or advice you have.

It's not that I don't love Cleveland. I do. A lot. I have a lot of fun here. I just never want to look back at my life and realize I spent all of it in exactly the same place. The momentum has been building in me all year, and I think I'm ready to start making some plans. It may not, after all, end up being California. But it's going to end up being somewhere else. I need adventure. I need visual adventure, tangible weird dirty adventure. I need to explore something.

Now begins the weird time period of things happening BECAUSE you've made up your mind to leave. I hate this part.

Monday, June 20, 2011

This is Disjointed, because I'm slowly taking all the screws out

I was going to write a post about how great my dad is. Because, of course he is. But then I spent the weekend taking pictures of Jamison bottles, and turning down strange men in bathrooms, and watching a bridal party dance to the Pixies in Akron, and seeing great movies, and talking about writing. So let's just take that all as proof that my father was/is a fantastic father, because my life was pretty fantastic this weekend.

It didn't start off as fantastic. It started off with me working my ass off, and then vowing to get wasted that night because of work, stress drinking, and having a messy night where I got "maudlin" and vented out all the relationship/marriage/getting old poison that's been batting around in my head all week. It was like lancing a boil, and watching all the thick yellow pus well out. In the end, I passed out in the backseat while my sister and Jere argued about ridiculous things like the Magna Carta and shit, and when I woke up we were still driving and it was light out, because they had argued themselves almost to Pennsylvania before realizing the mistake and turning back around in the right direction. And after waking up like that, the infection had passed and I was once again content and happy and appreciative. So I slept for three hours in a real bed, and then went back to the beach.

Are you sick yet of beach pictures? I'm not, so deal. Also, who sleeps in the summer? Vampires, that's who. Are you a vampire? I mean, maybe you are. And if so, let me tell you, eternal life isn't worth the price of never getting to be in the sun again. Also, vampires are assholes. So you are an asshole.

On Friday, we saw Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, and it was wonderful and slow and magical and kind of terrifying if you let yourself stare straight into the jungle and you are the sort of person who knows how real and horrible fairy tales can be.

On Saturday, getting drunk in Akron proved again to be the cure all for being Too Cleveland. Which was apt, because it happened after hanging out with Erin, and pretty much talking a lot about Cleveland. But being Too Cleveland is a thing, because the largest part of life is not where you are exactly, but how well you're doing it, and you can't do it well enough if you expect the place you live to do it for you. I'm not an expert at living, but I think I do know that.

On Sunday, the beach was overcast and dark but warm and breezy, and when I stood in the water I wanted to bottle Ohio Blue and sell it. Is it a paint color already? It should be. Maybe it can't be. When I was a little girl in the backseat of my parents car, I would look at sunsets and try to decide what color out of the sky would I want a dress of the most. I decided I am going to be friends with the lifeguard. Then, later in the afternoon while it was pouring sheets of corrugated metal, we took our atmosphere soaked bodies for coffee, and talked with the girl at the cafe about neighborhoods and gardening. Later still I went to see Midnight in Paris, the trailer of which does absolutely nothing to show you what the movie is actually about, but it's ridiculous and delightful and I laughed a lot and when I laughed, I could feel my leg muscles were just a little sore from the dancing and the waves, but sore in a hot water bottle of my soul kind of way. It was all very relaxed and easy.

The dog next door barks at everything. Since it's been nice out, his owners, who are very elderly for having such a young lab, just let him out in the backyard all day, and he stands on the picnic table and barks for eight hours at squirrels and people walking by and cars. Then the dog who lives below me will go outside and they will bark at each other (the dog downstairs has a weird half bark he does as well that sounds a little like a monkey, so it's very similiar to how I think a monkey/dog fight would sound). Then people will come home from work and let their dogs out in their yards, and all the dogs will bark at each other. Since I work from home, this has been incredibly annoying. But writing it down makes it sound charming.

When we were finally packing up to leave the beach on Sunday, because the thunder told us to, we ran into the lifeguard Mike walking back to the car. He had run to grab a raincoat and I asked if he had to stay on the beach when it stormed? He answered that he didn't really know, because no one had told him, and he didn't really know who to ask. So maybe he sat out there by himself in the storm. I don't know, we left.

So now today it's back to the beach. My Monday adventure partner got a job while schools out, and I'm back to asking around for companions for exploring since little girls aren't supposed to wander around by themselves, but really I'm just giving up because you all work on Mondays and finding someone who is down for the sort of rambling I like to do the most is hard, there are requirements conversational and motivational. The thing that happens is this: everyone wants to go exploring, everyone wants to go to movies, everyone wants to go to the beach. They see me out at places, and they tell me how much they want to do these things too, how great it is that I do them, how much fun it looks like, and then I invite them, but it always falls through. I don't think you guys understand that there is a decision you have to make to have these kind of days. And I just really believe, deep far down in my chest, that everyone I know would be happier if they came along. But I can't keep giving you opportunities. You have to make the call.

There is an idea that you are supposed to be aloof to be cool, that you are supposed to just let people come to you. I'm the worst at that. If I meet someone I want to hang out with, I'm filled with enthusiasm and motivation. I'm the puppy who jumps on you and wags her tail furiously, and then if you don't take me up on it, I quickly forget when the next new person comes in the door.

And so I wonder if I'm fickle, or flighty, or just really smart, or just really irresponsible. I mean, the most important thing is to rage against the rising of bitterness or disappointment, right? To fight it. To really really enjoy what you are doing, to put your head entirely in the moment and focus on the hour and be conscious of how long that hour is and what is happening in each minute, to feel with toes and the little hairs on your arms the little whoosh of that minute degrading and crumbling and passing. Also to get out in the fucking sun, which is also degrading and crumbling and passing. I'm only 31 for another 20 days, and then I will never be 31 again.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sondheim's "Company" in the Movie Theater

First of all, seeing a musical in the movie theater, like not a movie made of a musical, but just a filming of an actual production, is weird. Because people still clap after big numbers. But you aren't actually there, the clapping affects no one. Still, they do it. By the end of the movie they have overcome their initial shame and are clapping full force. It's strange.

Second, I had some sort of out of body experience watching this show. I mean, the cast was awesome. Duh. And I like Sondheim a lot, even though I'm not sure if I'm spelling his name right and I don't care enough to check.

But this whole movie is about marriage, right? Specifically, it's about this guy, who ends up the last single guy in his group of friends, they've all hitched up. So the lyrics, since Sondheim has that nasty streak, go into all the dynamics, like how the guys try to live vicariously through him, and the girls are all sort of in love with him, and how he fills that role of providing outside entertainment to their twosomes. And he turns 35 in the very beginning, which landed me smack dab in the middle of the "I understand this way too much" vortex. I over identified with his character big time. Like, I'm going to be 32 right? I have little to no idea what I'm doing with myself. Not all of my friends are married, but it's creeping up there. The show is much older, so in it marriage is still the normal expectation. I feel like it's less so now, still the majority of course, but I don't feel like I'm going to be ostracized if I never marry. The protagonist is a guy though, so he already feels that way. That's an odd thought, how my experience as a single girl in her thirties in 2011 is matching up to a single guy in his thirties experience in 1970. Not totally matching up, but getting closer.

It's a strange show, have I made that clear yet? Because Bobby goes and visits with each of his married couple friends in a different part, and sees a lot of ugliness in their relationships, and just a few moments of brightness, and there's no real processing of it, the scenarios are just thrown at you. There are a few parts with different girlfriends where his character seems completely vacant in between. Then he starts having epiphanies about how he wants someone to pair up with, and at the end you're left feeling really unsure if Bobby has decided to get married or not, but 95% sure you don't want to.

This is my 5%. I see no reason to get married. I'm not, I'm pretty sure, the kind of girl that can be. But if someone I really really loved (all of you, I've loved all of you) were to say, hey come live with me, and I'll pay for you while you write a novel and work out every day and do awesome things but we have to be married, and they weren't a monster? I would have a very hard time saying no. I feel like that's not even 5%, that's like 1%. .02% It's not that I think marriage should be that. As we've covered, I don't think I should be married. But if it were to happen, it would be like the only chance someone would have of getting me to sign papers. This makes me think of a recent conversation I had with a stranger about how I would never ever buy a house, because it tied you down to one place and got you stuck and everyone I knew regretted it. There is a small chance I may have a problem with commitment. Like, I don't understand it. I want it, but I'm not really sure how I want it? Or why? Or what for?

Anyway yes, I'm very mercantile and you can all be mad at me now. All .02% of me that is serious. These are the things a girl thinks about when she's had a shit day at work, and seen this musical about love and issues, and then had conversations about Slutwalk with pretty fervent feminists. I remember I said something like this once to my dad, and he got really upset with me. I don't think he understood that in my mind marriage exists as this weird esoteric tradition from another continent that doesn't make a lot of sense and throws me for a loop. It's a religious thing, and I'm not religious. It's a serious thing, and I'm not serious. When other people try to explain it to me, I get confused, the entire idea of one person forever seeming like the biggest most insane idea ever, and yet simple to so many, just not me. Like, I just want someone to go exploring with, is all. Why the contract? The real crux of the matter is I see this as a trade, pure business, me for something you're giving me. And I guess I set the price on myself pretty high, too high, higher than other people? I'm really not great at all on paper, I'm terrible on paper. I'm not for everybody or actually anybody, but the people I am for? If you're the type to appreciate the best parts of me, the parts that I love the most, then I'm amazing.

I'm like salted licorice.

It all makes me feel like a child, the slow march towards the settlement. Not that I think my view is childish. But that I am a little girl looking in a store window at lingerie she doesn't understand the use for.

The very best monologue from the show, which if I could find a clip of Christina Hendricks performing it for you I would, but I can't.

"Right after I got to college, a friend of mine who has a garden apartment gave me a cocoon for my dorm room. He collects things like that... caterpillars, insects, and stuff... It was attached to a twig, and he told me that one morning I'd wake up to a beautiful butterfly flying around my room when it hatched. He said that when they first come out, they're soaking wet and there's even a tiny little speck of blood in there -- isn't THAT fascinating -- but within an hour they dry off and begin to fly. Well, I told him I had a cat. I had a cat then. But he just said, "Put it somewhere where the cat can't get it!" which is impossible, but what can you do? So, I put it up on a ledge where the cat never went, and the next morning it was still there, at least so it seemed safe to leave it. Anyway, about a week later, very, very early this one morning, the guy calls me and says, "April, do you have a butterfly this morning?" So I put down the phone and managed to get up and look, and sure enough I saw a little wet spot, and a tiny speck of blood, and... no butterfly. And I thought, "Oh, dear God in heaven, the cat got it." I picked up the phone to tell the guy, and just then, suddenly, I spotted it underneath the dressing table. It was moving one wing. The cat had gotten it, but it was still alive. So I told the guy, and he got so upset and he said, "Oh, God, April, don't you see that that's a life? A living thing?" So I got dressed and took it to the park, and I put it on a rose. It was summer then, and it looked like it was going to be alright; I thought so, anyway. But that man... I felt so damaged by him -- awful -- that was just cruel. So I got home and called him back and said, "Listen, I'm a living thing too, you shithead!" I never saw him again."

Monday, June 13, 2011

This Week Has Been Unintentionally Rough, but for no Actual Reason

I've been all about taking walks this week. Walking back from bars, walking around the beach, walking around museums, walking around downtowns. I've also, because of a number of separate incidents and conversations, been thinking about that "It" thing this week, that thing that clicks between people, the little pheromone matches which are sometimes very quiet and other times like listening to a safe lock snap and turn.

I am prone to having conversations in my head with other people right before I see them. Like, I'm getting ready to leave for the beach right now to meet up with Jere, and as I was taking a shower I had this conversation with pretend Jere. I was in my bathing suit, and discussing what level of bravery slash self confidence it took to blindly invite a hundred of my closest facebook friends to randomly meet me at the beach whenever, half dressed and never having met some of them before.
"Well, if you look at the list," I said, "you'll notice I didn't put anyone on it that I'm actively trying to fuck."
"But what about ------ and -----?" he said.
"No, I already slept with them. Like, I like them. But once a guy has seen you naked, and you've made him cum, I think it's time to stop worrying about what you're going to look like at the beach in front of them. Because seeing you half dressed is going to make them think of something else, no matter what you look like."

And that's true basically. Once you've thought of someone sexually, that fundamentally changes your body's response to them. Not saying you just go around wanting to fuck them, I mean you may not want to fuck them at all. But the chemical response has been permanently shifted just a smidge. It's never quite the same again. So when people talk about not wanting to ruin their friendships, what they are really referring to is that. You just never know how much the effect is going to be per person, which is the scary part. Fucking chemical vat fleshy batteries, is all we are.

Another thought I had was I wonder if a guy can smell the difference between you thinking about him, and you thinking about someone else?

Thursday I went walking around Edgewater with coffee and a friend at night. We got turned back by very nice security guards in a golf cart who admitted they had seen us earlier and given us a little room.

Friday I went to see Il Conformista at the art school by myself, and another friend showed up too, so afterwards we had a drink at the college bar while some acoustic guitarist played Peter and the Wolf, and then walked around all the festival tents around University Circle, which were waiting for the parade the next day. The doorways in that movie blow me away. It makes me want to live in some sort of bubble where I only see scenes like that all the time. I guess that's why everyone wants to tour Italy, to find the mystical Bertolucci bubble.

Saturday was a day. I was at my desk for most of it, soaked for some of it, inside a masonic temple for minutes of it.

Sunday, I went to the beach by myself. The sand was still packed and wet and it was only 61 degrees out, so I sat on my plaid blanket in my yellow skirt and my brown styrofoam cup of coffee and imagined strange men sneaking up behind me, or how I might just stay here forever, like an end of the world image. The hunched over person alone on a driftwood filled gloomy gray beach, empty chapsticks and bottle caps buried in the dark sand, a rusty steel barrel in the distance. I was very happy for about two hours. It was extremely hard to get up, it was like the sand had grown a magnetic bond between me and it.

Sunday was also driving to Akron for Todd and Donna's wedding. It was at 5 on a Sunday, which is the weirdest time for a wedding, but worked out really really well in that smooth way that Donna has of making everything seemed more polished. Everyone had cocktails and hung out, ate cheese. We sat down at the dinner tables. Todd and Donna came down the stairs, had a five minute ceremony up in front of the band, did their first dance, cut their cake, and then we all ate dinner. Boom. And the rest of the evening was just hanging out at the bar, listening to the band, taking occasional walks to the parking garage, saying hi to family members you don't know. Finding a plate of food for the bride because she had forgotten to eat, while the rest of us drunkenly devoured a box of the homemade truffles Donna had made as favors.

There were quite a lot of people, but then also we were at the grownup kids table? Being the groom's friends, and one of Donna's friends who hadn't known us all for ten years the way the rest of us had but fit in well enough, and man now Marty and Rebecca have twins, Rachel and Jesse have their son, Paul's been dating some girl I didn't even know about for the past year, and Todd and Donna are married. Jesus. That whole circle hit 36 and fell like a rock into domesticity. I love them for waiting as long as they did though, and I love them all now too, in their little couples and families. Watching you all grow up isn't half bad, as long as it isn't me.

We wandered around the building a little, and it really was gray and greens everywhere, in that marble library steel baron way, which is where Akron achieves any charm one might choose to admit. The same building where I had gone to that Rogers and Hammerstein revue a few weeks ago, only this time I got to ogle the ceilings drunkenly and with the benefit of taller shoes. It ended early, our group were the last ones standing at 10pm, and the band played one more song, and then we all wandered into the empty streets together, and the bride and groom are on their way to Alaska, and now I'm off to the beach again this morning. This is just what happens, this is just life, and I can see how it goes by awfully quick but I think also I'm getting the knack of slowing it down.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Glass Slippers Made Into Towers

Pittsburgh should really have a different name. Like Paragon. Or Oval City. The Glass Cage. Not as if that makes any sense, but Pittsburgh sounds like a small farm city. Like a place where you go to buy fertilizer. I guess it is pretty small, space wise. It's all compact and squeezed between the hills. Cities in hills always have that magical feeling when you approach them on a highway. Like, you come around a curve, having driven for hours at approximately the same speed, coffee and ice melted together in a warm sticky cup at your side and this being the third time you have listened to this same mix CD in a row, and then oh There It Is. I can see it. I may actually be able to stop driving at some point and I wonder if I'll remember how to brake. What if my brakes suddenly don't work? I'm almost finally there.

If I ever get a speeding ticket, it will be on the approach to a city I'm visiting.

The reason I went up Tuesday was to see a show, but then I mostly missed it thanks to drinking sangria with lawyers, which is a particularly odd thing to do when you just got out of the car, and you're sweaty and hardly put together but they are all dressed up coming from work for happy hour. I think I've covered this before, the slow drag that driving a long ways has on my face. I'm one of those people who is overly nice to toll booth people because I feel so weird driving alone that I think I must be acting weird, trying to talk to someone in a normal way after not saying a word out loud all day. Point is, making chit chat with nicely dressed young men and women is more of an effort. I try really hard to not seem odd. A guy in a suit talked to me about visiting Maine, and biking the coast, and man, maybe I should move to the coast. Maybe?

The point is we missed the show. So we went to the bar instead and as a matter of course. These developments were accepted as a danger long ago. A dancer named Jade sold me a cherry bomb and talked to me about local dance companies. Nobody believed me when I came back and said how nice she was, and smart, because she was a bar girl named Jade selling cherry bombs from a tray.

I saw a bit more of Pittsburgh in daylight this trip. We walked a little ways downtown, and then drove through it again after breakfast the next morning. Everything was very clean and proper and active on a Wednesday morning. I don't know, maybe someday I'll understand the roads in that city. I will never understand the highways though. They twist in and out like some giant was trying to teach its kid how to tie knots. I don't get terrified getting lost though. I mean, I don't really. I'm getting to know the main idea of it, Pittsburgh. It's starting to make sense a little. I need a map of every major urban center tattooed in my brain. How useful would that be? I don't think I would ever stay in one place again.

I thought briefly on the road home about getting a tattoo that says "Brave." In that typeface, with a period. That's what Bridget is supposed to mean anyways, sort of. Strength. I've been into the idea of a tattoo lately. Well, I want one that is very difficult and pretty, I have one in mind, but it's expensive enough that I will probably never get it. One word, that's not so bad.

It was the longest road home though, and 99 degrees. I wanted to hang my head out of the window like a dog, but you're not supposed to drive like that, so I had to make do with my hand out the window. I do that with my feet under blankets too in the summer, hang one foot outside and off the bed. That's more lizard than dog-like, using a small exposed body part to stay cool. We are all such lizards some of us. Maybe I'm just also feeling a bit more reptilian than usually these days. Cold blooded and addicted to sun. Feeling hardened and baked, with glaze dripping off me and turning the air around me thick with chemical burn. It's not surprising we imagine lizards as the most dangerous of the radioactive mutants. They seem like the only creatures who would willingly eat toxic waste.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Summer came late and already drunk to the party, screaming at us all to catch up

There are three things I'm fairly sure of this week:

1) My cats are actively trying to take down every window covering in the house. I'm down to only three blinds up still. I've lost the motivation to fight them. I walk around at night with the lights off so the neighbors won't see me half dressed. I suspect I am going to have to nail the curtains to the actual window frames but even then I'm sure they will just rip them down. Maybe they have the right idea though. It's much nicer in the apartment when all the windows are open and uncovered.

2)When they say "get a tan" they mean "your skin will molt the same way a Martian fire lizard does when it sheds it's youthful shell and develops it's hard impenetrable exoskeleton." Right now my skin is in the tender pink tore off a fingernail stage. Next week I will be bullet proof.

3)I need to move someplace where you can go to the beach for much longer periods of the year. For instance, Uruguay. I wonder how someone even begins to find a job in Uruguay. Probably by learning Spanish.

I left work Thursday and went to meet Colleen at the beach. It was 6 when I got there, but the sun refused to go down, and when I got home at 9, it was still hanging on, refusing to get with the horizon. Maybe the horizon said something mean. The beach is an odd place when you live in the Midwest. It's always a strange and alien land, because we don't see it for 8 months a year, so you never get quite used to all the little nooks and crannies. Foreign. Then there's the city issue. Depending on what filter you want to adopt in your head, the beach can either be this great lip of the giant glacial lake, or it can be this burning wasteland with dead trees washed up like bones and occasional trash and people baking themselves like dry breadcrumbs. I do sorta like both filters, but I'm a child of the Wasteland after all, not the farmland. Some people might be turned off by looking down the waterfront and seeing smokestacks and loading docks. What's funny to think about it is that smokestacks have a shorter lifespan than sequoias. They come tumbling down all the time.

The other thing that is important about the beach is that it forces everyone to be half naked in public, which is a useful exercise in realigning your priorities. Especially in Ohio, you are not allowed to let other people's judgements about your body keep you covered up. I say especially Ohio because we are all pale and fat here. Everyone is a chubby white little worm shedding it's chrysalis, even the pretty people. But the sun and the water are such precious sensations, the desire to experience them overcomes modesty or shame. I mean, I look absolutely terrible in a bathing suit. There are parts of my body that shouldn't be allowed to exist. But I don't give a shit. I'm not trying to have sex with anyone there, or make them look at me. I just want to left alone to wriggle my fat little worm body in the water and have fun and smell like burning flesh and think about things like murderous fanged sturgeon waiting on the sea floor amid mussel covered shipwrecks.

The beach reminds me to be a person, not just a girl.

On Friday, it was Asian Liquor/hookah night at Andrew's. We hung out in the backyard while the boys grilled chicken and peppers, and learned things like black licorice makes your baby dumb, what neighborhood meetings in Euclid might be like for history majors, and how to drink soju in a way that respects your elders. Andrew made some joke about the girls having to reveal their ages, but here is one thing I love about the girls I am friends with at this particular stage of my life - I know all their ages. Because they will tell you, willingly and without pause.

Soren taught us the etiquette for hookahs, and how to burn them correctly. The coffee one was the best of course. The coffee one is always the best and I don't know why anyone pretends that it could ever be anything else. I suppose you might think otherwise if you are one of those lame human beings who have never inhaled any type of smoke into their lungs. I mean, not once? Not even out of curiosity? I refuse to believe such a person exists, but theoretically if they did, they may not understand the allure of coffee.

Jason and I took a trip to the grocery store to buy bug spray for the night, and he bought a package of dryer sheets to rub ourselves down with, which pretty much worked. I walked out of the backyard that night with only one bite. However the dryer sheets got left in my car, as many items are indeed, because my car is a hoarder. Not me, I'm not a hoarder. But my fucking car is for sure. When I got into the car the next day, it was stifling hot and smelled exactly as if I were in the dryer myself. Thank god we went with "fresh linen" and not "lavender and vanilla".

The Indian whiskey was awful, tasting of flash frozen peat. The Japanese whiskey was great, but probably mostly because of the writing on the label. The Turkish Arak, which was like sucking on a Good and Plenty, was my favorite. All my babies will be dumb.

Saturday night I went with Knut and Soren to a Phish show. I don't listen to Phish. I used to listen to hippy crap all the time though, true, and I used to wear beads in my hair. I used to do a lot of things. But you know, a Phish show, why the fuck not. I am not a hater. I have nothing against people wanting to have a good time. I like hippie music. I mean, when the suns out.

The thing I don't like is Blossom Outdoor Amphitheatre, being this large and sprawling and hilly mass of inconvenience. Far to drive. Horrible traffic jams. 45 minute walks between drinking at your car and getting in the door. But it's sort of like Blossom heard me hating on it, and was determined to prove me wrong. Cause there was no traffic getting there, Knut completely by luck picked the direction to come that no one else did. We parked right away. We got fucked up right away. Sure there was an incredibly long hot walk. But I hadn't been to a gathering of hippies in a while, I had forgotten about the sporadic villages that spring up, the multiple glass sellers and knitters and painters and men with baskets yelling loudly that they have shroom chocolates available. Plus the 6 or 7 people we encountered selling water on the way to the gate - "It's 6 dollars inside folks, it's 3 dollars here! Just don't open it, you can take it inside!" That part was like leveling up in a video game, beating the hustle, knowing just when to take advantage of it. Like when we bought our waters from the last guy, who was right in front of the gate, and his waters were only a dollar. The hustle! Some people got it.

I spent the first set sitting on the grass amid a forest of legs, people watching and sky watching, and in addition to looking the same and both being very tall, Knut and Soren also dance the same. So with one on either side of me standing, it was like passing through statues at a port entrance in a tiny dinghy, but like, if the statues were those giant inflatable wind dancers you see at car dealerships. The second set the sun had gone done completely and I got up and danced too, and the light show was, as one would expect from Phish, phenomenal, and I had a really good time. People kept throwing handfuls of glowstick straws up in the air, everyone did it, they were multi colored meteor showers in the blue gray gloom. Being in crowds is fun. Hearing crowds scream and sing together and hearing the noises die out against the clouds is fun. Walking back to the car in a huge menacing centipede is not as much fun, but we got home okay, and I only bled a little from my heel which was my fault for not wearing proper shoes.

Sunday we all went to the beach again. I now have a half moon serious burn on my right breast, which means that probably for the rest of the summer, even after it heals, that will be the darkest spot on my whole body.