because memes

(via ironed_orchid

Anyone who feels like it should post their ten most CRUCIAL CRUCIAL CRUCIAL-ASS movies, like the movies that explain everything about yourself in your current incarnation (not necessarily your ten favorite movies but the ten movies that you, as a person existing currently, feel would help people get to know you) (they can change later on obviously).

The Fall
Only Lovers Left Alive
Children of Men
The Apartment
Attack the Block
Josie and the Pussycats
Spirited Away
Bright Star

That last one is a little bit tacked-on; actually, the first five were easy, and after that it got more complicated.



Rosemary smells like living in a log cabin in Oregon. You've heard me talk about it; it was cold, always cold, and one day I looked up at the wall next to the front door and could see chilly sunlight through the cracks in the logs. G., my burly, six-foot roommate, was a heater fascist who thought the fireplace was plenty, and god forbid you turn on the baseboards in the bedroom. Just get under the blankets, quick, quick.

In the mornings he and T., his longtime girlfriend, would get up early and make coffee. The coffeemaker had a thermal carafe the likes of which I've never been able to find again: enough coffee for four people to have a cup, and two of us to have a second. G. would make a fire, starting it with kindling and, probably, copies of the paper I wrote for. (In the summer we'd all stand in the driveway while the boys chopped firewood.) The furniture in the living room — a giant room, the highest of high ceilings, a loft off to one side — all huddled around that huge stone fireplace, just like we did.

I have never been a morning person. J. would be up next, then me, the straggler, hoping not to have to make another pot of coffee, trying to shake off the weirdly visceral dreams I so often had. If I was really cold, I'd get coffee and stand on the stone ledge in front of the fire, turning slowly to heat all side of myself, a rotisserie girl. After my uncle died and I inherited a select handful of his musty old books, a row of green-covered classics sat along the top of the fireplace (I suppose it was a mantel, but that word seems so small), collecting dust, looking literary and perfectly in contrast with the framed cover of the Portland Mercury that hung on a nearby wall (George W. Bush's face superimposed onto the body of a little boy hugging Ronald Regan's legs).

G. cooked with a lot of rosemary. Or maybe we all did. Little pine trees, making your fingers sticky when you chopped it up. Rosemary roasted potatoes. Rosemary on dripping cuts of meat. In my tricky memory, I smell rosemary, and I see that kitchen, set against two walls of the main room, half the cupboards open, the floor a hideous linoleum. Only in Oregon country houses have I ever had a kitchen that sprawling and luxurious.

(We looked at an apartment here with a kitchen almost as big. The rent was twice what four of us paid for that log cabin.)

I was unhappy there. The three of them were old friends with old jokes, and I was a girl with one foot out the door and a great reluctance to still be in Oregon. I was supposed to be on my way back here. But I had fallen in with J. and I was willing, for a long while, to stay. I was in a certain kind of late-20s love that looks nothing like love in hindsight, but you have to trust the people you were. You have to let them have the meanings they gave to things.

He tried to break up with me once, the boy I lived in the woods with. It was half-assed, and I talked him out of it, and we stayed in the woods a while longer, playing cards with T. and G., learning to drink old-fashioneds. I learned to shoot free throws in the driveway. Two deer died in the yard, on different occasions. I spent one Thanksgiving crying under a tree, and a lot more time laughing at the coffee table, because even though I didn't fit in there, I was pretty good at having a good time anyway. I got much better at it when I stopped taking birth control pills. Then I'd only get despondent and tearful every few months, not every other week.

It all smells like rosemary. When I chop a pile of vegetables and decide, on a whim, to add rosemary to the pan, I am, for a moment, in that kitchen, in two places at once, and I have to remember that I had to be there to get here. All roads diverge. This was the right one.

going back again

Friends, I have been re-reading Diaryland.

As soon as I thought that sentence it sounded almost morbid, like exhuming a digital corpse of the person I used to be - though I rather do like that person, so it wouldn't be so bad. But the point wasn't to be morbidly nostalgic; I wanted to read what I'd written right when I left for Australia last time.

(We leave tomorrow.)

Oh, the things. I had linked to an entry from months before, about Margo leaving (Margo who I have not seen since Australia, which always is a little twinge in my heart) and talking to Doug, of all people, about theories of marriage and babies. Doug who is now in a band I adore, who I saw in Portland with another friend on one of those nights that shimmers in my heart because of S., far away; Doug who I always feel warmly toward but could never figure why. Maybe that's why: conversations from decades ago that I noted in passing.

I want to note those things in passing more often. I want to write everything down when we're there, though I'm only taking my iPad and its slightly awkward bluetooth keyboard. And a notebook, but if I handwrite things, I will never read them again.

I've been reading Tracks, which is fantastic. It reminds me of when I came back from Australia last time and just wanted to go back, to read everything, to understand. I dreamed about grad school. I bought more books at Powell's than I ever got around to reading. (Typical.) Now I'm slightly less gung-ho about it, but I want to go, I want to stay for more than three weeks. I want reasons and things to read. I want to buy the book that just won the Tiptree while I'm in the author's country. I want to read something that blew my mind like John Pilger's A Secret Country. And I don't care at all if I'm the tourist carrying around Australian books. Better to read than not to. Always.

I have been careful not to make too many plans. Not to promise myself too many things. Every time I read or just pick up a book I want more. I want the West Coast, and the Indian Ocean; I want the north; I want the train that runs from Alice Springs to Adelaide and costs almost as much as both of our plane tickets. But I get Sydney, and Hobart, and my completely beloved Melbourne, and Cairns, which was an unwise choice but we did not do all our homework before making decisions. So we get rained on. I'm used to that.

I wish we were staying in the Nunnery but maybe it's best to remember it as we were then, 27 and resilient, sad and elated, always as interested in the people as anything. People might interest me a little less these days, but I still hope we make some unexpected friends.

I keep dreaming weird things. I dreamed that I was temping for a much-younger boss, a sleek brunette, and she sent me up a hill of a park. At the top I was a little lost - there were stairs and they were dripping wet and went nowhere, plastic stairs like in a boat - and I turned back and found the installation she'd sent me to to see, which involved light-up squares, each of which glowed with one of the most common syllables from first names from across the world. I didn't even understand most of them. You had to walk on them barefoot, and when you'd step on them, the light would come up through sand. There were four beds separated by lightweight mesh, a fancy hotel with no privacy, where you could stay and mourn alone, or with family. It was all about mourning, about touching the syllables that stood for the people you miss.

It was so sharp. Like something I'd seen before, not something my un/sub-conscious made up. It was like walking around the big Serra in Seattle, or the way the big Calder dog-thing made me think of Chris. Metal and shapes. The dream I had in Australia last time, that he came back, that it had all been a hoax of some sort. I remember the room in my dream because it was the room I was sleeping in.

What will I dream there? What will I see this time? What will I see this time that I saw last time, but see it differently, because S. is no longer a dream in another country but my companion? Little penguins and the impossibly cute possums in the park. The Twelve Apostles. The Opera House. The bookstores with cats. The Pacific, warm on an Oregonian's feet, never anything but shocking. I just googled, and three key things are still there: The Comemrcial Club, where we played rock-paper-scissors for free drinks every Wednesday; the Pumphouse, across from the Nunnery, where we drank too many beers and ate too many orders of fries; and Retro, where we slunk upstairs to dance to Britpop and the Strokes (now the top is a massive heated beer garden. Probably no more dancing to "He's on the Phone"). I'm sure none of them are what they used to be.

It's ok. Neither am I.

what stays, what goes

Memoirs make me a little twitchy. I like them well enough, but at some point, inevitably, I start thinking about what I don't remember. What I ate. What the weather was like. Who said what, when. The things from middle school and high school, the tiniest little things, I remember. I wrote them all down, obsessively, tirelessly, analytically. I don't have that urge anymore, but I want it, or at least part of it, back; I want the part that records the fact that T. made creme eggs for Boobs & Dragons night, that notes down the Snap sour ingredients for later re-creation, that memorizes S.'s face when we're driving through run-down small Catskills towns in the rain.

Either I have to write more, or I have to take a lot more pictures. I can't remember everything. There are too many things. I don't know if I'm forgetful or overflowing, and it freaks me out a little. What did we do? Where did we go? Why do I remember so clearly the first place I ate fried pickles, yet I have to carefully visualize what I did, or didn't do, for New Year's Eve the year before last?

I don't have the gift for trusting that the important parts stay. But most of them do.

I should still write more.


Today, I've been full time at my job for a year. I have flowers, macarons, a giant bag of jelly beans, and a pile of books I bought for myself. And also decision problems about what to read next. The memoir I just read was so deceptive, so clean, so casual and intimate that the next book has to fit right in next to it. It's been all women writers for a while and I'd like it to stay that way, but my book group is reading Robert Sheckley, and I can't resist a Buffy comic for long.


All this is avoiding saying that I started typing with blurry vision because my second-favorite cat, K.'s cat, is gone from the world now, and I don't have a poker face. She mostly only tolerated me and my affections, but she slept on me once, and I knew I was accepted. She was the opposite of my lap-loving, attention-grabbing little beast, in color and temperament, and I liked knowing she was on the other side of the country, balancing everything out.

first times for everything

The last year, as I think I mentioned in that 65-question meme thing, was full of firsts. The last few years have been, really - thinking back to my first panic attack, at the end of 2010, which thankfully has been the first and only; change and tension manifested a different way in 2012.

Late last year, I got a vicious backache that wouldn't go away, and there was no reason for it. I went to acupuncture, because there is a lovely funky community place down the street, and the owner is a regular in the bookstore. I was nervous and uncertain, and not a huge fan of the sensation of being poked with needles, but like everyone said, it doesn't really hurt. A few were slightly uncomfortable, but not awful, and then I drifted off into some weird state that was somewhere between being asleep and being high as a kite. I couldn't not narrate it for myself: Can I move my fingers? I don't know. Maybe I should try. I feel like when I had a fever and all my limbs are floating and swollen at the same time. Can I feel my back?

It felt lovely and floaty while I was there, and then I left and every step was jarring, still. Q. recommended a book, the basic premise of which is that a lot of back pain is the manifestation of stress. I read it, and everything stopped hurting. Like magic, but not.

I got engaged - a first and a last and everything in between. I lived with S. for the whole wonderful year. I went to BEA and hated it; I went to NYCC for the second time, but it was the first time I went to work at a booth and I kind of loved it, that way, though it's still exhausting. I went to a fancy author lunch as a bookseller. I created a Tumblr that had a brief but gratifying moment in the sun.

I got a tattoo - tiny, but real, and mine, and now I see why people start getting them and then get more. I have visions of a foil on my right arm, because fencing is the only thing I've ever been good at practicing. Not doing, not expecting to do well, but practicing, and not to win, but just to do it. I miss fencing, and I need that reminder.

I got up and read something I'd written in front of people, terrified but OK. They clapped and they laughed, sometimes in the right places, and the people whose opinions counted said nice things afterwards.

Last week, I went to pilates for the first time, which might not rate as much for most people, but I loathe exercise that isn't fencing, and group exercise is doubly weird and scary. But this was fun, if strange - you're sprawled on the floor in weird positions that seem like just sitting there but somehow everything is necessary to hold you there and your limbs are shaking weirdly - and the instructor was great, and my friend and I told everyone her funny stories and decided to go back every week.

And next week I'm getting those funny plastic trays that will make my teeth straighter.

There are things I didn't do; I didn't buy an online business, though I thought about it (and spent a lot of money considering it). And there are things I'm still thinking about doing but might not ever. I think this year I will finish one of my stories. I was saying to myself I will finish a book but I don't really know if these stories are books and it's always felt very presumptuous to me to think that. I'll write a book! Who am I kidding? I don't know how to do that. I might not ever. But I'll finish the story.

The point of all this, I think, is that sometimes I resist change, especially when it's change just for change's sake, when it's not considered and valued and meaningful. But I still crave it and seek it out, too. It was harder to do that, in Oregon. Oregon wanted everyone to chill, to be mellow, to let the leaves change for them. It's easier here, if you don't want to stay the same.

there will be planning

I had something of a nightmare about the eventual wedding last night. Or this morning. It was the last dream, the one I woke up from, and it was all tears and frustration (mixed with an unrelated sequence that was like something from roller-Glee, and I couldn't do the flips right).

In this stupid, terrible, no good dream, someone else had planned everything, and everything was wrong. There were about 30 people, all relatives and maybe two "friends" who weren't really friends (one, very specifically, was a girl I knew in high school and have never thought about since. Why Becky?). The dress was horrible. No one had told me what to do or where to go, so I did everything wrong. In no way was it like a wedding, except that in my dream, I knew that's what it was.

Clearly, you could unpack the hell out of this.

I've been meaning/planning to write while we do this, while we figure out how people get married in Brooklyn (probably) without spending obscene amounts of money (hopefully) and without having the same wedding everyone else in Brooklyn does. That last item is less important, but something interesting that the woman who cuts my hair (and S.'s!) brought up: how hard it can be to make a wedding here your own, when money is such an issue that everyone winds up using the same places, the same things, because it's all we can afford.

A lot of what I want to write, though, is just processing. I never expected to get married, but at the same time, as soon as S. asked me, two years ago, how I felt about the big things - marriage, kids, where to live - I knew. There was a ghost weight on my left hand as I typed back that I had never wanted to get married, but I was maybe feeling differently.

I told almost no one else this, meaning that each of my parents, when he told them he was planning to ask me to marry him (which he had sort of already done, one cold January night on the sidewalk as we walked home) - they both burst into laughter. They weren't laughing at him; they were laughing from sheer surprise. I'd never been a girl who dreamed of weddings or marriage; I'd never seen the point. My mother and my stepfather had a tumultuous, long, bumpy relationship that defined much of my young life, but they never got married. Who needs the state and/or a church telling you that your relationship capital-M Matters? And, later, as I got older and a little more aware of the rest of the world, why can't everyone get married?

All these things are still conceptual issues in my mind, but I want to marry him. The words still sound strange. Maybe they always will, a little bit. And I both do and don't want to try to figure out the whys. It doesn't matter, right? I want to marry him. (My mom asked him, "Do you think she'll say yes?" When he said yes, he did, she said, "Then you must be the right one.") But the part of me that needs to understand why I do things - the part that writes, and has been dormant for far too long - needs to think and write about it. Maybe it's as simple as never having been in a place where I could envision what marriage would mean to me. Maybe - mostly - it's never having had a relationship where I was entirely, completely myself, never second-guessing, never being afraid that I wasn't going to be just right.

The reason I'm getting married is S. But there are still internal things that shift, and I'll be a better me if I at least think about them some. They line up with all the other things that will be new, or that we have to figure out - like planning a wedding that doesn't mean I'm crying in front of high school acquaintances while picking feathers out of my dyed-brown hair and wearing something that looks like a peasant blouse shaped into a godawful dress. The dream came with perfect timing: this weekend, we're going to an indie wedding expo, an event I read about in the fall, shortly after we got engaged. With the holidays (and both our birthdays) looming, we decided not to worry about wedding things until after. I thought this event would be a good starting line.

So tomorrow is, in theory, planning go-time. I have a lot of thoughts about what I don't want - uncomfortable solemnity, and expensive white dress, frilly centerpieces, bridal showers - and only a few thoughts about what I want: wedding pictures on my old stoop, where we first met. Good friends, good food, and good cheer. Wildflowers and whiskey. And my hand snugly in his.

dawn's in trouble. it must be tuesday.

Some days, he never sees me out of pajamas. I sleep in half an hour later, waking for coffee; he goes to work and I waste half my time and spend half of it reading or doing something useful (this proportion must change) and then go to work at one or two, off at 9:30, and he's at band practice, so I'm back into the lazy-girl clothes, sipping leftover wine from the event, at which book-life crossed paths with college-life in a very small and funny way. (Who knew fantasyish authors might be fans of MC Chris?)

I'm reading the most awful book. I'm going to BEA next week for the first time and I am excited and apprehensive. I keep building more projects for myself, but I need to knock down the old ones first. I had one of those OMG DUH moments the other week when I realized that I'm very good at keeping myself busy with things that keep me from thinking about other things - things I would very much like to be doing but have spent years telling myself I can't do.

Two months into this new job, new structures are solidifying. The days look different.


In the park, on Saturday, we huddled under a tree in the rain, drinking monkey glands (renamed "drank" for the occasion, as in, "Can I have some more drank?") and trying to keep our various books from getting wet. I'd given a friend a cup and when I told him what was in it, he said, "I haven't had gin since the night you watched me throw a phone out a window." Twelve long and short years ago, that. Some of us have grey in our hair and some look exactly the same. I suspect I'll think we all look the same, always. This is what's weird about aging, right? The way the thoughts and the pictures don't match up, like when the audio track is misaligned.


I've developed a thing for nail polish. It's as much about getting the tiny, bright bottles in the mail as it is about wearing it, though I like that I can put garish pinks on my nails, colors I love but not as clothing; they're like accessories that sparkle extra forcefully. It's taking the place of my BPAL addiction, in some part because I've tried so, so many of those that the collecting impulse has faded. I'm trying to keep this one a little more under control, but when pretty colors cost the same as an iced coffee, my resistance is weak.


It's so hot out there. There are just too many things to say.

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