Sep. 11th, 2006 01:27 pm
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There was this friend I had in college. I went to college early, as did he, part of the same program; we met there.

I was -- and I realize I may stretch your credulity a little -- a sweet kid. Genuinely, I was, at fifteen. Boisterous and arrogant, sure. But sweet: clean-cut and naive. Sheltered, really, is the word I'm looking for, here.

This friend of mine was not. He was lightning-clever, manic, cynical. He introduced me to all kinds of things that, at the time, I thought were way out there and more than a little frightening. I had no idea he was giving me the tools I needed to survive the twentieth century. The Sex Pistols. Repo Man. Robert Anton Wilson. The Church of the Subgenius.

The most important of these was DEVO.


DEVO saw it all coming. They had seen the future -- they knew it was going to be shiny and bright and plastic and that it was going to suck. De-evolution: everything getting stupider. They looked into the abyss and instead of trying to escape it, they took a running jump and took us all with them, deconstructing pop music and everything else they touched. It was a sound from somewhere maybe just twenty minutes into the future, after the bomb had dropped and we were smiling mutants all. We were all doomed. And it was funny.

The bomb never came. But DEVO was right.


I betrayed my friend, eventually. I didn't mean to, is my cry and excuse, but it hardly matters.

There was a girl, someone I knew. I was surprised and delighted to find out that she was spending a lot of time with this old friend of mine, that it looked like they'd probably be dating soon. She wanted to know all about him.

I told her a few things about him that, to me, were just interesting, colorful background information. Things that, if I'd thought about it, I might well have realized he'd rather have kept secret.

He never spoke to me again, after that. I don't suppose he ever will.


DEVO performed at the Paramount here in Seattle, on Saturday night, one of only six stops in this entire tour. I never thought I was going to be able to see them live. [ profile] retcon got us tickets, for which I'm insanely grateful.

I danced. I never dance at concerts.

They were great. Such high energy. At one point they were throwing energy domes into the audience. I want one so bad.

One of their trademark songs has the refrain, "Are we not men? We are DEVO!" At one point, they turned that into call-and-response with the audience. "Are we not men?" the band asked, and "We are DEVO!" the audience screamed back.

I was completely blown away by that -- by the band sharing their energy, their name, their identity, with everyone there. I'd misunderstood that song all these years -- they are not DEVO -- we are DEVO, all of us. Of course.


I don't know if my old, mad, brilliant, lost friend was there that night. But I hope he was.


Jul. 8th, 2006 12:50 pm
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(Yeah, okay, so this post is a little late. *shrug*)

Was supposed to meet up with a bunch of folk at Gasworks Park on the 4th of July for fireworks and whatnot.

After a late start, due to me passing out for a few hours in the afternoon and due to feeling uncertain about the weather (thunder and lightning!), [ profile] windbourne and I did make it down there. I even found parking, not horribly far away, after only about five-ten minutes of looking, which completely amazed me. (I nearly had to ram head-on into some asshole who thought he'd try to beat me into the space I was clearly maneuvering into, but I stood my ground and stared him down.)

So, yeah, we got there, and --

  • The entire park was fenced off and bottle-necked down to one entrance, so they could check people's bags for illicit booze, fireworks, guns, and nuclear weapons. We were greatly bemused -- no, pissed off, really. This is a public park -- how dare WaMu treat it like a private entertainment venue? Was this kind of security really needed? Thanks, The Man, for keeping us safe from the terrorists! Way to help put me in the mood for Independence Day!

  • My cellphone was Acting Weird, and while Ahna's seemed fine, she still couldn't get hold of any of our friends. I'm guessing this is what happens when you have too many cellphones crammed together in one small space. Anyway, upshot is, since we couldn't reach anyone, finding where our friends were was impossible. (If you were one of the people hoping to see us, now you know why you didn't. Sorry! We tried!

  • There were so ungodly many people on the hill that even if we could find them, we weren't sure we wanted to.

  • Not to mention, we weren't sure we wanted to be anywhere near the hideously tacky, huge, inflatable Statue of Liberty head on the hill. ("You maniacs! You blew it all up! Damn you! Damn you all to hell!")

  • There were food vendors (deep breath: Piecora's New York Pizza, Sugee's Strawberry Shortcake, The Frankfurter, The Corn Roasters, Athena's Gyros, Zoka Coffee, Elephant Ears, and Pioneer Popcorn) everywhere. And 96.5 Jack FM with a huge set-up blaring music. And banners hanging everywhere proclaiming the glories of our Corporate Masters. I had to sit on my hands to keep from tearing them down. It all had such an air of cheap, large-scale hucksterism, I just wanted to cry.

    I don't mind a little hucksterism -- the people in the neighborhood who'd been selling lemonade and sodas and parking spaces had charmed and warmed me, because it was honest and human and real. This was nothing of the kind; this was antithetical to it, anathema. This was the huge spinning gears of the engine at the heart of the world.

  • Personally, I could have done without the military helicopter flyby. Increasingly, this decade, the line between Love of Country and Love of the Military has become blurred, nearly erased. I wish I could publically celebrate one without the other. But the fact that I can't is practically a given, at this point.

  • Finally, when it was all over -- they didn't think to drop the fence. All of those -- hundreds? Thousands? -- of people, now all wanted to get back out through that same choke-point at once. What, did they want to check our bags on the way out?

So. Yeah. Fireworks sure were pretty. We'll be watching them from somewhere else next year.


(Afterward, though, we went to the Mercury for dancing and barbecue, and had such a lovely time we went home happy.)

Go team

Jan. 22nd, 2006 05:13 pm
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.... So I gather there's some sort of football game going on today.

Actually, I remember seeing something about that the other day -- specifically, a readerboard outside a business in Lake City that reads, "GOD BLESS OUR SEAHAWKS."

Take a moment, if you would, to marvel with me: the owners of this business have decided to use their readerboard, a business asset intended for advertising -- no, wait, strike that, they've decided to use the very gift of literacy itself --

-- to plead with their invisible superhero in the sky to intercede on the behalf of their tribe in ritual combat.

This planet frightens and confuses me and I'd like to go home now.


Dec. 18th, 2005 10:22 pm
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You know their names. Do you recall mine?

I was just like them. Just like anyone else. But they couldn't see it. All they could see was one small difference, my way of bringing light to the world. A difference that shouldn't have mattered to anyone, but it did. I had to hide it away. My mark, as red as blood. Pretend I was like everyone else.

Until the night he said he needed me.

They loved me then. They all did, or said they did.

I wanted them to so badly. I believed them when they said it was an honor. I didn't know any better. He was using me, that's all.

He taught me so much that night, but it took me years to realize it. He taught me that no one will love you for being different, unless they think you're useful to them somehow. All their hatred, all their love -- it's all about them, not you. You don't need it. It doesn't matter what they think, if what they think can be changed so easily.

I'm not letting him use me any more. He'll never use anyone again.

I'm raising an army, now. An army of misfits. It isn't easy. Everyone's scared. They say he's watching all the time -- he sees us when we're sleeping, he knows when we're awake. I'm not afraid. I don't really think he cares about us enough to pay attention.

But he should. They all should. They never let me play their games, but this time, this year, they'll be playing my game. We are on the march, our eyes fixed true north.

Remember my name. I'll go down in history.


Nov. 21st, 2005 10:35 am
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As I write this, it's been foggy for three straight days here in Seattle, and I find myself childishly delighted with it. I can't remember the last time this happened -- I'm used to fog being entirely ephemeral, here in the morning or at night, burned away by the heat of the day.

Everything is still and quiet and white and beautiful, the effect of snow without the bitter cold and treacherous footing. It's shrouded and mysterious. Gothic weather.

People say they're "in a fog" when they're confused, distracted. Fog is an obstacle. If I were navigating a ship, cut off from stars and landmarks, I might see the truth of that metaphor. But being out driving, I find that there are no gaudy business signs, no billboards, clamoring for my attention. My world is reduced to what I need to pay attention to, what's right in front of me. I only have to think about how to handle the task at hand in this single moment.

It's a nice state to be in.


Sep. 23rd, 2005 03:41 pm
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Wednesday night, at [ profile] ursako's instigation, [ profile] windbourne and I joined her at the Crocodile for their annual Cure cover night. As you may know, The Cure are pretty much my favorite band of all time, so I was thoroughly enjoying myself.

Then Jodie Watts took the stage. After a number or two, the lead singer looked out into the crowd and said:

"You know, we've got a lot of room up here on stage, so if anybody wants to come up here and dance, that'd be great. Actually, we've got a spare microphone up here, too, so if anyone wants to come sing with us, you can."

They're kidding, I thought. They can't really mean --

"Come on! Come on up here! You probably know the words to this one!"

And they started to play the opening notes of Just Like Heaven. My favorite Cure song ever.

A song that, for literally years, I've harbored a secret desire to sing, on stage, in front of an audience. Honestly.

I couldn't! I don't have the nerve --

The singer must have seen it all on my face, because then he pointed right at me and raised a questioning eyebrow.

Oh, I thought, what the fuck. And got up on stage.


"All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music," Walter Pater once said. I love doing my readings, don't get me wrong. I like being up on stage and weaving pictures with words. But I walk away from them, sometimes, wishing they had the immediacy, the energy, of musical performance.

Maybe that's overstating the case. Maybe a simpler way to put it is, I sometimes wish I were a rock star. Sure. Who doesn't?

For just a few minutes there, I got to be one.

It was an impossible moment; it was that Walter Mitty moment everyone secretly hopes for that never really comes, that kind of "Is there anyone on board who can fly this plane?" type of moment.

As impossible as, say, for example -- getting a second chance to know the girl whose name I never caught.


There is, at the center of my life, an impossibility. An impossibility that flashes me Cheshire-cat smiles, all soft curls and eyes dark as night, a glint in them like stars. A secret that sits in the middle and Knows. She reminds me that you can hold on to the impossible, that miracles happen all the time to those who reach out for them, that I can have everything I ever wanted. Be everything I ever wanted.

"As we let our own Light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same," Marianne Williamson wrote. "As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Consciously or unconsciously, just by being near me, she gives me that permission. And I shine.

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Nineteen years ago: Vancouver, BC, was celebrating its centennial with a world's fair, Expo '86. I was there. So was she. We were from the same hometown, but we were still worlds away from each other, years away from meeting. But there are traces of our paths crossing, physical evidence; we each have a photograph of ourselves, unmet, but standing in exactly the same place, doing the same thing. Coincidence, meaningless, but simple. Neat.

Fourteen years ago: I was just starting to explore this whole "goth" subculture, using the resources of the nascent Internet. Apparently several of the bands I already liked were considered goth, and I was eager to hear more. I went out and bought a CD by Bauhaus, a band everyone seemed to consider essential: Press the Eject and Give Me the Tape. It took a while for me to really start to like it -- to learn how to listen to it, it was so different from anything else I'd heard. But I did.

Seven years ago: I was there when Bauhaus played in Seattle, their revival tour, standing room only, pushed nearly to the front by the rush of an eager crowd, pressed back by a wave of music that filled the Paramount, drowning all of us in the deep, resonating opening to Bela Lugosi's Dead. "Welcome back," Peter Murphy said, addressing all of us, and I felt for a moment like I didn't belong -- I'd never been here before, with them, I could hardly be welcomed back -- but the feeling of love in the room, the crowd's love for the band, the band for the crowd, just filled me and carried me along. She wasn't there.

Five years ago: My much-loved Seattle net.goth community put on Convergence 6, a convention for net.goth's from around the world. Nearly 800 of them descended on Seattle, and for a moment I had my own small Halloween world. On the last night, there was a surprise appearance -- Peter Murphy, frontman for Bauhaus, played for an astonished and wildly enthusiastic crowd. She was there, this time, somewhere out in the dark. We'd met, briefly, but I had no idea she was there.

Sixty-eight weeks and five days ago: She tied a small ribbon of black silk at my wrist, and I kept it, because I was hers.


The only regret I've had about how [ profile] windbourne and I came to be together -- the timeline of it all, the missed connections, our long and slow dance as we circled each other, in nearing orbits -- is that I've wished that I had known her seven years ago, so I could have taken her to that concert, so she could have seen the long-dead band she loves as much as I do, maybe more.

But the one thing having her in my life keeps teaching me, again and again, is that sometimes you get second chances.

Bauhaus returns to the Paramount Theatre, Friday, October 21st. I already have our tickets. Welcome back.
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"I wanted to breathe smoke.

Birds and deer are a silly luxury, and all the fish should be floating.

I wanted to burn the Louvre. I'd do the Elgin Marbles with a sledgehammer and wipe my ass with the Mona Lisa. This is my world, now.

This is my world, my world, and those ancient people are dead."

I have here, next to these keys, the silver cigarette case my father gave me, some months or years ago. It's really very pretty. An odd size, by my modern standards; I've never found cigarettes that will fit it. It has a map embossed on it of the British Isles, where he and my mother met during The War, where his lifeline and hers had crossed and merged, half a world away.

My father had given it to me a little apologetically -- he thought I might like to have it simply because it was his, even though, as he said, I wouldn't have a use for it. I lied and agreed that I wouldn't. I wouldn't want him to know I smoke myself, on occasion. He wouldn't approve.

It's foolish of me, I know it is. I do it in moderation. Once a month, if that. It makes me a rarity in a world where everyone around me smokes constantly or not at all, as if the world were divided into alcoholics or teetotalers.

It was something I tried for the first time when I was -- eighteen? Nineteen? On the theory that I would try it once, wouldn't like it (no one does their first time, right?), and would never be curious again. Practice differed from theory. I didn't mind it at all. Years later, when the Goth scene led me to clove cigarettes, I found I liked them quite a bit.

I still have nightmare-like images burned into my head -- my Uncle Jack, my mother's brother, in his cancer bed in the hospital, not long before he died. Arms and legs like sticks, like a starving man, his torso bloated like a corpse pulled from the river. By all rights, I should never have started.

My father quit smoking. Before I was even born, if I recall correctly. He was in the hospital himself for some weeks -- I forget what for, but I think he may even have been in an oxygen tent for a while. At any rate, he hadn't been allowed to smoke, of course. When he was released from the hospital, he started to light up a cigarette, and then thought -- "What the hell am I doing?" He was past the cravings, past the need he'd built up. He was just giving into habit, and decided that was stupid -- here was his chance to quit, so he took it. That was decades ago, and he never started again. A very sensible thing to do.

We do sensible things, most of us. We try to eat right, get some exercise, get the right kind of sleep, do what our doctors tell us. Whistling in the dark, thinking the whole time that maybe, just this once, death won't come for us.

My father is a sensible man, and lung cancer came for him all the same.

The night he dies, I'm almost certainly going to be drinking. I'm going to have enough drinks to numb everything out to soft white noise. Enough drinks, and, almost certainly, some cigarettes.
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"Aren't you supposed to be in Olympia?"

I've been asked that a lot lately ....

Last week, I had a doctor's appointment Wednesday morning, so I came up to Seattle the night before. I wanted to see [ profile] windbourne while I was in Seattle, natch, but I knew she was spending the day with [ profile] briara, so I went up to Capitol Hill to kill some time.

While I was wandering around, I ran into Lars, and then [ profile] devilpuppy and Richard, and then ran into [ profile] helix90 and [ profile] artvixn. These last two were on their way to dinner at the Noodle Studio, and asked me to join them, which I cheerfully did. After dinner, we went to a used music/video store, where Martin bought be four Doctor Who videos, just on a whim. I'm still boggling at that. Thanks, Martin!

Then we ran into [ profile] retcon, and he and I wandered off to have coffee.

Later I met up with Ahna and Ri, and we went to Ahna's apartment to watch the new Doctor Who. ("Dalek," an episode I'd desperately been looking forward to. It was so good.)

The next day I got up way earlier than I wanted to, went to my appointment, and came home and crashed for a while. I had intended to pick up a prescription refill while I was in Seattle, but there they needed to reconfirm the prescription with my doctor or somesuch, and I knew from past experience that that would take a couple of days, so I made plans to come back to Seattle that weekend. I spent some more time with Ahna, and then headed back to Olympia, way later than I should have. That's a long drive when you're sleepy.

So I decided to come back into town on Saturday, so I could get my prescription and go to [ profile] balzac's birthday dinner/Mercury outing. (There was also some talk of going to Rocky Horror, but we ended up just staying at the club.) I had a good time, even though I missed Ahna, who was in California on business.

Sunday morning, I head down to Des Moines to see my parents for Mother's Day, since it's on my way and all, and then back to Cheryl's house again. Ahna calls me Sunday night -- would I mind if she came over and stayed the night with me in Olympia? (Would I mind, she says.) Her ride back from California lives in Olympia, and it's getting late, so .... Not a problem, I tell her.

This means we were able to go to Chopsticks, my favorite restaurant in Olympia, and then go to the Danger Room, which Ahna agrees is pretty damn nifty. (And since it's a small world, one of her classmates from high school works there.) Then I took her home, and was able to catch up on Doctor Who again, and crashed on her couch. The next day was [ profile] treebyleaf's birthday, so I picked her up and we went for a walk, and stopped by a new thrift store where I bought her some sandals she liked. Then I came back to Olympia once more.

So that's, let's see, three round trips -- that's an additional 438 miles on my poor aging truck, within the space of a week. Yikes.

Today company came to me, for a change. My old friends [ profile] gwyneira and George, from Early Entrance Program days, live not terribly far away, and came to take me to lunch, along with their very-nearly-three-year-old son, Liam. Cute kid, perfectly charming and well-behaved for his age. He surprised me several times by actually paying attention to the conversation and remembering things that had been said earlier. (Which reminds me -- sorry, you two, once again, for inadvertantly teaching him to say "monkeyfucker." Thanks for coming by! *waves*)

That's a lot of company. Some sabbatical this has turned out to be. But even with all this jetsetting -- well, trucksetting -- I've still managed to get done everything on my sister's gardening/landscaping list, including the stuff she was sure I wouldn't get to. This is because I am the Captain of Team Awesome. I'll take pictures of the little wall I built, and post them when I get back.
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(I don't tend to use cut-tags, so I'm breaking up my [ profile] norwescon diary into four entries, which I hope will be enough to slip in under your MTV-addled attention-span radar. If not, you can just look at the pretty pictures instead. Cheers.)

I didn't have any panels scheduled on Thursday this Norwescon, and Ahna wasn't going to be coming down, so I thought I'd give the day a miss. I was just going to come down, grab my con badge and put my art in the Art Show, and go home and maybe get some writing done.

Not quite how it turned out. As I mentioned before, that all took eight hours. They didn't have the pro badges up in the Green Room, as is the practice at all civilized conventions, so instead I went down to stand in the pre-reg line with the proletariat. By the time I finally got to the head of that line, I found out that I should have been standing in the other line, the one labelled "Registration Information Changes." I mean, of course! How obvious, right? How stupid was I not to have figured that one out?

So I stood in the other line, finally got to the head of that line, and the volunteer behind the desk starts to take my info and, of course, their server crashes. They've been doing this for 28 years, should know what they're doing by now, they've got more geeks on hand than Raisin Bran has raisins, and yet Registration always, always runs as smoothly as Custer's Last Stand. I don't get this.

Anyway, they finally decide that oh, wait, maybe they can at least get the pro badges going without the server, so they hand me a sign to form. The pen doesn't work. It does, however, look suitable for eye-gouging, and I contemplate this possibility while they try to track down my badge.

My badge isn't there, and their computer claims I've already picked it up. As calmly and sweetly as possible, I reassure them that this is not, in fact, the case, and that I haven't been standing in line for over an hour purely for the warm glow of camaraderie with my fellow congoers.

They send a new badge to the printer, so I head over to the other side of registration to wait in that line ....

Badge at last clutched in feverish hand, I dick around until 4:00, which is when the Art Show is supposed to be open for artists to check in. Optimistically, I show up at 3:59 with a bright and cheerful smile. They're not ready yet, so I come back in ten minutes, and a volunteer who's cutting out bid sheets (a petty little bit of drudgery that I assumed would have been handled by trained monkeys long before the convention started) that I should try back in fifteen minutes. I decide to give them a little longer than that, since this is driving me bugfuck, so I leave my bagful of art at my future table so I don't have to keep carrying it, and then I grab the fabulous and much-missed [ profile] morgyne, back up from Cali for a visit, and the equally fabulous [ profile] steveness, and drag them off with me to lunch or dinner or whatever meal this is, and we have a fine dining experience at Jacques en la Boîte, and then make a quick trip to the liquor store.

I come back to the Art Show, and things seem to be moving now, so I ask how I get started. Had I, they asked, registered all my art on-line? Well, no. I'd known that was an option, but I hadn't realized it was mandatory. I'm pointed toward a meagre handful of computers and the line of sad-faced artists who have made the same mistake I have. I wander over instead to unpack my art so I can note down what I have to enter in their system, and discover I've left one of my pieces at home. Crap.

Can I, I ask a volunteer, check my art in and come back in the morning and register one additional piece? Her shoulders slump in despair at the question. That's all right, I hastily assure her, I'd love to get back in my truck, drive all the way to Shoreline, grab it, come back, find parking again, and then register -- that would be awesome. They close at 8:00, right? I should just have enough time ....

They told me not to worry about that -- with as late as they opened, there was no way they were going to be out of there until, say, 10:00 or so. Sucks for them, works for me.

I get back in my truck, drive all the way to Shoreline, discover my last art piece hiding on the couch behind a backpack, come back, find parking again, and go in to register my art. The less said about the on-line system I had to use, the better. Let's just say I could code a better system over a weekend while blind drunk. After I slogged my way through repetitively entering all ten pieces, I asked, okay, now what? Well, our printer isn't working, they tell me. No, of course it isn't.

So a volunteer comes over with me to look at my art as I write down all the titles of everything so she can later check it against what I entered in the computer, when another Art Show person comes over to us -- she's found some of the old bid sheets and control forms from last year, so I can just use those. I jot down all the titles a third time -- there's some concern on their part about matching up the bid numbers or something, so I'm still not sure I'm checked in correctly, but they seem to be done with me, so I leave without killing anyone.

I run screaming into the night and go visit Ahna and Lars, who kindly feed me, listen to me rant, and let me curl up in front of their fireplace like a cat and sleep while they watch Collateral. Excelsior!

Tomorrow will be better, I figure. It'll have to be.


Mar. 3rd, 2005 12:51 pm
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A conversation I was having with [ profile] windbourne the other day at lunch:

6: "I think I'll become a vegetarian. Who eats steak."
A: "You mean you'd give up eating salmon?"
6: "Well, no, see, I'd be a vegetarian like Lars is. You know -- the kind of vegetarian who eats fish."
A: "I see. And also steak. What about other forms of beef?"
6: "Well, sure. Fish and beef."
A: "I see."
6: " .... And chicken and pork."
A: " -- Okay, now, see, that's not really a vegetarian."


Feb. 15th, 2005 01:17 pm
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I've been starting to wonder if I would have been better off if I'd never started buying music.

Music wasn't really that important to me when I was little. My fellow students in elementary school were stunned that I didn't have a favorite radio station. I did listen to KJR, some, and I enjoyed music, sure.

(I even once turned two speakers facing each other, with just enough room for my head between them, and stretched out on the floor and listened to the stereo, a little too loud, for a couple hours or so. By the time my parents caught me, it was too late -- I was half-deaf for three days.)

It all really clicked for me one Christmas, when my parents gave me a tiny portable radio with headphones. I was entranced by it, and started tuning around to find a radio station to listen to.

This was the beginning to the 80's, and KUBE 93.3 was playing the beginnings of New Wave. I fell in love with it. I started buying tapes and 45's, cataloging my favorite bands, my obsessions. Music wasn't just something to listen to -- it was something to line up on a shelf, something to hold on to and own.

It got worse in the days of Napster and Audiogalaxy. I could never just enjoy a song any more -- if I liked it, I had to know what it was, I had to have it, to listen to it again, play it for my friends.

It bothered me to listen to radio stations like C89.5, where I really liked the music, but where they rarely mentioned the artist and title. How was I supposed to reach out and grab hold of it if I didn't know what it was? I couldn't appreciate the song I was listening to right then -- I was too busy thinking about the next time I was going to hear it.

I don't know what's changed. I don't know how I've started to let go.

Part of it was listening to C89.5, actually -- listening to live DJ mixes, accepting them as ephemeral, enjoying them anyway even though it would be impossible to hear them again. Part of it is just trying to let go in life in general; to live in this moment instead of the next.

I listen to all kinds of music now. I still listen to C89.5, I listen to KEXP, and they play all kinds of great music, and I may never find out what half of it is and I may never hear it again. But why should I care when I can just listen to the radio again and hear more great music tomorrow?

I've been trying for years, to borrow an image from Crowded House, to catch a deluge in a paper cup. Lately, I've been trying to just stand still, face upward, eyes closed, and let it all wash over me. Wash me clean.
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Time at last for October kisses
Light fingertips down my back like unseen drops of morning fog
And brightsharp breezes that draw her near

Time for hot chocolate and cider spices
Mornings late in bed with blankets pulled up tight and close as skin
and endless ghost-story-late nights
Watch kept by candles guttering like jack-o-lantern eyes

Hand-in-hand on walked-down streets
like children out for trick-or-treat
Sun slants down low and lazy through burning turning leaves
Tumble down to spread out at our feet like hair spilled over pillows

The world turning carousel-fast under our feet
and I can feel the shape of a year in its arc
Hidden from cold in shelter and dark with
Every touch of her candy-apple lips

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So Thursday morning I had a job interview, and they offered me a contract. Cross your fingers for me -- at this point, it's more like an audition than a job: they're not sure if I have the technical skill they need, so they want me to work for a couple of days, see how it goes, and then keep me on if it goes well. Nerve-wracking, certainly, but exciting, and definitely worth quitting my job at JoAnn's for, since that was going to only last about another month anyway.

The job is with Blue Utopia, who are developing sites for Democratic candidates. The site I'm working on is, and I'm really excited about that, since Jay Inslee is one of the few politicians I actually give a damn about -- he really seems to grok the Internet and its issues and implications, and he's done a lot for privacy laws and the like.

The only reason they weren't sure about me is that their site -- which is currently kind of broken and needs a lot of work -- is written in PHP, and I've never worked in that language. I have, however, done a lot of work in Perl and some in ASP, and PHP has elements of both, so I was confident I could pick it up. I left the interview, had a celebratory lunch with [ profile] windbourne, and went and let myself into [ profile] retcon and [ profile] treebyleaf's apartment so I could use their 'Net connection to study PHP for several hours.

After the lovely dinner that [ profile] treebyleaf made, and after managing to stuff just enough knowledge of PHP into my brain to completely overwhelm and terrify me and convince me I was totally in over my head, I went home. Needed an early night, after all. Needed to get my sleep, for the first day at a new job, especially where I'd have to be concentrating a great deal. Very important. Essential. I get to bed a little before 10:00pm.

At 11:30pm, [ profile] treebyleaf calls me, to see if I'd heard yet -- [ profile] josefinek had been found dead in her apartment. I had already heard, but I appreciated the call; I never knew [ profile] josefinek well at all, but I always liked her a great deal and enjoyed our few conversations. I can't believe, yet, that I'm not going to see her any more, studying some thick technical book at the Mercury, working to cure cancer while dressed to the nines. ... I have a little more alcohol and go back to bed.

At 2:30am, [ profile] monotmoe calls me. Can I take her to the hospital? She'd woken up with her back in intense pain, had called a medical hotline, and the nurse wanted her to go to the hospital, and she can't afford an ambulance. I quickly assess my condition -- yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm awake enough to drive safely, so, yeah, I head out.

I get there and she's in pretty bad shape. She needs to go to Harborview and she doesn't know where that is, so I look up the address and head out and try to find the place. I get there, not entirely directly, but without getting too lost, and we go in to the E.R. to talk to the triage nurse.

There's no one at the triage nurse's desk, so we wait about 45 minutes. Nothing for me to do but sit there, blink blearily, give her a shoulder to lean on, and watch the Wings marathon on Nick-at-Nite. I hope they can see her soon, I caught myself thinking, I need to get home and get some sleep .... But I stopped myself. Hey -- enough of that. Would Superman worry about having to get up in the morning? No, sir, he would not. Would Bruce Wayne? Would Hal Jordan?

The nurse finally came back, talked to the person ahead of us in line, and then saw Mo, got her info, went to get her a bed while Mo checked in. As they told Mo they were ready for her to come back, I apologized to her -- I had to get going, I couldn't stay any longer .... Mo understood and urged me to go get some sleep.

I get home at 5:00am. My alarm is set for 8:00am. Okay, I think. Okay. Three more hours. You can do that. You can be functional on three hours of sleep. I have some more alcohol, listen to some quiet music, try to relax, have some more alcohol, try to find a comfortable position, try not to think about how much I need to get to sleep ....

Eventually I must have drifted off. At 6:30am my cell phone rings. It's Mo again, calling to tell me she'd had some muscle relaxers and been sent home, and was safe and sound. (Now, I've told my friends repeatedly to call the cell phone at any hour, that it won't wake me, so I don't blame her in the least for this; my sleeping must have been very shallow for me to hear it.) I go to bed for the fourth and final time that night, and then my alarm rings at 8:00 and I head off to my new job.

And of course, I did just fine. I stayed awake, coherent, focused, and I was able to take completely unfamilar code and make it sit up and beg. I am, after all, a freakin' rock star.


Jul. 8th, 2004 05:01 pm
icebluenothing: (Default)
This is what you want, this is what you get --

PIL loud and echoing dreamlike. I'm dancing, by myself on the floor of the Mercury, and the club is apparently empty, save myself and the unseen DJ, and [ profile] windbourne. A blurry light shimmers on the floor, and for a moment it feels like we are far below a blood red ocean. I look over at her writing in her spiral notebook and I feel like we belong here, like sharks. She and I are the only creatures who can survive at these depths.

The music reminds me, deep in my bones, that there really was something going on in the Eighties, that there was a sound to this decade beyond the pop crap on the radio. There are singers with edges in their voices, drum machines with deathmarch staccato inevitability, synthesized melodies raw-edged and uncomplicated, the busy-signal hum of the end of the world.

I dance, and chase lasers with my moving arms, wishing their green light could pierce my skin like tattoo needles and leave its neon Spirograph pattern burning under my flesh. On the video screen, the world has already ended -- the Duke of New York has the terrified President up against a bullet-ridden wall. Donald Pleasance's little trapped pig eyes staring out of the screen as digital errors reduce his image to jerky boxes. He doesn't understand what's happening to him. This isn't a future he was ready for. This future is much more dangerous, what happened to our New York much worse, and there is no escape from it.

There is escape here, for a moment, and I dance, spinning, wanting to keep spinning dizzy until I fall. I want to give up air and breathe only sweet smoke, give up water for anything that will burn its way down my throat and leave me as dizzy as dancing and as breathless as kisses. I have already given up the ground for concrete and fire for laserlight, here at the bottom of our ocean.

I'm writing now, she dancing, our places silently changed like we already know all the steps of this dance.

The movie has changed -- now it's Logan's Run, and I have to smile. I am, I suppose, renewing myself here at Carousel, but my life didn't end at thirty. If anything, it's only just now beginning, with this breath and the next and the next.

This is not the life I expected. But I'm happier than I could have imagined. This is what you want, this is what you get.

This moment is perfect, and it will end, and be gone --

But if I'm fast enough, clever enough, my pen sharp enough, I can catch it and pin it to the page.


Mar. 31st, 2004 12:04 pm
icebluenothing: (Default)
Yesterday, [ profile] windbourne and I went kite-flying. We got rained out the last time we were planning on going, and the silly store I stopped at didn't have any kite string anyway. But yesterday went just perfectly.

I had a pair of kites that had been sitting lonely and unused in the back of my closet for so long I don't even remember where I got them, and they both worked just fine. We assembled them in the sheltered area of Gasworks Park, taking a moment aside to stare at the cat that was meowling up in the rafters, and talking to the dreadlocked young man who had already "rescued" it three times. We decided it must want to be up there, despite the sounds it was making, and would come down when it was ready.

The kite-flying was ridiculously effortless. I've never managed to get a kite in the air so easily before -- all I had to do was take it to the top of the hill and let go.

There were rainclouds in the distance, but just enough sun reaching us to offset the bitingly cold wind. Ahna kept reeling her kite in, seeing how little string she could give it and still keep it in the air, and then letting it go again; I just let mine climb out to the end of its string and stay there as long as it wanted. Almost, at least. I think I could possibly have stayed at the top of that hill forever, watching it, hearing it flutter and shake from impossibly far away.

I bought her lunch before, she bought me chocolate afterward, and then we went and looked at books together until I had to go to work. It was, in short, a perfect afternoon -- the time spent with her as effortless as kites.


Dec. 24th, 2003 01:52 pm
icebluenothing: (xmas)
The gifts are all bought and made and waiting to be wrapped. I see my family in just a few hours. I've been downloading and listening to my essential Christmas music -- Crosby and Bowie's Little Drummer Boy, Christmas Wrapping, Fairytale of New York.

But I don't think Christmas is coming.

I haven't been able to write about this yet. Now I have to.


I saw an old friend the other day, one of my best. Corey Holmes. I hadn't seen her in about thirteen, fourteen years. She came through my line at work and lit up when she recognized me.

I had to ruin the moment, of course. It was necessary, turning that beautiful look of pure joy to one of horror in seconds.

I had to tell her Jeanette was dead.


Do you remember your first kiss?

No, think back -- do you really remember it? Do you remember where you were, how you were standing, if they closed their eyes, the angle of your two bodies intersecting. The color and quality of the light. The scent of their body, the taste on your lips?

I do. It was more than half my life ago. It could have been yesterday.

I was madly in love with [ profile] songhawk once, when we were little better than children, and I remember that kiss and all the breathless stolen moments that followed.

I threw her away, one day, for the sake of someone I thought I loved better. I didn't know anything.

We never would have made it. I know that. Several people have told me that over the years, not least of all Jeanette herself, for all kinds of reasons, not the least of them being her devotion to Christ and my agnosticism. And I can't regret the loves we each found in our lives. But leaving her was a mistake, and I couldn't help but wonder sometimes, if I had my life to live over --

I don't know. I still don't know anything.


She was supposed to be home soon. She'd moved to Texas, for the sake of her husband and child, but was supposed to be home for Christmas, you see.

She'd always been asthmatic. When flu turned to pneumonia, it took her down in a day. They had her on an artificial lung, and they restarted her heart twice, but. She died on Tuesday, December 16th, at four in the morning, before her mother could reach her to say goodbye.


I don't have any of her letters. I gave them up a couple of years ago. She had terrible handwriting, you see. Only wrote in pencil, when we were teenagers. So these letters, folded and kept, had faded to illegibility, so I reluctantly got rid of them. I shrugged it off at the time; it didn't matter. I was more interested in our future as friends than I was in our past.

Now our past is all I have, and I went through my keepsakes looking to see if there was anything, a note, a scrap, I might have overlooked, any piece of paper that might remember the touch of her hand the way my skin does. There wasn't anything.

There were pictures. Too few of them, but there were pictures, back from when it was always springtime. There's one in particular, precious and clear, of the two of us looking into each other's eyes as if there isn't anything else in the world.

I thought of scanning it in so you could see it.

But I'm not going to. It's mine.


At her going-away party, before she left for Texas, I had the weirdest feeling, in the back of my mind, like I wasn't going to see her again.

I ignored it. I was being ridiculous -- of course she'd come back up here for a visit, or I'd go down there someday. Something.

No more somedays. But I look back on that going-away party, and I can't think of anything I wish I'd done or said different. Maybe hugged her a little longer.

I could have been a better friend to her, I suppose, over the years. Spent more time with her. But there's nothing we left unsaid. I'm grateful for that.


The past week has been strange. I've curled up crying at no provocation; I've forced a smile on my face for my job; I've screamed out my anger at God; I was out with friends at the club on Friday and drank and laughed and kissed all the pretty girls, and oh, how I needed it. Every little moment seems knife-edge important. And I suppose it is.

Yesterday was good. Yesterday I arranged with Corey to get together with me and [ profile] kickaha, someone else who'd been wondering for years what the hell ever happened to her. I didn't tell him who we were meeting. It was a surprise, a gift, maybe the best one I'll give this year.

But today Christmas is really here, and I don't want it. Jeanette was going to be home for Christmas. This can't be it.


There must have been a last kiss. I don't remember it.


At the end of Little Drummer Boy, Bing Crosby says to David Bowie, "It's a pretty thing, isn't it?"

Thank you, God, or whoever's listening. Thank you for all the pretty things.

icebluenothing: (Default)
There are certain little monologues, little interior decision making processes, that go through my head over and over again, while I'm behind the register at work. Two, three, maybe fifty times a week.


Okay, next customer, start ringing her up --

Shit. Shit! I didn't say "hello!" How rude of me. Jesus.

Okay, now. Say it now. Look up and say hi. .... Okay, she's not looking. I can't get her attention, make eye contact with her, and THEN say hi, that would seem forced.

Okay, now she's looking this way. Say it. Say "hi." Now -- !

Wouldn't it seem weird to say it now, though, after, what, twenty seconds? More? While you're hesitating, it's going to be even longer. Fuck.

..... Okay, now the window of opportunity to make with the friendly greeting has completely passed by. At least look up. Smile.

Won't she wonder what the hell I'm smiling about -- ?

Okay, screw it, just finish ringing her up, give her the total, take her money, and now a big smile and "Thank you." You can do that.

Wait. What the hell is this freakish coin she's just handed me? Is this a Canadian quarter? A Susan B. Anthony dollar? A Norwegian krone? A Swiss franc?

.... Oh. It must be a new state quarter from West Dakota or somewhere. I could turn it over to look at the other side, but then I'd look like an idiot. Dammit.

Is there something uniquely wrong with me? Can everyone else in the country recognize a quarter purely by shape and size? I used to know what quarters looked like. I could remember a couple of exceptions here and there, the occasional Bicentennial quarter, sure, that's fine, but if I have to start keeping track of FIFTY exceptions, I'm going to go completely bugfuck --

Okay, fuck it. Everything bigger than a nickel is now automatically a quarter, amen and hallelujah. Into the drawer with you.

"Here you go! Thanks a lot!" And -- smile.

Okay. Done. Thank God.

.... Was that too big a smile? Did that seem forced?

.... Does everyone else have this much trouble with basic social interaction? Oh, wait, next customer --



Oct. 12th, 2003 08:32 pm
icebluenothing: (Default)
"You will always get what you want though your charm personality."

This I know. Because the fortune-cookie fortune taped to my monitor tells me so.


Today is a letter-perfect October day, bright and sharp as a jack-o'-lantern knife. The wind is getting into everything like a new kitten, pulling and tearing at candleflame leaves and cardboard boxes and yesterday's headlines, until nothing is where it belonged but nothing is out of place.

We'd talked about meeting last night, but didn't; we'd both been dead tired, and the roads were slick and lethal with rain. Today, then, instead, for lunch, before I have to go to work.

Afterward, a little coffeeshop I'd been wanting to take her to, one that's half a curio store, antique toys and old magazines and real records.

Iced tea for her and a mocha for me, and without preamble, she empties her small purse on the table and starts organizing it. Little notes to herself in her spidery writing, that she pauses and puzzles over. Handfuls of movie tickets -- it seems to me, glancing over them, that half of them or more were for movies we'd seen together. She starts putting things back in her purse. One little slip of paper catches my eye -- a Chinese fortune of her own:

You will be successful in love.

I reach out, touch one finger to the words, and slide the paper across the table to her. She picks it up, reads it -- a small and private smile plays at her lips, her eyes focus on nothing in particular.

She doesn't say anything. She puts the paper back in her purse.

I don't say anything. I think of all the things I could say, in that one long moment, and just smile a private smile of my own.


It's a letter-perfect October day, bright and sharp as a jack-o'-lantern knife, and the wind is getting into everything like a new kitten, pulling and tearing at candleflame leaves and cardboard boxes and yesterday's headlines, until nothing is where it belonged. But not one single thing is out of place.

icebluenothing: (Default)
So I've always been fond of the Barenaked Ladies' song If I Had $1000000, ever since [ profile] kaneda_khan first told me about hearing it in a record store, being charmed by it, and buying the album, long before the band made it big in the States.

But listening to the lyrics always made me wonder:

Could you really buy all that stuff for a million dollars? That's not really that much money any more, is it?

I decided to find out.


"If I had a million dollars
I'd buy you a house"

Okay, if I'm going to buy you a house, it's going to be a house right here in Shoreline, so I can visit you often, so you can put all thoughts of a nice little cottage on the French Riviera right out of your head, to start with. After a little browsing, I've decided I'll buy you this house, for a cool $319,950.

"I'd buy you furniture for your house
(Maybe a nice chesterfield or an ottoman)"

Why choose? Here's a nice Chesterfield Ottoman in burgundy leather, a reproduction of a Victorian piece, for just $639.95.

"Well, I'd buy you a K-Car
(A nice Reliant automobile)"

Well, according to this nice little review on, I could probably pick up a 1985 Plymouth Reliant 'K' car for $600. (They're supposed to be good little cars, too.)

"I'd build a tree fort in our yard"
This great little FAQ on treehouses tells me that all the supplies to build a really decent one will set me back about $1000. Sounds about right ....

"Maybe we could put like a little tiny fridge in there somewhere"
Those are easy enough to come by. Here's one from OfficeMax for $109.99.

"There would already be laid out foods for us
Like little pre-wrapped sausages and things"

Maybe it's declassé of me, but this makes me think of a Hickory Farms assortment. The one I've linked to is just $19.99.

"Well, I'd buy you a fur coat
(But not a real fur coat that's cruel)"

Did you know even the fake ones are expensive? Even this Faux White Mink Serape Coat is going to cost $395. I'm having second thoughts about all this, you know.

"Well, I'd buy you an exotic pet
(Yep, like a llama or an emu)"

These are cheaper than I thought they'd be, actually. I can get you a llama from this site for just $500. I thought at first I might need to buy you more than one, though -- the site also says, "Remember llamas are herd animals and they need companionship from other llamas. Don't buy a llama from someone who will sell you a single llama, if you don't already have llamas, unless the llama is going into a guard position." But then I realized a "guard position" would be fine -- it can guard that house I'm buying you.

"Well, I'd buy you John Merrick's remains
(Ooh, all them crazy elephant bones)"

I'm afraid that's out of the question. John Merrick's remains have been at the Royal London Hospital, since his death. Not even rich wacko Michael Jackson has been able to convince the hospital to part with them, so I don't think I'd manage it on my paltry budget. Sorry, I hope you didn't have your heart set on this one. As a consolation, I'm getting you The Elephant Man on DVD for $17.99.

"We wouldn't have to walk to the store [...]
Now, we'd take a limousine 'cause it costs more"

True enough. Weirdly, though, I can't find many limousine rental places that are willing to list their rates -- they want you to contact them for a quote. But this page of limousine rental tips tells me I can expect to spend at least $100 when renting one for a couple of hours. Close enough.

"But we would eat Kraft Dinner [...]
And buy really expensive ketchups with it"

Kraft Dinner is too cheap for me to even bother looking up the price, but I was curious about what constitutes an "expensive ketchup." The most expensive one I could find was Steel's Gourmet Ketchup, for $6.89. (I'd be remiss here if I didn't mention the teaspoon of ketchup that cost Heinz half a million dollars, but I think we'll stick with the Steel's.)

"Well, I'd buy you a green dress
(But not a real green dress, that's cruel)"

This one nearly stumped me, I'll admit. Until I found this Mock Dress with 3/4 Sleeves, available in Hunter Green, for just $25.50.

"Well, I'd buy you some art
(A Picasso or a Garfunkel)"

I can't buy you Art Garfunkel, obviously, due to those pesky slavery laws. Besides, he'd probably just sit around the house all day bothering your llama and eating all your Kraft Dinner. That leaves the Picasso.

I didn't really think I could get you a real Picasso, frankly, not on this measly budget. I mean, Les Noces de Pierrette was sold for over 50 million, and that was in 1989. But then I read about this auction, where they sold prints and ceramics. (He made more than 2,400 prints during his life, you know.) The cheapest lots went for £1,000, so let's assume I could get you a little something for about $2,000.

"Well, I'd buy you a monkey
(Haven't you always wanted a monkey)"

Sure, who doesn't? This page has a cute little baby girl Capuchin monkey for $6,500.

"If I had a million dollars
I'd be rich"

Well -- not really. Not after I've blown $331,865.31 on you. Admittedly, that means I'd still have $668,134.69 to play around with ....

Until April 15th, mind you.


icebluenothing: (Default)

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