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Cheryl and Bill are home from their trip, and are suitably impressed and grateful with the amount of work on the place.

As soon as I log out, I'm going to pack up and head home. Looking forward to being back in Seattle; despite my frequent side trips home, it feels like I've been gone a while.
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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 [livejournal.com profile] windbourne while I was in Seattle, natch, but I knew she was spending the day with [livejournal.com profile] briara, so I went up to Capitol Hill to kill some time.

While I was wandering around, I ran into Lars, and then [livejournal.com profile] devilpuppy and Richard, and then ran into [livejournal.com profile] helix90 and [livejournal.com 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 [livejournal.com 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 [livejournal.com 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 [livejournal.com 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 [livejournal.com 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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Ever wanted to just walk into a comic book store and walk out with something you didn't pay for? Well, tomorrow you can, because tomorrow, May 7th, is the fourth annual Free Comic Book Day. Find out more, including what comics they're giving away and how to find participating stores.

Since I'm still down in Olympia, I'll be making the pilgrimage to my most favoritest comics store, Danger Room Comics. (Then after that, I'll be driving up to Seattle: a.) to pick up a prescription refill and b.) to be at the Merc for [livejournal.com profile] balzacq's birthday, so if you're out tomorrow, I'll see you then. Sunday I'll be headed back down to Olympia, and will probably stay here until the 15th.)
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Nice to be out of Seattle for a little while. I love my life and I love my friends, but after helping a couple of friends move, and help various others through emotional hard times, I was getting a little burnt out on people, frankly. Needed to step back and stop playing superhero for a little while, at least.

My sister Cheryl and her husband Bill are off to see the Kentucky Derby, which is what Cheryl wanted to do for her birthday, apparently. I'd no idea she had any interest in that sort of thing, but there you are. And here I am -- house- and cat-sitting for a couple of weeks.

They've left me with an overwhelming To Do list of yardwork and landscaping -- all of which they're willing to pay me for, which is nice -- and they've told me they don't expect me to do everything, that I could just pick and choose what I wanted.

So, of course, this being me, my current plan is:
  • Do Everything.
    • This will impress Cheryl.
    • This will get me the most money.
  • Do It All As Fast As Possible.
    • Won't have to worry about the weather staying nice.
    • Can relax and enjoy the rest of my "vacation."
    • Won't have to worry about deadlines once it's all finished.

I do realize this is kind of nuts. C'est la vie.

So far, I've pruned some undergrowth, moved a truckload of wood to its proper place and stacked it into a woodpile, and dug a fifty-foot trench. Well, kind of a one-sided trench -- I turned the gentle slope along one side of their property into a tiny little cliff, so I can build a small retaining wall with concrete blocks.

The first day the digging went easy. "Gosh!" I thought to myself, "I'm glad the ground over here isn't filled with rocks like the other side of the yard was!"

Never think like that. That's only asking for trouble. The ground I was trying to dig yesterday wa stuffed full of rocks, averaging about the size of a softball. Bloody exhausting.

Today I finished up the woodpile, and then moved on to something far more enteraining -- taking a weed-whacker to the shade garden. The shade garden had completely grown over, plants and weeds up to my waste, and the mandate I'd been given was to take the weed-whacker and kill indiscriminately. Weeds, flowers, rhubarb, all of it. It's all going to be turned over into the soil with a roto-tiller. (By me, if I get to it.) Great fun watching it all disappear under my electric scythe. I somehow resisted the urge to start shouting "Exterminate! Exterminate!"

I'm tired, sweaty, sore, and I don't feel like I'm ever going to be clean again -- but with all the intangibles I deal in day to day, there's something very soul-restoring about doing all this work with my hands.
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A-heh. Well, I had been wanting to get some writing done while I was down here, but I really didn't expect to be writing any Doctor Who fan fiction. I haven't written fanfic in ten years or more. I swear this new series is de-aging me.

Anyway, if you haven't seen the new series, especially Rose (the first episode) and Aliens of London, you wouldn't really get this. But hey, if you have, then check it out:

A Minor Correction

It's short. :)
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Hey, kids. I'm in Olympia again, house-sitting for my sister. Will be here for two weeks or so. See you all when I get back.

Kitsune.

Apr. 30th, 2003 11:18 am
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Tuesday, 10:00pm:

So I didn't make it to the Procession on Saturday. Instead, I went to Seattle. This fails to surprise me, at some level; I expected something totally random to happen after the fox crossed my path.

The driver's side window on my truck is a little wonky; the piece that should keep in properly in its track is missing. Not usually a problem; I just steady it with one hand while cranking it up or down with the other. But as I was on my way to downtown Olympia Saturday afternoon, a bee flew in through the slightly open window. I panicked and cranked the window open hard -- it came down, all right. All the way down. Up, on the other hand, was not so good, anymore. I pulled over, opened the passenger door and ushered the bee out.

This problem had to be addressed right now. I couldn't leave the truck like that, or any miscreant would be able to get into it. I didn't have money for a mechanic, so I called my friend Blue, and she said she could fix it, no problem.

(Blue is amazing, by the way, but more about that in a later entry.)

So. Okay. I drove to Renton. The drive up was a lot nicer than the drive down had been, at least.

It took an hour or two, but Blue was able to fix my window with three screwdrivers, a little swearing, and, I'm not making this up, a fork. Blue isn't sure whether the people who designed my truck are just stupid or actively malicious. She apologized for not being able to restore it to perfect working condition, but at least it's back to its former wonky state, so I was totally happy. I took her to Denny's and bought her dinner, hung out with her and her friends.

Around 9:00 I got it into my head that since I was this far north, I might as well go to the Mercury. I swung by [livejournal.com profile] retcon and [livejournal.com profile] treebyleaf's apartment first, hoping to catch them, but they weren't there. Riff wasn't answering his cell phone, either. I borrowed a Mercury-appropriate shirt from Riff's closet and headed out.

There weren't many people at the club I wanted to see, so I gave up after a while and headed back to the Lake City apartment, hoping they'd be home by then. treebyleaf was there, about to go to bed, and she and I talked for a little while; she told me that Riff had gone to the Mercury after all, so I decided to head back down there. Glad I did; it ended up being a fun night after all.

----

Since then, I've been sleeping too much, and writing almost not at all. I don't know if I'm sick, depressed, exhausted, eating badly, not exercising enough, or what. It's Tuesday night as I'm writing this; I took a nap this evening and woke up not knowing if it was night or morning.

Today was pretty fun, though. [livejournal.com profile] wendolen came down, to join me for lunch -- this was meant to be just a stop on her way to the ocean, but she ended up poking around Olympia with me for a while instead.

Oh, and yesterday I saw Identity, which is a nice little realityfuck movie. Recommended.

Tomorrow, back to Seattle -- job interview this time, which is nice. (God, I'm going through a lot of gas this week!) I'll probably take a minute while I'm up there to post this.

(Yep, I'm at home now, posting this and getting ready for the interview. Will see treebyleaf tonight -- can't wait.)

Alone.

Apr. 30th, 2003 10:34 am
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Saturday, 3:00pm:

Peace and quiet at last. I am, as my last journal entry mentioned, back in Olympia. I'm going to be writing this, and probably several other entries, and posting them when I get back.

The monitor on Cheryl's computer is still flickering and dying, and I want to use it as little as possible, thus I'm off-line for the week. I'm not bothered. It will be nice to see how well I manage without the constant stream of input.

To fill the howling void of being disconnected from the Net, I've brought some music (probably not enough); this laptop, to produce a little output for a change; and a small stack of books I've been meaning to finish. Don't know why I bothered with that last item -- Cheryl's bookshelves are lined with classics and interesting non-fiction. I used to find it all somewhat intimidating until I found out on my last trip that she hasn't read half of them. Looks like that runs in the family.

This is going to be a nice little vacation. Cheryl actually left me a little money, too, to cover gas and food, unanticipated but certainly not unwelcome.

I've been going pretty flat-out non-stop for the past several weeks -- I'm going to tell you about all of that soon, just sit tight -- and I feel happy and accomplished but also pretty burned out and sick of people. Hopefully this will make a good reboot and defrag for me.

The drive down was unspeakable. Stop-and-go traffic, I'm not kidding here, pretty much all the way from Shoreline to Olympia. Olympia itself looks much the same -- still largely under construction.

Cheryl and Bill took me out to dinner last night at a nice little restaurant on the waterfront called Tugboat Annie's. I had a jambalaya that had more meat than rice and was actually what I would consider spicy. On the way home, a fox crossed the road in front of us, strange, scraggly looking wild thing, with a rolling, loping gait like nothing else. Absolutely beautiful. I couldn't help but think of kitsune, wondered what was going to happen to my life now with that crossing my path.

And speaking of trickster spirits, this morning I finished reading Coyote Blue, by Christopher Moore. It made me both laugh and cry and I am greatly indebted to [livejournal.com profile] retcon's mother for finding me a copy.

It feels good to be sitting at the laptop writing. This needs to be an activity at the solid core of my life, not something I just do every now and then. I need to work on that.

This week, I believe I will; I have many more LJ entries to write, and I also hope to get a little fiction written.

This evening, at Cheryl's urging, I'm heading into town to see The Procession of the Species, which is basically a community parade celebrating biodiversity, with costumes and giant puppets of animals both real and mythical. It sounds like a very Olympia thing to do, and I'm looking forward to it.

It's not going to be anywhere near as impressive as one lone fox, though.

Leaving.

Apr. 25th, 2003 04:18 pm
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Well, kids, I'm off to Olympia for a week -- housesitting for my sister while she's in San Diego. I'll be back Monday, May 5th. Don't wait up.

I'll be off-line all week. Hopefully, when I get back, I'll find the time to finally sit down and post about all the crazy things I've been up to lately. Man, what a month.

Be good to each other.

Evidence.

Jan. 4th, 2003 03:11 pm
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One of the simplest and best things I got for Christmas was a few prints of pictures Cheryl took while I was down in Olympia. I love them. I wish I'd had her take pictures every day.


Here's the stone and gravel pathway my back-breaking labor produced. Isn't it beautiful? There's the little retaining wall I made from a bamboo curtain. Believe it or not, all of the rocks you see there are ones I dug up out of the ground while making the path. The area to the right with the plants and the cute little Japanese lantern shows you where the original ground level was. To the left, you can see the, uhhh, interesting shade of yellow Cheryl had me paint her house with. Don't look at me like that -- I just followed orders and aimed the paint sprayer.


This is the guest room I stayed in while I was down there. The bright oxblood walls were Cheryl's decoration choice, not mine, believe it or not; I loved it, but it made me homesick for the Mercury. I think I'm probably writing a journal entry in this picture; I'm not sure what prompted the expression on my face. Behind me you can see one of the black plastic female half-torsos that I bought from the store that was going out of business. They're currently on my balcony, awaiting some yet-to-be-determined art project. You can also see the Folding Couch of Doom, which I slept on for several nights before realizing that the floor would be more comfortable. So, now that I think about it, would have the cabin of my truck.


Finally, here's the lovely little loose brick terrace I made with the good bricks left over after carting away two-thirds of a ton of debris that used to be a chimney once upon a time. The plants and metal bird sculpture were found in other parts of the yard, and I assembled them here. I trimmed back the ivy and even carefully wove it into the trellis, only to learn later that they want to get rid of the ivy altogether.

Ladders.

Sep. 26th, 2002 02:52 pm
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One last Olympia story. This one has taken me a while to write about.

The last day I was in Olympia, I managed to get further up on a ladder than I'd managed before. There was some paper that needed to be torn down that I couldn't quite reach, so I managed to go up another couple of rungs. Afterward, I told Cheryl about it, and told her something I'd realized:

I was having as much trouble with the ladder as I was because every time my dad had had me up on a ladder when I was a child, my mom was there, worrying about it. Telling me to be careful. And I was still hearing her voice even now, whether I was consciously aware of it or not.

Cheryl smiled at me strangely.

"You know the story about how you nearly drowned at Angle Lake when you were a baby?" she asked me.

Of course I did. This was one of the central origin myths of my childhood. One that was at the cornerstone of so many fears. I didn't really remember the event, but I'd heard my mother tell the story so many times, I thought I did. I'd invented a memory to smooth over the gap I knew was there, like mental scar tissue; I can still picture the water closing over my head, the shafts of sunlight filtering down, bubbles like flawed glass. I told her I knew the story, yes.

Cheryl's smile got wider. "Would you like to hear a different version of that story?"

"You were wading in the water. I was right next to you the whole time. You tripped, pitched forward face-first into the water, for like, two seconds before I grabbed you and pulled you out. And you were fine. And you would have been fine, until Mom started screaming."

I was a surprise to my mother; she didn't think she was going to have another child, so I was an amazing, precious miracle to her. One she was very afraid something was going to happen to.

A lot has clicked into place since Cheryl talked to me about this.

All the voices in the back of my head, the frightened voices that have told me to be careful and afraid all these years -- I always thought those voices were mine.

They're not.

I intend to spend a lot more time, from now on, on the top step of ladders.

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So last Friday I spent mostly a little edgy -- relaxing and reading, but mostly waiting for Cheryl and Bill to get back. Funny how after spending nearly a month with Cheryl, I was still just as anxious for her to show up as I was every Christmas Eve.

I felt like I really should have been spending the time writing, but I didn't honestly feel like it, and I was a guiltily relieved when I realized that the thunder I kept hearing off in the distance meant I probably shouldn't plug in my laptop.

I spent the afternoon re-reading Robert Heinlein's Friday instead. I'd read it years ago, but I couldn't really remember the plot; I was a little surprised to discover, this time around, that there really isn't one.

I also went out and did a little shopping and bought us a pizza -- since we hadn't talked about dinner plans, I assumed there weren't any, and that Cheryl and Bill would likely be too tired from the drive to make any. I was right; they were happy I had that taken care of, and they were thrilled with the work I had done on the yard while they were gone. Cheryl loved the path and the bamboo wall, and she squealed like a little girl when she saw the brick terrace. It was great.

Saturday morning we took the broken bricks in my truck to the dump. They told us when we got there that it would probably actually be cheaper to take them to a quarry instead, but Bill decided, to hell with it, we were already there. Throwing bricks willy-nilly into the dump was actually pretty funny. Since the dump charges by weight, we found out exactly how much had been in there -- two-thirds of a ton. Yes, I had moved two-thirds of a ton of bricks all by myself the day before. That revelation made me suddenly retroactively very tired.

When Bill and I got back and told this to Cheryl, she asked, "Wow! Is your truck rated to carry that much weight?" Uhh. Good question, isn't it?

Then we cleaned up and went to a relative's retirement party, mainly, I'll admit, because our parents would be there, and they expected us to attend. I'm not even sure what relation Judy is to me, but she had excellent food and an amazing yard. "It's like a park," my mom said to me at one point. "No," I replied, "parks aren't this nice."

Sunday, I packed up my belongings -- it felt strange to be dismantling my room, even if it was just a temporary home. [livejournal.com profile] retcon brought [livejournal.com profile] treebyleaf down, and we all enjoyed a lovely, leisurely lunch -- Cheryl made some rather excellent spaghetti, and I got to enjoy showing my best friends the work I'd done.

Then, north. treebyleaf accompanied me in the truck as I drove through awful, awful rain, the kind that bounces right back up off the freeway and creates a blinding haze. It was sunny, thankfully, by the time we got to my parents' house, where we stopped, chatted with them for a while over tea, and took their huge dead television off their hands with the promise that I'd dispose of it for them.

After that, back to Riff and treebyleaf's place for the usual Sunday festivities. I did a reading of my new story, and it was very well received.

Finally, treebyleaf and I went back to SIXBOX for the night, and then I truly was home.

Home.

Sep. 10th, 2002 05:54 pm
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Haven't had a chance to sit down and write up the events of the last few days, but I wanted to dash off a quick note to let everyone know that I am indeed home and safe and happy. Cheers.

Bricks.

Sep. 5th, 2002 11:35 pm
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"So if you really get bored, and are looking for something to do," Cheryl said to me before she left, "you can go through this pile of bricks and sort out the broken ones." She had a wide, almost mischievous smile as she said it, making it clear that she didn't honestly reasonably expect me to get this done before she got back.

I never did get that bored, but since I really didn't want to do any more painting, guilt spurred me to do it.

Large pile of bricks. Huge. Mostly covered in ivy and weeds. The broken bricks have filled my truck bed, where they sadly wait to be taken to the dump for their ignominious fate.

Sorting through them all involved disturbing the rest of hundreds of pill bugs, spiders, worms, slugs, snails, centipedes, and one beetle. Basically, I destroyed an entire ecosystem. I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. I was worried PETA might show up, until I remembered they only give a shit about the cuddly animals.

Work was briefly interrupted by a goddamn electrical storm that came out of nowhere on an otherwise temperate day, and lasted for about half an hour. I'm not sure I've ever heard lightning strike quite so close before. I heard sirens a while afterward, which I'm hoping was coincidental.

Finished sorting through the bricks as it was starting to get dark, and arranged the good ones into a rather attractive little terrace where the pile used to be. Arranged some planters on it. Again, like the yard decoration I did yesterday, nothing I'd be heartbroken if they undid. (Okay, maybe a little heartbroken, this time.)

Today's Fun Science Fact: Bricks are frickin' heavy.

Slept.

Sep. 4th, 2002 08:02 pm
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Just woke up from a five-hour nap. Today has, obviously, not been terribly productive. Don't know why I was that tired. One of Cheryl's cats howled to be let out of the house as soon as he saw I was up, making it clear that being kept inside all afternoon was tantamount to torture.

I have finished the path completely now, adding in the gravel it still needed and washing all the dirt away to bring out the true color of the rocks. I've put some plants and decorations along the edge -- nothing major, nothing that I'd feel bad if they undo, later, but for now, it looks a lot nicer than bare dirt.

This monitor is dying. I recognize the signs. This means my posts here may become very sporadic. Anyone have a free or really cheap 14 or 15 inch monitor I can take off your hands?

Week.

Sep. 3rd, 2002 10:37 pm
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Wow. I haven't posted anything about my life here in Olympia for about a week.

When I came down here, my plan was to:

  • Help with yardwork/landscaping
  • Spend time with Cheryl and Bill
  • See Olympia
  • Get lots of reading done
  • Get lots of writing done
  • Get plenty of exercise
  • Write detailed accounts of my time here in my journal

.... So, basically, I set out to overextend myself. I had a feeling there wasn't going to be enough hours in a day for all of these things to take equal priority.

The housepainting is -- well, not done, exactly, but as done as I think it's going to get. Touching up the parts where the color of the wood was bleeding through took several days of wasted effort; I finally broke down and put my primer over the dark areas, and then yet more paint over that, and it looks fine, and I should have just done that in the first place even if it did feel like going backward. I'm too stubborn for my own good.

Cheryl and Bill added the second color to the house; they wanted a lighter yellow for the upper part of the house. Uhhh. Well, it is, uhh, bright. Cheryl's pretty disappointed with how it turned out, I'm afraid, and is already talking about re-doing it next year.

Oh, yes, and I actually conquered my fear of heights and got up on an extension ladder, for some of the last bits of painting. Quite pleased with myself on that one.

I have been getting a lot of reading done. I've finished Through the Looking Glass, Ancestor Cell, The Free Lunch, and You Come When I Call You. More pure reading-for-pleasure than I've done in such a short period for years. I've started on Hardwired. I may well run out of books.

Haven't done any more writing this whole past week. I want to do some tonight, but I don't know if I will.

Cheryl and Bill have been making sure I partake in Olympia's fine cultural offerings: Music in the Park, Sand in the City, Harbor Days. I've been mildly put out by the fact that all the civic offerings bear the garish stamp of corporate sponsorship. I haven't gone into full Naomi-Klein-style ranting about it, since Cheryl is firmly and reasonably insistent that events like these wouldn't happen without corporations, and perhaps I am simply getting curmudgeonly in my old age, but still: I can remember sand-sculpture competitions from my youth where the sand sculptures didn't have their sponsor's logos on them. That just seems kind of, well, tacky, to me.

On the home front: Finishing moving all the dirt and rocks. Finished the path, more or less. It still needs a little more gravel, but all the paving stones are laid, and it looks great. My little brick stairs that I was so proud of at the end of the path didn't last, but they've been replaced by a new step that looks like a waterfall of rocks with a leftover paving stone riding the crest of it; it looks improbable and ethereal, but feels solid. Cheryl and I designed and built it together, and I'm especially happy with it.

I built a little retaining wall today for the edge of the path out of bamboo rods and, of all things, a bamboo curtain; Cheryl and I had discussed it, but she doesn't know I went ahead and did it. She'll be pleasantly surprised, I hope. It looks pretty damn good, I think. Needs some finishing touches, still.

I have the house to myself. Cheryl and Bill are gone until Friday evening. That wasn't the original plan, mind you, but that's how it worked out; Bill realized that the best time for him to take his vacation time was going to be during my stay. That's a little weird, but, sure. They're at McMenamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, Oregon. The cats are, to put it mildly, a little freaked to realize that they're gone and I'm still here.

Seattle.

Sep. 3rd, 2002 10:23 pm
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In case you were wondering, my "what-the-fuck" post was in reference to a decision to break my self-imposed exile long enough to head up to Seattle and drop by [livejournal.com profile] retcon and [livejournal.com profile] treebyleaf's Sunday open house. It took a lot of soul-searching to come to that decision; I wasn't sure if I'd be doing right by myself, if I was breaking my commitment to see this through, to spend some time away from my life and see what's left of me away from my normal external factors. Realizing how stir-crazy and lonely I was feeling made me decide to go ahead and do it; there's no real use making myself miserable to prove a point. There's a difference between healthy fasting and starving yourself, and I was starting to cross that line.

I'm glad I went.

Painting.

Aug. 26th, 2002 09:18 pm
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Saturday we started painting.

Got up early and headed over to borrow a pressure sprayer from Sandra and Kelly, friends of Cheryl and Bill who, actually, quite remind me of Cheryl and Bill themselves; Sandra small and bright and funny and creative and talkative, Kelly quiet and sardonic and just as amusing. They were loaning us the pressure sprayer for free, but first Sandra had to lead us through the house they've had for just six months and solicit our opinion on every single bit of redecoration, both planned and already accomplished: what did we think of these rugs? Too dark? How about this wall -- should it be repainted? What color? Would that go with the curtains? Should they take out the closet in the upstairs guest room? How about the entire wall? Cheryl, I think was a little put out at the time this took, although amused, but I was charmed and delighted at the chance to play interior decorator.

Kelly showed us how the paint sprayer worked, and it seemed both straightforward enough and slightly esoteric. We loaded it and the extension ladder into my truck and headed back here.

Bill gave me money to run out and buy myself a new pair of shoes, so I wouldn't get paint all over my good ones. The ones I ended up buying were really too nice to take home and ruin, but they were still the cheapest ones I could find.

I got kitted up in a set of disposable coveralls, a respirator mask, protective goggles, gloves, and a painter's hat. The overall resulting effect was somewhere between NASA and the Special Olympics. Once we figured out how to start the sprayer, I started spraying primer for the base coat.

This was not working well. The painting itself was going well enough, more or less, after a couple of false starts -- but the coveralls, which were slightly too small, meant I couldn't stand up straight comfortably or bend over much at all; the goggles restricted my vision; and the respirator really freaked me out. I have an intense fear of suffocation (I don't even like to have a blanket up over my head), and having this thing clamped tight over my nose and mouth meant I could breathe tolerably well -- but I couldn't convince myself of that.

Along with the physical factors, I also had my inner demons, with their voiceover monologue track of "oh my god what the fuck are you doing you don't know how to paint a house you're going to fuck everything up and cheryl will be mad and send you home and you won't get paid" cranked up to screaming pitch.

So, basically, I was moments away from an anxiety attack at any given point.

Cheryl asked me at one point early on if I was ready to go up on the extension ladder; I could only answer with a firm "No." I couldn't even explain, but the angle of the ladder looked strange and wrong, it flexed too much, didn't look like it would support me; my fear of heights had kicked in as well. I soon found, to their surprise, that I could actually just aim upwards and spray as high as I needed to, so the ladder wasn't an issue.

Cheryl was quite worried about me when she checked in with me; she'd ask if I was doing okay, and I would admit that I wasn't, and she'd ask more specific questions and I would nod or shake my head and try not to completely lose it. Once she asked one question too many and I tried so hard to be quiet and one small whimpering sound slipped loose from the back of my throat and I was horribly ashamed of myself in that moment.

She was good to me; she made it clear I didn't have to keep doing this if I didn't want to, and then left me to it.

I kept going. I've dealt with fear and insecurity before; it's not a good enough reason to stop. The whole idea of coming down here for a month scared me, and that was reason enough to do it.

I kept going, and did take a break eventually. Cheryl left it entirely up to me whether I kept going that night, or left the rest of the primer for the next day. Or, frankly, whether I wanted to go back to doing this at all, or if they'd need to make other arrangements.

I decided to keep going, but that I couldn't deal with the physical restraints anymore. The mask was necessary, the goggles equally so, but the coveralls had to go -- I could strip down to my cutoffs, and if I got paint on those, so be it. The painter's hat had to go, too -- it had fallen off at one point, and I'd been amazed at how much less claustrophobic I'd felt; the combined effect of all that headgear had been like a diving helmet. No more hat. If my hair became irretrievably covered in paint, I could always shave it off.

I finished the primer, no trouble. These changes made all the difference. The stormfront of my anxiety passed by.

We'd been going to have leftovers, but Cheryl thought I deserved better for all my trauma and trouble, so she baked a chicken and made pasta and pesto. I drove to the store while she was cooking and bought us a baguette and some German chocolate brownies, and I felt strangely elated, a little high even, having flown right in the face of my fear and come through the other side, accomplishing what I set out to accomplish. I felt like I could take on the world.

The next day I put on the (*shudder*) bright yellow paint they wanted, and all went well. No more anxiety attacks. There were a few problems with the paint sprayer shutting itself off every now and then -- overheating, maybe? -- but it just gave me an excuse to take breaks. Cheryl thought originally the yellow would take two coats, but it was looking so good we ended up just having me do one, and then we tore the paper off the doors and windows. I noticed afterward that there were a lot of spots that are going to need to be touched up by hand, and thought we were maybe premature in undoing the paper; this thought depressed me so much, and I was so exhausted from the work, that I slid down into a rather miserable state, but dinner cheered me up some, and I called it an early night.

The only thing I had to do today was go buy more paint -- which didn't take too long once I got to Home Depot, but finding my way there got me spectacularly lost -- and buy fixings for dinner and then prepare it. I'd offered to do this latter task since Cheryl taught five 80-minute classes today and was going to be exhausted. I made chicken fajitas, which are ridiculously simple to prepare, but always a crowd-pleaser.

Huh. I painted a house.

Powell's.

Aug. 25th, 2002 12:30 am
icebluenothing: (Default)
One of the first things I asked Cheryl when I got here was if she'd ever been to Powell's. She thought it was a ridiculous question; of course she'd been to Powell's. I admitted that I had thought sure that she must have, but that if she hadn't, then we had to make the trip down to Portland. She thought that we might just have to do so anyway.

So yesterday, we did. The trip to Portland from Olympia doesn't feel nearly so arduous as the trip down from Shoreline to Portland always does; it takes a little over two hours as opposed to nearly four hours. The trip down was rendered a little surreal by Cheryl's choice of music for the road; she happened to have a tape of what sounded like Dr. Demento Christmas music in the player, so that's what we listened to. Umm. Okay.

I love Powell's. I mean, seriously. I can't think of a place on Earth that it makes me happier just to be there.

I bought:

Some of these are new books. I mean, new books, not used. I can't remember the last time I bought new books. I'd decided to treat myself. I still came in way under the budget I'd set myself, too.

We left way too soon in my opinion, of course; we only spent a couple of hours there, and I would have been perfectly happy to bring a sleeping bag and a toothbrush and move in.

I was happy enough, however, heading to our next destination: the Portland Art Museum, to see their current exhibit of Dr. Nasser D. Khalili's collection from Japan's Meiji Period, when their artwork and craftsmanship was radically changing due to their sudden forced contact with the West after over 250 years of isolation. Amazing stuff. (Although I now no longer care if I see another vase again as long as I live.) I saw a few pieces depicting Shoki the Demon Queller, a figure from Chinese mythology I was unfamiliar with, but immediately intrigued by.

After the trip through the museum, Cheryl and Bill took me to a restaurant called Sammy's, where I had some wonderful pan-friend oysters, and fettucine in garlic and cream. (That's several really nice meals they've bought me now; the guilt is piling up. I need to take them out at least once while I'm down here.) Full and happy and drowsy, I slept most of the way home.

It has occurred to me that, what with the trip to Powell's, the Japanese art, and the pan-fried oysters, [livejournal.com profile] treebyleaf might well be so envious upon reading this that she'll simply burst. I hope no permanent damage is done.

... By my count -- and math is not my strong point, so take this with a grain of salt -- yesterday marked the halfway point in my visit to Olympia. It's like cresting a hill; home seems that much closer now.

Path.

Aug. 22nd, 2002 09:36 pm
icebluenothing: (Default)
I'm writing this at Last Word Books -- Cheryl and Bill have gone to dinner with some of Cheryl's friends and they didn't think I'd want to come, so I headed out and took care of my own dinner tonight. Had a rather excellent Pad Thai at a restaurant with the unassuming name of Chopsticks Noodlehouse. Also had a very excellent meal out last night; they took me to a place called Ramblin' Jack's for some very tasty barbecue. A friend had recommended that I avoid the food in Olympia, but I've been very happy eating here.

I'm arguably eating too well; I seem to be gaining back the weight I'd lost. Can't say I'm happy about that. Apparently all the yardwork I've been doing hasn't been quite as good for me as all the walking I was doing in Seattle.

So anyway, yeah, I'm at Last Word Books, and I've found somewhere to sit and an unattended outlet to plug into. I tried doing this on Tuesday, but it turns out they're closed on Tuesdays. I like writing in public -- I like being out where there's people and activity.

Parents came down again; they've been looking at houses in the area, and dropped by after checking some out. My mom's been trying to talk me into moving down to Olympia, too. ("You should move to Olympia!" "No. All my friends are in Seattle." "You could convince all your friends to move to Olympia, too!" "Mom, you're on crack.") It's vaguely understandable; they want to move closer to family, and are concerned about moving farther away from me, but still, I'm not budging. I'm enjoying my visit, but I wouldn't want to live here, fantasies about opening the little hipster record store this town seems to be lacking aside.

Cheryl stood up for me, at one point, cutting my mother off when she started to get on my case about my weight again. I felt so completely rescued; I felt like she was a superhero. I wonder, sometimes, how my life would have been different if Cheryl had been there to stand up for me while I was growing up.

Yardwork continues. Am still working on moving all the damn dirt we dug out to make the path, an almost Sisyphean task. I've also started papering over and taping up all the windows, lights, vents, and other small features of the house to prepare it for painting. It's a hell of a lot more work than I'd even imagined and my arms were really sore from the strain of it.

A late cup of coffee Tuesday fueled another thousand or so words on my story, but left me wired and edgy until 3:00 AM. Ended up doing some backend work on seagoth.org, even though I'd promised myself I wasn't going to work on any website stuff while I'm down here, but I was awake enough to hack Perl and not awake enough to do anything else.

Just bought myself a mocha. Felt a little weird about being here if I wasn't a "customer," even though no one here had given me any shit about it. Oh, good, now they're playing music. Some sort of strange funky jazzy techno-y stuff. Excellent. Hmm. This is not the best mocha I've ever had. Oh, well, I've had worse, even in fabulous far-flung Seattle.

I'm missing [livejournal.com profile] scalpel's birthday party tonight, and I wish I could be there.

We're going down to Portland to go to Powell's tomorrow. Which I happen to think is pretty goddamn cool.

---

Back, now, at Chez Cheryl. They're not home yet, which surprises me a little bit.

Since I wrote the above, I sat and wrote 1,200 words on my story while I was at the bookstore. Looking really good; only one major scene left to write, and I think I'm gonna go work on it some more tonight. Maybe I'll finish it.

Saw two simple but good pieces of graffiti in the bookstore bathroom: "You never have to grow up" and "Don't blink -- you might miss something."

Remembered one other thing I wanted two write about:

After dinner last night, I had them leave me downtown so I could walk home, get a little exercise. On my way here, I passed something I hadn't noticed before, lakeside -- a small mound of earth with a clockwise spiral path. Decided I wanted to go up it. I could have easily gone straight up the side, but the path was there for a reason, I figured.

Weird tingly feeling up at the top; same feeling I get at the top of the Kite Hill in Gasworks Park, and for the same reason. I could see the faint traces of pentagrams scratched in the dirt. Some serious work's been done there. It was really so similar in feel to Kite Hill I was startled not to find an analemmatic sundial at the top. I took a minute to breathe in the lake, whose water has been restored, and the light from the huge Jack-O'-Lantern moon just on the horizon.

I walked back down around the path. Again, I could have just walked straight down, but that wouldn't have been the point; just like I could just get on to the freeway and head home tonight, but that wouldn't be the point, either.

The point is to walk the path.

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