Monday, December 31, 2012


This year ends. Some little
things in it mattered so much and
some not at all. In the beginning of the year,
Blondie and I joined the gym and sweated
on ellipticals while watching movies in the theatre room.
It's as if Gold's gym tried to find as many movies as they could that received
less than 30% on rottentomatoes, and on his birthday, we didn't
make the same mistake we did the year before of going to the
car dealership, collecting car salesmen as boyfriends. Instead, we ate Greek
with his family. A little later that month, in March, we welcomed our friend Dough,
pampered her for her spring break with veggie corn dogs, and she
inspired us, and, actually, after she left, I felt like
some permanent joy had lodged in me and wasn't going away,
and spring was good
with an Easter visit from Gandalf, Joie, and Kit and
a visit to Aiko and Sans, and then up to Canada
with my parents and Ziva for my first time. On our way, we stopped
in a medium-grade hotel and I visited the hot tub by myself, billowing
in seemingly salty water, thinking of how far I was away from the
bank. But speaking of the bank, it wasn't so bad this year. I learned
to handle a very understaffed teller line and not freak out about
making people wait. In Toronto, we stayed with Mom and Ziva's cousin,
a woman I'd never met, Kath, a kindred spirit. In her kitchen booth, she
described memories of my grandparents. She took us to Stratford, Ontario
for a picnic by the Avon and a production of Shakespeare's
little-known play Cymbeline, and after the play,
as we were leaving the parking lot, I noticed
the actor who played Iachimo, and I climbed
most of the way out of the car window and
screamed applause at him, and he got it. He really got it. And Ziva got us
hotel rooms with a view of Niagara Falls, and Dad drove me over the
Canadian border early the next morning, so I could meet Blondie
for wolf pack wedding number two, Blondie and mine being the first.
For my birthday, I saw Cymbeline again, courtesy of Blondie.
I went to Mione's to say goodbye before she left our home state for the West.
Jo, my best friend at work, left the bank, and I learned to work
in an even shorter staffed branch, and I started talking with Sleek
a lot on the phone. Mom retired on Halloween and has found that
she has plenty to do every day. Blondie and I spent Thanksgiving
with my family in D.C., Ant and Vette and the whole gang,
including my cousin's redheaded little baby.
Blondie turned up Gangnam Style in the car.
Gandalf, Joie, and Kit drove hours
to spend Christmas with the folks in VA, a Christmas of
miniature helicopter flights and the Red Lobster
Christmas Eve tradition. Kit drew an amazing
rooster for us in charcoal and framed it in dark wood.
Joie sang songs that reminded us of Lake George.
Gandalf showed me his latest poetry. This year ends
with a post and "Ho Hey."

Niagara in May

(Ho!) So show me family
(Hey!) All the blood that I would bleed

Monday, December 10, 2012

What Do I Stand For

     Last night my parents and I went to Wendy’s for dessert. We parked, and Dad and I went in. Standing in line, I whispered that I recognized someone across the room whom I’d seated many times at the Bee and waited on at the bank. I thought I could sense that the woman to my left was listening to me. I turned toward her slightly and picked up on little things: a green jacket, a tan face. I like when strangers are tuned in to each other. It’s a nice break from the social standard of pretending everyone else just doesn’t exist. Dad and I noticed a paper taped to the wall, an ad with a picture of a lady and a fat pig-like dog doing yoga. Dad said he’d heard of the pose “downward dog” but didn’t know what it was. I said, “It’s that. She’s in downward dog,” and I wondered if the lady in the green jacket was still listening.
        When the cashier was ready, Dad and I ordered one small and two medium frosties and stepped aside. The four tall guys behind us in line approached the counter. The cashier came back with our frosties and set them down, and Dad said “Excuse me” to the men. They moved over, and Dad reached for the three cups. 
       The woman in the green jacket swooped in. “Sorry but I think these are mine. Two medium frosties. I’ve been waiting a long time for them. Sorry,” she said to me. 
       "No," I turned away her apology, "They’re yours.” 
       She said “Good luck” and rushed out, and I wondered if we really would be waiting a long time for our order. But part of me already knew that something weird had happened. 
        I turned around and told the cashier, “A lady said she’d been waiting a long time for two frosties.” The cashier was confused. I realized she hadn’t been at the counter when the lady had swooped in. I continued, “A lady in a green jacket…” The description didn’t ring a bell. The tall guys vouched for us, “We saw her! She took them out of here!” She looked at the one little frosty left on the counter, “You need two more?” “Yeah,” I said. The four guys who seemed like they were on the way to or from watching football kept joking, “Oh, there’s my frosty. I was waiting so long.” 
        The cashier poured our second set. Outside, Mom was standing next to the car, and as Dad and I walked toward her, I knew he was probably as eager to tell her the story as I was. As we ate, we sat in the parking lot listing all the giveaways that it was theft. If it were her order for two frosties, why were there two mediums and one small? If she was waiting forever, why was she hidden in the shadows and not standing at the counter?  She wished me “Good luck” like an exasperated customer, but it seemed fake. There was no anger in her voice. In fact, she was apologizing to me for taking what were supposedly her frosties. I remembered the guy who tried to con me during one of my first weeks as a teller. He used the word “sorry” and gave off the same vibes--a creepy energy--something I could look back on and feel in hindsight. 
        Whether or not she had weird energy, bad energy, energy that felt off, she may have had good reasons for stealing. 
        Would it be weird to compare this incident with Fun's lyrics, "Man, you wouldn't believe the most amazing things that can come from some terrible lies"? It would be a little extreme to call this post-theft conversation with my parents an “amazing thing” or to call the snatching of the frosties a “terrible lie.”

"What do I stand for?
Most nights I don't know anymore."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

No More Banking For One of Us

Today, I went to a training center downtown to take a class for work on making referrals. Walking down the hall on break with phone in hand, I held down ‘4’ to speed dial my mom’s cell, and I thought of how the speed dial to her work phone would no longer be necessary. I’m so used to her being at that bank that I feel like I’m in shock. She started six years before I was born, the year that "Thriller" came out on the radio and Nancy Reagan dressed as a bag lady to challenge criticism of her expensive outfits. Since I turned seven, Mom’s worked at the same branch, a branch with a tall sloping ceiling and green-cushioned seats. I used to hold myself up and swing between the chairs. Our dachshund once sat under her desk the day after he’d been hit by a car. She’s been at that branch longer than anyone there. I can’t believe that today she doesn’t have keys. Today she couldn’t help Mr. So-and-so with his account even if she really wanted to. I don’t think she wanted to. Blondie heard her scream “Yeah! Freedom!” on her way up from the basement. She didn’t know he was home. 

Today, to me, all of this felt really important. It felt really important that today was November 1, 2012, the first day of Mom's retirement. It felt really important that I was in the training building in the same company for which she'd worked for so many years. It felt really important that I was doing role play, her least favorite activity, and that I could come home to tuna spinach casserole and peach jello. 

On a side note, I start NaNoWriMo today. This’ll be my first go at participating in the online project of writing 50,000 words in November. It must be a new project. I can’t return to something I half-finished in the past. And it has to be fiction. 

I’m going to squeeze in some time for writing between now and 9 o’clock when I’ll watch an old episode of The Vampire Diaries with the retiree. 

Sally's window seat. October 31, 2012.
"I'll make you see
That this is thriller."

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wake Me Up

My senior year of high school began with a break-up, the first big one [see What's an emotion that you never feel?], and one song playing on the radio at the time was Green Day’s Wake Me Up When September Ends. As I sang along, I imagined that I was placing a request to be in a coma for the month and to wake up on September 30 over the worst of the pain. Yeah, singing Green Day was definitely self-indulgent. I was feeling nostalgic. Billie Joe sings, “Seven years have gone so fast,” and I made this into a reference to my middle and high school years. Now, seven years have passed since that September break-up, and I closed this September with a bike ride to the lake. I saw families hanging out on a beach that had formed in our recent drought and I joined them, happy to be part of the crowd, kind of liking the country music blaring from the pick-up truck backing up to the dock. A lot of times, I want to remember everything, but this afternoon, it occurred to me that remembering everything at some future date might actually not make me as happy as expected. What makes me happy is sitting out in the sun right now, even if I don’t end up remembering it. This is a wake-up call for my nostalgic self. 

Cheap Walmart Valentine's Day memorabilia.
"Ring out the bells again
Like we did when spring began."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Good Gamers

Today is a big day for World of Warcraft players,
for the people who save people in a fake world
but also talk to people in the real world. 
Social interaction goes on
on those headsets. There's a guy, 
the leader of Blondie's guild, who spent real
money to give Blondie the expansion
as a thank you for his work in the guild. 
That guy says Blondie does more 
for the guild than anyone. 
Blondie took the gift, the purchased
code that gave him access to the new
faux-Asian themed world of Pandaria, though
it meant that last night he missed waiting 
in line outside the store
in the fall cold for the package. 
I think a lot of people have images
of WOW players with washed out complexions
and potato chip crumbs in their keyboards, 
and I'm sure there is a lot of that, 
but there is also a lot of the other stuff, 
the joy, generosity, and camaraderie that 
come with any pursuit. 

Blondie home from a new job. Nov. 30,  2011. 
"Right on the limit's where we know we both belong tonight." 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Zombie Reprieve

We hurt a lot of things to sustain the way of life we enjoy right now. 

Technically, we could give up this way of life, the 2012 way of life with cars and everything like that. If there were a mandate passed that ordered us to cease from every variety of hurting other beings and the earth, we could just stop hurting. I’m not suggesting that we take this incredibly drastic step. I’m just saying it could be done, even if it cost us a lot of happiness (I don’t know if it would–it just might). But if, in one moment, we decided that our only focus was not to damage the earth, we could stop moving right then and there and only move forward if we knew we weren’t damaging the earth. 

But it’s just not happening right now. We choose this irresistible way of life, and maybe we’re so guilty about it that we want zombies to come and take our way of life away from us and bring us back to the wild where we’re not manufacturing or participating in the manufacture of things that hurt the earth. 

This dress from the eighties hurts the earth.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What’s an emotion that you never feel?

Despair. Even after my first big break-up, when I was lying in my bedroom at 8 o’clock at night in the dark, feeling like I couldn’t move to turn on the light, I was kind of enjoying myself. Even when I graduated from the school on the bluffs and felt sad to enter the working world, I didn’t feel like things were beyond hope. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Keep the lights out long enough

One happy couple, about ten years older than Blondie and I, come to the drive through regularly. They glow, but they are not trying to glow. They are kind, but they’re not trying to be kind in a human way, as in “I’m trying to be kind because I’m a good person.” We have a dear relationship, smiling at each other dearly every time they come. According to bank policy, I have to address customers by name. I have never called this couple by name. It would be like turning the light on too soon after a great theatre performance. It would bring things down to a human level. When I was at a career conference, my friends laughed at me because I kept saying, “I just want to do something magic.” I said “magic” 18 times. Well, in this case, I am keeping things magic.

Dough keeping it magic outside my bank. March 2012.

"The streets were wet
and the gate was locked so I jumped it,
and I let you in."

Sunday, July 29, 2012

E.L. James: Not For Now

When I was growing up, I often wished that, when we died, we could go to a giant library. I remember when I’d just gone on the England Abroad and I was rooming with Ripe, I realized that, for the first time ever, I could see clearly in every moment the one thing I was supposed to be doing. For once, I wasn’t vacillating between many options, thousands of books. I could see, “Now is when I learn the terms and concepts of Shintoism” or “Now is when I blast Coldplay and stare out the window at the School of Government” or “Now is when Ripe and I go to lunch.” 
The other day I was in the library, and as I stood in line, I saw E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey on display. I thought, “I am never going to read that series. Or, rather, I know that right now I should not read it.” My creative writing professor taught me the difference between popular and literary fiction. That doesn’t mean I turn my nose up to popular fiction. She also taught me that everything is art; art is life. I consume plenty of pop. It’s nice to know what people are talking about, and we can study our cultural consciousness by examining what is most loved right now. For that reason, I often listen to pop music in my car, thinking things like, “These lyrics sound like calls to riot and rebellion.” 
However, I can’t spend my life consuming only the popular stuff. Also, I can’t be a priss and claim that every book can be filed into one of two categories. 
But I can listen to my impulses. There’s only so much we can read. That’s why I wanted heaven to be a library. We have to listen closely for what we need to be doing right now. And right now it feels necessary to listen to Sia belting out, “I am titanium!” and unnecessary to pick up E.L. James. For some reason. I don’t know. I’m just listening. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Funny to Me

1. This morning, my dad and I were passing over a bridge on the way to church, and he asked, “Do you hear the honking?” When I thought back to the sound I had just made, I realized it could have been mistaken for a car horn. I had been softly humming the West Side Story ending credits. I told him I was singing. He said, “It sounded like distant honking. I thought there were two south-bound cars passing each other.” I thought back to the sound again and recalled the change in pitch as I led into “Somewhere.” Yes, two cars honking. 

2. At the grocery store last week, my mom rolled the cart through the paper products aisle and stopped at the Puffs section. The tissue boxes were covered with cyclopses and toothy monsters. She said, with real exasperation, “It’s like they’re trying to create as ugly a design as they can. Do they realize women put these in their homes?” It’s true. Why the monster boxes, Puffs? 
             Yesterday, she went back to the paper aisle and found a box on which the eyes had multiplied, and she cried, “The other box is starting to look cute to me.” 
I looked online and found out the boxes are for the classroom. "Still. OTHER OPTIONS PLEASE," cries my mom. 
3. My dad was scrolling through this blog a couple days ago. He inspected the picture in "Block in Space" and asked how each of the people in it were doing, starting with Sans, then Aiko, then Sleek. He got to the person on the far right and asked, "Who is the blonde girl?" "Dad, that's me," I said. 

It is so good to live with these two people + Blondie. 

"I still live with my high school friends." 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Behind Z Screens

I was picking out peaches at the grocery store this afternoon, and I overheard two college-aged men talking intensely as they sped by the salad bar. I picked out the word “zombies.” I tossed the last peach in the bag, walked in their direction, and met them in front of a display of pre-made dinners. “Did you say something about zombies?” I asked. “Yeah,” they said. “I was about to write something about zombies, and I only have a small pool of zombie lovers to talk to. Could I ask you a question about the subject?” They agreed. “Could it be that one reason our generation loves zombies so much is that we are increasingly behind screens? Our desire to be in nature is rising up in us, and we are not acting on it. Many of us are connected with electronics and disconnected from nature. Could we be attracted to these post-apocalyptic shows because they allow us to experience the fight for survival vicariously?” I told them that the zombie lovers I know seem to be more interested in the lifestyle the zombies would bring about than they are in the zombies. The tall guy granted that my theory was sound. He also shared that Vermont, where he and the other guy go to school, will be the first place the epidemic hits.

 I also love Dough’s theory–namely, that our problems are so intense that they could be literally all-consuming. For example, we’re getting to the point where our treatment of the earth might actually have consequences that we see in our lifetimes. Our problems might eat us up.

"You made me forget my dreams
When I woke up to you sleeping
There was blood on the sheets again
And the view outside the window
Of gardens in bloom" 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Block in Space

Aiko, Sans, and I spent a couple days together this week, taking advantage one last time of our proximity–a two and a half hour drive. Aiko gave me a bunch of stuff she couldn’t take with her when she moves–stuff that could leak. I am especially happy about the body wash that smells like my freshman dorm. We had a graduation party for Aiko in a pub that reminds us of Oxford. We visited the university gardens, and as we walked in the heat to the Japanese tea house, I dragged pieces of chocolate from the bottom of my Ben and Jerry's shake. We drove by the iconic chapel, and I wanted to see more of the campus.

Even when the three of us felt out of it, our love was the predominant thing, obviously there, like a big block on the floor that was visible peripherally no matter where we turned. I described it, not very effectively, later in the week, “It’s like a block in space. It's like something solid that takes up space.”

Sans, Aiko, Sleek, and me. 5.17.08 "The shape of happiness overlaps in our pictures. It now became one big love. Let’s live together forever."

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Stuff vs. Somewhere

I was on West Side Story cloud nine last night. I saw a high school production that was shockingly good. At home afterwards, I was bounding around the upstairs in a sports bra and a red slip, kicking my legs to Dance at the Gym and belting out A Boy Like That. I was just so sure that life is all bliss and magic, and I am still sure, but I had a much messier day today with half-resolved discussions.
Nov. 2011 "Always the population growing, And the money owing, And the babies crying, And the bullets flying."

Monday, April 9, 2012

One Answer

This past weekend, Gandalf, Joie, and Kit (uncle, aunt, and cousin) came to town and stayed with aunt Ziba. Saturday included a trip to a botanical garden. The highlight, for me, was the Conservatory. Joie and I tried, in the semi-tropical wing, to focus on specific points–an orchid petal with wavy red lines, a splash of yellow on the wall.

Kit stared up at the hanging planter with the label: Begonia Something. She asked, “What are begonias?” We couldn’t really see what was in the planter. “I don’t know,” I said, “Some flower.” She said she’s heard so many references to them.

Later, Kit, and I sat in the central Palm House on the concrete ring around the fountain. I laid down, and my dad and Kit were quick to follow. We stared at flowers piling high toward the glass dome ceiling. Kit said, “Those are Begonias!” There was a plate on a hanging planter, and this time the contents were visible. We acted as if this answer was the end and all, the answer to one of humankind’s great questions: “What are begonias?”

Gandalf took pictures of us laughing and asked if we knew hyacinth and hibiscus. I know them from Pac Sun. He told us Carl Sandberg described poetry as “a synthesis of hibiscus and biscuits.” In a moment of frivolous laughter, I yelled, “Flowers and food!” Gandalf offered, “And the joining together of things that don’t normally go together.”

“My beard grew down to the floor and out through the doors
Of your eyes, begonia skies like a sleepyhead, sleepyhead.”

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Midnight Arrival

Last Sunday night, Blondie and I waited for Dough at the Richmond International Airport with more excitement than – well, you can’t compare it to anything. The earth was tiny compared to this love. There was nothing there except what is really there.

We sat in a bench facing her gate. It’s hard to say how long. I was straight-backed the whole time–a light year away from nonchalance. People started coming through the gate. I spotted her red duffel and tan skin–straight from AZ. I stood up quickly, paused and ran till I got to her, and we hugged and shouted in elation.

Blondie, Dough and I walked by the waiting area, arms on each others’ shoulders, and Dough yelled, “We’re best friends, and we get to see each other again!” We stomped out of the airport and drove home–the three of us perfectly united. Everything was magical–from the moths at the front stoop to the Cadbury eggs on the living room carpet.

Maybe we can't be this excited all the time. But I think it would be great to be this focused and to treat everything like it matters this much.

Dough and Court later in the visit. 3.22.12

"I never really cared until I met you and
Now it chills me to the bone"

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Beautiful Ugly Things

I. Blondie realized at the end of his shift
that there had been a pair of dirty boxers
scrunched at the bottom of a leg of his chef pants all night.

II. The morning we got engaged, Blondie and I drove to a parking lot with a good view of the east. He stepped outside of the car to photograph the sunrise and instead poked the camera back in the car to photograph me while I heartily blew my nose. I was unaware until the last shot.

December 30, 2009.

"Locusts will
Lift me up."

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Done With Applebee's Part II

Blondie left the Bee last December. I left last Sunday.


I actually wasn’t belting out Michelle Branch lyrics when I finished my final shift last Sunday. But I wasn’t overly eager to walk to my car either. I carried a goodbye balloon out with me from my favorite person there, Khaddi, a fellow host.

During my growing up years, I had the urge to escape a school once I’d been there for a while–to move on from middle school to high school, for example. Not for freedom. But because of awkwardness with certain people, the feeling that I’d made myself into an idiot, rumors, my perception built up over time of their perceptions of me. There was stuff like that at the Bee, but surprisingly, there was no urge for escape. I just knew the issues could go away in the place where they had arisen as easily as they could anywhere else.

It’s weird–it was such a superficial experience in a way. It didn’t touch me very much. I look back at Prin and high school with a swelling heart. I look back at Applebee’s and know that the swelling heart I had there had nothing to do with Applebee’s.

I was thinking along these lines the other night when I’d had a hard day and I was staring up at the vent on my ceiling. I have always loved and appreciated this childhood home. I thought, “The way I love this house is the way I love, and that comes with me,” and I thought the same must apply to Applebee’s (at the time I was having some hesitation about leaving the Bee because I’d built up so much love). Basically, the fondness will keep coming because it’s mental–not Ron Weasley mental.

The fondness and the issues are mental.

Dough's side of the room, the "dearest spot on earth"–Mary Baker Eddy. Feb 7, 2010.

Of all the things I believed in
I just want to get it over with