Thursday, August 11, 2016

I'm just a Cheeseburger in Paradise...

You guys.

I am currently a grown ass woman living her life out of a fanny pack. The livestream inventory of said fanny pack:
  • One travel toothbrush and one tiny tube of toothpaste, which is actually the only toothpaste in my whole life right now because I've forgotten what a grocery store looks like, and how to utilize it. But the 7-11 near work sells travel kits, and sometimes… Ya know?
  • Several pairs of daily disposal contact lenses just in case I get stranded somewhere for several days with a pair in my eyeballs, while my glasses loaf about uselessly on the other side of the city.
  • One vial of peppermint essential oil beadlets for stomach upset caused both by extravagant living and anxiety.
  • Several crumpled receipts from god knows what.
  • One very melted Old Spice Pure Sport deodorant stick, which is oozing viscously all over my wallet, keys, toothbrush, and peppermint beads. The scent fumes may also be giving everyone a headache while we stand here in line waiting to order our cheeseburgers.
  • Honestly, I don't even know what else. I was going to actually take inventory but I can't bear the thought of easing my fingers into that hot, sticky, fragrant hand trap. Like, have you ever seen the inside of a kangaroo’s pouch? I can guarantee the inside of this fanny pack feels exactly the way that looks. I'm not about that life.

“Why”, you might ask, “are you living out of a fanny pack when you have a perfectly reasonable bedroom situation going on?” “Well”, I might tell you, “because in less than two weeks I'll be unemployed, homeless, and in a brand new city with nothing more than the clothes on my back, Murphy the cat, and whatever else I can artfully cram into my very, very small Carrrl.” Nobody ever accused me of having healthy coping mechanisms. But how about instead of an insightful dialogue re: life, and how big/scary/frantic/amazing it can be… Let's just talk about Burger Week? For those of you existing in a sad, burgerless alternate reality: let me introduce you to Portland. Every year the maniacal geniuses that invented artisanal toast and excuses to overindulge come together to make heaven a place on earth (what up, Belinda Carlisle). This year 35 bars have concocted 35 unique and limited-time burgers to tickle Portland’s tastebuds. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to sample each one. To-date I've been woefully unsuccessful in my burger week endeavors. My previous record was a mere three burgers over the course of an entire week. I blamed this on my work schedule, or my budget, or a pretty strong desire to be able to look at myself in a mirror sans meat sweats. Now that I've let myself go in every imaginable way, there are no holds barred. Sitting at this bar by myself at 7:12 on a Thursday night, I just put away burger number four: the Dirty Bangkok. The venue (Home, A Bar) was kind enough to offer a burger, beer, and bourbon shot deal for a mere $10. Is that an entire hour of desk-jockeying (after taxes)? Yes. Do I GAF? Not right now. Probably I will just a little bit in the morning. But a cheeseburger with crispy bacon and tangy peanut sauce over a Thai-inspired slaw and pickled carrots, you guyssssss. Remember that whole impending unemployed/homeless/living on the government’s dollar situation? Right now I have home, and friends, and an Amazon Rewards Visa card that is so far from maxed it's practically laughable. Will I have to wake up from this dream soon? Absolutely. Please don't remind me. But for now? Pass the ginger aioli and keep the ciders flowing so maybe my fanny pack won’t be the only damp, smelly mess at this bar. I'm here front-loading calories like a smart Survivor contestant, knowing just how small poverty can make me feel. T-minus: less time than any reasonable human requires to prepare for the next phase of their life. All my love, you weirdos.

P.S. This was the first post fully composed on my trusty iPhone, Zynegawf. Hats off to you, tippytapping fingertips.

Because the Sky is Falling

The angels are calling, but I have no fear.

Breaking news, dreamweavers: the sky is falling. And no, I’m not just Chicken Littling my own sense of impending apocalypse onto the cosmos. Some of you may have heard of the Perseids meteor shower. For those of you who haven’t, every year our planet’s atmosphere collides with the debris from the Comet Swift-Tuttle, resulting in a spectacular natural light show. Tonight, I sat in my backyard smoking a cigarette and praying for a meteor to overcome the city’s light pollution to please pass through my line of vision. Even That Cat so quiet, listening to the crickets and distant sound of cars, waiting. Waiting.

And I wonder what it’s like to wish on something static and stable, instead of holding your breath? Instead of pegging all your hopes on something engrossed in its own destruction. How did we begin this legacy of burning. Where does it end.

The first time I saw the Perseids, the Leo scooped me up and we trekked to Rooster Rock State Park. Waded through a sea of hopeful human beings with our blankets and booze and snacks. Laid our bodies down against a green hillside. Waiting. Holding hands, we watched space trash drift through the permanence of sprawling inky black. Learned the technical terms for binaries, the mythologies of these flaming giants dancing so close they seem to be just one celestial body how many lightyears away. I pressed my mouth to her mouth, to her skin and skin, and wondered what it felt like to be so completely captivated by one thing. Two stars dancing so close they appeared as a single entity. Later, when she straddled me in the front seat of her car I pressed my curiosity behind her left ear, hoped she would find it there.

The second time, two years later. My gravity aligned with the Cancer, and wishing on every star seen and unseen that things would just turn out alright. My body, Rooster Rock, a friend and a blanket and wine packaged like adult juice boxes. So easy to sip and not think twice about the consequences of a forty minute drive or our real lives resuming so early the mext morning. Cursing the newcomers and the early leavers, their light pollution and noise. Cursing the cold, and our jobs, and every unmet need. Love, asleep how many miles away. Me, wide-awake and dew damp, the late night settling restlessly. How we folded my sheet over our bodies and shivered.

How I still believed she was coming until I just couldn’t any more. And I wondered what it would be like to wish on something static and stable, instead of holding your breath. Instead of waiting for the falling?

A memory: 20-something years old and we TETRISed ourselves onto the mildewed yard couch, staring at the sky hoping to catch falling stars. Waking groggy to sunlight how many hours later instead. Our bodies all dew-wet, and only warm in the places they’d been pressed together. How we stumbled to my bed, or yours. Now it doesn’t matter anymore. And I can’t believe I still write/think/talk/dream about you, but I do, and it makes sense even in its imperfection.

Every year the sky falls, and we are here to bear witness. Isn’t that some kind of miracle? Astrologers estimate the current debris is from the mid-1800s, and it amazes me that anything existed here before you and I. When was the last time you stared at a night sky without screens or distractions, just waiting? Maybe I’m the only thing falling, but is that really so bad. I’ve seen crowds gather for worse than this.

My loves. Don’t forget to look at the night sky the next four nights.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Blue Heron Dream

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The first time I dreamed blue heron was not after kissing the girl who was not my girlfriend. It wasn’t after we stripped off the sheets, leaving muddy footprints on the bare mattress. It wasn’t the morning I stumbled the howmany blocks home, my forehead still ringing from the linoleum of a friend’s shower, where I tried so hard to knock some sense into me. How she held me. How pinned half-naked against the wall in our hallway, my mouth said goodbye without a single word. How kissing an open wound hurts, all that hot and red grief.

Honestly, I don’t remember the first blue heron dream. Just waking up to purple gray peace, letting that stillness seep in and obscure my everything.

How to explain magic. How it finds us. How we create it, and does it really make a difference in the end? What I know is blue heron. Something that bridges land, and water, and sky. Something that appears in my dreams or waking life when I know I’m on the right track. A week ago, so much heavy crowding at the back of my throat I thought I’d never leave and the city is no place for a wading bird, but I still heard the universe speaking loud and clear. Sometimes dreams are not enough. We need something tangible, and I didn’t touch the license plate to make sure it was real, but I still feel it vibrating like the laugh it dragged out of me. Even unwillingly. So tongue in cheek, the ways destiny speaks to us sometimes. How to explain magic, how it finds us.

How we create it. A blackberry bramble biting at my ankles, or a back alley apparition. Something out of nothing, and does it really make a difference, if we both make it home safe?

This is all to say that on Monday I found out my friend died. Or no, that’s not quite right. He took his own life. And there’s no way to talk about suicide that feels ‘quite right’, except he got tired. Except we are all so tired, sometimes. Except it somehow illuminates the paths we choose not to take every day. This grief so confusing, all hot and red. Like one minute I’m driving, wondering about endings, but the next I’m sitting in a booth at the bar where the future seems obscure. Past and present colliding and I can’t explain this heaviness, except Can you believe it’s August and fucking raining? Except how can you believe in anything? The blue heron dream. Magic, how I can sit here and laugh over burgers and drinks. Create this community, built around imaginary monsters and real ghosts.

In all the social media posts he is smiling; how heavy that must have been.

It has to make a difference, in the end. The ways we hold space. You were a safe space for so many, and I’m sorry the world couldn’t have been better. I’m sorry it couldn’t hold you better, make you feel more beautiful. Make you understand your magic. How it could find you. How you create it. I want you to know you were loved. I want you to know how many lives you touched.

The rest of us have to keep going, trusting we're on the right track, but I hope you rest easy, friend.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

This is how we say goodbye.

The comfort of ritual. A circular incision. Twisting the halves out and away, removing each pit with a swift thwack of blade. Scraping avocado, unripe, impossibly green into the Pyrex bowl you bought me for the birthday I never thought I’d live to see. Drag of fork, swimming everything smooth.

Half the jalapeno and double the lime. Cutting them lengthwise, like you taught me, to maximize the juice and minimize the mess left on my hands. You know how I get about my hands.

Shrugging garlic out of its papery jacket with thumbs and forefingers. Mincing it fine, and finer. Half a sweet white onion, because you’re not crazy about red, especially raw. Remembering how my mother used to dice onions while she cried and I was never sure about the cause/effect of the whole situation.  

Sunlight through the kitchen window glitzing the puddled seeds and messy drool of one vine-ripened tomato. Half a red bell pepper. The trick is the surprise crunch. A contrast of textures. Don’t you know, a mouth can only handle so much soft?

Salt and pepper to taste. A pinch of hot chili powder, stirring everything together until even I have to admit it’s enough. It’s done.

There’s nothing more to do.