Not From Around Here

Seattle is a place of transplants. The Heroes show, last night and tonight at the Jewel Box Theater in Belltown (inside Rendezvous… but that’s another story) explores the idea of Not From Around Here in six personal essays where writers and artists and musicians collaborate to map out their own experiences within this city and others.

Maybe I’m partial, but Carrie Purcell’s segment was my favorite.  Her piece interwove third person personal essay and the history of the King Cello with cello music by Hana Mareckova, It was beautiful, and I’m very glad I stuck around Belltown to attend.  The place was packed into the aisles and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

1110092104It’s refreshing to be reminded that other people aren’t from around here either. That they have the same difficulties that I do, that they have the same worries.  Why did I come out here, is this really what I thought my life would be, how did I end up doing this thing?  Seattle is starting to be my home, not just a place I am staying, and I like that.  My housemate this morning mentioned something to the same affect- that I am taking ownership of certain things in the house were before, I was tentative.  I think I have little patience for tentative action now.  I want grand gestures, I want exclamations and affirmations.  I want things put in containers and not just open glasses placed on a shelf in the fridge.

I also continually want to share this place. I am not from around here, but I claim this as my own. I want to show you the rain slicked streets, the light refracting off of the ground. I want to show you the crack along the horizon as the sun sets and the rain clears for just a moment.  I want you to smell the perfume and sweat on the bus, to see the leaf as it blows twelve stories above the ground past the office window. I want you to hear the rain dripping through the ceiling and pinging off of the displays in the Great Gallery. I want you to leap over dips in the sidewalk with me, I want you to dance in the kitchen with me, to laugh with me as I tumble down the stairs.

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Time for Pumpkins

DSCN3206 The colder weather and the on-again, off-again rain mean that it’s time to start baking again.  I’ve been a bit distracted lately, but with some extra pumpkin puree in the fridge and this awesome recipe, curtsy of my sister, I had at it in the kitchen this afternoon.  Instead of circles I made owls, and I just stuck with the ginger frosting.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had scones.  Muffins and toast seem to be more my speed these days, and I’m less about sweet things.  The icing is sweet, but the scones themselves aren’t.  Sort of a nice combination, if I do say so.

In addition to baking, I’m really digging into my books about Tyndall and Sir Oliver Lodge.  I’m continually amazed by the communities that used to exist, both in the artistic and scientific communities.  The minds meeting for drinks at ale houses or teas in each other’s living rooms seems fictitious.  I am left wondering if those same meetings are happening today, and which names people, a hundred years from now, will look back on and be amazed by.  I don’t know that communities function in the same way now.  People are more spread out, communication is through email and phone calls and there isn’t quite the elaborate record that exists from the turn of the 20th century.  But I don’t think that we’re without communities and meetings of minds.  I feel like I’m part of something larger than myself these days, and thank you to everyone in Seattle who has taken me in.  It’s a year now. Glorious.

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At Night

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Autumn is a time of happening.  The weather is starting to hunker into rain, with intermittent beautiful days.  Turns out, going up the Space Needle is a lot more fun than I’d thought.  Clear evening, a new friend, and the city spread like so many treasures.  I’m learning to piece this place together, and each person I’ve met has helped in their own way.  I have found new music, I have seen new places, I have danced and been silly and been serious.  Thank you.

I’m returning to science, and I discovered today that Sir Oliver Lodge knew John Tyndall.  Lodge considered Tyndall “one of my heroes” and in the biography Sir Oliver Lodge (W P Jolly) the meeting is described as “the inspiration which changed his life.”  I bounded down to the kitchen to share this find with my house mate and received a bit of a blank stare, but I’m still a bit giddy with the knowledge of it.  These men knew each other, and the world seems at once larger and more vast and yet smaller and intricately connected.

As the weather chills there are readings again, and book clubs, movies to watch and food to cook.  We have beer brewing in our dining room, I have books on scientists piling beside my bed, and the sunsets are enough to break your heart.

Come visit. I will show it all to you.

return to Love

from Gasworks Park

The Seattle sun strikes hot today and it cannot feel like the first day of autumn.    My skin just beneath sweating, the water between myself and downtown a rocking body.  The boats cut slowly, minimal wakes.  I only smell dirt, warmed concrete, my own scent rising. I return to H.C. and love, because I have to return.

Z. is leaving again.  A month.  He was supposed to have months. Plural. And today, I was on a bus swaying with heat. Sweat and perfume and the hum of electric motors.  And my phone, buzzing.  I looked, debated for a moment.  Buses are loud, conversations bleed over into adjacent seats.  Hesitated.  Then answered, and felt the days rush into my body, colliding into each other.  A month.  After the disconnect, held my hand to my lips as if to stave off something.

And so I have to return to H.C., look into her pages to explain my own.  If I can understand her abstract Love then I can define my own.  I can explain why I must hold my hands to my lips for a body both (not lost) and (not mine).

I have known love, and I have been at the other side, looking towards the buildings blurred with the humidity of after-love.  H.C. writes about the destructive force of love, the destructivecreative force of it.  –Defeat me. Pillage me. If there is a house, a room, a safe in my city that I have not turned over to you, whose keys I haven’t provided, if you find one single door I might have forgotten inadvertently deep inside my soul, smash it open. The need to give and be given, to take and be taken.

Grey shades of it, the limits of what I am willing to give.  No. I am still too faint, too dim. I do not have enough strength yet to start dying again. Because that’s it, isn’t it?  Love a death, a destruction of boundaries—I give you my body for your body and I take your body for my body. But how can anyone survive this?  I can’t, not yet.

I say body, and I mean more.  I seem to return to certain words.  Body and edge, for example.  My iceberg words, I mean whole oceans and only say: body. I mean—pneumea. Lifebreath.  My edges.

I think I give easily, to a point.  Here here here.  It seems: entire.

But it isn’t.  I keep a seed, the turtle shell to stand on.  Because who can do it and return?

All this to circle back, and say: Z., even before leaving, please please return.  Not to me, as I lay no claim, but all the same.

(All italic text from Hélène Cixous, The Book of Promethea)

Bazil the Second

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In Riverside my basil plant Bazil meant a lot.  I watered and pruned and poured adoration, and I kept the poor thing alive way past when it should have been placed in the compost.  Dace brought home a small basil plant for me, but I picked up another, from Trader Joes, same as before.  Thus enters Bazil the Second.  This time around I have a much nicer house and more to love.

Welcome May

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Yesterday I ducked low beneath cherry blossoms, an arbor over the sidewalk like a portal into another place.  The irises are beginning to bloom, the tulips exploding with the last of their strength, stamens like bits of char at the center.  I even see California poppies, though we are no where near California.  The sun is too hidden to be mistaken for California.  Then again, my California is a southern one; smog covered, hot and burning.  The ash here is of a more dangerous sort- mountain ash, volcano ash.  Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it.  

I battled rain and wind, after the archway of blossoms.  My umbrella a sail; comedic.  The gusts pushing me into laughter.  What else are you supposed to do; wind torn, drenched, a black sail pointed and threatening to carry me across the street?  I dissolved into gazelle laughter.  Leaping.

By the time I reached my bus stop my shoes were frothing.  Animal shoes, hungry for distance. A detail that reads as false but no, my shoes frothed.  Sometimes the truth is entertaining enough to refuse embellishment.  (There was a good reason, but I will let the reason remain hidden.  I have to keep something hidden, and why not why my shoes frothed? It is a silly detail, a superflous detail. And you don’t need to know all of my reasons.) 

 

[Again, this is taken from text written at work.  Lovely day at MoF actually.  Usually no better than a chair, or another placard with information sprawled on its surface, today I was a Person with Ideas and Thoughts to at least a few patrons.  Maybe something was in the water, maybe it’s the spring time. Also, I need to read some more Robert Burns.  After a quite pleasant conversation I find myself yearning for some words from the other side of the ocean.]

Fairy Tales and Buses

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The most beautiful woman sits across from me on the bus. Arched eyebrows, skin the color of dark caramel.  Cream scarf caught around her neck and jacket with a ruffled collar that I would, in no way, be able to wear.  I expect her to get off at the first stop, or the second, but as I leave she remains seated, she moves along the arteries of the city and disappears. 

Downtown, the tops of the buildings are caught in mist.  Grey day in Seattle, no surprises there.  It seems a day for magic, for things to happen.  I am not the beautiful girl on the bus, but she exists and I know nothing about her, I will never see her again.  She is perfect in my unknowing.

 

The cherry blossoms are giving way to leaves, and white petals shower off of trees I cannot name.  Dogwood? Myrtle? Last night a man told me he remembered kissing my neck, the salty taste of my skin.  He could have waxed poetic; told me about oceans and brine and the way our bodies are like water, continually renewing.  He didn’t.  I remember the collision of our bodies differently–the night thin above our bodies, the way I wanted to claw out of everything.  Depression is a funny thing, so thick and present when caught in a backwards glance.

 

I have been told I am like the wind, moving constantly. A creature of air and current. I remember my mythology, my fairy tales.  There are so many winds, drawn with puffed cheeks and billowing beards.  The wicked and cold North winds, the warm and kind South winds.  Wind that is caught carefully in a sack and released at the wrong time, wind that carries forlorn brides to distant lands, repentant and clutching tallow stained shirts.  East of the sun, west of the moon.  To the ends of the earth.

 

Outside the flags barely move, they shift limply on their poles, they hang listlessly.  The glass walls let in fogged light only slightly paler than the grey carpet, than the off-white metal girders.  My body is not wind, is not water, is not anything but sitting here, solidly in a corner.  I want to know where the woman was going, I half expect her to walk past me here, clutching a museum map, her reflection multiplied across the metal skin of planes.  She has vanished into the city, beyond the city.  She is drinking coffee, her lips marking the edge of the paper cup.  She is reading a book, turning each page slowly.

 

I remember my fairytales.  A girl wanders into the woods following the next flower.  Clutching her treasures to her breast she is lost and confused and at the periphery wolf-teeth glint.  Skin the color of fresh snow, lips the color of blood.  The horse head that speaks to the goose-girl, a hidden princess.  In fairytales, there are central characters and the background fades into a tangle of brambles, into the vast ocean between the house of the sun and the house of the moon.  Would I be Snow White, that princess Aurora, or would I be a maid simply cleaning the flagstones as sleep descends in its spell-filled cloud?

 

[I have begun to write at work. My real job at my paying job. The language is a bit stilted, the threads meandering, but at least I am keeping my mind active.  I don’t know what use most of it has, so I suspect it will end up here.]