2014- Year of Something

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If I’ve been walking around in a daze the past week, I’m sorry. I haven’t been great about responding to people’s messages or answering emails.  A lot has been going on. Which is to say– I have a new job! It wasn’t an easy decision… I really love my co-workers, but this is the year of Yes and I’m excited to step out of where I’ve been and try something new.   The work will be much of the same, but with new faces, new projects, a new location and new systems.  I have a chance to learn, a chance to lead, and I’m starting to get over the fear of change and move towards excitement.

I told everyone at my current job today and the general response of kindness and support shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did.  I’m going to miss this gang.

What a year. January isn’t even over and already I’ve thrown wrenches in just about everything that I can. I suppose January isn’t a great marker– I started to mix things up in October of last year. At the onset of October I was upset and heartbroken, living in a small apartment.  I’ve since: moved into a place that feels like a real home, gone on international travel, climbed harder than ever, started a poetry series, begun training for a triathlon, welcomed a roommate, started to learn to ski, shed clutter, taken on a new job…. Life is careening forward, as it should. There’s so much more to do.

If you’re in Seattle, come join us as we figure out how to turn a glass fishbowl into a poetry venue.  My dear friends Geoff and Ryan have volunteered The Glass Slipper as a poetry venue and we’re testing it out this Thursday, January 30th.  We’re starting at 7:30 and you can come listen to Arlene Kim, Jeff Encke, Carrie Kahler, Aaron Barrel and myself with a beautiful view of Lake Union in the background.  And if that doesn’t work for you, I’ll be up on Capitol Hill Friday night for our company party. I expect it’ll turn to a little bit of crying and a lot of celebration and you might even be able to convince me that I want to debut my karoke skills if you play Robyn. Or mention Robyn. I might start singing. I’m sort of in love with this song. Come find me, come dance with me. (I’ll dance at the poetry reading if you play Robyn as well…)

 

 

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The Doppler Effect

I spill out of my doorway to frost covered lawns and the city shrouded in fog.  My breath billows in front of me and it is impossible to forget December has arrived.  School buses trundle down the street and a young boys wait at the corner as I pass, stamping their feet and jostling their backpacks.  My own bus stop is crowded with leaves but otherwise uninhabited.  I lean against the pole and wait, staring down the street.  As the bus pulls close I think for a moment it will continue past my body and vanish into the city without me, but the lights flash and it pulls to rest as it does each morning.  I climb the steps and settle into a seat as we lurch into the day.

Fog makes light indeterminate.  The ends of things disappear—I hold my coffee and watch the window as the suspended city slips past me, as the doors open and close with a rush of cold air.  I am beginning to know people along this route.  The man in beige overalls works at a produce factory south of Seattle, and we nod at each other each day without knowing names.  I find myself watching for him as the bus pulls to his stop—his coat flares as he walks and he wears a hat that reminds me of a Humphrey Bogart movie.  He seems out of place with this time; a man too large to fit into the modern narrative of web designers and Bluetooth headsets.  I am on the bus when he gets on, I remain when his stop comes and goes.  I must seem a constant fixture and I wonder what narrative he has constructed for my life or if I am simply the Girl on The Bus and exist only in this capacity.

The bus drivers, too, are familiar.  We exchange pleasantries and sometimes continue conversations over a few days. A bit colder today. How were your holidays? Have a good night, thanks. I don’t know their names either, just their faces.  The girl with dark hair and narrow features who drives on Sunday nights.  The man with two kids and a knit hat from Saturday morning.  The older man with glasses, often weekdays and Sunday morning.  If we were to see each other in another place, our memories would tug but we would be past before realizing why.  We exist together only here, between places.  In transition.

This city is a place described best by circumnavigation.  I take the long way to my destination without intention; I head north to go south, I circle back towards my home to leave it.  This system doesn’t make sense.  My map of the city is full of gaps and holes.  I identify an entire neighborhood with one house and a stretch of beach.  I fill others with backyards and porches, wine glasses and coffee cups.  Seattle is strung together with where I have cooked dinners and where I have danced to music that rang in my ears for hours afterwards.

As the sun finally breaks through the massive glass windows at work, I realize I have been in Seattle long enough to accumulate memories of people who have merely paused here before continuing on.  There is the poet who now lives in New York, the potter who moved somewhere near Virginia.  The dear friend who drove his van to Portland and sold it instead of returning.  This is no longer their place, but it remains mine.  The sun lattices shadows on the carpet and I remember this kind of light last year, the kind that unfolds.  How different everything felt then, but here it is once more—early winter.

Anne Carson, in The Glass Essay, writes “Perhaps the hardest thing about losing a lover is/to watch the year repeat its days….. I can feel that other day running underneath this one/like an old videotape.”  I understand this concurrence, and I find myself wanting to quantify; to measure the blue shift of bodies as they move towards my own without accounting for the opposite movement, the way a body becomes redder until it has sped away entirely.  I want to record the present and ignore the undercurrent of the past but that isn’t the sort of person I am.  These days even California is tinged with the pleasant scent of orange groves and the soft blue night skies.  It is easy to forget the desperation I felt there, how I longed to be somewhere cold could set in and burrow beneath doorways instead of a place coated by dust and wind.

It is dusk for only moments before evening steals in beneath the clouds.  The overhead flood lights turn on and around me planes glint.  The few families are buttoning up their coats and getting ready to head home. I would like to end this with a conclusive statement, but I have nothing conclusive to say.  This is my home and it isn’t.  The moon, just past full, will emerge like a coin made of bone.  It will ride above me whether or not I point it to out anyone.  This city will map and remap itself, transparencies made of faces and names and kitchens, until it becomes too large to describe in simple terms.  Already I can feel the layers building, and that will have to be enough.

Communities

I am in love.

Let me clarify.  Sir Oliver Lodge and John Tyndall are men I continue to return to, continue to be fascinated with.  Thanks to a delay at work, I have had several hours to return to a book (haphazardly and luckily thrown in my bag this morning) about the life of Lodge. 

Reading biographies always makes me re-evaluate my own life.  I’d never heard of Lodge before I began this strange pursuit of ether science.   Now I find myself reading about his life and feeling like I stumble into old friends.  

Because I have the time, here is my history with Lodge:

I stumbled on Sir Walter Rayleigh’s scattering principle while looking for a way to structure my thesis.  He charted observations of the blue sky, and the resulting image looked like the graceful arc of iris petals.  I wanted to understand why, and so I began to look into refraction and reflection, which led me to John Tyndall.  Within his transcriptions from his light lectures Tyndall talked about the humours of the eye (poem inspired is available upon request) and the ether of the sky.  As anyone who has accidently asked me what I’ve been working on can attest, I haven’t been the same since.  I know more about ether than anyone ought to–and I’m beginning to move into dark matter.  But that’s another topic.

In reading (and reading and reading) about ether, I continue to run into the same names.  This isn’t strange, but what does strike me is how often I run into the same names in different contexts.  A few weeks ago my cousin gave us tickets to Bone Portraits, a play about Edison and X-Rays.  Roentgen was one of the characters, and in reading about Lodge today, there was Roentgen.  Lodge worked with telegraphy at the same time as Marconi, but I would hazard a guess that more people would recognize the Italian.  He corresponded with J. J. Thompson (later Lord Kelvin) and had dinners with H. G. Wells.  Men whose names I remember from science class years ago inhabit these pages, but I can’t remember hearing about Lodge before two years ago.  He seems to be relegated to the “and others” part of most descriptions. 

Who will be the names remembered from the communities (scientists, artists, musicians) now, and who will become “and others”? It is an exercise in futility to project into the future who will be remembered from the past.  Creating is always an attempt at immortality, and some will succeed.  I want to say that Lodge failed, but even that isn’t really true.  I know about him now, and so do you.  Ask me about his theories and his life, and I will tell you more.  This is what I do for love.

Quick Shifts

Tree at Marymoor Park

This morning the sun was almost painful, brilliant against the lake as I ran.  It was like this a few days ago as well, but I was out earlier and the sun seemed more poured against the land than just blazing.  Today, at a later time and higher arc, it was almost too much.  I still have to take pictures along the trail, but I haven’t yet.  Lou had to go to an appointment in Redmond, and she dropped me off at Marymoor Park to wait.  The sun was bright and warm against my back and I found a picnic table beside a park and among the evergreens.  By the time she picked me back up it was the grey of clouds right before rain, and the wind had picked up to cut right through my optimistic skirt. The weather shifts almost instantly here. And I love it, even if I do get caught in the rain or with too many layers on beneath sun.  I’ve been working on Body of Climates with Dave and his friend for a few weeks now, and I wasn’t really sure how much continuous text could be written about the weather.  It was (and is) an experiment, and I think it’s working well.  I don’t find weather to be a banal topic of conversation in the least.  For me, the weather is a way to share the world I’m in with other people.  Some people don’t want to talk about the weather, but it’s around me constantly, and I can’t help but fixate.  One of the advantages of working the admissions desk at the Museum of Flight is the large glass wall that’s to the right of us.  We can watch the weather change and still be protected.  There are still some leaves left on the trees, and when it’s sunny the yellow glows against the dark brown of trunks and soil.  Often there will be sun against the ground and grey clouds in the sky and it reminds me, for some reason, of plunging into a cool pool.  I think I am easily swayed into water so I can find similarities easily, but the contrast of the hills to sky is like that of warm skin and the sudden and pleasurable shock of water surrounding you.  Yesterday the sky was a pale robin’s egg but clouds hung low and around us, turning into downright fog by the evening.  It’s these contrasts and juxtapositions that I love here.  

river near the gates at Marymoor

I wish I could write more, but I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like to be.  I’ve been finishing up Through a Universe Darkly, and I have a bit more incentive to finally get through it because I know someone to lend it to now.  Lots of information about nutrinos and telescopes filled with bleach at the moment, but Bartusiak writes about it better than I can.  I do, however, want to find the engravings that Thomas Wright used to depict the Milky Way as a disk of stars.  The image credit puts says they appear by permission of the Durham University Library, so maybe I can find a way to ILL them.  Photocopies plus a transfer marker would be great fun with my collages.