Monthly Archives: December 2005

on the importance of alleys

It feels like Friday, but it’s not. V.VB has gone, leaving in her wake a productive case of bronchitis. Woof. But don’t worry — my bark is worse than my bite.
Alpha never came home, so I got a new betta. His name is Opal. Is that a girly name?
I’m house sitting in Queen Anne again for Christmas this year. Some of my favorite places in this city are the back alleys of Queen Anne, royal garbage, the faces no one shows their neighbors, forgotten greenhouses and broken birdbaths, abandoned Volvos and stray half-purebred cats. I wander in the rain, listening to Changes and Transmissions which makes me homesick for a place to which I’ve never been. Willie likes to trot along in the rain, drinking from each puddle like it’s filled with treasures. Last night he went into stalk mode and crept across the street, belly pressed to the pavement, sneaking up on this black cat, which turned out to be a cast iron garden statue. Realistic, but still. I was laughing at him so hard that I almost split my seam. The people came out on their porch and I tried to explain to them that the dog was honestly going to eat their wrought iron kitty, but I was laughing so hard, and then coughing cause of the bronchitis, and they just kind of gripped each other in fear.
It’s the Robitussin, I think.
So I’ve begun my piano tuner training, and spent a good deal of time stroking my shiny new instruments the other day. It’s fun to have tools. I always thought it was largely a guy thing, but I’m like, hey — these are my hammers and mallets and tuning forks. I exist. I will be in business in no time.
The internet has been good fun lately — I’m running into lots of old friends I have been in search of, some of whom I even miss. I ran into Riisa on the Ave. last week — she saw me and yelled out my name in greeting. I must not have seen her in at least 6 years or something. I was excited to hang out, not knowing that she lived here. Then I realized how it is running into folks you knew a long time ago and have had little or no contact with since — I was an asshole last I knew her, I mean, a real asshole, and although I feel 4 years or so away from being an asshole (read as: drunk), someone who hasn’t hung out with me in a while wouldn’t realize that I’m actually a nice person now. I’ve become so accustomed to being who I am now that I forget sometimes who I used to be. And then I run into old friends and remember. Know what I mean? It’s hard. And I’m not really a Different Person. I just don’t act like an asshole anymore.
Well it’s quittin time — 5:00 PM, do you know where your 401(k) is?
May your days be merry and bright.

where the music matters

V.VB is here. Here, even precisely being at this moment Fremont Coffee. Which used to be a house but is now a cafe with killer portobella mushroom panini and rooibus tea and free wi-fi and Will Oldham.
We just came from KEXP where two of the interns V.VB has befriended gave us a tour. We scored KEXP flip-flops and drink cozies. John in the Morning was sitting at his desk. V.VB sticks her head in to say hi to him and said, “This is my friend who got me into KEXP,” and I’m looking at John and wanting to say the second half of the sentence, which is, “and she moved here to Seattle because of your radio station”, but instead just say “hi” and know he won’t remember meeting me three years ago in New York City when I went to see the Damnwells play an in-studio at the Museum of Television and Radio.
John in the Morning, in the afternoon.
Kevin Cole’s assistant casually puts us on the list for the VIP party tonight at Neumo’s. We casually accept the invitation. She casually tells us the Long Winters may be playing an acoustic set before the show cause Pretty Girls Make Graves just canceled last minute. She’s waiting for John Roderick to call her back. “Okay,” we say. Casually.
Just like Wednesday night casually, over Thai food, telling the pres of Loveless Records that I wanted to be a music journalist but I’m actually too neurotic to handle it so instead I can train his dog or tune his piano. Please pass the rice. And then casually walking over to Hattie’s Hat with Tom Brosseau to see him play to a roomful of drunken Roller Derby princesses covered in bacon stickers.
This is fucking ridiculous.
Wrens tonight. And Okkervil River. And flip-flops. And, hopefully, “Cinnamon”.

be, greater

I’m at Wishville tonight with my window open and my hands are cold. They’re playing “Superstar” on the radio. Sonic Youth covering the Carpenters. It’s one of the darkest songs I know and I haven’t heard it in years. Probably about ten.

Ten years ago tonight I was curled in your enormous window, leaning out over the frigid city night. I was cold — I was always cold — and you gave me your nubby oatmeal sweater. Smiling slowly, I was dazzled, blowing bubbles out into the frosty December air. The bubbles froze as they left my mouth, dancing in the night sky, spinning in a curtain of foggy breath, the lights of the Citgo sign twirling like a discoball on their surface. Wearing brown corderoys, my tangled hair too long, drinking Andre pink champagne from the bottle, that windowpane — chipped from a dozen coats of paint that never stuck. We were listening to Sonic Youth. You loved them; they made long, loud noise.

Nine stories down, the city was sleeping. You played my black Takamine guitar with the purple butterfly, your hoodie pulled over your wild magenta curls. The soles of your boots were secured with duct tape. Your eyes always looked surprised to see me sitting there with you.

These are my pocket-sized memories. I carry them around. There was nothing extraordinary about that night, but I remember breathing softly into the cold air, oatmeal wooly sweater covering my hands; there was nowhere else in the world I wanted to be.

You had your fixed gear bike, matte black with the little bird on the handlebars from a McDonald’s happymeal, with flight goggles and a hat with earflaps and a tiny propeller that spun when you pedaled. You gave me your sweaters, even when you were cold. And you let me sleep in your bed when I was too tired to walk the six flights of stairs to my room.

I bought a piano this morning because I can’t have a puppy.

This city doesn’t feel like home no matter what I do. It won’t let me in, won’t let me love it.

I went running yesterday in the inky morning. At six AM there is no light. Mt. Rainier was brooding, a sleeping hen behind the skyline, and as the sun breathed into the horizon, the mountain got blacker. The dock was slippy with pre-dawn ice, and I caught my breath as I almost fell, remembering the night on Broadway when my left leg collapsed beneath me and I landed in bed for a year.

Bones heal, for the most part. My softer parts do not.

I am at Wishville tonight. Strangely, my loft is #224. Just like Myles Standish Hall in 1995.

The warehouse is unlit and empty; I’m the only one here. Next door is the Ballard bathtub factory with a million dusty windows and concrete tubs wrapped in cellophane, stacked three high. I want to go roller skating inside, no lights, just the glow from the People’s Storage sign broken in red shards on the cement floor.

I have a tattoo on my neck in your handwriting. Umi — the sea. Because I’ve always been that mermaid who traded her fins to walk on land and will forever miss the ocean.

Some nights I like to pretend I wouldn’t drown if I jumped back in.