Wednesday, July 29, 2009

29 July 2009

Today, as I sat in a cute, overpriced bakery in Lincoln Square, Chicago, and ate a sandwich with too much turkey and lots of iced tea, I started to write fiction again.

Maybe actual fiction for the first time. Or is there such a thing?

Now if only I can convince myself that EVERYTHING doesn't have to be THE MOST DRAMATIC THING EVER....

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I smell like lemon verbena.

I roll the lemon under my palms on the red cutting board. "Is it ok if I don't get all the juice out?"

"Oh, don't worry, we have plenty of lemons."

I rub the pulp into my hands and dry them on a towel. They are slightly sticky, but this is the one occasion where sticky hands will not bother me. It's hard to be bothered by anything when your favorite scent surrounds you. I breathe in deeply.

"Do you want this?" She's already given me beautiful cut-out paper birds, "from one of my showers," and a wooden utensil divider. Now a bottle of perfume, Anthropologie, because "it just doesn't smell sexy." She sprays her apron and I smell. Not sexy. But fresh-squeezed. I take it.

Earlier that day. Decide to take a giant step in the month of flirting with Barista and ask his name. Earlier plans have been foiled, and there is the other fact that I am a complete and utter pussy.

"How's it going, Erin?" He reaches for a 12 ounce paper cup, meant specifically for a cappaccino with a packet of raw sugar in the bottom and extra foam. His specifications, not mine. I don't even drink coffee, but am fascinated by the deliberation before each cup, handing me the drink and asking if it's ok, or saying that it's his best one yet, before punching my card twice.

"Good. And, I'm going to do something different." He puts the cup back in mock shock. "A 12 ounce iced americano, please." Sometimes I still want to say "Ich moechte,....,bitte."

He smiles. I need to know his name. This isn't too bad. I look cute today. I ask him.


Unusual name. "B******.... I knew someone named B****** in high school." I absentmindedly play with my punch card before putting it in my wallet.

"I know. That's me."

I look up. Stunned. As he hands me my drink, I realize I'm about seven years off in guessing his age, that he only graduated a year before me. I wonder when he cut his hair, grew a beard, changed. I wonder if he still plays piano....

"No way. Oh my God. I can't believe I didn't recognize you." I wonder when he recognized me. I'm so glad I didn't write my name and number on a Scrabble scoresheet before leaving it on the counter. I knew him when he and my friend's brother set their backyard on fire for a movie in middle school, when they went to the Younglife dance in full Halloween costumes, when I fucked up that performance my sophomore year and his mother turned around, to say something reassuring, but paused when she saw me crying. All of a sudden I am aware of everything, my hair frizzing out of my ponytail, the flush coming to my face, sweat on my dress, which tents out unflatteringly and hits right above my unshaven knees.

In the car, I start to laugh so hard I cry, or so I thought, until I realized I had surpassed laughter and tears and was just sitting, mouth agape.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The ways my horrible horrible day became so horrible, and how it turned out to be ok in the end:

Woke up. Showered. Perioded my underwear. -1

Made eggs, stale challah. +1

Argued with man in the basement, who shrugged when I asked if he could turn off the water for the dishwasher and switch the load of house towels. I thought about telling him to pull his weight, but decided against it. Today has the potential to be a good day. -1 for fighting, +2 for holding it back and being a good person.

Drive to Port Orchard. Speed the whole way.

Show the ladies the socks I've knit, proceed to sell four skeins of that yarn. +3

Eat cold pizza from last night. +1

During a slow period, take a shit. Don't think anything of it. I text once or twice on the toilet. And then I try and flush. Water rises to the top of the bowl, stops. -1

I can do this, I'm a warrior woman. +1

Plunge ferociously for 10 minutes. -2

Go inside, write a sign. "Out of Order," hastily scribbled, the most panic a torn sheet of notebook paper can hold. Tape it on the door. Continue to plunge. No result. -2

Use the toilet brush, see if something can loosen. No luck. Brush is now covered in poo bits. Funny, I don't remember eating corn. Try and wash the brush in the sink. When the undigestables get on the sink, throw it behind the trash can. -2

Poop splashes on my feet. -4

I resist the urge to set my foot on fire. My brain is buzzing. I can't think. +0

Wipe sweat off my brow. Go online, look up how to unclog a toilet. Come back and see the Very Nice Christian Owner of the restaurant next door. "Do you need any help?"
"No, I have it."
"Are you sure? I can do it if you need to."
I raise my hand. "Give me 10 more minutes."
I go back in, armed with a slightly flexible knitting needle. Can't push anything. Owner runs into me in the hallway, hands me a glove. -5

I put on the glove, face the murky abyss. Take off the glove. Take off my shirt. Put on the glove. I'm in the only public restroom in the building, topless, plunging. -5

I check back in the store. Not busy. I look up contraptions. "Do we have a snake? What about an auger?" I use the German pronounciation.
"No, but our superintendent might."
I ask next door, and am told that our super is only here Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and would charge $300 to come out here. "Do you need help?"
"No, I'd rather not people see my poop today."

I start to pray. I don't do this that often, and am worried that I'm pulling out the stops for something so trivial. Tell God that I will never drink or have sex again, that I will become a nun, if I can go today without other people seeing my poop. There's poowater on the seat. -11

I leave the bathroom. When I come back minutes later, Owner and one of his friends are plunging my poop. "It's really ok, I've seen toilets before." He says this before he opens the lid. Out of politeness, he doesn't recoil. I've just shattered his and the world's belief that girls don't actually poop. I'm mortified. But he solves it, and I go inside and resist the urge to cry out of sheer relief. -4, bringing me 20 points below 0.

I drive home, thinking that things will be ok.

Then I walk into our kitchen. Sink is still on. Leftovers from last night are sitting on the table. The room smells of hamster. There are ants on our counter. Of course no one has done the dishwasher, there's trays and pots on the stove, and to top it off a stick of butter melted all over a burner. -10

I am about to scream. Instead I send a text telling everyone to clean up their shit tonight, but polite. Get a call back from Basement Man, yelling at me that it wasn't his fault. I'm in no mood. I tell him such. He says that he pulls his weight, that he does things around the house. And he does help around the house, but he doesn't pay rent and he needs to clean up after himself and turn off the water if he says he will. I yell back, telling him he's not on my side. I can't share anything now; it's a time where I would probably be best to have back-up but I can't stand the thought of having anything in common with them, it's the same thing with so many people that makes me only answer their questions in grunts and one-word replies. But this time it's anger. I hang up and yell "FUCKDAMNITYOUFUCKINGCUNT" loudly. -50

Put on a dress, leggings. Necklace from Croatia, pull my hair to the side, swipe on some lipstick. Eat sushi, head off to Maple Valley, where K has brought along 2 dates to a wedding where she only knows the groom. Date 2 and I make comments about how we're all cuter than the bride, steal the rubber ducks on the table [note: when typing this I accidentially wrote "rubber dicks." I should have kept it that way. BTW, you guys should be so excited for my future wedding reception. Sex toys?], and somehow get caught up with the people decorating the car. Best moment: the young retro mother in the high waisted pencil skirt and red lipstick who couldn't be older than me asking if she could tuck a "marital aid" (condom) into the windshield wipers. On the way back, stopped by a carnival, drunk off the thick air and uneven ground in four inch heels.

Things have since then taken a turn towards fucked up.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

July 11th, wait, it's the 12th

Drunk enough that this could be euphoria, or a few beers, or the combination of the two mixed with the fasted bike back home ever. Tilted to the side. Walked over the sidewalk. Passed some drunk people leaving the bar.

And then I was off.

Turned right at the stop light, didn't even bother to pause. Rode and pedaled harder than I ever have. Faster than the cars behind me. My ankle caught in the gear. I didn't care. No blood, no verification that I am indeed human. The sweat on my back sticking my skin to the wall isn't enough. My dress rode up, past my knees, showing a birthmark on my thigh and a hoot and a holler if you need anything holler but I just need a second of your time please my favorite underwear on display for all of Proctor at 1 am.

I turned on the oven today. Was about to touch the rack, rest my wrist against the wall for onemississippitwomississippithreemississippifourmississippifivemississippi when my downstairs tenant opened the basement door. Quickly turned away.

Is there life on this planet?

Eyes can't focus enough to muster enough determination to actually do anything. It might be self-indulgent, but I don't do anything.

Every night I start to have nightmares. Usually I get out of them. I have thought of thousands of what-ifs, what would I do in what situation? I would pull the baby out of the river, kick them in the nuts, perform CPR until I tasted his brains and bones and blood in my mouth. And I know that she would slip, that I would stutter in broken German and English, that I would let them die, and that would tourment me even more.

Ok night dove.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

An open letter:

Dear Men, every Man that ever was or is, but especially if you have ever pissed in my bathroom:

If you can't aim your stream enough to avoid drippage (and please, it seems like a fair allowance: a decent-sized bowl, a thin ribbon of pee, a short distance between the two and a wide donut of wiggle-room), sit down. Please. We won't think of you as less of a man. I promise.


Oh, and someday can we talk about how I don't know how to flirt? That would be appreciated.

9 July 2009

Sometimes I feel like the amount of dirty dishes in the sink is the one thing I can control these days.

Monday, July 6, 2009

July 6th

Self-destruct mode running. Am never drinking again.

Tomorrow is Llamakah, a day that my best friends in high school and I made up the summer of 2002. Usually celebrated with a pic-a-nic in what we began to call "Llamakah Park" in downtown Gig Harbor, and other waterfront mayhem: singing, wading, singing "Wade in the Water" while doing so, stuffing messages into glass bottles and throwing them into the harbor, and writing stories. First year without one crucial member, the one who started it with me, who has her own life without the contact of old friends.