emma b. says

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Blood Moon and Other Things

Without any discernable rhythm time just fluctuates, sometimes with a wink, some afternoons seem interminable.

I walk. I do half assed pilates in the living room. I make tentative phone calls in search of employment. I look at houses. Lots of houses.

On Saturday frere, bellesoeur and a few of their peers went out to see Broken Social Scene, first we went to low brow Mexican at some place that is one hundred percent fiesta one hundred percent of the time, what the beans lack is made up for in atmosphere and very large margaritas. But, the mariachi band was worth the price of admission, was perhaps better than the band.

I had a good time, I got high. It seemed like a brilliant idea at the time, as in high I mean a substance slightly more toothsome than you're great american green. Seemed even more brilliant-er to do more, after the show, what ho, thought I, I danced my pants off.

My real estate agent came to fetch me the following morning, where is was very clear to me that those carefree days of drugs taking were long over. I put on my good soldier face and carried on. I saw a few contenders, my litmus test seems to be can I envision myself in the kitchen in the morning in my slippers.

I met the Runner in the late afternoon, for late afternoon antics and a nice long walk. After tater tots, Portland I love you and your tater tots, we walked along the river in the dark under a blood moon.

It's dark here, at night. I am sure it's a function of ambient light, the streets are not coated in street lights and traffic like I am accustomed to... Driving home last night at nine on a Sunday there was nearly no traffic, like the city was deserted, it was really strange... I nearly said "back home", wait, I did, but in SF, there is noise and light, someone is always awake and someone is always driving, short of that there is MUNI rumbling past my former bedroom at 20 minute intervals at all hours, always.

I have been here 19 days. I keep trying to check in with myself, you know, all friendly like, as in how you doing girl, and finding myself largely evasive, but largely OK, it's impossible to articulate the disconnect, it's like trying to stick push pins through cumulus clouds, what I cleave to is this adamant certainty that everything is going to be alright and just surrender.

Walking by the river in the dark, I said to the Runner that I am not used to still water. I have seen the bay becalmed, but even then you can track the currents, this river, the Willamette, she is slow and dirty, she smells slightly swampy and I can taste the oil in the water. I miss brine. I miss the rightness of belonging.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Menaced by Squirrels

You would think that I was kidding, but I am not. The alpha squirrel in the tree out front has decided that I am some sort of threat to his walnuts, when I am sitting on the porch dreaming about the world going by, watching the bikers singing and the cars slowing and the dogs prancing and I am pulling on a cigarette, this fucking squirrel drops onto a branch at eye level and chitters menacingly at me, in squirelese I think he's saying step away from my nuts you fucking Californian transplant. I am half afraid. It's a goddamn squirrel, push comes to shove and I'll put my cigarette out in his leetle tiny malevolent rodent eyes.

In other news I am still having difficulty discerning my ass from my elbow.

It was a long and new weekend, started on Thursday, fucking around at four AM with the Runner, all new. New faces, new places, different rhythms, different flow, whole new voices on the radio, new songs, new waterproof boots. I said in an email to a friend at home that I feel a lot like I am parading around in someone else's clothes. Note the "at home", I keep having to remind myself that I don't really technically have one, yet, anymore.

Much is happening around me, movement and migrations, not just my own, still I am still in the vortex, and I think I like that calm girl wearing my face, if I could sustain some beatific semi-artificial near-state of almost-grace, even after all the adreneline has worn off and I can no longer maintain my gargantuan appetite for cheeseburgers without serious detriment to my waistline. I like her and I think she should take up gardening and the mandolin.

I woke up this morning to the sunshine. I woke up this morning and was cheerful. Even when, by rights, I should have been hung over, a lovely dinner with the family of my Bellesoeur and late night tequila shots and billiard with the Runner at some place dark and smoky downtown - you show me your town and I will just show you mine. There was a late night vodoo donut.

So I went to Mount Tabor, and meandered upwards. It's not my Golden Gate Park, no Eucalyptus, no scraggly, salt cured pines, nothing growing oddly sideways. I reached the top, a sort of balding plateau, with very tall douglas firs and trees with forks and molting leaves. I stood for a long time and looked at Mt. Hood in the distance, we just don't have anything quite as looming or quite to scale in California, a big fat old volcano wearing an unruly wig of shifting clouds. I turned to face the city, this new territory spread beneath me in shades of russet and ocher, and I quite unexpectedly and without warning began to sob, the kind that makes your shoulders heave, the kind that makes you choke. I suppose there is that, I mean about being a lady of leisure, you can be in the park at 10:30 on a Monday morning and no one is about to see you weep over your past and unknown future, you just sit your ass down on a bench at the presipice, close to where someone has planted roses in memoriam of someone who is gone, and the flowers have tarnished and gone heavy with rot. Still, under the sunlight every surface is limned with unfulfilled promise, and it smells really good in Portland, greener, but much like a new penny ought to smell.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Update the second, free, untethered.

That is that, then, perfectly civilized over late evening sandwiches. I was pretty sure the spell was broken in that precious coffee joint a few weeks ago, but now I know.

Dear Engineer, my engineer, I loved you so, I loved you without reserve.

And I am not sorry.

Tonight, we warily assessed one another over sandwiches in raincoats (new! ha!) and scarves, and I am still not sorry, I am only sorry that all that good love is gone, I am even sorrier that you really had no idea, I still sorta half heartedly muttered under my breath after we parted that I hope she rips your heart out, because I still believe in parity, and because I did love you, and because you broke me, because I only wanted, I only wanted. A lot like the case of the green cottage.

Sweet jeebus, bring unto me sagacity and tenacity, an unflagging spirit and a balls-out sense of humour, and when the time is right, or even if it's wrong, if you could see fit to sneak in a little love, I promise I'd keep it to myself.

We can be friends, but you will never really know me, I'll never trust you enough. You will come at me again, with your doe eyes and you will want to atone, but it will be too late, it is already too late. You are not going to question my reticence, for what it's worth, this was our last evening out, over sandwiches, my questions have been resolved, I do not need to see you or speak to you again, I am at peace, and my never-quelled sea of love, will always love you at certain angles, in certain lights, and all of the lovely voluptuous tricks of memory, I will always love you best when your smile was closest to mine.

But the door slams shut, now.


some fucker put an offer in on MY green cottage.

then I had a fury inducing conversation with my father.

on the upside - tax free shopping is fun!

I got a swell rain parka, that is chic and watapoof! Then new jeans, because the best part of moving and trauma of stress is the weight loss!!

on the downside - my brother's house is situated not three blocks from the best goddamn chicken wings I have ever eaten. Frere & Bellesoeur are working late tonight, can you guess what I am having for dinner? Can you guess who is coming to dinner? The Engineer.

Portland, day six

I fell in love with a house on Monday, it was, of course, the very first house I saw with the realtor. A green cottage. I thought, auspicious! as I am wearing a green coat! And then a happy brown dog came and nosed me as we were going in, and I thought, perfect! I love dogs and this house has warm vibes!

Then we went in. Charming! Cozy! Just my size! Within budget!!

Because I want it, because it's a house I can wear, I despair that it wont be mine. Also, the twin demons of realism and reason beckon. It was your first day out - I know, but! Your financial ducks aren't quite in a row - I know but! You need a job - I know, but, oh fucklesticks.

Patience beckons from her comfy perch, be steady girl, it will bear out - I know, but!

I know, but!

I have had too much coffee and not enough good sleep.

I have been practicing meditation in that I sit composed while my mind wheels like a pelican on crack.

Part of me is going about my day in SF, walking in the park, buying baked snap peas at Gus' (I can't find them here and that makes me weepy) fussing about my apartment, part of me is caught in the fever of driving forward, driving onward, frustrated by the lack of more lanes in Oregon, beguiled by the coast and the trees, part of me is sitting, here, in the kitchen of my brother's house using up his wifi (hey y'all, I'm not on dial-up! I'm growed!) As the clouds gather, and bright patches of sunlight, as the squirrels wage mortal combat with the crows over the walnuts that thump onto the deck outside my window.

I walked through Laurelhurst park the other day, and the breeze sent the yellow hued leaves downward and slantwise in a soft blizzard. I stopped, others stopped, it was beautiful and cinematic. Almost like, jesus, Nature, what a gorgeous cliche.

Today I am tasked with taking my brother's dying Saab into the mechanic. Then I am on the quest for a perfect rain coat. I have been too idle this morning and my thoughts are working the metaphorical worry beads, also, step away from the coffee! Now I know why I always went down to the cafe for my one cup of coffee, having a full pot at my disposal is making my shoulders creep up to my ears and my heart thrum a little stronger than it ought to.

red rain coat or bust!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Eagle has Landed

On my first morning in Portland I saw a little girl herding chickens with a saxophone.

The quest for homeownership begins in earnest tomorrow. Also I need a J.O.B.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Notes from the Road

I don't want to talk about Tuesday, when the movers came.... Let's just say I had been on the phone in the bath until early Tuesday morning with the Runner (uh huh) and woke up for the last morning in my apartment with a hang over and a lot of lust.

Yeah, moving companies, a lot like a remodel, whatever they quote, just double.


I wake up at two. bing!
I wake up at three. bing!
I wake up at four it's pissing rain. bing!

P wakes me up at seven. bing!
walking, coffee, breakfast, empty apartment, goodwill, mopping. bing! we labor over packing my car, somehow we make it all work, we high five, we embrace quickly, she says drive.

It's noon o'clock, I leave the City under strange skies, pelicans track me incuriously as I cross the bridge and wheel away. There is no ceremony, there is no trumpet playing taps, I am a little surprised, instead, out of the rearview mirror, the city is as still in profile as ever.

Up 101N to Cloverdale, I take the 128W. I stop for lunch in an old school weird place, in my quest for old school weird... Pasta Garden/ Burger Shack.... What a beautiful road, through the tail end of the Alexender Valley and through the highlands of the Anderson Valley, apples and grapes and pumpkins and no cars, and then redwoods and dappled light out to the coast, up the coast. I had intended to stay in Mendocino, but found it entirely too precious and decided to head to the more downmarket Fort Bragg. I hadn't been this far north (by car) since I was little girl, staying in funky places and the yollobolly wilderness with the train, you know, the train with the face.... I called my parents when I got to Ft. Bragg - I have a phone tree I am obliged to dial -- at least four numbers when I end up somewhere.

So last night, covered in late afternoon seaspray and the morning's last push of moving sweat, I pull into some AARP approved Inn called the Harbor Lite, this befuddled me to no end, I was all, what it's a diet friendly harbor for the blue haired set????? I elected to spend more money for the view of the harbor and the sea, and the sign posted on the door before my window very sternly warned me not to bring my freshly caught fish into the room.

I had dinner down in the old harbor, fish tacos and margaritas, there was a blue heron, and there were seals bobbing in the dusk, before the breakers were melting towards an untamed peach, before the sky went violet and I decided it was time to sleep.



The alarm sounds in darkness, black out kind of darkness, I hit snooze out of reflex, then I lie there coming to conciousness, I have no idea where I am. My last clear image is a salt sprayed beach somewhere, with things bobbing in the surf, I thought they were seals, but they might have been posts.

I tumble out of the extra large king, fall to the floor, try for a few half assed pilates moves, ignore the knot the size of lower manhattan in my back, eat a waffle, drink some old people coffee, check out and get in the car, and drive through the sporadic pockets of rain.

I still haven't wept.

I am still tense enough that the food and coffee just liquifies...


I've got more to tell, but have been on the phone with the Runner, and now suddenly it's 2:3o and I am in desperate need of sleep.

Still, it's undeniably savage in it's beauty, still the roads beg for double fisted driving and race car dreams, still there is the surf breaking to my left and the river to my right, still, still, wending my way through the trees after so many moss green hours, a girl starts to wonder when the road will end, when the road has only just begun.

Somewhere just past noon highway one came to a sudden end at the 101N juncture, I was grateful to rediscover two lanes and seventy (eighty-five). My but those trees are ancient and massive.

Stopped in Garberville for lunch, some place called the Eel River cafe, full of cows, wallpapered in the eighties, your lackadaisical waitress may or may not be interested in delivering your lemonade, but the french fries were good. P says I have got to talk to people on my road trip, honestly, I would rather eavesdrop, I got no business trying to talk to people I don't want to, I would much rather drive.

So I get back on the road, full of turkey and cheese and hybrid lemonade, I decide to wait out gasoline until I get to Eureka, sixty miles or so of nobody else on the road and my iPod assuming I am a gay man. Up, and up and north we go, with the eel river to my right and the coast just beyond my reach, up and up we go, I keep rubbing at my eyes. See my maps, they don't match, my California map ends at Ft Bragg, and I sort of thought that California ended there, but then there is Eureka, and Arcata and Crescent City, lonely towns in lonely places and all I thought is who but the hippies and the freaks and the misanthropes would live out here in the wilds of the Pacific, who indeed, the freaks, the misanthropes and the hippies all living in tenuous harmony.

P calls just before I get to Eureka, we talk for a minute, but my mind is on the road, also, I need gasoline. I fill up, sort of, my mind has some disconnect, and I sort of drive off before my tank is full, I think I must have it in the back of my mind that once I get to Oregon, they'll clean my windows and take my pulse, I mean check my pressure.....

And then, I am following the signs north, towards Arcata, towards Oregon, Sufijan Stevens comes on the iPaod and I have dual thoughts, one, I could turn east, here at the 299, make for the nearest airport and disappear, I have an eight hour lead before anyone would worry, and two, I am an american cliche, the stateless girl with no address, in the packed to gill vehicle, replete with random lampshade (the movers forgot, and the agave plant that travels with me) not six minutes later I got a speeding ticket, which only made me cry harder, from Klamath to Crescent City.

but I saw elk, and I saw beauty, I saw rocks jutting from the coast like giant primordial shark fins coming forth to take us all to sea.

I drove and I drove and I drove, through eight hours of topography, through mountains and valleys and dying seaside towns, and I landed here.

I am in Bandon, Oregon. Quaint old town on the harborlet where I will walk tomorrow. I had an excellent dinner at the wine bar, I ate baby artichokes and crab salad washed down with a lovely tuscan white, I decided that life - speeding ticket aside - was good.

I expect to reach Portland tomorrow, late afternoon.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


adminstrative mumbo-jumbo but writing is likely to be light as I head into the holy crap I am moving to another state in four days, threeish/fourish days.

I am more addlepated than I have ever been, still amazed that I have not had a melt down.

This weekend is one of my favorites of the year, bluegrass and blue angels. Everything about today from the war planes to teddy thompson in his slept in suit, earnestly singing mysogynistic country songs, not a dry pussy in the park, god how we cannot ever resist a self aware cad -- even the doyenne Emmylou Harris squirmed a little in the presence of this feckless, pale Englishman with a big voice and a legacy.

But back to the weather, I am sunburned and windburned and deeply, deeply exhausted. Thanks to last night's tequila I woke up fully clothed again. I am grateful that I get to leave when the City is at it's most vibrant, here in early October, when every hour is the magic hour, nothing but jewel tones and expensive cocktails, slanting sunlight and the lyrics to songs you really ought to remember, but will soon forget. It's lovely, it's perfect, it's perfect and here I am prying my fingers loose, here I am letting go of the kite strings. I am going sailing, gone fishing, gone after the perfect cliche, sort of or almost. A few more boxes to fill, a few more goodbyes, a solid night of dreamless sleep, a memorial, hope springs eternal for a clement journey.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Also, I miss you, whoever you are.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Crumpets and Cobwebs and Starry Nights in Sausalito

I could get real used to this lady of leisure business, though I might get positively rotund if I keep this pace up.

I rolled out of bed tennish. Strolled down to the cafe in complete disarray, in last night's hair, with last night's liquor on my breath, for the biggest coffee they could serve me.

Then I threw out my kitchen, found skirry, skirry things there, and webs and ghosts of spices past. It's telling that the only things I am taking with me are my collection of salts and mustards. Everything else goes.

Met my friend PB at her house in Noe Valley, she was a lady of leisure for the day, after many pets with her dog we ambled down to Lovejoy's for high tea, where I ate my weight in tea sandwiches and drank far too much black chestnut tea. Caffeine addled and scone heavy (dear god, whoever invented Devonshire cream, I would like to worship You at the altar of Bacon) I tried to make for Marin for some tennis.

Except that I forgot about traffic. I am not used to traffic. I am never in it, what with my former reverse commute, I am used to breezing in. I don't like traffic, afterall. I was supposed to be there by 3:30, I made it by 4:30. B and I drank wine by the pool and played with the five dogs, got caught up. I am going to miss him and his partner and their crazy menagerie like mad. I love them, I love those animals.

Late for my hair appointment, behind schedule on my packing, running fast on too much tea and doped up on adrenelin. From San Rafael to Sausalito racing the sun, the music much too loud. Cut and blown, AW and I head to Poggio for burrata and pizza (like I need more cheese) a good, cold bottle of Sardengnian white, followed by a fernet, and a walk along the bay.

I can hear it now through the head phones, I can hear it in my nose, the briny lapping of the October calm bay, churning under the breakers, my City sparkling across the expanse of the water. With the undulation of the water came wavelet after gentle wavelet of sick making nostalgia, of being hopelessly homesick for the place I hadn't yet left.

That boy, the one I met at the wedding, for now I will call him The Runner, he called the other day to see if I had made it home alright, he said, I'll see you when you get home. Then there was a long pause, as I strove to reroute the disconnect I felt in that statement, because every hair on my body was standing on end hollering silently, NO! Here is Home, I am Home, then I realized, that this is only home for another six days, and I said, yes, I will see you when I get home. I felt like I was dissembling, like there was, like there is a fundamental, elemental mistatement in that. I am going to have to work on the notion of home. My home is not my home anymore, my walls and corners shorn of my possessions, it's just a shell with walls in serious need of paint.

My city, just another city, one where I know the short cuts, and the best parking spots, and the best views. AW said that since I am going to be newbee, she said I should screen all of my perspective dates by asking them to show me their favorite views of Portland. It's a grand and romantic idea, of course the cynic in me is all, Portland is nowhere near as dramatically panoramic as San Francisco, maybe I just need the right guide, maybe I need a different sort of romance. I am prepared to be amenable. I am, in fact, prepared for anything.

And, frankly, I am astonished at my own forebearance, as in holy shit, who is this clear eyed alien living in my body, and what have you done with my neurotic drama queen who dwells deep in the closet of my mind, I think the alien dined on her over a peaceable lunch, with a nice glass of wine, and just like that everything that was familiar got digested and disgorged. Where is my dervish? Where are my devils? Where are my sirens? Where is my love? well, that's easy, it's a blanket over my home, over my neighborhood, over my friends, over my family, over the headlands, and cautiously over my future wherever I might land.

Did I tell you that when I was leaving Portland, that I literally flew over the rainbow. I looked down upon the ends of the rainbow, I know where the pots of gold are, I think that's got to be auspicious.

After the wedding, during the wedding

there are some days you drink like water, and there are stretches of days you drink like champagne. They go down smoothe, bubbles the slightest welcome tickle, an afternoon becomes a weekend, a rainy day becomes your lover.

On Thursday the plain alights, your almost sister-in-law fetches you and a her friend and makes alien driving manoeuvers , but all is well when the burgers and beer arrive in the late slanting sunlight. Later after the real estate agent, checked into the relentless hipness of the Ace Hotel, isn't ironic how I was paying sort of top dollar to snuggle into a flop house....

I cannot honorably do it justice, I cannot honorably do them justice, this one person I love more than most, my little brother, who got married and giggled and cried, and was the embodiement of sweetness and light, my little brother got married.

She's a good woman and she's lovely.

As for myself, well, after I had done my grateful duty freezing my invisible nuts off in turquoise chiffon, I quite unexpectedly got my rocks off, seems I might have dinner date lined up when I land in Portland a week and two days from now. I was this close to semi drunken dialling, I decided that might be decidedly unwise. So, yes, brother, I am a happy shit grinning little slut. I am armed in fleece and wellies and condoms and she stoops to conquer.

More later, when I have better gathered my wits.