emma b. says

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

Here comes Christmas and there it went, with snow and brandy and strangers.

But I am getting ahead of myself, or behind myself. I seem not to really know anymore, these last few months a confusion of dates, a befuddlement of week days and spent hours, dovetailing straight into the cloak of darkness that is night here.

Has it really been a week and a day since I got the keys to my house?

We drank champagne, and I poured a ceremonial cup out on the porch, and thus la maison des reves qui arrives des fois et la peine qui suive certainement was christened. call me a fatalist, but I am still holding my breath.

In the days that have lapsed, there was christmas, there were the movers at eight o'clock in the morning when it was splendidly cold, there was my misfit possessions trying to assimilate to these new walls, there was christmas eve spent amongst all kinds of lovely and welcoming strangers.

And in the in between I have been haunting the house, running things through the dishwasher because it is novel and because it is mine, I lurk in rooms, a little unsure of what I should be doing. One night in a flurry of wine fueled mania, I unpacked all the boxes, short of my books (10 stupid, heavy boxes worth) and then sort of took stock in a dazed state, three parts ownership to two parts holy shit, then I sat on my front porch and listened for a good long while to the rain singing from the eaves. Then I returned to my brother's house and held tight to the dog. The dog loves being held tight to and she's most compliant, I thought for half a second, that is, I wished for half a second for someone more male and less hirsute, but then I realized I didn't want to talk at all, I just wanted to cling to the dog and get really fucking into Bourne the third.

So there it is. I got what I wanted. I have a house, and I can't quite express the terror and the glee. In a way, well, in the way that is just like life, no stars fell from heaven, and I didn't rise a suddenly, majestically fully formed adult. I am just an aspiring lady with a mortgage and a strong desire to make out with someone, short of that buy something shiny to commemorate the occasion, or a vacuum cleaner - - I must have left the old one on the corner of Haight and Ashbury. How much you want to wager that the vacuum cleaner trumps the shiny, because, of course, I am still not gainfully employed. Then just as strongly there is the urge to run, which begs the question, where on earth to?

best stick here for awhile, get acquainted with paint and Home Despot, furnishings and lathe and plaster, best to wait out the winter to see how my rhododendron blooms, wait to conspire with the boy on the bus, watch closely the river, heed the ebb and the flow. Things work out, they always do.

I've got my hats and my gloves and my fortitude to weather the winter. I have got my steadfastness to carry me through the bleak of winter, short of that there is liquor and tanning beds, short of rectitude there is always an escape to puerto vallarta. And in my life, I am fortunate enough to state that there is no shortage of promise to cobble from underneath the long neglected cushions, in forgotten pockets and reservoirs of confidence I'd thought I had left behind, from nights long past, turns out the duality of momentum has been with me all along.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I'm Not There

It was a twenty four hour trip back home.

When the clouds broke over the bridge at eight thousand feet, I seriously thought about jumping, not to die, not at all, just to plunge into that cold pacific sparkle and commune with the sea stars and the detritus, the current at that distance is so concise and inviting, the westward sun so magnanimous. The rolling topography inching towards green, rolling and rolling to the sea. We'll all go under some day.

oh, but lovely, crowded California, I miss your sandy green undulations and tetchy fault lines.

but I am not there, not anymore.

I got to P's house and settled into my familiar spot in the kitchen, dicing and slicing and searing have always been my swords against the awkwardness of sociability. Had I had a fish, I would have gladly flayed it while struggling against the winsome pull of familiarity.

In the end, I surrendered. How nice to not to have to explain oneself, how lovely to fall into shared jokes, what a comfort that old camaraderie. And after an absence, what a delightful joy, like an effervescence, or a phosphorescence, maybe just a holy luminescence... ride that sweet wake until you get shot down by friendly fire and you remember why, in part, you left. It's a quince paste reminder after an evening of weinies.

After you finish the bottle of calvados with M in the kitchen as you are doing the dishes and are the last men standing, you stumble towards sleep rather than free the thundercloud of sublimated emotions gathering in your mid-section, flooding your lungs and threatening the detente in your mind, they gather like knit socks, just on the horizon, stealth confounding in the laundry basket. But what do I know, I am neither here nor there.

In the morning we take my former usual trajectory through the park, the trees are unchanging, the sky is unchanging, the path is not even that much more careworn, cities and parks don't mark your absence, just as they don't mark your presence - short of an honorific street name, short an accidental or deliberate tragedy, and even then, the memory of sidewalks and buildings is short lived and entirely incidental. That's the superfluous beauty of personal history, ain't nobody marking time but the metronome of your heart, the finite story and the inside jokes lost to clouds of champagne and the insidiousness of the quotidian.

I am not sure that I am sorry that I am not there and I am sorry that I am not entirely here, either. I wish the music was louder and what I wanted to hear, I wish money grew on trees, I wish there was a warm boy here, even when I am nearly not.

Tomorrow I get the keys to the house, to the advent, to the prospect of a different sort of permanence.

Part of me is unbridled.

The other part of me wants to get back in the car and follow the ocean until the ocean runs out, put the car in park and walk the tundra, polar bears and eskimos and penguins -- plus I hear they put their couglets (cougars in training) out on ice floes and the cold takes them to mighty dreams.

fuck sweet release by ice floe, I've got a house that needs tending. And I have a date.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Almost Home, Life on Mars

A week from now I'll get another set of keys, just a set of ordinary keys. A set of keys to bulk up my key chain, to fumble over in the cold, to lose.

The keys to the house with a yard, the keys to a different kind of life, the set of keys to fill the lock of a bungalow in South East Portland, a set of keys to fill an absence. A set of keys stuck in the front door of a house that I can't quite imagine myself in, not yet, I am fearfully superstitious.

I drive by, swathed in rain and darkness, I note the light and the vulnerability of the lit windows. I think the house has a nice face, hidden beneath the long porch that I intend to sit upon and nurse weather-appropriate alcoholic beverages and maybe smoke cigarettes and maybe not, nurture friendships to fulsome, slough off my winter skin for a spring blossom and a summer ripening, spy on my neighbors and languid day dreaming all by my lonesome. I can nearly allow myself to see it, just nearly.

I've let old friends and new friends go gaga over this house, me, I have been holding my breath. It's been months now, since I've gone invisibly purple, short gasps of this cold, dry Portland oxygen, freezing my streaming eyes as I sprint to make the bus that carries the green eyed boy, I am rich in unguents and cash poor, cash poorer by the second... Here comes the bawdy parade! Mortgage! All the shit that you never had to pay for when you were a renter! Water! Trash! You want HBO, my girl, suck it and pay!

It's been awhile since I have been beholden to the bus. Apparently it takes an arsenal of pills and money to park on Pill Hill, which is sort of fine with me as I have become terrified of these dark and narrow, biker infested wet and icy streets - my point just up and deserted me - the bus? the bus flirtation? that all departing bus riders thank the driver, and the driver is cordial when you board, or that you went to some strange grocery sort of outlet/store to fetch cigarettes for the ladies and the 87 year old checker covered you for the .69 you were short.... and you wonder if it's the thick cloak of dark, if it's the hats and gloves and the good air and starkness of bare branches, or the surplus of mulch, who are these aliens anyways, and where do they get their water/beer.

anyway, this house.
Built in 1919, bungalow with a basement and an attic.
galley kitchen -- needs some paint.
two bedrooms, one and a half baths, bear claw tub.
I've a japanese maple in my front yard.

with a little luck and a little prayer to the gods of providence and of love, maybe all the rest will fall disjointedly into the slots, into me, into my yard, through my heavy, almost, door.

I'll have the keys, then. I'll unlock the doors, straight into the naked face of ambivalence and all of the honeysuckle sweetness of guile.

It'll be just like MTV, just like 1983, movers and money for nothing.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Lost in Beaverton

So much for google maps and and my nagivational skillz. I spent a clear and cold Saturday afternoon with one eye on the road and the other on the chicken scratch that I apparently wrote to myself. I made my appointment. I was only an hour late.

When I got home I fell into the couch, held tight to the dog and wanted to fall asleep for an eon or so.

The newness, it's frustrating on so many levels. In San Francisco I always knew where I was, on any given corner I could have told you where the ocean was, where the bay lies, bridges and mountains, markers and milestones. These days when someone says to me, well X lies South of Powell, I have to locate Powell on my mental map and struggle not to transpose my San Francisco Powell, and then I have to track the sun in my head, and it takes up all sorts of capacity and I find myself beleaguered and begging for patience.

I have no idea where I am. I have a sense that at my brother's house, the river lies against my back bedroom window, more or less, but it's not like the ocean, those primordial currents that tug westward. I think I need to spend more time with maps.

In other news I bowled 158 the other night, in some sort of fluke of magesty I rolled four strikes and won a budweiser. I think there is some sort of resurgence of baby punks happening in Portland, I haven't seen hair quite so unyielding or pink since the eighties. Some baby punk skulked into the bar with an obviously filched wristband and tried to order a pitcher (in bowling shoes!!!) I had to admire the kid's chutzpa, of course he skulked out on the heels of a half muttered fuck you when the pitcher was (rudely) refused. Still it makes me a little sad to see these kids (shakes granny cane in indignation) regurgitating London circa 1984, but a little brighter and a perhaps more medicated and a lot more polished, no agenda to push, no soul to surrender (brandishes granny cane) as if I were any sort of authority, being a kid is hard, the world is wonderous and punishing, as if I had any authority, I am still astonished that anyone could consider me an adult.

but whatever. I start week two on Pill Hill tomorrow. There are jobs to be had, cities to be conquered, houses to be furnished, bus flirtations to be fucked.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The neighbors have wind chimes, and they chime and they chime all throughout the night, they come screaming into my dreams.

It's not like the buses on Haight street, and it's not like the forgetable ruckus of the trashmen in the lightwell, it's preening in its insistance, shrill in its loveliness. It's not even the bittersweet constant consolation of tire tread on pavement, here it's the constant companion, but I am far enough from the street where the melancholy whoosh hides its febrile music from me.

I am getting acquainted with the pattern of rain on the gently corrugated plastic pounding out an unfathomable rhythm, I listen before I sleep.

I am reminded of San Francisco, when my raindrop reverie is interupted by the screaming of the trains. What do you call the cry of the trains, anyway? I don't remember, if I ever knew at all. I think I thought freight trains were some sort of antiquated notion, but they tear through Portland's midsection with a bombastic and persistent fury. I am reminded of home, when I first lived in the City, I remember being awakened by a constant lowing, what the fuck, I thought (that was in the days before we abbreviated such things) and so it went, until one foggy day I realized that what I was hearing was the fog horn.... And maybe such antiquated things don't work so well anymore, seeing as how that captain managed to ram the base of the Bay Bridge , maybe he was listening to his iPod, as I am now.

Perhaps there is a song there, the parallel between the lowing of the foghorn and the baying of the train, I might have tried to sing it during the middle reprieve of my Positively Shitty Week last Thursday.

I didn't get the job that I wanted, and I probably can't afford the house that I just bought.... but there is always a solution, or in my case a fortuitous consolation form of a possible temp to perm gig at the big hospital on the hill. If nothing else, it's an opportunity to oggle the cute doctors and monitor their schedules, next time I split my head open, just in case....

I was overdue for a good falling down, and so I did.

I was out on the front porch attempting to extinguish a cigarette after having consumed some of that vaguely illegal smokeweed when I went ass over tea-kettle and caught the cement backing of the stairs with my neck. Yes, my neck. Since it was nigh into my Positively Shitty Week, I just though to myself, well, at least I am not dead, but jeebus, that stings like some sort of unruly motherfucker. Subsequently I went to a cocktail party in a full length peach polyester dress trimmed in maribou with a rather unsightly case of road rash on my neck -- I told a young lady that it was due to a rather hirsute Italian gentlemen who took necking quite literally.... if only.

really, if only.