Luncheon in bed.
Escandelo! Poor Horace, always eyepologizing for his sister.
Luncheon in bed.
Escandelo! Poor Horace, always eyepologizing for his sister.
Many people are confused about the art, nay, the very concept of driving in Seattle, Washington. Never fear! I have been driving in Seattle since the amazing year 1996 and present myself as your humble guide to a world fraught with inconsistencies and potholes, metaphoric and literal.
I hear you ask, what, are there no established, official rules of the road in your fine berg? HA! HA! HA! Seriously, don’t be stupid. Those booklets are printed so the MVD will not suffer budget cuts, and to distract people from thoughts of suicide while they are waiting seven hours to have their driver’s license photo snapped.
Here are the rules:
1. There is a depressible button or panel in the middle of your steering that makes a sound colloquially known as a “honk” or “beep.” Take my word for that, because trust me, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ARE YOU TO EVER USE THIS BUTTON. Doing so will result in distress and confusion among your fellow drivers or wayward pedestrians. You may discover that these pedestrians will also stop in front of you and take a photo of your license plate with a promise of “hella tweet-shaming” you. You should be ashamed of yourself, you noisy piece of wombat excrement.
2. If approaching a four-way stop, wait. And wait and wait. Do not make eye contact. It is okay to slouch slightly in your seat; maybe the other drivers will think you are not in your car and that you just parked “assertively.” Eventually the other cars will probably leave. Don’t worry, no one else really knows what to do at these things; just try to endure them until they put a proper stoplight in.
3. If approaching a five-way stop–no. Just no. Take a different route to your destination.
4. Freeway/Interstate. This has its own special subset of rules. The 60 mph speed “limit” is a suggestion, but it is suspected your car will explode if actually driven that fast. 45 mph is much better, at least in the fast lane (in other cities and states, the “fast” or “passing” lane is all the way to the left). If anyone is tailgating you in the fast lane, do not, under any circumstances, move over for them. This is a democracy, for God’s sake, and you got there first. It is your responsibility as a Seattle ambassador to teach others about right-lane passing.
Anything goes in the other lanes! You’ll get there eventually, right?
5. Merging. If a car arrives before you, it is permissible to let them merge first, UNLESS: you disagree with their “initiative” bumper stickers; unironic use of “baby on board” sign; they are driving a hybrid and are merging smugly; out-of-state license plate. As with all Seattle driving, do not make eye contact and cut them off as slowly as possible. This way, you simultaneously do not see them and are not culpable for the accident you may cause.
6. Native Customs. “Traffic was terrible” is a local empty pleasantry, like “How are you?” and “I think you gave me herpes.”
If I cannot honk, then can I use impolite gestures to communicate my displeasure with the complete ineptitude of these morons?
Yes, but watch our lips. If it is the rainy season and car windows are up, you will make out the phrase “fucking Californian.” If it is August (summer) and the windows are down, you will make out and possibly hear, “Well ‘Namaste’ to you as well, Ms./Mr./Ze Impatientpants.”
What should I do if I am at a stop sign and do not have the right of way? I should wait until it’s clear, right?
INCORRECT. Wait until a vehicle is approaching, and then ease out reaaaally slowly in front of the oncoming traffic, so they have to slow down or stop. Bonus points for crossing double yellows or multiple lanes.
Bikes should be treated as vehicles, correct?
Yes, until they leave the road and start swerving around on sidewalks, only to return to the street depending on what the stoplights are doing. Then they should be treated as supporting arguments for mass public sterilization.
WHAT IS HAPPENING MY PEOPLE! School started. I’M REALLY HAPPY. It’s purely selfish. Okay, it’s medium selfish. The girls were bored, too. They were ready for school to start.
This daguerreotype is from the day that I blasted the girls awake with the Lion King. FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, Y’ALL.
FURCE, GIRLS. Way to go.
It’s going okay, except for the fact that they tried to slap Franny into an additional math class that starts before the actual start of school. To quote Buffy, “A world of no.” This in spite of the fact she is getting As and Bs. I sent an email to the principal asking her to remove Franny, in light of her grades and the fact that she is a year younger than her peers. Aaaand…crickets. You know, I am not interested in your test scores if it kills my kid’s interest in school. I’m just not.
On Saturday P. went hiking somewheres near Gold Bar and incidentally saw chanterelles as he went along and brought a few home. I was busy sauteeing them and putting them into eggs with green onions and sharp white cheddar on Sunday morning when BAM, krumpy walked in from PERU. How often does that happen? She brought the girls cute hats with llamas on and she brought me these, because clearly I am a fucking pimp with a limp:
What Krumpy doesn’t know (/secret camera show guy voice) is that I used to actually smoke cigarillos in high school. I mean, of course I did. Any ridiculous, sleazy thing I could think of to do, I would try. I cannot tell you what habits stuck; it’s a breach of my contract.
I met Krumpy in Internetsport about seven (!!) years ago when she lived on the East Coast and now she’s working in Eastern Washington. I visited her in August before we went to Long Beach and I got to drive the Elco. I had that tense new car feeling on the way out, but on the way back, I was broken in and really learned how to drive it. That’s the best feeling for someone who loves to drive I think. I smiled most of the way home, even all 3,000 times I had to stop for gas. (I have a new appreciation for the Honda, which I realize is my wife. The Elco is my mistress.) My only regret is forgetting my camera! But I will visit her again, soon I hope.
So she napped in my bed, because, seriously, Machu Piccu and then like 18 hours of travel and then took off to her work function thing downtown. And tweeted about food. Everyone who visits tweets about the food. It’s either obligation or terror. I don’t care much either way. Anyway this gives me hope as the proud future owner of a B&B.
Let’s talk about GUEST ROOMS, which I will have to put Krumpy in by Decmeber or so. This is all very germane because my contractor, who reminds me of Mike Ehrmantrout, emailed me today and says he has designs for my basement. This could not come a second too soon, because I parked the Elco tonight (no, I will never tire of saying that, but I will suppress the urge soon, I promise) and walked into the basement where I heard the unsettling sound of running water.
I froze. Was it the sink? No such luck. I have this sad little john in a tiny room (not referring to P. here) that is going to be replaced and BAM! It cracked.
Have you ever seen a toilet tank just crack like this? There have not been weather extremes or anything. This motherfucking toilet was just like FUCK IT, #YOLO, SNAP. The water flowed out of the tank onto the floor so I turned off the valve leading into the tank and flushed, to get a lot of the water out of the tank. Then I mopped and ran a fan into the water closet. So eh. Good timing that Mike E. is coming by in a couple of months to wreck shop.
Fortunately it was not the disaster I thought it might be and I was still able to go running. I am miraculously not injured in my old age at the moment so I am running again.
And then something amazing happened involving a Sharpie. When shit gets shitbozzled you can draw on it, it’s a rule.
Let’s rewind. Okay so in March I met Cool Toilet at 8 a.m., the mascot of my work neighborhood.
Then a few days later, SOMEONE SMASH COOL TOILET.
I was legit sad.
So tonight, I dropped broken sad john into the Fuckit Bucket. COOL TOILET LIVES!!!
An old friend of mine said something to me a few months ago that really resonated with me. Hard. She’s good about that sort of thing. She can see truths right through to their heart. I don’t think she would be friends with me if I was constantly delusional about everything, but once in a while she can give me a really good, loving shove that I need.
Sometimes I feel sorry for my friend (in a weird way), because I think 99% of the time she sees the truth of her own life so fricking clearly. Harsh-light-of-day clearly. I’ve never seen her let a bad relationship go on, or carry on lying to herself. She is her own Cassandra. Ok, maybe that’s a bad analogy, because she listens to herself. It’s better to have self-insight, I know, than the alternative.
Anyway, I’ve been wanting to tell you what she said, but I had to shove that piece of coal up my ass for a while and see what came out. I was telling her about an unpleasant run-in I’d had with someone I used to know (I didn’t write about it–too much going on really). I was lamenting that I had let myself get into relationships in my twenties with a lot of people who were not so good for me, which, if I am being honest with myself, was a nice way of saying, “Were huge assholes who didn’t really respect or understand me.” I knew this was a pattern, and I’d had a nagging feeling there was a code I was not quite cracking there.
Some of the people I was attracted to were just not nice–one-sided relationships all the way. They would make me happy for a while. “Wow,” I’d tell myself. “They certainly have an interesting take on the world. Maybe I can learn how to be more assertive (or decisive, or less worried about what other people thought about me, or whatever) from them.” Oh, Narcissus, I could watch you watch yourself for hours! You really are the grooviest. I’d take in what they’d say and feel the little pings of red flags pop up. Then things would not go so well. That strong trait or traits they exhibited that I thought I could learn from would be turned on me once. Ouch. And then several more times. Well, we’re going to have to call it a day, then.
It made me nervous because I had seen my mother run through people like mad over the years–husbands, fiances, friends. Umm…her children. I thought maybe I didn’t really know how to be friends with people. Something was certainly wrong with me. Hadn’t I been told that over and over again growing up? And then again for years by my husband? I was “not funny.” I was “weird.” When I got up the courage to actually show my ex my writing it “did not make sense.” (Okay, that is certainly true sometimes.) Lucky for me I made some friends with people who were nice and not broken. These were also people I decided to pattern my grown-up self on as I moved through my twenties and beyond. And wow, I am still friends with most of them, in a pretty normal, mutually-accepting way.
So to get back to my friend and what she said–I was kind of lamenting the fact that this creep ex-friend had made a little pecking intrusion back into my life via an email, and why was I always so bad at relationships (present company I was moaning to excepted). Then she said it. “You know, SJ, I don’t want to pathologize you, but you really didn’t have the best examples for normal relationships growing up.”
Saying that this was a light bulb moment would be greatly oversimplifying things, but it rung, like a clear little bell, and then kept ringing and resonating. I’ve heard similar from other people, and I’ve told myself that, but that sentence was exactly what I needed to hear from that friend on that day. I kept getting into relationships with people who were like my mother: self-involved, mean, unaccepting. I tried to pull away from her multiple times in my teens and twenties only to have my ex really disapprove of that choice, because he was a mirror of her.
Reader, I married my mother.
For a long time I thought my ex was a sociopath, because of the lack of empathy and some of his interesting life and moral choices, but lately, after following one disjointed thought and coincidence and conversation scrap after another–you know that feeling where you are kind of chaining along to some kind of conclusion? Just me? I hope not. Anyway, I’ve been reading about narcissists and I think I may have a bingo there. Or the closest I’l get to a bingo, anyway. I could tell you dozens of anecdotes and how they relate to each symptom, and at some point I might, for my own entertainment.
Anyway, I tell you this because I like to say when I have realized things, even if I think I might reevaluate things later. But these feels pretty right; it feels like some information I was missing, or at least a label on things. The good news is that on my own over the years I’ve developed coping techniques that are pretty similar to what’s recommended for dealing with a narcissist. Keeping things very brief, like our last exchange before school let out, when he had to scold me one more time and I basically gave him no reaction.
His wife is now opening calling him a lazy asshole in front of the children. Girl, I am breaking the fourth wall, okay? If you can read this a) you are driving too close and b) you should probably read this. All of it. Good fuck’n luck comrade.
I do wonder how Franny’s doing over there for her month! P. sent her a care package and I’ve texted but it is silent. I’m hoping she’s tired and happy.
In Other News
“If you come in to this room without knocking I will make meatballs out of you.”
Okay, two things. I was wrong about who the killer was in my Miss Marple book. I peeped ahead because I was trying to see the strings. Next time I will peep ahead harder. Or maybe just read a summary. I am moving on to The Magician’s Wife now, a lesser James M. Cain. Still feels like him though. I would like to punch people with words like that. I feel like I can see grime on people in his stories.
Thing two is, have you been to small claims court? Do you know someone who has? I know every district and judge differs somewhat, but I am looking for any experience I can take away. I know it’s supposed to be “layperson-friendly” but I don’t want to step in anything.
This weekend was a cavalcade of contradictions. I was really, really excited to be out of town and with geeks and in a terrible hotel (terrible in the way that all national chains that hold conferences can be) and yet I was feeling very shy and introverted. Other than my one friend who invited me down, I didn’t know anyone there. The theme was “law, order, and crime,” and it featured panels like “Charismatic Criminals — Why We Love Them ” and “Anarchists! Innnn! Spaaaaace!” As I said this morning I think the best thing that happened is that it resuscitated my love of writing and for that it was worth all the costs of the trip, both financial and social.
I mostly went to panels and talked to people on occasion, and spent a lot of time by myself reading, or people watching at the bar at night, which I love. I met some new people I really liked and found out about cons in Seattle that I didn’t know about. On Friday night the bar was full of middle-aged people, mostly white, with a sick cover band composed of older gentlemen (always a good sign for quality). They started with mellower jazz covers and as the bar got drunker they started to crank it up and cover Barry White and so on. There was grinding in the Marriott. I slept well (unground).
On Sunday night the conference was over, but due to circumstances beyond my control I didn’t have a place to stay, so I stayed over in the hotel again.
“Old-fashioned?” the bartender said as I sat down.
I was reading the book of an author I was lucky enough to meet over the weekend at the con on my phone when the bar erupted in applause. I turned to see a crowd of people dressed formally. A bride walked in holding a baby in one of those baby bucket things. An older gentleman raised a glass and announced, “I’ve gained a grandson and a daughter-in-law all at once!” Everyone applauded again. Did she have the baby as soon as she was married? DURING? Was it not his son’s baby? Was the baby not acknowledged until the wedding? It is a mystery.
In other news
“I hate writing, I love having written.”
― Dorothy Parker
Sometimes, not very often (I hope), I am in denial about something pretty major. This is typically when I am in some kind of holding pattern, waiting for something to change. I think that’s somewhat normal–do you want to spend a bunch of time really chewing at something if you know it will go away in a month or two? You have to decide how to aim yourself, how to prioritize.
I think that’s what happened with this court thing. It all flared up, like the worst case of roids ever, in the fall of 2011, when SeaFed arbitrarily decided it would be marvy to have Franny half of the time again. Then I had a date dangled in front of me: October 2012. That would be the trial–the final, drop dead, leave no forwarding address because this would be OVER. And then we got probably the world’s worst GAL in the history of them. I am not talking about any kind of judgement or decision against me, since I see that on legal bulletin boards around: “How do I get rid of my GAL (who is finding against me).” No. There were no findings at all. Poof! She vanished.
So we continued, and continued…got passed to another commissioner. Franny is now so old she needs to sign the court paperwork as well, at least some of it. My lawyer, Lady Jesse Pinkman, has found a new GAL, who is also a lawyer and who I hope understands professional integrity and shit. “Yo this new GAL totally has her shit together BITCH.” I have not met with her just yet because I found out SeaFed is holding things up.
The emails that are flying around tell kind of an interesting story. Last week I get a forward from my lawyer and it’s a conciliatory communication between her and the court, apologizing that deadlines have not been met, and asking if we’ve done everything we needed to, and no, she has not heard anything at all from Mr. SeaFed. He’s missing deadlines and ignoring emails. The new trial date is set for June, but he fuffed a deadline last month for signing off and any GAL, our pick or otherwise. He did not suggest his own, as far as I know.
I think something else is going on, besides his attention span waning. I keep hearing sad reports from the other house about empty refrigerator and her stepmother sleeping until noon, which, I know at one point she held down a nine to five. I am obviously projecting so hard that hang up a sheet, I can show Life of Pi out my ass, but it sounds like 2003 at my old house over there. How can I describe to you the feeling of having a body next to you who acts human but isn’t really there? Like some kind of meat golem who can, when prompted, carpool children and make easy dinners (assuming there is more than one potato and a couple of backyard eggs in the fridge), but who you can’t really connect with. Is something missing? What could be wrong when you have everything? Is it your fault? Do you really need that intimacy with someone (A: yes).
“They talk about money, money, not enough money, I spent the money, oldest daughter over there [name redacted], money…and that’s about it,” Franny told me one night in the car when I gently suggested that maybe her stepmother was not “lazy” but sad instead. “I think my stepmom doesn’t cry ever because she knows it won’t help anything and my dad won’t do anything about it. Well, she cried when her dad died, but that’s about all I’ve seen.” I bet she cries.
Anyway, here it is 2013, and I am still in that holding pattern. I killed my cookbook in 2011 when court came up, prioritizing Franny’s happiness over creative endeavors. My heart broke over that a little, but my heart was breaking over all kinds of things, so I let it go. You know, I have not done a fucking thing since then. Um, okay, bought a house and that has sucked up some time. But I’ve had a million ideas for terrible short stories, blogs, projects, etc. And here I stew in my own juices.
So, out of denial I guess. There is a part of me that is tiny depressed because I have nothing outside of work and the girls. Getting out of denial is kind of an extra pain, like scraping yourself while shoving through a hole in a fence. I am practically a hermit this winter, which I am enjoying fussing with my house, yet, where did that extroverted asshole go who can accept social engagements and meet new people? I am very quiet and my shadow is very light. I am having nightmares about not creating anything. I think about painting, like I used to do one million years ago. I got a book on home taxidermy. My consolation right now is that I am tearing through books like a fiend, which tells me something may turn around soon. At my nadir last fall I was not even reading anything of substance. At least I am getting interested in the world again. I think I am operating at about 40% of my capacity. My businesslike self that can deal with children and bills and work and my core friendships is doing pretty well…it’s just the creative side of me that’s depressed.
Recently I steeled myself and finally walked into Book Larder, which, yes, is a very Seattle bookstore that sells mostly cookbooks. I dreamed of having my cookbook in the front window as they were opening. I walked in and I immediately encountered someone’s books who had broken out chapters of Beeton’s book in an small and easily-digestible format. Beeton’s Book of Desserts, Beeton’s Book of Meats, etc. It was okay to see that. I found a terrible update of the book of household management that was Frankensteined into something 1920sish well after her death. It was very expensive as it was a collectible and irritated me, as if someone was selling paintings done in shit that were supposed to be reinterpretations of Sketches of Spain. SIT DOWN, syphilitic Samuel Beeton.
But something good happened there at the Book Larder, and it was this painful week that I was crawling out of denial that my creativity, at least, was depressed, when my eye lit on a book about beekeeping for beginners, which is something I have been thinking about since I lived in Fremont. I think this is the year. I have energy to give to bees, and in a couple of years, they will have honey to give to me. And someday this whole court thing will be over and I will be on fire again.
The apple tree’s rot went through to the middle. But I am resilient as ever.
MAN I am so low right now: trial continuance. This is an unholy marathon. I really thought October 1 was going to be the drop dead date, the end, like it or not. Due to some joukery-pawkery, proceedings march on. I’m trying to stay positive. The house closed properly, and that is ace. It’s been paint chips ahoy around here. Life keeps happening; it’s never one serving at a time. Of course Franny is having the hardest time deciding on colors for her room. This is a nice problem to have, but this is also a kid who can spend five minutes in front of a juice case trying to decide what to drink.
Last weekend we picked about twenty pounds of blackberries. I’ll try to get pictures up soon. This is really a matter of me not wanting to cross the room, honestly. I’m just going to meld into my couch and become a fungus. I always tell Franny that things will look better in the morning and now I am trying to tell myself that. I don’t really believe that being embroiled deeply in a struggle with someone else can ruin you. I don’t think this hate will warp me into a ringwraith or some shit. If it wasn’t this, I would spend my time hating something else. JUST SAYING. Life will go on. I do ask myself, though: why this struggle? I ask myself a lot how much of this is for her and how much is about me. I cannot say.
How do you know when you’ve paid enough for your crimes? Is there some kind of crime/retribution break-even point? Is that something you feel? I remember almost to the day when I stopped feeling afraid of Franny’s dad. It was in 2008 and it was a nice spring evening. I only feel a little sick now if I have to speak to him. I know that is partly him and partly my own deep shame. I can’t figure out if what I did to get to where I am currently is paid up or not. I also have kind of a surreal feeling of “how did I get here” and “I shouldn’t be here.” How did a bum like me get a family and a house and a dumb dog? I will tell you the truth and that is when I was younger I was certain I would be dead by now. I shed that feeling a long time ago, but I could not fathom what me at 35 was going to be like. I guess I’ll find out next month.
Hiii so I’ve been dreaming about an object I did not buy in a flea market in Cheyenne, Wyoming. They won’t ship and I can’t imagine anyone else will want it. If you know anyone insane enough to do business with me, I will pay for the item, shipping, and a fee for trouble. sj @ this blog. Thanks.
I’m leaving tomorrow to drive to Wyoming with Halo. I’ve never seen Montana before! And I will be working from the University of Wyoming for a couple of days, which is funny. Corporate librarian squats on uni wifi. Film at 11. I will miss my dog. SNIF.
Franny left behind a bunch of chrysalises, pardon me, chrysalides (from the dead civilization that brought you lead birth control and “octopodes,” natch) when she went off with her father for two weeks of vacation.
Franny told me she was going to Colorado and the San Juans. I think it’s funny that her father lives on an island and vacations on a different one. I think it’s funny that he’s vacationing at all, Mr. “I should only have to pay $91 a month in child support because I am broke and because electrolytes.” COUGH.
Franny called me while she was on her first trip. “I’m in Chicago!” she announced. Um.
“You mean, Colorado?” I asked.
“Uhhh, yes.” Pretty similar, I see the confusion there.
There’s probably some message here between me about to leave for vacation and these butterflies being freed. Have some metaphor anvils or something.
I got my hair done today (“Oh so you can look nice for the trees,” sarcassed Halo.). It was supposed to be more of a floral lavender, says me, but the way it took is more like a Crayola lavender. My stylist does amazing blowouts, but I’m going to Yellowstone, so I asked her to pass on the effort. I’m to be all desert and sweaty and eh anyway, and will probably slap it into a ponytail. She let me walk out wet but insisted on putting in smoothing stuff and curl cream and from the back I now look like a spaghetti poodle. There is no pleasing some people.
After this picture was done I lightened my Novakian eyebrows since they were way harsh Tai with my new hair. It is fun to go around the house with giant bleach caterpillars on your face. So I don’t even look like this anymore! Transformation. You would not even recognize me.
P.S. I need a pink spaghetti poodle. You better believe we are going to be flea marketing on our way out west.