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Zero to Sixty: Yes
A Slow Acceleration
Oh, it's been absolute ages.

            I was at the bar just now, and when I returned to my table with a free drink, it made me think of other kindnesses. And there was one big kindness in particular that rang to mind, and I thought that it would behoove me to mention it in writing.

            But by one drink later it had fluttered off into the night, so I sat there in my skirt that doesn't quit and I called up a laundry list of all the other kindnesses that had come my way. None of them rang true as the one big kindness that had inspired me, but there's never any harm nor foul in listing off good things.

            It's been a long hard winter, folks. I've been cowering at inkpens and rustling in the closets, but I feel like maybe spring has come. Maybe the daylight saved me, maybe it was as simple as a free drink. Goodness knows, I'd hate to be one of those infrequent journallers who only pops in with dramatic announcements and then vanishes for months upon months more. We'll see.

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2010 comes in
on mary-janed feet
and brilliant
on my whiskeyed toes
and lovely
on the pounding hearts of these folks
who follow
despite the years
despite the miles
and 2010
comes in with
the tipping at a soggy bar mat
and a simple clink of all our glasses

He tells me that I resigned from the writing
with only a simple picture of
this boy
whiskered bearded
loving demure thing
and medicated

I'm glad that's what it was.

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what i hear: desaparecidos

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my lover has a malaise
he lapses and the sheets sap him away
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        We went to the movies last night, for real.

     We go to the movies frequently, but very rarely to the Regal Cinemas, because we are running out of arms and legs.
However, we have friends with prohibitive schedules, and therefore we found ourselves coughing and hacking up ten dollars and fifty cents entry fee. And for Miyazaki's sake, we ponied up for Ponyo.

      I think I adored Ponyo, and I think it might have been....wait for it...his best film yet. Maybe I'll watch Totoro again with a critical eye, and perhaps I'll finally get to Kiki's Delivery Service, but it just seemed that Ponyo is exactly the sort of movie I'd want my young children to watch.

        There are shimmery spells and watery beasts, great goddess types and respected elders, but I was almost most pleased by the responsible young protagonist. Imagine, if you will, a child who does not whine. He cries, yes, and he breaks some rules that children should probably not be breaking (please don't go down to the oceanside alone when no one knows you're there), but he's a good kid who feels that taking responsibility is something that should be done. He's also surprisingly capable for his five years and has quite a bit more self-possession than, say, 8-year-old Russell from Up. I thought Up was terrific, of course I did. But I get this pedantic twinge that makes me wish we had more characters like Sosuke in our children's media.

    Ponyo herself was also a refreshing splash of a girl character, and I appreciated an NPR article that mentioned her as a sort of model for some younger kids on the autistic spectrum.

It just seemed like every depiction of everyday life rang truer in Ponyo. The lights went out and the characters proceeded to follow realistic procedures, grabbing different kinds of flash lights (not just your standard cartoon torch), and then firing up the terrifically detailed generator. When the generator didn't work, everyone discussed the hows and whys of the problem, and solved it, albeit magically.

Apparently, there's a way to raise children that treats them as if they have a brain, and then proceeds to educate them in basic skills like caring for others and the proper use of matches. I guess I feel as if Ponyo is a movie of magic and Montessori, then.

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     I am too busy playing Scrabble on facebook, which means that the words come one at a time, in single letters. This whole paragraph thing seems evasive.

     Today at work, I sorted through piles and piles of  floppy thin eighties children's books, Benji and Pound Puppies and Jem and Wuzzles and things like that. The couple that brought them in had a kid aged maybe seven or eight, a normal little girl who talked to us some and then went off looking for a Sailor Moon book. The couple seemed like a nice couple of grown-ups. They talked like people who pay bills and have a good community around them. They were pleasant, they were adults, and when I took a form of identification to pay out the money for their books, I realized that they were my age. And I kind of felt like a fuck-up, dear reader. But in an inspiring way, truly.
     I felt like maybe I am tired of being the girl who has spats and sulks, who languishes and burnishes and strews detritus around on any available surface. How many deadlines and whole-hearted promises have I half-assed on? What sort of things have been broken in my care?
   The house today is cluttered. It has been for a couple weeks, I think, now. The significant man of the house came home one day and felt the need for a fresh start, and he was correct in that. We've lived in my floor plan for ages, and he shuffled up the furniture and committed the sacrosanct act of vacuuming under the bed, rousing the generations of dust that tufted up around abandoned ARCs and lonely shoes. But we didn't follow through, because he took the biggest bite possible. The bedroom is sparse and clean, the living room is rearranged and reordered, but piles abide in the dining room, in the office, around the doors.
    I have taken great pleasure in being able to assemble a cacophony of myselfs from the pieces I have tucked away in this place. But  it's one thing to relish all the different folks I could become by scrummaging and ravenging through the piles and dark corners, and it's quite another thing to rid myself of the excess and just flat-out become that clean-cornered person.

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Current Location: Behind a desk, softly

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I have small totems of calm, that ease and relax with just a simple application of their balm. Herman Dune is one of those things The song Choir Vandals is another. The Tao of Tea is a place, but it is another. I think trains do it. Eef Barzelay. A hand on the back of my neck.  The ocean. Being in bed. The band Karate.  Cats.

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   And maybe it is hypocritical of me to become unnerved.

  But he was a man with a peacoat and a heavy slouch, and when he saw me in the back of the store, he abruptly turned away. I walked by  the Ethnic Studies section with a book in hand, and there was something sweet and alcoholic in the aisles.  He looked up and I glimpsed a ring of red in his eyes.

   We found an almost emptied bottle of port tucked away in the children's section when we opened, and so we had our suspicions. It wasn't that cheap of a bottle, either. The man didn't look to be in cahoots with our street's typically disheveled winos. He had kept to himself, coming in last night and shifting throughout the store. He was reading a book , which made it more convincing that he was just a typical customer, but his eyes were hangdog, and first thing this morning he tucked himself into another corner of the bookstore, with a shopping bag alongside.

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I'm not sure where it snuck in from, but apparently there's a new year, and it's mostly sparkling.

Let's cover the notable past, firstly.

  • I sold a piece of art. It was hanging in the bookstore coffeeshop, and it was the Hardy Boys running in terror away from a looming Cthulu. It was called The Good Looking Young Men and the Cosmic Evil.
  • We went to Canada, Dave and I did. We took our bikes, we took the train, we took our sweet time getting there, and then we stayed a week, pedalling around the city, pretending we were naturals, and watching the fireworks.
  • I learned how to do quite a few fancy things on the computer, including the wide world of vector illustration, which helped a lot in my substantial fiddlings at Soupcycle.
  • Learned a few of the nuances involved with playing Scrabble on facebook.
  • I became severely infatuated with Viso. I haven't proselytized that much since the Mountain Goats, but it has that rush of caffeine that just can't be beat, and I could gaze into the deep blue pools of the bottles for like, ages. Plus 100% of your daily vitamins and minerals!
  • I made a couple hundred wedding invitations for some rad folks.
  • Took a writer's workshop, wrote a few bajillion words, and then stopped.
  • We finally made it to the Japanese Gardens, and I cursed myself for ever having judged it by the Chinese Gardens. It's absolutely huge, and where the Chinese Gardens are like a dollop of calm in the messy sundae of Downtown Portland, the Japanese Gardens are like being bathed in a pool of milk. That simile went offcourse somewhere, but the Japanese Gardens of Portland are just truly serene and amazing.
  • We got a new roommate...who's a ninja! Yeah, in your face, suckers.
  • Went to a garden party, but most of the people knew my name and recognized me. I looked the same.
  • Oooh, we went camping, too, up at Lost Lake. Only for a night, really, but it's such a gorgeous location, tucked away right below Mt.Hood. The next day, we paddled around on the water for the whole morning and watched the salamanders wriggle up and down from the bottom of the lake.
  • We dogsat, and catsat, and basically just lived in people's houses for a couple weeks. Litterboxes were cleaned, walks were taken, poop was scooped, and it was as if we were responsible adults for a change.
  • Did I see any live shows? Geez, that's a tricky one. I finally saw Little Wings,  I went to see a friend's band, but other than that? Drawing lots of blanks for live music.
  • I survived Snowpocalypse 2008, and all I got was this rad recipe for a hot alcoholic drink: Hot apple cider plus Tuaca plus whipped cream equals intoxicating apple pie in your mouth. 
Here's a list of famous people I met this year:
Neal Stephenson is a good listener.
Art Spiegelman told me a great story about P.K. Dick.
Stephenie Meyer made a terrific joke about her fans fighting each other to the death, Thunderdome style.
Carson Ellis' child started to cry while I was trying to convey how much I liked her art, but she didn't pass him off to Colin Meloy.
Michael Pollan happened to walk into the room just as I was opening up my tupperware full of pasta-roni. 
The guys who wrote "Stuff White People Like" were really nice, and one of them gave me a piece of candy. Also, they invited everyone at the reading to stop by the bar afterwards and have a drink with them.
I couldn't find "Go Ask Alice" for Saul Williams and his daughter, but to be honest, that book irritates me, anyway. 
I have problems recognizing Chuck Palahuniak with his new beard.
Charles Bock's "Beautiful Children" garnered some amazing poster art. 
I think Shannon Wheeler and I almost count as old friends by now.
I'd just about say the same about Lord Whimsy.
One of the original Merry Pranksters called me "dear". 
Sarah Vowell was coming down with something. 
Jane Kirkpatrick and I agree about her book covers.
Eoin Colfer is just as charming as everyone says.
Jim Wallis knows people in Portland.
got to learn to recognize Tom Spanbauer on sight. 
Graham Salisbury loves rebound books.
Blake Nelson promises he'll bring me a poster. 

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how i feel: donuts & milk of magnesia

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In case of blackout, proceed as follows:

The store will fall inky dark. Streetlights will reflect off of the glossy mylar covers. Customers will mill about quietly, and some customers won't even think of leaving. This is where you come in. Make a sign for the front door: "power outage: temporarily closed". Locate a flashlight. There's one by the registers, with glow-in-the-dark tape around its handle. Pick it up, switch it on, plunge into the bowels of the bookstore, beam bobbing in and out of the aisles. Apologize for the profusion of stepstools, direct people towards the exits, announce game of flashlight tag for all bookstore employees, beginning in 5 minutes. Herd people out of the coffeeshop, use flashlight to find the barista's flashlight. Go all the way to the back of the store, where it's the very blackest and quietest. Hear the distant conversation of the folks at the front. Imagine how absolutely g-d terrifying it would be if something hurled itself out of the shelves in Western Civ, clawing and scratching and hissing. Think about the dead mouse you saw on a top shelf yesterday, stiff but softly curled, dead and at peace by a book on the early settlers of Oregon. Turn the flashlight off. Stand for a minute, in the darkness, listening. Wonder if you'll get to go home early. Go get some cheese puffs and sit on the front counter, dangling legs and textmessaging in the dim light until you get to leave. Walk home in the thick rain, but only step fullfooted into one puddle. Make hot cocoa.

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Current Location: home

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      Last night we decided to pay a visit to the food cart corner of Hawthorne and 12th. We had grabbed a steaming paper box of poutine a week or so earlier, and although it was surprisingly delicious, the other late night options had caught our eye, too. 
    We pulled up and parked, and made a circuit of the carts. Mexican, soup, potato-based fried things, and an anarchist cart named YARP which just reminds me of that trail mix recipe, GORP.  I got drawn in by the neatly lettered sign advertising Q BBQ. They have a rotating menu, and this week's special was brisket. Saucy, steaming, brisket. I got a smear of dark barbecue sauce on my sweater, but so help me, it was a gorgeous pile of soft meat on a bun, and it was the best thing I've eaten in just about forever.
    Tonight, Dave came by the store as I got off of work, and when we wandered into the Fred Meyer to buy gum, I asked if he was hungry. He wound up admitting that he had gone by and gotten some more brisket, right before he picked me up. I struck a deal, right then and there. I would buy his gum, he would take me back by the food carts for my own brisket. When we both got into the car, I could still smell the sauce lingering in the air. "You wouldn't have gotten away with it for long," I said.
   As I waited for my brisket, Dave crossed the street to Burgerville. He came back with a bag of sweet potato fries and a milkshake, and by God, if life wasn't truly perfect at that moment in time, there would be no reason to ever assume perfection was possible. Brisket,  thick berry milkshake, and sweet potato fries.

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Current Location: the other side of hungry

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