Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Complete with Photo Booth!

Moving is very difficult. It's physically difficult and emotionally difficult and difficult in every other way you can imagine. I think for me moving just strikes me in the middle of the forehead with how much FUCKING STUFF I have. Box. After box. After box. And I thought that once I left all my books in Portland and threw out half of it, and abandoned the furniture and MOST of the kitchen stuff, I would end up with just five neat boxes, a desk, a bed, and a piano. And a cat.

But noooo. BOXES. Check it out.

(In lieu of having both my digital cameras stuck in one of those boxes, I am resorting to visually impacting you with the high-resolution and top-notch quality of Photo Booth. Prepare yourself.)

As I get readier and readier to move out of the 1230 house, I... well... I get readier and readier. When the house was full of everything, it felt really FULL. A large part of me just wanted to stay so my heart could be in one place for the rest of time, and I could continue accumulating more shit, effectively pack-ratting myself into a nest of compliance. But now that I have spent a cumulative 24 hours cleaning, boxing, packing, throwing, tossing, wheeling, and otherwise dismissing the sticky total mess that has become the summative artifactual existence of the last twelve months, I feel deeply relieved. Like I'm ready to move forward; and there's no other real direction, after all.

I got on top of my shit this week. I finally got myself a personal care doctor in New Orleans. I made an appointment to get the recycling picked up. I DESTROYED my first cockroach nest (I know: They nest? But yes. They nest. And it is the grossest thing I have ever encountered in the whole of my little life). I got my bumper fixed. I called my landlord.

Like a grownup, I have committed myself to personal problem-solving. When my shoe broke irreparably on my 12-mile bike ride today, I sucked it up and biked home without shoes. And when my cat got fleas, I took him to the vet.

This was an extremely traumatic experience. It is possible Satchmo (who has been seriously freakishly nuzzly for the last two days [see photo at left], and chatty, and sometimes clutches my arm and looks me deep in the eyes as if to say, "Please, please never leave again." Often, this is all we long for in life, I suppose) has always had fleas. I may have just been too self-obsessed to really take notice. Fleas are QUICK! And when they have someone as warm and chompable as Satchmo to bite on, they don't necessarily make the transition to me, so it would make sense that I might not have noticed my cat's obvious discomfort. Satchmo was kind of a rockstar at the vet -- everyone was very impressed with his quirkiness and compliance, which did not surprise me. The nurse brought in all the other nurses to talk to him, because she was so impressed with him. He truly is superior.

But the flea treatment they gave him was very difficult for both of us. The vet warned me it would be, but I went forward with it anyway. This medicine she forced down his throat made all the fleas simultaneously have seizures and die twenty minutes after Satchmo took it, which made him GO CRAZY. He ran all around the house and flung dying fleas at everything still not in boxes. For most of the time he just sat next to me with pleading eyes and let me help him pick suicidal insects off his fur. Poor thing. Now he is napping in the shower. And my sheets, which presently contain approximately two thousand flea corpses, are in the laundry.

I've changed my hair in an effort to fully embrace the new school year and perhaps take on a brand new and more awesome persona. In the end, I don't like change, and I can tell because even when I am pretty happy and things in my life are unraveling marvellously (for example: now*), I still go out into the night and feel freaked out by the darkness when things are changing, and everything seems a lot more lonely than it really is. Last night I rode my bike for an hour deep into the park to listen to the sounds of summer night: cicadas and bullfrogs and something that I can only describe as "heat." James told me today that he had done the same thing last night in Crete. I guess summer nights are sort of the same everywhere; even if they are radically different. They sound good. They smell good. They have bugs in them.

Now I'm off to say goodbye to Kittee (Alex introduced me to her last year by way of a birthday present, and it was one of the best birthday presents I've ever received. She is a crazy, beautiful vegan who organizes the Totally Vegan Potlucks in New Orleans and is now moving, irony of ironies, to Portland). I have been writing these totally frivolous and self-involved entries lately in a desperate attempt to encapsulate this pretty momentous time into a nice little packet. Impossible. I am listening to Otis Redding! I feel pretty pumped up. Outside it is thunderstorms.

* Oh, by the way, did you know [and James told me this, in a very polite way] that you are not allowed to put "i.e." when you mean "in other words?" You are only allowed to put "i.e." when you mean "for an example." This is a mistake I make a lot. And so do other English majors. So I'm pointing it out now to save you all a lot of embarrassment)

Monday, July 20, 2009

88 percent fun!

Holla, PDX!

The Portland International Airport is simply more pleasant than any other airport. I have spent a lot of time at the Louis Armstrong Airport in the last year, and I used to say it was my favorite (1. It is named after Louis Armstrong. 2. It looks a lot like a post-apocalyptic wasteland and that is interesting to anyone who writes poetry in airports). But upon reevaluation, it's clear that Portland's airport is grandly superior in every possible way. I used to come here on the Red Line MAX train and sit in the little cushiony place where people wait to see the people they love come off planes. I stole this from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, it turns out, but at the time I didn't realize it and thought this was a very creative endeavor. In any case, I could spend entire afternoons here, creepily investigating hugs like a connoisseur. For that reason alone, PDX should be my favorite airport. And then it goes ahead and has a Powells right inside it, and that pushes Portland International over the edge.

Flying out of Portland today means that summer is officially over.

Although New Orleans will feel like summer for the next three or four months (with its humidity and swampy creatures taking over porches and backyard gardens). I start training for my new job on Thursday, and pretty soon kids in impossibly unhip school uniforms will overflow on streets and city buses. And so begins the year.

My last week in Portland can be marked by a series of re-discoveries.

Hannah and Leah (who both look good naked) and I went to the nude beach and looked (at least 2/3 of the way) good naked. We swam in the river, where the grimy sand has turned muddy and feels like wet felt on the ground (there's probably a grosser, more accurate way to describe that). Leah said, "Yep. This is what we are supposed to be doing."

We cooked vegetables, corn on the cob, raspberry cake and vegan mac and cheese, and had some pretty good-looking and interesting people over to eat food and discuss the merits and demerits of fungi in cooking.

This was really the launching point, and everything that followed either composed the largest group of mistakes I have ever made, or some of the best choices of my life. But let's be optimists here. After all, I was crushingly happy for four days. The only trouble was that then I had to leave, and I promised myself to never again get quite so attached to anything I had to leave.

But you know, non-attachment has never been in the cards for me. For the two weeks I spent lying in bed, reading books and sleeping for fourteen hours a day, I was categorically pretty depressed.

Honestly, I don't know why I am so addicted to commitment. I mean, I can love Portland and New Orleans equally if I want to, right? The way you're supposed to love children: exactly equal amounts of love for completely dissimilar qualities.

I kind of want to digress here and gossip about the people in my life. In my high school blogging days I would write mile-long LiveJournal entries about every single person I encountered in my life, as if every day was the Sophie Edition of Us Weekly (Vince Levy was wearing purple skinny jeans! Ian made an inappropriate joke over the phone! Trevor Hancy is scared of horror films!). But the truth is that relationships are beautiful as private quietnesses; and I have a paper diary, after all, to expound upon my thoughts on Ben Stevens' current wardrobe (hip). But, just in case you're out there wishing I would tell you about the fashionable and interesting people I surround myself with, I will write ONLY TEN WORDS on each of the ten people I have seen in the past week:

1. Jessica has grown up and fixes trails. She has dimples.
2. Ben Stevens is enjoying his life: Life's primary goal fulfilled.
3. Ben Malbin brings more people more joy than anyone. Underpants!
4. I wish I could sit inside Sam's mind for years.
5. Alexis is probably more mature than me. This is unacceptable.
6. My mom is still the best person to gossip with.
7. Leah makes me want to live my own life better.
8. Dad had lots of surgery and he still looks good.
9. It is impossible to be near Hannah and not smile.
10. Who knew Ethan was such a good farmer? Eugene did.

I'll mention here that I can't believe I got through this entire summer without getting my act together enough to see Andrew, or Nadim, or Ariana (who are all only four hours from me as I write). I think a pretty big part of me secretly can't quite go back to Whitman College yet. I need a little more distance before I can go back and not be a total nostalgia-obsessed basketcase. I know that basketcase is not a good look for me (trust me: I have experience in that department), so I stayed here. Maybe just for the vegan food.

For the coming year, I primarily want to learn how to build things. I went to Sam's house and I'm surprised that he was able to get me to leave (luckily, the Aldens have a forklift for exactly this purpose) because it was the best house I've seen in my whole entire life. The main reason for its perfection was all the cool stuff his mom built. I want to build cool stuff. I'm going to subscribe to construction magazines and hoard sun-bleached discarded wooden planks.

Also, I am going to fix my own bike.

I should warn you that I'm in the midst of consolidating all my blogs into one server, so someday you're going to have to change your RSS feeds in order to read all these fascinating and life-changing details about my existance in New Orleans. I am hoping that in the coming year I will suddenly be at 100% fun all the time, so I may have to start naming my blog entries after the names of songs just like they do on Degrassi: The Next Generation. Be warned. Change is on its way.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

80 percent fun!

Let's work backwards.

I am just getting home. The house is full. My sister, who has the world's brightest blue eyes and the kind of blonde hair that people kidnap babies over, has about 20 (drunk) people in the family room. They are all sitting in a circle and it smells like beer.

Before this: I was at Pilar's house (I just met her. I'm pretending that I know her well enough now to put us on a first-name basis, but I don't. I didn't even have an entire conversation with her, except about how my once-aunt was named Pilar [she's not my aunt anymore... her name is still Pilar], and how Pilar [my aunt, not this woman I just met] used to sing erotic children's songs about the zoo). I was there with Katie Presley (remember her? Beautiful, creative, with a lovable affinity for things like "Degrassi: The Next Generation" and all members of NSYNC [is that band all caps?]). This is where Leah is staying. Everyone was dressed up like a French supermodel from 1963. Try to imagine anything more intimidating than that.

Well, HERE is what is more intimidating than that: not only were all these people unbelievably beautiful, with whispery voices and Size 5 shoes and bottle-platinum-white hair that would stop deer, but they also all played beautiful instruments. Classical guitars, mandolins, an accordian. They all sat about and played nonchalantly and sang with their oh-so-charming voices in French. This could not possibly last. I knew I was going to be found out (revealed to be, SHOCKINGLY, Someone Not Cool Enough At All) within minutes. Which is why I am home now.

This morning I was lying in bed catching up on this and that. I had epic phone conversations today with at least three people (for those following vicariously through me, James is swimming in a salty Greek ocean every single day. This is like my life dream, realized. Resentment and jealousy is bound to set in soon, stay tuned). I wrote letters. I started playing my iTunes library all the way through. I think it's time to delete all those songs that I have Just In Case. You know. "Just In Case I meet someone who will be, for whatever reason, looking through my computer and will want only to listen to ACDC. Just In Case I ever throw a party with a Seattle-1992 theme, and I need every Nirvana album ever all of a sudden."

Before that it was yesterday, and I got to split the day between Leah, my sister, Jessica, and Sam. If these people were not people, but were instead NetFlix movie rentals, I would intentionally "lose" them and pay NetFlix the $20 for each one so I could play them on repeat for the rest of my life.

Sam and I went to Laurelhurst Park, to which I had never gone. It is breathtaking. I say "breathtaking" here because it physically took away my breath on several counts, and that was a little tough for my lungs. But when they recovered, and then breathed in really deep, they joined with my nose in deciding that this Portland air is, for sure, the best air in the whole of the universe. I couldn't believe how good it smelled, in the rain. Likewise, the rain SOUNDED good, pounding on the leaves and slapping against the dirt. And you know how ducks LOVE that shit. And you know how I love ducks. There were bookoo ducks in the rain yesterday. And bookoo love.

Powells in the rain is the best, warmest place, and it feels like Portland, and in one thousand and one ways that feel Right with a capital R.

Before that we were driving through forests and past junque shops and Tie-Dye stands to get to the incomparable Oregon Coast. Above all, this is fun because my dog loves the beach more than I have ever seen any living organism ever more vehemently love any one thing. That just brings me joy to witness. Then there's that song by Le Ann Womack (I think) that goes, "I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean." I do, Le Ann. Very small.

She should know, too, that even without any kind of music or prompting or partner, at the beach, and anywhere else I should find myself emphatic and alone, I ALWAYS dance. I never sit it out. I am quite obviously good at following the advice of country song lyrics.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

not very fun, but pretty relaxed.

Man. It is going to be preeetttty hard to pull myself out of this sleeping-all-day-reading-when-I-wake-up-falling-back-asleep-eating-unhealthy-food-exclusively rut I have fallen into. It's pretty comfortable, honestly. I could do this for a couple of weeks, at least. It's a pretty unattractive state to be in, I guess. I just lie here getting fat, finding out about the history of handwriting and getting lost in Haruki Murakami novels. It's the life.

Generally, I love the Fourth of July. Last year I was already knee-deep into Institute, getting absolutely no sleep and working my fucking ass off every single day. On the Fourth of July last year I went with Leah and Sean to Whole Foods and then we lay on a bit of grimy grass and watched so-so fireworks, but so enjoyed just being out of the penitentiary that was the ASU dormatory.

I like this stupid little shitty little country called America. It's full of my favorite people! (WARNING: PREACHY LIBERALIST ANGLE ALERT!!!!) But I do think that today is one of those days that we should take to remember that everything we love in this country was built on the backs of slaves, immigrants, and the oppressed. I hold that reality particularly heavy in my heart every July 4th. And then... celebrate how far we have come, and remember how much farther we have to go.

Today has been awesome, as far as Fourth of Julys go. I spent the morning reading in bed and letting the sky get nice and warm, listening to Dvorak (classy or elitist?). Then Alexis, Foofy, Mom and I went for a lazy long walk through the ravine by our house (Foofy wasn't lazy). My glasses are broken beyond repair, and watching the world pass by me as a blur has cast it in a new light. I can't see anything for sure, but I can imagine how things look, and sometimes -- often -- my imagination is way more interesting than reality. For example, I fashioned a mushroom growing on a log into a little naked pixie sprawled out in the sun. Awesome. Way more erotic.

Alexis and I turned on the sprinklers and ran through them. That used to be fun. I don't quite remember why. Then we ate popsicles and played Mario Kart for the Wii for like two hours. Then Quiddler in the sun and cut up a watermelon. Tonight: corn on the cob with butter and potato salad and an overpowering smell of meat. Every year my dad buys the world's most excessive box of boring-legal fireworks from Fred Meyers, and then he only lights like half of them, so we have this bordering-on-comically large bucket of fireworks just chilling out in our wine cellar dating back as far as I can remember. Generally, we all sit in the front yard and Dad sets off the little fireworks on a plank and shouts unnecessary warnings of "Stand Back! Danger!" And we all drink beer.

There's a threateningly sad air draping my family lately. I want to see my mom laugh that big chest laugh she has at least once tonight.

I just spent my last two weeks with James, maybe forever. In Portland this meant swimming in natural bodies of water, eating blueberries in Gabriel Park and playing frisbee (I know you thought you would never see the day when I would play frisbee, so just to return your mind's eye to normal, I concede that the me-plus-frisbee phase of my life lasted appoximately five minutes before I decided to sit it out), Mario Party, downtown Portland and every kitschy little hipster vegan brunch joint we could squeeze in, and a lot of time with the Johnson family. In Colorado it meant unbelievably beautiful mountain towns (see photo at right: there were about six people total who lived in this town, and it was comprised of a tiny, faded post office, a bakery that still left bread outside, a church built in the late 1800s, a babbling brook, and a cafe where the menu boasted ONLY quinoa burritos, butternut squash soup and cherry-rhubarb turnovers), vegan fried food that made me unbelievably happy and simultaneously sick as fuck, dinner parties, guitar on back patios with buzzing mosquitos, ice cream inside while watching the hot rain and spending the day at the Museum of Science and Nature in Denver. General summer activities. It was a very full two weeks, that's for sure.

About every two seconds I catch my breath and say (often enough out loud), "Jesus fucking Christ, what a year it has been." This is the first time anything has slowed down enough for me to reflect, and it's been almost too much to handle. Often I'll be lying in bed and I'll be struck in the middle of the forehead by the immensity of everything that has happened, and I'll suddenly find myself sobbing quietly, all by myself in my parent's old bedroom, like a little girl.

I keep clinging to this word, "Forward." Look forward, Sophie! But I guess for a week or so I can just be in this present, letting the past wash over my toes like the littlest waves at the beach. And I guess it's okay if it makes me cry sometimes, because no one has to know.

Unless I blog about it. Oops.

EDIT: Looking back at old entries about the Fourth of July, I must say that this year, the holiday truly did live up to my every expectation. Thanks, Dad.