Thursday, September 30, 2004

Stoner admirer

On a side note, I got hit on pretty hard by this stoner guy the other day. When I asked him why he was on the island as he tagged along on my various errands, he explained that he had grown up there but when he went out to travel the country after graduating from high school, he got a lot of speeding tickets that he thought he could just ignore as long as he didn’t go back to those particular states. So, he’s home until he can pay all of that off. Let me tell you, I was truly tempted there for a minute. :-) After telling me that Rebecca was a pretty name, he asked if I had a boyfriend. When I explained that I did, he asked if I “thought he would keep” me. He wrote out his name and number while waiting for me at the post office with lots of doodles around the info. Then he asked if he could walk me to work. Today, he came into the convenience store, asked if the coffee was fresh and said he would try the Homegrown Market when I answered that it was probably about 4 hours old. No sense of recognition in his tiny little scrambled eggs brain on drugs. Sigh.

Maybe funny, maybe not. But, by now, I see him all over town and he treates me just like I'm someone he has known forever and maybe doesn't like because I got in fight with his girlfriend when we were in high school together. He also has asked me questions about things he thinks I should remember because he has mistaken me for the other people that work in my stores. It's a new experience for me.

Basic update

I've been taking advantage of these two weeks while Jeff is gone to really get settled in my trailer. It's stressful, like everything else, but also satisfying to see my stuff in a new milieu. The inside of the trailer is butter yellow so all of my red and light blue stuff matches. I've hung my fairy curtains across the sliding glass doors that are the entrance to my house. It's definitely a change from the crappy blue sheets that were there previously. Unfortunately, with Jeff gone, I'm also getting a chance to feel homesick and a little (actually, a lot) lonely. I wish I were one of those people that found comfort in late night cleaning frenzies but after dark, the most I can do is crafts with the TV on. Otherwise it's books. I have just reread Neal Stephenson's SNOW CRASH but have been strangely reluctant to start anything new. I put books aside because I know I'll like them eventually, but can't summon excitement now. However, I have not yet felt a need to reread all of my adolescent sword and sorceress series by Tamora Pierce. I see that as a good thing. :-) I should have telephone on Friday (after three calls to the local phone company) and so blogs and personal emails should get more regular. Right now, I am kind of catching time whenever I can on other people's machines. So, I'm not feeling very clever or adventurous right now but I wanted to update those concerned about the goings-on here. I wish I were a little more inspiring. I did acquire a stoner admirer, which is a mildly funny story. I will copy/paste it out of an email that I sent in the next posting.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

'Cross the Mersey

Today will be dubbed "Surreal Ferry Day." I rode a total of three ferries in four crossings. Let me tell you the story:

Actually, it's not a story, because most of the elements of literature are missing (i.e. character development, central conflict that gets solved, witty dialogue). All it really possesses are a beginning, a middle and an end. The story (not really a story) opens at the ass-crack of dawn, since Jeff is really anal about getting to the ferry really early to be sure that we get a spot. So, it's 6:00 in the morning and he's bugging me to speed up and I'm refusing because it's early in the morning and I'm feeling obstinate, plus, any time I deliberately speed because I'm late, I get a ticket. Immediately following this interaction a huge think fog falls down on us and it's all I can do to see the lane lines. Jeff - almost as immediately - admits that the fog must be punishment for trying to get me to speed. There's a reason that I like him. :-) So, slowly, we make our way to the complete other end of the island, where everything else about that ferry ride is fairly normal. Once we're on the peninsula, we drive to a different ferry and get in line to pay for our passage. The line isn't moving well since there is only one checkpoint and this, of course, is causing Jeff's knee to bounce like crazy. I should insert here that I was taking Jeff to orientation for a 9-day kayak trip that he was leading for teenage boys in rehab. He really wanted to be there on time and rightfully so. As we are sitting on the side of the road, waiting, we see a guy pull up to a checkpoint in a golf cart. "This is not a good sign," bemoans Jeff. I pooh-pooh him as a nattering nabob of negativism (was there ever a time in American politics when this phrase WAS taken seriously?). Of course, right at that moment, the guy walks up to our car to inform us that the ferry that was going to be leaving in the next half hour was fogged in and would not be leaving for another 2 or 3 hours. Now it was my turn to admit karmic responsibility. So, we walked on the beach for awhile and found a cute little seafood place for some food. (Finally had the Ivar's, Mom. It was OK. Nothing like Malnati's in Lawndale, though.) When we finally got onto that ferry, a guy is on the passenger deck giving a full-on harp recital, with commentary and all. He was a regular Bobby Short.

So, I drop Jeff off after deciphering some terrible directions (50 feet was actually 10 feet; landmarks were simply not there; forks in the road were actually intersections). Then, as I'm headed to my third and final ferry, I realize that although I work in a used book store and although I rarely go anywhere without a book, just in case, and that this habit has been present since I was 7 or 8 years old, I have no book for hours of ferrying that I have yet to do. Panic and self-flaggelation ensue, but karma gives me a present in the form of a used book store. It is also surreal. It's got a full section of well-displayed metaphysical instruction books from multiple decades, shelves upon shelves of vintage Playboys, several racks of 1940's pulp fiction with steamy cover art and the kooky woman who talks to herself about how funny the movie BIG is while I'm looking around. I find a pristine copy of SNOW CRASH, which I've been meaning to read again, anyway, and I'm out the door.

I guess the third ferry is fairly uneventful, except for the guy that wore a full-on Saturday-night-at-the-club-in-a-shiny-black-mock-turtleneck and hit on me because apparently, walking by him twice while looking for a seat indicated interest. Also, apparently, pick-up lines are too strenuous for him because after exchanging basic Hi-how-are-you conversation, his line was, "What's your name?" all Joey-like. I smiled and walked away.

The fourth and final ferry ride back to Orcas was the most eventful. As I'm pulling off I-5 at my exit, I've got 20 minutes until the ferry leaves. Normally, I wouldn't even consider it since the ferry landing is 17 miles away. However, Jeff and I accomplished just such a feat last weekend, so I think I'll give it a shot. But, traffic going that direction is actually gridlocked at the light at the base of the exit, so I give up quickly, knowing that a Target is nearby and that I have a new apartment to equip. After a satisfying trip to Target, I head out to catch the 8:35 ferry. Although this ferry is very heavily used, again, only one checkpoint is being used, and I don't even reach it until after the boat is supposed to leave, although that does not seem to matter since the boat does not leave. After I pay, a woman puts a piece of paper under my windshield wiper after asking me which island I'm going to and directs me to lane 5. THIS IS THE LAST INSTRUCTION I RECEIVE ALL NIGHT! Normally, the attendants act like ushers in church during communion, dismissing lane after lane of cars when it's time to board the ferry, then on the boat they point you to your spot. So, at 9:20, I see cars starting to move and everyone disappears from where they were hanging out in the parking lot. However, my lane doesn't move. Finally, the guy in front of me pulls out of our lane (ack! rules!) and heads toward the ferry. I figure he's getting out of line, because he and his wife had been calling for one of the teenagers that belonged in the car and never came back. A guy behind me gets out of his car and walks up to my window to tell me that I should follow the other guy because the other cars are all empty. "That's the way it works," he adds at the end. So, I look around and half the cars are abandoned. I still have no explanation for that. So I hustle and I am the third to last car on the boat. I get a half-hearted point from the attendant and that's that. As a side surreal moment, at Shaw Island, an attendant got on the intercom and yelled "Willie Smith! We're at Shaw Island! You need to wake up and get off the ferry! We will not be coming back!" He then wished Willie a good weekend a few minutes later, so I guess we can assume that Willie did make it home. So, I read my book and when it's time for Orcas Island, I get in the car and prepare to go. The same thing happens as before. The people in front of me aren't going anywhere and many of the cars are empty. Well, my heart is beating fast. They start announcing again that this boat will not be returning to Anacortes and I am in a full-fledged panic because there are still 5 cars in front of me and no one has come back to check. The woman behind yells at me to turn my engine off and I realize that I have to do something. So I squeeze out of the car (of course, they had made me park right next to the big junker truck) and sprint for the front of the boat, waving my arms like an idiot. My father would have been proud. Luckily, the guys were very cool and acknowledged that things had been screwy in the parking lot. So, the announcer comes back on the intercom, reads off the cars that are in front of me and we all wait. While waiting for everyone to come and move their cars, even the announcer apologizes and tries to explain that the ferry normally runs much more smoothly. Finally, the guy in the grey, no, silver Civic wagon shows up and I can finally start my 45 minute drive to the other end of the island and home.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

My hair is frizzy!

How in the hell did that happen?!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

What was that college degree for?

I have three jobs, all of which are in or near town. The first, and most exciting, is at the used book store! I work for this little crazy lady named Jane who is very smart. very political, very business savvy (she was once an accountant) but also very unfocused, with no sense of sanitation. When I started working at Pyewacket Bookstore, I spent the entire first day (8 hours) cleaning up, which meant picking up all the books off the floor or from on top of chairs or all over the front counter. Also, you could not actually get behind the front counter since Jane and Gretchen (the other employee who only reads metaphysical books and has trouble alphabetizing) got to the point where they were simply throwing garbage on the floor and not picking up notes, books, flyers or anything else that fell there. They must have been somewhat careful with food because I didn’t find much more than lots of dusty cashews, thank goodness. I’ve been getting a lot of strokes from the regular customers about how good the store looks. So, I worked there Monday-Thursday of last week; the last two days were on my own and I got to read for much of the day since Jane didn’t get me the materials I needed to reorganize the rental videos, which is my next project. Overall, I like it very much. The second job is at the Exchange, which is on Fridays with Jeff. I think I explained that to most of you when I came back from the first trip. Email me or leave a post and I'll elaborate if you need me to. I get to meet a lot of people there and have gotten some really neat stuff. Yesterday, we accepted a 9 foot couch that was all funky (stylish not smelly) and were very excited until I realized that it would not go in my tiny trailer of a house. I try not to take more than I need right now, so I don’t get burdened down with a lot of stuff again. But, I have acquired an entire kayaking outfit of name-brand outdoor clothing that actually has quite a bit of style. Finally, the third job is at a little convenience store type place that is shifting from being a convenience store to being a hoity-toity gourmet food store that specializes in Northwest wines. I started that yesterday and the two people that work there seem really cool. My mother is so proud that now I can earn up to 9 dollars an hour! I acknowledge that it might be hard for her to see me headed in what seems like a backwards direction, but I’m trying to explain that it’s like pulling the toy wind-up car back to go forward. She gets it, I think. She's pretty cool that way.

Thursday, September 09, 2004


During my walk with Braxton down to the beach this morning, I noticed three different types of mushrooms: a bright orange tiny sea anemone-type cluster of 7 that were smaller than half of a dime; a cluster of white, chalky upright ones that were no bigger than a pen-cap; and some large, classic a-smurf-lives-here ones that were the color of pancake batter. It rained last night and although I’ve used the simile “like mushrooms after a rain,” I don't think that I have previously observed the phenomenon in real life. Once down at the beach, I found empty oyster and crab shells and probably 15 lion’s mane jellyfish beached at low tide. The sun was beginning to shine across the water and all the trees on the islands were bright colors of green. My friend that recently uprooted herself and moved to Georgia says that sometimes she just needs to sit in her rocking chair on the porch and just watch the world sometimes when the inevitable hardships of the transition are getting to her. I’ve been struggling a little with actually noticing and reveling in this world out here because I’m somewhat bogged down with getting a place to live and a job. (Done!) Plus, I’m sometimes just not being home is really hard. Going down to the beach is a little like sitting on my rocking chair on the porch. The climb back up is a bitch, however. It puts the trip up to the mess hall at Camp Stronghold to shame. Canyon DeChelly in New Mexico was nothing compared to this. Much of the time, the incline is at a 45 degree angle or less to my upright body. Actually, at the times I notice the angle, my body is usually bent over, trying to catch it’s breath. So, I didn’t notice much on the way back up until the very top, when I saw more mushrooms; these were like those ferocious snapping turtles with spikes all around the shells and a very mottled brown color so it blends in. Rock, rock, rock.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Good in Bed

I just finished reading a phenomenal book called GOOD IN BED by Jennifer Weiner. I started it Saturday night and spent all Sunday morning in my robe, tucked under my down comforter (because it’s a little chilly on this part of the island), finishing the book. I cried through the entire last third of the book. (A fact that my little brother will snort and shake his head at.) In the book, the main character is being complimented for her screenplay. She is told:

“I loved that your lead character has such faith in herself. So many romantic comedies, it seems, the female lead has to be rescued somehow . . . by love, or by money, or a fairy godmother. I loved that Josie just rescued herself, and believed in herself the whole time.”

I loved that the author had the audacity to write about her own writing within her story. (I think I remember that as reflexivism from my Postmodernism class.) My generation and possibly the rest of the modern world is told to “Be yourself” but we are still taught not to talk about it, really. Some element of Puritanism or Victorianism tells us that it is impolite to crow about our own achievements, especially if they are internal. But, this woman tells us in dialogue what we should love about the book because it is what she loves about herself.

I got through this last year and a half by believing in myself. I’ve had tons of help but in the end, I couldn’t have done this without believing in myself and in the fact that my choices were good because they were based in a worthwhile existence. And it is not done yet and while I am still knocked down by how hard it is, I get admiration from people (who are knowledgeable enough that I respect their opinions) because I don’t pretend like I didn’t get knocked down and I don’t pretend like it isn’t hard to get up but I pull myself up anyway . . . eventually.

The book is truth. The author oh-so-accurately depicts that the ending of a romance, especially a romance that you were pretty sure was going to last forever, sucks long past the first couple of months. It sucks well into the next stage of your life in lots of unexpected ways that you hate to foist upon anyone else but you find you have to because your only other option is to disappear into some oubliette of a status quo, solitary life. Leo McGarry in THE WEST WING described his divorce, “Because we loved each other and it was awful.” I thought that was the best way to say it then, and this author captures Leo’s words with the confrontations that happen in Cannie’s head and the silence that actually triumphs in the actual situations. She says that living without him sometimes feels like living without oxygen, which is the perfect metaphor because she is still living.

The book is a coming-of-age novel in a new world where studies are beginning to show that most Americans believe that we aren’t really grown-up until our late twenties or early thirties. Just like Huckleberry Finn and Scout discover that there is true evil in the world that has no solution except individual action, Cannie discovers the hurt that we cause each other simply because we are human beings and fallible and that the solution is to learn to love ourselves and to keep loving others as best we can.

In addition to all of that smushy feel-good sentiment, this book made me laugh out loud at Cannie’s sarcasm and tiny little dog. Read it if you’re looking for something to read chapter by chapter in this new school year. It doesn’t have and doesn’t need all sorts of “literary” levels and symbols to tell my story and the stories of lots of women I know. Thanks to Susan Simosky and Heather Yerrick for their recommendations that I read this. Jeff says that the Exchange is a magical place because the solution to most questions or problems are usually found because you trip over them or they fall on you. God put this book in my hands through the Exchange as my catharsis to move me out of my transitional funk and get started on another experience.