20 July 2004

Now This Is Real Community

I just love this story.

19 July 2004

Yes, We Are Finally Getting Married

It's only eleven days now. We were sitting in the bank today, adding me to her bank account. The teller looked at us with a look that verged on alarm. "Eleven days?," she said, sitting up straight. Then came the sympathetic glance. "You must be going crazy," she said. Yes, yes, we nodded solemnly. Crazy.

And we are, I guess. But things are getting better now. It was the month of May and June and most of the beginning of this month that were crazy. The sympathy would have come in handy then. Now it's getting easy. The sun is just behind the hill, it seems; the morning light is rising.

And that's because things have now begun to run themselves. It has begun to feel as if we are on some monstrosity of a rollercoaster ride, hanging on to our stomachs and our loose change. We are pitching and rolling and diving, but the thing has pretty much taken over now. A couple details to wrangle. A few miracles to pull off. But mostly now, it's become its own driver.

For instance, the summer weather has settled in. Hot and dry. The evenings are long and beautiful. The relatives have bought their plane tickets. The hotel rooms are reserved. The dresses and the suits are fitted and ready to go. The music is mostly selected. The menu is nearly set. The flowers. The tent. The band. All there.

Last week I had headaches and backaches and hardly slept. This weekend she and I talked for a long time about how to remember the important stuff. I need those kind of talks from time to time. More now than usual. Tonight, instead, we had friends over, barbecued sausages in our new back yard in the canyon, played a silly game of margarita-laced beachball volleyball while sitting in our lawnchairs, all before taking a long night walk.

So hold on tight. Here comes the steep part. Then the loop. Then we round the corner and bring it home. And that's where the story really begins.

13 July 2004

Anybody Got A Beagle?

This was on the wall at the local coffee shop. Really now, how can you resist?

In other news, it is nice to note that I am sitting at my desk by my bed in the new place and, instead of the roar of the freeway outside my window, I hear only two things: crickets (maybe one of the most comforting sounds in the world) and the bongo drums that the neighbors are playing as they sit around watching the last of "Taco Tuesday" at the local grocery store drift past. It almost makes me forget how irritable I got today after reading this.

07 July 2004

Better

Some nights it's better just to buy dinner rather than try to make something out of whatever you can find in the mountains of boxes.

Some nights it's better to stand outside and look at the sky than it is to clean the paintbrushes.

Some nights, if it feels like there is so much more to do than you'll ever get done, it's better to dig out a nice lamp, find a lightbulb (they're in the box with the dartboard, don't ask me why), sit down on the emptiest bit of floor you have, and remember what's true.

Some nights you need someone else to remind you of these things. Thank you, my best friend, for reminding me.

05 July 2004

One More Reason Why It's Good To Ask Questions.

I stopped by a friend's house today to borrow his pickup. I am moving and have a large bookcase. He was very kind to loan me his truck. I know my friend fairly well, but I didn't know anything about his truck. But he said I could borrow it for an hour so I dropped by, picked up the keys. He said, "It's the black one."

Now this is critical to the story. What he meant by "it's the black one," was different than what I understood him to mean. What I now know is that he meant "it's the black key." I thought he meant "it's the black truck." This is an important distinction.

So I happily thanked him, went out the front door, down the street to the black truck, unlocked the door, and climbed in. Inserting the key into the ignition, I worked the switch for a couple minutes. The truck, being black, was very warm inside. Something wasn't working. I looked around the steering column for a safety switch, something that would release the key so that I could start the engine.

I adjusted the angle of the steering wheel. I pressed on the brake. I made sure the automatic transmission was shifted to "park". I put my seatbelt on. I repeated all of the above. No luck. The key wouldn't turn.

At this point I began to get a little irritated. Stupid locking ignition. Also at this point, I remembered that my friend had asked me as I picked up the keys whether or not I could drive a manual transmission. Silly question, I thought as I wiggled the automatic transmission lever.

Five minutes of trying and nothing. I was frustrated and quite warm now. But I was stumped and finally I got out and walked back down the street toward the house.

Inside, my friend said, "Did you put the clutch down all the way? Sometimes it gives me trouble." Silly him, I thought. His truck doesn't have a clutch.

Here is the point where things start to get strange. Set on solving the problem, he and I walk out into street. I go one way and he walks the opposite direction, toward a...green truck. Jen says something in a kind of strange voice, but I don't really hear her because I am looking down the street at the black truck that I was just trying to start. From my vantage point, the street seems to be filled with oversized, angry, Latino guys who are all frowning darkly and gesturing in my direction.

My first thought is to look away, climb in the green truck, and move on as quickly as possible, but that only lasts for a very short moment. Leaving quickly would obviously not look good at this point. I begin to walk slowly up the street toward them. One is examining the door of the pickup. One is standing in the middle of the street staring at me. One is on the far curb. He's staring too. Another couple are hanging out the front door of the house. They all look like they could toss me over a house with one arm.

As I get close enough to speak, I decide to start with "I am so sorry" which doesn't seem to do much because at that moment a lowered gray pickup comes roaring down the street, stopping on a dime about 15 feet in front of me. Big Guy #2 standing in the middle of the street walks over to the driver's window and gestures at me. The driver of the truck is a young guy, but obviously used to respect. He looks me over slowly through the windshield. I can see him pointing at me through the glare of sun on the glass. He says something to Big Guy #2.

I decide I'd better talk fast. "I'd like to apologize," I say. What were you doing in his truck, the guy in the gray truck wants to know. Under the circumstances, that's not an unreasonable question, I guess. I explain the whole borrowed truck mistaken identity thing and carefully point out the fact that the key to my friend's GREEN truck down the street does a fine job doubling as a lock picker for the expensive, monstrous BLACK truck in question. They all seem a little slow on the uptake which requires me to go over the details again. I emphasize the "sorry" part.

At this point, Jen shows up looking pretty and innocent which seems to help the whole situation.

A little more time passes and then, for some reason, the posse begins to relax. Apparently the fixer in the gray pickup is satisfied by my explanation. Now that I know I'm not going to get beat up, or worse, I can take care of the other tricky part. Sorry, very sorry, I say, but there's one other thing: I've left my sunglasses sitting on the passenger seat of the truck. There is a long pause. Finally, one of them nods.

I show him how my key opens his door like it's my own truck. "Aw, shit," he says. But I decide not to stick around to discuss it with him. Sunglasses in hand, I nod and make haste down the street.

And that's why I mention that, if you have a question, it's almost always better to ask it.

01 July 2004

How Things Are Now

Hectic. I am almost always tired it seems. Besides the wedding (which is now only a month away!) and heavy deadlines at work, I am also moving. Now that I've thought about it, it's not so out-of-the-ordinary. I suppose many, if not most, people move when a marriage commences. I've just never put the two together.

But moving I am, so I am once again throwing things out. I did this only nine months ago, but there is still so much to get rid of. Such sweet sadness -- the martini glass that I've kept for 11 years from some night in some bar in the distant past. Gone tonight. That martini glass won't haunt my shelves any longer.

As I am writing I am remembering more about that night. Out with friends, two of them about to be married, the same two who would a couple years later split up and call it quits, for reasons I still don't really understand. The bartender was an old man, tough but generous in his words. We ordered martinis. He taught us how to order the drink with only a hand signal, a "Y" made from the two index fingeres. We drank them, thought they tasted like cologne, felt cool for trying them. To remember the night, I took the glass, which was small, much smaller than the average martini glass.

And so I've moved four times since that night and through each move that glass has managed to avoid extinction, to hitch a ride every time. I don't know why, except that I like physical objects that remind me of significant experiences. For example, I keep a small box of rocks that I have gathered from all over the globe. They are each in plastic bags with small paper tags with them to note where and when I picked them up.

But the fifth times the charm, or something like that, and that martini glass right now is broken in pieces in a box by the door waiting for its last trip down to the dumpster in front of my apartment

This might represent something significant or it might just mean that I'm a little too tired to be sentimental. In any case, if you need a few decent glasses and some odd pots and pans with no lids, some mismatched tupperware, check by the dumpster in front of my house tomorrow morning.