the grapes of wrath, john steinbeck

And always, if he had a little money, a man could get drunk. The hard edges gone, and the warmth. Then there was no loneliness, for a man could people his brain with friends, and he could find his enemies and destroy them. Sitting in a ditch, the earth grew soft under him. Failures dulled and the future was no threat. And hunger did not skulk about, but the world was soft and easy, and a man could reach the place he started for. The stars came down wonderfully close and the sky was soft. Death was a friend, and sleep was death’s brother. The old times came back – a girl with pretty feet, who danced one time at home – a horse – a long time ago. A horse and a saddle. And the leather was carved. When was that? Ought to find a girl to talk to. Might lay with her, too. But warm here. And the stars down so close, and sadness and pleasure so close together, really the same thing. Like to stay drunk all the time. Who says it’s bad? Who dares to say it’s bad? Preachers – but they got their own kinda drunkenness. Thin, barren women, but they’re too miserable to know. Reformers – but they don’t bite deep enough into living to know. No – the stars are close and dear and I have joined the brotherhood of the worlds. And everything’s holy – everything, even me.


franny and zooey, j.d. salinger [i should probably read this again]

She cried for fully five minutes. She cried without trying to suppress any of the noisier manifestations of grief and cunfusion, with all the convulsive throat sounds that a hysterical child makes hen the breath is trying to get up through a partially closed epiglottis. And yet, when she finally stopped, she merely stopped, without the painful, knife-like intakes of breath that usually follow a violent outburst-inburst.

[not sure why i copied down this passage above all others. pat copied down a different passage from it on the back of a photo of us, the one good one, which is now in my ‘don’t know what to do with’ box from kusadasi.]

awkward sexy adventures!

So we had psuedo-sex, making real love… I think.
3rd base it is, then.
And it didn’t feel unnatural.
I didn’t know before what they felt like, so smooth and soft and hard.
I wonder what he is thinking, if he’s thinking of the girl that eats messily or asks questions and then hides in his shoulder.
I am lucky.

[this stuff is really weird to look back over. knowing that i was so wrapped up in someone who, ultimately, was not worth it, and being able to see that so painfully clearly now. it’s like a story that i’ve heard before, a trope overused in television shows and movies.]

Semen has a very very distinctive smell, once you recognize it. I think I thought that coming would be like a water hose. It isn’t. The entire affair is more subtle, really.
It’s a bit odd, being frank about sex, even if it’s just to me [sic]. There’s an element of awe, I suppose, of “so this is what a penis feels like,” or feeling his hands inside of me, or even my own hesitant finger, exploring.
We are young. The commercials of ED are weirdly amusing – it’s not a problem I’ll ever have to worry about with him at this time. I dunno. Sometimes the hunger just aches within me when he isn’t there.
Somehow my stomach still clenches for a second or two when I remember him saying various things. It isn’t a bad feeling, just a nervously, excitingly alive one. I have this disconcerting power to turn him on. Weird thing to think about…
I’m glad to be writing again, properly.

[upon rereading it later, apparently]
And it’s weird to come back the next day, after feeling it again, and being surprise by my naiveté.

so he was breathing and his mouth would open and close with his eyes fluttering open as though he were savoring the taste of each breath of air and he reached up to kiss me convulsively and said ‘this is going to be new’ with what voice he had and then he came, truly came, and I didn’t mind, and then he was breathing hard and it was over.
orgasm. finally i have an image.

he called me brave. for saying what i have said first, without precedent.
i’ve never thought of me as brave. i’ve always been scared. saying that i liked him was the first and hardest thing to do.

playing catchup with various emotions…
so on Saturday I had two almost-orgasms. It scared me, to be honest, because I lost control of my body and things started working automatically that I hadn’t known worked like that… and last night, lying on my bed in the heat and missing him, I realized where my clitoris was … educational, no?
and today when I could finally see him it didn’t work. we do something alone the lines of experimentation almost every time we are together, and I’m almost always the one who starts it. probably isn’t too healthy, but I’m so curious about this new world and this new power and I want to make him happy. so badly.
and then Kelly slipped me a note, not saying that she had forgiven me, but that she missed me as a proper friend.
things have changed so much.
so many new factors to juggle, so many new requirements for diplomacy and keeping everyone happy.

sweet thundering rain.

the napoleon of notting hill, g.k. chesterton

Now, there is a law written in the darkest of the Books of life, and it is this: If you look at a thing nine hundred and ninety-nine times, you are perfectly safe; if you look at it the thousandth time, you are in frightful danger of seeing it for the first time.

He discovered the fact that all romantics know – that adventures happen on dull days, and not on sunny ones. When the chord of monotony is stretched most tight, then it breaks with a sound like song.

“All ceremony,” he said, “consists in the reversal of the obvious. Thus men, when they wish to be priests or judges, dress up like women.”

premonitions/ doubts

I wonder what is happening to me.
No feeling is final.
I was afraid of that.
He does always want to be right.
I can live with that, I think. Humour him and let it go.
Why am I pausing? Why am I doubting?
Why am I so scared?
I want this to last. I suppose I want to prove to someone that I
am a better match for him.
So what will that mean? Stay with him until you beat her record?
I hate writing that. I hate thinking that.
I love him, I think, for who he is. I don’t mind his joking, his being a jackass sometimes, because it’s him.
I think.
Maybe I’m just tired.

Am I losing you?
I’m so scared now that I’m shattering and I’m so scared that my fear will make my fears be realized.
So much of me depends on you.
Did I expect too much?
You aren’t the answer to all of my problems. I thought that my drama of wanting you caused the depression, but it’s still here and there’s no reason and I’m sorry that I’m so fucked up and that I fall apart like this.
It’s never your fault, even when it’s something you say or fail to say or do or fail to do that breaks me. It’s mine for expecting too much.
And you can’t know how grateful I am that you’re there when I shatter, that you say you want to be there.
But I’m so scared of losing you. Listening to songs like “Don’t Change Your Plans” and “Come Back From San Francisco” wound me because I can see us so clearly in those situations.
I think at this point that I’d even go to KU with you.
But then I’m crazy about you and just plain crazy because I’m so painfully and so horribly dependent on your every mood and I’m sorry.
Oh God.
I don’t want to be lonely.

I wonder if it’s ending.
I wonder if it really is that you just had a bad day.
You tell me that you love me and I am not comforted.
I’m scared.

northwest college trip part 2: reflections

So it happens that I’m thinking of him again – so strange to refer to him in 3rd person – trying to figure out what was so terrible about this morning. At the same time I’m trying not to think of it, trying not to feel that inexplicable knife-in-the-heart tragedy, because the bite of it still lingers.

It was as if I was never going to see him again, or anyone again, or talk to him, or move without that horrendous pain of nothing ever happening, which is hell for me I think.

I love him. So much. I’m already looking forwards to calling him, to telling him about Chuck’s book and the kid’s meal at Wendy’s and hearing about his day, hearing his voice, telling him that I love him and that thinking of the hickey just makes me smile, even as I write this.

“The Book of Love is long and boring,
No one can lift the damn thing”

I wonder why I’ve been falling apart over him, about sobbing my heart out in the church parking lot. I didn’t even cry like that over Grandpa’s death.

Maybe that’s why.

I want to write him letters. I want to tell him truly how deeply I’m in love with him (and it’s not often that I use the phrase ‘in love,’ and it makes me so happy when he does.)

Back to reality. Maybe.

I miss him. I’ve been counting down the minutes, then the hours, then the days, and I’m trying to be optimistic and finding every moment a victory because it brings me closer to him.
I can’t think about the fact that there are… four days left, four endless thousand-fold days.
On to something else…
On the beach there was a strange quality foreverness, of the sand being so flat and reflecting the pure blue sky so that you could look out directly into some eternity or another. It was as if nothing had ever existed before or after this one sustained moment, framed by the waves of the ocean and the stilled billows of sand, its grass warped by the wind.

Why am I so goddamned tired…? And why does the hotel have a poker next to a gas fireplace.

(Call soon, call soon. Please.)

northwest college trip part 1: fugitives and refugees, chuck palahniuk

The trouble with the fringe is, it does tend to unravel. By the time you read this, small parts of it will already be obsolete. People don’t live forever. Even places disappear.

…Any book is just a collection of short stories, and writing this book, I listened to so many people as they revealed their three lives. Mail carrier – anarchist – minister. Dancer – writer – political organizer. Writer – father – elephant keeper. As Katherine Dunn says, every corner does have a story.

…The most I can ever do is to write things down. To remember them. The details. To honor them in some way. This book is not Portland, Oregon. At best, it’s a series of moments with interesting people. This year will take me to England, Scotland, France, Italy, and Spain, plus forty American and Canadian cities, but I always come home to Portland.

If this is love or inertia, I don’t know, but my friends are here. All my stuff is here. I moved to Portland in 1980 because it rains a lot. I moved from a desert town called Burbank, Washington, where my grandparents had a small farm. I moved to Portland because it’s dark and wet, and all my friends from high school moved to Seattle. Because I wanted to meet new people. To hear new stories. That’s my job now, to assemble and reassemble the stories I hear until I can call them mine.

I got my wish. What I traded my tonsils for.

the pale horse scraps, written while college hunting in the northwest

Rowan did not name the horses she stole, not even those that won her scores of dinarii at a time. She did not believe in naming things: an object once named by you becomes part of you, and its loss hurt. She never kept one for long enough in any case.

She hurt enough as it was, in those empty nights or slow days when memories unfolded in her mind as she sat, stone-faced. She could not stop the raging tide of recollection and she could not drive away the smell of ask and silence, but she could lock it away without a flicker of expression.

Rowan was the greatest horse thief in the Four Kingdoms, and she knew it. It was not a matter of pride or bravado; it was a simple fact, as true and uncomplicated as the dark of her eyes or being right-handed. Every small taut line of her was conditioned for such work, broken and reformed by stealth and stubbornness and paranoia, but it was not these qualities that made her what she was.

She knew horses, knew them as well as any one living could, and within an instant in her presence the horses knew her, too.

“Do you dream?”

She shrugged, blank-faced. “I remember my dreams if I need to.”

“So pragmatic,” the ashivna said, and she could not tell if there was mockery in its voice. “Everything must have a use for you, then?” It grinned, sudden and acerbic. “That can hardly be healthy.”

She shrugged again and look off into the distance. “I manage.”

“I’m sure,” it said, condescendingly, and Rowan fought to control herself. “I’m sure you manage. With your coldness, and your closedness, and your perfect practicality.”

No reply was necessary and she gave none. She turned from it very slightly, as if deliberately including a figure of silence around the fire.

“You don’t waste word,” the ashivna said.

She shrugged again.

“Why do you use charms?”

Her eyes turned to him warily while she kept her head perfectly still, her face remaining in almost total profile.

She felt the sobs burn in her throat like bile and she acted quickly, instinctively against the coming blindness.

Squeeze knees to stop the horse dismount tether secure baggage and now she was in the thick of it and she put her head in her hands and she sobbed and choked for air and she was drowning in the memories, in the huge roaring tide of things lost but still remembered. It crushed her, it carried her and the noise and weight of it overwhelmed every sense and still somehow managed to never fill the ache somewhere in her chest and she curled her body around the emptiness and she cried and she cried and she cried.

She was so tired.

The ashivna said nothing, only looked at her with its strange glittering eyes and unreadable smirk. It was disconcerting, to say the least, having that old and cynical and mocking glare come at her from its thin young face; no doubt it had found some way, in the manner of its race, to use this to its advantage. Its grin sharpened palpably as it watched her eyes search his face, obviously enjoying whatever confusion he could generate.

“Conversation is a knife-fight,” someone had told her, very long ago, a voice she had erased from her memory but not the words. “You must anticipate. You must remember that everything is double-edged. You must not begin one against an opponent you do not know if at all possible.”

Anticipate. See through the feints, the bravado, the charm, to the quick of the matter. The first move is the most important.

Rowan smiled abruptly. “I have a job for you.”

miscellaneous quotes

The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.
– William Makepeace Thackeray

In science it often happens that scientists say, “You know, that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,” and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.
– Carl Sagan [awesome toker]

What is an epigram? A dwarfish whole,
Its body brevity, and wit its soul.
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The penalty that good men pay for not being interested in politics is to be governed by men worse than themselves.
– Plato

At bottom, every man knows perfectly well that he is a unique being, only once on this earth; and by no extraordinary chance will such a marvelously picturesque piece of diversity in unity as he is, ever be put together for a second time.
– Friedrich Nietzsche

man i was a nerd

Shadows. Light.

An ocean, its muffled roar.

A desert: cracked earth, sand flowing like crumbling liquid.

Fire. Face. Feathers. Flowers.

(This is a story about time.)

I’ll be here.

A storm. Wings of fabric. Eyes: gold. Dark. Hazel. Familiar and unfamiliar.


(Effects come before causes, memory before incident.)

I’ll be waiting here.

(This is a story about dreams.)

For what?

(Words are spoken: is that your voice, or another’s? Is this prophesy or recollection, real, or surreal, or more than real?)

Blades cross. Sparks fly. Hands stretch towards each other: will they meet?

She turns to look at him, dark hair made alive by the wind.

I’ll be waiting, so

if you come here

you’ll find me.

I’m promise.

(I promise.)

[this from when I was still a little obsessed with final fantasy 8 because it was just emo enough for me and about love and not being able to deal with change very well. transcription of the first opening animation.]