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My useless lawnmowers

My last pair of guinea pigs (which i call marsvin, because the Swedish word is way cuter) were the queens of lawnmowing. I would put out their 2′x3′ wire cage top directly on the lawn, set them in it, and in 45 minutes they would mow six square feet and fertilize it with their funny little turds.

So when i got these marsvin (Plunkett and Macleane), i thought they’d be the princes of lawnmowing. Here they’re all set up, with some towels pinned on top f the cage so they can get out of the sun (which they oddly despise, like fuzzy little vampires).

photo: both marsvin in their cage on the lawn

They are defective. They only mow little bits at a time, sometimes in weird patterns so it looks like my lawn has mange, and sometimes in oddly coherent strips, like this:

photo: weird bald path across my lawn

And it takes them HOURS. But if i ask them about it, they just give me these innocent faces and shriek their horrid little marsvin shrieks. And look vaguely smug. It’s like they’re eating the lawn unevenly as some kind of subversive, avant garde art revolution.

photo: one of my marsvin, Macleane

I’m not reallllly upset about it, though, because my backup lawnmower? That one is sexy.

photo: Seamus at the helm of the Zodiac

Goodbye, snow.

Goodbye, snow. You didn’t show up until March, like a tool, and you only came twice, and the second time you intentionally dropped by while i was on my way to California and couldn’t play in you, but you’re pretty awesome anyway.

At least me and my ridiculous dogs thought so.

photo: Briar with a toy in the snow

That was some kind of promotional Frisbee-like device. I speak of it in the past tense because one fetch session in Briar’s mouth was enough to consign it to the Great Big Garbage Can In The Sky.

photo: Hanzo looking at a snowy creek
This is the only way Hanzo looks majestic: when he’s facing away from you.

photo: me smooching Briar

I’ve discovered i can get Briar to hold still for a photo if i’m actually holding her in place by mashing my face against her stupid head. This is the non-blurriest photo of her since i took those photos of her lying in the neat diamond-shaped shadows on our porch.

Bay Area shenanigans

photo: California marshland

“Oh, i’m California and i don’t have any water.” Puh-lease. If you hadn’t lost it to some egrets and muskrats in a game of Texas Hold ‘Em, you wouldn’t have a drought, California. Well, also if you want to drink water that tastes like mud and turtle pee.

photo: me after a loooong-ass train ride

So, i basically like Amtrak. I do. But let me just tell you that this time, one of my worst nightmares happened.

The train lost a locomotive engine and so we had to stop so they could replace it. During the switch, the power was off, so there was no ventilation. I could feel the air going in my lungs had also been in the lungs of like fifty other people, over and over, all hot and wet with their lung condensation and JUST GROSS AOIHEOWIHEOIGHEWAA:A!!!!!!!! Anyway, that’s why i look so relieved in the photo above.

To cheer me up, some pigeons showed up!

photo: pigeons eating rice cake

I fed them some of my ricecake crumbs, which Alyc Helms and Carlie St. George made fun of me for having, because my friends apparently like their food to have flavor in it. Weirdos. I felt guilty for feeding the pigeons rock doves processed carbohydrates they probably didn’t need, but in my defense, popped rice is much better than bread or crackers.

This is what i looked like when Alyc showed up to pick me up. If you doubted me claiming i was carrying 80+ pounds, now you can see how much i was not exaggerating:

photo: me waiting for Alyc to pick me up at the train station

This is the view out the window of Alyc’s car, which she has dubbed Ponyboy. (The car, not the view.) Ponyboy was briefly my nickname also, back in middle school and high school. It wasn’t great, but at least i appreciated it more than the one that preceded it.

No. Don’t even ask.

photo: out the window of Alyc's car, which is named Ponyboy

We stopped at the Taco Bell in Pacifica, which is the prettiest, classiest Taco Bell anywhere i’ve ever been (though i suppose i’m not exactly a connoisseur of Taco Bells, because bleh). However, what the food lacked in foodness, the beach view and neat birds more than compensated.

photo: a sassy bird at the world's classiest Taco Bell

This is some famous bridge or something. Whatever.

photo: some famous bridge or something

This is a building Alyc did NOT burn down. Really. I saw her not set fire to it and also witnessed her not going near it with matches and gasoline on no occasions.

photo: a ruined building

Besides, people with My Little Pony hair are rarely arsonists. They’re too busy solving problems by singing songs about being friends. (For the record, she didn’t sing any such songs, because Carlie and i might have murdered her a little bit in her sleep. Just a little. And because of the things we write, Carlie and i know a shit-ton about disposing of evidence or at least rendering it inadmissible in court.)

photo: Alyc's gorgeous hair

FOGcon was excellent, as it was last year. I like small, literary conventions, even if i spend most of the time talking about videogames and TV series. I did spend a significant percentage of my open mouth noises recommending this book:

book cover: The Waking Engine by David Edison

…Because it’s delightful. This is written by a man who knows how to craft language the way a skilled chef bakes a gourmet pastry. It is by turns mournful, heartwarming, suspenseful, intriguing, and then it takes a running start at disturbing and a flying leap into full-on fucked-up, and every word of this roller coaster ride is vivid, gorgeous prose. Full disclosure: i work for a subdivision of the publishing company of this book, i received an ARC, and i have such an enormous stupid slobbery puppy crush on the author that we’re in hair doll territory:

If you’re reading this, though, you probably know that one of the things i do on a regular basis is send rejections for good stories by people i like. So if i say this is a work of goddamned art, i at least honestly believe that it’s a work of goddamned art. Read the first chapter and see for yourself.

I also took more photos with/of friends, but that will just get repetitive,  you probably don’t know them anyway, and they may not like the photos and subsequently run to Carlie for advice on how to properly dispose of me.

So i’ll end with this: I may not find California a suitable place for year-round habitation (too hot!), but i do like visiting, especially when it’s 65 degrees out and i can laugh at all the natives walking around in puffy ski jackets. Dude, seriously. Ski jackets.

15 miles on Seattle hills

photo: me dripping wet and tired as hell after carrying 80+ pounds for 3.7 miles, on foot in the rain

This is what i looked like at the train station after i’d walked 3.7 miles in the rain on foot, carrying 80 lbs of stuff.

…But i’m getting ahead of myself! First i left Bellingham (while it was snowing), went to Seattle (which was dry) and walked the first few of my 15 total miles in four days. Then i got on the wrong city bus and rode around like a human remora on a big smelly wheeled shark until midnight, whereupon i finally interrupted E. Lily Yu’s and Keffy Kehrli’s slumber party by stumbling in bedraggled and hobo-like. Both of them are really great writers, and while they were asleep i installed suckports behind their ears and then used a purple crazy straw to slurp out their literary talent. I mean, i slept on the enormous beanbag where they told me to.

photo: Ellen Klages and Cory Skerry at a Clarion West One-Day Workshop

Ellen Klages armed me with a laser pistol at her Time Travel workshop, one of the featured one-day workshops offered by Clarion West. I had a generous anonymous donor (?! Thanks, buddy!) who bought me a seat in the class. Ellen has the most amazing brain–i easily could have listened to her talk for another six hours, and i would have if she hadn’t won the battle depicted above.

 photo: University Bridge at night photo: graffiti i found by I-5

If i could paint like that, i would do it on my car. I don’t know why more people don’t have really bad-ass street art on their cars.

Anyway, after this, Liz Coleman took me to see some of the secret wonders of Seattle:

photo: standing under a metal tower thingy

The mighty achievements of humans.

photo: epic goose turd

The mighty achievements of nature.

photo: proof i have at least one friend

Proof i have at least one friend.

On my last day, when i walked to the train station, i passed some dudes changing a billboard (i’ve never seen it done and didn’t realize that it was comprised of tiny floppy strips!), more cool street art, and the newly restored ceiling of King Street Station, which is all rococo-lookin’ and makes me want to prance around beneath it in glitter and ruffles to the music from the ballroom scene in Plunkett & Macleane.

photo: the changing of a billboard (in progress)

photo: more cool graffiti i found, this one downtown

photo: the super-fancy ceiling of King Street Station

I’m trying to get better about sharing trips when i have them. Later i’ll post my San Francisco/Bay area photos, and Carlie St. George is in some of them and may subsequently murder me.

Oh well. I had a good run.

Leaving the memoryzone behind

You can ask me to coffee, and if i have time/interest i’ll go, and we’ll talk about our jobs and hobbies and childhood, and before long i will start skimming cream from my vat of wild stories and feeding it to you, to your horror and/or delight, depending on your disposition. Then we’ll each go home and i’ll be full of chocolate, milk that my lactard ass shouldn’t have ingested, and the warmth of a mild, unthreatening new friendship. My memory will be mostly of me repeating my memories, and if you’re talkative, of you repeating yours.

Fuck that. Seriously. I’m done.

I want another fabulous story. I think we’ll learn more about each other by doing something that is worth talking about later, not just to each other, but other humans who want to know more about either one of us. I’m only in my early thirties, but i’ve already forgotten the lion’s share, and the jackal’s share, and the vulture’s share of the exploratory dates i’ve been on. I sort of wonder now how many times i would have stuck with this new friend or possible partner more closely if we’d bonded over something fun to begin with, instead of drinking forgettable coffee and discussing things we feel safe sharing. Maybe we should have done something like:

going to a county fair and petting llamas and enjoying rides until we’re sick
making pottery at one of those paint-your-own places, but each only using our non-dominant hand
meeting (dogless) at the dog park and just playing with everyone else’s dogs, like a benign version of childless creeps hanging around at a playground
using a Valpak coupon for a “first free session” at a martial arts or dance or yoga class
picking up garbage in a public park and competing to see who can find the most disgusting trash, like skidmarked underwear or used tampons

Even after all of that, chances are we won’t click in a way that turns into something more–at least not quickly. It’s true that I have a lot of forgettable coffee-sharing in my past, so the statistics may or may not be skewed by weeding out those occurrences, but i need to be honest: i’m a choosy little princess. I might think you’re hot, funny, smart, and still not have the urge to take each other’s clothes off. The human heart is irrational; we should just get used to it.

There’s this concept invented by those who refuse to get used to it called “the friendzone.” It’s possibly the most insulting idea on the planet: that not getting to have sex with someone means the rest of your relationship with them is worthless, that there is no value in a connection with another human which doesn’t involve genitalia. I challenge anyone’s ability to apply it to me if they get turned down. Because you may live in my friendzone for years or forever–but you know what?

My friendzone is fucking FANTASTIC.

Being my friend can mean dressing up in costumes to go see movies (you should have seen the themed snack i smuggled into Brokeback Mountain), scavenger hunts in formalwear, and majestic plastic dinosaur photography on the side of a goddamned mountain. I walk my dogs past trains full of gorgeous, incomprehensible graffiti and seek out great horned owls shitting off the yardarms of sailboats. I may or may not sticker the backs of street signs and i may or may not trespass on corporate property to watch the sun go down on a beach that has more glittering shards of glass than it has grains of sand.

If you want to get to know me better, then i probably want to get to know you better–but i’m done saying yes to coffee. Bring me something real, something specific, something maybe even a little weird, and most of all, something you’ve never done before.

(This is adapted from something i wrote awhile back in a locked forum, but i wanted it here for posterity.)

Oops.

my face all biffed up and looking sheepish about how it got that way

Gravity is a harsh mistress.

I reserve the right to make up extravagant lies which are infinitely less embarrassing than what actually happened. These lies may or may not involved tentacles. And over-sized blades. Like this!

(If you can’t see it, it’s here.)

Oh no she di-in’t….

photo: my pit bull mix Briar covered in feathers

… I’m starting to see why Seamus refers to her as “emergency food.”

i <3 u

Remember, if you hate today, instead of being a whiny butthole, you should bring flowers to someone at a nursing home–just ask the staff who gets flowers the least–or send funny lolcat cards to everyone in a burn ward, or bring vegan cookies to the staff of the local humane society for all their hard work.

The holiday’s roots are twisted indeed, but it’s come to be an occasion for showing love, not getting love. So don’t be selfish. If Valentine’s Day sucks, it’s because you’re sulking instead of participating.

Go make someone feel like the world is a better place.

pit bull vs. box

photo: my pit bull Hanzo chewing a box photo: my pit bull Hanzo chewing a box photo: my pit bull Hanzo chewing a box photo: my pit bull Hanzo chewing a box

…And it ended with STORIES eyebrows

Tonight I gave a Copic marker demonstration to my friend Chrissy, who got several markers for Christmas. That was totally fun… we scribbled for hours. And ate cookies.

fabulous pencil portraits of Spencer Ellsworth and Cory Skerry

Her husband, who is my VPXIV classmate, fellow Pride of Liars member, and partner in crime Spencer, drew a portrait of me, and i in turn drew a portrait of him.*

Copic marker sketch of a cartoony dude's head

Playing with cool and warm colors as light and shadow, as well as checking out value and blending styles. blah blah blah scribbletalk blah

copic markers and watercolor - some weird spider lady

I miss my scanner. This looks so much better in real life.

Also, this week i have 1) interviewed for a part-time job i would looove and 2) submitted the first short story i’ve finished since last summer, currently entitled “Blue Kisses.” I’ve mostly been working on novels, but this was worth taking a break. It’s about a high schooler whose mom is a monster hunter, and when he sneaks out to do some monster hunting of his own, he finds the cemetery at night both scarier and sexier than he expected.

Yeah, i said the cemetery was sexy. Have you SEEN my trite black eyeliner? You should expect this out of me by now. Look:

photo: plunderpuss with "stories" written in where his eyebrow used to be

I was a goth in high school, and some things, like periodically shaving our stupid eyebrows, are sort of mandatory or we lose our club card.

 

* We used our left hands, but i thought it was funnier to leave that out, at least at first.