Thursday, July 22, 2010

quotes of the day

"A kiss about apple pie a la mode with the vanilla creaminess melting in the pie heat. A kiss about chocolate, when you haven't eaten chocolate in a year. A kiss about palm trees speeding by, trailing pink clouds when you drive down the Strip sizzling with champagne. A kiss about spotlights fanning the sky and the swollen sea spilling like tears all over your legs."

"Their bodies clung together like warriors fighting out the pain in each other."

--Weetzie Bat, Francesca Lia Block

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Goldilocks and the Four Bears

Okay, when my hair grows longer it's still brown -- though it does turn into ringlets -- and there are four bears on the loose instead of three, but hey. I'm going for dramatic effect. Currently in Truckee, outside of Lake Tahoe, on my last day of visiting Jordan. And what a trip it's been! Each day has spilled into the next effortlessly and lazily, with sleeping and waking taking their time -- or, more accurately, I'm taking my time with sleeping and waking rather than going in my rush-rush fashion I can become way too accustomed to. The above-mentioned Goldilocks reference pertains to a family of bears -- a mom and three cubs -- that has been growing bold and going into people yards, cars, and homes for food. Jordan and I were joking today: is this bear family some kind of urban legend? He's not sure he's buying it, Neighborhood Watch and how-to-protect-yourself pamphlet distribution be damned.

I couldn't ask for a much better vacation or for a chance to spend time with my brother one-on-one. And today was the perfect send-off. Katie, Adam, Jordan, and I woke up early to head to this cute-as-pie diner that looks like it got snatched up from the town of Twin Peaks in a tornado and plunked onto the shore of Donner Lake. (Yes, Donner Lake, as in Donner Pass, as in Donner Family that ate each other when trapped in that freezing winter all those years ago? Don't worry -- I didn't ask where my bacon came from.) After breakfast, we drove outside of Grass Valley to an area called Emerald Pools. I was picturing some short jaunt down a path to a circular, frothy hot spring type of place where we could slip into the water and swim around. But no. Even better actually, in the end -- we had to work for it. We hiked over some pretty rough terrain, cliff sides and plateaus and harsh desert landscapes, all the while following a river until the cliffs dropped down into a mixture of rapids and still pools for swimming. We found a rock "beach" and stripped down to our bathing suits and....well....I want to say I dived right in without a second thought, but I had to work up my courage. The water was freezing! But one by one we all jumped in -- imagine: direct icy line to the heart, a breath of almost too fresh air -- and after I swam around a bit (to say I did) I decided on time on the beach with my Alice Hoffman book and a nice smooth rock for reading. Jordan, Katie, and Adam opted to go exploring, and for a while I was left to think and meditate and listen to the sounds of nature. I even got risky/frisky for a moment and decided to dry off in the open air since no one was around, so I stripped and just walked around the rocks naked and soaked up the sun. Later in the day, we all hiked back, sunburned but happy. It was tough for me to hug Adam and Katie goodbye; it's their anniversary today and they're off for a romantic night outside of town.

This was just one example of the Buck Brothers' Adventures. On Monday, Jordan and I grabbed a drink in Downieville, which may be the cutest town on the earth, no hyperbole. I almost wanted to make evil-small-town-curse jokes or Deliverance jokes, but the Amish-like feel of Downieville -- a village where I'm sure pixies and faeries vacation -- couldn't be much more open, vibrant, and alive with goodness and strong energy. On Tuesday, Jordan, Katie, and I headed to Emerald Bay, which I've been wanting to check out since the mid 90s; Christopher Pike -- one of my fave novelists -- sets an important scene in the tea house on Emerald Bay, and I'd like to say it was just my excitement, but I could really feel why he chose that location. A mystic power hangs over the bay -- it's like these veils are lifted, leaving only a crisp oxygen where you get to breathe in possibility and strength. We ended up taking another longer and more challenging hike than expected, though it was worth it. There was a chunk of time where we were just breathing and grabbing hold of the rocks, and climbing and working in tune, and it felt like a song of feet and breath and hands.

Of course, no trip out this way would be complete without a stop in a casino. On Sunday night, after catching a showing of Eclipse, we headed to the Peppermill Casino. Me: a margarita on the rocks with salt. Jordan: a Long Island iced tea. Both of us: busting out our daredevil side and gambling, like, $20 bucks in the coin slots before making our way home. Slightly more daredevil is all this time in the sun! Can't say I'm complaining after our cloudy (and chilly) Portland spring and summer thus far. Yesterday we headed to Hidden Beach, and swam in Lake Tahoe and played beer pong (!), and chatted away the afternoon on beach blankets. We've taken Two Step and Brooklyn, Jordan's dogs, out on plenty of walks as well. Finally, I've had a couple nice moments out on the back porch, reading, sipping coffee, watching morning stretch and waken.

Jordan -- you have quite the comfortable home. I'm glad I got to meet Kaitlyn (she rocks!), get to know Katie and Adam better, and spend time with the dogs, Mew-Mew the cat, and Heddy the Hedgehog. That one night, when I slipped out the living room window late at night and sat on your roof and looked up at the sky? I'm still reeling. The stars were out, so many splashes of constellations I thought there were clouds. There were not. There was just clarity.

Friday, July 09, 2010

quote of the day

"There are three things we cry for in life -- things that are lost, things that are found, and things that are magnificent."

--Girlfriend in a Coma, Douglas Coupland

Monday, July 05, 2010

The Rocking Horse Tree

Lately I've been thinking about the little moments in 2010 that have captured my heart and painted this year into its breathtaking light. One moment when I knew everything was going to be okay -- when I needed a concrete sign from the Universe -- was the day after I moved in with Lisa. I was on the phone with Jordan, crying a little about letting go, and I wandered down from my home to Irving Park. A light rain scattered drops here and there, and I was trying to shield my phone from water damage, and I walked by this line of trees before you step off the path and onto the fields. Looking up I saw a rocking horse, one of those plastic ones that usually rests on metal springs for children to bounce around on in their youth while they pretend they're cowboys & cowgirls. Mom, remember when I was maybe two, and you'd put on "Birds of Prey" by Uriah Heep and I'd ride that rocking horse in Lemont like nobody's business? This horse looked a lot like that one. Someone had dangled it by wires from a thick and sturdy branch, and the horse was turned upside down, and I had no idea how long it had been there. Was this some kind of prank -- had some teens stolen it from a family's porch and jokingly strung it up for show? Or was this some artist's statement, some commentary on lost youth and rusting innocence? No matter what the case, it was beautiful and odd and so out of place yet so perfect. So I talked to Jordan and I sat against the tree trunk, only mildly anxious the horse would tear free from the wires and come crashing down on me. It was worth it. Back home, I told Lisa about the anointed Rocking Horse Tree and said we should do a photo shoot with one of her old Polaroid cameras; we both got so excited at the thought; I knew she'd find it beautiful like me. And so over the next couple weeks, as I got acquainted with my new neighborhood and learned my favorite walking routes, I made sure to always include The Rocking Horse Tree somewhere in the mix. And then one day, lo and behold, it wasn't there anymore; just wire remained, coiled and lonely; someone (park rangers?) had taken the horse down. Sure, objectively it makes sense that it could be a hazard or seen as some kind of "objectionable" piece of randomness that was tainting the park's serenity. But I found it to be a weird and wonderful quirk, an imprint of creativity, this big old tree joining forces with a childhood staple, granted one tarnished by rain and dirt and use. In the end, though, I can only hold fond thoughts of my Rocking Horse Tree. And while that's all they'll ever be -- thoughts, memories -- I can still hold it in my heart. I still walk by the tree and stare up at the wire, wondering where the horse went, if it ended up back on someone's porch, or in a garbage dump, or part of some new artist project.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

mood of the day

quote of the day

"I am not good at noticing when I'm happy, except in retrospect. My gift, or fatal flaw, is for nostalgia. I have sometimes been accused of demanding perfection, of rejecting heart's desires as soon as I get close enough that the mysterious impressionistic gloss disperses into plain solid dots, but the truth is less simplistic than that. I know very well that perfection is made up of frayed, off-struck mundanities. I suppose you could say my real weakness is a kind of long-sightedness: usually it is only at a distance, and much too late, that I can see the pattern."

--Tana French, In the Woods