Sunday, August 29, 2004


To the Ladies and Gentlemen at City Hall: You misdiagnose my restlessness. You certainly underestimate my ambition. You seem doubtful that I will ever achieve more than you have; you seem content to watch me follow your paths to contented obscurity. I'm not mocking your supposed mediocrity; I wouldn't judge you like that. But I will not be a martyr, a victim, tyrannized or opressed in any way. I was not made to be conventional. I am not average, ordinary, standard, typical, common, or moderate. I am exceptional. I am rich in gifts that require nurturing, discipline, cultivation, and opportunity. I am protean. I adapt, but never conform. I am in constant revision, maintaining the facets that suit the life I anticipate. Nothing about me is small, no part is frail, no part dull. I aspire to everything you never dreamed of. Don't expect less from me; you'll be disappointed.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Call me a clown...

So I got to make a birthday wish (is 25 really too old for this? It seems to always work for me, I hate to give it up. But it has to be a certain way, has to be on the actual birthday day and with the right number of candles, and they have to be lit, which is getting dangerous. And you can't tell anybody what you wished for, even though I wouldn't even if it weren't a rule. I'd be too embarrassed.) I've always considered it my one chance each year to really have Fate hear me, like a more potent prayer. Lately my prayers have grown sort of conversational anyhow, less formal and more "let's make a bargain, You and I. If You'll just give me that something I've been asking for, even if You think it's a bad idea, I promise I'll prove to You that You were wrong." I don't know if this goes over well On High, but I haven't been struck down yet. On the contrary, it seems to be working. Maybe I'm superstitious, or silly, but I still wish on shooting stars ("you're supposed to say 'money, money, money' before it disappears," says Mom, but it doesn't seem to work for her, so why should I waste a perfectly good shooting star?), in fairy rings, which has been lucrative this summer seeing as it's been so wet and the mushrooms are going berserk, along with other kinds of fungus ("what is that girl doing on my lawn?" somebody probably wonders), and on my necklace when the clasp turns around. My favorite necklace has a real honest-to-goodness four-leaf clover in it; maybe that's extra lucky. Or maybe those are only lucky for the person who finds them, which I didn't. Who knows? I don't like to think you can buy luck, that'd be too easy. But you sure can beg for it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

But I want it now

I imagine Kindra laughing at something that Versimac boy is doing, the shy, romantic one that's replaced Josh for her since that boy turned into a ridiculous, artless teenager. It's the laugh she used to laugh when much younger Skinner sisters would put her in a ragged Snoopy beach towel and swing her forty apple-scented pounds dangerously between us. A self-conscious laugh tinged with fear, which can only mean that she's afraid of life. I wonder how well she knows herself, I wonder about the marks she makes on her skin with erasers, broken glass, her own fingernails. She once asked me what love is like and all I could think to tell her (being in pain, myself) is that the thought of that person makes you stronger. She didn't say anything but looked out the car window as if she saw her life flashing before her eyes instead of scenery. What do you give the girl you worry about for her 16th birthday? I'd give her, if I could, a life in a garden, with a pond and rowboat and various amusements, safe from society. But she's already run worse gauntlets than I ever faced, and there's nothing I can do to protect her, not even from herself. Especially not from herself. I can only hope for her, and I do that every day.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Manifest Destiny II

I saw things differently today. I kept getting caught on ideas like a tumbleweed on a barbed wire fence, snagged and eager. I wondered whys and wheres and whens and talked to a lot of strangers, which may have kicked it all off. I got to the heart of things, found the base of thoughts, like tracing the bright vein at the center of a neon sign until you have the outline of it carved into the fogged glass of a car window in winter. Cold out there, warm in here. My AC might not work, but the heater sure works fine. Extremeties belong to this state. Thursday night the low was 45, Friday it reached 80 something. Today I spent a grueling eight hours in the badly-ventilated, crowded machine shop, in front of a south window, each facet of which seemed to magnify the sunlight melting onto my back. I sweated under my smock, decided I liked the punishment and kept it on. I've decided I operate better under duresses of sorts, under physical discomfort and mental fatigue. I watched women walk around in inappropriately high heels and was glad I had on flip-flops (my favorites, the Reefs with the silver straps) when I had to kill a hobo spider along the brick wall. (They seem to be following me around; that's five this week. I wonder what I did wrong.) Those women were walking around a blighted historical landmark, navigating broken brick floors, riding an operational turntable into weedy history. Heels get caught in the spaces between rotting wood planks. What did they think they were dressing for? Today I forgot what I look like. Pink t-shirt, baby blue corderoys rolled up to the knees. I explained the railyard rehabilitation efforts and process to a very intelligent gentleman from Ogden in language that must have shocked him. Words flowed smoothly, authoritatively from tortured Me today; he looked at the smudged paint on my grubby face ("but Mariah, ladybugs aren't green. What are you doing to me?" "That looks like a booger!", says Monty), paused, and asked how old I was. Twenty-five in two weeks, Sir. "I'm glad to have met you," he says. He asks about the possibility of my coming to Ogden to talk about historic preservation to the members of some train-related organization he's involved in. I think about telling him he should have Jim come, instead, then think again and give him my number at City Hall. Haven't I earned this? Aren't Jim's presentations my good words, anyhow? Yes, I learned from him. But still, those are my words, my images. My passion and earnestness. Maybe I should go for that degree, after all. But then again, how much do I really care about this? If somebody asks me tomorrow, I'll be gone. Tomorrow a lot of things might be gone. Maybe it is all worth the effort.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Entering Hanja by using boosoo?

Where is the person who knows what this means? Googled it; got 6 results. One in a language I can read, at Halfbakery, wherein someone mentions in a post that they also found the confounding phrase in Word Help and was, like me, pretty amused. Five in languages (or maybe just one) I can't read. Oh well, another one of life's little mysteries.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004


the French word for potato is pomme de terre- dirt apple. Apple of the earth, the ground. Yes, I'd like some fried dirt apple, please.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Are you going to eat that?

Kami's pictures of her trip to France came in; they made me think of the day, ten years ago this summer, that the haddock got the best of Larry in a small Parisian cafe. The waiter set laden plates down with a courtly flourish: braised fish, vegetable puree garnished with fern, french bread so gratifyingly rock-hard it made you want to try and smash a plate-glass window with it, just to see if you could. Larry, worldly and sensible and poised even at fifteen, and a veteran picky eater, took one bite of everything, pronounced it inedible, and put her fork down with a subtle click. I think she broke the beautiful waiter's heart. We spent the rest of France seeking the Golden Arches. When we finally found them, the menu didn't list French fries. Of course they wouldn't call them that. They were called fried potato sticks or something equally descriptive and lame. Larry relished that hamburger even if it wasn't quite the same as back home; by then she was starving.