Month: August 2007

08.31.07 thankful

At the start of the summer I took my son to the Pike Place Market so he could buy a dozen doughnuts from the same stall I remember from my own childhood. While he ate I stood reading posters for Hugo House, ZAPP, zine readings around town, punk rock yoga and baseball, Plane Crash Theatre, free bikery and herbal medicine clinics.

There were signs for countless shows, scavenger markets, queer stitch and bitch, a multi-media event at a house called Undersea Volcano of the Squid Overlord.

Through the window I could see Left Bank Books across Post Alley: the first store to buy my zine way back in, oh – 1984? Cafe Counter Intelligence is gone, but will forever be the cafe by which I compare all others – and now I know for sure the coffee was in fact world-class. I could smell Tenzing Momo, and hear the fishmongers hollering and throwing their wares.

As I was growing up the street in front of the market was mostly porn and pawn shops. Central Gun was the lone holdout for weapons, but it disappeared this year. The Lusty Lady is still holding on, but she is now in the shadow of a luxury condominium development.

In my lifetime Seattle has changed substantially, not just in terms of different stores, new buildings, the mutating face of an evolving city. The people who populate the place are different too – demographic trends could be plotted on a chart, but the larger point is, the place feels different.

I’m typing this while sitting on the floor of a furnished apartment with a view of the Space Needle ahead of me, Lake Union out the window to my left. The house I once owned is faraway on Beacon Hill and while I wish I could still live in it, I do not regret selling and moving on – I am simply thankful that I had those two years in that place, with a view of the mountains, as I wrote Lessons in Taxidermy.

J9 says that when she read the book she could smell and see the living room of that house, and I think that is the highest compliment anyone has ever offered.

The Kitsap Peninsula was my first home, and I can see those forests if I stand at the edge of Elliot Bay. I was hopelessly homesick when I moved away to college in Olympia, at the southern edge of the Puget Sound. When I abandoned my first career and fled further south I felt that Portland was a state of exile.

Brilliant, lovely exile – the place I made friends again after a long period of retreat, the place I learned to see, smell, sing, embrace people, ride a bicycle. Portland is puppet shows and chorus practice, long lazy days wandering from one house to the next, nights sitting on porches talking to loved ones and strangers.

My house there functioned as a community center, and it is an honor that Gabriel and Danielle live in it and maintain a high level of generosity and camaraderie; they’ve taken in my eldest child two summers running and I know that I can sleep there whenever I need to.

When I dropped my daughter off in Portland for her internship we drifted through downtown until she spied a cluster of typical scenesters standing on the corner next to Powell’s. She gasped and exclaimed People are real here!!

I blinked and inquired What do you mean?

She didn’t even think before replying They’re dirty! You know what I’m talking about!

In fact, I do – she means that this is the place were we fit best, where we understand what people are saying and also what they mean. Our friends here know us without knowing, an intimacy I rejected at the time but now appreciate.

The landscape of the Pacific Northwest is not just dear to me; it is part of who and what I am. Feeling crazy, sad, fragmented, alone? Just go sit on a dock, with your feet over the Sound, and all will be well. The only place I am completely, absolutely at home is within two hundred miles of the town where I was born. In fact, despite a childhood filled with trauma and horror, I love my hometown.

This is no exaggeration. Even if I choose to live faraway, in a beautiful and hostile city, my only connection with the new place is the work visa pasted in my passport.

One night at the Bus Stop with Susannah I was describing the differences between the various places I’ve lived and she asked if I was excited to go back to England.

I answered Not really.

She asked Are you sad to go?

No, I replied. I like the life I have in Portland, and the one I have in Seattle, and I like Cambridge equally well.

She nodded. So you’re happy wherever you are?

Yes, exactly – which is fortuitous, since I travel so much!

When I am away I do miss many things about the Pacific Northwest. The people, the places, the adventures, understanding what is happening around me; all beloved, but not lamented.

Cambridge is the most antithetical setting I could ever live in, yet I truly love the river, and my daily bike rides across the Fens. I’ve made countless new friends, some I would have met regardless, others I would never have encountered if I hadn’t moved there.

I’m thankful for it all, and would not change anything.


8.30.07 clarified

You know when you go to the eye doctor and they do that test to determine your prescription? With the flipping lenses, until you say That is it!

Living in Seattle is like that for me – everything is clarified. Of course, I prefer to wear glasses that give a stronger correction than is strictly necessary and thus have to fly to NYC because the place in Chinatown is the only shop in the world who will make spectacles for me.

But still!

Last night I went to Nickle’s seventeenth 21st birthday party, featuring countless fun friends and frivolity, not least of which was the fact that all the children climbed up to play on the roof. Except my son, who of course (and according to his own idiosyncratic desires) cautiously observed the action from the ground, wielding a walkie-talkie.

Later at the Crescent Laura held my hand over her karaoke alter and said deeply meaningful things I instantly forgot but absolutely appreciate. There were lots of amazing singers, and then another session of various people attempting to teach me how to High Five (with an argument amongst the experts about technique).

When it was time to go I hugged Sophie and Jeffrey for the last time, tears welling in my eyes. Yes, locals, it is true – I cried at the Crescent! Though I’m sneaky, nobody noticed. Lucky me friends were there to say caustic things that distracted me from the fact that I will miss this place and these people more than I can articulate.


8.29.07 memoir

Last night I spent a few precious final hours at the Bus Stop – it will be relocated or just plain gone by the time I get back, and that fact gave the evening a bittersweet edge. More on that later!

When I arrived David was standing on the sidewalk and he reached in his bag and said I bought your book – will you sign it for me?

I shuddered (I’ve successfully avoided all publicity related work this summer) then laughed and pulled out a pen. David commented We had trouble finding it at Powell’s – they had it filed under “Healing Memoir”!

Jody thought this hilarious and said I haven’t read it and even I know it isn’t that!

True. My cryptic little book is definitely not part of the self-help industry. Jody doesn’t know anything about my career and cares even less (a delightful trait in a new friend). The couple of other times I’ve been recognized or cornered by someone this summer he was always outside smoking, so of course he had to photograph this particular exchange.

David remarked that he is going to loan it to his mother and I replied Then I won’t write anything smutty on it!


8.29.07 adventure

Jody departs for Israel approximately the same time I leave for the UK and kindly consented to drive me around on errands. But when he picked me up at the ferry terminal yesterday afternoon I opened my eyes wide and said <i>Would you like to go on an adventure?</i>

Who could refuse? I mean, really. The fact that I would be navigating the way through Tacoma on a <i>hunch</i> made it all the more thrilling!

The arcade at the World Famous B&I Circus Store is exactly the same as it ever was – derelict and lovely – Tetris, anyone? My only grievance is that the air hockey console never works – not a bad complaint when revisiting one of the most important scenes of your youth.

Jody looked bemused throughout but we managed to hit not just the B&I but also the <a href=””>Java Jive</a> (technically we just slowed down near it, I told the scandalous story of the last time I went there, and he pointed out that my love life has always been rather idiotic – true!).

This excursion was the penultimate expression of my sophomore summer. What was I doing at sixteen? Riding the merry-go-round at the B&I, of course! Best thing ever? Decorated hermit crabs. Then, of course, and executed strictly according to vague decades old memories, I found the Frisko Freeze – score!


8.28.07 anyone

I’m in that strange final phase of a long trip when there is way too much to accomplish but instead of running errands I have developed an urgent desire to go ride the carousel at the B&I store.

Now I just have to find someone to drive me there!

Last night I had a rushed dinner on the patio at La Spiga (yeah, a contrary concept, but if I want to linger over Italian food I can just go to Italy – what a pretentious thing for this Kitsap kid to say!) so I could make it to Smith for Happy Hour with the always amazing Mark Mitchell as bartender. Then it was a madcap scramble to gather up the gang to watch Superbad at Cinerama, though we’ve all (except Jeffrey) watched it more than once this week. Why? Because Superbad is super awesome but more critically, because that theatre is one of the best buildings in Seattle. <center>

Plus my lucky dress matches the bathroom:

My kid grabbed the camera to show that it also matches the hallway and as she snapped away said Look aloof and uncaring! Sing I Don’t Love Anyone in your mind!

I tried, and failed.


8.27.07 stance

Jeffrey persists in asking detailed questions about my sex life even though I have staunchly refused to answer over the course of five years. When I point out that I am unlikely to change my stance on the issue he just laughs and says I can’t help it, I’m a Scorpio!

Last night I relented slightly and gave him one shot at posing a direct question, but he blew it by asking something so obvious he could have predicted the answer: a resounding No.

It was the final night of karaoke at the Bus Stop before I leave for the UK, and the bar will be closed by the time I get back again. When I pointed that out to Ade the reply was Don’t say that, you are going to make me cry! Stay here with me!

Oh, how I love my friends.

Sophie, Jeffrey, me:


8.27.07 tattoo

My daughter called to tell me scandalous stories as I waited in the lobby for Jody’s tattoo appointment. When she finally got around to asking where I was she exclaimed Why are you there? To flirt?

I replied No way, I’m not flirting at all!

She retorted I don’t believe you!

I handed the phone to Jody and instructed him to defend my honor, and he accurately reported on my innocence. My kid informed him that he is a liar before rattling off a string of genius anecdotes, as is her habit. When I got the phone back she informed me that I am a dirty flirt – not true at all! Though quite hilarious.

As the day progressed I texted around to Rachel, Gabriel, Gordon, Ana Erotica, my kid, and assorted other friends and a joke evolved that I would get a tattoo of a bulldog with the words Dirty Flirt etched across my chest. Jody asked the tattoo artist for a quote on the work, but I hurriedly pointed out that I know lots of people who would do it for free.

I found it quite interesting to watch someone else getting a tattoo – whereas my own felt like nothing, and I giggled so much I was reprimanded for moving around, watching the ink accrue on a friend made me queasy. Jody was also nauseated at various points since he hadn’t eaten, so my primary job aside from laughing over the spectacle was running out to get snacks.

Laura showed up briefly, Ana Erotica broke the news that she was canceling her trip even though I have a host of Bad Boys for her to choose from, there was pressure from assorted people to ditch and go to dinner and movies, but I persevered, fascinated to watch the whole thing.

Over the course of the session I also developed a true and intense desire to get a new tattoo, and some vague ideas of what and where it might be. Given the impetuous nature of the summer I was about ten seconds from booking an appointment when I remembered that I will be on a nine hour flight back to the UK soon – and I really do not need to do that with a fresh, peeling, itchy wound on my body.

Though getting more work done is a perfect excuse to come back and visit! I remained at dutiful attention for the entire seven hour appointment, until the last brutal fifteen minutes. The pain at that point was unbearable to watch unless I could render aid, and I don’t know Jody well enough to hold his hand, so I retreated to the lobby and stared at flash. Whatever will I have inscribed on my body? Should I go back to Portland, or try Seattle?

Thinking, thinking….





8.26.07 home

Now as I look around, it’s mighty plain to see / This world is such a great and a funny place to be; Oh, the gamblin’ man is rich an’ the workin’ man is poor / And I ain’t got no home in this world anymore. -Woody Guthrie

Marisa came to visit and this morning I was up early to take her to the train station after a weekend of revelry. As we stood in Zeitgeist waiting for our tea and coffee she pointed up, and I listened; the cafe speakers were playing an almost inaudible version of I Ain’t Got No Home, a song we used to perform back in Chorus days.

Do you want to sing? I asked.

She laughed and shook her head. I’m too tired!

We’re probably the most reticent of all the Chorus members, but if a few others (Stevie, Mina, or Erin, for instance) had been around it is likely the cafe would have been regaled with an impromptu performance they might not have appreciated on what looked like a hungover Sunday morning.

The two of us were exhausted and running on perhaps three hours of sleep because last night we went to the opera to see Jeffrey singing in The Flying Dutchman – an excellent show. Our seats were great, center front row dress circle, a special treat to celebrate her birthday and seven years of friendship.

Marisa loved the music, and I tried not to pay too much attention to the fact that I was allergic to something or someone nearby, sneezing as discretely as possible. At the second intermission we met Byron for drinks then tracked down the smokers outside.

I asked Jody what he thought about the work, other than the anti-semitism of the composer, and he quite sensibly replied that he didn’t like the love story because She spurned the human person who loved her in favor of the creepy ghost pirate.

This pretty much sums up what I thought while watching. It is easy to fall in love with a concept, portrait, ballad, story – an abstract representation of another. It is far more difficult to take care of the people right in front of you, and of course more rewarding in the long run. Love may be ephemeral or it might last, but it is an emotion, not an action. Relationships are complicated and messy and if they are sustainable require commitment, attention, and work.

Give me Erik the Hunter over the Flying Dutchman any day.

Standing around on the sidewalk with friends old and new, I was thankful once again for the honor and privilege of knowing these people. Walking back toward the theatre Jody playfully smacked me in the head with his program. I blinked in astonishment and then said brightly Oh look – I didn’t even have a flashback!

Not that anyone should feel invited to repeat the experiment. Later we went to the Whiskey Bar for a Himsa record preview party, where I said goodbye to BP probably for the last time this summer, abandoning Byron to the vicissitudes of the metal kids and running away to the Bus Stop with Marisa.

We talked and laughed for hours until closing, when it was time for the (probably last ever) nacho party at Jeffrey’s bachelor pad. Sophie moves in this week – times are changing – and it was genius to stay up too late with dear people I will miss when I leave:

Shopping for beer in opera clothes:

David & Tamara:

Brian and Sophie cooking:

Jake and Genevieve:


Marisa playing the guitar:



8.23.07 anniversary

If it has been nineteen years since I met Byron Number One then the anniversary of my car accident came and went without the standard acknowledgment. Guess I was too busy.

Though I have been thinking about those years, since I continue to meet fellow Kitsap kids. I find it entertaining to spend time with people from the same place who do not share my DNA (or at least, we aren’t exactly sure if we’re cousins – the original dozen or so families are intertwined to an extent nobody can trace).

In fact, one overly dramatic evening I abandoned the party I was obligated to attend and went out in search of hometown friends – specifically BP, whose brother worked for my grandfather, and Helen, a girl I met on the first day of kindergarten and knew until we graduated. I’m so glad we had the opportunity to meet again as adults:


8.22.07 laughing

Last night I was hanging out at the Bus Stop with a whole bunch of people who don’t speak a common language and we kept dissolving into laughter as we tried to translate and communicate. Like I pointed out to Niki Sugar behind the bar, I barely speak English.

He agreed and replied Yeah, I only speak Hillbilly and Slur!

At some point Natalia walked up and said I was just in the bathroom and heard you giggling and it made me so sad because you are leaving!

Just then Byron Number One materialized and I shrieked with delight – I thought he was out of town! He said I heard that laugh from down the street and knew it had to be you!

Apparently my voice carries – how strange! He was rushing away to play Ms. Pac Man at Pony but told me that he is staging a new opera at Aldeburgh, on the coast near where I live in England. Hurray!

If you are local consider checking out his performance of Piao Zhu: Flying Bamboo this weekend at the Arts in Nature Festival.


8.17.07 show

My son flew in from Colorado at eight last night and he departs to see the other grandparents tomorrow morning.

What do two days of the summer with your mother look like if you are growing up in Chez Lavender? His choice: dinner at Typhoon, roller skating around a warehouse towed by excitable friends on bicycles, candy shopping at midnight, and snuggling up to watch several episodes from the first season of the Simpsons, of course!

Then what? Driftwood houses on the beach, playing at a park on Beacon Hill, and Uwajimaya:

Then on zero notice I rounded up whoever could attend to go bowling, including my daughter and three teenage girls I’ve now known nearly half their lives – it is so amazing to watch kids turn into adults!

My daughter brought the ashes of my dead aunt in a pill bottle (eerie, but I think Mary would have appreciated the excursion), guests included Susannah, Jake, Nickle, J9, Ailee, their children, Susan and Paul plus their girls, Jeffrey, Sophie, Ramona, Jessie, and Ivan, who kept bowling strikes!

Jody turned up with a friend who knew none of us and sensibly hung out in the bar – quite a hilarious scene, wish I’d known when I lived in the neighborhood. Jody nominated himself as bouncer but the evening featured no drama whatsoever. In fact, I laughed so much I lost my voice once again!

My son brought fortune cookies to share, and I definitely believed mine. The whole outing was, simply, genius!


8.17.07 show

If you are local and have the cash you should check out this show because Anouk is awesome:


8.16.07 hit

Last night I decided that I was exhausted and wanted to go home early. Except of course I had to drop by the Bus Stop to say goodnight to everyone. In other words, I surrendered to the vortex – I wasn’t even planning to have a drink, but Ade turned up followed by Xin and Anouk and…..

At one point I was standing around outside and one of the smokers said Hold this! and stuck a cigarette in my hand.

Staring down in wonderment, I realized that yet another of my statistical anomalies has been amended. Before last night I had literally never even touched one of those devil sticks!

I was alone on the sidewalk taking photographs of my hand when I realized a stranger was talking to me. This is normal – people always ask me for directions – but get this: dude was hitting on me. Blatantly!

I started laughing and answered Oh my goodness, strangers never dare! Can I take your picture?

He found that response baffling and kept trying to get the conversation back on track, at one point even trying to impress me with ghetto cred, NW style.

Since I grew up in the projects and had the most chaotic childhood possible this just elicited more wild giggling – yet still he persisted! How very, very impressive and strange.


8.15.07 nipples

Jody and Rachel (his sister, not Cambridge Rachel – but boy would that be interesting to watch!) were tired and on the verge of skipping karaoke on Sunday, but I persisted. Lucky thing too, or we would have missed Bethany singing The Pina Colada Song to celebrate her birthday.

Ade kept shouting This is illegal! No nipples! NO NIPPLES!


8.14.07 agree

Yesterday I stopped in Olympia to get water in the midst of an epic quest to get back to Seattle (five hours, people! And the I-5 closure was not even the source of the problem – we didn’t drive faster than ten miles an hour until we hit Centralia).

Normally I feel queasy when visiting that picturesque little college town. This time? As I exited the vehicle I bashed my permanently injured right elbow on the door, causing my fist to swing up and punch my own in the face – hard.

This was excessively hilarious and I was still giggling as I tried to pay for my two liter bottle of water. But then I somehow managed to jam my broken finger on the bottle and it went flinging out of my hands and flew across the aisle, hitting a salesclerk in the back before rolling away across the store.

Of course I literally could not breathe because I was laughing so much.

Creating a huge spectacle in the town where I wish to remain invisible? No problem!

Though that was not the strangest thing that happened on the drive – oh no. You know that billboard with the cranky and extreme political views? I agree with the sentiment for the first time in my entire life. How peculiar!


8.13.07 advice

Ana Erotica starts grad school at Columbia in the fall (I even wrote one of her recommendation letters!). Yesterday she called to say she wants to visit before school starts, but can’t make up her mind, and thus has officially put me in charge of the decision.

What would we do during the proposed trip? Hmmm. Remember the Hunt for Bad Boys and Lumberjacks? Well, she finished her Christmas-theme smutty novel about the lumber industry. That means she will have an entirely new variety of Bad Boy to research!

Now, I am a pragmatic sort – in her position I would be thinking about which notebook to buy, not planning strange and murky adventures. But since I’ve abdicated adulthood, I cannot in good conscience give her that advice.


8.12.07 dude

Last night I could have gone to a Smores Extravaganza – I even had the secret Smores Code to find it (aka the address and name of the house). In an effort to convince me Dawn said I’ve never dated anyone better than smores!

This is an interesting and hilarious point, but I had to take a break from my PG-13 lifestyle to hang out in bars and talk about life, love, and immigration with Marisa. What can I say? I wish we still lived two blocks from each other; our friendship is one of the most significant relationships I’ve ever had with anyone.

I miss her every day, and I moved away five years ago.

Somewhere in the course of the conversation we covered the Learning Ladychat issue and I pointed out that we’re both dudes. Marisa exclaimed You’re way more of a dude than I am, Bee. You can write that down in your little black book!

Noted! Though I still intend to pursue this line of research.



8.11.07 extraordinary

I’m living a backwards sort of life but the last few weeks have been extraordinary – it really is like being sixteen again without, you know, the cancer!

Genius moment of the day: Stevie driving me around in a decrepit Volvo, blasting AM radio and singing along:



8.10.07 homestead

Today as I walked from visiting Erin Scarum at Citybikes to Three Friends to hang out with Dawn I was startled to pass a window that featured, um, Gabriel. I knew his gallery was around there but not the exact location.

There were people standing on the sidewalk extolling his virtues so I dared not enter.

When I texted to tell him that he replied Chicken!

My answer? Damn straight. Except, oh, that would be a lie…..

Some images from the homestead:



8.10.07 reunited

It took three years, countless email requests, and the dissolution of a publishing company, but last night I was finally reunited with the cover art from Lessons in Taxidermy!



8.09.07 intended

Obviously I didn’t go on a few of the potential trips already, but until the other day fully intended to fly to SF this weekend. KTS will be there! I haven’t seen Marcus since Las Vegas – six, seven years ago?

Gordon hasn’t had a chance to tease me in person all summer! I want to hang out with Fran, Hiya, Jonathan, Jen, Daphne, Amanda, and so many others I am neglecting to mention because I have been walking around in the sun!

But alas, the trip fell apart – mostly because I waited til the last second, but also because I am way overbooked. Today has been one brilliant excursion after the next, with an evening too full to describe. Next up is Zine Symposium, and Marisa’s birthday, and and and…..



8.08.07 soundtrack

I bought this laptop last November during an explicitly decadent trip to Seattle. Lacking any music whatsoever, I grabbed as much as I could from Jeffrey’s stockpile. Since then I have added a fairly random set of albums from my own trailing and odd collection along with whatever I could jack from friends.

I have not, however, organized any playlists since the week I turned the machine on for the first time. That means there are two options: Love Songs and Work Songs.

The second was originally titled Depression Songs, but my son objected. Love Songs are those I dimly perceive are about that subject, and play in the background when I am writing fairly positive stuff. Work Songs are those I hear as somber and play in the background when whatever I’m working on shares that mood.

Yesterday I was tapping my chin and thinking about esoteric subjects when I realized that the two lists are awfully similar, particularly since they’re both littered with identical songs.

While I believe Wilco is fractionally more upbeat than Elliot Smith, this impression can be attributed to the fact that I only know what the songs are about when I look up the lyrics – or someone tells me. I am Trying to Break Your Heart is definitely not, well, romantic. Who knew!

I should be more conscientious about the words I use to describe my personal soundtrack.


8.07.07 round-up

The funeral really messed with my schedule – my eyes were still swollen two days later! Yes, people, I cry.

Though in the context of my biological family that required locking myself in the bathroom to hide the torrential sobs. More on that later.

Now I’m back in the swing of it all but have failed to report so many things:

Somewhere in the madness of the funeral weekend I also attended Niki Sugar’s birthday party and the anniversary celebration for Anika and KC. When I heard that the date commemorated fifteen years of couplehood I opened my eyes wide and asked KC What, did you hookup when you were ten years old?!

He laughed and informed me that they were eighteen. How amazing! I don’t know any other teen couples that have survived that long.

At some point I was swept along with the same crowd to a show at the Block Party, though in reality that just meant standing next to a chain link fence listening to exactly nothing while trying to track down friends.

Later at the Satellite I was sitting next a Himsa dude and when I pulled out my notebook he asked Are you going to write a book about us? Why no – I was just scribbling a reminder that the last time I ate food at that bar I ended up in the hospital.

Later in the weekend I met Jody and Laura at the Block Party. They asked how the funeral was and I replied (truthfully) Tragic! before dissolving in giggles (as I do).

For once we did manage to see some bands. Jody heard or read that nobody has ever written poetry or songs for me, and volunteered with alacrity. I reckoned he was joking but no – he really did write a song!

Another night I went to a reproductive health fundraiser and was bemused to find people swarming all over my arm – having Breeder etched on your body is apparently quite amusing to this generation of activists. Who knew; I haven’t attended any of these events since I campaigned for Initiative 120 with a baby on my hip.

Washington has always been full of rabble-rousers and may well end up the last haven for reproductive freedom, given what is happening on the federal level. I was super thrilled to hear about successes like the statewide pharmacy and sex education rulings. Though my goodness, that took a long time – I was on the front lines of those fights in the eighties.

Later I was dragged off to Chop Suey where I watched an entirely delightful Piece open a show – gotta love someone rapping about the CD! But then the main act did not turn up. For hours. While we all stood around waiting.

Somewhere after midnight one of the barbacks told us that the main act didn’t “like” the audience and had gone all diva on the organizers. The bouncer confirmed this version of events.

Who knows what was actually happening – but in my experience bar staff generally have an accurate line on this kind of thing.

Performing is a job like any other. There are good days, bad nights, wearisome and troubling challenges. If you tour there is the complexity of the travel on top of the craftsmanship of the show.

Sometimes it is necessary to go on stage when you are sick, or sad, or lonely. Sometimes the audience is hostile, or nonexistent. So what?

In this country and particularly in the very small world of acts who headline shows at Chop Suey, nobody has been forced to go on stage. Performer doesn’t like the audience – oh, really? I have no tolerance for that kind of nonsense. I walked out. Now, whatever will I do with myself next? This summer remains unplanned – I don’t have a clue where I’ll be tomorrow. How unusual.


8.07.07 ironic

I am the luckiest person ever. Why?

Because I have such good friends! One of the highlights of the summer: Stella and Al visited from the east coast!

They took me out to dinner and presented me with a birthday present (they were both born in the winter so this was intentionally ironic) they made from scratch:

Plus, Al is growing his hair out to play an aging rocker in a movie – the plan is to film him dragging a huge amp from Pike Place to Broadway – hilarious!

I miss our champagne brunches, picnics on the beach, wandering through forests, yummy dinners in the shade of their backyard, and of course, being together at Thanksgiving.

But it is endlessly wonderful that, despite geographic distance, we are still good friends.


8.06.07 traitor

Uh-oh. Ladychat leads to all sorts of new trouble!

Anika is trying to tempt me to chop off my very long hair – without any planning or consideration! I haven’t worn it short since 1996. What do do, what to do?

Luckily she couldn’t find a salon with open appointments – saved by lack of planning!

Though I am now seriously considering the Complete Massacre of Hair, if I’d done it today then I would have missed out! Laura decided that I needed an Eighties Flower Girl do, and proceeded to implement this fantasy in the front row of Bus Stop while Ade intoned over the microphone I can’t believe Bee is getting her hair all done at karaoke.

When I left near closing Ade made the whole bar shout Bee, you are a traitor!

Though fully half yelled Bee, we love you! as a follow-up.


8.05.07 themes

The Bookatorium opening was remarkable in many ways, not least of which was the pure, brilliant, and innocent enthusiasm of the organizers.

It was also very much an underground punk event, Portland style – rare in this city! When I turned up Nikki clasped her hands together and said We just met and you’ve only been gone a few hours, but I missed you!!

Oh, Pacific Northwest – I love you! The main attraction was Benny, and it was honestly worth the whole hassle of downtown on Art Walk to see him working.

I asked David if he wanted a balloon hat and he looked at Jody and I all kitted out and replied No, I had a happy childhood, unlike you two!

Good point. The majority of my early life was given over to secrets, scandals, strife, and sorrow. Those are not the themes of this summer. Give me carousel rides and balloon hats!


8.04.07 developing

The other day I had a late breakfast at Glo’s with a group of people of indeterminate sexual orientation who identify as women – albeit the sort who do not have any relationship whatsoever with mainstream beauty standards or similar.

When I described the Learning Ladychat project a bike messenger in the crew was openly horrified and asked Why the hell would you bother?

I explained my admittedly quite esoteric reasons and she looked appalled, but then pointed at my mouth and asked Is that MAC lipstick? — and we were off!

The whole group fell into proper Ladychat for approximately four minutes before we realized, recoiled in shock, and did big congratulatory high fives.

Then we went back to talking about our more usual topics, like maggot-infested leg wounds.

This would be my primary challenge with learning – I never actually hang out with ladies!

Sasha is one of the few women I know with allegiances in both camps, but the last time I saw her she kept telling me that I’m welcome to rub my nipples on her eyelids any time I like. I presume such invitations do not constitute Ladychat, though I could be mistaken.

Yesterday I went to a Seafair party with the Himsa crew and found myself in a very (as the kids would say) hetero-normative crowd, split cleanly down gender lines as people lounged, played football, and went out on a jetski.

I hung out with Natalia, a lady to her very core, and had quite a fascinating conversation about life as an expat (she is married to a Spaniard and they go back and forth), raising kids, haircuts, and the fact that Byron does not look like a ladykiller. Just another example of why you should never judge by appearances!

We laughed and laughed for hours and at the end I asked for a review of my developing Ladychat skill set. Natalia opened her eyes wide and said It wasn’t at all unnatural or forced!

Sarcasm? Compliment? Either way, highly entertaining!


8.02.07 love

Last night at eight Dawn Riddle called to say Want to go swimming?

This was of course a baffling plan since she was supposed to be setting up the gallery, but she is a Portland person – time works differently down there!

I grabbed towels (the punks never think of these things) and headed for Mobius, where an hour passed with great hilarity and some impatience as various people joined and then wandered away from the group.

It was dusk when we finally made it to Madison Park. Dawn looked around and said I only have a bra and panties, these people look like a bra and panty crowd! before stripping off and racing into the water.

I sat on the grass as the sky changed from dusk to night, watching the stars shine and my friends cavorting.

Dawn and Jesse needed to clean up and wash clothes after so we headed back to my very odd apartment, where we gathered around the refrigerator, collectively amazed by the automatic icemaker.

My living situation this summer involves matching cutlery! A toaster! The amenities of grownup life I have never known! I could offer them seltzer but sadly nothing else – my cupboards are bare.

Marisa called around midnight to say she had run into my daughter watching The Gossip show at Berbati’s. Yes, it is true – my social life has now officially been invaded by marauding offspring! I told Marisa that my apartment was full of Portland punks and she replied What are you going to do tonight? Buy some PBR and sit on a porch? Did they arrive by bicycle after spending a lot of time talking about which bridge to take?

Hilarious! That would have been the usual scene but I decided it was much more entertaining to corrupt them with karaoke at the Crescent. We were talking and laughing so much I felt like I had dislocated my jaw.

At some point the issue of birthdays came up and I said something about January birthdays being singularly sucky. Jeff said I celebrated your birthday!

Sophie rolled her eyes and commented You mean on her birthday you thought ‘shit, I’ve gotta write Bee email’!

I replied Because myspace prompted you! Whereas, if you recall, I flew from England to hang out with you on your birthday last year!

Jeff tipped his hat, laughed, and said I’m working toward manifest destiny on a big guilt wagon! Go west, young guilty one!

This made me laugh so hard I nearly fell off the stool. Just then Jeff and Sophie fell victim to love jail once again and the rest of the crew made wretching sounds or covered their eyes:


8.01.07 learning

The Learning Ladychat research has thus far included a long conversation with a makeup artist who accurately guessed the brand and name of my lipstick and eye makeup, several discussions with assorted people at parties about topics so banal I could not keep track long enough to take notes, and – get this – an actual dinner party.

My observation is that the ladies mostly like to talk about exercise or beauty products (sometimes a combination of the two). They are also given to intoning things like I have horrible cramps over the dinner table.

People, that is a phrase I have never uttered! Beyond that, I do not want to know about your menstrual cycle, no matter how complicated and grotesque the details!

No offense intended to the ladies in the crowd – I am merely a novice at understanding your mysterious customs. This is not a LADY issue. It is a body issue. I similarly do not want to know details about your intestines, or testicles, if you have them. Ick.

Luckily Jody showed up to rescue me before I stabbed myself in the eye. We drove around the city half the night talking about proper subjects like literature, religion, and where people purchase crack (the venues have changed since I moved away).

Not because I would ever need to know. I was just curious about what my aunt might have seen in her last days.