Friday, August 28, 2009

How I know what bougainvillea is

I never knew much about flowers. As a kid, my favorite flower was the Dogwood, for its Christ-like significance. The legend goes that the Dogwood is like Jesus on the cross. If you look closely, you can see the bruises where stakes went through his palms. Later, I realized my actual childhood favorite flower was honeysuckle. Many of my best memories involve railroad tracks or backyards that smelled like honeysuckle. We used to pull the little threads out to taste the tiny sweetness. So much work for such a little taste.

Later, my favorite flower was a purple rose. I saw them in a friend's house in high school once and decided right there. Purple is a historic favorite color of mine. My favorite shirt when I was 9 was purple. It was too-big and had gold stripes on the sleeve. Purple and gold for LSU. I wore it to pick berries at my grandmother's house in the unincorporated part of the county. The huckleberries stained my fingers a color not too far off from purple.

No one ever gave me purple roses, but I did buy a dozen of them once for a girl. She was the first girl I ever kissed, and I gave them to her after a play. They cost $80, which was a lot more money than I spent on anything else that year. My friend Hannah Page called me out on that. She knew I was stingier than anything and that I must have had it real bad for that girl, throwing out all that money on something that would be dead in a few days. She was right. In any event, I felt really silly holding them the whole play long. But at the end of it, egged on by Hannah and my brother, who was in town visiting for the week, I handed the flowers over. She said she liked them.

One thing I liked especially about Kate when I met her is how much she knew about flowers. Everywhere we went, she would point flowers out and tell me their names. Her grandmother's house had fresh orchids and other nice displays. Kate is also the one who taught me about bougainvillea. We were in San Francisco, walking toward the tea gardens. It was awfully cold (even though it was late June! I was still very steeped in Southern then and had no idea such a thing was even possible). They were crawling up alongside some houses, I think. In any event, I thought the name was really funny and made her spell it out for me.

So it was funny, about a year or two later, when we were playing a board game where everyone has a pad and has to write down answers to different questions. The question was to name a flower that had more vowels than consonants. I wrote down bougainvillea, but Kate didn't think of it, and I won the game.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Things I like that I read today

"He was a Rabelaisian figure in the Senate and in life, instantly recognizable by his shock of white hair, his florid, oversize face, his booming Boston brogue, his powerful but pained stride. He was a celebrity, sometimes a self-parody, a hearty friend, an implacable foe, a man of large faith and large flaws, a melancholy character who persevered, drank deeply and sang loudly. He was a Kennedy." -- John Broder, NYT obituary of Edward Kennedy

"It's expensive to fly. You burn out. You fry the machine. You melt the engine. Every creature on earth has approximately two billion heartbeats to spend in a lifetime. You can spend them slowly, like a tortoise, and live to be two hundred years old, or you can spend them fast, like a hummingbird, and live to be two years old. ... The biggest heart in the world is inside the blue whale. It weighs seven tons. It's as big as a room. It is a room, with four chambers. A child could walk around in it, head high, bending only to step through the valves." -- Brian Doyle, Joyas Volardores


"So much held in a heart in a lifetime. So much held in a heart in a day, an hour, a moment. We are utterly open with no one, in the end -- not mother and father, not wife or husband, not lover, not child, not friend. We open windows to each but we live alone in the house of the heart. Perhaps we must. Perhaps we could not bear to be so naked, for fear of a constantly harrowed heart. When young we think there will come one person who will savor and sustain us always; when we are older we know this is the dream of a child, that all hearts are finally bruised and scarred, scored and torn, repaired by time and will, patched by force of character, yet fragile and rickety forevermore, no matter how ferocious the defense and how many bricks you bring to the wall. You can brick up your heart as stout and tight and hard and cold and impregnable as you possibly can and down it comes in an instant, felled by a woman's second glance, a child's apple breath, the shatter of glass in the road, the words I have something to tell you, a cat with a broken spine dragging itself into the forest to die, the brush of your mother's papery ancient hand in the thicket of your hair, the memory of your father's voice early in the morning echoing from the kitchen where he is making pancakes for his children." -- Brian Doyle, Joyas Volardores

Monday, August 24, 2009

My stuff: Flannery

Casio keyboard Osh Kosh flannel shirt banjo jams
Plasmic Stallion Flannery Smith
Gibson guitar Flannery Smith Scwhinn bike
Polaroid Holga stapler


Flannery explains:

1. keyboard - I bought it at a garage sale for $5. The middle keys don't work, but I saw the same model in a store for $130. It's the same one They Might Be Giants use. You can really make some cool sounds with it.

2. shirt - This is my best find at Goodwill. It has no sentimental value. It's just really soft. And it's Osh Kosh.

3. banjo jams book - My pen pal made this for me. I write all my songs in it.

4. poster - I've had it for three years. It's hand-screen-printed, so it was limited. It was a good show. Plasmic Stallion was the best band. They were more punk than anyone.

5. THE - My pen pal sent this to me, too, as a housewarming present when I moved out of my parents' house. There was nothing else in the package, but it was heavy as shit.

6. guitar - I got it after years of wanting my own guitar. I had just been using my bandmate's. I didn't want to rush anything, so I waited a long time. But friend offered to sell this one to me, and it took only 15 minutes to decide. It has been the best guitar.

7. bike - This is the same as the guitar; I didn't want to rush. I was close to buying a lot of other bikes, but then I bought this one on Craigslist for $150 in Tacoma, Wash. It's my favorite color, and it fit.

8. box of polaroids - I actually organized these by date once.

9. holga - I've taken a lot of nice photos with it. It's seen a lot of use. I mean, it's really old. I got it from my aunt, who used it in college.

10. stapler - It has no purpose but to look nice. Plus, it matches my bike. It caught my eye at Goodwill, and I thought, 'This is love.'

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A rare look

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in which Kate Linthicum steals the camera and turns it on your author

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

3tones

For years, I've kept a record of the mixed CDs I've made on a public Web site. My first entry is 2002. The CD was for the first girl I ever kissed.

The Web site has been having problems lately, so I've been going back, looking at my old mixes just in case this is my last time to savor these time capsules. I've found plenty of funny things -- mixes with Tool and No Doubt and did I really put a Magnetic Fields song on EVERY SINGLE mix? -- but the thing that has warmed my heart the most is this little treasure from 2004:

I had gone fully gay by then, but when a certain boy's best friend told me he wanted to go on a date with me, I was intrigued. He was so cute (dimpled, almost girlishly skinny and in love with Joan Jett and girl rock) that I thought maybe I'd try. But dates with a lesbian don't come easy for boys, so I made him a mixed CD with a map.

That is, at the beginning of the CD I recorded the tones for my phone number. If he could figure out my number based on sound, we could hang out. It took hours, he said, by the audible light of a computer program, but a day or so later, my phone rang. It was him.

We dated for a few months, though kissed sparsely. We made t-shirts from Camp Fire Girl books and ate cheap Chinese food relentlessly. Once, we dressed up in our finest clothes (I wore a wig!), headed to the grocery store and told everyone we were going to the Postman's ball.

We had one very sad break-up and one break-up that wasn't a break-up at all, but rather a slow understanding that what we were, sadly, was very close friends.

He remains in my top favorites of all people.

[on the map the gap's three fingers, but it's more than that]

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Home is where (2)

Texas 2009 was epic -- I flew out Sunday morning exhausted, full of love, memory and the inky outline of home.

Landing back in Oregon, though, felt like home, too. Two of my best friends were waiting -- with presents and dinner. Later, I went out for a tea and a walk across the Willamette with a new friend.

Monday started with a bike ride (God, I missed bike riding). Just before the Broadway Bridge, a guy noticed my tattoo. Turns out he was from Jackson AND Savannah, too. We talked the whole way to work. I barely noticed the hills.

Monday's dinner was perfect. We tag-teamed our way through Indian food -- veggie biryani, chickpea and potato curry, chapati, soy chai bubble teas.

This weekend, we're headed to the river again. And Saturday night, I've got plans for biking around town, sitting on the bluffs, drinking, getting to know.

I started pre-work on my summer video this week. Watching hundreds of pictures move by, I felt so happy. Living here is so good.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Family forever

I tried and tried to get a good portrait of all of us (mostly with the camera down so my face would be in it, too), but none turned out well. This was the best. It ain't great, but I want some documentation on here of Texas 2009.

Here's me with the boys I love the most:

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

EP for summer's artifical end

Even with a month left to go (even with 97 slated for Wednesday), summer feels mostly over to me. Here are songs I'm listening to:


Hello Saferide - The Quiz

Josh Ritter - Kathleen

The Replacements - Can't Hardly Wait (alternative version)

Sonic Youth - Do You Believe in Rapture?

Telegraph Canyon - Reels and Wires

Home is where

Chris, Dustin and I got matching tattoos -- Louisiana, loveable now that none of us live there. I got mine connected to an existing tattoo of Mississippi. They got theirs, big as all get out, on other parts of their arms. Cameras weren't allowed in the shop, so we had to be quick!

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Two loves of my life

My brother and my dog:

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Walk like a man, talk like a man

As a teenager, my brother was scrawny in women's size 2 jeans. Back then, I made him listen to mixed tapes of Ani DiFranco and Tegan and Sara, and if it were possible, he was becoming the best lesbian little brother anyone could wish for.

On the car ride over to Louisiana today, I told Dustin that one thing I always admired about our dad is he never pressed any ideals of masculinity onto Dustin. There was no one way to be a man, no toughness needed.

These days, on the verge of fatherhood himself, my brother has been thinking a lot about masculinity. He's working out a lot, working his way away from 145 up to 190. His arms are too big for my tiny hands to get a grip on. He's also bought himself a distinctly dude car -- a Mustang. He seems quite tickled to be driving it.


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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Settling down takes time

Life has been a little topsy turvy lately, but I have been finding solace in the strangest places, like


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waiting two hours for my laundry to finish. I read a magazine and sat right in front of the open door. After a day of panic and jitters, I felt calm.


(and also)

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Working night cops means I have to stay in the office more. But leaving the office and talking to people is why I want to be journalist. Finally, the other night I got to go out for the national night out. Everyone seemed to like the mounted police's horses best. I did, too.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Jellyfish Rave

Friday, I went to the Rock and Roll Camp for girls to make a video. The band Jellyfish Rave -- a group of 13- and 14-year-olds -- wrote their song, "Summer Heat," about Portland's triple digit week. While the rest of us were sweating it out, they were SUPER sweating it out in a warehouse without AC and, in their practice space, no windows.

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