Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Screaming Good Time

One Halloween in high school, I went to a movie with a boy and some friends. We saw that terrifying movie The Ring, which I only recently recovered from, but the scariest part was that I was still in full ghoul makeup. I worked at a haunted house for three years around Halloween, and I think it was then then I really started to love the season.

It is a holiday that has turned into fun for the sake of fun, and though our government doesn't think it merits a day off from school and work, it's still on the calendar every year - which is an accomplishment in itself- and a sign that people love candy, kids in funny costumes, and getting the crap scared out of them for fun. I think that's a wonderful set of things for a society to admit to liking.

The haunted house endeavor in high school was always an exhausting one, as there were like twenty of us running it with one advisor for a full weekend, a matinee showing, and then Halloween itself, which was generally on a school night through high school. By the time I was a senior, we'd moved the show from the old Grange to a creepy little church with a creepy giant basement and really perfected our art.

Starting in about July of that year, one of my best guy friends, who was my co-chair on the Haunted House committee with me, made it his one goal senior year to construct an elaborate maze in the basement of that year's house.
"Dude, it's never going to work," our advisor warned.

So Co-Chair recruited his friends, one of whom went on to major in engineering, and they did the damn thing. A bunch of 17 year old boys crafted the single most terrifying haunted house I've ever been through. It was just a bunch of plywood covered in black fabric, with one of them dressed up in a black gorilla suit wandering the maze. I am sure there was some other stuff, but really, those were the key elements. When it's dark enough, anything is scary.

Co-Chair and I decided to see what Portland had to offer in the way of haunted houses this year, so we ventured out to Jantzen Beach for "Scream at the Beach," currently rated #3 in the nation for best haunts.

And what a scream it was, thanks to me.

I could not SHUT UP. I giggled and squealed my way through each of the FIVE haunted houses they had set up (a zombie mansion, a jungle swamped with tribal ritual, a mental hospital, a killer carnival, and for me, the most terrifying: a Deliverence-esque mining camp. Sweet sassafrass, take me home).
I didn't realize I'd developed such a ridiculous defense mechanism- I wonder what kind of squealing and hysterical laughing I do during the day on a regular basis, just to make it through the day alive and in one piece?

Or like this one sort of snuck up on me, if in a few years something will happen and my reaction will surprise me- that I will exhibit a strength I didn't know had grown.

Or maybe I will just giggle my way through the next Hard Part.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Vancouver, Washington: home of the mullet.
I spent many a memorable Fourth of July at The Fort mullet-hunting with friends, playing card games on blankets, roasting in the summer sun, and listening to bad cover bands with inexplicably large brass sections.

Vancouver is largely similar in October, when it hosts a multitude of softball tournaments for adults who:
-simply cannot let their glory days go
-would rather be outside than in on a clear and bright autumn weekend (and their football team is away/they don't enjoy hunting)
-want to have somewhere fun to wear a Halloween costume
-enjoy kicking off an 8 AM Sunday slow-pitch game with a Jaegerbomb

Which brings me to my Recent New Thing of The Day:
My coed slow-pitch softball team ended our fall season with a Halloween Tournament this past weekend. It took me an hour to get out there, sustained only by my #3 McDonald's breakfast and some soothing morning tunes, and I was still late for our 9:10 AM game.

I knew it was going to be an awesome day when I noticed the umpire wearing a spangled harlequin clown jumpsuit, covered in black and silver sequins. My own team's costumes consisted of a bum, a hula dancer, two members of The Incredibles, and a pirate (of the Johnny Depp persuasion). I, too, was a pirate, but more of the gypsy variety. Another tip-off to the day's fun was that everyone in my dugout was holding either a can of PBR or a mixed drink.

We played three games that day, mostly back-to-back, and won the only game we probably should have lost. I batted around .444 that day and had a healthy helping of good plays at 3rd base including catching a hard line drive, and executing an inning-ending double play by stopping a hard-hit ground ball, tagging the bag and throwing home.

By the time the third game was over, I'm pretty sure I was the only one on the team who could legally drive. Somehow everyone made it safely to the nearby bar and I scarfed down a quesadilla before going home, but not in time to hear a girl on my team admit that the last time she made the mistake of hitting a guy, he hit her back in the stomach so hard she ended up "doubled over on the ground" clutching her stomach.
"I never made that mistake again," she said resolutely.
I'm pretty sure my jaw was resting lightly on the table at this point.
I was going to say something, but our first basewoman drunkenly started yelling about someone being a "f*cking p*ssy" for not drinking more.
It was at this point I made my exit.

I did however return to play the final day of the tournament.
Our first game was at 8 AM and there was still frost on the ground. We lost.
I hit about .775 for the day, so retired from my first coed season feeling pretty proud of myself.
We won the following 3 games and secured our place as the winners of the "Not Last" bracket.

I think that accurately sums up my team: The winners of the "Not Last" bracket of life.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
Shasta weekends.
Family weddings.
Harry Potter books.

It came to my attention some time last year that many of the things I hold dear to me in life are overwhelmingly grand, complex, not wussy, balls-to-the-wall things.
I don't even have to particularly relate to the event or feel emotionally drawn to its intrinsic characteristics: it just has to be epic.

I love taking the mundane and making it a big deal (a night of games with friends you say? Make it a Trivial Pursuit Marathon Tourament, replete with multiple editions and prizes for the winners. You want to watch a movie, huh? I believe it's part of a trilogy- let's watch them ALL. In a ROW.)
I know I am not the only person who is drawn to such things with a tendency to aggrandize plans, but I embrace it about myself.

Sometimes, things become epic on their own, and then go down in (personal) history as The Best Night Ever, The Coolest Game Ever, The Funniest Thing He Ever Said, etc.

Saturday night was a day of two such incidences, namely, The Time I Ate More Chili Than Anyone Ever and Wanted to Die, followed hours later by The Most Dancing I Have Ever Done in Portland.

Part I:
I accompanied my mom and dad to a late afternoon Chili Cook-off on Saturday. The sky was October blue, the air was cold, the leaves a bursting bouquet of amber and fire. The chili? Fourteen varieties of white bean, read bean, barbeque, corn, smokey, spicy, meaty, hot, luke warm, beer-y, chunky, soupy, chickeny, accompanied by a table of cornbread entries all honeyed, jalapenoed, cheesed, buttered, and muffined.

I would like to announce that I tried all fourteen types of chili.
Not only did I try them, but ranked them, one through fourteen, and then voted for the best: "Oh My Guinness," a version slightly soupier with some bite, small chunks of sirloin, all cooked in Guinness beer.

The second runner up, in the contest and in my heart, was a smokey barbeque and tomate sauce based, thicker chili. In my opinion, three and four were the white bean and chicken varieties, followed closely by last year's champ, a traditional ground beef and bean, thicker chili. The family hosting had recently built this beautiful wooden structure over their patio, with a stone fireplace and a swing, and so we all stood around in jackets and scarves, jockeying for position in the patches of autumn sun that splayed the patio from under the eaves of the roof.

After the voting and the crowning of the winners, we left immediately. I beelined for the car and forced myself to burp out air pockets all the way home, pants unbuttoned, plastic bag on standby. My stomach was expanding with every passing minute and I felt like I was going to Violet Beauregard myself into the atmosphere.

By the time we got home, the chili was seducing us all into coma-like states, so the four of us curled up, each under his separate blanket, all in the family room, and watched Texas womp on Missouri.

Part II:

I think it was my dedication to dressing like an 80s vixen that really revved up my expectations for the night: my pants screamed FUN so I was bound to have some. I picked up the Dance Fighter and we drove downtown to the Ghostland Observatory concert at my favorite venue, The Crystal Ballroom. The line was tragically long, so we opted for jello shots at Scooter's instead. We ran into Karen Cody and Friend, downed drinks and gossiped, and then when there was no line in our way, went to the show.

Talk about epic:

I probably say this about a lot of shows, but one of THE MOST fun concerts I have ever been to. And by now, I've been to a lot! We danced our brains out after another cocktail, and I couldn't believe how good it was.
After an electrifying encore, the lights came on, we left, and took our dance party to the streets. We couldn't figure out where to go, so we killed some time just dancing outside of Ringler's and made a friend in Zane Sparkleface, a flamboyant guy who screamed, "OmiGOD I LOVE YOU BITCHES!" People inside the club saw us, cheered for us, and loved us. When we wanted more booze, we took a cab to Berbati's and The Dance Fighter DID NOT STOP DANCING until the lights came on.
The best part was yet to come: 4th meal at Taco Bell.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cellar Door 24: Wearable Love

Introducing Cellar Door 24: my line of vintage-made-new jewelry.

Ruby Bird bracelet: $45

Gold Owl bracelet: $45

Each piece is hand-selected from flea-markets, vintage stock, and antique malls.

Cloisonne B necklace: SOLD

Add the next layer to their already seasoned patina by wearing these pieces to eat, dance, drink, and adventure.

Copper Cherub necklace: $35 Silver Monogrammed E necklace: SOLD

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's not "what's not to love?" but, "what won't be loved?"

The Dance Fighter brings up a good point.

"I think part of it was that I was afraid no one would ever love me again as much as he did. And that's wrong! I mean, what does that say about my self esteem?"

And she's right. But I realized as I was kind of fighting her on this that I am not in a good enough place to say anything, and should just be supportive. I honestly recognize that I will be loved again, and that the man I end up being with will love me more and better than anyone before him- he would have to for it to be worth my time and energy.
I think my fear is that certain things will forever go unloved or unnoticed, not me as a whole, but the details that You loved so well.

You refused to call me by the nickname I used to be proud of. Anyone who I call a friend refers to me by this familiarity and for you, it was an insult. A shortening of the name given to me by my parents and a disservice to them, and to me. You called me by my full name, each of the distinct three syllables pronounced.

You gave me your own special name for me, and I think within it, a new identity to be a woman I wanted to be: graceful, flawless, beautiful, talented, with a future of good cooking and polite children, smart, and beguiling. Decca. It's got a history in your family and it held a future for us. It is better than baby, more personal than sweetheart, more meaningful than any other name I've had thus far, other than my own. You and I have the same Idea about what a woman is, about her power. "A man needs somethin he can hold onto...a nine pound hammer or a woman like you. Either one of them things will do." I think I felt all that in Decca.

I am not afraid another man won't find me pretty. I'm not afraid he won't find me smart. Funny? I am afraid of that. It is is a gift to make someone laugh with you, not at you, and we had that.

I like that you always took my flaws and turned them into something you adored. That if I were about to get embarassed about something you would wrap me up and declare the offending characteristic your new favorite thing about me. And I'm pretty positive you meant it.

You diffuse me. I get sassy for no reason, just to pick fights, and no one else has ever dealt with me the way you do. I really need that.

You made me feel like royalty. Not superficially with gifts and compliments, though those were abundant, but with your time, your devotion, the trust you had in me. In your eyes, I could do no wrong. Usually. When I did, you were direct, and it was fixed, and there were no games.

I spent a lot of time with a lot of different people this weekend. I had fun, I enjoyed it. It is hard though, when you have a standard of good company like I do, now. I am not as comfortable, not as real, and not as enchanted around anyone else.

I will get there. I will get there when I let myself get there, and when I am finally honest with Decca that I am still refusing to acknowledge a lot of the things you are not.