(this is annie)

Top Five Clothing Items I Miss

5. Red underpants
In junior high, a friend's cousin had a RED BRASSIERE. Whoa. I didn't know why a red bra was simultaneously fascinating and scary, but I knew it was too brazen for me to even consider. It took almost two decades for me to finally buy a red bra of my own, and even then I didn't want anything frilly or grossly Frederick's-y. Somehow, I lost the matching underpants in my move from Chicago to San Francisco. I fear they are decaying somewhere in a Nebraska Motel 6.

4. Koala bikini
As a child, I had a koala obsession. The photo albums are littered with photos of me hugging trees like a koala, wearing koala t-shirts, carrying around my stuffed koala teddy bear, and so on. When I was around five years old, I had a koala bikini. The top had googly-eyed koalas climbing the straps, which were made to look like vines. Ridiculous. I think it would be entertaining to still have this.

3. Various band t-shirts
I'm cheating here, but I wish I still had my Broken Hearts Are Blue shirt. It had a silk-screened print of this Johnny Marr photo, and it has deep sentimental value. Evan had it last and I'm guessing he burned it; the same goes for the Van Pelt tee that I miss. (Light blue, chopstick print, poly-cotton blend.) I also wish I had that great glow-in-the-dark Cold Cold Hearts tee, even though the band was not the best. And getting rid of this this too-small Indian Summer shirt was stupid.

2. Michigan Straight Edge t-shirt
We silk-screened these t-shirts in Andy's basement. They looked just like normal University of Michigan shirts, except instead of advertising our football allegiance or whatever, they said Michigan Straight Edge. Again, sentimental value and a reminder that making things yourself is more fun than buying stuff.

1. Bronze boots
When in Paris four years ago, I splurged on a pair of Repetto bronze ankle boots with a beautiful patina. They were the Kim Gordon of shoes. The longer I wore them, the more comfortable they became. They were hard to track down, because when I went to the Repetto boutique to find them, I said:

"Pardonnez-moi, mademoiselle. Je cherche des petit boites comme ça, en coleur or."

The shopgirl motioned to the wall of shoeboxes. "Oui, les boites sont la-bas," she said. Well, yes, I see the boxes, I thought. "Oui," I said. "Mais je cherche des boites..." and pieced together a few descriptions of the shoes I was looking for. She remained puzzled. And then she said, "Ah! Des bottes." My mistake! Boites is boxes. Bottes is boots. And now I know, and every time I'd put on those boots, I'd think of that day fondly. The heels are now worn-down and the soles have holes, but I cannot bear to get rid of them.


Creationist arguments are low-hanging fruit as it is, and this video isn't even all that new anymore, but every time I watch the hat-headed actor hit the 2:10 mark, I laugh so hard that I want to move to Canada and find him and make him my new best friend.


The found sounds of a lost boy

This morning I missed a lot of my Chicago friends. I'm not sure why, but I did, so I was glad when Paul wrote about his latest illustrating endeavor. Paul is one of my favorite artists, and one of the small disappointments of living in San Francisco is that his comics are hard to find here. (I like to give them as gifts, but lately all I can do is lend them.)

Paul is able to convey so much emotion through his drawings; his comics were the first that made me cry. That sounds bad, but it's actually one of the best things I could say about someone's work. So I think it's only fitting that he created the cover of this Yonlu album. This collection of songs is melancholy and gorgeous and quietly intense. It sounds as though Nick Drake and Elliott Smith had a few too many caipirinhas and decided to dink around with a sampling program. It's the sort of record that made me pay attention because it sounds full with feeling; it's warm and sad at the same time.

The story behind the record is one of a life abbreviated: Vinicius Gageiro Marques, the Brazilian teenager who created this music, did so in an at-home studio. He was an only child who read Kafka and who spoke Portugese, French, and English. He was, according to all accounts, spectacularly intelligent and highly sensitive. A month before his seventeenth birthday, he poisoned the air around him and died. He left a note and some songs, and his parents discovered more music on his computer. These songs constitute the album.

I would like this record even if Paul weren't involved, even if it didn't have this sad backstory. But knowing the story brings out a pointlessly protective side of myself that wishes I could have told this boy that life can get better. I was an extremely depressed teenager, and though I didn't have this kind of musical talent, I spent hours writing away my alienation and pain through fiction that I'd then destroy. The few of you who have read this site for, what, 13 years now, have probably seen me pull myself out of that part of my life. I feel like another person now, like that was someone else. I listen to these songs and think of this poor boy, this incredibly gifted teenager with a baby face, and feel anger and sadness. Anger because I am always envious of talented people who don't see the gift they have been given, and sadness because he will never know what it's like to feel better.

Some people — always those who have never been depressed — wonder how someone could ever kill himself. I am not that person; I can feel why people commit suicide. I think that anyone who has ever been severely depressed understands that at the lowest point, being alive is so painful that death seems like the better alternative. Depression is an exhausting cycle of physical pain and emotional darkness; I remember sleeping for 17 hours a day just so I didn't have to be awake. Awake is sobbing, awake is self-loathing, awake is utterly alone. Anyone who has ever walked that thorny path knows that you can't merely will yourself out of a cavern that dark. So I can't judge this poor child for thinking that he had to die; to him, it must have seemed like his only choice. I don't condone his actions, but I understand why he felt that way.

When I think of Yonlu's short life, my heart hurts because I experienced that kind of adolescent hopelessness and despair. For me, those feelings are long buried, but I understand them all the same. But I wish that somehow, he had managed to believe the possibility that his future would be better than his present. I wish he had known that life will never be painless, but that living could have become better. That maybe he'd grow up and be 30 and happy someday. That he'd move people with his music, that a whole world was waiting for him. I'm not very articulate about this, because all I want to do is build a time machine and find him and hold him and promise him that his pain did not have to be permanent. I could have been him years ago; he could have become like me years from now. His poor bruised, beautiful, unknown and unknowable heart haunts me.

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My new neighbors

I moved to a new neighborhood about six weeks ago, and everything is grand, just grand, as Lucille Austero would say. I always told myself I'd leave the house more often if there were more to do where I lived, and so far I am doing just that. I loiter at coffee shops, walk through the park in the evening, pick up hot croissants (!) on the way to work, and buy books at the store around the corner. And my roommate is the best.

However: There is a situation with the middle-aged downstairs neighbors, one of whom must be hard of hearing, because what else would explain THE WAY THEY USE THEIR OUTDOOR VOICES TO COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER AT ALL TIMES? EVERYTHING IS YELLED. I'll be sitting on the couch, enjoying a Buffy marathon, when I'll hear the couple bicker about the stale bread or the radiator. I pick up snippets of conversation: "...AND HE'S A TOTAL ZIONIST..." and "...CHEAP WINE AND CHOPPED-UP FRUIT!" Last night, one of them snored so loudly ("ZZZZZ!") that I could not sleep, and the situation was so ridiculous that I started laughing. Upstairs, our neighbor is probably writing something about her crazy downstairs neighbor who bursts out laughing at 3am. You know, the same neighbor who is constantly asking rhetorical questions such as "Who has short legs?" and answering with "MILO has short legs!" I bet she thinks I have chopped off someone's limbs below the patella, and that there is some serious Misery shit going on below her studio apartment.


A few weeks ago, before he decided to escape from the backyard and join a rough-and-tumble Mission cat gang, Minou had beached himself on my bed. I love this cat. (I'm glad to have him back, limp and all.)

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Barthelona or butht

My niece was born when I was eight years old, and that event propelled my family to England. I still remember sitting with Elizabeth, holding her carefully in a room filled with porcelain, trying hard not to break the baby or the Royal Worcester. My parents and I also made the journey from Merry Olde to Paris on a hovercraft; I suppose we must have left from Dover, but I don't recall seeing its white cliffs. Regardless, I still have little bits and pieces of that trip in my head, and whenever I go to Paris, the rubbery scent of the Métro whisks me back to that time.

After that trip, I didn't leave the country again for at least 10 years, and then only to Canada. While I like Canada, it only feels like an international adventure if you have to fly there; crossing the bridge from Detroit by flashing your driver license doesn't have that same flair. In 2003, I took a solo trip to Montréal (which did feel different) and it was all over for me. Taking a plane somewhere, exploring a city, getting lost... I was hooked on travel. After that, I saved my money to go traveling every year.

Last year, it felt like I was living in a jet. I drew a flight map of my trips: three to Chicago, two to New York, two to Los Angeles, one to San Diego, one to Houston and onward to Belize City, and one from New York to Nice to Charles de Gaulle back to San Francisco. (Most were for work; I'm not independently wealthy.) It was exciting on some levels, but for a while in September, I would jolt awake in the middle of the night, not knowing where I was or what time zone I was in.

This year, I have flown only to New York. But that will soon change, because next month I'm going to Paris (predictably) and from there, to Spain. I very seriously considered wedging a two-day trip to Marrakech in there, because it is so close; however, I read that snake charmers in the market square will drape snakes on tourists and then expect them to pay money for a photo. My deep, decades-old ophidiophobia was enough to make me wait until I have a proper traveling companion to protect me from such terrors. Just thinking about that has my heart racing above a churning stomach. Oh god.

Anyway, Spain. Starting out in Barcelona and going to Granada (to make a Tony Wilson joke at the Alhambra, natch) and wherever else the mood takes me. And in the spirit of impulsiveness and adventure, Scott — a man I have met in person maybe four times, a friend of Sabrina's — is going to be my porter. Somehow, a running joke about us eloping in Paris turned into a running joke about him carrying my bags for this trip, until today we said, Hell, why not? Carpe diem, etc. So in a month, we will traipse across Spain. (I am going to Paris alone, so there will be no elopement.) We figure we'll either be best friends or we'll drive each other nuts by the end of the trip, and if it's the latter, well, he lives in Portland so it's not like we'll run into each other around town. If it's the former, what a way to launch a friendship, no? Adventure!

(PS, hoppy Easter from eleven years ago)


"Who is this Peter Weller?"

My mom bought some charity CD that features The Who and The Cure, and somehow she found out about my Paul Weller crush. She just IMed me: "Who is this Peter Weller?" Peter, Paul, it's all apostolic.

I sent her this video, which is a capsule of everything I superficially like about young Paul Weller: the skinny suiting, the beaklike nose, the youthful energy bursting from his body, the mop of hair stuck to his forehead with sweat, and the perfect pairing of sharp guitar with a catchy melody.

My mom was confused at first. "He's too young for you," she said. (This has not stopped me before, I should mention.) "And not as good-looking as Pattinson." (Jury is out.) I had to explain that The Jam were touring while I was floating around in a blissful amniotic pool, and that now Paul Weller is a sleazy 50-year-old who gets tanked in public and slips his 23-year-old girlfriend the tongue. Then we had the IM conversation at right. I am glad that my mother agrees that a middle-aged man who bleaches his hair is not so dreamy.

Then my mom went on to talk about how men who date much younger women have major issues. Well yeah, no shit. Except, as I pointed out, my dad is 18 years older than she is. "I was young," she said. True, but it's not as though Dad was Snidley Whiplash, tying the knot against your will, I replied.

Her response: "Yes he was! I didn't know better!" That is ridiculous, because they seem very much in love in all of the faded photos I look at, and because my dad is hardly coercive. Also, now that I think about it, I always hated Dudley Do-Right and wanted poor Snidely Whiplash to triumph once, just once. The helpless damsel always bugged me because she was such a wuss, and Do-Right had that weird chin, and Whiplash seemed more interesting. Maybe that makes me a bad feminist, or a textbook psychology case, but either way, it means I have daddy issues, right?

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I always feel like a supreme fool when writing in cafes. I go to the cafe with good intentions ("Off to write the great American novel," I told my roommate) but I get there and worry that some lurking person will read over my shoulder and laugh at my writing. So instead, I wind up downing my cocoa while writing e-mails or giggling while reading Sadly, No. The novel remains unwritten.

Yesterday, Sabs and Adam (who is called Chuckles, and I don't know why) and I walked up and down hills until we reached the Seward Street slides. They're a pair of twisty concrete slides carved into a fairly steep hill; the idea is to slide down them on a flat piece of cardboard. Going down them is a lot like I imagine luge to be. The ride is terrifyingly fast, and because the chutes are so narrow, it's impossible to go down without sacrificing slices of skin to the rough sides.

There were children playing on the slides, and we shoved them aside to do things grownup style. I kid, but when one of them went down on a skateboard, I couldn't help but wonder why his dad didn't seem to see the broken limb that would inevitably ensure. As for me, I braved those concrete death traps only once, and I just about shit my pants with fear. Getting air on a concrete slide is not my idea of a good time. "Oh god, I'm going to break my tailbone," I thought. "And what if I somehow knock out my teeth?" (The latter remains one of my great fears, even after all these years.)

Sabs and Chuckles are more fun than I am, so they went down a few more times while I played photographer. Sabs posted one of her pictures, but you can't see how scraped up we are. This is the problem with being an oldster: You get damaged more easily and the scars take longer to heal. (Sounds like some corny veiled emotional metaphor, but it's not.)

Photo via someone else's Flickr


The Best Thing About Yesterday

...actually, wait, this wasn't the best thing about yesterday. Finding out that Minou, who'd gone missing (but was found thanks to my expert lost-cat flyering), hadn't broken any bones in his 12-foot dive to freedom, was the best thing. Or wildly guessing on trivia questions with Gabriel at the Edinburgh Castle (which I always want to call the Gothic Castle, as a nod to Arrested Development. But this is definitely the thing that put me in a good mood:

I always loved it when, after listing their "Thanks to..." in liner notes, bands had a "No thanks" list, too. I have one of those lists in my mind.


say hello

    it's anniet at gmail.


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