in which we sit still and close our damn eyes and listen to albums with lyrics that lift us. i'm trying to find my way back. but i took so many wrong turns its awfully hard. where last night sitting on the floor with the frothy swishy armfuls of skirt around my waist, half atop of my drunken friends, birthday-yvonne was talking about her impending magic year your magic year is when you turn the age that is the same as your birthday day and i said my magic year, just completed, was pretty awful.
and its just that i so brutalized my Self these last twelve months.
and there are days where i'm amazed i'm not see-through yet.
its okay. now i'm twenty-seven. closing up the house with the red floor. each and every thought with deep scars straight across it. o the possibilites, now.
and calm, calm, calm like a cat. i watched everyone fill up the house and watched their methods and watched who they talked to and looked for and stared over. filling up the house with people like a balloon, or maybe like the molecules filling up the inflatable toy, which curtis jumped on and others kicked or tore into. and we had a party! the loud kind. the best kind. the safe kind---where it is my very own house and i am allowed to not speak and just stare at my favorites all night. bottle of wine. careful and nursemaidish and solid bodied. when the police pushed past me and filed up the stairs in a line, and there is only room on the stairs for single file---i looked up at my windows, which in response exploded and rained glass onto the street below.
oh, oh my stars.
yours, amanda L. at 8:26:00 PM [+]
on a card laying on the floor
a drawing of a snake floating in midair with a wobbly cat. the snake is saying COOL and the cat is saying in two separate speech bubbles:
1. i want to be your friend
2. i am going to eat you
yours, amanda L. at 12:48:00 PM [+]
binford model middle
i tell the seventh graders you have to be nice to me because today is my birthday. and they are. pandora arrives with a friend and a questionable hall pass and i let her stay all period because i'm the teacher and its my say. we catch up on gossip. when everyone gets unravelled and out-of-seat i stop to bellow if you have something to be working on, you need to be sitting down at your tables and working. if you are my teachers assistant, you should be working on your independent project. and then pandora and katie and i continue chatting. i know this is unfair and it makes me want to laugh. who cares. i'm nice, i let anyone out to get water, i write hall passes with abandon, i'm letting them talk and run around and throw crayons, to a point. and pandora sways back and forth saying trademark outbursts "the singer from puddle of mudd signed my back!!" and "so-and-so said luke is SPOILED!!" and when there is a fire drill i herd the kids around like ducklings and read their names from a list.
anyone who has spent any time around pandora knows that resistance is futile. she's the chorus out of greek mythology. she's baby-jessie-kelley. you cannot ever win, and this is why i find myself popping popcorn in the teachers lounge while her and katie sit giggling in the hallway, waiting for me so i can sit with them at lunch. the teachers in the lounge roll their eyes; and all at once i'm super glad to be bustled off to the noisy cafeteria and not stuck with the teachers' leather chairs and adkins diets.
katie: i've been in there before.
pandora: me too.
me: its not so cool.
pandora: yeah it is!
me: whats cool about the teachers' lounge? its boring.
pandora: they have leather chairs!
at lunch the kids i've just taught fourth block look like they're going to choke when i sit down at the end of a table. paris yells no no no noooo! and pretends to fall off a chair. pandora cups her hand around her mouth and gestures to the girls at the other end of the table, whispering. loserville.
we eat the popcorn, dipping it into puddles of barbecue sauce, which is our combined invention and is delicious.
yours, amanda L. at 11:09:00 AM [+]
cut off all my hair. all of it. it feels good, like an angry gesture. had jess pop two holes through my ears as well, which hurt and continued to hurt for an hour afterwards, a soft burning, also good, also in an angry way. they look like little silver eyelets.
i'm craving danger and heat and rough things.
i took eliza's bicycle, painted it a dirty old green, attached some things. and when dennis rode a swerving wheelie through the thirty saturdaynight bicyclists, which included a large assortment of brohan that universally stop at the intersections to balance like tattooed ballerinas or little soldier boys or some other serious-faced type of toys (the type of toys that are not fun, that only balance), i followed behind him fast and laughing like crazy.
the other day, ian horrible told me that no one likes me because i am loud and laugh all the time.
at that, i swore inwardly to be even louder, if that is even possible, and laugh with even more relish. good god, what a cruddy fucking world.
my birthdays upon me and i am so angry at richmond. in the way when you are irish and fighting with your brother and you hate one another but still you are brothers with a bright and fiery bond. and that counts for something.
saturday i stayed awake so long that my consciousness just gave up. we sat down along the highway bridge saying, i love highway overpasses and then each shared a story about loving highway overpasses, at which point we leaned backwards and fell fast asleep. this happened before in a different way, on the bus to new york. the archetype of stories that are potent lullabys? a half-hour later a police was saying, what are you doing?? and we were too sleepy to tell him.
i was thinking to myself what am i doing? and it is daytime out here.
loly visited with presents. her car is blue and the license plate says LOLEI. we carried jim straub to the gates of maymont, where he leapt over the fence and disappeared, searching for roses.
my little sister doesn't climb fences. i imagined her struggling and falling and hating her body and its adult awkwardness and i wanted to protect her from the concept itself, oh all at once my chest got hard inside like when we were smaller and i thought i'd have to fight someone for her, or more importantly, keep the world at bay so that she would not find out about it. and later i took it out on jim, and turned it into something far away and remote from that moment.
it is summer. everyone sits quietly on their porches, together, blinking at the daylight, roused to motion only for swimming. do we have a car or bikes---at which point along the river are we approaching it? i'm putting things gently into trash bags at my apartment, manuvering to keep close to the ten dollar boxfan. when friends call to say, want to go swimming, i drop what i'm holding and watch by the windows.
and despite what you've heard, i love sitting quietly more than most other things.
yours, amanda L. at 4:20:00 PM [+]
on the particulars of hiding in public spaces
we snuck along the edges and around the wedding tables, scooping up chocolates strewn over their tops, like jacks. its as if we are ruining some other childrens' trail of breadcrumbs and emerged in a large and weary ballroom, empty, oversaturated with ghosts and bathed in a pale orange light with windows overlooking all the city completely. that boy, the one that is forward, put his hands on my waist, once, as we walked up the staircases.
today, now, it is my last day playing pretend at being a highschool english teacher. now: awake at 745am after lots of things. at one point: watching a snake creep along in the river, searching for careless children. oh, i could be. and at one point: dancing, bicycling, all things. and overall: magnets and their qualities. and friends, i am sleepy and bright eyed. the archetype of waking up and thinking, there is a cause for celebration
yours, amanda L. at 8:56:00 AM [+]
when we drink too much bright orange pap we become so driven to distraction. wide-eyed awake but calm, smooth and breathless; clutching and passing battery cans. jessie and tasha on little blue and pink bikes; and stu's front porch, chris with smoking study cigarettes and a marvelously bloody knee dripping down his shin; and then this kid who uses body language as if he and i are old old friends, immediately overtakes all my personal space, who are you? i say. are we friends? and has large holes through his earlobes that i irresistibly want to stick my fingers through like they are silver rings. when we arrived he was perched on a concrete thing sipping a beer and talking to vcu bike cop. look at this! he says, and gestures to the lady with his beer can. i'm drinking with this cop! in public! but when stu tried to take her picture she fled. and so come see my bike! and hands all things, all cigarettes, all cans half drinken over to me like we are friends that share everything with no turbulence and i begin to think maybe this boy and ARE old old friends? and then agree dazedly to go on a bike ride today after work, handing over the phone number, staring the way that shyer preschoolers stare at the ones that are obviously in control of their motor skills and have grasped concepts like Opening One's Own Milk, etc.
my friends take me home in a escort parade fashion; and they spin on down the hill to go swimming, and once its quiet, standing next to the bike and its tether i can hear a faint glitchy beeping coming out from the sidewalk. oh it is dark, and secret noises, something utterly weird and soft but turns up as a plastic toy in a plastic package. i try to show it to andrew but he emerges from the bathroom with the girl right behind him and later when i am in there brushing my teeth i can't stop thinking i feel like if i touch anything in here i'll get pregnant
curtis calls everyday, and today is tripping unsharingly but demanding a bicycle ride. and the good kind that is my favorite, where we first go along paths that i have already traced and want to demonstrate, oh look at that graveyard look at that park look at that bakery look at that middle school (bonus points if you can guess where i was, reader, and what road i turned onto), and then enter unchartered parts of the city, and then get profoundly lost until emerging on some major highway and needing to ask excuse me, which direction is richmond? losing an hour and an half, yelling conversation from opposite sides of unlit, leafy roads
jim struab reads and has a sparks that makes his heart beat fast. we discuss current events, or historical ones, and i sew a shirt from shirtsleeves.
oh people, people are my favorite thing to do
yours, amanda L. at 12:24:00 PM [+]
ms. randalls third grade, we read the egypt game and all the girls got egypt fever and devoured every book in the library on the gods and godesses and during lunch would make complicated RPGesque charts in spiral notebooks of our characters and such; courtney deyoung was my best friend and i battled all year over her with emily mills, who was rich and lived in clifton on top of a steep hill and her birthday was in the winter because my dad's car creeped slowly up the ice and the goody bags for that party were extremely plush and posh; the class couple was eric hamerin and megan gradia, and during class we'd circulate the "initials list" which of course was a ragged piece of looseleaf with an erased and re-written and amended registry of proclaimed romantic alliances. and the top initials for forever were E.H. + M.G., where the paper was practically transparent because everytime megan got ahold of the list she'd vigorously erase it. but everyone knows that your friends decide when you're a couple and not you yourself, right?
halley's comet was in the sky. all our parents were grossly smug over our alleged IQs and this somehow meant a steady stream of science-themed field trips where they'd stand around, prideful and clueless, while us kids played chasing games; and the lines between trying to beat the fuck out of each other and trying to make out were extremely blurred, all the time. the comet viewing field trip was so shattering, because it was in the dark, at night, and while we all ran through the tall grass the grown-ups squinted into telescopes every kid there had their first kiss and the next morning at school we all had scratches on our faces and busted open elbows and no one mentioned a word of it at all.
four months before we had sat in class watching the challeger space shuttle take off and explode in the sky. this was shocking because it happened before our eyes. and most of us had never watched anyone die right then and there, let alone six someones, let alone six famous astronaut someones. somehow this meant: death was upon us.
and our summer's becoming so biblical
that summer was crazy because of the outbreak of about six billion cicadas. they were large and winged and black with red eyes and white milky blood (and everyone knew this because everyone had squished one) and covered every surface, holding on with sticky legs. they'd cling. they left reddish-clear skins on every leaf, hammock, rope swing, clothesline. they would land on your head when you went outside, and you'd crush them when you ran around or played. they sat in the trees and screamed all day and night. if you were nine years old it was the raddest thing imaginable. the entire world covered in black bugs! if your tenth birthday was at the end of may, you'd have your party outside in the thick of it all, and cicadas would land on the birthday cake, and everyone would shriek gleefully and yell GROSS
and they told us that the cicadas lived underground and didn't come out but once every seventeen years. this was a dramatic number, like trying to conceptualize being 22 in the year 2000. but i'll be 27 in two thursdays. and this, o friends, is fucking intense.
yours, amanda L. at 9:58:00 AM [+]
oh, my jackals: summer is for sweaty sleeping in the day times. dreaming is becoming an addiction. i fall in love over and over, and wake up to the radio. so fucking glad that its warm and i can let the outside in while we sleep. last night at the potluck everyone gleamed and barbecued and gleefully yelled over one another, then jessie and i we bicker on the bikeride home, she calls me psychology 101 and i want to say, you do not listen! to me! but instead ride off flashing-eyed and fists curled.
and at the intersection of cary and adams the air smelled like honeysuckle where i stopped and made circles and inhaled and told myself, you just need to run away and my mind the contents of this world--- and stayed very still for a long time. then down the hill. up the hill.
kanye west in the mornings. muggy air, lets swim please. children keep arriving at our school. it is dumping ground for the ones nobody likes around. ms andrews showed up carrying her baby in a baby purse. we were reading antigone.
yours, amanda L. at 12:34:00 PM [+]
ms. lewis is gay
(oh, did you hear?)
kids very very ridiculous over the new tattoo today. and not so nice to me. why you get a tattoo of a bicycle for?!
i left the room to take maiysha's folder to the office. she had to go to ISS after she chucked a literature book at my head. which missed, and flapped against the wall like a bird instead. when i got back i stared at the board and started to giggle. it was covered in the following phrases:
1. ms lewis is gay
2. chris taylor selling cigarettes 50 cents
3. j ward crew
4. mosby **the illest bitch**
and an amazing drawing of, i think, a crazy-looking chopper bicycle.
giggling is the wrong response. one has to be a grown-up. i erased the board and then decided to wash it. washing boards is fun. don't you remember? didn't you always want to be chosen to be board-washer? i carefully paint the board dusty green to a rich wet green and think over and over, you are all made of stories
now: books about people that don't know their place in the world. last night i learned to play dice games. jase and i walked extremely far and sang paula abdul songs and stopped wearily to sit on chance's front porch on the way back because an assortment of characters were lounging there. the archetype of Always looking for somewhere to stop and sleep. ok. yes: visit me before its too late and the house is gone
yours, amanda L. at 3:16:00 PM [+]
reading the dictionary.
last night, in front of my house precisely perfectly at midnight like a fairy-tale something, and it was quiet for the first time in 60 hours except for the spinkers all over library park and i thought oh what the hell and jumped the fence.
and i'm bruised and battered from my friends' bottomless well. hollering and joyous madness. an unstoppable force, rolling along, beer slung onto every surface, various tempos but constant, exhaustive dancing.
19 of us took a red-and-white short bus, with a cd player installed in it mind you, and a white van loaded with 23 bicycles to brooklyn for some black label bicycle club throw down. the bus is made of metal and motors and pink teeshirts that say SMASH and assorted alcohols and peanut chews and scraps of bright orange fabric and little bikes in a pile and us, singing along to all the songs
it would be impossible to tell the story of our weekend in one breath or several. the part where we stop at the braddock road exit and its pouring rain as freddie's dad and he struggle to pull a bicycle onto the bus with the aisles full of zach holding a small strobe light above his head and jessie's curls twisting into everyone's dancing shoulders which erupt into a loud chanting FREDDIE'S WORTH IT! FREDDIE'S WORTH IT! and the bus rolls on, swaying and reeling and drunken. the part where we have a race where people sit on the shoulders of other people who sit on bicycles and try to knock each other off as well, with more chanting and alot of yelling the word richmond. the part where we lay down in the park and immediately fall asleep, yeah i'm good at that. the part where i open one random door on the street in dumbo and am led into an enormous and empty and feverishly unlocked building, little balconies overlooking the water, watertowers with twisty stairs, tiny rooms that were warm and filled with mysterious gears and machinery, the roof and the whole of new york, this building is entirely made of stairs and doors!, a bat that flew into my hair, golden headless maniquin bodies and moldy books. the part where we rode bikes all night friday, over the williamsburg bridge, stopping for two dollar indian food at a taxi stand at four in the morning, and back over the bridge as the sun is coming up over the city. the part were we sang and hollered and grew quiet sometimes and just stared out the windows. the part where we lay on couches, spent and half-asleep in the club at some droning lullaby noise-rock filling every space, and then, reader, how at the first few seconds of dancable music everyone of us leapt up, rasul suddenly has the mic, and we are richmonders again, and the ridiculous dancing is fucking never over.
i love my friends that are powered with an unseen energy that pours from out of their eyeballs and arms: like hey! the new kid! who has weird light eyes and spoke very, very fast about science with me until i thought i would faint. and when he said, isn't the goal to not have to speak anymore, i could not speak myself and could only nod my head frantically and tangle my fingers together in agitation. and then i said, can i write you letters?
oh god. more later, maybe. really, i would rather you just call and we'll throw each other around. say the code sentence: you want to go outside and play?
yours, amanda L. at 11:27:00 AM [+]
i'm made of electricity.
the story of the lady who awoke and found a deer jumping around her house in the dark. it would have to be summer, and centreville for sure. the story of the brother and sister, and the father no one can communicate with. the story of me fixing a big skillet of dinner and fattening up my skinny friends. hospitality. invitations. the story of the man who was struck with a cannonball and made into two half men. the story of the woman who is a liar and runs away and becomes a cook at a home for pregnant girls and hides away there from her own life. later: little-kid-style skipping down cary street in the middle of the night, looking at surfaces, biting my lip, sorting it out. in the morning the whole world had shifted to one side and back again, and i woke up seasick. like i had slept on a boat.
and then everyone was looking for a fight. brownie and iris in the bathroom. jarrell, kam, ramon; and then amanda kemp telling me your day's about to get worse, this class out in two minutes
and i look at her and could only murmur is that for real? do you mean that for real? because, oh reader, i don't want to argue anymore. with anybody.
yours, amanda L. at 2:24:00 PM [+]
3. but i really want to play backgammon and eat salty olives all night, talking.
oh. remember evrim's old house? with joe and that other kid? and hospitality? i just went back and looked for a story of it to link to and there weren't any. once upon a time, evrim lived in a big old apartment and he'd cook dinners and feed me olives and there was always lemonade. he lived with a boy named joe who looked like a doll and muna had a crush on him. he also lived with a boy that had a computer in his room and was tidier than evrim and almost as tall and just as thin. they were all very good at cooking and appreciated food and were the skinniest eaters in richmond. ryan mcsweeney would teach everyone to play backgammon on the table that was...made of elephants? wasn't there something to do with elephants and that table? who remembers, please? ryan?
4. homesick for other places. gypsy-headed.
yours, amanda L. at 6:08:00 PM [+]
i left the house. there were toy cars all over the ground outside the window where i had flung them. andrew and i like to throw things out from our windows and i will miss this apartment you know.
last night we ran through the grass. it wasn't enough. everyone standing around, not sure: we're twenty year olds. we wanted it to be a party, with beers and standing. but that makes no sense, because it ought to have been running through the grass for hours and hours, until our legs were hot and itchy and our lungs were collapsing and our faces pink and all our cares gone for ever and our moms yelling from doorways for us to get home.
when lolee and i were little, walking home and over fences at the end of the night, we'd pretend the sidewalk was the only safe space and that the grass was a burbling lagoon full of alligators and swamp creatures. and then i'd shove her into the grass and scream look out for the aligators!!! they're going to eat you up!!! and then i'd become an alligator and wrestle her to the ground until she screeched warnings that she was going to tell and we'd turn suddenly angry and for-real fight and pull hair and pinch and bite until our mom called from across the neighborhood to come home this instant and we'd get up and race each other and i'd trip her right before she got to the door and it would always be the exact point when mom was opening the door one more time and laur would lay on the ground and summon imaginary tears and i'd get in trouble
yours, amanda L. at 3:39:00 PM [+]
anda gail lewis 2005. stop crying every day.