Thursday, September 21, 2006

there but for the grace of god goes jimmy connors

I loved him for an academic year.

November 1982 - July 1983

An academic year if you scoot it over a couple of months. An academic year if there were a long teacher's strike.

xoxox He was Bjorn Borg. xoxox

I didn't even like tennis, beforehand. FOREHAND! (I haven't played tennis in twenty-two years. Is it a forehand? The one that's not a backhand? Yeah. I was really good.) But then in November of my freshman year of high school, I went with a few friends to see an exhibition match between Jimmy Connors and Bjorn Borg.

We were sitting behind one of the ball boys on Bjorn Borg's side. (Do they switch sides?) (Twenty-two years.) I was eating Skittles. Bjorn Borg lost an important point to Jimmy Connors. He turned to get the ball from the ball boy.

I caught his eye.

I shrugged and made a "Meh, what are you gonna do?" face to him.

He shrugged back with the same face!

I suddenly loved Bjorn Borg and tennis itself. The bag of Skittles I was eating became the Shroud of Turin. I carried it like a holy relic in the plastic pencil bag that hooked onto the inside of my three-ring binder. Although I had never played a sport in my life for more than the ten minutes it took for any P.E. teacher to give up and let me sideline myself with a fake injury, I decided I would join the school tennis team. I even joined a community tennis team for a minute, concurrently. Also, I subscribed to Tennis magazine.

This bag of Skittles is a re-creation. A dramatization, if you will. The actual bag was not a bag of "fundraiser" Skittles. They were just regular non-fundraising Skittles. Although I suppose all Skittles are a fundraiser for the people who make Skittles.

I was the bottom seed of both teams. Except for once! Once, I beat the second-to-worst person on the high school team! And then I was the second-t0-worst person on the team! But then very very very soon I was the worst person on the team again. I think the teams should have been seeded according to who the happiest person on the team was. I would have been the top seed with a bullet. I was never discouraged by my poor play. If my racket made contact with the ball and made that fooomp sound, I was aces in my book regardless of whatever trajectory the ball had afterwards. If I didn't fault while I was serving, I felt like Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert Lloyd and Carling Bassett* all wrapped up. Pop! Foomp! Shuffle shuffle! Foomp! Net! Whoo!

*Carling Bassett! The Anna Kournikova of 1982. Surely you saw the tennis movie "Spring Fever", in which she co-stars with Susan Anton. Because I did.

Our tennis coach, Mr. Case, kept yelling at me, "Footwork!" And in my mind I was like, oh, footwork....footwork's irrelevant. You don't play tennis with your feet. You play it with your hand! Check me out....fooomp!

I thought of Bjorn Borg all year, and wondered if he thought of me. Who was that adorable woman who shrugged at me from behind the ball boy? She's so understanding. She relaxes me. She'd make a wonderful wife. I don't care what anyone says, I love braces on women. She's not THAT small. And what a cute blouse she wore. I am batshit for large leg o'mutton sleeves. If I was given a homework assignment, I wrangled Bjorn Borg into it however I could. I remember giving a presentation about Bjorn Borg in front of my Language Arts class. Later, many people found polite, indirect ways to tell me to please stop talking about Bjorn Borg when they signed my yearbook, as you may have seen in a previous entry.

I had to miss watching parts of Wimbledon on tv that year. Family vacation to Orcas Island. No television. HISSY FIT. NERVOUS BREAKDOWN. THE SOB THAT WAS HEARD 'ROUND THE WORLD. This resulted in a Walkman. I accepted bribes then, and I accept them now.

Boris Becker won that year, I think. And I was like, Boris Becker? Who's THIS Johnny-come-lately? I've loved tennis since LATE LAST YEAR. Feh. Tennis isn't what it used to be. Kids today. I think I'm going to hang it up.

And I hung it up. By August it was as though Bjorn Borg and tennis never existed. I dropped them like a couple of used kleenexes and started dating The Police's album Synchronicity. Bjorn Borg was the Iceman? I was the Iceman.

Monday, September 18, 2006

the plum tree house

Wooo! Woo-hoo!

Dave and I have decided on an exterior for our new house. I canna believe it.

At first I was like, it's got to BLEND into the LANDSCAPE! BLEND! BLEND! It must look like it grew out of the EARTH! Grey stone! Warm wood! But nothing we could afford was quite looking right.

And then dorking through a magazine I saw this ad for that door, and I went apeshit. Something about that blue-violet stain drives me nuts. Love it. And since the house is evicting a couple of beautiful old plum trees, that purple feels like a nod to the plums. Plus, the door. Love it, too. We'll take it.

Dave was at the Pink House today, cleaning it out (sad. SAD. Soon I will write of my relationship with the beloved old Pink House.) and when he got home I showed him this ad, and he loved it instantly, said he was rapt with it. I smacked him on the arm and some thrilled gibberish flew out of my mouth like, "TaTAH!" and then he made fun of me for five minutes. It was such a Finn-style response.

Okay, look, we're going to buy a new camera tomorrow. You've got to see that boy. He's crazy. His new thing is to suddenly attempt to launch himself backwards out of whomever's arms he happens to be in. You have to be on your toes. Placid placid placid placid NESTEA PLUNGE TO MY DEATH*!

*Universe. I am KIDDING.

Friday, September 15, 2006

i got myself a rooster and i put him on the fence and he yelled for hale high 'cause he had good sense

Well, we did it. We went to the reunion! Here's my report:

Wait. First, look, we have no photos because our camera hasn't turned up yet. I know. And also it's terrible because Finn has this excellent hilarious tall red velour mouse hat that he's finally grown into, so he looks like the Cardinal of the Mice. We just discovered that this morning. He's like, oh, my God, this magical hat makes everybody love me even more. And he bangs his mittened fist on the steering wheel of his Bébé Pod learn-to-sit-up seat with imperious new joy. Love me, subjects! Okay, now he's a king. He turned into a king, from a cardinal. Whatever, man. Bear with me. You know what I mean.

We're just going to buy a new camera, and then we'll find our missing one, and then we'll have two.


...dum dee dum.....

Well, we did it. We went to the reunion! Here's my report:

*Ladies are easier to recognize from their youth than men. The men were largely beefed out and sort of balded up. We were given little name tags that were actually our senior pictures (!) (return of the eyeliner!) with our names written tinily beneath them. You had to really peer like hell at the little nametag to make out the name, so they were pretty useless. You weren't going to walk up to someone and sort of make out with their chest for a second and then be like, oh, hello, Mike Frank. I kind of knew you. Or (squint, squint) ...oh, sorry....Richard.....Ro...senthal. We haven't met. Also, I wasn't wearing my glasses. Oh, I had them in my bag. But I wasn't wearing them. And I wasn't gonna wear them. Reunion! Vanity! Legitimate! If silly! And all night, I was like, dang it, would you believe it? I don't have my glasses. More's the pity. What a kerfuffle! Can't see who any of you are! So I talked to far more ladies than I did fellows.

*There was a healthy bunch of people that I was really happy to see. My friend Kris from Complain-o-Peeps, she and I met up with my dear old friend Sandi for a drink before the proceedings, and together we formed a reunion home base from which to operate. It was a joy to see her. You. It was a joy to see you. I know you're reading this, you cute Sandi. Call me. Seriously. (Kris, I see you all the time, relatively, so I feel I don't have to cite you, although you are always delightful.) And my old friends Kate and Kasia, it was a joy to lay eyes upon them. Kasia I hadn't seen since high school, and it had been nearly a decade since I'd seen Kate. Great ladies. A treat. And my favorite dude from high school was there, Mike Stanford. Only talked to him for a second, but I always thought he was the bee's knees. One of those quietly hilarious guys. That was nice! And Miss Kim Clark, who was in the drama class photo from the previous entry practicing her facial expression, she was a real treat to see as well. Warm and funny and down to earth. And there were lots of others, too. If for some freak reason you're reading this and you were there and you're like, what about me?, then it's safe to say that you're utterly among them.

*I totally got mistaken for somebody else in this great way at the end of the night. Dave and I were trying to make it out the door to go home, and I ended up in conversation with this one woman I knew. Lovely conversation, we were happy to see each other, but then I cut it short because we had to get home to the baby. And she was like, "Well, I would have known you anywhere. Kasia Zasoski!" And I didn't have the time or energy to correct her, so when she said, "But it's not Zasoski anymore, is it?!" I just threw out a cordial, "No, it isn't!" and we were on our way.

*Some people turned out to be dicks, is all I'll say about that. I'm not concealing any big story, I promise. You can just tell when somebody has turned out to be a dick, and that, my friends, was the case for a few of these ol' Raiders. But this was mostly only so for people who were headed that way twenty years ago.

*The keeping-it-real prize goes to Tim Little! Man, was he ever refreshing. He was like, I don't know what all these people are talking about, all "my life is so great"....MY life has been a roller coaster! He'd tried to go back to school six times, been diagnosed with ADD, been married, been divorced, is currently a bus driver, and was like fuck it! I'm on a ROLLER COASTER! God bless him. The honesty! I love it. Live long and prosper, man.

*Some exchanges were just like, here, these are my baby pictures. Okay, I see yours. Okay. Check. Move along.

*For some reason, a lot of people thought I'd moved to California. I've never even considered mvoing to California. They were like, we couldn't find your address! We heard you'd moved to California! Maybe they also thought I was Kasia Zasoski, who really lives in California.

*I wore that shirt. Nobody was like, AWESOME SHIRT! Nor was anybody like, what's with your shirt?

There was a lot of HEY! Nice to see you! followed by an awkward pause and then followed by I think I'm going to get a drink! Good to see you! Which is what you'd expect.

*It would be stretching it to say that I ate sixty dollars worth of spicy popcorn shrimp.

*Dave was a great sport. He and Kris's husband Orion played pool and were low-key together. And he looked all foxy in his black corduroy blazer. And I was like, man, why is this music so loud! Nobody's going to be able to hear his foxy accent! So I kept working it into conversation that he's from Australia, which is retarded, but so am I.

*I loved seeing how some people who hadn't really come into focus in high school had bloomed in the intervening years. That's always how it should be, and usually how it is. You don't want to peak in high school. It's better to save it up. I'll be advising Finn to be as awesome as he likes in high school, but keep a little awesome in his pocket to detonate later in life.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

i got my braces off and I know that soon you will too

I've been poring over my high school yearbooks, boning up for the reunion. First I will share some thoughts/epiphanies/top-notch ideas I've had, and then I will treat you to some of my favorite texts from my yearbook signatures over the years.

1. I looked, and the results are in. There is not one girl in my class who wore more eye makeup than I did. No one can touch me. If a little eyeliner is pretty, a lot is SO pretty. Have a look at my senior picture. Bottom right-hand corner.

In my defense, my hair is not particularly egregious, and that photo was taken in 1985. But that is some not-fucking-around eyeliner. I remember a friend of mine gently telling me during my freshman year, "Tina, your eyes are so pretty. You don't need to wear so much eye makeup." And I was like, what is she talking about? I look GREAT. In retrospect, I understand that she was just looking out for me. If she has any sartorial or cosmetic advice for me at the reunion, I'm taking it.

2. Was it your experience that all sorts of the most random people in the world wrote their phone numbers down for you when they signed your yearbook? Give me a call this summer if you get bored. People wrote down their phone numbers who would have been seriously startled if I'd dialed them. Here's my great idea: I want to call all those numbers now. Mrs. Skoglund? Is Eric there? Oh, not for a while, now? Well, if you talk to him, tell him I was bored so I thought I'd call. Tina Kunz. Kunz. Tina Kunz. From Nathan Hale. Great. Thank you.

3. Here are some photos from our drama class. The caption for the picture at the top really shows you what a great foundation we budding actors were given. I shall provide it for you below, as it's too small to read.

"TOP LEFT: Kim Clark, Kisha Palmer, Tina Kunz, Joanna Lasky and Christi Rhodes (sic) practice their facial expressions for drama class."

To be a good actor, you really have to know how to make facial expressions. Look what a good actor I was already at the tender age of 16! I could make a look at that, that's funny expression, and I could make an I'm an airhead expression. Twenty years later, I bet I can make at least twenty variations on those. I am a wonderful actor. They say it takes twenty years to make an actor. Perhaps I will do a skit for everyone at the reunion.


And now it's time to enjoy some classic yearbook signatures, or excerpts thereof, or simply a great opening line or so. Most of these are from people I didn't know well, or barely knew at all, rather than from my close friends. Those signatures are the ones I enjoy the most - the pure space-fillers. I think these people rose to the challenge of just filling the space very handsomely. I shall remove the names, so no one is unfairly shamed should they be Googled:

Hey, Tina!! Hey there's enough room up here so I think I'll start to sign! Oh no Mr. Bill! Where to [illegible] Well, hey dude! Chem was a joke this year with Mitch. Michellin Man! It was an adventure, an experience, or something like that! We're Seniors next year! Wow, Hey, Cool (and the gang) I like traffic lights I like traffic lights I like traffic lights " " " " But only when they're green!! Brrrrrrr [drawing of a rocket taking off] 1600 KJET Seattle, Whatever! KJET is cool, No class will ever be as weird or fun as Brock's! Strip Pocher in the Van! COP!! New Coke Sucks [drawing of a can of New Coke with the caption 'too much nutrasweet'] Anyway, I hope you have a rockin, rollin, splishing, splashing summer and I'll see you in September, In more classes! Bye, your friend, XXXX XXXXXX

How's life? Or should I say how's Bjorn Borg. You know you just love him. Too bad we didn't talk too much this year. Hasn't it been so boring in History. Oh, well, keep in touch. My number is XXX-XXXX! Gerard "The Great"

It is almost summer time and that means no more Kopta [old batty French teacher] and lots more PARTIES! Your tennis playing has really improved and somebody you will be as good as BJORG BORN. Have a great summer and see you at the beach. XXX, '86

Radical pen!

Your a really strange person but I'm glad I got to know you. Tina you shouldn't bring so much pizza if your not going to eat it. Not much time left so I'll just say have an awesome summer and I'm sure I'll see you around but if I don't give me a call - XXX-XXXX, Love, _arrett _mith P.S. We'll have to play some tennis this summer.

WELL I CONFESS I HAVEN'T HAD YOU IN ANY OF MY CLASSES! So I can't say that BUT I still enjoyed the things we did and I'm going to miss you. I'm going to miss lot's of people. Remember I'm going to Germany so while your missing people feel sorry for me. However I'm not depressed right now so I think the first thing we should do is go PARTY!! Dude. In all seriousness you are a wonderful person and I think your beautiful too. So stick to it dudette, remember me, remember Ms. Kreuger and remember to smile I LOVE YA _RUCE _ASON P.S. serious good luck in the years to come and may you live in a boat this big. [arrow pointing to a big boat in a photo] P.P.S. remember everything important studette

Well, there you have it. I bought that shirt. I'm going to wear it. I have a haircut scheduled for the day of the reunion, which is always a mistake. I considered flipping through the senior photos for the most upsetting haircut, and getting mine done that way as a tribute, but I think I will just let the chips fall where they may.

In parting, here's the back cover of my senior year yearbook. See if you can find my picture in there. (Hint: Look to the eyeliner.) Also, aren't you surprised to learn that Bill Cosby, Marilyn Monroe and that bull went to my high school? Well, they did. Look at 'em.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

i am waiting for the cloth version

A couple of days ago Finn had his first sit-down on his own with a book. It was a cloth number called "Fluffy Chick & Friends". (I would have taken a picture but our camera is missing. I know! Everybody send vibes that we'll find our camera. You know, find-y vibes.) It was so great! He was crinkling the crinkle business on the front cover, grabbing the pages in his little be-mittened hands and waving them back and forth.

And then I thought about cloth books, and went off on an imaginary tangent. See, I don't have a lot of time to read these days. While I was breastfeeding Finn the other day, "Fluffy Chick & Friends" was lying on the couch next to me, and since there was no grown-up reading material at arm's length, I grabbed it and read it.

The blah blah horse is in the stable. Give her a wave (or something), her name is Mabel.

I imagined some old friend coming up to me, maybe at the reunion, and asking me what I've been reading lately. And I imagined replying, "Oh, well, I'm been, um, sort of into cloth books? Um....let's see....I just read 'The Big Moose'...and that was pretty crinkly...there's a goat in it whose horns were sort of vinyl and pointy and you could grab them, so...yeah, um, it's got a lot of good textures, you might give that one a read...."

Texture is something that just gets left behind in adult literature*! And I think that should change. I'd love, say, a cloth version of Anna Karenina, where there could be interludes with different textures for various parts of the story.

*I speak not of porn, freaks.

****Anna Karenina Spoiler Alert, because I ran these ideas past Dave and he was like, I was going to read that.....******************

It could be like:

Feel Anna Karenina's black dress!
(and then you pat it with your big fat hand and you're like, oh, velvety.)

This is the wheat that Levin is growing!

(Stalky...wheaty....I can feel it with my fingers.)

Feel the icy indifference as it increases in Vronsky's heart towards Anna!

('s cold...and hard...I can poke his little heart...(stroke, stroke) feels cold on my hand.)

Here's a puff of steam from the train that Anna throws herself under. Feel the steam!
(.....feels poufy.....)


I think that this is an idea whose time has come. And I'd like to hear some of your ideas for the textures we can enjoy from famous books when the cloth versions come out.

Friday, September 01, 2006

my ultra prime number

Look down at the boy in the middle looking down.

He's 41 years old today, that guy. Happy Birthday, sweet Dave o' mine.

That up there is where we met, on the north shore of Maui. That's us in the picture in the same spot where we fell in love, two years later on our honeymoon.

We met on a yoga retreat that a mutual friend had organized - or really, that a mutual friend threw. Eleven of us were flown to Hawaii from various parts of the world, and treated to 10 days of oki-do yoga, fresh organic food cooked for us thrice daily, and for two of us, the loves of our lives.

*!*!*Thank you, Deb.*!*!*

Oh, man, lame! Lame! I mean, how do you thank someone for that? There's no way to ever do it properly. I will forever feel hobbled and backwards and inadequate in the thanking-her department.

The first five days were our Festival of Shyness. We each had instant flutters for each other, but neither of us were very forward*. However, the more Dave talked, the more the goner I. He seemed to me like a composite Beatle of some parallel universe, charming and foxy and sweet.

*I'm the worst flirt ever - not worst as in incorrigible, worst as in my best move was handing him his napkin directly as I was setting a table, instead of putting it down on his plate like I'd done with everybody else's napkins. Oh, lay it on with a trowel, Miss Loose Morals. Anything could happen.

On the fifth day, we went on a snorkeling trip to Molokini. In the van on the way back, our knees touched and we didn't move them. Smoke! Spark! Zap! Zzzt! Later that afternoon, Dave and I were hanging around reading poetry books and our friend Emma came up to us - THOUGH WE HAD DECLARED NOTHING YET TO EACH OTHER, NOTHING HAD BEEN BROACHED - and said to us:

I just want you to know that I'm so happy for you. You're both such good people, and you deserve love.

While I died and fell through the floorboards and was buried alive** of embarrassment, she apparently said something else, like, the rest of us are all leaving so why don't you two just do whatever you have to do. And then she left.

**Yes. I had died and was also buried alive.

I resurfaced from my grave and said something strangulated like, oh, Emma, but Dave had his shit supremely together and took my hand and made us happen.

I can't even tell you about our first kiss because it was too private even for Dave and myself to witness, I think. It was like some light came and hid the kiss from us. I can only get a vague handle on it. It was like this moment wasn't for our personalities. It was for something older or finer. And then we walked down to the chair that you can barely see in the picture above, and it felt like we were walking down some invisible aisle. Not some aisle. The aisle. You know what I'm saying.

The phrase "walking on air" - you know, that's a real thing. That actually comes from something! I had it with Dave, there in Hawaii. I could really not feel the ground underneath my feet, or I could, but barely, like my feet were so far below my brain that the message that ground was hitting them had too far to travel. I was like, oh, man! I can't feel the....hey, wait! That's...this is like that phrase! Huh! I thought that phrase was randomly generated! But this is what it's from!

And then came Dave in Australia and me in Seattle and the most horrible phone bill of all time. If you fall in love, don't have an AT&T phone plan, is all I'm saying. And then two months later I was in Australia, and then later we got married and now we have Finn and that's it. We're set. When Dave proposed to me in Sydney, we talked afterwards about how we were going to march cheerfully into a store, smack our hands on the counter and declare, "Two coffins, please!"

I mean it. Two coffins, please. But hold the hell off until I've done at least sixty more of these birthday posts. Thanks, universe.

Speech! Speech!