Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bleachin' your teeth, smiling flash, talking trash under your breath

The debate has waged on since May as to whether I should I go Lollapalooza for one, two, three or NO days. I'd honestly be okay with all four of those options, although it turns out the two- and three-day options will only work if I magically produce a barrel of salable plasma. So one or none, and it looks like one's winning out. Paul and his friends are coming up to stay with me for the weekend, and they'll be attending all three days. Plus, I haven't seen Jordan since I moved and he'll be here, so, you know... reasons. Kangaroo Jack, etc. I'm going for Saturday because it has the highest Bands I Actually Want to See quotient, although skipping Sunday means missing the National and the Weakerthans. Eh, who knows... I'll probably trick myself into thinking a Sunday ticket makes sense too. Then, the following week, when I'm eating kleenex for lunch and using bingo chips for contacts, I will be satiated by the knowledge that I spent $80 to see Gold Digger performed live.

Tentative Saturday schedule:
Margot & the Nuclear So and So's
Mason Jennings
Explosions in the Sky
Okkervil River
Broken Social Scene

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Stop doing.

At the job I held prior to the job I currently hold (doesn't get much more specific than that), we were at one time instructed to make "Stop Doing" lists, as opposed to "To Do" lists. It could be because the number of bad habits I employ far exceeds my list of life ambitions, but I found the task really easy, to the point where my list was long and disorganized and extended onto footnoted post-its and scribblings on the backs of my hands. I'm not sure what happened to that list, but I've started to compose a new, improved one, a Stop Doing 2.0 if you will. Most of the items will remain proprietary, known only to me, my secretary and my life coach. (Stop Doing #445: Save money. Fire private secretary and life coach.) But for now, I have vowed to stop drinking on weeknights and, stemming from that, to stop being a pushover when the peer pressure to do so mounts. I tend to be friends with enablers, and since that will never change (enablers are also fun, passionate, unceasingly caring and extremely loyal), I need to grow a pair. Diet Coke is cheaper anyway, and I can always slur my speech for effect. Falling down shouldn't be a problem either.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I was putting on my shoes for work yesterday, which incidentally had small heels, and I thought about the line from Little Women when Amy's going through the box of donated clothes and pulls out a pair of shoes for Jo to wear to the ball/coming-out party. She says something to the effect of, "Jo! Look at these shoes! What cunning little heels!"

I think I'm going to try to say "cunning little heels" more often.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Life is funny.

I don't have a ton to say right now. It's been a weird week. But last night, as I lay on my boxspringless mattress trying to fall asleep despite the drunken din below my window and the missing ceiling fan up above, I thought about the last time my dad was sick. And I remembered writing about it in a now-abandoned LiveJournal. I went and found it this morning, and it didn't take me long to be reminded that life is cyclical, and age doesn't always bring wisdom. In some ways I wish that I could channel the me of three years ago when dealing with the world's complexities.

November 14, 2004
I'm 22 now. Last year I gained the right to drink in bars and on the street from bottles nestled in worn paper bags. This year I've gained a palindrome and the sneaking fear that from now on the years will personify themselves as small, numeric bullet trains, hurtling past me faster than I can find responsibility...somewhere...

In this pile of ankle socks and cats.

Friday night we saw Sideways. It's a movie I probably would've seen anyway, but living in Omaha brings a certain obligation to put food on Alexander Payne's depressing table. I liked it - I know more about banjo making than I do about wine, and there was many an uncomfortable moment - but I enjoyed it all the same. There's something strangely soothing about Thomas Hayden Church's voice.

Saturday we ate at the Dell for my birthday dinner. I dragged Mary Clare along in an effort to bridge the ever-closing gap between MC the sibling and MC the slightly younger, shorter and cuter college friend. Annie and Shelley had spent the afternoon planning what I would later find out to be a Barbie-themed party afterwards. Mary Clare chose to return to the dorms, which was probably better. The alternative was to stick around and watch me pass out halfway up the stairs later on that night. Because I am excited by technology, I've posted some pictures of the evening. So now I'm 22. The tiny trains are picking up the pace. I'm not ready, and they don't care.

I'd originally defined the intensity of this semester with fairly tangible tasks and obligations. A full load of credits, an internship at an ad agency that will remain unnamed because I don't want to end up like that Capitol Hill intern who's blog was discovered (resulting in a a job loss and a great deal of public shame), and a position as editor of Creighton's literary mag. And while all of this has left me with small, bloody bald spots at times, nothing has gotten out of control.
I keep eating.
I keep sleeping.
I keep showering, sometimes with soap.

But the last few weeks have caused that intensity to morph from a "Full House"-type drama to a more "Party of Five" inspired stress. Two weeks ago, my dad fell off a stepladder and passed out in my neighbor's driveway. A passerby found him, and they got him to the hospital in good time. Turns out he had some bleeding under his skull (a Heeeeematoma), and they kept him for a few days just to make sure he'd be okay. So he missed a week of class, but was back on his feet pretty soon after.

Cut to three days after that, when, while driving to Web Design at 8am in a cold Omaha drizzle, a Maroon Coup Deville ran the light at 24th and Farnum and gave my '91 Sentra the spanking of its life. In the process of spinning, braking and most likely making animal-like vocalizations, I hurt my knee - developing a Heeeematoma where I'd had ACL surgery a few years back. The Sentra was a lost cause, so Matthias and I jacked my stereo, and I'm currently driving a rented Ford Focus for what could also feed a small country, or at least me, for a good month. I have to get a new car when I go home for Thanksgiving - my mom's been hinting at doing the deed before I get home, which could entail a whore-red '87 Tercel waiting for me in the driveway.

Cut back to this morning, when I awoke at noon to find out that my dad, who they thought was fine, had been ambulanced to St. Mary's after waking up vomiting in the middle of the night with a severe headeach. He had emergency surgery this morning to stop the bleeding in his head. He's still in ICU, but my mom says he's awake now and making the occasional poorly received joke.

So I'd like to believe that everything's fine, but this is hard for a number of reasons. It's hard because right now I just want to be home with my family - with my brothers, watching Law & Order reruns with them, making fun of Paul's tiny mustache, telling them things are going to be okay. It's hard admitting that my dad's at the age where something small like falling off a stepladder could mean something big like internal bleeding and surgery. I don't want to believe that he's getting to the place that I've spent my life dreading he'd reach.

And all of those fears, some unfounded and some completely logical, spiral into worrying about my family's welfare if my dad can't work anymore, etc. I get selfish and worry about work I'd have to make up if I had to go home on short notice. I should probably look at the small picture and hope that he'll be able to eat sugar-free pie with us at Thanksgiving. I haven't had a decently coherent conversation with him in a few weeks, and I miss him.

So this is what being 22 is like and this is what approaching the end of the first half of the last year of college feels like. I don't want to wish away time, but I'm ready for this segment to be over. I can't even remember the last time I allowed myself to completely relax. But there's a cat on my bed and he looks lonely, so for now tension is eased in short spurts of cat-sleeping, and watching Britney Spears lick Snoop Dog's goatee. Then I can go home.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Paper Snowflakes

Last night I saw Son Ambulance at Schubas. The only other time I've seen them was probably 2005ish, when they played a free show at the Joslyn for art patrons, local fans and anyone else who wandered in off the street looking for air conditioning and/or macaroni art projects. And at the time, I was too busy painting a rudimentary self portrait with a group of more talented five-year-olds to pay close attention. Anyway, this time the audience was more intimate, slightly older, and with two beers and no dinner, the buzz probably added a little something as well. All in all, the show was good. Not great, mostly because it took them awhile to catch their stride and get into things, and the set ended soon thereafter. The band itself is awesome, and I'm not just saying that as a former Omahan. But... for the sake of full disclosure, the lead singer used to live across the street from me on Dewey Ave., in that big, crumbling mansion full of hipsters, vagrants and hipstervagrants.

In other news...
This morning I left a frozen veggie burger in a plastic bag somewhere in the apartment. I'm not sure where, and I'm already dreading the day I go to throw away a q-tip and find it decaying beneath the bathroom sink.

I'm treating this like my regular blog, so maybe I'll post it in my regular blog as well. (If you're reading my regular blog, it means you're reading the copied and pasted but no less authentic version.)

I have never wanted to be where I currently am less than I do today.

Pitchfork is this weekend. If you're in Chicago, you should go and hang out with my sister. You will have to be comfortable with the fact that I'm living vicariously through you (it's a pretty painless process).

Annie and I, along with a few other rather rad people (see photo), are traveling from our respective cities to KC this weekend to celebrate the nuptials of John and Monica. There are also plans to drink, reminisce, make mistakes and reminisce some more about mistakes recently made. Hopefully we'll return with stories and actual blog posts, because I'm feeling like a cock tease for hinting at good things to come.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

At home in St. Louis. Where the men are men, and the humidity is cloying. I have resigned myself to looking effortlessly dewy for the next three days.

I'm not big on talking to strangers. Never have been. This characteristic was beneficial as a child, as not even candy would provoke me to start a conversation with the friendliest unfamiliar looking people. That Rick Springfield song was old news to me. So whenever I approach a situation where stranger conversation could possibly occur, I usually take the necessary precautions in order to seem aloof and unapproachable. Last night, after four hours of pita eating, gift buying and people watching at Midway, I finally boarded my plane for home and promptly took a seat in the back... a dark corner where I could rest my head against the small, thick window and watch Chicago disappear into a cloud of ozone. When I could sense that someone had taken the seat next to me, I promptly buried my head in my book and attempted to exude indifference. Most people can sense it when you're not up for making small talk, and most are simultaneously understanding. After all, it's 10:30 on a Wednesday night. We've all been turned into zombies by a painful series of 15-minute delays, and we're all anxious to reach our destinations. My seat friend was an exception to what I thought was a widely accepted rule and commenced conversation before he'd even had a chance to stuff his carry-on into the overhead compartment.

"What are you reading?"
"Um, just" (Exhibits book cover, continues studying last three words of previous paragraph.)
"Is it scary or funny?"
"Um, funny. I guess."

Thus began an hour long conversation that covered everything from tractor buying to the politics of small town living. I never learned his name, but I did learn virtually everything else about him. For instance,
- He has a one-year-old son named Ethan.
- He has Ethan's footprint tattooed on his left tricep. (It's difficult to show strangers a tricep tattoo. It involves complicated meneuvering from both parties. But I have to admit, it was kind of touching.)
- He monitors power lines for a living.
- He was celebrating his 29th birthday and hoped to get back to Bunker Hill, IL in time for a Milwaukees Best or ten.
- He owns livestock.
- He's not fond of minorities. (I responded to this with a grimmace, but I don't think that was enough to turn his world around.)

The conversation proceeded, despite my exxagerated efforts to stuff ear buds into my ear drums and cover my face with a blanket.

"Do you have a boyfriend?"
"Um, no. I mean, I did, but I don't anymore."
"Isn't hard to meet people in Chicago? Everyone's moving around all over the place."
(At this point, I mind-punched him for finding that dark place in my brain where the only other inhabitant is 50-year-old spinster me.)
"No, not really."
"How long are you in town for?"
"Until Sunday."
"So would it be rude to ask you to lunch tomorrow?"
"Yes, no, no. Not rude. But I can't." (I have to take a nap on the couch and give the cat its insulin shots.)

At this point, normal conversation would probably taper off, but this particular exchange continued until I met my brother at his idling car outside the airport. I never learned my traveling companion's name, but I owe him a bag of dry roasted peanuts for coaxing me out of my book and into reality. Normal people talk to strangers every day, and they usually learn something. I learned that it's possible to get an infant's footprint tattooed on your tricep, and that power line workers get a free vacation day when it rains. It rained today, and I found myself hoping he made the most of his day off.


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