Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween, or Some Detective Work, or I Blue Myself

About twenty minutes ago, I was standing at the corner of Broadway and Belmont, waiting to cross at the light. A group of bald (of the shaved head variety) men came and stood in front of me, looking around with shifty eyes and mumbling to each other. At first I found myself wondering why the residual members of Heaven's Gate were standing in front of Chipotle. And then I noticed that more than one of them had something blue speckling their inner ears. Paint perhaps? And then, seconds before the light turned red, it all came together.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"Only a fool laughs when nothing's funny."

I started in on my library movies last night, beginning with The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. In hindsight, I probably wasn't really ready to watch a movie with its setting and subject matter, and it affected me above and beyond basic cinematic appreciation. I really can't even put into words how moving it was, visually, viscerally, etc. If you are willing to risk your Obama campaign worker stranger roommate walking in on you weeping quietly under a Cubs blanket on the couch, go ahead and rent it. It's worth it.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's so easy and easy and easy and easy and creepy and creepy and creepy and creepy

I just got an email from Lucky magazine offering me the Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style, and never before have I had more disdain for the publication because it is a magazine about BUYING THINGS. And I am still feeling guilty about my $8 cab ride last night. I imagine the next time I will be able to justify spending $200 on riding boots will be when the money fichus in our living room blooms in Spring.

I always knew I was far more productive when I was heartpoundingly, unimaginably busy. It's during those times that I can turn five spare minutes into a shiny window of output, creative or otherwise. Getting laid off is paralyzing to a certain extent. You're not angry enough to throw a brick through a window/move to Mexico/open a competing banana stand across the street. You're not satisfied enough to simply appreciate your blessings and surroundings. You're not complacent... but I guess complacency is far more paralyzing than the temporary handicap a lay-off brings. There is still a small fire burning in there somewhere.

Annie has the right idea in turning this unexpected time of reevaluation into something tangible and thought-provoking. I suggest checking it out: awesome idea, amazing person, good read. Me? I've been too busy:

Eating my roommate's waffles
Getting hooked on One Tree Hill
Trying out weird cardio equipment at the gym
Ridding the library of their subtitled movies
Not watching said movies
Dressing like a college sophomore
Watching fan-made YouTube montages, mostly of the Pam & Jim variety*
Strategizing endlessly over how I will spend the $10 Walgreens gift card my mom sent

I burned a CD of some of the songs I had on my computer at work, and while a great many are pretty shiteous and only made the cut because of some inexplicable sentimental attachment, here are a few favorites - listened to day in and day out for the past year...

Really, really awesome video starring my mom when she was eight. If you're ever talking to me and I start to stare off into space, this is what it looks like inside my mind.

Change of plans. The Bird and the Bee video extravaganza.

And this one, because it's so pretty.

*A magical recipe of poorly edited clips, the Grey's Anatomy Soundtrack and Final Cut Pro that only a random 13-year-old girl in Tampa can effectively put together

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Those who can't work shave the cat's back.

This afternoon, I spilled half a mixing bowl of liquefied casserole on my jeans and Chucks. Thursday, I was walked Spanish, as is common these days. Both occurrences were and are inconvenient and supremely uncomfortable. Every other event within the last 72 hours has been relatively positive.

Tomorrow I will cope with being a casualty of this downtrodden economy by ridding the family cat of the matted fur on his back. And as life continues its assault on the latter half of 2008, I'm still trying to laugh. I've been successful thus far. This morning my mom and I went to breakfast for her birthday, but given the circumstances, we ended up at IHOP. In the rock/paper/scissors of day-to-day existence, lay-off trumps birthday by smothering it with pity.

This blog never really had a theme before, at least not an overtly detectable one. I'm seeking purpose in the interim. Hmmmm...

Be back shortly with cereal and perspective.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Yesterday, at my friend Lauren's* behest, I jumped in at the corner by my apartment and ran a decent portion of the marathon with her. I'd like to think I kept her going for that stretch, but in reality I probably just served as an annoyance. After all, she had nearly eight miles on me by the time she reached Roscoe and Broadway and was beginning to realize just how much lay ahead. I was caffeinated, conversational and held no obligation to reach the finish line. I was a ghost runner put in place to drink free Gatorade and hound my running mate with constant, asinine observations like "look, free vaseline." Anyway, in the relatively short time I spent on the marathon route, I saw Chicago transformed into something similar to Sesame Street with more grownups and slightly fewer muppets. Each neighborhood greeted the participants with overwhelming enthusiasm, bullhorns, worn recordings of "Pump Up the Jam" and assorted gifts. In Lincoln Park, it was beer. In Old Town, green sponges. In the South Loop, it was little Snickers bars. In the West Loop, it was Fig Newtons. And in Greek Town, it was a ziplock back filled with damp, used washcloths. Probably the most questionable offering of the lot, but at that point most runners had reached a state of heat-induced confusion, and any gift was accepted with unnatural appreciation. It was a huge sweaty love fest, littered with paper cups and the occasional fallen runner. I of course ditched out as soon as I saw the gleam of a Brown Line stop in the distance, but for a few hours, I had the opportunity to see the city at its most utopian. And it was sort of awesome.

My mom's birthday is this Saturday, and I'm going home to help her celebrate. I imagine we'll mark the occasion by splitting a can of room temp Bud Light, poured into styrofoam cups and served over ice cubes.** If we decide to take it up a notch, maybe we'll eat soup. But in any event, I've been trying to figure out what to get her. A few weeks after my dad died, Lynn Johnston ran her second-to-last For Better or For Worse strip in our local paper, and it moved my mom so much that she proceeded to clip it and carry it around with her, showing it to the occasional relative and family friend. Maybe I'll frame it, maybe I'll spend the $65 to have Lynn autograph it. Or maybe I will completely forget between now and then and proceed to give her a homemade card and a gift certificate for a manicure that will never be redeemed. Regardless, here it is, for your "this would warm my heart if I were turning 60, too" enjoyment.

* Congratulations, Lauren!
** Fact: I imagine this will happen because it has happened before.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

But ships are fallible, I say

They began construction on the lobby of our office building the week I moved to Chicago, and they finished it about two weeks ago, celebrating its completion (and the addition of a half-dozen pieces of questionable modern art) with a reception last night. We milled around for a good hour and a half, refusing congealed appetizers, sipping little plastic cups of wine and gawking at all of the people who actually work in our building, on floors above and below us, every day. I ride the elevator with a few each morning. I've never seen them all amassed in one location. I guess it was eye-opening, possibly comforting. With a good Merlot buzz going (I always talk about wine! I love wine so much I guess), I ventured out into the pouring rain and met some Second City folks for a show at the IO... where I drank a bit more (I also love reneging on promises made to quit drinking on weeknights). When I got home, I made toast (and finally, I love toast) and passed out watching It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I woke up a few hours later to a news story about blood spatter conferences. Again: Blood Spatter Conferences. Which apparently exist. I was more likely to wake up to Suzanne Somers selling me a sequined jean jacket, but of course I was roused by blood spatter conferences. It took me an hour to get back to sleep. I guess the last two sentences were the whole point of that entire drawn-out story.

If you are like me, when you are on a plane, you automatically tune out the oxygen mask demonstration in order to do something more interesting, like deciding which Sky Mall page to leave your gum on or playing The Next Song Will Determine the Course of the Rest of My Life with your iPod. Sometimes I worry that I've tuned something out so many times on the simple assumption that I already know how, and that I really don't know how, and that someday I will be forced to actually do it... and not be able to.

These are two versions of one song. In my book, both parties can do no wrong. The only thing Joanna Newsom is guilty of is being incomprehensibly different from anyone else in existence. And the Decemberists could poop in a paper bag and I'd still listen to it.

The cover

The original

Friday, October 03, 2008

I'm taking you to Del Taco...

...and you can get anything you want from the menu. Even one of the more expensive items, like the Macho Burrito.

Happy birthday, Paul! You've made it 18 years without getting arrested or disowned. When Joe dropped that Tonka truck on you the day mom and dad brought you home from the hospital, I knew you'd be a survivor, and you haven't let me down yet. I'll never forget the time you let me give you a haircut when you were two or the time you went to see 27 Dresses with me when you were 17. Have a great day (register to vote). I'll see you tonight.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Dear Sarah Palin,
When you stand on the banks of the Mississippi, you can see Illinois from St. Louis. I just thought you should know that.

Enjoy your time in my fair city.


P.S. I'll be there tomorrow in case you're still around and want to compare bikinis.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Molasses Candy

So for some reason, work completely exploded over the past few days, and I'm back in the mental state I was in Sophomore year of college, when all of my obligations amassed into a semester of Program Board meetings and on-campus concerts and print design projects that resulted in 5 a.m. trips to the Kinko’s on Dodge. Annie and I would eat Chuckles from the vending machine and print poorly designed record store labels while Keith copied his face and butt. But that's neither here nor there. It all amounts to a lot of writing, a lot of sleep deprivation... I brought home some work tonight and rewarded myself with Barefoot Shiraz (viewing that as a reward is a pretty clear indicator of my income bracket).

Recent discussion among roommates of a possible Halloween party (which has since fallen through) led me to do some reflection on last year's Halloween, which in hindsight was pretty supremely amazing. It made up for the year I was Baby Jessica and Jared Nelson set my well on fire. It even made up for the year or two I opted to watch Dateline instead of going out. I ended up in Portland for the weekend prior and, after a trip to a thrift store in Annie's neighborhood, decided to drape myself in $.25 keyboards and extension cords and go as technology (which paled in comparison to her Amy Winehouse). The weekend after, I returned to Omaha to move my final minivan load of belongings home, and went out as Tom Cruise from Risky Business (you say unoriginal, I say a good excuse to wear Wayfarers inside Barry O's). And then I finally came to rest in St. Louis on the actual holiday, drinking White Zinfandel with my mom on the front porch while we handed out candy to the kids I used to baby sit for. In hindsight, I couldn't have spent it better... I was the only kid at home, and as we oohed over babies dressed as pumpkins and a dozen or so Hannah Montanas, my dad sat just inside the front door on the living room couch, writing down every joke he heard in a spiral notebook... commenting on some, laughing quietly to himself about others. He made me repeat the ones he couldn't hear, and half of them had something to do with six being afraid of seven and seven eating nine. By the grace of whomever, last year's Halloween allowed me to be in three pretty meaningful locations within the span of a week. This year I will probably dress as Laura Ingalls Wilder (fingers/bonnet crossed) and end up sleeping in a pile of Charleston Chews somewhere on Clark, but you win some, you lose some, you dress as a pioneer... for some.

Congratulations on passing the IL Bar, Cort! I expect you on my doorstep, looking lawyerly, bright and early tomorrow.


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