25 November 2006

10 close encounters

H was my favourite professor. he was also the person who suggested that not only were tabloids worth studying but they might be a viable thesis option. this is the man who taught me how to write the way i write. croftie and i adored him. we were his groupies.

H is also the only person more awkward than us. during social hours, we would approach him to try to make conversation and he would blanch. despite the fact that he'd thrown back a couple beers, he stood rigidly in a corner, visibly oppressed by his lack of a doctoral degree. the effort to speak to him was exhausting. after a suitable interval, croftie and i would back away, shellshocked in the face of such social ineptitude.

i have conflicting emotions about H. during the spring of 2004, i wrote him no less than three fan letters- thanking him for the enormous influence he'd had upon my writing. and yet, i never really wanted to see him again because the memory of his taxing conversational inadequacy was so vibrant. i thought i'd just dedicate a book to him somewhere along the way and that would suffice.

so i was thoroughly unprepared to wind up sitting directly in front of H on the red line today. i didn't know what to do or what to say, so i did and said nothing. the bombshell and i rambled on about how old we feel as H and his friend rambled on about films. i was painfully aware of H's presence. he was staring, trying to place me. with a toss of the raven hair, i could have swiveled around and gushed, H, croftie and i loooooooooooooove you. but i did nothing. for seven stops i did nothing. even as i felt his eyes following me to the door, i did and said nothing.

it's times like these that i wish i had the foresight to have written letters to all the people i don't particularly want to see but might run into, in which case i wouldn't be able to summon the nerve to speak to them. if i'd had a fan letter for H, i could have swiveled around, smiled silently, dropped it into his lap and possibly made his day. as it is, he's probably wandering around boys' town vexed because he can't place that black haired, colourfully dressed girl with the peachy gum.

23 November 2006

15 oline et famille on la farm


horse watching



the home-made christmas card workers revolt




the home-made christmas cards


dog walking

we five pies


the aryan context in which i look like a gypsy

22 November 2006

7 liebestraum

all my life my father has made up songs. this is what we do.

whenever i sat down to the piano and played a few notes, his voice would begin booming nonsensicals from the other room. it drives my mum crazy. primarily, because his songs are rather "earthy." my mum doesn't do earthy.

this morning, for reasons unknown, we broke into an a capella father-daughter rendition of his masterpiece, i smell that smell. set to franz liszt's liebestraum, i smell that smell is a three stanza musical tour de force. unfortunatly, the third stanza has been forgotten but for the words "stench" and "woe."

in the midst of this morning's vocal extravaganza, i made the statement: it would not be an overexaggeration to say that we are the silliest family that ever was. as my mum nodded away, the father bear quickly went on the defense.

this is art, he said. we are producing greatness of a faux variety. we're like QVC- a little classy and a lot of tacky.

20 November 2006

8 *star*

in the past week, i've been approached for ashlee simpson's autograph and i've purposefully cultivated nicole richie's bangs. needless to say, my sense of self has taken a wee bit of a battering as of late.

so when i heard that croftie had taken the celebrity face test that the bombshell had discovered and that she had been declared a dead ringer for beyonce knowles, i couldn't resist having a go- to definatively determine whether i'm headed too far into teeny-bopper territory.

it would seem the answer is yes.

19 November 2006

9 so, maybe we don't love a parade?


"if they were to bomb this place right now,
all of chicago would be dead."
-random dude, who very accurately summed up the lighting parade

"it just didn't feel right trampling all those people."
-random lady, who very accurately summed up leaving the lighting parade

18 November 2006

14 i may be urban, but i'll not be outfitted


i don't like urban outfitters. a loyal h+m girl, i find urban outfitters too dark and drab. it's a dungeon by comparison. admitedly, they make some cute things. the bombsy's dream coat for one. my fabulous rug and the vieve's throne for two others. but there is no store that makes me quite so uncomfortable.

because urban outfitters so obviously thinks it's way cooler than me. there is no more judgemental retail establishment.

maybe it's because i myself am judgemental. the hordes of trixies that come from iowa and wisconsin and peoria and du paul to go to the store on our street are pretty much the same set that we referred to in high school as the "tan people"- girls who frequent tanning beds and the boys who date them. we pale people, we didn't like the tans.

i swear, the trixies/tans come to urban outfitters by the busload. they clog the street. they act as though it's an imposition if you ask them to move out of the way. it's analagous to navigating that hallway in high school. thus, i, pale to the very core, avoid that place like the plague. but some things are inescapable. urban outfitters is apparently one of them.

today, a catalogue arrived. and i thought, wow. victoria's secret has had quite the revamp, dropping the hi-gloss, 35 lb. cover and moving to 27 lb., lo-gloss stock. gutsy move, vicky.

then i realized. this was an urban outfitters catalogue. and i am left to conclude that this is the year of what lindear refers to as the bazoom.

this happens. we twiggy girls have our day and then the bombshells come back for a few seasons then it's our turn again. it's no big deal. but there's something different, something diabolical, happening in the urban outfitters catalogue.

this is not décolletage in the context of little black dresses and ballgowns or even sexy sweaters. this is red-carpet-ready breasts spilling out of $28 tee-shirts.

my new fear is that people are actually going to dress like this.

urban life is hard enough already. there's the windpant/cardigan combo in the spring, the men who roll their pants to show off entirely too much sweaty, hairy leg in june, and the women who, all through july, act as though bikini bottoms are a legitimate summer pant. stop the madness, people.

it's not that i'm averse to fashionable provocation. i am, after all, usually the most colourful person in the room and my oddly clothes have, on many an occasion, left me giving an eye-full. but seriously. it's cold. it's freezing. it's winter. don't put on two sweaters and three shirts just to fall out of it all. we're urban, yes, but these outfits, they hurt our tender souls.

16 November 2006

13 bang! bang! rock 'n roll!


bombsy and i don't half-ass things. we go all the way. so when it came time to get our hairs cut after months and months of abstinence, we made it an EVENT.

we dined. we refilled our drinks. we got on the wrong bus to go a block and a half up the wrong street. we set off the alarm when i tried to prematurely disembark from the wrong bus. we walked a block and a half on the right street, cursing the freezing cold. swearing that we could not go any further, conveniently just as we reached the bombshell salon's stoop.

my hair hasn't been cut since last january. so obviously my first thought was bangs! on monday, i saw a photograph of nicole richie. nicole richie had the bangs of my dreams.

now, no self-respecting person can go into a salon and ask to look like nicole richie. i know this. alas, i was mistaken for ashlee simpson not seven days ago, so asking to look like nicole richie doesn't seem such a distance to fall. it would obviously be far worse had the same request been made at a gym or colonic spa.

i proudly handed my photograph of nicole richie's bangs to lance. to prove my unashamedness, i even chimed in to say that's nicole richie, as though there were any other woman who could be carrying a siamese cat that looked ten pounds heavier than her.

the bombshell and i had a post-cut date to watch camilla & charles: whatever love means. we shouted this fact from the sinks of the bombshell salon, over the roar of the water and the snips of the scissors. there was no one present who did not know we were on our way to a rendezvous with camilla & charles: whatever love means. the woman who ran our credit cards and who was in our presence for a mere minute and a half couldn't help but exclaim, you girls are CAHRAZY!

because we were. we giggled all the way up halsted. we made a display of ourselves getting treats in that damn CVS that never has anything you need and everything you'd never want. we created a spectacle all the way down fullerton and over to orchard and up bombsoline street in the rosy glow of anticipation.

and still, there are no words for camilla & charles: whatever love means. it's bloody groundbreaking, riveting, entirely frivilous entertainment. dana knows. bombsy knows. croftie very soon will. it just can't be conveyed. you have to experience it. and then you know.

i've tried to tell my mum. repeatedly, i've tried. tonight, in the post-glow, i said, you don't understand. you don't get it. they had to wait twenty years. they were only right for each other and they couldn't be together. they were so in love.

my mum paused half a beat and said, whatever that means. i blew nicole richie's bangs from my eyes (because that's still a small thrill) and sighed, you just don't know, mummy. you just don't know.

15 November 2006

29 the iodot

iodot (I-Oh!-'dät) n. circa 1976; chiefly eatonian; an idiot whose idiocy so exceeds the traditional boundaries of idiocy that the word idiot is no longer sufficient, in such case the antiquated nominative iodot represents the individual's demotion from standard idiocy into shameful iodotism, most often characterized by blundering, dunderheadetry, nincompoopery and peter panism.

the teddy calls drunk on certain saturdays at 4.30 a.m. usually the certain saturdays that people are staying with me. so they inevitably leave with the impression that i'm a lady who accepts phone calls from drunkards in the dead of night.

i am not that lady. i'm queen of the screen. unfortunately, the teddy is not king of the message machine.

his voicemails are very sloshed george w giving a press conference after an especially lively hunting party as he ill-advisedly still clutches the rifle in his free hand.

the teddy says this [in tones eerily reminiscent of james van der beek's star turn in that 1999 classic, varsity blues]: as we know... i have fond feelings... for you... but i wanted to spare... you... the abject horror... of being in... my life.

the teddy has said this before. this exact line, word for word, with the same dramatic pauses without deviation for however many months. always delivered as though it were a new, exciting revelation that warranted applause.

i imagine he must carry this speech around on a cocktail napkin, pulling it from his pocket as the clock strikes 4.29 on certain saturday mornings. never mind that we haven't spoken in months or that he has yet to find a better speech-writer.

the teddy's delivery is crap. it sounds as though he were squinting into the memphis sky, straining to read a heavenly cue card mistakenly written in yellow fine tipped pen. it's not a convincing act. it is, undoubtedly, the act of an iodot.

and i'm not one to rush to judgement. to lightheartedly toss about accusations of iodoticy. nor am i one to exploit an individual's iodotery for comedic effect. well, that's a lie. i'm a writer. it's what we do. but enough!

the oline says [in her most exasperated dame judy dench tones]: i have only... blech feelings for you... and i want to be spared... the abject horror... of hearing this same stupid message... ever again... in my life.

14 November 2006

14 you can never go down the drain


my biggest kid-crush was mr. rogers. i loved that man. i loved everything about him- from his sweaters to his hypnotic voice. my parents hated everything about him- especially his sweaters and his hypnotic voice.

mr. rogers had this song that allayed all my childhood fears about going down the drain. because while i didn't suspect that i could go down the drain in my entirety in one big swoosh, it seemed quite logical that a rogue toe could fit through. or that a lock of the oline hair might get caught up in the swirl and suck my whole silly head down with it.

so i had some worries. but mr. rogers calmed them. he sang, you can never go down, you can never go down, you can never go down the drain! and i believed him.

which is why it was a rather stunning twist of events last night when i actually wanted to go down the drain. because nothing was going down the drain. not me, not water, not draino, not squat.

somewhere along the way, the drain went on strike. in the aftermath, it's been like showering in a wading pool. participants in the Let's All Go See Oline Before It Gets Stoopid Ridiculous Cold Up There In That Freezy Winter Wonderland In Which She Has Chosen To Dwell-O-Rama can attest to this.

much like standing in the hull of sinking ship, one grows increasingly aware of the rising tides. by the time of conditioning, one is ankle-deep in water. stay much longer and death by dirty waters would ensue.

clearly, this is intolerable. so last night, i- a girl who abhors cleaning bathrooms, entering bathrooms, talking in bathrooms, seeing other people exit bathrooms and bathroom humor- went to war with my bathroom.

i went to war and i won. there were vigorous celebrations. the veive was tossed in the air a couple times. we donned silly hats and threw a dance party and fell into bed at half past three.

this morning, bleery-eyed from the revelries, i stumbled into the shower and nearly banged my face on those damn plants. recovered but dazed, i turned on the water. a flash flood.

my man rogers forgot to mention, the drain always wins.

12 November 2006

14 "But you know what? Even if he got blown up and horribly deformed or had a brain injury, I would still be with him I think..."


in the midst of a discussion about a kick-ass, dead sexy dress, meggie took a detour and spoke the above in reference to her current flame.

how danielle steele, i thought at first. but then i realized, my God! isn't that what we're all looking for?

someone who will stick around when we get blown up and horribly deformed or have a brain injury. and someone for whom we'll do the same.

i don't know why the poets haven't thought to put it that way. it's so much more compelling than my love is like a lark, it singeth in the dark...

10 November 2006

28 photographers snip snap

in which oline (to whom things happen that don't happen to most everyone else)
feebly attempts to convey an event so stupidly absurd
that its 100% trueness defies even oline's comprehension... and she was there


today, i gave my first autograph.

but let me begin at the beginning.

i hate umbrellas. almost as much as i hate birds.

but, no. i should go back further.

i should go back to my irrational fear of electrocution. yes, that's the beginning. i used to have this irrational fear of electrocution. every doorknob held the threat of a shocking death. static cling left me quaking in my zippered boots. a logical hysteric, i developed a slew of preventative measures to delay my inevitable death by doorknob shock.

at some point, i wised up and transfered the irrationality to the more obvious threat: umbrellas. because, by God, umbrellas are frightful. as does most everything else, this comes back to my loathing of eyeballs. umbrellas have spikes. eyeballs-on-spikes. horror.

because i hate umbrellas, i ventured out into the icky chicago blustery rain this afternoon bundled in the green coat, the yellow scarf and the blue hat, and wearing the HUGE sunglasses (because waterproof eyeliner has yet to be invented).

walking down clark street, i was innocently bopping to brian eno's "baby's on fire," savoring the dramatic irony that baby's firey plight was unfolding while i was being drenched, when suddenly a hand clasped my arm.

fearful of an umbrella encounter, i lept back, only to see a benign kid. a girl of maybe 15 or 16 (i'm old. ages blur. she could've easily been 22.). this girl, wearing those pants where you can tell- even from the front- that there's writing on the ass, stood there clutching my arm.

i looked for weaponry. because the sidewalk in front of The Weiner's Circle seemed as good a place as any to be assaulted by a teenybopper with HOTT STUFF written on her ass. but no. hott stuff brandished nothing but a pen.

does she want my phone number? i wondered. can she possibly be in cahoots with marvin lustbade? have i such luck?

hot stuff seemed short of breath. she seemed to have a desperate need to speak to me. i shut up the upod and looked at her quizically.

DAMN. NICK. hott stuff exclaimed, practically retching the words. as though she couldn't get them out fast enough. both syllables dripping with unmitigated hatred.

what has the lovely gentleman ever done to you? i nearly demanded, then thought better of it. hott stuff had obviously been electrocuted by the doorknob at The Weiner's Circle and what i was witnessing were the residual twitches of the electrical currents combined with a mild case of tourettes.

hott stuff reached to pull something out of her bag. an umbrella?! i wondered, with furrowed, fearful brow. a battered back issue of STAR emerged. my relief was visible.

still recovering from the stress of her recent electrical shock, hott stuff fumbled through the magazine, increasingly frantic as the raindrops dashed across the glossy pages. finally, she heaved a sigh of content and thrust the open page toward me, pointing at the headline, Jess To Nick: You're a Girlie Man!

hott stuff leaned closer. she offered me the pen, which i took for fear she might activate a button, upon which the harmless-looking pink sparkly writing utensil would explode into one of those umbrellas for cocktail drinks. eyeballs-on-balsa. ouch.

hott stuff thrust the magazine at me and leaned in, as though she were confessing a deep secret for which she had spent weeks ratchetting up the courage. hott stuff looked deep into my sunglasses.

she looked deep into my sunglasses and said, i just love your sister.

09 November 2006

20 don't tell mamma what you saw

today, at 3.40 p.m., marvin lustbade called on the damn phone. i have no idea who the hell marvin lustbade is, but it became very clear, very quickly that marvin lustbade only speaks english as a hobby.

all i was able to decipher throughout the minute in which we spoke was the number 105, which i would then latch on to as though we might be able to forge a common understanding through that numeral and arrive at some sort of sensible outcome.

the conversation went as follows:
marvin lustbade [amid sounds suggesting he was standing on the balcony above niagra falls]: 105?

oline: yes.

marvin lustbade: ok... 105.

oline: yes, 105. is there a package?

marvin lustbade: 105!

oline: there is a package?

marvin lustbade: ok... yes, 105.

oline: so, yes, there is a package for 105?

marvin lustbade: 1
[completely drowned out by the niagra noise]5!

oline: shall i come down and get the package i think you might have for me?

marvin lustbade: yes, 105!

oline: um... ok.

so, throwing caution to the wind and intrigued by the prospect of seeing a lustbade, i went to the lobby, which seemed the only logical locale where marvin lustbade could have meant for me to redezvous with him to retrieve the package i thought he might have. but marvin lustbade was not there. marvin lustbade stood me up.

lindear and i have a policy of sharing every single inanity throughout the unfolding day. thus, she was immediately given a full lustbade report. the reply: Oooh, don't tell your mother.

and i think that was the most frightful thing to emerge from the lustbade episode. the realization that though i am a 25-year-old living on my own in chicago, paying bills and pretending to be an adult, my mum would completely rip the raven hair from my silly head if she knew i'd gone to the door to get a package from a stranger. so please, sir, if you run into my mamma, don't reveal my indiscretion. just leave well enough alone.

07 November 2006

26 "that was not a sneeze. it was the horror of such a place coursing through my body and jumping from my lips."

i am a book bigot. in the midst of my many-years-long torrid affair with biography, i've had only the most casual of dalliances with fiction, and primarily only with the fiction of people whose fiction i already adore.

the dread pirate is also a book bigot, though his devotion lies at the opposite end of the bibliospectrum. the dread pirate is exclusive with fiction. and for this, he's been the recipient of many an oline frown.

but some weeks ago i made a lucky steal from the pirate's trove. mark helprin's frederick & fredericka. it was hardback and it was huge. it was the antithesis of light subway reading. thus, after a respectable passage of time, i returned it. fortuitously, some days later a more friendly, twenty-five cent paperback copy encountered me in a thrift store.

thank anne shirley for thrift stores and dread pirates.

today, during rush hour, standing in the train and clinging to a pole, i used my free hand not for balance, but to hold frederick & fredericka aloft. i laughed out loud no less than five times. HUGE laughs. HUGE mwaahhhhhhhh, peewee laughs.

a guy in a hot pink camouflage vest moved further down the train. an elderly woman looked at me with oh, how sad that a girl with such impecably applied eyeliner should be having a mental breakdown aboard brown line run 372 eyes and quickly followed him.

today, for quite possibly the first time ever, i was the scariest person in the room. i was officially scarier than hot pink camo. it was glorious. there will be no more frowning at the fiction.

05 November 2006

15 quote absurd

for years and years i've collected quotes. written on post-its and receipts, scrawled in journals and books, jotted down on a decade-old dollar bill. because sometimes people say the greatest things- the most fabulous, completely fantastically articulate, off-hand things.

the people i run with have a propensity for saying these things. maybe that's a prerequesite for admission to my circle- the ability to capture the banal with a clumsy twist of entirely appropriate words.

i don't quite know what i plan to do with these quotes. there are hundreds by now. there's always been the joke that i'll write the world's most underlineable novel, but really i have no idea. it seems rather wrongish to pilfer from the brilliance of one's own friends. exploiting their hastily uttered words simply because i had the wherewithal to write them down.

but there's no forum for quotes. they are weak. they require context. they demand good presentation. they cannot stand alone. but then i thought, hell. they're just quotes. let them fend for themselves.

“sandwiches will take you places."

"this is why people don't just wear one shoe... because they knock over their christmas trees."

"i loved that class. it sent me on a black, downward spiral, but i loved it so."

“some people find God, others find golf.”

“there just isn’t enough time in the day to do all the napping you want to do.”

"i don't know how people can leave actual kids at home when i can barely leave a cat."

"no one should call you for anything but fun stuff."

"if you're going to talk with a damn in the background, you've got to put a dear in the fore."

“it’s hard to be a practicing icon.”

"menopause lasts ten years and you will have zits until you die. these are the things they never tell you."

“when it’s good, it’s really good. when it’s bad, it seems far more sinister than it really is.”

“you can’t be aloof if you’re driven by countdowns.”

"there are situations where being the scariest person in the room doesn't pay off."

"our lives would be so different if mary jo kopechne had been a man."

03 November 2006

19 this is a low


(the winter of our freezicating discontent has official commenced. and though we are all madly in love with chicago, as chicagoans it is our God-given right to complain bitterly about being colder than anyone should ever have to be.)

it is 27 degrees right now. the high is 43 and the low is 31. and it is currently 27 degrees. how can the current temperature be lower than the low? why not adjust the low so you don't look like a moron? i don't do numbers, but if it is currently 27 degrees, it seems pretty obvious that the low is not 31. obviously, the low is lower than that low would imply.

anybody remember monday, when it was a brisk 71?

6 a hmm hmm is good to find


in the thrilling saga of Let's All Go See Oline Before It Gets Stoopid Ridiculous Cold Up There In That Freezy Winter Wonderland In Which She Has Chosen To Dwell-O-Rama, kara beautiful gold rolls into town tomorrow. which means HUGE laughs, pervies, bitchies, glammies, cutsie movies, croissantsies, deep thoughtsies, holocaustic undies, and raw cookie doughies. excitement.

(and we look completely high in that photograph. we weren't. we were simply thrilled to the brink of stupidity by the then-recent conclusion of the hair from hell decade.)

02 November 2006

11 a-feared.

a few months ago, i read bernard henri levy's who killed daniel pearl? i sat up reading late into the night thinking our world is a whole hell of a scary place.

then i read the culture of fear, barry glassner's treatise on how fear is manipulated by news outlets to create stories, by politicians to deflect controversy, and by the average citizen to channel common worry. glassner asserts that there is a culture of fear that we're all buying into. and that it makes the world seem a whole hell of a lot scarier than it really is.

after reading the culture of fear, i cannot look at anything without smirking and saying, ha! fear! naturally, in a snide british tone.

so i say ha! to fear. and then my mum calls and asks for the twelve thousandth time whether i have my bottled water for the 8.4. after half a lifetime in memphis, where our science books protected us from death during elementary earthquake drills and where we were inundated with stories of the indians watching the mississippi flow backwards, we know the 8.4 is coming. we've seen reelfoot lake. the city is braced and it is in no way prepared.

but we do have our bottled water. i have my bottled water for the 8.4, despite the fact that i now live in chicago, a city where the 8.4 would only rattle some glass on michigan ave. but it makes my mum feel better.

maybe this is a family trait. we like to fix things and we like to be prepared. i think a part of that does have to with living on a fault line, which it is generally believed is going to either take out your city or st. louis. a fault line whose activity could make katrina look like a breeze. that kind of knowledge would tend to set one a wee bit on edge.

and we are a little edgy. my grandparents grew up dirt poor during the depression-- my grandfather in arkansas and my grandmother in mississippi. it is a major point of contention that one of them had to have been poorer than the other. when we're all together, the conversation frequently turns into a poor-off.

we ate our cornstew out of cardboard boxes... you had cornstew? we couldn't even afford corn... we walked twelve miles to school, while your father drove that bus... my father only drove that bus because he needed the money and the brakes didn't work so we had to jump off and on. i nearly died every day...

my grandparents keep everything because after ten years of nothing, anything seems precious. they live amongst empty butter tubs, fabric scraps, and frozen vegetables. if the 8.4 comes, my family will be eating asparagus from "i can't believe it's not butter" bowls and wearing technicolor dream clothes.

i am nowhere near that prepared for anything. the only thing i own in bulk is glue sticks and bonnie bells. in the case of a scrapbooking or chapping emergency, i am set, though the likelihood of scrapbooking or chapping entering the realm of crisis seems slim to none. but sometimes a girl's got to prepare. so i say ha! to fear, then promptly display signs of panic.

since the holiday season is approaching and since i am historically deathly ill at every other christmas and also since i am living in a household with nothing but ibuprofen, yesterday i went to the pharmacy and stocked up. i prepared to be violently, dramatically, grotesquely ill in the near future and bought every single medication that might assist in recovery. plus some red nail polish.

the checkout lady was baffled. clearly i was perfectly well. and clearly i was purchasing medications to be administered as a final hurrah at someone's deathbed.

i was kind of embarassed by this. it seemed rather hysterical and silly. but then i called my mum and gave her the litany of the ways in which i was now prepared to be violently, dramatically, grotesquely ill. she sniffled (she's got the rhonthitis and sounds like scarlett johansson) and asked, worried, but do you have your bottled water? aha! fear.