28 February 2007

9 february: a revue

(in no particular order & uttered by various citizens of the Oline in the City world)

"so what we've learned here is that a diet of caffeine and cupcakes does not make one look one's beautiful best."

"i wonder if she'll name her walker 'Texas Ranger.'"

"i said sext. i meant next. clearly the memory of last night is still with me."

"rory used to be so cute. before she became a strumpet."

"a potential, real-life thing could happen."

"i am twenty-five and i'm excited about spending a night alone with dr. quinn. is this progress?"

"it would be bad to come this far only to die of scurvy."

"don't dismiss the youth hostel. i've come to believe it holds your romantic future."

"that leaves me highly motivated to do nothing but slack."

"it's so narnia out there."

"i do bring about some dingbats."

"ladies, change is coming!"

"your one known shot of Getting Away From It All is getting less gung-hoed."

"screw prudence!"

"i apparently have all the time in the world now that time has ceased to move."

"fate is a cunning hussy."

"you've got your whole life to be nice."
"but should we be so eager to bring out the knives?"

"we're in the generation that waits longer to have kids, so we are producing some very spoiled pets."

"i don't think you can hide a collie. they're not exactly subtle beasts."

"i just feel wrong in my armpits. the level of powder freshness is not there."

"whatever keeps him well-behaved and un-A-hole is fine by me."

"how uncreative to name your city after the state and just tack a 'polis' on."

"i knew he believed in zit-popping but i didn't realize it was this extreme. the boy did a number on his whole head."

"this is SO gay. i mean, there's gay and then there's Gay and then there's GAY and then there's this."

"who would've ever guessed kankakee could be the land where dreams come true."

"he said God owns the beauty pageant? who backs the contestants- father abraham?"

"deep down, i really truly am seven years old."

"i realize this is a world class transit system, but at moments it's eerily like the zippin pippen."

"that's just one more nail in the coffin of his douchebaggery."

"i need to tell you something sexual. you know what sex is, right?"

"he's not a deleter... just a demoter."

"maybe there's good fear and bad fear- like cholesterol."

"what balls this woman has!"

"you know cosmo's good for kinky."

"suddenly my printer problems seem like small beans when former playmates are dying in random florida hotels."

"there is some loud barge thing out in the street. ok. it may not be an actual barge but it is nonetheless producing noises that make me question my own proximity to the waterfront."

"clearly everyone is of an age where it isn't anyone's business."

"i don't know how people kill actual people and get rid of the bodies. i felt like a total creep disposing of sofa guts in the dark."

"you know, barry once ate a scone."
"yeah, let's just say we spent two hours cleaning the walls at 3 a.m., and leave it there."

"captain lameass."

"who wouldn't want to poop in a pink room?!"

"you have to catch him in the right moment for that kind of stuff. otherwise he starts talking about a boat and a penguin."

"the hancock is way cooler than the sears and probably safer to work in too since it's shorter. and if people are going to blow up big buildings why blow up the second tallest? i think they'd rather go all out. i so would if i were a terrorist."

"so yeah. it's a big deal. but then, in theater everything smacks of big deal."

"toes must be sexy!"

"it's a good thing he's the boss, because if he'd been a worker, he'd have been fired long, long ago."

"that's the difference between us and apes. we have better tools. and they come in cool colors."

"apparently we're 25 now so people do real life things like become lawyers. i think we forget that because we're all so heavily into dabbling."

"i am mired in a pit of electronic disappointments."

"don't kiss girls... or mormons."

27 February 2007

29 back up

yesterday, lappy fell violently ill. there was much coughing and churning and freezing. ultimately, he was sick enough to necessitate my wrapping him in pink corderoy (clearly, he's a gay man) and trotting him down to the apple store amidst a nasty blizzardy mess of snow and rain and general yucko to see what the matter was.

i had a sneaking suspicion the matter was not good. during the train ride, i made peace with the fact that my files were probably lost forever and found comfort in the knowledge that recent copies of the PB and the JB are floating about. all was not lost! significant chunks of various unspeakably awesome things, yes, but not all.

so i trotted up michigan ave through the blizzardy yucko mess to the apple store and sat down with noel. noel plugged lappy up to a bunch of thingys and ran a bunch of tests and half-assedly attempted a valiant resuscitation. then, his eyes glued to the three screens before him, noel (who liked to say my name a lot) said, i know you aren't going to be okay with this, caroline, but i see no other choice, caroline, but to erase your harddrive. caroline, are you okay, caroline?

since i really was okay and had more or less resigned myself to this state of affairs over an hour before, i responded truthfully and rather a bit overly gung-ho: yes, noel!

for the first time, noel's eyes pulled away from the screens and he actually looked at me. he furrowed his brows, leaned forward earnestly, and clasped my hand. and then noel said, i'm very impressed, caroline, with how well you're taking this truly devestating blow. caroline, all too many people make a scene in the market-place.

25 February 2007

19 v-fed

today, bombsy dropped a bombshell. as we cooed over the vieve, discussing her odd physique, bombsy said: i think maybe she's had kittens. for a moment, i stood aghast at the prospect of feline immaculate conception before realizing bombsy was referring to a time in the vieve's distant past.

the vieve's distant past is a hazy, ambiguous thing. she fell into my family from the vet's office with the same generic she's two to three years old and came from a very loving home that could no longer keep her story as the last cat that fell into my family from the vet's office.

because her haughtiness had to come from somewhere, i always pictured the vieve's distant past as very posh. i imagined her living with an ian mckellan type who wore three piece suits and loafers. due to some horrid reversal of fortune, he could no longer afford the vieve's whiskas and was forced to surrender her from his very loving home.

somehow it never occurred to me that the vieve's distant past might be a dark and sinister thing involving random copulation and infant abandonment. that she might be (gasp! horror!) somebody's baby mama. overnight, my beloved vieve has been revealed as a deadbeat mother. oh the shame.

the beloved vieve seems completely unaffected by these scandalous revelations. if anything, she has been liberated from the secrecy and lies and is living it up as an emancipated woman- lazing about in the unmade bed with her legs akimbo, hitting the catnip with renewed vigor and dance partying with shocking abandon. so this is how lynne spears feels...

23 February 2007

10 won't you be my neighbor?

last night, i met a bona fide, previously unmet neighbor. he looked like moby. i looked like a madam.

moby came a'knocking not one minute after i emerged from a bubble bath. contactless and peering through the elvin peephole, i mistook him for the bombshell and greeted him at the door with my hair in a beehive and my self in a leopard-print bathrobe. a robe with a proclivity for flying open and revealing scandalous amounts of red bra.

in an effort to conceal these containment inadequacies, i mimicked a move beloved by trollops the world over and leaned wantonly against the door frame at precisely the moment that a nauseating wave of "woman in yellow" wafted heavily by on the breeze. moby took a hasty step back, bracing against the onslaught of femininity.

apparently water was leaking into moby's bathroom. he had come to see if there was a flood. there wasn't. there had simply been a bath.

as he turned to go, he said, by the way, i'm moby.

hi, i'm heidi fleiss.

21 February 2007

14 40 days & 40 nights

i have given up h+m for lent. i know how silly that sounds. my mum's heroic vow to forsake flour and all floured products successfully cast my own commitment in a harshly foolish light.

she is giving up an element of practically every delicious edible thing. i'm giving up a retail store that is a $2, 20-minute train ride away. it's not exactly on par with depriving one's self of the market or diet coke. my physical survival and emotional fortitude in no way hinge upon access to h+m. i will most likely survive the test without psychological disturbance or bodily distress.

but there's this green belt. this 2" wide green patent belt. a green belt that i didn't have the insight to purchase when i was in h+m last week and that i didn't have the time to buy in the two hour window between realizing h+m should be my lenten sacrifice and the store's 6 p.m. closing. it's becoming quite clear- this belt is going to haunt me.

admittedly, i already have a green belt. but it's canvas and lackluster and disproves the theory that one size could possibly ever fit all. but the green patent belt? it's shiny and sheeny and oh so pretty. it has character. more importantly, it has notches.

it's fast becoming the belt of my dreams, which is most unfortunate since my dreams have another 39 days until fulfillment. and with h+m's penchant for entirely rearranging and restocking every four days, the odds are it'll be a dream deferred.

even so, i'm going to hold faith with the green belt. i'm going to fantasize that there i'll be- beating down h+m's door on easter afternoon, tearing amongst the chiffons and polyesters to emerge holding the green belt aloft in victory. the grown girl's egg hunt.

17 February 2007

5 never will i ever... until now

today is my chiversary. so it is also the commemoration of the coldest the parents cupcake have ever in their lives been. so cold, in fact, that last january 17th, they lifted their skinny fists to the sky in defiance and swore never ever ever to return to this beautiful city in this God-forsaken season again. but, in further proof that you should never never will i ever- they're wheels down at 1 p.m.

16 February 2007

6 la vieveversarie! (the afterbath)

the vieve and i celebrated our love as most couples do. or as some couples do. or at least as steve and miranda (who are admittedly fictional characters) did.

i gave the vieve a bath. her first bath ever- at least ever in the history of her ever with me. because there's company coming and with the glories of radiator heat the vieve has decided it is the throes of summer and let go all her hair and a considerable portion of her epidermis followed suit. houston, we have dandruff.

when the bombsy recommended a bath, for some reason i didn't think that would be a traumatic ordeal. and for about the first four seconds of the vieve's bath, the bath seemed like the solution to all our problems. that is until the vieve- who isn't always especially friendly and never ever particularly likes being held- realized she was being held in an unfriendly situation.

the shriek unloosed in that bath would've bested a banshee. for a moment i sincerely wondered whether the sink had a disposal of which i was unaware. a disposal that had silently activated and was in the process of disposing the vieve. we survived two minutes before she caught my eye at precisely the moment a tear-sized drop of water coursed down her nose to the nostril that is still inexplicably stained blue from my painting days.

fearing she would never never never in our future forever forgive me, i pulled her from the water.

and then- like the kids i used to nanny who hated being left alone in the dark and would scream until i came to the rescue- the vieve fell silent. she wriggled and turned to face me, put her paws around my neck, laid her dripping head on my shoulder and was completely still. for ten minutes, i stood in the kitchen in the midst of an enormous puddle, rocking this silly little sopping wet cat who won't let anyone hold her.

the end result? the vieve came bounding onto the bed this morning sporting the best hair day ever. and good hair makes any ordeal worthwhile.

11 February 2007

6 the $3 man man

"there are too many people trying to look like individuals here."

"who is that?"
"that's a man man."

"a maph reunion? it's been three years. are we really ready to reunite?"

"can i just say- thank God we're not forever 21."

"i can't begin to tell you how riveted i am to this anna nicole smith business. it's like there was a mystery and then out of nowhere there's a whole new other mystery you didn't see coming and then another and another. it's like the greatest miss marple ever told."

"y'know, we're the only girls going tits out here."
"maybe that's something you have to harness. tits out! a power discoverable only with age."

"there's wayne from the wonder years."
"i'd been wondering where he'd been all these wonderful years."

"i remember being at pitchfork, but all i really remember about pitchfork is being pissed off that people were standing on our blanket."

"the funny thing about this picture is that we're the only ones in it who can legally drink."

"EVANSTON! it's like twenty train stops away. that's practically canada or something! really, how far from the city are we?"
"um... 8 miles."

09 February 2007

10 sofas & the city

there are things the proverbial they don't tell you about the city. such as the fact that getting rid of a sofa in the city is a hell of a hard trick.

i recently moved, and in this move i inherited this sofa. a sofa that i didn't need and that the salvation army refused to salvage. i've spent the past three weeks plotting legitimate ways to save the life of this sofa. but then, when the man from the white elephant haughtily said we don't do 4th floors, i realized something.

this sofa had to die.

certain times call for certain measures- sometimes desperate, mildly psychotic measures. killing a sofa may sound a little extreme, but i swear- this sofa wanted to die.

i had some tools. they were girlie tools, but tools nonetheless. so i dug about in the big red box for something to kill the sofa dead. this digging led to the realization that my tool priorities were all wrong. who needs two levels and three glue guns?

there were screwdrivers aplenty, and clamps and pliers galore, but the only saw was comparable to a butter knife. my enthusiasm for euthanizing the sofa was somewhat dimmed by this. but i was a girl with a mission. a girl with a sofa to kill.

for an hour, i sawed as though my life depended upon it- whittling, with all the fury i could muster, one centimeter into a one inch piece of wood. it was like trying to slice bologna with a bobby pin. thus, the plan of attack was revamped.

i paraded through the sludge to purchase a new saw, and learned the invaluable lesson that if you stand in the hand tools aisle of home depot wearing a pink scarf- the 19-year-old male workers will come out of the woodwork in droves to assist you.

but i wasn't there for a date. i was there for a saw. a saw that would let me kill this couch like a man. a saw that would allow for death with dignity, not hapless, shoddy slaughter.

ultimately, the actual killing of the couch was anticlimactic (and i do speak in haste- at present it's only mostly dead). the removal of the upholstery turned out to be the biggest bother. there were inner pockets of popcorn, pens, movie tickets, and receipts that led me to realize you can probably learn a person's entire life story simply by dismantling all their furniture.

admittedly, this experience has left me with a rather overfondness for the sound of cracking wood, which would deeply sadden my woodworking grandfather. but it's such a moment of small victory. the coming apart of something when you're so ready to see it go away. when you've spent three weeks being thwarted in its going away and finally determine to take matters into your own hands.

because when no one will salvage you from shit, you have to salvage yourself. and sometimes, sofas must die.

07 February 2007

20 love (but not that fear)

my parents don't read this. so sometimes when i wrestle deep thoughts or chronicle total ridiculousnesses they'll appreciate, posts are passed along via email.

awhile ago, i sent L(NF). a deafening silence ensued. until last night, when father cupcake chuckled, we got your email.

but the mumcake tells this story better. . .

the mumcake said she and father cupcake crowded round the computer. they read L(NF). a deafening silence ensued. then, father cupcake turned to her and asked, did our daughter just become a lesbian?

06 February 2007

0 ghosts

the bombshell and i went to heaven last night. we've been before. we took good notes and we're quite sure we kind of maybe sort of wrote about it- though all traces of the journey have disappeared from the face of our hard-drives. thus, last night we went to heaven for the first time... again.

it's funny the difference some months can make. before, in heaven, we were raucous. we sat in the window of starbucks overlooking the first of our city's shivering nights and we wondered if jackie would smoke. we talked about britney spears and wisdom and shit.

this time around, heaven was a whole other world. this time around, bundled in a bazillion sweaters and hoodies and scarves and gloves, we ventured into the freezicating cold and went to church. before the altar, on our knees, we lit candles and prayed that all would be well with the blonde one.

and then we sat- over a latte and cider and the second cranberry bliss bar from the back- curled up on a warm leather couch in another starbucks. our coats bundled over us like blankets, we pondered married people and redecorating and emotional defenses and iconicity. and we took our girls back to heaven, where marilyn would be zen and jackie would be tempted to redecorate.

05 February 2007

15 the smarting girl

(because sometimes even ladies must bitch)

nothing infuriates me more than when a guy says "smart girl."

that may sound irrational. because i'm moderately proud of my smarts and have gone into considerable debt to further them. but there's something about that phrase.

"smart girl."

it's loaded. and it doesn't help that it's usually said with raised don't come closer! you're scaring me, woman! hands and in a tone that implies, thank God! you're not the dimwit i thought!

i hate "smart girl."

back in september, bombsy, bee and i went dancing. we met three guys and sold ourselves for drinks and a few songs. the one i wound up with made the standard shouted small talk: where are you from? how'd you wind up here? oh, really, grad school where?

upon my response, the boy's jaw literally hit the floor. he stumbled backwards a bit. stricken, he gasped, smart girl!

in the sexual networking context that is clubbing, this simply meant he'd hit the jackpot. he'd randomly bought a diet coke for someone with excellent eyeliner who, it turned out, had a working brain and with whom he hoped to score. i couldn't get away from him fast enough.

because i hate "smart girl."

but you can't escape "smart girl." last week, it came at me again. because i had the sense to notice something even a blind man would be at pains not to see. surprised, he said, smart girl. it's hard to imply fury on a cordless phone. that damn beep is so inadequate. it could never convey how much i hate "smart girl."

i HATE "smart girl."

because yes, we are smart girls. stupid boys should not be astonished by this. it shouldn't warrant relief. it shouldn't elicit a patronizing exclamation akin to good for you, little girl, for not being thick as a plank. but still, it does. and that is infuriating.

the funny thing is i'm quite sure "smart girl" means nothing. it's just a transitional aside. a tiny two words that lazily fill a conversational gap. it's how we get from where did you go to grad school? to what was your major? it's supposed to carry connotations of applause. it is supposed to be a compliment.

maybe i'm too much of a smart ass to see "smart girl" for what it really is. maybe i have some monumental inferiority complex i'm not aware of because some stupid people have thought my smarts pretty stupid in the past. or maybe this is all wrapped up in societal influences- little things like the fact that mothers tell daughters to play quietly because that's what daughters do.

but whatever the impetus, the end result is it's tricky being a smart girl. you have to become aware of it and grow into it and find people who help pull it out of you. like walking in heels, it takes practice- putting your smarts on your sleeve. it's Love Not Fear to the hilt.

and in return, we smart girls, we demand rather a lot. we expect exciting wordplay, satisfying discourse and, most importantly, prodigious diction. because we intelligent, clever, discerning, creative, sensible, cunning, tenacious charmeuses- we're so much more than your simple "smart girl."

04 February 2007

5 times of sun and clouds

live through this...

and this...

and ye shall (allegedly) be rewarded with this.

03 February 2007

4 bright lights, shivering city

when you move to chicago, a bargain is struck. this city will play host to karaoke lesbian theatre benefits when you most need them. it will deliver cabs on deserted street corners in the dead of night. it will let breezes blow through upon which the petals can dance. this city will never let you down.

it will, however, sometimes leave you colder than anyone has ever before been in the history of humanity.

the cold, people, the cold. i became rather good friends with all seven degrees of it while traipsing about town to meet up with MM at an indian restaurant last night. despite four pairs of socks, still my shoes felt like bags of ice water.

but the cold is a negligible bother when fun is to be had. we were venturing forth to catch bombsy's latest theatrical endeavor- a quartet of tennessee williams one-acts. the bombshell was, of course, unspeakably awesome. and due to a misheard line, we emerged with a glorious new catch phrase, which we will proceed to drive into the ground: "slut bucket."

my life is a .... bucket!

did he just say "my life is a slut bucket"?

he did just say, "my life is a slut bucket."

no, no. i'm quite sure he said "slop bucket."

i am shocked tenneessee williams would say "slut."

no, it was slop.

well, we're going to pretend he said "slut."

ok, ok. well then, this weather is a total slut bucket.

01 February 2007

7 stranger than fiction

my heart belongs to nonfiction. sometimes i feel the bombshell and i are alone in this, thus, we must periodically be all yay! rah! and mount an unsolicited defense. because nonfic is so often maligned. it's the math of the literary world. there are facts and figures and quotes and proofs- consequently, it's harder to bullshit your way through. and us english-heads, we like our bullshit.

any fiction i've ever attempted has been complete pretentious crap. but, for the most part, the writing process isn't so different. yes, there are the safety nets of notecards and quotes and the nonfic-specific unexpected pitfalls- the uncited factoid and (horror of horrors!) the apocryphal anecdote. but there are also the same scary moments of where the hell are we going here? and the epiphanies where everything suddenly falls into place.

nonfic is very peter pan. it's an ancient genre but an exceedingly immature one. the only true standard is that biography is more about the biographer than the subject, which is a rather pathetic standard since it so clearly needs to be the other way around. truth be told, nonfic has limits that writers simply aren't pushing. it's a form older than the novel but one with which all too few liberties have been taken.

which is why there is still this stereotype. this lingering sense that fiction is the artistic end-all and nonfic is simply it's easy sister. that, because you're working with a real life that has already been lived and real events that have already happened, everything is neatly plotted out and tied with a bow. that notion couldn't be further from the reality. because writers of nonfic are dealing with reality, and reality- though it may appear concrete- is an ephemeral patchwork of contrasting impressions. and that's a hell of a hard thing to pin down.

nonfic is intimate and personal and intrusive. and it's more than a little gauche- to be peeking through people's love letters and into their bedrooms and between their sheets. to be supposing what they were thinking. because we never know what anyone is thinking- even the people we know, much less historical figures.

but that is precisely nonfic's beguiling allure. this sense that you can become acquainted with someone from the past, that you can learn from them and understand them without knowing them. because they are characters. and when you write about these characters, they are uniquely yours. they become a tiny piece of your own makeup.

in real life, people are inconsistent. they change direction and marry precipitously and say mean things and screw up their kids. they are almost always misunderstood. in fiction, you're at ease to plot around that. that, in and of itself, may be your plot. in nonfic, you're working in spite of it, which is a terribly humbling thing.

you must nancy drew your way through twelve different versions of the same event spun twelve entirely different ways to find some shard of the way it really might have been. to me, that has always been the maddeningly exhilarating element. it's like pulling at a strand of tangled hair. sometimes you can coax it apart. sometimes you just rip the damn thing out.

jackie and i have had some major throwdowns. moments where she said completely shitty things at random deathbeds and left me to make sense of these incomprehensible actions. things that my jackie would never have done but jackie did them nonetheless. and there's no avoiding them, because they are what made her jackie.

it's scary. that moment when your character goes out of character and you're left staring at a stranger you know everything about but never knew. and you curse her and fight to find the words and write a whole heap of paragraphs trying to justify this one little inexplicable blip in a character so otherwise explicable. and then you delete the whole lot and let her win.

and maybe that's the difference. fictioneers fight their characters to win. in nonfic, you fight the good fight but then you let them be.