30 April 2007

9 april: a revue

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

"it is april... where are the showers?"

"i remember you!"
"i regret that."

"faith is beautiful, and you've hurled it into the junk heap of names."

"one can only take so many monumental highs and abysmal lows in a 48-hour period."

"from that day on, i was an asshole... and it has done wonders for me."

"i like my beer like i like my women- bitter."

"i haven't talked disrespectful to you in a month. it's been difficult but i stuck to it."

"i'm realizing more and more every day that my personality offends most everyone i meet."

"all the departments were labeled with big hanging signs as 'men's Fashions,' 'women's Fashions,' 'children's Fashions.' they could not just have clothing sections. they had to specify that these were indeed fashions. it was that bad."

"there are things that matter and then there are really important things like sprinkles."

"fortunately, being told you are stupid isn't fatal."

"normally, dirty knives wouldn't bother me a bit. today, they were the biggest grievance any soul on earth could possibly commit against me."

"i was wondering if nectarines are the testicles of the fruit world."

"my silliest joy of marriage- a wedding ring tan!"

"that is SO thomas kincade."
"you know, the first time i saw his work, i said, 'that's really beautiful.'"
"yeah, i wouldn't ever again admit that to another living soul."

"when push comes to shove, somebody's got to get the last egg. that's not just easter baskets, but life."

"any time you're watching something on the hallmark channel that pretty much says it all."

"we didn't even know you all EXISTED."

"is that your boyfriend? do you wear that to keep him close to your heart?"
"no, that's zack morris. i wear it because i am strange."

"where did your daughter get that black hair?"
"i married into the clairols."

"i don't even know you but i love you already."

"suddenly, out of nowhere, the family tree bloomed."

"why do people fear will ferrell?"

"you can't scream CITY if you're dressed in a smock."

"she did say breast feeding is far worse than labor so we need to begin to emotionally prepare."

"it's not a date, but it sure is something to buy clothes for."

"he doesn't know what 'xo' stands for?!"
"clearly he's a man who's never been kissed or hugged."

"i want you to get a consistent boyfriend who can beat you."

"you'll be sound as a pound!"

"whew... you are not a telemarketer. i had this huge fear of you being a telemarketer."

"why do these people keep saying 'godspeed'? it's a new job, not a regatta."

"you don't want to look needy or slutty, but you should at least look available."
"thanks, mummy. that's invaluable."

27 April 2007

0 what makes a week of mathematical vicissitudes worthwhile?

today, an 80-year-old man called me a "smart ass" and a "dumb broad."

best. compliment. ever.

because there are certain people who won't call you an idiot unless they're quite almost positively sure you're not.

25 April 2007

21 you know you've been friends for ages when...

a puggle is mentioned and the response, in perfect unision, is:

oline: is that the dog jake gyillaenhaaull has?
meggie: that's the dog jake gyillaenhaaull has.

24 April 2007

13 gulag orkestar

i've reached the significant conclusion that perhaps i was meant to be a gypsy. which is complete and utter lunacy since i'm quite sure traveling light is a prerequisite and i inevitably land anywhere with the thud of a thousand books. but on a very superficial level, i think i was meant to be of eastern european descent.

i like beads and revolutionary outfits and accordians, and i'd gladly be friends with men who have handlebar mustaches and wear bandannas and don't bathe regularly. or at the very least, i'd gladly shoot communication-carrying papyrus airplanes to them from my book-filled, generously perfumed tent conveniently located upwind.

in the end, it all comes down to melodramatic popular song. where o where are our culture's melodramatic popular songs? we have emo down cold, but we're sorely lacking in melodramatic popular song. and yet the gypsies seem to be bursting with it. and i think, were i a gypsy, i would quite possibly burst with it as well.

maybe, if i were a gypsy, my whole life would become a melodramatic popular song. i could be oline on the roof. y'know, in the beforetimes. before hitler came and the party died and the whole town were shipped off in canoes to a concentration camp and reduced to the plaintive wail of annnnnnnatevvvvvvvvka. um... yeah. that part sucked. that part would be the exact opposite of the melodramatic popular song life i want to lead.

but then, that's pretty much what makes a gypsy a gypsy and from whence come their melodramatic popular songs. that extraordinary blend of mournful joy. the certain knowledge that even if things kind of suck, if you start wearing purple all your sanity and wits will vanish. that little purple ladies will be perfect for dirty, useless clowns. it's just a matter of time. party!

23 April 2007

6 rumor has it

it's hard to quell a rumor. it gets going and takes on a life of its own and before you know it, the damn thing's taken a seat upon the throne of popular belief.

i've mentioned my husband. i've mentioned that he's not actually my husband. i've mentioned that i've mentioned that he's not actually my husband and that i'm single and living in chicago and that the man popularly believed to be my husband is living in memphis and a good 40-50 years older. i've mentioned all of these things repeatedly. for years.

and then there it was. in an email. "godspeed to you and james."

21 April 2007

4 decline & fall

2007 began with one resolution. i was going to read books i already own, most especially the 500+ pagers. way back in january, this seemed like a very exciting madcap sort of literary la adventura. ultimately, it's kind of sucked.

i read one book at a time. i have always done this. i have never not done this and i never thought i would be the kind of person who doesn't do this. but, at the moment, i am not doing this- a fact that has mildly unhinged my sense of self. every morning my eyes open to a pile of books on a nightstand and i fear that i have wandered into the bed of some unfocused person with curiously similar literary taste.

then i remember. this is who i am now. a girl with a commitment problem.

it seems increasingly likely that i may be a girl who lives a very very long life only to die with that damn shelby foote, the memoirs of the duc de saint-simon, and michael bellesiles' arming america still unfinished, still piled on the bedside table, still bookmarked at pages 425, 364, and 243 respectively. and this simply will not do.

yet, how to put a stop to it? over the years, i have come to avoid bookstores like the plague, because they get me in trouble. it would be like an alcoholic hanging out at a liquor store- a plainly unwise move. but a literary rut demands desperate measures, and what better way to resolve a handful of languishing reading relationships than a book-buying rampage?

because book-buying can sometimes be a rather difficult thing to avoid when one is a lover of books, i've developed an array of emotional armament to protect myself from flagrant biblioindulgence. a bookstore trip should always be a group activity, because in company one is less likely to throw down the credit card with reckless abandonment and walk out with the collected works of anna maxted and the marquis de sade.

when a solo bookstore encounter cannot be prevented, a pen and paper are vital because one can then peruse the shelves jotting down titles, which creates a sense of interactivity without actual purchase. these titles can then be added to a 34-page amazon wish list, creating the illusion that they are at least members of one's virtual library if not the real thing.

i honestly can't remember when i last went to a corporate chain bookstore by myself. but today- defenses down, pen and paper at home, caution thrown to the pleasantly warm wind- i fell, exhausted, humbled, and literarily broken-down, into the loving arms of borders. two and a half hours and three wildly different books later, i left him and walked home in the sunny saturday afternoon, grinning like a fool because all is again well in my written world.

19 April 2007

4 23*25

when i was 23, i thought i was pretty grown up. i had a good GPA, i'd gone to a fancy schmantzy school, i'd graduated thrice times, and i finally had decent hair.

but now that i'm 25, i'm quite sure that at 23 i was a complete and utter fool.

i was being interviewed for Real Jobs and trying to stretch waiting tables into applicable life lessons. how adept are my problem-solving skills? well, this one time i had to switch shifts with someone... what's my customer service experience? well, this one time a lady found some hair in her food...

at 23, life was comprised of one times where i'd kind of almost sort of done something similar to what i might be going to eventually do. if that makes any sense. in the end, really, it doesn't.

i thought my GPA was actually relevant and that the course "writing as a public intellectual" lent me an added edge. as though that was what people were employing. intellectuals in public practice.

it's astonishing, the gap between the ages of 23 and 25. two teeny tiny enormous years. at the start, you cling to a GPA and whatever experience you've been able to snag. at the end of them, you're paying bills, working a Real Job, rsvping to weddings, buying baby gifts, and shopping at forever21.

surely this gap won't be with us the remainder of our lives. surely we won't be 58 and smiling benevolently at the 56ers, thinking: just you wait! 58's going to whoop your ass!

but it is an odd phenomenon. that in a society so obsessed with youth culture, two tiny years could so effectively grow you up.

18 April 2007

19 things said entirely too loudly by 80-year-old men walking very slowly through an airport at 8 a.m.

"you just swallow one of those little blue pills and you've got five minutes to take to the field. and, buddy, she'll be thanking you all night, because bob dole don't lie."

17 April 2007

4 in excess

continuing in this theme of things i began ages ago and never finished,
an entirely random musing on michael hutchence.

i miss michael hutchence. which might sound bizarre since i never knew him and he's been dead for ten years and i'm only just now realizing this.

and i know inxs have lost some of their credibility. the high of their career was probably over at the time of hutch's death then there was the very VH1-looking posthumous solo album and the dave navarro reality show star-search for a replacement. they were a seven member band. you would think someone could've picked up the fallen gauntlet. but no. but still...

when i was six, the television was in a corner against the wall which my bed backed against on the other side. my father was going through this mid-life VH1 phase and they only ever seemed to play enya's "oricano flow," fine young cannibals' "she drives me crazy," and inxs' "i need you tonight."

i remember lying awake night after night picturing hutch. i didn't really know who he was, but there was something very troubling yet incredibly hot about him. he was my first crush, and probably the least embarrassing (matthew modine, anyone?).

because even after all these years "elegantly wasted" is a damn good song, i fell into an inxs moment the other day. and i finally began to understand the sadness that is the story of michael hutchence.

the man was bono let loose and ungrounded and gone wrong and unable to get himself back on course. he became embroiled in this dramatic tabloid triangle with paula yates. they had a daughter while she was still married to bob geldoff. a few years after hutchence's death, yates killed herself too. all very plath and hughes.

in that context, it seems a strange intimacy to listen to inxs now. these big anthems of youthful hope and love and faith doused in glitz and gin. they're a band that came of age with u2. but their bono let go.

16 April 2007

22 illuminating realization #1

there's something extraordinary about the mississippi funeral- or at least about my family's mississippi funerals. you really see where faulkner was coming from. we are very bundren.

this weekend we buried aunt druecilla. in my mind- because i am sometimes a resentful bitch- aunt druecilla has always been known for one thing. when i was five, the grandparents and i visited her, she gave us a whole mountain of peas, and for kicks we shelled them in the car the whole way home.

the very minute the last pea went tumbling into the bucket, the telephone rang. it was druecilla. she hadn't meant to give us the peas and she demanded that we bring them back.

just say the name druecilla and i automatically think, grrrr. peas.

[ironically, my mum swears it was grape juice, but i stand by the peas.]

i've always associated aunt druecilla with hand cramps and callused fingers. in reality, there was obviously more. the woman went through some extremely tough shit and she never wavered. and to cope with that, she had what her son, as he leaned over her coffin and smiled, dubbed "Her Ways."

druecilla was my grandfather's half-sister. her mother- who had a bazillion children- married a man- who had a bazillion children- and then they had my grandfather. all his life, my grandfather heard about this whole batch of relatives that belonged to druecilla's dad and weren't related to him. druecilla always called them "MY cousins." she made it abundantly clear they were in no way his.

it turns out- 78 years later- that they were. and upon druecilla's death, my grandfather discovered this whole pile of people he didn't know he had.

it is extraordinary to watch a man who has spent a week reconciling himself to the idea that his family had been reduced to him and an older brother see a whole new unexpected world open up. a world in which he has relatives who have a mailing list and bi-monthly crawdad boils and annual reunions on boat docks.

it is extraordinary to hold his hand as time and again a complete stranger to whom he is mysteriously connected by blood exclaims in sheepish wonder, we didn't even know you EXISTED.

his gray eyes lit up and he'd softly say, i never knew you were mine.

14 April 2007

8 straighten up

i have an "acquaintance." his primary interests are my love life and dispensing not particularly helpful insight as it seems to relate to my love life. case in point:
oline, don't wait until your thirties. get married now, while you're still kind of young. just find a guy and settle down and it'll be so much better than if you hold out looking for The One. i don't think he exists and i see so many thirty-year-olds getting married and there is just no passion there. you want to get it while you're young, before the passion dies, otherwise you're just old and desperate and there's nothing less sexy.
um... thanks.

i told my mum this and she nearly died laughing. and then, as though it were a completely connected thought, she said:
i was talking to the dentist the other day about your retainer and he is so proud you're still wearing it. and he did say that, yes, you'll need to wear it for the rest of your natural life.
and two things occurred to me.

1) my adventures in orthodontia will end in either dentures or death.
2) surely the retainer will keep the passion alive.

12 April 2007

3 i'm leaving town, baby, i'm leaving town for sure

an extremely tedious exercise in writing about my homeland,
which commenced in april 2006 and still doesn't say what i want to say
but i am sick of trying to say it, so for what it's worth, here it is-
a lot of half-assed words really saying not much of anything at all about memphis.

during maph, a girl in one of my editing groups got to bitching about the south. she used the term "backward." she was talking about alexandria, virginia. i wanted to slap her and say, honey, you'd think mississippi was the third world, but the tall guy who never turned in his work quickly lept in to defend the charms of louisiana (because, y'know, the swamps) and the conversation turned elsewhere.

that happened three years ago and i've not forgot. maybe i never will. maybe because i kind of sort of think it's true- an admission that is akin to standing amidst the daughters of the confederacy and bursting into a rousing chorus of "while we were marching through georgia."

maybe this is the curse of the southern immigrant- one must endlessly defend the south while also harboring an extreme awareness of its inadequacies.

i adore memphis. at least i always did and even though i ran from it, i think i kind of still do. it's my homeland, but not my home. and that's a really bizarre thing.

i can't begin to explain this city to people. it's a politically incorrect, charismatic, strangely generous guy with a raunchy sense of humor and mismatched socks. you want to introduce him to your other friends, but you're pretty sure the minute he opened his mouth, they'd know he's bad news. aristotle onassis, but without the business sense or the millions- just the barstools. that's not an explanation though. it's just a string of faulty metaphors.

to me, memphis is the most restless of cities. there's a rhythm to the streets- as though the current of the river were shaking the bluffs and elvis was just humming along. while i've always loved this quality, it's like dating someone who's entirely too like you, so you just wind up driving each other mad. memphis and i are too similar. we're too tightly wound. and that makes me want to run.

and yet there are these moments and there's that river.

i called croftie once in the middle of a memphis moment, blubbering that i was driving down beale with the river ahead. i probably sounded drunk. because that means nothing to you if you're not from memphis. if you are from memphis, it means the world.

because in the end, it all comes down to music and muddy water.

10 April 2007

10 shoes & the city

i love high heels. there's something magical about walking down the street amidst flurries, swishing your skirt and strutting atop some stilettos.

but stilettos are made for people who own cars and dash into restaurants. people who are at such leisure as to take no more than 8-13 steps at a time. people who will be spending the evening off their feet.

stilettos are not made for writers who have to walk many many blocks and ride trains and walk many many more blocks and then mill about casually sipping cocktails as though their feet weren't screaming all the while. this is a lesson i have yet to learn (damn you, carrie bradshaw).

bee and i went out. there were some kick-ass freaking awesome yellow shoes. for the first two hours, they were like pillows. then there was suddenly the sensation of having a dull razor run across each sole with every step. i wanted to rip them from my feet and thieve walgreen's for a pair of bargain bin keds. i wanted to never see these shoes again. i wanted to never again in my life be so recklessly costumed.

but then, as i was stifling screams and hobbling off the train, a man whom i've never seen before and will probably never see again brushed against me, glanced at my feet, made shy eye-contact and said quietly, "miss, nice shoes."

worth every bloody step.

08 April 2007

4 up from the grave he arose! back in the grave he goes.

2007 is The Year That Everything Electronic & Remotely Associated With La Maison De Oh!'lighn Died.

after the lappy hard-drive demise, the microwave began making sounds eerily reminiscent of my mum's homemade ice cream machine, which was a cross between nails on a chalkboard and the world's loudest hair dryer, and which never failed to force father cupcake and i from the house. to us, no dairy product was worth such clamor. since the microwave was making this cacophony and yielding no iced confectionery, i was emotionally prepared for its death.

so i was caught entirely unprepared one late night when the upod up and died smack dab in the rollicking middle of "kings of the wild frontier." it wouldn't play, it wouldn't turn off, it wouldn't mute, it wouldn't do anything but stare back at me in frustrating unresponsiveness. in the morning it was dead.

with some curses over the unexpected expense, i promptly ordered the new upod- a sexier, sleeker, dainty lad who seemed at infinitely greater risk for falling victim to my electronic vicissitudes. but the options were limited since things have to be u2y and the upod had up and died.

because the upod had up and died. his battery wore down and he shut off and wouldn't turn on no matter how many times i obsessive compulsively pushed all his buttons to verify that this unfolding tragedy wasn't a figment of my rather overactive imagination. but it was hopeless. he was gone. i swear. he died.

and yet...

finally ready to lay the upod to rest, i picked him up from the stack of magazines where he'd been lying in state for some while. and lo! he jumped to life. his little battery whirred back into action and his face lit up.

unfortunately, this sudden resurrection so startled me that i promptly threw him to the floor, where he hit the vieve, who was so unnerved by this burst of life from an electronic we had long presumed dead that she jumped four feet in the air, knocking over a glass of milk and baptizing the upod, whom we haven't heard from since.

06 April 2007

2 just say NO

do you drink? do you smoke? do you do drugs?

this is what the physician casually asks while staring blankly at my chart. it comes out as one ginormo word: doyoudodrugs?

um... NO.

and what do we think is the likelihood that anyone has ever responded in the affirmative to such a half-assed inquiry? that some crack addict broke down in tearful confession in the face of this apathy?

i'm betting, if i had a casual pot habit and liked to snort coke every other saturday and shot up heroin last night just for kicks, and a man making intense eye-contact with a clipboard and with a lollypop stuck behind his ear nonchalantly asked me, doyoudodrugs? that probably would not excite a psychological breakthrough.

in reality, i don't smoke and i don't drink but i do have a teeny tiny melatonin habit and a raging diet coke addition (you don't have to be mr. wizard to see the link there). as far as vices go these are fairly benign, but never once have they been admitted to anyone in the medical profession. they don't ask and i don't tell.

and if a doctor leaned in earnestly and held my hand and looked me in the eye and asked, oline, are you a troubled sleeper? do you occasionally unnecessarily take melatonin out of laziness simply because you fear twiddling your toes till 4 a.m.? i'm not absolutely certain i would own up.

we've been taught all our lives to just say NO to drugs. ironically, it goes both ways.

05 April 2007

7 let them eat cake

i'm big into commemorations. i would say this is a family trait except i don't think it is. this is pretty much just me. i instinctively celebrate events- big and small- by buying something- big or small- that is then endowed with Great Meaning based on whatever event- big or small- it was celebrating.

i hit a tipping point the other day. things fell apart and then they just as quickly fell into an entirely new, wholly improved together all in less than 24 hours- just proving yet again that it really does all work out in the end. and that the manner in which it does really is a mystery.

an event of such import cannot pass without commemoration. there must be some visible, appropriately excessive expression. some laying down of the visa in a way that shouts, I HAVE ARRIVED, WORLD. AND I HAVE THE 4" WHITE PATENT PLATFORM BOOTS TO PROVE IT.

i did not go that route, because i've gone that route before and i've bought the boots and they've had a fine and dandy life in the closet ever after. no. this was an event that warranted some entirely new means of celebration. something never done before. something stark-raving madcap wild.

to that end, i bought a $23 greeting card.

because really, what says HEY WORLD more than a $23 greeting card? that's actually a gross oversimplification. the $23 greeting card is kind of, sort of handmade (or at the very least, manufactured with great european love). it is bejeweled and beglittered. it's a teeny tiny work of art that just happens to be mailable if you love your friends enough to send them $23 greeting cards (frankly, i don't).

the $23 greeting card doesn't actually look like a greeting card, which is why it's going to hang on the front door. it's going to gaze knowingly out upon the pillbarracks balcony, and it's going to say with a sly smile and a worldly sigh, WE'VE ARRIVED. AND WE LIKE CAKE.

04 April 2007

8 and... [silence]

on many a drunken night in college and after, as i held drunken hands and steadied drunken steps, loquacious drunks said to somber, sober me: ooooooooline, I was the LIFE of the PARTY. why can't YOU be like that? why do YOU have to be SO QUIET? it's a question that has not gone away.

and the answer?

in the first grade, i talked nonstop. i hadn't yet learned to read. i hadn't yet discovered the value of slowing down and taking things in and working thoughts through before committing them to speech. i was actually told to be quiet, wasn't quiet, and was marched to the principal's office and forced to call my grandmother to tell her to make me be quiet.

because i am not quiet. i can command anyone's attention on paper and in certain crowds i whip out Chatty Caro without a second thought. because in certain crowds there is no need to hold back, to edit one's self. with certain people, i am at home and i am really me and the real me likes to talk.

it's all about context. you shape your speech to the situation. you contribute when you know you will be heard. you open your mouth when the words aren't going to be hitting a brick wall and when the person you're speaking to can look you in the eye.

and, admittedly, it is, to some extent, an act. i know when i've gone quiet and conversationally shut down. this is not something one does unaware, but an emotional armor that surfaces because in silence is safety. it's nearly as effective as the dumb girl routine and is often mistaken as such, which is perhaps why, when i do let go and open my mouth, smart girl comes flying back in response from stupid boys. i know, in some ways, i am to blame.

but here is my frustration. i have never once shouted at someone: you are too loud. you really just need to shut up. don't say anything. just be quiet. what is wrong with you, you stupid loud person? i would never dream of doing this because this would be obnoxious.

and yet, i am constantly judged by people who are louder than i. it is demanded that i fill conversational black-holes. that i say shit just for the sake of saying shit and carrying a conversation. that i speak up, be boisterous, be loud, be like them. if i am none of those things- either because of willful refusal or emotional defense- then they will not hesitate to tell me how i have failed.

and though i want to scream shut the fuck up, and go off and found a commune for people who won't judge others if they speak less than the chatterers deem permissible, i can't help but wonder if perhaps this is simply the natural dynamic that exists between the two conflicting personalities. the "loud" can't enjoy the silence and make conversational demands, leaving the "quiet" to rebel against the clamor and forever fall short.

and i don't know how we're supposed to get beyond that. because i don't think they're going to stop judging, and i'm not about to scream shut the fuck up.

at least not yet.

03 April 2007

7 listen up!

balkan beat box, balkan beat box
brian jonestown massacre, and this is our music
malajube, trompe-l'œil
menomena, friend and foe
mika, life in cartoon motion

01 April 2007

6 sexual mozart

the vieve is an only cat. she came from the vet with the proviso that she must be an only cat. i was so excited to have any cat that i didn't really care. it saddens me, but i try not to hold it against her. in a way, it's part of her allure. the vieve has to be unspeakably awesome because she is all there can be.

and so, because i am not yet ready for the unspeakably awesome collie that is in my future, i've had to find an alternative means of populating my household. apparently, simply by sheer default, my household will be populated by busts of legendary men.

brutus joined us last fall- more out of irony than attraction. he's cool and all but his gold lacquer is mottled in a way suggestive of an acned past and he is, admittedly, a bit of a queer. still, i thought brutus would suffice. i thought his male head would be enough for my household. and then suddenly, there was wolfie.

a few months ago, lindear passed along a photograph of wolfgang mozart gazing lustily upon a mutton chop. it was immediately dubbed "sexual mozart." and, after watching amadeus a few too many times since, i began to develop a rather unhealthy fondness for the man. but i didn't know that we were meant to be together until croftie and i skipped the gym to hit the maxx, and in the midst of some tacky washington and jefferson replicas and Buddha heads, there he was. sexual mozart in alabaster.

i passed him up and did little but dream of him for two days. finally, i realized he was destined to be the guardian of the ukrainian versailles that is The Other Room, and i could bear it no longer. i raced to pick him up- fearful that there might have been a run on sexual mozarts and he would be gone. but there he was, patiently awaiting me.

he looked so melancholy and proud- grandly putting the tacky washington and jefferson and the Buddha heads to shame. they cowered back in the shadows of the shelving, surrendering the limelight to wolfie. a child superstar. a genius buried in an unmarked grave. an everlasting reminder that tom hulce was robbed.

i gently wrapped him in a pink scarf and tucked him into the messenger bag. he rode the whole way home with his sexy head peeking out the top, taking in the bright lights of the big city. many a passerby did a double-take. i simply smiled knowingly, smugly. yep, it's sexual mozart. and he's all mine.