30 April 2008

10 april: a revue

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

"and damned if anyone thinks i'll be roasting vegetables for 4 hours in advance! i'm throwing shit together between some noodles and hitting 'bake'."

"you're, like, obsessed with my getting pregnant now..."
"wait. what? the twelfth president?"
"seriously. is my enunciation that bad?"

"she teaches handicapped children, which, i guess, is really an example of like speaking to like."

"oh... ew... sorry, something just happened in my throat."

"it's kind of freakishly fun to be crafty like the 57-year-old women wearing denim shirts."

"nothing too thrilling over here this weekend. just cleaned out my underwear drawer."

"remember that? when i wore scandalously scanty underthings and was required to take everything off just so they could look at my face."

"it was agony sitting there and nodding my head like it was all new."

"i swear i am inching close to the 57-year-old denim lady with each passing day."

"it was either keep the beard or sex his wife. he chose wisely."

"you seem to be a little down..."
"it's the gloomy weather. and you're so happy it makes me sad."

"it doesn't really pay off to be a perfectionist when you're working at a drive-in."

"this is where all the career homosexuals work."

"we're going to be fine"
"that's what they all say and then you wind up in bed with a hooker and get ghonnorea and they leave you and you're all alone."

"i want to be 23 again."
"no you don't. 23 sucked. bad clothes, bad hair and guys who won't go down on you. 29 is so much better. well, maybe not, but at least the guys go down."

29 April 2008

2 this is why we never get rid of anything. not clothes, not pets, not people. not anything... EVER. but most especially never ever furniture.

there's a desk in my closet.

but wait. let's go back...

this begins with the coffee table my father bought at pier 1 in 1972 for $29.99. (boys, be careful what you buy.) admittedly, an adequate coffee table by 1972 pier 1 standards. my parents used this coffee table until the 1980s, at which time they had me and furniture with sharp eye-poking-out edges and baby-finger-slicing slats no longer seemed prudent.

with haste the death-trap was dispatched to my grandparents' house- where things that have outlived their usefulness go to lie in state. there, the coffee table held court on the patio- beloved, apparently, by my grandmother- for decades. its wood warping under a generation of rainfall. its baby-finger-slicing slats shifting slightly enough that they would ever after upend any drink with the audacity to sit upon them.

this coffee table was my inheritance. and because i was young and stupid and in my first apartment after grad school without a penny to my name and a preponderance of Coffee Table Books on my shelves, i took it. hell, i rejoiced in it, driving down to mantachie to retrieve the damn thing, listening to girl power music all the way. i am a woman with a 33-year-old, badly warped coffee table, hear me roar! and for a moment, it was perfect.

about 71 spilled drinks later, not so much.

this was a coffee table that should have died. nay, should have been put to death. and yet, familial guilt being what it is, i couldn't kill it. my grandmother would kill me. even my mum said so. she really loved that coffee table. so it was carted across memphis twice and came to chicago. i finally trashed it with the last move, but it was all very cloak and dagger, very hush hush. the line, dear God, don't tell your grandmother, was whispered more than once. we are, apparently, a family that cries over furniture, not spilled milk.

with that move, i also threw away a mattress. this time, my mum mourned the loss. not a bed, mind you, but a mattress. a mattress that had originated with an ex-boyfriend but which had somehow come to personify all the reproductive hopes and dreams my mum entertained for me. she fought for that mattress, asking me to keep it until she could come get it, to hold on to it- as though mattress-sized expanses of storage space were readily available. she asked me to save it because it was- in words every single 25-year-old single girl wants to hear, particularly when uttered in quaking, bereft tones- "the grandbaby bed." (forgive me, children i have not yet had. you will be sleeping on the floor.)

for whatever reason, in my family, we do not easily let things go. i know this and i try. i don't return drunken messages. i talk when i'm mad. i clean out my closets. i ruthlessly throw things away. and yet...

so there's a desk in my closet and i want it gone. we've come a long way since pier 1. this is an antique my mum blew $100 on before she discovered things were cheaper in the target home aisle. i have pursued every possible means of extorting permission from my parents to dispose of this desk that has been living in my closet for over a year. and i had them. i really did. a friend was going to take it. we might even take it to the friend. one way or the other, it was going to be gone. then something happened.

something happened to make my mum entirely unreasonable about this desk. suddenly it was an antique that my father couldn't lift, that the friend couldn't come get, that we couldn't leave on the street (despite my very convincing argument that an enterprising homeless person could live a comfy month off the proceeds) and that they couldn't take back to memphis. in other words, it was an antique better off living topsy-turvy in my closest serving as a liter box throne.

my mum and i seldom argue. but when we argue, we argue like this.

by the way, she said. i was talking to gran today. she said she hopes you never get rid of that coffee table. it's such a treasure.

28 April 2008

3 why i heart skirts

i wore pants to work for the first time in forever.
the end result?
i've felt like a dude all day long.

27 April 2008

24 April 2008

6 disclaimed

i've been converting my undergraduate and grad school stuff to readable files. it is such an odd sensation to go back and read your own writing years down the road. because i vividly remember the writing of it. the situation or the emotions that drove it. the bowl of shredded wheat beside the computer. the song that was playing (one song, on repeat, all night long). i remember the details.

there was this one paper senior year. in early december. i vividly remember staying up all night long- fueled by chocolate cake- glaring at the computer trying to write these damned 15 pages on the literary significance of satin and chiffon. i vividly remember how important it seemed to make a point that there was, indeed, some significance. and how important it was that point be a full 15 pages. which was a near impossibility because, as it turned out, at that time there was not a world of sources on the literary significance of satin and chiffon. i remember all of that.

what i don't necessarily remember is the actual writing. what i do not remember at all is this:

WHO was this crazy person? surely not me. surely some evil (thoroughly uncooperative) melodramatic entity forged this document to impugn my name.

22 April 2008

12 "gosh golly gee darn"

yes, your friendly neighborhood oline said this. and no, she wasn't starring as the tombody sidekick in a deanna durbin film at the time.

21 April 2008

7 blow job

i never blew my nose as a kid. (yeah, this isn't going where you thought it was.) which, given that my head was a living drain of ear fluid, probably means i was the grossest girl on the block.

i didn't blow my nose because i didn't know how. there are those things you just can't figure out. like shaving your knees or refolding a map or hooking a bra from the back. actions that seem so simple that no one ever thinks to explain how they're done. i didn't know how to blow my nose. and no one showed me.

well, that's a lie. doctors teague and franco tried but failed. they dangled kleenex in my nine-year-old face and extended the ultra welcoming invitation of "blow, honey." but i was a rebel. i didn't want to blow. something about the whole business upset my delicate sensibilities. i'd much rather live with a permanent crease across the bridge of my nose from rubbing the snot back into it.

blowing seemed so crass, so vulgar, so not what a girl who still wore dresses smocked by her mother would do. and i think i really thought my head would explode. if i were ever to throw caution to the wind and actually blow my nose. so i didn't wanna blow my nose. so i didn't.

apparently you can't make someone blow their own nose. it's like finding God. they have to get there on their own.

i was slow. so i was snotty. for years.

however, somewhere along the way this stopped. maybe it was getting off the allergy medicine that made me dizzy every time i stood up for the entirety of college. or maybe it was the chicago winter, which render one's existence not only insufferably cold but unbearably snotty.

whatever it was, i saw the light. i found the way. without practice or intervention, i learned to blow my own nose. despite my aforementioned appreciation of silly things, somehow it escaped me that this was kind of a big deal. that i had mastered the nose blow. it escaped me until i was on the phone with my mum the other day and, especially snotty after a long walk home, i blew my nose.

there was a silence... then:

did you just BLOW YOUR NOSE??? gary! GARY!!! come here! QUICK!!! OUR DAUGHTER just BLEW HER NOSE!!!

nice to know i still make my parents proud.

19 April 2008

9 how much is that oline in the window?

yesterday at lunch i had a bagel in daley plaza, deposited a check at the bank and got my ears pierced.


after 26 years of delay, there i was: perched in the window of claire's on state street (90,000 MILLION EARS & COUNTING!!! the sign screamed) with every single tourist in chicago gawking at the spectacle of a gum-smacking 17-year-old in $90 jeans drilling holes in my head.

make that 90,000 million and one.

17 April 2008

18 nomme de guerre

my father is strange. we all know this. but, among his many, many as yet unrevealed strangenesses, one is a procivity for names.

come to think of it, this is probably not surprising either given that i am my father's daughter and i have rechristened pretty much every single soul in my acquaintance. but back to my point...

when he was clerking at fred p. gaddes, my father jotted down names off the refusal of credit list. daisy catchings was a family favorite.

there's the ages old joke that if i'd had brothers and sisters, they would've all been given variations of my name so that my father could stand at the bottom of the stairs and shout: caroline, carl ryan, claire ann, cal van.

and of course, we've got witness protection names. for decades, we've been prepped for a fast escape to mexico as dean burrito, belle grande, and little fajita.

so i thought we were all set, identity-wise. apparently not. yesterday, my father discovered my latest alter ego: lya de putti.

13 April 2008

6 pay day

on friday, i had $10.71 in the bank.

yesterday, i swam the english channel, scaled everest, developed ground-breaking computer technology, wrote the great american novel, won the nobel prize (twice), was awarded the pulitzer, painted a masterpiece, invented an ice cream, and retired with $1.2 million despite being a tax-paying IT/salesperson who had twins and never earned a college degree.

so maybe grad school was a little unnecessary?

09 April 2008

3 you can't always get what you want

eF is coming for the weekend. and in my girlish mind, i had these springy visions of us basking in the sun as we frolic barefoot along the beach, eating enormous loaves of bread outside quaint frenchified bakeries and spending the friday afternoon we aren't going to work flying kites in the park by the zoo. my city, it seems, had other plans.

08 April 2008

44 shagging

i have this white shag rug. which is a pretty damn stupid thing to set adrift in a household of women molting tendrils of raven hair. but alas. i have this white shag rug.

for a long long while, i've loved the white shag rug. because the white shag rug was an impulse buy back in the days before i had a cat, when i couldn't have a cat, and when an excessively fuzzy rug seemed an acceptable substitute for a cat. but those days are long gone, God-willing, never to return. and i can't help but wonder if perhaps even the days of the white shag rug are passing.

having sensed that its twilight years have come, the white shag rug began acting out. naturally it would do so just prior to the commencement of the rinse cycle, easing into its dotage by becoming irrevocably unbalanced in the washing machine. sitting there, stubbornly unspinable after having absorbed (sometimes only that word will do) every single stupid drop of soapy water into its shaggy mass.

there's a funny story here. a long drawn out tale of precisely how i hoisted a 500 pound, sopping wet furry rug up four flights of stairs leaving a torrent of water in our wake. but that story will have to wait. it's a little too fresh. my muscles still a little too sore for a lighthearted recounting.

suffice it to say, few people know what it feels like to bathe a filthy, catatonic polar bear in a bathtub.

i do.

07 April 2008

5 and lo! there came the weekend weather from heaven

in chicago, there's winter and then there's construction. it's 12 below for freaking ever then suddenly you look up and you're at pitchfork and the temperature's a 102 with a heat index of 704. this is chicago. this is not why we love it.

but this weekend was something else. the wind gave us a break. the snow has melted. the sun was out. the cubs were in town. and i think we maybe had ourselves a little spring.

here's hoping i didn't jinx it by packing up my winter clothes...

04 April 2008

8 is oline as grown up as she thinks she is?

yesterday there was this woman on the train. blond, mid-twenties, cute boots, ginormous purple plastic earrings. she was presumably heading home from a long wednesday at work. and she was standing there reading a book. a book that, even at a distance of 40 feet, from somewhere in the recesses of my teenage mind i could identify as sweet valley high #5, all night long. and for the first time, the meaning of that title- not to mention the sheer skeeziness of that dude's mustache- hit me.

02 April 2008

3 needled

i'm sending this couple to seattle in july. the butts (seriously). today, in the spirit of doing my job for the butts, i wrote the space needle, soliciting details of their security measures. and i now realize- we live in an age in which it is impossible to inquire after coat checks, security screenings, permissible bag size and the prevention of glass and bottle infiltration without sounding like a terrorist.