30 September 2008

2 september: a revue

"yeah, i remember natalie holloway. how could i ever forget natalie holloway? she ruined our number one go-to destination."

"we're girls. we get omg."

"i'm glad to see he is consistent in his pursuit of small sandwiches."

"somehow no one called her out on that. how the hell do you know what a horse vagina looks like? what are you doing up there in milwaukee?!"

"it is my dream to bring something to the masses... i just don't know what exactly."

"it is a world of drear out there."

"it's so much more impactful when bad news is prefaced with 'hey girl!'"

"it's the decline of western civilization and i want a front row seat."

"white people love wayne brady."
"he's the white man's black man."

"when given a choice, always go with pacific islander."

"don't give me those eyebrows."

"i just wanted to know if you have any updates so i'm not left holding the bag of ignorance."

"as far as i'm concerned, condoms can just not exist when it comes to conversations with family members."

"apparently my eyes are very expressive so i'll keep them shut for a moment and you can get it on with stevie wonder."

29 September 2008

4 deductive reasoning & JEFF DANIELS


JEFF DANIELS walks through doors.

i walked through a door with JEFF DANIELS.

i am now inexpressibly more special than everyone else
(except, maybe, JEFF DANIELS).

because JEFF DANIELS wouldn't walk through a door with just any girl.

because he's JEFF DANIELS.

28 September 2008

8 ruthless

my father's mother died 9 years ago tomorrow.

i've spent the past 9 years waiting for her to call me back.

grandma ruth. my first memories aren't so much of her but of the huge cardboard boxes she would send. boxes polluted by the cigarette smoke that hung in the air of her two-room trailer like the heat trapped in a parked car. they had to be detonated, opened and aired out on our door step. smoking cauldrons from whence homemade treasures and barbie dreamhouses would later emerge.

things like that didn't happen at gran and paw-paw's, where we ate watermelons, played croquet, and held hands when we prayed. even then, it was so obvious. grandma ruth's world was worlds away.

she was my auntie mame. loud and colorful and divorced. she had been to greece. she said things you weren't supposed to say and she said them with sweeping, dramatic hand gestures. whenever she blew into town in aqua capri pants and a blaze of marlboro smoke, life seemed more exotic. birthday cakes melted. my hair was braided. we ate chinese.

to me, she was a celebrity. except she was from binghampton, new york. binghampton. hollywood. both places so far away to my little kid mind that they might almost be neighbors. like on a flat map, how russia couldn't seem further from alaska's back yard...

i saw her maybe seven or eight times that i remember. the longest stretch being the summer before she died, when i camped out on her pull-out sofa over 4th of july, cramming on russian verbs. we went to denny's four times in two days, because in binghampton, denny's was what you did.

she had given up smoking by then and as we sat in plastic lawn chairs drinking tea, she gestured with a fake, styrofoam cigarette, waving it about for emphasis. i remember being struck by the fact that it was the first time i had really seen her. without the smoke, there was no need to squint.

then i graduated and went to college and didn't call her nearly enough and suddenly, a month later, she was gone.

which is something i have still yet to fully grasp. in my head she's up in binghampton, in the same trailer, going to denny's and smoking up a storm. how could she not be?

in drop dead gorgeous, the neighbor loretta reminds me of her and i always think, i should really call grandma ruth. i don't. but i always think it.

when i was a kid, my family had this dog. the Greatest Dog of All Time. arthur. say his name all these years later and it's like we're instantly transported to that moment where we sat on the garage steps on a dark february night and came to the unanimous family consensus that we had to let arthur die. it's pretty much just assumed now that for the rest of our lives we will be in deep mourning for that dog.

i've done a dangerous thing here. i've set up a contrast between my grandmother and a dog.

but here's the (other) thing that makes me a bad person. i didn't feel that way about grandma ruth. i tried but i didn't. for me, there was no mourning. her death lacked immediacy. probably because The Call came far before any of us had begun to prepare to expect it.

she never seemed fragile. she never fell apart. we've been locked into a who knows how many years-long deathwatch for my gran and paw-paw since 1995, but grandma ruth was tough. she could take it. she was too alive to die. and then she did.

the only time i really felt her absence was at her memorial service the following summer, and only then because i knew she would be pissed we were having a party without her.

i was in mississippi when she died, beginning one of the not greatest years of my life and already well on my way to a D in chemistry. suddenly everything was different but nothing had changed.

the raspy voice on the other end of the phone had gone silent.

my parents went to new york without me.

our cat died.

things fall apart.

my mum and i have only talked about this time once. years later. at the intersection of hacks cross and poplar pike, while we waited for a train to pass, out of the blue she asked if i was ok about grandma ruth. i said yes. it seemed a little late to say no.

it's not that i didn't love her. that i don't love her still. that i don't miss her. no. it's like she isn't gone. like i said something she has yet to forgive me for and she won't call me back.

at concerts, i'll catch a whiff of marlboro smoke and turn around to look for her. as though a gogol bordello show were a likely venue for grandmotherly resurrection. (u2, maybe, but not gogol.)

waiting for graduation at the u of c, as the bagpipes started and croftie said her pithy thing, a flash of fury ran through me that my grandmother didn't even think to show up. then i remembered why she wasn't there.

when i think about it, when i really really think about it, i can't stand the silence. but then, i shouldn't expect anything.

she wrote me a letter the day before she died. it came the friday after.

she had the last word.

26 September 2008

5 the unanticipated parental response to an eye infection & the (medicinal) pirate patch

an average of twelve ARRRRRGHs per phone call and the suggestion that eye patches are classy and cool because angelina jolie wore one in a movie in which gwyneth paltrow co-starred.

25 September 2008

4 accolades

"you know that caroline. she really gets things done. you know how she moves. like grant on richmond."

i suppose, coming from someone who very well might be old enough to have witnessed grant moving on richmond, this is a high compliment. it's sure as hell better than sherman through georgia.

23 September 2008

4 the re-closet

on this date in oline's history, we had the re-closet. which taught us very little beyond the fact that any event involving partner, S, ansel adams, and the president of the gay and lesbian and tri-gendered people's association of the university of florida is going to be pretty memorable. and that people who are gay should probably just go ahead and be gay.

17 September 2008

5 are we too sexy for our shirts?

we're in the midst of a burlesque craze around here.

i know. you're all reeling in horror, fluttering and fanning yourselves, thinking, gasp! how can the oline we all said in high school would read books during sex be burlesquing?!?! shocking! scandalous! swoon!

my mum had pretty much the same initial reaction and ever since has prefaced every discussion of my tuesday evening activities with the line, dripping with the same dread and concern exhibited by the mothers of strippers the world over, you know, cupcake, this is a fun diversion but it's not something nice young ladies pursue... professionally... as though show were something i could apply for. like a secretarial job or the peace corps.

it's more like the national honor society. by invite only.

so we're burlesquing. croftie and i (albeit i'm way back in kindergarten while she's wielding props and robes). with michelle l'amour, whose ass goes pow.

this'll sound très self-involved (a self-involvement i'm clearly aiming to leaven with the insertion of gratuitous french from my vast frenchy vocabulary of vingt et un), but burlesque has taught me many, many things about myself. great sprawling ideological discoveries that can be condensed to a pithy list of trois.

un (aaaaaaaaaand... i'm done), i cannot shimmy. i can shake my ass. i can convulse my shoulders. i can point my boobs here and there like wonder woman in a bullet-shooting bra. and i can pseudo-shimmy for about 3.2 seconds before i think, OH MY GOD, I'M SO CLOSE TO SHIMMYING!, completely lose my concentration and go back to shaking my shoulders and looking like a pre-orgasmic skeleton hung from the rafters, suspended on strings.

this is not attractive.

so now, because vivian velvet says the shimmy is hard and practice makes perfect, i shimmy at home. the vieve is discreet. she won't be gossiping to her sewing circle (or eF) about how her crazy oline has suddenly taken to slinking about the house, shoulders spasming, arms flailing about with all the grace and elegance of an epileptic ethel mertz.

which brings us to my next self-involved point. the amazing power of context (second only to the scary power of hair). i'm 27. i've spent a decade doing yoga, eating my vegetables, believing cupcakes a necessity, and frowning at women who look like lollipops. i finally feel comfortable in my own skin. and then i face michelle l'amour's mirrors.

michelle l'amour's mirrors are mean bitches. because, as croftie and i have both discovered, when surrounded by voluptuous women in boob tops, we are skin and bones. in front of michelle l'amour's (elongating? trick? funhouse? devil?) mirrors, i am all leggings and lace. a pasty white slip of a ghost. lara flynn boyle after two and a half cheeseburgers.

this is horrifying.

maybe it's the dance clothes. maybe if we wore dresses with beads and fringe, we'd have more curves. more to work with. more to shake. my classmates twigged onto this early. they trotted out their rhinestone necklaces and red patent heels weeks ago. i didn't make my first hesitant move towards urchin-hooker chic until last night. a move that climaxed with a strut down several highly trafficked chicago streets in ripped leggings, a green ass-clinging tank top, a plaid button-down from the sear's boys department, and boots.


this is depaul undergrad fashion at its apex and, because i am a judgmental elitist, it is an outfit i have made fun of many a time. but such hypocrisy seems negligible after burlesque. maybe it's just the flashdance glamor of having danced! [insert jazz hands here], but in the afterglow, my judgie-wudgie qualms re: slubbing downtown in lindsay lohan's best are entirely erased.

i said i was leading up to something but, really, i'm not. all i've got is these three things. and from them, collectively, one would think we would be able to glean a fundamental, earth-shattering truth, but i haven't been able to glean anything except maybe that one should not judge- which seems like it should have been evident enough before.

but that is what i am left with. that one should not judge. because in the harshness of michelle l'amour's mirrors, we're all just an ill-clad, skin and bones, shimmying mess. which, maybe- just maybe- is kinda fucking sexy.

09 September 2008

4 a fright

lx finished the iron man.

the upside of this is that we got to kill some time decorating her desk with streamers, flowers and balloons.

the downside is that for me- seated directly opposite- this has created in her cubicle the illusion of a squatting clown.

03 September 2008

5 in case you ever wondered

strawberry yogurt and hummus equal something only slightly more appetizing than salted raisin bran.

01 September 2008

17 a lady doesn't like to beg

but surely, after five looooooooooooooooooooooooooooong-ass years, surely, in the name of lars lindstrom and all that is holy, surely, please dear God, surely we can trust the new york times.