31 January 2010

0 january: a revue

"they're just fat people with mean hearts so they deserve to lose."

"i just am not all up on winter."

"do amish people ever get mad?"

"i apparently love gay man music."

"i interviewed your next boyfriend today."

"we are seriously stuffing right now."

"thank you for opening my eyes to something i'll probably never get to experience."

"it created a cacophony of wall-climbing water-boinking sounds that no sleeping bag over the ear could muffle."

"ooh, filing cabinets! i'm gonna have room for filing cabinets!!! i love to file."

"am i settling into single-selfishness, or am i on the road of doom to never find anyone ever as long as i shall live? i'm not trying to be pessimistic, but i do want to be aware of all possibilities."

"WAFFLES!!! i could have wept."

"you seriously have balls made out of brass to have handled yourself so well so far."

"partner, there's a whole playground under your legs."

"as you know, i was in a very unorthodox mood yesterday."
"yes. yes. in the midst of the verbal flogging, i drew that conclusion."

"it's worth a listen thought it's not as deep as lady gaga... and, who, a year ago, would've ever thought of calling lady gaga deep?"

"when the team has a man down, it needs a little extra help."

"just don't go jim henson on me and die of pnemonia because you only need God to heal you instead of medicine."

"i appreciate the tenacity of your continuing addiction to people.com."

"it looks like a unicorn threw up on them."

"is it real if you're drunk?"

0 at last i have been to the signature lounge ladies room.

and yes, boys. the view is worth more than a million bucks.

28 January 2010

3 tuppling

on tuesday night, when we braved the freezing cold for our first story slam at martyr's, KC and i spent much of the evening poking fun at AC for bringing contraband tupperware containing the previous night's pasta dinner into a bar. (when i'm quite sure, secretly, we envied her boldness all the while.)

it is therefore appropriate that come wednesday night God would smite my silly sarcastic self and whip up a gust of wind so mighty, so great that it would snatch my own personal piece of oversized tupperware from its cozy safe spot in the crook of my arm and send it dancing into that vortex of chaos otherwise known as the lincoln/fullerton/halsted intersection.

and it was no doubt the devil who led me, briefly valuing the safety of rogue tupperware over my own, prancing into the intersection after it. because for a split-second, that seemed the reasonable response.

i didn't realize that maybe that is never the reasonable response until a cabbie in the left turn lane rolled down his window, looked me in the green eyes and said, hey, pretty. it's just plastic. you gotta let it go.

27 January 2010

16 wine oh!

three days ago, i very innocently opened a bottle of wine. with a wine bottle opener. because, typically, that is how one opens a bottle of wine.

except when it's a $5 bottle of wine and, therefore, comes with a cleverly concealed screw-top. a fact that isn't revealed until, in the course of one's extremely determined, diligent efforts to open a screw-top bottle of wine with a wine opener, one strikes plastic and accidentally drives said wine bottle opener full-force into the middle knuckle of the middle finger of one's left hand. then one tends to reevaluate the efficacy of one's strategies.

and yes, we're talking about me here. i am the fool who did this.

it drew no blood. didn't so much as leave a mark. so i screamed a protracted bloody murder and promptly forgot i had ever driven a metal corkscrew through my middle finger. nor did i notice that the middle knuckle of my middle finger had shifted a good quarter inch to the left of where it usually abides.

i did not notice until the next morning when, after a restless sleep, i awoke to find that, no thanks to my lovely balled fist habit, the newly slipped middle knuckle in my middle finger had segued into a fairly severe case of claw hand. an unfortunate circumstance that had the unfortunate side effect of producing a sensation that can be best characterized as knuckle constipation.

it needs to crack!!! alas, it cannot.

i'm guessing this whole mess requires some correction. one cannot keep a slipped knuckle forever, after all. it should be fixed. probably with a tug and a snap and a panoply of bracing and gauze and tape and such.

but for now, i am contenting myself with a pretty potent combo of ibuprofen and bandaids. because i'm the girl who has consulted her physician for phantom ear pains three times in the past six months. i'm quite certain they've flagged me as a hardcore erythromycin addict. how on earth to explain this new turn of events?

the best line i can come up with is this: hey, doctor, so i was stone cold sober opening a bottle of cheap wine with an entirely unnecessary tool and it just slipped! and, really, that's just embarrassing.

25 January 2010

0 deconstructed

last labor day weekend, the construction crew moved in.

and this seemed appropriate at the time. that my street should be gutted. that i should dwell amidst an inescapable cacophony of steal grinding concrete, punctuated by random detonations of earth that cast upon my home life a soundtrack eerily reminiscent of oliver stone's platoon.

they say chicago has two seasons. winter and construction.

because i am excessively literary and entirely too ready to discern poetic irony in everything, i found this past season of construction an all too apt metaphor.

the potholes. the upended sewer. the street six inches lower than the sidewalk so a twisted ankle seemed a daily inevitability. why, that was my life!

and in all that has happened my first thought has always echoed the gasp of everyone who has offered me a ride home in the past four months, when their right front tire hits that first 2' pothole after turning onto arlington.

"oh shit. that was unexpected."

but things are getting better. winter has come.

and the men who have unfailingly complimented my boots every day for the last 102 patched up my street and packed up their stuff and then they went away.

and at last there was quiet. absolute perfect quiet. and a stillness i had not known in months. a stillness i had almost forgotten i could appreciate.

it endured exactly three days.

yesterday the construction crew came back. my street, it is in pieces. and the stillness, it is gone.

23 January 2010

0 speaking of breasts

things a daughter never wants to hear her father say:

"eat up, beeb. you know the first thing to go when you lose weight is your breasts!"

21 January 2010

2 peep show


i loooooooooooooooooooooooooove looking in people's windows.

i don't know if this is an indicator that i am secretly a crazy stalker person or if i just have such a very great love of people that it extends to peering into their homes to lavish love upon their things.

i am not alone in this. croftie is also an enthusiastic peeper. we will skip down the street, gawking with great glee into every lit window we pass. because the people round here, they own some pretty things (window dressings not among them). pretty things which they have very kindly put on public display and expensively well lit.

this always seemed a somewhat shameful act. this sidewalk voyeurism. then last night KC told me how her mother loves peering into the windows of homes. and i nodded and smiled and said, why, i do that too! and she said, but um... yeah... do you go up to the living room window and press your nose to the glass to see in? i was very proud and grateful to be able to say in all honestly, why, no. no, i do not.

20 January 2010

2 dear james franco, i am The One.

i'm pretty sure you know this.
especially now that you've gone and gotten yourself
my typewriter AND my glasses.

19 January 2010

6 cups by joe

i never understood those people who paced around the coffee pot, panting drones, waiting for it to brew.

now i understand those people.

now i am one of those people.

this has brought a whole host of skeletons springing forth from the family closet and, in particular, has revealed one of my family's most closely held secrets: the fact that my grandfather makes The Worst Coffee In The History Of The World.

suddenly everything makes so much more sense.

why did my father and my aunt- both notorious late sleepers- always awake at dawn at my grandparents' house? to make The Coffee.

why did my mother start drinking tea? The Coffee.

when my grandmother's sister said The Mean Thing about my grandfather that made my grandmother defend his honor and cut all family ties? yeah, that was about The Coffee.

rule #1: you don't badmouth The Coffee.

at the risk of being exfamiliated, i will say this though: my grandfather makes some profanely bad coffee.

it's no wonder he makes one cup last the entire day. i always categorized this as "savoring" but now i'm pretty certain he is engaged in a secret experiment to see how much microwave radiation is required to resuscitate the juice of dead beans.

but i should clarify. there is The Coffee. and then there is The Coffee, Round Two.

The Coffee is not great, but it is tolerable. like someone accidentally forgot an ingredient that wasn't very important until it was gone. though weakened, the cup can carry on.

The Coffee, Round Two, however, is a crime against juan valdez.

despite the fact that other people's beds are the only place i can sleep the night through these days, i will arise before day break to avoid The Coffee, Round Two. because Round Two is Round One with new water run over the same used beans. it produces a drink that, when taken black, is eerily reminiscent of a glass of water in which a single licorice jelly bean has been briefly dipped.

my mother brought my first cup of The Coffee, Round Two, to me in bed. i awoke to this abomination and thought it a joke. i laughed out loud. i did not know better. i quickly learned.

but if nothing else, my grandparents are committed. now that i'm outed as a coffee person, there is no going back. because for the rest of forever, at my grandparents' house there will always be a cup of bean vapors with my name on it.

a threat that is so odious, so against nature, that it should probably tip me into giving up caffeine at long last. but no, no. an oline's faithful 100%. so bring me your muddy waters. bring on those sweaty beans. i drink your coffee. i drink it up.

14 January 2010

3 burvil

my grandmother got a blood clot in her eye when she was 36. it permanently damaged her vision, leaving her with a viewpoint that she likens to looking through an unsteadily held kaleidescope with a cracked lens.

i never knew this. that when she read all those biographies i lent her, the words were tap-dancing through a tie-dyed haze. i didn't know until last christmas, when my grandfather was in the hospital and my grandmother nearly engaged the hematologist in fisticuffs because he didn't concur with her views on plavix. suddenly all everyone talked about was the Great Blood Clot of '65, and finally i understood why my grandmother owned a buick she didn't drive.

my grandfather is in the hospital again.

my father called this morning and, in the frenzied timbre his voice takes on in times like this when he hasn't slept or stopped thinking for 32 hours straight, he said it was scary. scarier than the last time.

which is scary because last time was the scariest thing any of us had ever seen.

he talked about pawpaw. about my mum. about the ICU visitors policy. he asked about me. and i asked about my grandmother.

my gran burvil. age 81. 4 feet 9 inches. 92 pounds.

this is the woman who rescued me from swimming lessons and the harding academy summer camp.

she loves birds and the color blue.

she makes the best spaghetti in the south.

she wheels my grandfather's medicines around in a rollarboard.

afraid of the computer, she typed out two copies of his complete medical history on her IBM selectric- one went in her wallet, one in her bible.

she once threatened to ditch the ridgeway baptist church golden agers group on the side of highway 78 because they were talking shit about mississippi.

this is my grandmother.

the irish farmer's eldest daughter.

we are a lot alike. yankee brat that i am, a little mississippi farm girl still slipped in.

we had a fight this past christmas. our first in years. because she was sad and i was sad and, after enduring a tutorial on how to properly cut bananas, i had the audacity to pour the pudding into the trifle wrong, making everything go kaboom.

(in true eaton family fashion, there are pictures and they are lovely.)

we apologized the next day, both of us blubbering as we stood together in the dark of her sewing room, surrounded by scraps of the fabrics from the dresses of my childhood, a tiny streak of early morning sunlight streaming in through the window, highlighting the hint of red that still dapples her hair.

when i hug her now, she's skin and bones. fragile like a kitten. yet still, somehow, tough as nails.

2 many things in life may let a girl down, but popeye's biscuits never do.

13 January 2010

8 we are family

there's been a big family pride renaissance in The Family as of late. first, i assembled the family forward, prompting the paint-by-numbers to go back up on the wall. then my mum published a keepsake recipe collection. and now my father is digitally archiving the family photo albums.

it was this project that led to the discovery of a photograph of the man who begat betsy vaught, who begat william baldwin, who begat david martin, who begat earl martin, who begat jessie martin, who begat grandma ruth, who begat my father, who begat me. the great, ghostily dashing jonathan vaught. who, by all appearances, himself was begat by an illicit somewhere in time-style love affair between cotton mather and sojourner truth.

now we know where i get my good looks.

09 January 2010

0 we ten kings

last night, Katie I and i braved the single digit temps to attend elvisfest 2010. i am not at all jesting when i say we will probably look back upon that as the greatest decision of our lives.

because, people, elvisfest 2010 rocked. there was a peanut butter and banana buffet. free stickers. singing. CAKE. and impostors galore. seriously. it ROCKED. even Katie I, who is not an elvite and punctuated the evening with shocked exclamations of i can't believe i am at elvisfest 2010 and it is AWESOME concurred.

and so, when j.d., "the ladies elvis," passed by us and not only winked at me but grazed his hand across my knee and i clutched my heart and turned to Katie I to say OH MY GOD, THE LADIES ELVIS JUST TOUCHED MY LEG, i found her staring back at me equally incredulous as she said in a voice barely above a whisper, elvis just winked at you!!!

06 January 2010

0 hard times

croftie and i recently partook of that most romantic of romantic endeavors: the transmission of a communicable disease. and you thought Romantic Getaway was hot...

in a testament to the power of taking care of one's self, croftie, a burlesque karate goddess who gets herself to the gym daily and eats only the healthiest of homemade things, was bothered by a mere "icky throat," while i- who have spent recent months gadflying about town exercising myself only at various patisseries and pot lucks- had to take to my bed with the bubonic plague.

in one of the greater new year's eve's in oline history, i had ventured to a cathedral in west garfield, where i- one of five white people in the room- scrawled my worries on a slip of paper, tossed it into the barbecue pit pitched upon the altar, and watched my troubles go up in flames.

naively, i thought my troubles would end there. little did i know the good Lord would require a pulmonary exorcism to clear them out.

so maybe i didn't leave the bed for five days. and maybe yesterday was the first day of 2010 that i had the strength to wash my hair. and maybe i do look a little like the figure in the scream. so what. it's 2010!!! my troubles they've gone up in flames. and i'm not worried at all.

05 January 2010

24 getting ahead

you may recall that i have an "acquaintance" whose primary interests are my love life and dispensing not-particularly-helpful insight as it seems to relate to my love life. if not, um... yeah. i have an "acquaintance" whose primary interests are my love life and dispensing not-particularly-helpful (nay, legendarily bad) insight as it seems to relate to my love life.

so, the other day, apropos of absolutely nothing, i received the following rather spectacular text message:
"Oline! Remember. Finding a mate is just a sales job. Prospecting. Qualifying. Overcoming objections. I am serious. Go big game hunting. Close the deal."
this was meant to be encouraging, galvanizing even. but really, it was more ironic than anything else. because i've refused every sales job i've ever been offered. and i'm thinking more and more i want to take up taxidermy.


03 January 2010

11 corked

S has frequently commented on how my life would make an excellent chick flick. this isn't something i particularly relish hearing. perhaps because i assume the chick flick of my life in his mind would be something in the vain of a catherine zeta-jones rom-com with lots of soft background jazz when i'd prefer to think of my life as being along the lines of that beloved abc family charisma carpenter classic see jane date. with set design via gone with the wind, the thematic innocence of meet me in st.louis and a smidgen of refined longing à la camilla & charles: whatever love means.

my life, it is entirely more complex than a chick flick. it is a fancy dress musical of midwestern innocence and thwarted royal love.

i've fought the chick flick characterization for a long, long time. i'll share an anecdote and S will say, see, your life is a chick flick, and i'll protest in my snippiest camilla & charles: whatever love means tone, NO, NO, it is NOT.

but the other day, when i opened a champagne bottle with a real cork for the first time [because a) i always buy andre with the screw-cap and b) boys have always been around to open the real thing] and the cork flew straight up from the bottle, ricocheting off the ceiling to fall like a shooting star and settle atop the frosting of the celebratory sugar bliss gingerbread cupcake that was sitting on the counter, as though that was where the cork had been meant to be all along, i couldn't help but wonder if perhaps my life is a little less complex than i had imagined. and my stunt crew more sophisticated than i ever knew.

01 January 2010

0 the old year

959- gone with the wind (mitchell)
180- the secret of the old clock (keene)
184- the reluctant fundamentalist (hamid)
182- the hidden staircase (keene)
269- theft: a love story (carey)
180- the bungalow mystery (keene)
180- the mystery at lilac inn (keene)
175- the secret of shadow ranch (keene)
178- the secret of red gate farm (keene)
174- the clue in the diary (keene)
341- the unbearable lightness of being (kundera)
174- nancy's mysterious letter (keene)
523- american legacy (heymann)
176- the sign of the twisted candles (keene)
368- revolutionary road (yates)
175- password to larkspur lane (keene)
247- moonraker (fleming)
297- the mysteries of pittsburgh (chabon)
553- freddy & fredericka (helprin)
613- to dance with kings (laker)
320- peaches & daddy (greenburg)
486- the diana chronicles (brown)
558- american wife (sittenfeld)
276- a year in the merde (clarke)
415- fabricating women (crowston)
480- annette vallon (tipton)
403- in the merde for love (clarke)
380- royal harlot (scott)
420- the king's favorite (scott)
888- vanity fair (thackeray)
565- the corrections (franzen)
566- schulz & peanuts (michaelis)
182- double love (pascal)
558- american wife (sittenfeld)
118- secrets (pascal)
149- playing with fire (pascal)
150- power play (pascal)
432- lipstick jungle (bushnell)
336- all the president's men (woodward/bernstein)
130- all night long (pascal)
118- dangerous love (pascal)
402- prep (sittenfeld)
150- dear sister (pascal)
134- heart breaker (pascal)
265- the scarlet pimpernel (orczy)
197- into a paris quartier (johnson)
263- ordinary people (guest)
286- the spare wife (witchell)
277- lulu meets god and doubts him (ganek)
149- racing hearts (pascal)
544- twilight (meyer)
592- sammy's hill (gore)
608- new moon (meyer)
111- breakfast at tiffany's (capote)
660- heaven to betsy/betsy in spite of herself (lovelace)
603- betsy was a junior/betsy & joe (lovelace)
643- betsy & the great world/betsy's wedding (lovelace)
192- the lion, the witch & the wardrobe (lewis)
256- waking the dead (eldredge)
625- eclipse (meyer)
281- pride + prejudice (austen)
21,746 pages