31 May 2007

0 may: a revue

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

"i don't know what they're teaching in sex ed classes in alabama but it goes IN the va-jay-jay."

"i'm always amazed that people can MAKE chinese food. clearly chinese people must but it's always seemed like something that just materializes rather than something that's actually prepared."

"it was so impressive. if we were living in a jane austen novel we would assume he had one of his sisters help him write it."

"history has proven that the world always blows up in the last hour of the workday."

"starting just sucks."

"coconuts are very tee hee."

"i can hardly do my grocery shopping while doing my grocery shopping and she conducted a business meeting in the cereal aisle."

"we stayed up playing with it to a later hour than what is probably decent in an apartment building."

"those babies, they are not small beans."

"i just want to go home and enjoy the silence."

"i'm still optimistic for yum."

"you know that book... what to expect when you're expecting?"
"oh, i've read that!"
"when were you ever expecting?!"
"well, i wasn't but my friend was and i saw this book and i read it because, y'know, you just like to know what to expect."

"who is he?"
"scary southern man with suspenders, that's who!"

"to celebrate for you, i shall call a man."

"it's exhausting to elevate so much."

"i'm on a mission!"
"does that make you a missionary?"

"caroline, you and i know i'm not worth the cost of the powder to blow me to hell."

"there's something hilarious about asking someone in a chateau if there's a hertz rent-a-car around the block."

"just throw spiritual guidance at him and cut and run!"

"she is clearly not a vacation animal."

"who can say no to vivid hopes and dreams?!"

"it did unilaterally work out freaking well."

"long hair is a great boob coat."

"everything looks fantastically appropriate at home and then i walk through the door and instantly think, 'my God, i've dressed like a whore.'"

"clearly we were not meant to spend a lifetime together if our chins didn't click."

"people who don't keep up with pop culture are not worth spending time with."

"i could never take something that made jonathan brandis kill himself. just out of principle."

"i'm not much of a weiner person."

"i've never prepared anything meaty for a social occasion before."

"i pity you all in this Adult Dating-Marrying jungle. better you than me though. i'd cry the whole time."

"apparently, it sucks to be 26."

"he'd probably never seen such a mass of menopause."

"there will be cakes. or at the very least- cups of it."

"my head's where it'll make you proud."

"hence my thinking the ass was a penis."

"nothing flusters a body like a battle with a locked door."

"i cried. but it wasn't at all an emotional book.. it dealt with drugs, sex, murder, and a boat."

"my how time flies when you get trapped in a stairway."

"am wearing a 3" wide pepto bismol pink belt. it's going to be a good day."

"chris pontius is officially dear to my heart."

"there's no chance in hell that we could be anything with these people, let alone be naked!"

"to be perfectly honest, you're the biggest mistake in my life."

"we just ate the dough, so what's some goo?"

"i swear if one of us is ever having a dark night of the soul, the other one of us has to make heaven in a bowl."

"clothes should not have tags. they only get in the way and are a constant reminder that none of us know how to sew."

"i'm sorry. i don't enunciate well."
"you don't have to. it's your birthday."

"if you want to have a fabulous day, then boy howdy, you make that day fabulous."

29 May 2007

12 26 + 1 (to grow on)

26) manic street preachers - wattesville blues
25) pj harvey - kamikaze
24) okkervil river - west falls
23) r.e.m. - leave
22) bright eyes - i believe in symmetry
21) belle & sebastian - lazy line painter jane
20) clem snide - action
19) inxs - never tear us apart
18) gogol bordello - mishto
17) tori amos - little amsterdam
16) clem snide - let's explode
15) the bangles - hero takes a fall
14) whiskeytown - bar lights
13) hole - heaven tonight
12) tori amos - take to the sky
11) placebo - every you every me
10) brian eno - baby's on fire
9) man man - ice dogs
8) neutral milk hotel - ghost
7) ryan adams - come pick me up
6) wolf parade - i'll believe in anything
5) devotchka - queen of the surface streets
4) the magnetic fields - long-forgotten fairytale
3) new order - ceremony
2) elvis presley - suspicious minds
1) the arcade fire - wake up
* u2 - ultraviolet

28 May 2007

0 in memoriam

dear chicago,
we established long, long ago that i'm wildly in love with you. because you are perfect for silly, restless girls on their own who need long, long walks to stay sane, have slight shopping addictions, collect coats and enjoy belgian beer.

as in all relationships, sacrifices must be made. being wildly in love with you means missing out on sonic grilled cheeses and southern accents and diet strawberry limeaids and barbeque and central air and the mississippi river. but this is nothing. because you are perfect.

so you can imagine what a horrid shock it was- in the midst of showing you off to a beloved friend- to unearth an imperfection. to discover that you are sometimes a lazy ass, and as a result you have temporarily lost the distribution rights to any and all lambics- most particularly the peach that i have come to adore.

what were you thinking? how can you have been so selfish? silly, restless girls need their belgian beer. i can only ask, in the immortal words of nancy kerrigan, WHY? WHY? WHY?

27 May 2007

5 a noble heritage

the gift southerner's receive with their mother's milk is not to push a family disagreement too far. they are all aware of old family histories of relatives who brooded on a minor insult for twenty years and then came to their cousin's door with a loaded shotgun and blew his head off.
-norman mailer

24 May 2007

0 when there's nothing left to burn you have to set yourself on fire

one of my dearest dear people recently resurfaced and it's as though suddenly the wattage in the room went up.

and in the end, it all comes back to my silly words.

sophomore year of college was very strange. and that strangeness coincided with a creative writing class in which a pseudo-renowned author, who wore silk shirts and an inadequate antiperspirant, believed i had a True Gift for poetry. he made a big enough to-do that, unfortunately, for a brief glimmer of a moment, i exercised my "Gift." it was my plath year. speaking of events from that time, friends invariably harken to the era with the line: "remember that? back when you had your poems."

in this angsty madness, i was prolifically scribbling poetry, much of it somewhat based upon an emotional kaboom surrounding one of my dearest dear people. and because writers like to share, i lovingly assembled my sadistic valentine and sent all hundreds of pages of it to one of my dearest dear people. quite possibly the single bitchiest thing i've ever done.

and yet...

here we are. giggling over the phone, laughing at my shitty poems, which he has hauled around for the past six years of our mutual silence- inexplicably incapable of parting with them. inexplicably incapable of getting them out of our lives. but their time has come. the shitty poems must die.

a bonfire's in the offing.

22 May 2007

6 "pick up on 101!"

today was my inaugural experience with the office intercom. a relatively simple task: pick up the phone, hit PAGE, speak, then hang up. easy. but scaaaaaaary. because this was the closest i have come to a microphone since the Great Public Speaking Debacle of January 2006.

but before we get to the GPSDOJ2, let me clarify: i, of course, hate any and all phones. but i most especially hate microphones. they're second only to birds. because you can be the smartest, most beautiful, successful, pulled together person on the planet and the second a microphone's stuck in your face, you sound like a raving loon. just watch the oscars. watch the biggest celebrities of our time trying to pull off a microphone. even they can't rock it. because a microphone is not a megaphone or a telephone. it's a phone all its own and that's a tough distinction. even bono can't manage it and there's very little bono can't do.

which brings us to the GPSDOJ2. the infamous time that i screamed at the top of my lungs to a roomful of memphis' 100 brightest students, their parents, and their siblings to PLEASE GATHER ROUND WE WILL BE PHOTOGRAPHING IMMEDIATELY!!!! in my inexplicable judi dench voice only to discover that i was standing less than 2 inches from a live microphone and entirely unawares. you haven't lived until you've seen 100 pairs of hands leap up to 100 pairs of ears as a wave of pain ripples through 100 pairs of eyes all riveted upon you, all communicating the same thought: damn white british women editing ethnic magazines.

i've lived. but that kind of living makes some things tough. like picking up the phone, hitting PAGE, and saying "pick up on 101" in a carefully modulated tone with precisely clipped syllables and no breathing whatsoever. hanging up never felt so good.

21 May 2007

8 laughter in the dark

if i believed in reincarnation- which i don't so this is an entirely crap hook sentence, but humor me here- i'd have to say in a past life i was russian. because there's just something about russia.

not that i've ever been. the closest i've come is the ukraine, which kind of sort of counts since it was kind of sort of once upon a time a part of what we would probably kind of sort of consider to be russia. though, admittedly, the ukraine was the scary backwoods part of russia where people were exiled to die cold and miserable KGB-related work camp deaths, so perhaps russians would not consider it particularly russian. it's more like the alaska of the USSR. where you know those people are up there being all cold and such, but who really considers them one of Us?

but i have digressed. back to the something there is about russia. after spending 400 pages in minsk with norman mailer, i can at least produce a clunky list of the isolates that comprise my love of mother russia. the romanovs, rasputin, rachmaninoff and nabokov. marushka dolls, latkes and leninist red. an unwavering faith in the power of eyeliner. a heightened sense of doom coupled with an incongruous optimistic cynicism. the belief that things can be total shit and yet work out impossibly well.

in the end, i think, russia comes down to stoic verve and ballast.

17 May 2007

6 mailer & me

lee harvey oswald is of little concern to me beyond the fact that he became a political assassin at the age of twenty-four (an historical fact all too often obscured by a receding hairline). i believe oswald killed kennedy, that he did it alone and that the grassy knoll is a load of bunk. and i abhor oliver stone for ever convincing me otherwise.

so i'm not quite sure what compelled me to pick up oswald's tale. because norman mailer and i don't really get along. he's talked some shit about my girls and you can't just forgive a guy that. but still... a girl does like to forgive.

i have this suspicion that good old norman mailer isn't really a bastard. he's just a guy who was unfortunately born after ernest hemingway and who has spent his entire career trying to strut a literary machismo of equivalent value. and that's damn tough. as norman mailer has illustrated.

norman mailer so desperately wants to be a bastard. his neediness is discomfiting. you can see it right there on the page. in the way he swaggers about, cocksure in his dialectic derring-do. strutting his syntactical anarchy. it's in the laziness of his transitions, the ballast of his phrasing, the sly jabs of his judgments.

he comes off as the kind of guy that slaps his women and keeps a rifle by the nightstand and boxing gloves on the bedpost. or at least he comes off as being the kind of guy who wants to come off as that kind of guy. it's an impression somewhat undercut by the book's dedication to his wife and their 30 years of marital bliss, but even so. norman mailer wants the world to believe he is a bastard. his every word is a naked testament to this need.

which is kind of sad. and which, once we got past the honeymoon period, has annoyed me on nearly every single page of oswald's tale. i want to say, norman mailer, stop being a bastard.

because norman mailer is being a bastard. and honestly, i don't know if norman mailer is telling the truth anymore. if he's really being norman mailer and norman mailer really is a bastard or if he's writing as he thinks Norman Mailer Writing As A Bastard & Great Masculine Writer of the 1950s would write. and that, in turn, makes me doubt whether norman mailer actually spoke to all the people he says he spoke to and whether he actually has any clue what happened with oswald in russia and, in the pits of untrusting despair, i can't help but wonder whether this whole 719-page pulitzer prize winning masterwork is the figment of a deranged historical revisionist, which makes me want to throw down the mammoth thing and scream norman mailer, you bastard you.

because this bastard can write. it's just that his writing is wrapped up in brawn and testosterone and spit. it's a splashy cocktail of aggression that leaves me longing to put on a diaphanous gown and marabou shoes and drink daquaris in feminine rebellion. because really, deep down, i think it's all a pose.

i think secretly norman mailer rises early in the morning to make pancake breakfasts for his unfortunately named wife norris. that he has a persian cat named fifi whom he worships and who stars in the occasional short story he pens for his grandchildren who call him "paw-paw." that he secretly gets a kick out of wearing pink argyle socks. that he licks the lids of his jell-o swirl pudding snacks and separates the chocolate 2/3s from the vanilla. that he's fearfully afraid of needles and slugs and that they make him squeal like a little girl and that he's fearfully afraid people will find that out.

i don't think norman mailer is a bastard. because i don't think men who dedicate books to their wives can be bastards. at least not real ones. no, i think he's lying to us all. norman mailer, you bastard you.

14 May 2007

9 making tracks

we're about a month into phase 1 of the CTA 3-track operation. in the "Countdown To A New Brown" as we get "Moving Beyond Congestion" in "The Year Of Our Decision," this simple shift was supposed to signal our transportational doom. we would never again ever be able to get anywhere by train.

all in all, it hasn't been quite as apocalyptic as predicted. most days, it's fine and dandy. but then there's the odd unfortunate little while. for instance, today. today, we decided not to move beyond congestion. instead, we pretty much stood still.

for an hour and a half, we lurched forward and stopped. we sped with the fury of the devil for a quarter of a mile only to plow to a halt. as an added attraction, every so often, an inexplicable gust of ukrainian orphanage smell (three parts brie, two parts boiled cabbage) would blow through.

somehow i wound up pressed unusually close to a man five inches shorter than myself. we were facing each other, my d├ęcolletage at his eye-level. my arm extended to clutch the railing behind his head and his hand by my waist grabbing the handle on a seat. with the lurching and jolts, we stood and swayed together, disinterestedly engaged in what must've looked like an aboriginal micro-movement dance. murdering each other's feet. not saying a word.

i spent the entire ride trying not to laugh out loud. because everyone around me looked pissed off and mean. to me, it was hilarious, but i didn't think they would see the humor. maybe i was wrong. because as the train finally rolled into the station and i disengaged myself from this man, he put a hand on my arm and whispered with a sly smile and a chuckle, thanks for the dance.

11 May 2007

0 mingle belles

there was once this kid. he was what we would probably classify as exceedingly university of chicago dorktastic. a francophile who casually scattered french words throughout his speech, as though he were indoctrinating us with a french I vocabulary list through osmosis.

H was our favorite professor. this kid was in H's class. H's class was at 9 a.m. on fridays during the dead of the chicago winter and boasted an enrollment of 9 exhausted brooding types and 3 over-caffeinated loudmouths who monopolized the entire three hours. yes, three hours of three people discoursing on public intellectualism. there was many a miming of a gun to the head.

croftie and i awkwardly broached this untenable situation to H as he stood awkwardly beside us at a social hour, awkwardly clutching a beer and making awkward small talk. we awkwardly said, H, we can't get a word in edgewise. whatever shall we do? awkwardly, H said, girls, in life there are goats and there are sheep. you've got to get yourselves out of the corner. you've got to be goats.

this- coupled with our front and center relocation and continued inability to get a word in- didn't do much of anything beyond breed within us a deep resentment for the goats that made us (US?!) look like sheep. needless to say, this kid was a goat.

after graduation, we never really thought about this kid. he popped to mind ever so rarely, whenever someone interspersed their language with unnecessary french or upon name-dropping of adam gopnik. and then croftie and i would roll our eyes and exchange a knowing glance of ha! that kid! before he faded from our minds until some other someone else interspersed their language with unnecessary french or name-dropped adam gopnik, an occurrence that seemed to happen less and less.

we didn't think about this kid until we walked into the media event. and there was this kid. handing out nametags and withholding top secret media event information about the whereabouts of other media event attendees just because he could. this kid had become a media event nazi.

beyond our initial greeting of this kid, croftie and i spent much of the hour of our cameo appearance sheltered within a cluster of girls, daring him to penetrate the protective estrogen shield.

inevitably, he eventually did. hovering in on our conversation, offhandedly dropping the killer pickup line you may recall, i speak french, boasting of his work for world book encyclopedia, and unloosing such an incredibly enormously enthusiastic "HOW COOL OH AWESOME" upon hearing i was from memphis, that i actually had to take a step back and reflexively dissembled, "um... really it's not THAT great."

croftie immediately did the "let's go" eyes and we ran for the door. because we're practicing public intellectuals now. we didn't come out of the corner just to see goats speak french.

09 May 2007

6 future perfect

so there's this fainting couch. and i know it sounds like all i do is read books and quote people and covet things, but seriously. this fainting couch. awesome.

it is my holy grail of quasi-unaffordable large furniture investment pieces. i'd never before pondered buying anything furniture-like until the fainting couch wandered into my life and slipped cozily into the corner of the Ideal Room i'm always building in my head.

because clearly the Ideal Room would have a fainting couch. by default, the Ideal Room would be equipped for any unexpected melodramatic life turns and melodramatic life turns, by default, would necessitate appropriately supportive furniture to soften one's appropriately dainty swoon.

to me, the fainting couch is a true totem of adulthood. because i don't think one can own- much less fork over the money for- such a substantial piece of furniture without crossing some threshold. i'm not yet ready for this threshold. i've stood quavering on the edge for months. but the moment is nigh. and the moment just became more nighier.

because few things are truly free in this world, and because even fewer free things are mailed at no charge, i ordered fainting couch swatches as a means of preparing to prepare for the threshold. the swatches arrived today and i spent much of the evening prancing about in glee, holding them against various walls and curtains and book covers.

to reduce the earth-shattering dilemma to comprehensible dimensions, it comes down to this: a black brocade that is unattractive, incomparable, and matches nothing (grounds for instant disqualification), the purple of gloria steinhem's outrageous acts and everyday rebellions, the pea green of the illiad, or the bluish gray on the top half of the spine of my life, starring dara falcon.

while the appeal of having a couch reputed for outrageous acts and everyday rebellions knows no bounds, the appeal of purple does. so, i'm almost very quite absolutely positive nearly sure, dara falcon, here we come.

08 May 2007

8 too five

it's been very sex & the city, season 5 lately.

like a plot speeding forward from all directions in the shortened season of a critically acclaimed show that doesn't quite know where to go. people are graduating and moving away and going to war and resurfacing and disappearing and looking for wives and losing jobs and getting new and better ones and getting married and going on second honeymoons and talking retirement and wanting babies and having babies and losing babies.

it's very "we're all adults here."

and it's very frustrating.

because there's nothing to do that isn't woefully inadequate. there's nothing to do but be a voice on the other end of the phone or words on a screen or a face across a table. and to stand still and wait for it. whatever it is. whatever the next season may bring.

07 May 2007

9 here i dreamt i was an architect

mirrored furniture.
fresh flowers.
a chandelier.
stripes, florals, and plaids.
my dreamland?
paris hilton's closet.

05 May 2007

0 ms. fix-it

though perhaps not the savviest of home improvers, i do own a tool-box and i can handle a saw. this has endowed me with enough common fix-it sense to be quite confident in the fact that the installation of a toilet tissue roller in no way necessitates the wearing of a tool belt.

02 May 2007

13 "it doesn't seem like i've ever been there... it seems like i've been there forever."

we can pretty safely say that i'm never going to write a novel. biographies and docudrama screenplays and limericks- maybe yes. but not a novel. never a novel.

BUT. if ever i were to write novel, i know two things.

first, it would be written in first person plural. because, let's face it, if there were a world championship throw-down of narrative voices, first person plural would totally kick ass. screw what the character thinks is going on and what the narrator says is going on. they're an unreliable, ignorant lot. i want to know the story of how the people on the outside of the story see the story as it's going on.

unfortunately, there is no world championship throw-down of narrative voices so one is left to one's own devices to happen upon those first person plural few. the two i know and love are the virgin suicides and the short story "a rose for emily" by william faulkner (who, let us not forget, was 4'9").

the only other thing i know about my novel that will never be is that it would have to be a novel within a series of unconnected novels that nonetheless ride the same internal reference train- sharing characters, places, and concrete details. meaning, you can read my novel i'll never write without having read the other novels i'll never write but, having read the other novels i'll never write, you'll run across people you know, histories that are eerily familiar, places that you think you've been before.

faulkner (who, let us not forget, was 4'9") did this. among contemporary writers, bret easton ellis does it too. ellis does a whole bunch of other creeptastic shit, but i am in complete awe of him primarily because he does this.

over the past five or six years, i've read ellis' first four books. there's always just enough of a time lapse that i forget all about camden and lauren hynde and victor johnson and sean bateman. obviously, patrick's pretty memorable.

this weekend, i finally got around to glamorama (admittedly, only because i recently read somewhere that ellis thought zoolander was a rip-off and consequently sued ben stiller). and i began like you begin any novel you've never read- not knowing any of the characters and not knowing where it's going to take you. then suddenly, out of nowhere, there were people i was kind of sort of sure i had maybe met before.

it took a second to get it. i actually had to run into the Other Room and flip through rules of attraction to be sure i hadn't lost my mind. to be absolutely certain that i've gone to camden. that i know who's been in lauren's bed. that i've met victor before and that i shouldn't be surprised when, in the midst of victor's story, patrick bateman popped up with an inexplicable stain on the lapel of his armani. an inexplicable stain that i could explain.

it's like being among a group of casual acquaintances who one-by-one, on various drunken nights long ago, confided all the secrets of their messed up hearts- only to forever after masquerade as pulled-together minor characters in someone else's story. and there's something compelling in that. because that's kind of how life is. and i think that if a novel is supposed to reflect real life- which i always want so badly for it to do- that is what it needs to be. the story of how the people on the outside of the story wander in.

at least that would be my novel. if i ever wrote it. which i won't. because i'm never going to write a novel. nabokov translations and serbian grammar guides and haiku- maybe yes. but not a novel. never a novel.

01 May 2007

21 the Rx? orgy!

the germanatrix and i went to the ted leo show the other night. and the best thing about the ted leo show was cousin jason. cousin jason is ted leo's cousin- jason. we know this because ted leo told us so.

(actually, he's nephew jason, but we misheard and called him cousin jason just long enough for the name to stick so we're sticking with it.)

cousin jason spent the entire ted leo show standing backstage attempting to romance three girls through tremendously awkward dance. everything from the robot to an irish jig. at one point he was so drained by his efforts that he walked on stage and grabbed some of the bands' bottled water for refreshment. the germanatrix and i thought this a particularly ballsy move.

apparently cousin jason and the three girls did not realize they were visible from the wings until midway through the show, at which point considerably more thought and artistry went into their dancing. away with the robot and the irish jig. suddenly there was shimmying and ass grabbing and grinding, all delivered with a certain bollywood sass. a we know you are watching us making a massive sexual spectacle of ourselves in this surprisingly visible backstage area sensibility.

cousin jason's moment in the bonafide limelight (pictured above) didn't come until the final song. when he and the three girls threw caution to the wind and rushed the stage. raising their fists in the air, they clustered round an abandoned microphone and shouted- offkey, yet with heartwrenching enthusiasm. cousin jason sang his little heart out with the fury of those connected to the famous by blood. i am cousin jason. hear me roar! ted leo tossed the lot of them a sheepish grin.

leaving the stage, cousin jason walked between two of the three girls. he had a hand on each ass. the germanatrix and i looked at each other, exclaimed hell yeah, cousin jason, and spent the rest of the night grinning like fools.