31 January 2008

3 january: a revue

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

"you know, you and paris hilton are pretty much the same except for the venereal disease."

"they won't hit on me- i'm brown."

"i don't want to meet anyone in a club. unless it's the designated driver. that's the only person you want to meet in a club."

"what if i'm one of those people with raisins for ovaries?"

"that's the great wedding destroying fear now... immaculate conception."

"the only thing you get from being on bottom is bad hair."

"they were about to have a throw-down about hemingway versus virginia woolf. and i don't even know how hemingway and virigina woolf can have a fair fight. they have nothing in common other than him being a man's man and her being a woman's woman."

"i kind of feel like my womb is being ripped to shreds but other than that, a pretty peachy day."

"i'm really into licking and touching more than... wow. that was an overshare."

"that was back in the days when you were taking your tour through the subway crew."

"i'm curious what it's going to be like making out with this midget."

"i know you're not a drinker, but you're a liberal, right?"

"you're such a faux-ho."

"i imagine you are the great masturbator of our time."

"oh, jonathan rhys meyers. he had me at the rhys."

"has anyone ever told you you look lovely in mustard?"

"i should go and be productive."
"you want to be reproductive??"

"i had a whole box of hot pockets for lunch. maybe that wasn't the greatest idea."

"he was classy- he didn't tell me all about his sex life."

"this guy is too much. he's like an after school special."
"no, no, no. he's like a canadian after school special."

"so... are you against the ostrich egg now?"

30 January 2008

0 the male, german receptionist

we have a male, german receptionist.

this fact is astonishing for many, many reasons. i will list them.

1) he is male.
2) he is german.
3) he is a receptionist.

the male, german receptionist has been in our office for nearly 4 weeks. he's been speaking english for barely 9 1/2. this seems somehow terribly appropriate- that our outfit should be fronted by someone with the barest comprehension of rudimentary english.

if we're to be frank, the male, german receptionist is kind of unspeakably awesome. it used to be that the most exciting office-wide pages of the day, the pages we all looked forward to, came when our female, american receptionist (so cliche! so boring! so not unspeakably awesome! [though she has incredibly cute hair]) would use the wireless receiver and sounded as though she was speaking to us from the great beyond.

but in the era of the male, german receptionist, the excitingments are so much more. now, every single page is unspeakably awesome. because every page, every single one, sounds like arnold schwarzenegger teaching ESL.

29 January 2008

10 i'm not that innocent

when i was an awkward adolescent in tapered leg jeans with the worst hair this side of the mississippi and ear drums that made doctors stand back in horror and exclaim "oh shit!", the purity of my ear lobes seemed somehow terribly important.

i refused to give in to the temptation of a trend i'd always found rather barbaric and desecrate my immaculate little lobes just because everyone else had done it. in my fervor, this seemed courageous. i was convicted that i must not subject my poor ears to any more unwarranted pain by ravaging their most innocent expanse with needles and metal. it seemed somehow terribly important that their chastity be guarded.

as my mum has not hesitated to remind me, for years i prided myself on this. the innocence of my ear lobes, the misguided belief that i would never want to marry and (because, dear God, i was a dork) the fact that i could quote the entire soliloquy from "are you lonesome tonight." at the age of 15, this was what i had to work with.

but now, there's so much more. now, i couldn't give two straws about the virtue of my ear lobes. i just want to traverse a new beguiling aesthetic frontier. my ears are desperate for decoration. they want jewels. they want to slut up.

in the silly little insular world of my silly little insular family, this has become a ginormous huge big thing.

the rape of my lobes.

rarely has this depraved notion been broached over the past few months, but every time i dare, there it is- the gasp down the line, my mum recoiling in horror, my second step into very great sin.

apparently it was "sweet" that i'd never pierced my ears and it is shocking that i would contemplate doing so now. and apparently if i do it might very well be the end of the entire whole wide world.

last night, resorting to fear tactics, hellfire, and brimstone, my mum (whose own lobes were debauched with ice cubes and an unsteralized needle at church camp in the summer of 1966) said this: "it will hurt and burn like your ears are on fire for weeks."

she said this in a certain tone, a tone that is probably the closest we've ever come to the tone from the talk after i fucked up before the dinner where she didn't hold my hand during the prayer.

and i didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

because here i am, girl in the big city, trying to persuade my mum that ear piercing isn't the first step down a lascivious tattooed path. that this single decision- the decision to defile my own ear lobes- won't have me pregnant and drunk in the gutter in six months time. 26 and yet still 9 years old, trying to convince mother i'm not about to fuck up again.

24 January 2008

6 birmingham: the new detroit!

there is nothing so depressing as the birmingham airport, terminal b. and within terminal b, there is nothing so depressing as the nameless eatery- the only eatery- characterized solely by the overhead designation "FOOD/SHOPS->"- an eatery offering a grand total of three sandwiches, two salads, and an entire wall of liquor.

this is so depressing.

but still more depressing- the fact that at 2.17 p.m., i sat in terminal b wearing khaki pants, smelling of bacon and bbq, eating a ham sandwich made fresh on january 19th.

21 January 2008

5 birmingham, we have a problem

i just trolled seven floors of the birmingham sheraton, visiting seven different vending machines to procure a diet pepsi.

would we call this addiction?

or just pure romantic love for carbonated water with a splash of potassium benzoate and a hint of astpartame?

19 January 2008

2 vanity, vanity

my hair is long. the longest it's ever been. if i were being honest with myself, this is the point at which i would admit that i need help.

but i'm seldom honest with myself.

i need no help.

today, i redyed my roots- which involves distributing a heap of black chemical goo throughout one's hair, which is then piled atop one's head to marinate for 10 minutes before being rinsed out. i did this as i've done this thousands of times before, but in minute 2 something went terribly wrong. the structurally unsound hairpile gave way, sending a thick, chemical goo slathered tendril southward to slap me in the eye.

i stood paralyzed, uncertain how to proceed. because for a moment- a short moment, but a moment nonetheless- i honestly wasn't sure which was more important- my eyeball or my half-dyed hair.

16 January 2008

8 go, girl, go

when i was waiting tables in starkville, good old john miller emphasized to us the importance of "moving with a sense of urgency." this didn't necessarily mean you had to be doing anything important. just that you sure as hell better look like you were.

this sense of urgency served to cover a multitude of sins. i never told people my name, lest they hunt me down with problems. rather, i would dump their food on the table and run- with a sense of urgency- so i was always praised. because everything i did looked so urgent, people assumed i was working nonstop to secure french fries and burgers for them and their compatriots. through this veil of urgency, i looked like the great worker i never was.

i've come to realize that this- the sense of urgency- was maybe a very very bad thing in the long-run. i am a tightly-wound, impatient, judgmental crazy person. throw in a sense of urgency and you get total madness.

because i still do this. i still have the sense of urgency and operate as though everything were life and death. it's just that now it's not so much a matter of getting people their french fries as producing accurate proformas with lightening speed and mail-merging spreadsheets onto perfectly aligned avery 5691s.

hence, i find myself storming the ten feet to and from the copier as though earthshattering events might unfold in the tiny interim in which i am away from my desk. logically, i know they won't, but still... they might.

somehow this whole way of working seemed perfectly normal. i'd never considered any alternatives until yesterday, when i went hurtling through the hallways of the other tower and ran right smack into the old man, who was leisurely walking along with nary a care in the world.

he looked at me, my hair half-secured into a noncommital ponytail, my arms piled with multi-colored file folders, my whole self swaying precariously atop boots not constructed for abrupt stops. he, this seventy-nine year old man, looked at me and said, kid, you better slow down or you'll give yourself a heart-attack.

we sat, we talked, we reviewed, we regrouped.

his parting words? okay, me-dahlin. GO GO GO, baby!!! RUN LIKE HELL or there'll be hell to pay!!!

14 January 2008

3 man power

as a kid, whenever anything scary happened (usually at the doctor's office and involving either the ear vacuum or that blood-sucking, finger-raper gun), my dad's automatic response was, caroline, be a man.

and i'd look at look him through my tears and wail, i caaaaaaaaan't. i'm just a little girl.

now, like it or not, i'm a big girl. i went to a sex seminar last night and the lady doc this afternoon, so i was feeling terribly YEAH, GIRL POWER!!! traipsing home through the snow.

the email awaiting me there?

13 January 2008

6 i have no point

in grad school, our preceptor always maintained that every piece of writing had to have a point. not just a central thesis, but that it had to hinge upon something that was in some way applicable to the modern world. because otherwise people wouldn't be interested. because apparently people are stupid.

so you couldn't just say, "a rose for emily" and the virgin suicides employ startlingly similar narrative devices. isn't that neat? or hey, jackie was totally a groundbreaking fictional character! rather, you had to say, startlingly similar narrative devices are employed in both stories as a harbinger of modern voyeurism frequently found in the life of the fast-vanishing interconnectivity of small communities like the one in which you grew up. or jackie as fictional character irrevocably altered the course of modern media, which has, in recent years, resulted in the ubiquity of the celebrity magazines that we're all reading on the way home from work.

in other words, you had to beat the reader over the head.

i never liked this. i'm one for subtlety. and i like to believe people are a little bit smarter than that. which is why i did a creative thesis and why i prefer biography. every life has a point, but it's a big picture point. in biography, the convenient conclusion is death. it's not we've almost reached the end of what i've got to write, so i am now going to sum up the many things i think i was trying to say lest you are a fool and cannot discern them yourself.

maybe this is advantageous for some. maybe there are people who genuinely need a convenient conclusion. personally, i think it gets writers in trouble. it leads to mind-wander and it fucks things up.

a few months ago, croftie and i went to see a production of sarah ruhl's passion play. it was a long ass play, but at the first two intermissions, we were really enjoying it. it was clever and brilliantly staged. there were some elements we didn't love (fish periodically, inexplicably paraded across the stage and the full-frontal shot of christ seemed a bit much), but we liked it overall. then came the end.

in the final six minutes of a 4-hour play, we were given five different conclusions. one would have sufficed, five was downright indulgent. croftie and i spent the entire rest of the week puzzling over that play, and it always came back to the end- to the points- which is where it all went wrong. ultimately, i think we would've gladly taken pointless over a hodge-podge.

to me, the story holds the point. if something is well-researched and well-written, the point is there by default. yes, you can tell a story without a point (an "empty story"), but if it's a good story, it's got one. it may be subtle, but that doesn't mean it isn't there. it doesn't mean we need the writer to tack on fifty pages of point-making to be sure we didn't miss it.

to make all this rambling applicable to the modern world- lest people lose interest- i finished the ghost map yesterday. i loved the ghost map, pages 1-228. i did not, however, love the end. because suddenly, a story that elegantly twisted and turned its way through the streets and sewers of london became a clunky, heavy-handed treatise on nuclear terrorism and the avian flu.

i felt betrayed, because that was not the point i had imagined we were making. we were talking about how cholera had changed science, cities and the modern world. we were tracing the footprint of an epidemic from one single baby's dirty linens to the contamination of a well to the intestines of hundreds upon hundreds of people. "the nuclear problem" never entered that picture. and it need not have.

that was my only point. there is no convenient conclusion.

09 January 2008

4 under pressure

i don't pay attention to people on the street. because they ask inane things like: do you hate the environment? did you know you're killing babies? are you going to hell?! and let's be honest, if i'm an SUV-driving, devil worshipping, baby killer, i'm probably not going to have a conversion experience outside arby's.

but sometimes, despite blinders, you do notice people. there was this guy who frequented the corner by our office for months. he wore army fatigues, a random printed scarf covering a hairdo beloved by frat boys the world over, and brandished his propaganda with a militant flourish. always ipoding, i remained ignorant of his message, which lent his protest the cinematic gravitas of a james blunt music video directed by oliver stone. then he disappeared. i assumed it was something to do with the patriot act. my life went on.

but with our recent winter reprieve, the guy was back. and, finally, for the first time, i listened to him. much to my surprise he wasn't a religious zealot fighting for the army of God nor a political protester petitioning for his fratty rights. he was begging, beseeching, in a tone riddled with the desperation of someone whose livelihood is dependent upon a stranger's acceptance of a hot pink flyer. he was a warrior crying for the workers among us to cater our working lunches and our working dinners and our working receptions from his restaurant. gaza.

because when us city people are hungry, we think, hamas!

07 January 2008

21 method acting

(this is not entirely true)

i am twelve. yes, i have a slightly better understanding of sex, am more well read, have infinitely better hair, a less mercurial temperament, vastly improved writing skills, and a fashion sense. i now know tapered leg jeans are not the way. but, basically, i am still twelve.

much to the consternation of my parents. every trip home features a "big girl shopping trip," during which they fork over money for practical things like belted jumpers and pantsuits and blazers. things, featuring a maximum of one color, that would be more at home in the closet of margaret thatcher. beige things that i will never in a million years wear. because i am technicolor. and i am not a big girl.

at least i don't feel like one. but i get the sense i'm probably supposed to be by now. or at least getting closer. because it's coming whether my 12-year-old self likes it or not- this whole adulthood thing.

some many many moons ago, when we were all a whole year younger, the dread pirate mused upon the fact that "we're all adults here." it was scarifying then and it's only moderately less scarifying now. so my question is this: are we really? is this adulthood?

i work and pay bills and have loans and do my own laundry and can stay out till morning drinking belgian beer if i so choose. tonight, i chose to stay in and read about consuelo vanderbilt and listen to "gimme more" on repeat for hours and hours. how terribly responsible and independent.

but somehow that's not what i thought adulthood would be. bills and beer. where is the glamor? what of the velvet? (this is why impressionable young girls should never read dumas.)

then there i was, innocently doing my laundry when N blew in. she moved in a cloud of chanel no. 5, her lips a slash of matte red, her hair curled and teased and shellacked within an inch of its life, stilettos cracking like gunshots against the unfinished concrete floor as the door slammed behind her. she looked like a pissed-off model from the september 1952 vogue. she looked, in a word, adult.

there, in her wake, i stood- jeans rolled up mid-calf in an homage to my mississippi roots and a black bra highly visible under a shirt proclaiming the sexiness of a.c. slater- giggling. because i am twelve. and that's probably for the best.

06 January 2008

13 resolved.

i swear by the moon and the stars in the sky,
this year, i will make this

look like this

01 January 2008