30 November 2008

0 november: a revue

"they are probably the healthiest members of the fry kingdom."

"i think the word 'relationship' is being used a little too liberally here."

"well if it's on facebook, it has to be true."

"oh, it was just zoe. i thought it was pearl doing a face-plant in the candy dish."

"sometimes parents can become clueless old people sooner than we expect."

"this is a pivotal visit! the first time you've seen him since you've voted for a winning president."

"never in my life have i been so excited about girlie drinkie drinks."

"they might be bunking in a manger but at least they'll be bunked."

"i just suck sometimes."
"if it makes you feel any better, i'm a selfish bitch who orchestrates her life to be as big an inconvenience as possible for everyone around me."
"yeah, well that's just speculation. i'm proven to suck."

"hopefully he will die and this will never become an issue."

"and i totally understand if you don't want to talk about your mom's uterus anymore."

"it's like a shower of awesomes over here."

"the snow makes me so happy. i could just write a book about it."

"i didn't rob the cradle, but it was still rocking."

"today is the day linda will not be a Team Player."

28 November 2008

3 and then there was thanksgiving

mississippi gothic.

the joy of construction.

the turkey, before.

the turkey, after.

pecan picking.

the pecan tree.

the stockpile.

the shitty lands.


girls survey their shitty lands.

"i didn't realize you were such a fan of repetitive, menial labor."

the white socks were a bad choice.

darcy meets the horses.


25 November 2008

2 yes, violence is not the answer

in an unfortunate series of events involving a life-long habit of nail biting, an inability to properly apply nail polish, a glass of wine and the vieve's snaggle tooth, i cut my finger last saturday night.

well, it wasn't so much a cut as the dislodgement of a small chunk of fingermeat. a bringing out into the light of day that tender skin God tucks delicately beneath each nail when we're in the womb under the proviso we will keep it there.

if it were possible for the integumentary system to scream, mine did when the vieve- admittedly justified in her attack after twenty minutes of tickling- sunk her knife-tooth into the nailbed i had brought to the brink of blood a mere five hours before.

but i'm a tough girl. i wiped away a tear, put on a bandaid, whined to eF and promptly forgot about it.

until yesterday, when, during a free moment, i thoroughly inspected the fingertip i could no longer flex to type.

for all my affectations of "i sit around in satin and high heels drinking champagne all day" glamour, the 12-year-old in me harbors a morbid fascination for the many ways in which our bodies go violently wrong.

so what did i do upon realizing that despite three days of bandages and neosporin, the cleft alongside my nailbed looked more like a hearty slice of raw bacon than healed?

stabbed it, of course.

inevitably, it was a disappointment. the stream of blood that shot out and landed on the counter, the color of a pacific sea nettle and the shape of a nuclear bomb, was unconvincing. poetic, yes, but unconvincing. more oliver stone than abraham zapruder. and nowhere near worth the whole hell of pain that shoots through that damn finger with every keystroke now.

24 November 2008

6 when it comes to hair, i am a bitch

(it's a weak defense, but i've earned the right, having spent the entire decade of the 90s mired in hair that- combined with the fact that my best friend was nicknamed partner and i was unknowingly dating a gay man- virtually guaranteed that there will be a surprised gasp of "oh, she isn't a dyke?!" should i ever choose to attend a reunion.)

two things:

(1) a woman in our office got this new hairstyle. a hairstyle so over-processed and suspiciously synthetic, i came this close to complimenting her on the new wig.

(2) today i wore a garnished headband that has variously been called a "hairpiece" and a "bow." seriously, people. it is clearly a dimonique-studded teal satin ribbon rosette.

21 November 2008

6 here we go again

pull out the scarves, sweaters, and hats, and ready the kleenex.
it's god-forsakenly coooooooooooooooooold out there.

20 November 2008

2 crossing the midway

the midway plaisance splits 59th and 60th on the south side of the university of chicago campus. in reality, it's not that impressive. just a random non-numbered boulevard that was initially intended as the university's southern-most border. it evolved into a dumping ground for random statues and an ice skating rink.

but somewhere in the midst of such utilitarianism, in the collective u of c mind, the midway became the arbitrary point that separated the university from the explosive ghetto in its coddled, faux-ivy backyard. an invivisble fence that kept the rapists and murderers and hoodlums at bay. you could go anywhere on campus, but beyond the midway, you were on your own and anarchy was king.

there is a whole world of racism wrapped within this perception.

DON'T GO BEYOND THE MIDWAY. that is what we were told when we lived in hyde park.

never mind that i was egged twice there in a single night, hyde park was safe. whatever lay beyond was hell on earth.

this was the belief with which we were indoctrinated from day one. from the prospective weekend the april before we even enrolled. it quite possibly appeared in the application's fine print. great minds come here, but they DON'T GO BEYOND THE MIDWAY!

from the outside, the midway appears totally harmless. there are no gun-toting thugs patrolling the border. no pickpockets limbering up their hands. now and again, one would emerge from the shadows of the quadrangles and cast a furtive glance toward this lush sunny green expanse that looked less like harlem and more like a fairy-filled enchanted wood. but they said, DON'T GO BEYOND THE MIDWAY, and we did as told.

when an audience member at a doc screening of 28 days later loudly deadpanned, "so that's what it's like Beyond The Midway," it seemed a reasonable assessment and it was an assessment the university did nothing to dispel.

until they bought land Beyond the Midway.

i don't know whose idea that was. probably someone who is no longer a university of chicago employee, because if the barrage of It's Beautiful Beyond the Midway! propaganda was any indication, it was not a popular plan.

in the aftermath, a bombardment of letters began, all along the lines of "dear oline, have you been Beyond the Midway yet?! just forget how three months ago, we told you to pack a gun! today, the greatest u of c minds are Beyond the Midway! thinking big thoughts! and talking big ideas! so you'd better get your ass over there quick! it's all happening Beyond The Midway!"

yesterday, out of necessity, i wound up going Beyond the Midway.

i lived to tell the tale. and here's a revelation: life Beyond the Midway is not scary. it's populated by museum parking and university buildings where great u of c minds are thinking big thoughts and talking big ideas.

it's kind of nice Beyond the Midway, calmer, hushed. beautiful, even.

which leads me to the conviction that there is no institution more effective at brainwashing than the u of c.

18 November 2008

5 go fish

eF cooks these amazing meals. pastas with fancy french names and homemade bbq sauce and cole slaw. i listen to the nightly recitation, enraptured by this victual porn. the memory of devouring leftover canned peas from a recycled butter tub fills me with intense shame.

girls living alone in the city do not eat well. or at least this one doesn't. i loathe cooking for myself. cupcakes, cookies, pancakes, and pies, yes. i am baking's biggest fan. and fruits and vegetables, big yay. but meals featuring any variety of protein or sauce, no.

i rationalize that i would be more gung-ho to gormandize if there were a dining room in my life. or a table. or kitchen knives. for now, i'm lucky to be in possession of plates and pasta-roni.

but there comes a time when you not only have to be a grown-up, you have to eat like one too. this point arrived last monday as i sat curled up on the couch eating a dinner comprised of cheerios and wine.

after the intial bout of "oh my god, i am bridget jones" horror, i turned to the obvious direction that anyone would turn- fish.

i hate fish. the reality that one's food was once living and had blood vessels and hair is an unnecessary vulgarity to be avoided at all costs and there is no animal more determined in its insistence to remind you it was once not dead. look at the shape of a standard fillet. it appears prepared to resurrect and return to the sea. to say nothing of the lingering, unsloughed scales.

but i'm a big girl. i can overcome aesthetic discomforts.

it's the notion i am eating ariel that i cannot escape.

16 November 2008

2 i get a little warm in my heart when i think of winter

they say the snow is coming. it hasn't.

i'm a bit of an authority on this, having run to the window every five minutes for the past two days to check on a blizzard that has apparently stood me up.

once it starts it isn't going to stop and i'm a girl with leaky boots, so i shouldn't complain. i could use a week to prepare. i am not yet winterized.

but still... winter's coming! a fairly obvious and expected thing given that it invariably happens about this time every single year. and yet, my irrational excitement knows no bounds.

i am, like, seriously EXCITED.

to the extent that tonight, for a brief moment just long enough to be embarrassing, i smelled someone's fire and closed my eyes and got all nostalgic about the long winter nights of yore when i practiced long division curled up on a collie by the hearth.

then i opened my eyes and realized i am a sentimental fool. this was not the old familiar, comforting smell of smoke and cinder. it was a neighbor cooking barbecue chicken.

14 November 2008

10 blue jean baby

today, due to unprecedented thriftiness and a steadfast determination to wait out a demin defecit until the post-christmas sales, i am wearing jeans from 2001.

let's dwell on that a moment.


in 2001, i was 20. i had boy hair. it was brown.

9/11 had happened the month before. the ipod, the xbox and windows xp were released the month after. britney spears and jTim were dating. dakota fanning was 7.

we were at war with no one when i bought these jeans.

so on the one hand, these jeans make me feel outrageously old. but then, they also raise the question: do i seriously still have the body of a 20-year-old?!

12 November 2008

9 tales of the city

there's this story circulating around town. a story in which two girls who were walking home late last wednesday night, november 5th, were attacked by a pack of men on a side street off fullerton. one of the girls got away, ran up the street into a conveniently close hostel and roused a gang of internationals to go back and rescue the other girl. everybody lived. some money, bracelets and a really cute purse were lost. the writer's conclusion is that we should always take cabs and should not carry big bags or go out after dark.

it's great to read a story like that, put together all the coordinates and realize it was set on the street where you live.

last night on the train, during violent tales story time, LM and i talked about this. we pieced together that this story had been passed to us both as something that had happened to a friend of a friend. we quickly dismissed it as an urban legend.

a girl across the car quickly chimed in it wasn't. she had heard this too. she also lived on that street. and like pretty much everyone alive of a certain age and income bracket in chicago, she often stayed out too late and walked home alone rather than pay for cabs. we had all heard it, she said, so it had to be true.

i don't know if this actually happened. it probably did, but what are we supposed to do with it? a barrage of emails from friends who were apparently also friends of this friend's friends hit my inbox warning me to leave my leopard print bag at home. the concern was touching, but that isn't really an option. a day's worth of snacks will not fit in a clutch.

in a token nod to personal safety, this morning i tossed the good old mace into my ginormous bag, but since i'm not entirely sure how to operate it this was more about giving myself the appearance of having worried about my safety rather than an indicator of actual worry.

because it's lincoln park, not cabrini green. and that's a cop-out, i know, but this is where we live and you can't truly live if you spend every minute freaking out about spooks in the dark.

that girl on the train said she was now afraid to leave her apartment after 5 p.m. it was 5:22 when she said this. walking home, i saw her. she was running down the street like a banshee, looking over her shoulder, deathly afraid.

11 November 2008

5 this may get ugly

i'm an only child and i'm selfish. the two kind of go hand in hand. all my life, things have magically fallen into place, to such an extent that is ultimately the cornerstone of my belief in God. things will work out because they have to. and because they always have. and because how could they possibly not.

i like to believe they have always worked out because i'm this incredible, independent, pulled-together person with impossibly good luck, but i'm not stupid. i know it was the result of considerable stress and sacrifice and effort on my parents' part. just as the magic of the theater is produced by stagehands darting about in the dark, moving things so the actors won't stumble, so they won't fuck up.

my parents and i are in the midst of this grandiose, week-long fight. a civil war of sorts over my right to fuck up. an obscure freedom, i admit, but a liberty nonetheless.

in a particularly low moment in their efforts to disuade me from trying for something that, in reality, is so far outside the realm of possibility it's as probable as me backstroking to the moon, but which they nonetheless perceive as a colassal mistake- my mum delivered her advice from the perspective of what she would feel if she were a man.

for future reference, arguing from the perspective of a gender that you are not by imagining how you would feel if you were of that gender is not the way to go.

we are women. we will never be men.

my parents raised me well. they let me do things that if i had any sense at all i probably would've been too afraid to attempt. they brought me back to chicago. they sent me to cornell. they made me think it was unspeakably cool to go dateless to junior prom.

i never felt like i had to be married by 27 and have a doctor husband and twenty kids, twelve dogs, and a parakeet and live in some sprawling white picketed place in des plaines with an american flag on the front porch and an SUV in the garage. i was an english major. the prospect of life with a boy in a hovel brimming with books was always infinitely more appealing.

and i've never before felt like i was held back because i was a girl. if i didn't raise my hand in class and didn't play soccer, that was because, even then, i was overly self-aware and i athletically sucked. not because someone wouldn't let me. not because someone said, nice girls don't do that.

there are, apparently, a lot of things nice girls don't do.

and in the end, the lesson we learn here is this: i am not a nice girl.

05 November 2008

13 the soundbites of democracy

things uttered by oline, sensei and the people around them at obamanomenonapalooza

"i feel we are walking towards our doom."

"yes, i want to be footnoted in history as the person who handed a drink to the son of someone who is a total non-entity in your book."

"i'm a little less in favor of obama now i know the scary angel mime guy from the park is on his side."

"i'm not sure this is an environment where you want to evoke guy faulk's day."

"this is the line? does it have an end?"

"i think people up there are moving."
"it's the movement of democracy."

"why don't they make buttons that say 'average, moderately good looking guys for obama'?"

"we've been here half an hour and already we've arrived at the subject of ass nipples."

"this is the line of democracy."

"part of me almost wants sarah palin to stick around so we can have more tina fey. i wonder if this is how people felt about hitler and charlie chaplin."

"it's the chicago fire department's clown car division."

"it would be so much less impactful to have been waiting in line here while history was happening right there."

"do you think they just said, 'well, we've got this building that looks like a vagina, might as well give it a clit'?"

"the portapotty of democracy. that light hits it as though it was..."
"the manger."

"i'm not all that reassured about our safety given the only security measure thus far was the water bottle confiscation squad."

"look at all those people in line for the hot cholocate of democracy."

"75,000 people just said, 'who the fuck is that?'"

"oh my god. we are that crowd on tv."

"it feels so much more real now that they're playing springsteen."

"you can pee anywhere you want. this is the greatest night of our lives."

02 November 2008

7 and then there were parents

the full fridge.

the vieve.

the pizza.

the gingerbread.

the christmas tree.

the cameraman.

the j. crew.

01 November 2008

4 "where did we lose our fuzzy bears?"

"wasn't it supposed to be the hottest halloween ever?
why is it so fucking cold?"

"we said they weren't worth the $30, but they totally were, right?"

"this is the closest i've ever come to smoking a cigarette
and i'm still an entire foot away."

"they were talking about how you being dressed as burnt dj a.m.
was in poor taste and somehow that got around to the fact that
only famous people ever live and yet audrey hepburn is dead."

"you totally should cut your hair like that wig.
and we're not all just being assholes when we say that.
you should really pay someone to cut it like that."

"god! i love sarah palin! i'm a republican!"
"yeah, dude, she's being ironic."

"my lips really hurt."

"i can't imagine what my hair is going to be when this thing comes off."