31 October 2010

0 p.s.


"your rapier just wacked me in the ass."

"my entire future dating caeer relies upon my continuing to smoke."

"caroline's sword is the most fun ever."

"it's like he's a mime in front and a painter in back."

"wait... let me guess... puss in boots?"

"caroline, tell me how much you like my box."

"bring it, texas."

"if i'm not out here, i'm welding."

"i was getting positive feedback from catwoman. that's all i'm saying."

"i both loved and hated that party. well, you know that. i spent most of it with you."

"you are like meta times thomas pynchon."

0 october: a revue

"she sure goes to a lot of events for someone without a wikipedia page."

"what do philosophers do, caroline?"

"one day it'll be cupcakes, the next it'll be dropkicks.

"we'll take your readership to a whole new level of baked goods and aggression."

"the sort of individual who knows just where to put a semicolon."

"he's not awesome, but he could pass as a regular on coronation street or something."

"when my sister was a child and my father was still dysfunctional..."

"don't look now, but we are dancing with old people."

"well, i know if i sleep with him, he'll go away."

"it's a nice meat."

"that's not a pen. that's a tampon."

"why does that guy look like a poor man's russell brand?"
"who? OH."

"i would sleep with kevin federline if i had the promise of sex with ryan gosling after."

"it was present day us but you had your 1999 hair. it was very off putting."

"you look like a girl from a magazine."

"i am getting whiplash with how quickly dan, nate, serena fall in and out of love with various people and each other."

"dude, i am not your lukewarm lemonade."

"that's one of the advantages of working from home."
"yeah, but then you start to smell."

"i should just get vanilla."
"and i should just get superman."

"my heart says liquor but my future says no."

"how do you not have the thing memorized? we're banging more than 20 men."

"oh right, there’s twilight, too, which is what happens when Doves Cry."

"i'm fairly certain he's a pretty serious buddhist."

"i can't believe i just called myself 'the whoopi goldberg.'"

"how exciting for you! have you ever been to texas?"
"only the airport. certainly never for lunch, much less at an english pub. my job is opening all the international doors."

"i feel like i'm going in my hidey hole."
"crap. now i'm going to have cab calloway in my head."

"and then there's american apparel, which gradually changed its advertising focus from progressive labor practices to amateur soft-core porn."

"tonight i'm going to make foccaccia for no other reason than that there is presently active yeast in my house."
"describe your active yeast..."

"so basically, this conversation left me with a lot of hands."

"it's a wealth. i can't deal."

"i think the frozen yogurt will make everything better, if it has not already."

"it is weird, unexplained, and borderline creepy. and i am 100% guilty."

"levi did poop in the tub, but that was on evan’s watch, so i don’t count it as a negative in my night."

"it begs the question: is sunshine lemontree male or female?"

"the cat is, of course, just fine - she's too superior of a creature to be sick and have to wear a cone."

"in other news, i am taking two little girls to a pumpkin patch on saturday, and i don’t know how to phrase that so i don’t sound like a sex offender."

"it's crazy how much of a mood-booster it is to NOT have to sit through a meal of frozen-bag-of-mixed-veggies and beans."

"i flew there, stood and smiled, and flew home."

"i think i was more tipsy than i realized at dinner because in retrospect i'm like, 'what did we have for dinner?'"

"i had thought these observations were all somewhat unique until they were trotted out on mad men a few weeks ago as the 'deepest conflict' of everyone in the entire world."

"really, there are no words. it's just a strange feeling- having diarrhea while wearing a $200 dress."

"thank goodness you can't catch STDs through texts and phone calls."

"why don't they make menacing-looking fake doves?"

"please describe your houston lunch. the food part, not the Awkward."

"i am cautiously optimistic, but I foresee the necessity of cornbread."

"i realize i'm asking this on a day when your boobs may explode, but can i complain for a moment?"

"[...] the creatively but rigorously punctuated everything you always wanted to know about sex*/ *but were afraid to ask."

"you don't go to black people with white people problems."

"by the by, i have a new boy. he's in houston. i think he has HIV. i'll keep you posted."

"i'm glad we're on the same page, God-wise."

"you'll understand why i laughed so hard at the lactose intolerant thing now."

"that's just because i'm blasé, not because i'm competent."

"these are the things i tell myself after the fact. which may also be very dramatic- but more in a claire danes my so-called life sort of way."

"she got very drunk and fell into a fire. not like the metaphorical 'playing with fire'... like, there were flames and she burned her body."

"i am both relieved and melancholy to be so easily replaced by cheerios and bananas."

"oh honey. it was unwise. i am DYING!"

"i wish it were the 40's, and it was snowing. oh and i was with some hot GI smoking a cigarette, with some egg nog with a shot of whiskey."

"you can just drop me off in wicker park while you go have fun with Jesus."

"it's like being thumbed."

"i have to look at enough ugly people in day to day life. if i'm watching tv, you'd better be good looking."

"that date last night went well. it's just he's a little green and i don't want to have to teach anybody anything."

"what if you just make yourself a..."
"i'm not a MOUSEkateer!"

"this is sad news for such a fashionable lady."

"i really don't want us to be married. ever."

"my own mother, who likes to refer to bright & festive things as 'festicle' just to fake innocence and get a reaction."

"what do you have against cupcakes—aren’t they just little dollops of joy and love?"

"i'm thinking... glitter!"

"the good news: he is a socialist. i can't date anyone who isn't one. i tried. it doesn't work. the bad news: he might have a girlfriend who is the sister of the violin player in the band Rah Rah."

"i would love to dress as a priest."

"you always got ck nuggets and fries when we ate out - until you were at least 12. that is how we knew you were growing up - when you would eat something else in a restaurant."

"on this day in history, you birthed."

"i actually had to burp right then. that wasn't emotional."

"you had better make sure that isn't slang for some sex thing."

"all i can say is, be ready for your nipples to be photographed, my dear."

30 October 2010

0 #12

cookie monster.
aurora, il.

(a sure sign of high class awesome icing?
it's an inch and a half high and stains your teeth blue.)

0 tomorrow, on this day, last year in oline history

jen took some amazing pictures.

29 October 2010

21 make your mark, heavy and dark

that's the cheer the teachers did in the pep rally for the tennessee comprehensive assessment program achievement test in the spring of 7th grade. it has nothing to do with anything here except that i have a sizable readership of page middle school alums and i wanted to mess with their heads...

ANYWAY, there's a little thing called election day coming up and, thanks to a quiet friday and some quality time with the board of election commissioners for the city of chicago website, i think i may actually really really want my congressman to be a 28-year-old green party candidate whose prior experience is summed up as "peace activist, french teacher." because, well, that sounds just lovely. and this picture's pretty great too.

10 pride & prejudice

a thought that is not fully formed, 
but which makes up for such lack 
by being both controversial and fully half-assed.

my motivations toward princess diana were never pure. i was never interested in her for her own sake. it was more a nostalgia for the present, an awareness that a historical moment might be unfolding about which i might later deeply care. there was always the possibility that she might be The Next Jackie. having already missed the real one, i was fully determined to experience the next.

and by the phrase "The Next Jackie," i don't mean that princess diana shared any of the traits for which mrs. onassis was known. even at the age of 13, the designation simply meant that she covered on a hell of a lot of magazines. because even as i sat at the center left front row of ms. boyd's 9th grade geometry class reading lady colin campbell's diana in private: the princess nobody knows, magazines were all that mattered to me.

i do not think princess diana was very important. SHOCKING, i know. there are many things you could say to try to convince me otherwise. i know them all because i've written them down here and deleted them again and again and finally shoved them into a separate post that i'm choosing to ignore for the moment because all those arguments miss the point. the point being that i don't think princess diana was very important.

so, suffice it to say, we are discussing a historical figure about whom i really care very little and for whom i have very little respect. which makes it rather curious that i am fanatically obsessed with reading biographies about her. and not simply reading them mind you, but rereading them. with much the reverence one would typically associate with oft-viewed classic films.

it occurred to me the other day that because i have read it at least twice a year since the summer of 2003, there is a distinct possibility that i have read sally bedell smith's diana in search of herself as many times as- if not more than- pride and prejudice.

please know that i am not proud of this. i wish it were not so and, since having this revelation, i have devoted a considerable amount of brain space to figuring out why it might be true.

the reason i have arrived at is this: the biographies of princess diana have- by and large- been written by women. this should not make a difference. in the end it really does. and so, in studying how to write a biography of a woman, i have read these books about diana again and again.

because diana has, at least since her death, warranted serious biographical study by serious female biographers. she is looked upon as a woman who is interesting in her own right. someone who's marriage was an important part of her story but who did this brilliant, brave thing in standing up to the british monarchy and changing it for all eternity to come.

i, for one, do not believe that, but that's irrelevant here. what i wonder is this: biographers write well and seriously about diana because she is supposed to have had this big impact. biographers- sometimes even those same biographers who wrote well and seriously about diana- write badly and flippantly about jackie. what are we to suppose of that?

from my place in the jackie bell jar, i think it comes from the general ambivalence that continues to surround jackie's place in american life. she is eulogized as "america's queen"- an extremely awkward thing to be in a democracy. nonetheless, i would argue that hers was the most important female life of the american twentieth century. and i would go to the mat on that. (realizing i am probably the only one.)

it's acceptable to write seriously about diana- a figure who was legitimately royal, legitimately rebellious and legitimately ill. it is somehow less acceptable to write seriously about jackie- a well-dressed ordinary woman with a falsified french past, who married a president and ran off with a pirate.

i do not like that. i don't know what to do about it, but be aware, for what it's worth: i do not approve.

28 October 2010

1 chicken in the city

last night i went to aurora, illinois for chick-fil-a.

k.clen and i've been plotting this adventure since seeing waffle fries on the plates of people eating outside pint on the first warm day of last spring.

in the interim, as part of the most ill-advised fish and chips lunch ever in all the world, we've been to pint and had those fries, an experience made all the more miserable by the fact that we knew it could've been so much better. we knew it wasn't chick-fil-a.

true story: back during my sad sap freshman year of college, when i had no friends and i spent the whole day every friday looking forward to the moment that night when my roommate would go to the football game and i would be at liberty to watch gone with the wind while eating off-brand pasta boiled al dente in the microwave- after the zoology class i was flunking, i would make the 50-minute drive (39 if you hoped to accrue a formidable collection of speeding tickets by year's end as i did) from starkville to tupelo with the sole intention of buying a lemonade from the chick-fil-a off barnes crossing mall road.

i would drive-thru and i would drive home. this was back in the heady days of 1999, when gas cost something like 95¢ a gallon and you could do things like drive 71.5 miles for a 16 oz. lemonade.

even then, though, i knew it was decadent. and i knew enough not to tell my grandparents, who lived exactly 11.2 miles further down the road, that i was secretly popping into town every other week to indulge in a sugary drink.

this was back before they had chick-fil-a in starkville. in 2nd or 3rd year, one popped up in the food court on campus, at which point the lemonade, due to it's proximity, was stripped of all decadence.

but the great thing about decadence? it makes a killer comeback. 

there is no chick-fil-a in the city. so when k.clen mentioned a field trip back in may- with the twin lure of lemonade and waffle fries- i was pretty sure that at some point we would really go. the discovery of The Ketchup seemed a good sign and when k.clen bought a car a few weeks ago, i was quite certain she did so for the express purpose of taking us to the chicken.

so last night, k.clen and i drove 38.3 miles to aurora, illinois for chicken and fries. this is what that looked like:

4 today, on this day, in 2006 in oline history

27 October 2010

0 jolie-laide

5 memphoween

halloween was never a particularly big deal in our house. the third grade book fair pageant for which my mother crafted pig tails from brown yarn, painted my keds red, and dyed a white stuffed dog black so i could carry it in one of my grandmother's antique danish breadbaskets and be dorothy gale, YES. but halloween, not so much.

we lived at the end of a long driveway that left us stocked with cauldrons of chocolate that would reappear in christmas stockings and easter baskets because only half a dozen trick-or-treaters ever made it to our door. so in the mid-90s my parents' half-hearted enthusiasm hardened into disgust and we became those people who went "lights off." misers enduring the night in darkness because we could not handle the implication that our candy wasn't worth the slight inconvenience of an overly long lane.

that's not to say there weren't costumes. i, of course, spent most of the 80s and 90s staging socked feet theatricals behind closed doors. and my mother dressed up as glenda the good witch a couple times for work (we've a bit of an oz obsession), but that was in the context of conferences and in the interest of governmental employee morale. i don't think it was ever for halloween.

but this year, thanks to my parents' involvement in the children's ministry at church, halloween fever has overtaken them. last week, they went to mississippi specifically to scour the farm for costuming. in relating their adventures to me, an image emerged of them running about the cottage and the workshop and the barn and the storm shed with my gran and grandfather in tow. a sneaky smile on every face. a pile of frippery in every pair of arms.

thus, my mother's glenda the good witch will be wearing tulle from the bridesmaids dresses of my aunt's first wedding and my father's pirate will be toting a pistol fashioned from the leftovers of my grandfather's hobby of carving the name JESUS into blocks of wood so that it can only be seen when you're standing to the right at a 45 degree angle and 10 feet away. like those posters that look like marbled cheesecake, but if you squint hard enough a dolphin or a fairy or the face of al gore is supposed to emerge.

in a curious twist of fate, for halloween this year, i am going to be a musketeer. a good pirate. perhaps the best possible costumic mash-up of my parents' pageantry.

my father- who has begun more and more thinking in the context of facebook profile pictures- looks upon this as the greatest possible turn of events in the history of the world, and has gone so far as to suggest that the dainty mustache i have planned be replaced by a full-on beard for the sole purpose that he can then put our pictures together side-by-side to showcase how perfectly alike we are.

two things.

my father- who always sided with my mother in the years-long argument that prevented me from ever being a witch for all hallow's eve (hence the sadness in the photo above where i was forced to be a fairy)- is now actively boasting to people that his daughter is going to be a man for halloween.

in 1987, my mother was glenda the good witch. she wore my aunt pam's prom dress. my mother is going to be glenda the good witch again. this year she is glue-gunning tulle scraps onto a pair of white sweat pants.

this depresses me.

26 October 2010

7 weapons in the city

in august, you may remember, i bought a musket. what i didn't mention then and what still haunts me now is that in the course of getting that musket from the congress theater on milwaukee to forever yogurt on north ave, and declining a copy of street wise magazine at the intersection of milwaukee and north and damen, i accidentally waved my musket in the face of a homeless man.

if you think back to any movie or show where a seemingly harmless woman has suddenly whipped out a gun- i'm thinking dr. quinn, but then when am i ever not?- you can arrive at a pretty clear picture of this man's response to my waving a gun in his face. street wise was withdrawn. the phrase lady's got a gun! was exclaimed. and this homeless man whom i'd accosted with a broken approximation of an antique firearm staggered back swiftly on tiptoe, as though suddenly aware he'd been walking atop a barbecue.

as a sort of penance, i made myself walk the full 4 1/2 miles home that afternoon. in red velvet shoes. the gun strapped to my back.

drivers seemed infinitely more patient than usual when waiting for me to cross the road.

this was not meant to be the year i would bear arms- a phrase that only reminds me of my ongoing failure to read michael bellesiles' arming america and a statement that, i realize, may sound disingenuous coming from someone who has now twice published an essay entitled "oline, get yer gun." but please believe me- this was never my intent. it has somehow happened in spite of that.

in the last twelve months i've been steadily building an arsenal. should a prop war bust out in my home, i am, i assure you, now armed to the teeth.

i mention this because today at lunch, k.lo and i went to the costume shop. naturally, i bought a sword.

carrying this sword from washington, up dearborn, over to clark- the blade protruding awkwardly forward (dear man at costume chicago, seriously, who bags a sword?)- i was hyper-aware of every single homeless man in the immediate vicinity. i noted all the street wise vendors to my left and right. i paid extra careful attention not to point the sword at any of them.

this explains how i completely overlooked the four-year-old boy coming out the door from the opposite direction directly in front of me. the little boy whom i stabbed straight on in the chest, as though going in for the kill.  

8 consumption

encyclopedic knowledge of fast-fashion prices has its downsides. it makes things very tricky indeed when shopping internationally. in copenhagen, there was this fur hat. it cost 480 kroner. i didn't buy it. because 480 kroner was something like $50 and knew this hat would retail for $10 at h+m. thus, placing my faith in globalism, i had no doubt i could find this fur hat again.

this fully attests to the intensity of my faith in fashions. a faith that has no foundation.

in paris there were these leggings. i don't exactly remember them but i know there was ruching at the ankle. and maybe they were lilac. or hot pink. or some equally hard-to-find color born of the sunset. and they were crafted from the wool of virigin lambs and there was possibly detailing with gold thread kissed by angels. these leggings, they were WONDROUS.

due to my implacable belief in my own ability to find anything on the internet and because i made the assumption that in today's global markets anything you ever see once anywhere in the world can later be found again, i did not buy these leggings. i gawped at the 45 price tag, laboriously photographed the label, and returned them to the shelf, content in the knowledge that i would one day soon see them again, presumably at a price far south of $72. i never did.

i did this then because i had learned nothing from the jackie kennedy cookie jar.

the jackie kennedy cookie jar is the greatest thing to have ever existed in the entire history of the world. a one gallon cookie jar featuring a beautific jackie kennedy in the iconic pink chanel suit. a piece of ceramic created after the death of jfk to remind us of the idyllic times before the death of jfk- when life was good, carbohydrates had not yet been invented and cookies were so abundent that whimsical jars were needed to contain them.

the jackie kennedy cookie jar was on ebay in the fall of 2002. it cost $75 and i did not buy it. i did not even bid on it, because this was back when i was reeling in roughly $20 a shift at applebee's. back when i didn't have $75. when i didn't even have a jar's worth of cookies. at the time, the jackie kennedy cookie jar did not seem such a great loss because smugly, i assumed i would one day- in some far off future when $75 weren't such an impossibility- happen upon it again. in my naive, humble heart, i had no doubt the jackie kennedy cookie jar would one day belong to me.

eight years later- despite repeated internet searching and treks to the cookie jar specialty store on lincoln- the jackie kennedy cookie jar is not yet mine. i have never even seen it again.

yet, i have hope. because today, i found that fur hat from copenhagen at h+m for $9.95. and, as i queued up to pay for it, i couldn't help but smile and find a correlation. because this is the unfailingly optimistic way my mind works, i couldn't stop myself from thinking, oh yes, the jackie kennedy cookie jar can't be far behind...

ps. so, oline, what does the jackie kennedy cookie jar look like? you may ask. there is a picture pasted into the front of one my journals that is either missing in my home or still in memphis. one day, i assure you, you will see.

25 October 2010

3 we'll rounded

Spring break has sprung! It's off to a good start. [...] I think I can truley say I've met the future first female President. Her name is Clohe. She goes to our church. She has a private tutor, a modeling carrrer, and is on hiatus from he          r music career. I'll never be that we'll rounded. Actually she seemed rather shallow. [...]

24 October 2010

0 my right ear

you should be better at this by now.

the doctor says that. i didn't need a doctor to tell me.

but the nerves are frayed and i cannot connect the dots.

i warn you: this will be disgusting. there will be blood.

because after all these years, i still cannot put a nose bleed together with a vague cranial pressure to arrive at the conclusion that something has gone horribly wrong in my inner ear.  because those three things do not make sense. if an ear is infected, it should hurt. mine does not. to its detriment.

and so i cannot anticipate what comes next. it is always a surprise. like a piñata.

the oncoming waves. the blood. the brain matter. it doesn't hurt, i assure you. it doesn't. it's almost a strange comfort. this feeling that my face is rocking back and forth in rhythm with some sea i did not know i was sailing on.

and yet i have sailed this sea before. i know it like the back of my hand.

it's reassuring. a release. until i remember that it augers something horribly bad. something i am not meant to enjoy. something shameful. a pleasure i'm not meant to be discussing, much less putting into words.

a normal person would've complained long before this. anyone with lively nerves would've been in tremendous, unbearable pain. would've gone to the doctor ages ago with a swollen ear drum on the brink of infection. long before there was a rupture. before there was blood.

i've seen those people. my mother is one of them.

whenever she gets an ear infection, the inevitable email comes. the apology. for not having enough sympathy for me when my ears hurt. when they were infected. when they bled. when i cried. when i was just a little girl.

she apologizes.

i do not blame her. it's nothing to do with her. it's my inheritance. faulty feet and fucked up ears.

and yet she apologizes. for not having enough sympathy. for not bringing me enough soup in bed. for all those years when i had a cotton ball stuffed down my ear canal to staunch the blood, the gray matter, the inexplicable green stuff that trickled out at a rate that horrified me even then, as a third grader. for when my ear drum ruptured and i could still feel it. for when it hurt. and for when i thought that meant i was being punished and she could not convince me otherwise.

my mother regrets all of this. now, she feels my pain, which is ironic since i feel nothing.

any normal person would've felt this. this infection i had last week. that is why this doctor- this doctor who does not know my ears- blames me. why she stands there and says that i should be better at this. i should've taken better care of myself. that i have a history, a great trove of experience to build upon. i should know something is wrong. i should feel something.

and still i feel nothing. i've felt nothing for years, because i am not normal. this does not hurt me.

because this is my bad ear. my right ear. the reason i've walked to your right all this time.

you may not've known there was a reason. it tends to make people talk too loud so i try to keep it quiet. and it's this really long story of how in 1985 my grandma ruth sent my a toy surgical kit and i laid in a bed in st. francis hospital in pink cookie monster footie pajamas with the banner my aunt pam had made of my name in pink marker on 8 1/2 x 11 pieces of poster board tied together with pink yarn suspended over my crib and my grandfather fed me doritos after i came out of anesthesia, much to the horror of my mother to whom this excess was later justified by the phrase, well, the baby needed to eat.

you might've assumed i took right-handedness to a whole new level. you might've not known that i heard nothing when i stood on your left.

i heard nothing because my right ear is fucked up.

there've been surgeries my whole life but there is no solution. this is the way it is. it's the way it's going to be. i have made my peace with that. with this piece of me that went numb so many years ago. i am resigned. i have sailed this sea. i know it like the back of my hand. the back and forth. the rhythm. the hush.

please believe me. please do not tell me that i could be any better at this, because i cannot. and that is not my fault. it's just the way it is. it's just my right ear. it feels nothing.

2 point taken

23 October 2010

3 early in the morning, about the break of day

we think we know what is coming. really, we have no idea.

15 ago- hell, 5 years ago- if you'd asked me where i'd be on the morning of october 23, 2010, i would've probably said- albeit with tremendous ambivalence and many mixed feelings- that i'd be married with a kid and living in some southern state.

i would have said this not because it was what i wanted but because it was what i thought i was supposed to do. which is, for the record, the worst possible reason for doing anything.

if you had told me then that i would be sitting in chicago now, wet haired and in a leopard-print bathrobe, talking to jackie onassis' brother on the phone, i would've laughed at your audacity. i would have said, no, no, and waved my hand as though clearing the air of an intolerable smell. and i would have been deeply, secretly very very pleased.
roll #9, 3

22 October 2010

0 profiles in courage


6 high hell

i come from a family with faulty feet so i probably should've seen this coming. i should've divined that there would be a day- last monday, for instance- where walking a mile and a half in four inch heels might have repercussions. a smarter girl would have known that was not a good idea, but every now and again, i am not the smartest girl.

for instance, i believe without a doubt that i was meant to be 5'10". this is neither rational nor logical, it simply is. sadly, i'm a humble 5'7", a genetic slip-up i have sought to rectify over the years through increasingly steep footwear. accordingly, i've eschewed flats and instead clack my way through the city in stilettos and at such a pace that more than one man has been moved to ask in awe and wonder, how do you do that in those things?

women compliment my dresses, men compliment my shoes and the contours of my calves could rival barbie's so this all worked very well for me until last monday, at which point things pretty much went to shit.

because last monday i hurt my left foot. in some deep internal way that is defying correction by any of the means i usually deploy. i've wrapped it and soaked it and stayed off it and invested in so many dr scholl's pain reliving orthotic insoles that i'm standing atop such a thick cloud of massaging gelatin that i no longer need heels to attain my ideal height.

and yet nothing has worked. the bones of my foot continue to make their presence known. with each step, i feel them rolling around in there, like beads on an abacus. my feet, they are not happy. i know this to be true.

i make the mistake of confiding to my gran- she of the faultiest family feet. i tell her that my foot is in full revolt and she tells me this: you know what you need is to go to walmart and get you some of those extra thick socks with the plastic beads on the bottom and then some of those special shoes. the ones with velcro. that would set you up real fine.

precisely what these shoes with velcro would be setting me up for, she did not say. and i dared not ask. because there are things it's best not to know.

21 October 2010

4 dear american apparel,

seriously, what the hell?

2 2 words, 15 letters, 6 vowels

mail from famous people is impossibly scary to open. the simple fact that it might have been caressed by famous hands or licked by famous lips (or more likely the hands and lips of those in their employ) lends such missives a distinctive fragility. as though they were highly bruiseable, like an infant or a thin-skinned fruit.

as the recent recipient of celebrated correspondence, i've observed that, when given the opportunity, people exhibit an extraordinary reluctance to handle said correspondence themselves.

i should be more clear. the correspondence they will handle. it is the envelop they fear.

thus, time and again as i've handed a letter over for perusal, it comes sailing back to me just as quick, with a brusque no, no, you do it- as though i am somehow more adept at these matters.

i'm trying to maintain a balance here, dancing on the fine line of being overwhelmed by the awesomeness of what i'm doing and underwhelmed by its actually happening. to this end, i've taken to storing the really really important things in a pile of papers on the floor located approximately six inches from the litter box.

so when fur asks to see, i shove the vieve from the paper pile by her bathroom and fish out the letter that has been requested. blowing off the litter dust that has lent it an antique aspect rarely found in mail less than three days old, i anticipate the no, no, you do it and slip the letter from its sheath.

i find i can only feel this- the excitement, the immediacy, the sense that things are really happening- through other people. i do not know what to make of the fact that there is so little wonder in it for me now.

and so i toss the thing to her as though it were a month-old us weekly and smile as her cupped hands catch it like a semi-precious gem.

and i watch her fingers run gently, reverently over the 15 letter name written in 11 pt., bookman old style, pantone 287 at the top.

no, no, you do it. yes, yes, i will.

20 October 2010

4 wednesday

4 The Ketchup

in nursery school, everything we ever ate came with ketchup. the idea being, if you didn't like a particular food- say eggs or grits or green beans- you could put ketchup on it and that would somehow make everything ok. apple sauce had mildly comparable powers but was not so universally efficacious. it could make the beans bearable, but that was about it. in contrast, ketchup could do it all.

so i was already a believer when, in the aisle of dominick's, deciding whether to sacrifice salt or high-fructose corn syrup, i went with heinz organic and discovered that this is The Ketchup Of Our Lives.

because i tend to be rather exuberant in my enthusiasms- as evidenced by the frequency with which i use the phrase "Of Our Lives"- everyone who has subsequently hung out with me has heard about The Ketchup. thanks to its goodness and my inability to turn down dares, i'll be packing a bottle for halloween.

because, people, The Ketchup is seriously good.

at some point in the summer, i presented the philosopher with a bottle. because i'm southern and take exorbitant delight in making people eat, i bequeathed it with a solemnity that struck me even then as borderline blasphemous and which, while it might have been appropriate for the giving of the holy grail, seemed somewhat excessive fuss for a condiment.

that bottle later made the trip to colorado and, in iowa, we sat on the back of the car in a burger king parking lot drowning our burgers in The Ketchup we'd brought from home.

the thing about The Ketchup is that once you've had The Ketchup, you know how much better everything could be with The Ketchup. i realize this is the argument of drug addicts everywhere, but trust me, it's truthy.

this weekend, the philosopher and i went to a wedding. in the midst of eating what- in other circumstances- could have been The Chicken Of Our Lives, the philosopher leaned over and said, this would be so much better with The Ketchup.

an observation rendered somewhat excruciating by the fact that, because we'd brought it along for the mcdonald's we'd had for lunch, The Ketchup was now conveniently, tantalizingly located in the car at a distance it would not have been unreasonable to traverse in the pursuit of perfecting poultry.

but we are a dignified people. and having arrived twenty minutes late for a wedding where we then spent an unreasonable amount of time trying to figure out if we were, in fact, at the right one (people look alarmingly unlike themselves from behind), we allowed that running to the car in the middle of the reception and returning to the country club with a 32 oz./2 lb. squeeze bottle of simply heinz might have been a little much.

a little much, but he wasn't wrong. it would've been so much better.

19 October 2010

3 it's a reading rainbow

since the seventh grade- since jackie really- i've kept a list of everything i've read. i'm not entirely sure where they've all wound up. probably scattered throughout my parents' attic, so it was more the act of committing an accomplishment to paper than remembering the accomplishment in the years to come. since 2006, rather than write things down, i've simply published that list here every december 31/january 1.

in 2009- thanks to a rogue comment from dread pirate dougo about how 2008 looked "a little skimpy"- i included page numbers as well. as a testament to the fact that skimpy though the list may be, that was due to the reading of big books rather than a literary fall-off.

so we know that last year i read approximately 21,000+ pages. what we did not know at the time was what that meant. was it a lot or average or really not all that impressive?

turns out it was a hell of a lot impressive, because right now- with roughly 3 months left to the year- i'm sitting at 9,000 pages. a precipitous 12,000 page drop that is probably more than anything a testament to how hedonistic my life has lately been.

thanks to a recent 9-hour flight and the general fear that the numbers will show i've become an illiterate, i've hit the books with renewed fervor, something that has reinforced for me the fact that when you read a lot, things start to come together in strange ways.

my freshman year of college i had no friends. by which i don't mean i wasn't popular or had a terribly limited social circle, but that i had no friends at school. i did, however, have a credit card and a conveniently located book store, thus i picked up anything i could find and read indiscriminately.

the thing is, in retrospect, i don't think i'd give up that experience for friends because there has been no other point in my life when i've had the opportunity to read like that. most every book i'm always telling everyone else they should read if they want to be a fully-developed human being i read then. allan gurganus' plays well with others (!!!). the philosophy of andy warhol from a to b. stacy schiff's mrs. nabakov. it was the year i discovered nabakov himself along with alain de botton and alexandre dumas and hornby and eggers and sedaris.

in those 9 months, i read 92 books. many of them were definitive. with the exception of plays well with others (a book that will stand alone in the pantheon of awesome until the end of time)- all i really remember about any of them is that four of them had climactic scenes featuring fires. in my mind they have melded together into literary potluck. i do not remember the plot points, i do not remember the order in which they were read, but somehow- at the time- it made perfect sense. it was mildly harrowing and it was perfectly lovely.

because when you read a lot of things, they come together in unexpected and strange ways.

in the last month, this is what i've read:

a novel about a difficult marriage that ultimately works. a novel about one that doesn't. a book about families and grief. a memoir about grief after the death of a family.  

unexpected. strange. and yet, it somehow makes perfect sense.

0 #11

philosophies of baking 101.

18 October 2010

4 #10

red velvet.
sugar bliss.

4 just so that we're all clear on the fact that i am still totally ridiculous

i no longer keep journals. instead things are just jotted down at random on whatever paper is available- be it a book cover, a post-it, or a wirebound, wide-ruled mead. some of these things turn into things that show up here. some of them don't. this one didn't.

a wee bit of context...

things went rather rotten in olineland last fall and winter. later, from the depths of my despair, i would look back on the event described here as a harbinger of  oncoming doom and attribute to it way more significance than it probably ever deserved. as evidenced by my writing it down.

i know for a fact that it happened on the saturday morning of labor day weekend 2009. i do not know when this fragment was written. i'd thought it was somewhere in january but in the trusty mead, it appears between THIS and THIS, with the post from march 4th written 5 pages before the one from february 22nd, so that proves nothing, except that this happened and it stuck with me enough that 5-7 months later i put it on paper.


"My father sighed and said, 'it's going to be our hardest year yet.'

I remember this very vividly. I was in Ulta trying to pick out a shower puff.

I gently put the pink loofah back on the shelf and backed away. one doesn't want to be in the spa services aisle of a beauty supply store."]

17 October 2010

0 the very great biographical importance of campaign finance reform

let's talk about campaign finance reform. because campaign finance reform is a very important biographical issue. personally, i heart campaign finance reform because i do not know how there was biography before campaign finance reform. i do not know how anyone ever found anyone- much less wrote and sent grandiose pleas to their homes- before campaign finance reform.

you see, in the interest of transparency, campaign finance reform has done this amazing thing. it has led to the creation of a database listing anyone who has ever contributed to any campaign. a database that includes addresses. thus, anyone who has made a sizable contribution since the 1970s is there in their full benevolent glory. and these addresses- some of them the addresses of powerful people whose addresses were previously unlisted- are now out there and they're fair game.

privacy-wise, this is maybe not so great for those people, but biographically speaking, O.M.G. because i am working with old people and old people have the smallest internet presence of all mankind. seriously. newborns have bigger footprints.

and yes, i realize fundrace.org is meant to stamp out corruption and greed and whatnot and that really is great and all, but seriously, arrianna huffington, thank you from the bottom of my biographical heart.

1 today, on this day, last year in oline history

the fair.

16 October 2010

4 !!!

peanut butter yogurt. 
rainbow sprinkles. 
captain crunch.
pink spoon.

15 October 2010

9 tra-la-la

i don't write about music because i know my limits. my writing is highly capable when called upon to cast magical golden glows upon memories of the olden days, but it's complete crap when it comes to music.

i don't write about music, which is why i'm not writing about boxer, an album i've loved for two years though only just now- as i'm airborne every week and an increasing astigmatism blended with the inferiority of airline lighting systems makes the words intolerably shadowy on the page so i'm left looking out the window watching the sun rise and set as my ipod rolls on and the cities slide past- am i realizing is pretty damn near perfect.

i've given this some thought. in the airplanes, between the drink service and the sunset, i've thought about what i would write if i were to write about boxer and i'm pretty sure of what i would do. i would argue that the stretch from "green gloves" to "guest room" is flawless. and i would admit that there is nothing in all of literature i wish i had written more than the line, "the uninnocent, elegant fall into the unmagnificent lives of adults."

14 October 2010

6 the learning curve

because it seems rude not to mention there are vaguely pornographic, highly terrorizing images below, 
please note: there are vaguely pornographic, highly terrorizing images below. 

in 1993, thanks to the film career of chris o'donnell, i fell a little in love with the books of maeve binchy. thus- as a result of our morbid compulsion to share- my mother fell a little in love with the books of maeve binchy and we began tracking down her collected works at various used book stores across the nation.

if you've read one of maeve binchy's books, you've pretty much read them all. because they are more or less all 500+ page stories about winsome, arty irish girls falling in love with brooding irish boys, with whom they have sex either in dublin or on a beach and for whom they then sacrifice all of their dreams of writing or medical school or baking or independent womanhood to live in rural obscurity in country cottages as emotionally unfulfilled, restless wives, their fragile hopes dashed- tragically, poignantly- against the wind.

so basically, a plot that is compellingly romantic when you're 12 and do not yet know that it will become your deepest fear at 29.

circle of friends- the chris o'donnell film version of the maeve binchy book of the same name, which prompted this literary love affair- incorporates most of these elements with the addition of a scandalously slutty dress, scandalous sex with the landed gentry, a scandalous pregnancy and the scandalous seduction of a best friend's brooding boyfriend. all of which sets up a scenario in which it would be pretty easy to arrive at the conclusion that the path to true love- and the subsequent inevitable disillusionment of wifeliness- is paved with Scandal. and that the best women can ever hope for in life is total, achingly poetic, dissatisfaction.

i come from a good family, in no way rocked by scandal, and my childhood, as i remember it, was largely satisfying in that it was idyllic to the extreme. it's safe to say that the most scandalous aspect of my childhood was my sexual education- a fact that should serve to warn fundamentalists that, yes, there are worse things than sex ed in schools. sex ed via my mother, for instance.

the sexual education of young oline should have been a fairly straightforward affair. over a period of days, my mother and i sat in the green rocking chair, where we always went for Comfort after the happening of Bad Things, and my mother read aloud from how babies are made.

at the conclusion of this process, she believed i had grasped the basics of sexual intercourse.

through this process and this series of illustrations...

i had, in fact, arrived at the conclusion that chickens crawled into the beds of unsuspecting married people and shoved boiled eggs up the vaginas they encountered there.

for the next ten years, i swore i would never marry. my parents often wondered why.

couple the chicken and eggs thing with my childhood conviction that if i did not perform well in ballet, a man in a blouse and bearing a saber would sever my hands at the wrist while i slept, and you come away with a pretty clear sense of the detrimentally over-imaginative child i was and why i am who i am today. in particular, why i find humor in everything and consume epic quantities of caffeine.

in my family, we watch movies over and over. it's comforting and we have never not done this. it's always been a source of surprise to us when other people don't.

in our maeve binchy heyday, my mum and i were watching circle of friends a hell of a lot. maybe so much as once a week. which is funny because circle of friends is all about sex. something i didn't realize until the spring of 2002, when i watched it with kbg and the scales fell from my eyes, at which point i confronted the reality that my mother and i had spent much of the 90s bonding over a sex film.

there are more horrible things in the world. boiled eggs up vaginas for one, but this was still not exactly ideal and i was suitably mortified.

i didn't mention this to my mother for years and years. any of it. by the time my parents staged an intervention and asked why on earth i- a child raised within the bonds of a loving, happy marriage- should disdain the institution so much, federally mandated sex education had already cleared up the matter of the chickens. by then my skepticism was primarily a preventative measure against the adolescent insecurity that no one would ever want to marry me, but i would be lying not to admit that lurking under that angst, a residual distrust remained. even properly informed, i was still wary of anything that might bring birds into my bed.

it would be even longer before my mother and i would discuss the sexiness of circle of friends. not until she told me my grandparents had seen shrek and were appalled by the innuendos. only then did i say, well, we watched circle of friends a million times at least and that wasn't about anything but sex. there was a brief pause, in which i could almost feel over the phone the features of her face aligning into that sanguine expression they had assumed when i was a little girl and sat in her lap in the green chair and she had snapped shut how babies are made.

i'm no longer a little girl. i'm an adult when my mother says something that almost makes perfect sense but also really, really doesn't. when she pauses and says, but circle of friends was entirely different. you were learning things. i'm a poignant, restless, winsome woman when she says this and sighs quietly, aching and poetic, as though- at last!- her work were finally done.

13 October 2010

0 taxing

my first cab ride was july 21,1998. i know this not because of my creepy retention of dates but because it was big enough news at the time to warrant being recorded in my journal as "I TOOK A TAXI!!! 1ST TIME!!! EVER!!!"

and that's a pretty unforgettable number of exclamation points.

i took a taxi for the first time ever because jane, enid, and i were at the pyramid mall in ithaca, new york- subsequently rechristened as The Shoppes At Ithaca Mall- where we were exercising our newfound pseudocollegiate freedom by purchasing pretzels, costume jewelry and my first ever strapless bra in anticipation of our performance of madonna's "material girl" at the lip sync we were hosting that night in class of '17 hall. we called a cab to cart all this junk back to campus.

at the time, it was the most glamorous thing in the world. today, it still kind of is. because i only really take cabs after debaucherous evenings or expensive cocktails, every time i'm in one, there's this fleeting sensation of being that girl i once was. that girl who took a taxi home from the mall and thought it was the height of glamor. sadly, the height of glamor makes for a bitch of a fall.

yesterday, i flew to houston. for lunch. i spent $357 on taxis. this sounds glamorous. it wasn't. two of the drivers were barefoot.