31 January 2011

4 young oline & titanic

[18 December 1997]
[Tomorrow we go to see Titanic.
It should be AWESOME!]

[19 December 1997
Friday, 9:46]
[EXAMS ARE OVER. Titanic was awesome. They did such a brilliant job.
It was so sad. Afterwards everyone seemed as though they were in shock.
Rightfully so.
Leo was gorgeous! It wore me out though.]

0 today, in things that really needed to happen

2 clubbing

i have a splinter on the bottom of my right foot. there is no logical explanation for this. i have neither been camping nor exfoliating with wood.

my parents reactions to this news were entirely in character and hilariously indicative of their differing life-views. 

my father suggested i immediately, without hesitation, go to the emergency room to have the offending piece of wood removed and then carry on with my life. 

my mother said to let it fester. eventually, someday, it would work its way out. 

taking what seemed to be the least inconvenient pieces of both their recommendations, i let the splinter fester and carried on with my life. 

and so i spent the weekend dashing around the city with a cant that comes innately to children with clubbed feet. 

this led to a few unfortunates, chief among them the reality that walking on 1/3 of one's foot leaves one overly preoccupied with the movement of said foot rather than the placement, so that one is not aware of the pancaked rat corpse on which one is stepping until one has, in fact, already stepped in. 


i am in the bathroom, washing the rat guts from my boots, wondering if i should be wearing gloves, when it hits me: this is very much not what i thought adulthood would be like.  

2 january: a revue

"when your lip balm brand is the same as your child’s butt cream, every once in a while you feel like your lips smell like poopy diaper."

"it's like every romantic comedy starring reese witherspoon ever."

"it is good to be happy and confident when you are alone, but that is sad."

"that sandwich was not my fault. i didn't build it. i just ate it."

"when you get married, you’re totally going to be one of those girls who wear sex wigs."

"you can't wear your chastity ring and say things like that."

"there are few parties in my life. i feel like i need to make the most of the ones i get."

"i love how you party like it's 1990."

"it's not his fault. it's his complicated equatorial bloodlines."

"oh my God, so many people here are ancient."

"you dance like a wounded bird."

"when i was spending the summer on that indian reservation..."

"you need to get a beret. they are a chick magnet."

"he really does look like he's going to take down a gazelle."

"oooh, i like that black elvis! by which i mean the elvis wearing black."

"oh my God, if your soulmate were an elvis impersonator, that would be..."

"i feel her pain, and simultaneously accept your retroactive gratitude."

"unless it is a bicycle, i do not do well on things that are not my own two feet."

"beware: there are 8 people under the age of 9."

"i feel like every time i go to a bar with caroline, there are an inordinate number of elderly people present."

"i forgot how much dating can suck when you actually like the guy. it's so much easier if they wear a weird hat or do jumping jacks on the dance floor."

"snow storms in a world without snow days are just kind of depressing."

"i am fairly certain that setting goals may be my kryptonite."

"ice crystals. yes, they are dense in the air today. this means you will cough a lot when you breathe. but don't be alarmed, it's just ice carving holes in your lungs."

"pregnancy is this winter’s adopted black kid."

"why aren't those girls wearing more clothes?"
"because they're in a dome."

"you might've been raped or murdered... or run over a turkey!"

"you wear too much eyeliner to be a nun."

"so my dad thinks he's bill cosby, and i'm like 'you're white!'"

"nothing says mood killer like shit on your finger."

"what is imitation crab?"
"the hot dog of the seafood world."

"reading my angsty teen book after hanging out with johanna would be so focus on the family."

"i think i got eye murdered."

"i was just like, 'whatever, i'll talk about something relevant.'"

"joe, why are you double-fisting?"

"my name is jackie, and i like it up the butt."

"we're from small time u.s.a."

"the geographic booty call has totally defined my life."

"i feel like everyone i've ever met is going to be somewhere else when we have babies."

"did you just get quoted?"

"you're different. i can pet you anywhere. and i will."

"where is your mother hormonally?"

"do you want a gummy bear?"

"i can never look awesome in the eye."

"how did you like the manure analogy?"

"your phone is so cool though, i don't know, maybe we should call God on it."

"gossip is a buffet. you choose."

"i'm a big fan of her, so anything she does (within the scope of Jesus and the law) is automatically given my seal of approval."

"i would like to connect with more of those frustrated people in general. guys, girls, whoever. we need to stick together amidst all this nickelback and bon jovi."

"i frown upon pretty much any reminder that this is real."

"speaking of your mom’s facebook wall, i love her helpful links to disaster preparedness."

"we need to find train tracks."

"my entire life could be summed up by the phrase 'jack of all trades, master of none.'"

"there's a much better chance of your being a biographer than him being a beekeeper."

"i mean, i think her hair is a little sharky, but her shoes are cute."

"are they from the south, do you think?"
"because they're taking for-fucking-ever to eat three tacos."

"it makes me want to take you home."

"i was wearing my beret and watching that movie and thinking, 'he's so cool.'"

"the whiskey has turned on me when i've been with julie."

"i don't think anyone should do cocaine. do you know what the hell that does to your nose?"

"i don't care what gay men say. women do not lick."

"any time naughty food is involved, i am a happier person."

"that was notty."

"that's a sweet ass on that mime."

"i read 'the vagina monologues' in college... before i really knew what either of those words meant."

"so you're dating a dead woman who didn't have an orgasm until the onassis years?"

30 January 2011

0 january

0 the grand slam

a few nights ago, k.clen and i went to the moth's grandslam at the park west. we heard stories, we laughed and blah blah blah. but really the only thing you need to know is that we purchased what we believed to be $8 diet cokes. they weren't. they were $4. but we did not know that. and not knowing that did not deter us from ordering a second round.

28 January 2011

0 damn. but... YES(!)?

(also yes, i am being volatile and my mother would murder me if she knew.)

my parents are very different.

my father is best characterized as volatile. my mother is very nice.

that makes her sound outrageously vanilla. she isn't. but nice is the right word.

my father and i are a lot alike.

we say that and it upsets my mother. it makes her feel left out.

three is a difficult number. you almost need four just to even up the teams.

i try to tell my mother that i understand where she's coming from, because one of the side-effects of being my parents' child is that i inherited the volatility along with the niceness, so that any time i am volatile it's followed by a huge wave of crushing, self-conscious regret. and that guilt? that is 100% pure my mother.

we had a fight, my mother and i.

because we have spent years crammed together in this clown car of volatility and politesse, the fight seamlessly transitions, in typical my family fashion, into an elaborate, pre-established tight-rope dance.

first, i- volatile- must inform my father that my mother and i are fighting. that she has said unkind things and my volatility has been incited.

next, my father must extend to me a suitably volatile offense to the unkind things my mother has said, before nicely relaying to her that she has, in fact, not been nice and even, perhaps, been somewhat volatile herself.

this is the point where, were we any other family, my mother would pick up the phone. because we are us, she does not.

instead, she opts to apologize for having been unkind via the pre-established channel of communication and, accordingly, she asks my father to relay to me that she is sorry. and because we are this ridiculous, three days pass in which my mother and i do not speak because we are waiting patiently for my father to patch that message through.

though this was a fight about something else altogether, something that had absolutely nothing to do with the consolidation of the memphis city school system, the consolidation of the memphis city school system is ostensibly what my mother and i wound up fighting about. for three days.

and while i'm tempted to think that's incredibly stupid, it really isn't because, in the end, the point we were arguing over was essentially the same.

because, yes, there is a chance THIS could go disastrously bad. but then...

maybe plans are over-rated.

maybe possibility is the key.

2 #23

sugar bliss. 
banana banana.

2 only in my dreams

i am a troubled sleeper. this goes one of three ways: either i sleep with deceptively glorious ease or i do not sleep or i sleep and have freakishly bad dreams.

vivid, bloody, csi-style dreams. with elaborate backstories and gruesome montages where there blood spatters in slow motion to a soundtrack suitable for soft-core porn.

for example, last night i dreamt that the members of the winning 1966 superbowl team were being systematically murdered and that murals of their faces were being erected in the windows of a deserted building located at the corner of madison and danny thomas boulevard in memphis, tennessee.

i try not to read meaning into this. try not to see things that are not there. instead, i just accept that i have seen the preview for i am number four far too many times.

6 the formal acceptance of fath caroline eaton

the sex toboggans have been accepted for presentation elsewhere.

wait. let me be precise. an essay by "fath caroline eaton" that has been rechristened with a suitably academic name because the phrase "sex toboggan," though "spectacular," is too "mysterious," has been formally accepted for presentation elsewhere.

that is what i wake up to. this email to "fath caroline eaton" and a groupon.

i'm pretty sure that's why what i'm doing seems so small when it should feel monumental. because it's hard to wrap your head around the potential life-alteringness of something when it is coupled with a coupon for a cut-rate coffee-making class.

27 January 2011

10 20.09.13

being a writer is just about the most pretentious thing one can be.

there's this guy. the parakeet. he's a writer. as in, he leads with that.

sample dialogue...

oline: and, dear person i'm meeting for the first time in my life, what do you do?

parakeet: I. AM. A WRITER.

oline: [grand silence, punctuated by monumental eyeroll]

end scene.

yeah. um... no.

my reluctance to own up to the fact that biography is what i want to do is, in part, rooted in the intolerable belief that i will, at some point, come off looking like the parakeet. because if being a writer is pretentious then being a biographer is pretentious times ten.

nobody reads biography. surely it couldn't take more than ten people to write for an audience of none.

i never wanted to be a writer. that is a fact to which i clung through all of college. but we do not always wind up where we think we're going. we sometimes have to become the very thing that makes us roll our eyes.

to keep the winter glums at bay, i'm walking to work in the mornings. this has led to a couple early a.m. conversations with kbg, wherein we have wrestled with this very thing. with the realignment of expectations. an openness to adventure. the acceptance of the seemingly unacceptable fact that your life may not look like everyone else's. and the knowledge that that really is ok.

i am trying to be a biographer. for real. for, like, a living.

i don't know that i've explicitly said that before here because it comes wrapped in a whole fear of failure that makes it a scary as hell thing to say. but that's what it comes down to. this past september, as i rode in the back of a cab through downtown chicago in the middle of a night, i concluded that writing biography was not so much a dream as the end goal.

thanks to a story about jim carrey that may or may not be apocryphal, i picked a date and put it down on paper.

i have tried, ever since, to live as though the date on that piece of paper were an absolute truth. non-negotiable and totally binding. this has made most days feel like a death march undertaken in badly beaten up boots.

because this is a journey of micro-movements. of painfully, infintesimally teeny tiny steps. it's hard not to be discouraged. by silence. by a lack of measurable success. by loneliness. by forty pound boxes or by the lifetime of poverty that seems to loom.

but then there are times when i open my wallet and the date taped in there doesn't strike me so much as a horrible threat or a big, scary unknown, but rather as a delicious possibility. and it makes me smile to have been so bold.

and i'm well aware i may not make it. i might not be there on that day then. but i'll be further than i am now. i will have moved a million painfully, infintesimally teeny tiny steps closer.

26 January 2011

3 mortified

we're standing on line at cvs when i, holding a mammoth box of tampons, turn to kj and loudly proclaim, hey, remember when it used to be really embarrassing to buy tampons?

the undergraduate hipster guy behind us is laughing when i realize that it maybe still really is.

5 dear croftie, you're welcome.

0 The Plan

my family is more than a little macabre.

there's my anti stance against the entirety of the american funeral industry, my grandfather's proclivity for photographing the burials of deceased relatives and the pictures of dead people that line my father's library walls.

and then, THEN there's my parents favorite pastime: estate planning.

there are not words enough in the english language for how unprepared i am for my parents to die. it is unfortunate then that it is a business about which they are excessively enthusiastic.

my family has no shortage of enthusiasm in general as regards most things. take richard simmons, multiply him exponentially and you arrive at a fairly close approximation of my parents' overall zeal.

so when i say they are into this, what i mean is that their ardor for estate planning knows no bounds. my parents, they are ruthlessly prepared to die.

which doesn't mean that there isn't room for improvement. they are constantly tinkering with The Plan and it is vigorously revised at least once a year. accordingly, nearly every time that we're together, we must conference to review the revisions and so, year after year- as though returning to a favored sunny vacation locale- we pilgrimage back to the vagaries of the ever-evolving feeding tube policy, the impact of death order on the permissability of cremation and- a particular family favorite- how the trust fund established for orphan oline will be doled out in the instance of the death of everyone else she knows.

i'm pretty sure The Plan is an elaborate coping mechanism. a means for my parents of siphoning their current worries for me into an enactable solution for the future. this, however, does make the present sometimes somewhat tense.

because occasionally i have a bad day. a day in which i would prefer my father not give a lengthy recitation of the measures put in place in the instance of his sudden death.

alas, we do not always get what we want. we do, however, learn lessons.

and in that spirit, we now know: when your child has had a bad day, the financial scenario that will unfold should both her parents deaths be followed by a ruinous house-fire is a topic, in particular, one would do best to avoid.

25 January 2011

9 deep thoughts in sweet valley

i am rereading sweet valley high, as i've been doing for the past year or so. because svh is perfect for those inevitable dips in literary enthusiasm- like when, in the final 100-page stretch, one is no longer enthralled by the secrets of the flesh: the scandalous life and sensual times of collette and yet not quite ready for devices & desire: a history of contraceptives in america. in those times, elizabeth and enid and all the gang welcome me back to sweet valley with open arms. and, at the deathbed of tricia martin, jessica wakefield reminds me that we must not let our days be ruined by stocking runs...

4 today, in random jackie historical context

you may remember the story of how seventh grade young oline sat in mrs. watson's science class in a pair of white short shorts straining to hear anderson cooper's report on the death of jackie o. 

every time i've revisited that story here, i've searched for an image of anderson cooper from that time, because it seemed important that everyone see anderson cooper as he was then. that was the only way to see that the story of how young oline met jackie is steeped in the drama of both adolescent sexual awakening and biographical love. 

because anderson cooper was the first intelligent, sexy man i ever "knew." amid a roster that included raleigh valverde and lisa ling, anderson cooper stood out as the mature, scholarly anchor on the 12-minute daily student-focused news program channel one. he was the anchor who covered the important stories. in my memories of him, he reported with a tremendous sense of extreme gravitas. 

all of which is ironic given that- as the photograph the gods at long last provided today proves- he looked like zack morris.

9 "we are here for a weekend of taste."

24 January 2011

6 monday

2 #22

alliance bakery.
vegan chocolate peanut butter.

3 young oline & the worst christmas ever

(in 1998, it iced on christmas eve and we could not go to mississippi. 
for young oline, this was the worst thing ever in the history of all the world.)

Thursday, 11:26, 24 December 1998

trans.: Christmas Eve of my senior year has come and is about to pass away. We ate Winnie the Pooh pasta with Daddy's spaghetti sauce. We opened our presents by the tree. Gran and Paw-Paw have no power and have no way of even boiling water. For the first time in our lives, Mummy and I did not spend Christmas with the grandparents. I've wanted so much for this to Christmas to be a culmination of all of the Christmases of my childhood. It has been none of those. Everything we had planned has come to nothing. All of my hopes for a special Christmas have faded into a depressed sense of finality: That this is it... My last Christmas at home and I'm more unhappy and discontented than I've ever been before. I'm scared to death about the future. I['m] terrified by the idea that in 6 months I will be a graduate. Life as I have always known it will be different. I feel horribly alone. 
-- Caro.

23 January 2011

2 i'm wondering if maybe i should wear more gold...

0 but, really, michaela?

i am watching dr. quinn. all of it. from the beginning. 7,125 minutes. 118 hours. this would be incredibly embarrassing if it weren't something i had totally done before. twice.

but, as usually happens when you watch something a million times, each time you see something new. for instance, this time around, i have realized that i have never screamed anyone's name in public, something they apparently had cause to do in colorado springs at a rate of at least twelve times per hour.

k.clen makes the point that this may have been the natural result of the absence of phones, but really? please note, zack morris only had that huge-ass phone that he rarely used, and he still managed not to make a spectacle of himself calling for kelly ten times per scene.


there they are, sully and michaela, every 3.91666....6 minutes.

ten minutes into the pilot, we know who they are. i would argue that over the course of the following 7,125 minutes, we are not likely to forget.

22 January 2011

4 data

0 here is what i want to know

WHO picks out the pictures for these things? yes, it is an unofficial welsh pound note so presumably there isn't a lot of money to work with when purchasing licencing rights. and yes, yes, i am asking a lot from fake money. but surely, surely there are cheap images out there in which the heir to the throne is not shown on the verge of speech as he squints into the sun.

2 well lined

i relate to kristen stewart most in that she is, in nearly every interview, characterized as clumsy and has, on more than one occasion, publicly fallen down.

it has not been a year of steady steps.

i fell on my front stoop and tore up my forearm last june.

in november, i fell face-first at the feet of patty duke and was gifted a bruise so deep that my shin sometimes still aches in the night.

and last week, i slid on the ice and nearly destroyed the annual elvis donut.

at the time i thought this was surely enough clumsiness for one year. surely i could make it through the rest of the winter fall-free.

but, um... no. the other night i fell down. big-time. on the back steps. my knee making contact with the wood with such force that it shook the balcony and sent the cigar garden falling from the window ledge.

when i was a kid, such incidents would leave these massive volcanic wounds, but i do not wound well now. my skin doesn't seem to respond properly. instead of exploding, it tears. in long eerily straight streaks, like fissures. or fault lines.

i don't know why it does this and googling "skin scraping in long lines" has shed no light upon the matter. but it does create an awkward situation in which my badly busted knee looks like something that it isn't.

i had a mole removed in college and had to wear these elaborate gauze bandages around my wrist for several weeks after. when i ran into an old high school aquaintance at blockbuster, she clearly interpreted these bandages as the result of a suicide attempt. when the bandages were removed, a scar was left that makes it very much appear that if there were, in fact, any suicide attempts in my past, they were inflicted with a standard sized hole-punch.

my busted knee has a similarly dramatic, misleading effect. because, when you look at it, you wouldn't think, ah, yes, that woman fell down on wooden stairs. rather, you would conclude that i self-harm. with fine tined forks.

21 January 2011

1 the background check

there's a funny side-effect of keeping a blog for any length of time. it creates the false sense that your friends all know each other. like how you may have never met croftie or dougo or lindear or partner, but you know of them.

the flip side of this is that, for the people who don't know them, the people i don't write about seem not to exist.

so, when i say that my very dearest friends lindear and kj are coming to town, k.clen asks, who is this kj person you never talk about?

there's an explanation, beyond- though a part of- the fact that i am a notorious compartmentalizer of friendships.

kj gets me at my ugliest. that is why she does not show up here.

when i am so scared that i scare myself, i write to her.

this happens maybe once every five years at most, but when it does she is there. and though we don't see each other often, hardly ever talk on the phone and i seldom write about her, she is important. her friendship is fundamental. because we must all have someone we can go to. especially when we are too tired to be pretty.

0 #21

sugar bliss.
raspberry lemonade.

5 noted

writing hurts. not always, but sometimes.

like when you gash yourself shaving and tug on tights before the blood dries and then, when at the end of the day you go to pull them off, the sensation of pulling fabric from flesh smarts so that you can't help but cry out.

sometimes, writing hurts like that.

i am standing on a precipice. sensei believes i am on the cusp.

those are romantical ways of saying i'm staring down the pile of important papers stored six inches from the litter box and looking for new ways to see old things.

in high school, mrs. reynolds taught us how to write papers.

first, you buy notecards.

next, you fill them with your facts.

then you lay all your cards on the table. every last one.

this was the fun part, the part that i loved. because this was the great coming together. the moment when you realized that in this deck of cards, you held an idea. an idea admittedly derived from whatever ideas of other people were held in the rather limited centennial high school library holdings, but an idea nonetheless. and an idea put together, laid out on that table, in a manner that uniquely belonged to you.

this process was a fundamental part of the way i learned to write and it is one i have never been able to fully escape. even now, when sentences, facts, phrases, opening lines occur, i text them to myself. i put them down on paper. i lay them on the table and i look for where the pieces fit.

jackiebook 1.0 was written this way. in part, because i am secretly exceedingly vain and hold the notion that my rough drafts and notecards and marginalia will one day warrant inspection and be poured over by scholars wearing white gloves and sitting in temperature-controlled, darkened rooms. but also because this is the only way i know how to do this.

a book is a scary thing. a notecard, now that is manageable.

sensei says i am on the cusp. he has asked me to take the ring to mordor. i am staring down a pile of important papers stored six inches from the litter box and facing forty pound boxes.

i am realizing that it is difficult to read the things you once wrote.

because there is a brief moment of separation from one's work that comes about a month out. a flash in the pan where you can read something you have written and see it as something written by something else.

i had to proof "the sexy dance" the other day and throughout, i found myself thinking, damn, this is tight. the work did not feel like mine.

i'm going to go out on a limb and say this- the moment when you can see your work as though it weren't your own- that is the moment writers write for.

sadly, it does not last. and then along comes the time ever after, when you return to the work you had left, the writing you once did, and confront the world of inferiority you find there.

i cannot handle that world right now.

so i go into my closet and, ignoring the forty pound boxes, pull down a very small one from which i pull the pile of notecards for jackiebook 1. i unloose them from the rubberbands by which they've been bound since the spring of 2006 and i do the scariest thing i can think of- i shuffle the deck.

i am sitting three feet from the pile of important papers six inches from the cat's toilet.

i am going back to the beginning.

i have laid all my cards on the table. every last one.

20 January 2011

5 ouch.

4 sometimes the snow comes down in june

the thing i love most about chicago is that you never know where you're going to wind up. you may start out the evening at a lecture only to end up with a moonlight tour of wheaton college courtesy of an 84-year-old french theologian and a long late-night ride home singing justin beiber and vanessa williams at the top of your lungs.

0 i don't know that i would've pegged jfk for a g

4 harmony

i am learning to play the harmonica.

a somewhat incendiary hobby to be acquiring at the age of 29, according to my mother, who- in the exact same line and tone she once used regarding the subject of gay marriage- inquired, is this what people are doing now?

i use the word "learning" loosely, as i'm mostly exhaling and hoping for the best.

the harmonica is a poor substitute for a piano. let me just say that. one cannot pound a harmonica and, yes, for me, pounding is the piano's big attraction. it's a percussive instrument. it is meant to take a beating and, to go all thomas kincade for a sec, it warms the soul to give it a good one every now and again.

the harmonica is also a poor substitute for an accordion, which would've been my second choice for musical exploits. alas, accordion lessons are hard to come by and accordions are loud. and because i have been endowed with scruples regarding the disturbance music makes in the lives of others that my neighbor's guitar-playing, caterwauling boyfriend clearly does not share, i've shown restraint.

i have settled for the harmonica.

there has been one great shock so far in my "learning" to play the harmonica and that is the lesson in which i have taken the greatest pleasure as regards retribution again the aforementioned caterwauling man next door.

that lesson is this: there is fine line between "beautiful dreamer" and the laugh of fran drescher.