Feb 26, 2009

2/26/2009 - Saves the Day

Super powers that I would gladly settle for:
  • The ability to snatch squirrels off the ground and hold them, just for a moment.
  • The ability to lead massive groups of Humanity in choreographed song and dance numbers. On a whim.
  • The ability to summon objects using The Force. 

Feb 21, 2009

2/21/2009 - Laundry

On Friday afternoon I opened up my dryer to pull out the load just finished. I nearly collapsed in relief when I saw my favorite sweater amongst the toasty, tangled clothes. I had just come home from work - was still in the business-casual garb of the office worker - and knowing that my next order of business was to climb into my giant, warm sweater and a pair of jeans was the greatest knowledge I could ever have. 

Things have been like that lately; no matter how close I get to tugging the hair out of my scalp or punching somebody in the face, there always seems to be at least one part in my day just like that sweater - waiting for me (so warm, so welcoming) in spite of everything.

Feb 19, 2009

2/19/2009 - Plot Twist

Pizza House looks like the kind of place that would serve pizzas with hairs baked into the crust. The same beaten-up, turquoise, 1980-something Ford is perpetually parked out front and inside works a man who looks like he stumbled in off the streets, fell into an apron and picked up a broom. They serve the cheapest and most delicious pizza I've ever wrapped my mouth around, however, so I'm not one to judge.

The shop is staffed by several men whose ethnic origin I have never been able to establish. Their pizza and cinnamon sticks are a gift I give myself every once in a while when I'm particularly stressed or hungry, and when I open the door to pick up my fare they recognize me and greet me with great enthusiasm. The short smiling man asks me about my haircut/my boyfriend/my schooling, or at least this is what I think he asks me; I've never been able to understand the phrasing through his thick accent.

But Pizza House is just how my day ended; here's how it began:

7:07 a.m. my final alarm goes off like a starting gun.

Midmorning, my 7-year-old mentoring buddy invited me to go roller skating with him. My heart soars; not because I could actually accept the invitation, but because the younger generations are keeping my roller skating dream alive.

At some point after 11:00 a higher-up in the echelons of OCU refers to the pile of papers on her desk ask "this shit". I love having the opportunity to hear someone I admire employ a well-placed curse word. 

Near noon a particularly heavy box of papers headed for the recycling bin, a dolly and I ride the wheelchair lift in the Administration building.

One of my bosses gives me permission to borrow any one of the bounty of new nonfiction novels stored in her office. I die a little bit - blissfully.

Late afternoon I witness a young man in the library trying hard to peer over his dark sunglasses at the computer screen in front of him. In the library. 

Moments later, upstairs at my job, I notice a note left by a worker in the office notebook: "I turned the book into Rod Jones." I think somebody forgot a space.

While preparing a mailing list I have the opportunity to listen to the latest episode of This American Life. This is what good radio journalism/art is.

Early evening. I go into class thinking that the only thing standing between me and an all-around ok day is 80 minutes of head-nodding and note-taking. 

7:30, I leave so wracked with tension that my hands are shaking. I am suddenly reminded that confrontation makes me feel like I'm on the verge of a heart-attack.

Wasn't expecting that one.

Nighttime at last. I eat pizza.

Moxie gets his head stuck in a plastic cup. 

Hilarity ensues.

I wash the dishes.

Wash my face.

I call it a night.

Feb 18, 2009

2/18/2009 - The Rose

...in reverse:
Day 3:
Day 2:
Day 1:
The answer to your question is yes, that is a chip canister I'm using for a vase.

Feb 17, 2009

2/17/2009 - Moonboat

Today my cat received a black [toy] ferret in the mail. Lucky bastard. 

When bored in social situations (this happens often) my mind gets floaty and does that thing they do in movies where the voices of other people become muffled and the thoughts in the main character's head are the loudest voice in the room. 

Perhaps this has never happened in the movies you've seen. Just hang with me.

Once my mind has attained floaty-ness and I have successfully tuned out my present company I attend to my first order of business: imagining the men in the room - one at a time - asleep. This isn't something sordid (i.e. imagining them sprawled naked in bed) but, rather, quite innocent. I imagine them tucked under the sheets, head lolled to one side, breathing softly and perhaps smiling ever-so-slightly. 

There's no real telling why I do this, but when I try to rationalize my new peculiar habit I figure that it stems from recent experiences with a.) my boyfriend and b.) my cat. Both have a way of terrorizing me during the day (Scott gets wily and attempts to convince me that he doesn't like ice cream, or that after-dinner fatigue is due to all my blood rushing to my stomach to aid in digestion; Moxie insists on tirelessly pursuing every "crinkly" material in the apartment and rearranging the household items when I am out) but at night when Moxie is curled at my side twitching his paws as he tracks the Giant Rattly Mouse of his dreams, when Scott is on adrift in some night-vision and singing nonsense songs in his sleep, I feel particularly content, perhaps slightly smug. I feel as if I have captured the beasts and revealed them for the sweet, sleeping children that they are; harmless, if only for a few hours.

And perhaps I envision everybody like that; ultimately harmless. And by that, perhaps, I am comforted.

Feb 10, 2009

2/10/2009 - Love Thy Neighbor

If we're going to talk about love, we might as well talk about the neighborly kind.

Today, whilst I was being forced to hunker down in the boy's locker room of the dance school to defend myself against oncoming tornados, my neighbors were setting up camp in our creepy (damp, cobwebby, missing the step at the bottom of the staircase) basement. Upon emerging from the locker room I found a message on my phone from my upstairs neighbor who had called to see if I was home and wondered if wanted to join them in the basement. She assured me that the door to the back foyer (from which the basement can be accessed) was unlocked.

The second neighborly deed done unto me came several hours later, after the mother of all thunder storms had barreled through the city. Coming from wet-but-normal campus, I didn't realize that power had been lost until I poked the button at the cross walk and noticed that the light wasn't changing because none of the traffic lights were functioning. Beneath my umbrella, I made a death-defying sprint across four lanes of traffic and walked at a steady clip toward my apartment, which loomed darkly before me.

Once indoors, I listened to my second message of the day while fumbling around for a flashlight. This one came from my next door neighbor - whom I fondly refer to as Neighbor Keith - asking if I needed any candles. I decided that I did not once I located my super-high-powered-battery-operated camping lantern but, feeling cared-for and protected, I appreciated the thought. 

Unable to bake or do homework like I had planned, I dinked around the dark apartment, swinging the lantern along with me as I swept the floor, picked up clothes and made my bed. When I had run out of things to clean I perched the lantern atop the headboard and lay down on my bed with a book. Moxie came and fitted himself into his usual spot between my right arm and my side. 

It was a like a dark, quiet vacation. We lay there like that for a long time, me wondering if the electricity would come on again or if I should start in on bundling up the contents of my fridge and packing off to Scott's. 

Then there was a click and a buzz and the whir of the air conditioner kicking in. My radio clock flashed midnight and a light came on in the laundry room. Everything powered on, bringing with it the promise of homework to be done, the possibility of baking and the extinguished need to lend a neighborly hand, as people do in times of mild crisis. 

Feb 9, 2009

2/9/2009 - Royal Decree

Valentines day is on the visible horizon, which means that all the single folks of the world are gearing up to get their panties all in a bundle over the whole heart-shaped mess. Come Saturday you'll be counting up all the Facebook statuses wishing you and yours a happy Singles Awareness Day and nodding because you know that I'm right: these guys hold a grudge.

I went through the phase during my insecure high school years, but then I advanced to my equally insecure college years and realized that I would do much better if I just got over it. If you're over the age of 18 and still moping around about being single on Valentines day, then I want you to consider two things:
  1. Being single is  - and I really want to stress this - totally ok. I think most people recognize this, so no need to shout it. 
  2. Valentines day is fabricated and kitschy, right? The fact that you recognize and - if you dare - embrace it makes you an emotionally superior person who is better equipped to enjoy the irony of it all.
I say this not as a self-assured bitch with a boyfriend close at hand, but as somebody who has spent a healthy chunk of time single and survived it. Single or not, you're going to have a helluva lot more fun on Valentine's Day if you just lighten up and take it for what it is: a goofy, over-hyped holiday that is nonetheless a pretty good excuse to let the good people in your life know how good they are.

I'm putting this out there a good week ahead of time so that everybody has a chance to let it sink in and to think about how they will behave on Saturday. I, for one, want to have fun and it would be excellent if I didn't incur hate for doing so. Let's not have any tears or pouting, folks. I can make these kinds of demands because because I am the queen of tears and pouting; what I say goes. 

You cannot escape this.

Feb 7, 2009

2/7/2009 - Thrifty

Yesterday I found out that all the clothes that fit my weirdly-shaped body have been stored - all these years - in the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store on 23rd Street.

As soon as I walked through the door I was exhausted. Shopping in general wears me out and shopping in any kind of thrift or discount store is exponentially worse since nothing is particularly organized or neatly displayed. Instead of browsing you have to sift through racks and racks of mismatched clothes in search of the single gem in the proverbial haystack. (So I mixed metaphors; sue me.)

I had come this far, however, so I started in on my task. Minutes passed. More minutes. And just as I was about to lose hope the clouds parted and the heavenly choir struck up a chord and a beam of ethereal light shone down upon a pair of straight leg brown corduroy pants.

Now, if you have to know anything about me and fashion, you have to know these three things:
  1. I sported (and immensely enjoyed) straight-leg pants long before they were in fashion.
  2. Brown is one of my very favorite colors.
  3. I love corduroy; maybe too much.
Now I was on a roll. Some additional sifting unearthed a green, double-breasted, polyester suit jacket and a brown corduroy purse for $1.25 (I didn't buy the purse, but finding it was a sort of personal victory). I screwed my courage to the sticking place and tried my wares out in the "fitting room." This place, a PVC pipe construct surrounded with heavy curtains, provided privacy enough, but then there was nothing to stop another unwitting shopper from whipping open the curtains while I bent over bare-assed. I was not exposed, however, and the jacket and pants fit like a polyester/corduroy dream. Again, the angels sang.

In the end I smugly signed off on the receipt for $5.25. As someone who believes that no piece of clothing (jeans, suit jacket, formal dress, etc.) should cost more than $10, this part was particularly gratifying. I'm about as poor as they come, but there's nothing about two items of clothing for less than a tank of gas that isn't worth my hard-earned bucks. 

Feb 4, 2009

2/4/2009 - Off Book

I've got scripts. Scripts for when I have casual conversations with casual friends; scripts for when I talk to higher-ups in any given echelon; scripts for talking to teachers, talking to bosses, talking to waitstaff and librarians and co-workers. All these manuscripts are stored in the attic of my mind and when we talk I venture up the stairs and choose the one that most closely pertains to you. If you get wily and stray from your lines, well, then the joke's on you because I will trip all the hell over my tongue and mire you in a mess of words that neither of us can save ourselves from.

If I don't play a conversation out in my head before I have it, it's a lost cause. Something as simple as ordering a sandwich can really get weird.

During the pivitol transitions of adolescent life (going from middle school to high school, for example, or from high school to college) I always imagined re-inventing myself as a more open, talkative person. Any one of my current acquaintances can you tell how that worked out; and now, as I look warily toward the Great Transition In The Sky (from college to the real world) I realize it will never happen.

It's sort of a relief knowing I can remain the way I am, knowing that this is the way I operate. When I need to trick people into thinking otherwise, I'll just grab for the right script and give it a whirl. Sometimes it gets weird, but I realize its probably weirdest for me. And I can stand that.

Feb 3, 2009

2/3/2009 - NPR Smackdown

I love when NPR talk show hosts tactfully put down crazy conservative* callers. Below I have completed a rough (at least vaguely accurate, I hope) outline of a conversation that just took place on the daily current-issues talk and call-in show, Talk of the Nation:

Caller Trent: [Yakka Yakka...something to the effect that if we legalize gay marriage one thing will lead to another and soon we'll all be hugging pedophiles]

Host Neal Conan: I see, so you're talking about the slippery slope theory. Though homosexuals are not like pedaphiles.

Trent: Yes, they are.

Neal Conan: No they're not, Trent. But I accept your point. 

Trent got hung up on. The conversation got continued.

Something about this - this little thing devoid of hoopla or fanfare - makes me feel really, really good about the world. No tolerance for the ignorant; civility for all.

* Not all conservatives are crazy, just some; there are probably about as many crazy conservatives as there are crazy liberals. 

Feb 1, 2009

2/1/2009 - Capital H

Humanity looks nice when it's been edited into snippets - the way you do in music videos featuring songs about how We Are One and Love Will Conquer All. Humanity (capital H) looks unique, then; scruffy, perhaps, but kind. Lovable despite the obvious flaws.

But then there's WalMart on Super Bowl Sunday. This is a whole other sort of Humanity. This is a parking lot full of people who have all decided to come together at the same time to buy gross quantities of food. This is ladies with frightening amounts of makeup, pajama-clad college kids with unwashed hair, screaming children around every corner and faintly stomach-turning aromas emanating from unidentified sources. Humanity, then, is not cute; certainly, there is no sense of kinship or We'reAllInThisTogether-ness. 

Maybe from a distance I could take them; distill each one for scrutinization, appreciate them for their kind hearts, their quirky tastes and their quiet demeanors. All together it seems too much, however. I feel immersed and trapped in something giant, swirling and oddly-scented.

2/1/2009 - Betwixt

Shortly after 8:00 a.m. on Friday morning Scott rolled over in bed and wrapped himself around me. My heart simultaneously rose and sank, for there is nothing more wonderful (to say nothing for warm) than being enveloped by your boyfriend's drowsy limbs, and it just so happened that I was sandwiched in by my equally warm and wonderful cat who lay stretched out along my stomach; however, as it was shortly after 8:00 a.m., getting out of bed and preparing for work was a high priority. 

I stayed in bed for as long as I possibly could, then gingerly extracted myself from betwixt my captors and slipped off to shower. I had to pack my breakfast, but I made it to work in time. 

I would give many a thing for every day to begin just that way.