Friday, February 29, 2008

in case of emergency

what a fiasco! oy.

after my usual thursday of working at the magazine, going to school and taking my midterms, i offered to drive my friend and a few other guys from Engineers Without Borders to the airport at 2am to catch their flight to Guatemala. we made pretty good time, and everyone seemed really excited about the trip. hell, i was excited FOR them.

after dropping them off and saying our farewells, i made my way out of O'Hare, slowly, due to the snow that had started to fall. then my phone rang.

"Someone forgot their malaria pills."

CRAP. i turned right back around, and picked him up. he was so sweet and apologetic. now, i'm all for over-apologizing when i think i'm putting someone out, but fer cryin' out loud, YOU NEED YOUR MALARIA PILLS.

it was a long night, but i was more than happy to help out. he'd better not have gotten malaria, damnit.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Guide To Laundry Room Etiquette

Don't touch my stuff. Simple. Don't take my sopping wet laundry out of the washer and place it on TOP of a filthy dryer when my EMPTY laundry basket is sitting DIRECTLY on top of the washer where my clothes were. Do not touch my underthings. That makes me feel gross and weird. If one of my socks or sweaters happens to fall onto the disgusting cement floor, where i'm sure rats fornicate, i will be upset. i will be even MORE upset when i come downstairs, after my allotted hour, to find my wet clothes sitting on a filthy dryer, and one of my socks and sweaters on the disgusting ground next to it. I don't touch your stuff. Even when you leave it in the washer or dryer for DAYS at a time. I don't touch your things because I respect your privacy and your property. You don't know me, and I don't know you, so how can we trust that our hands are clean, let alone our laundry after its been man-handled by God-Knows-Who?


etiquette lesson OVER. harumph.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

the best way to talk without being interrupted

writing. these days, i'm always writing. whether i'm writing for classes, writing for work, writing to loved ones or writing for myself, i'm ALWAYS writing. i'm at my happiest and most frustrated when i'm writing.

so, here i sit, happily frustrated. or maybe frustratedly happy.

when it comes to the process of writing, i understand that it works differently for everyone. some people spend a good deal of time researching a topic, forming an outline, stringing together separate thoughts to form a whole piece. i have friends that simply follow their thoughts like a bread crumb trail until they reach a final conclusive and delectable sandwich of thoughts. there are plenty of other writing rituals, i'm sure, but i still haven't figured out my OWN process and i find that disconcerting.

as far as i know, i just sit at my computer and silently swear at it for a while.

do musicians feel this way? painters? anyone who has a job that requires creativity MUST curse their tools every now and then, i suppose. sometimes, i miss doing theater. i miss being told exactly what to do and say, how to act, what emotions to project and the satisfaction of being a small part of something larger. i envy my theater friends and the community they're a part of. i love watching a show, the camaraderie between performers and their audience. so, why didn't i pursue theater? i think it's because i wanted to take responsibility for my own actions, thoughts and words.

i've spent a good deal of my life blaming circumstances for my shortcomings, which are many. i've been involved in relationships where i could say, "We both screwed it up." i've been in wildly unsuccessful plays where blame gets distributed to actors, tech and audience. of course it isn't healthy to shoulder blame alone, but it also isn't healthy to avoid accountability. writing makes me accountable. frustrated and happy, but accountable. i know i'll look back at this entry and say, "Wow, did that post suck. What the hell was I rambling on about, anyways?" but, i'll look back on it and know that it's MY piece of crap.

writing is lonely, but there's a certain joy in solitude.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

the "i" is imaginary

i had a brief relationship-related chat with a friend today. we discussed her relationship as it existed in the past and present, and i realized that the advice i was giving her was advice i should be taking myself.

i hate when that happens.

after parting ways, i spent some time thinking about how i haven't really been taking care of myself, emotionally. sure, i have an amazing group of friends that i couldn't live without, but they don't make choices for me. i do that. as of late, i haven't been making very good choices, and i think i understand why.

emotional decisions tend to made, well, emotionally. we're inclined to think of our personal issues as nuanced and situation-specific, peppering conversation with phrases like, "Well, it's different for us," or "You don't really know them, so you couldn't understand," or my personal favorite, "He's not really like that." we get defensive. i think it's a natural reaction, but sometimes, not accurate. the "i" is the problem. "i" can't make good decisions because "i" am too close to the situation.

if this were math, "i" wouldn't exist and the equation would be simpler. oh, and there is no spoon.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

chilled moonshine

I'm not referencing raw alcohol. Even if I had any moonshine, I doubt it would warm up my stiff, cold fingertips. I think I have had moonshine before, and all it did was make me ill. Tonight's lack of moonshine, though, is brought to you courtesy of the last lunar eclipse visible to Chicago until 2010. I was on my way to the Adler Planetarium when I looked skyward and saw it: a pristine white disc, overshadowed by a creeping darkness. It was like watching something from a vampire movie. I must have been standing there for a while, because I started to lose the feeling in my feet and fingers.

I didn't make it to the Planetarium.

I made it as far as the Montrose Brown line stop, and realized that I would end up stuck in a subway during the eclipse, most likely arriving in time to miss the whole thing. So, I just stood there, staring at the sky, letting my limbs go numb. It was great. I wondered who else was watching this phenomenom, how it was happening and what it must look like through a giant telescope, which was my main reason for wanting to go to the Planetarium in the first place.

It's two degrees outside. I gazed at the moon long enough to see it get to a full eclipse. It was a long time to be standing motionless outside, but it was worth it, just to remember what 'wonder' feels like.

Monday, February 18, 2008

weather systems

there's always so much to do, so much to think about and so much to explore, i'm beginning to feel exhausted by it all.

i wonder if it might be the weather. i've been through many a bitter chicago winter, always looking forward to wintertime activities, until, that is, i've done them and am left pleading for spring. it's a cycle i've grown familiar with, if not accustomed to. that doesn't mean i like it. i desperately want winter to be over. i want to stop huddling in front of my space heater, wrapped up in twelve layers of clothing, a robe and three blankets. i want to be productive.

but i don't want to be cold.

Friday, February 15, 2008

horrified and disappointed

yesterday: NIU shootings, i witnessed a bank robbery, got trapped on an el car with a crazy man who had first beaten the crap out of another man then wagged his penis in my direction, yelling obscenities, leaving me to cower helplessly in the corner of the train car.

it was also Valentine's Day.
and Oregon's 149th birthday.

i'm confused and upset by these events, but caught myself looking forward to the few days from now when other nasty events will grab my attention, and give me something else to be disappointed in. this is a horrible way to think. an awful way to live. looking forward to the next disaster, so i can get my mind off the recent ones.

while i was watching the report on the school shootings from a television at the diner tonight, the waitress looked at me, clucked her tongue and sadly stated, "People just don't wanna try to be good anymore."

i pondered that phrase all evening, trying to focus on my classes and lectures, but i just couldn't get those words out of my head. "People just don't wanna try to be good anymore." is that true? is it THAT difficult to be civilized? i don't understand. i hope i never do.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

working for peanuts

work? oh, i forgot to tell you. i got a job, but it doesn't pay me. at least, not with money. i get paid in gratitude.
not from them. i'm the grateful one. i'm grateful for the chance to prove that i CAN, in fact, be a productive member of society.

which is, of course, why i'm posting this entry instead of doing the work i need to be doing.

so, when i actually am being productive, it's in an office, where i write for a magazine. that's as detailed as i'm going to get, for now. i'm still slightly afraid that they're going to find out that i'm a talentless hack and have no business in theirs. i'm also afraid that they're going to call my friends and family and everyone i've ever met and invite them to publicly ridicule me while i get fired from my non-paying job in a painfully embarassing way, possibly involving a giant letter "F" painted on my shirt in wite-out. the "F" is for fraud.

it's a slightly different version of a recurring nightmare, but that's for my therapist, not the blogosphere. unless someone would care to discuss it with me for free, that is. i am, after all, working for peanuts and pencil shavings, and who doesn't love peanuts?
oh yes, and gratitude. i'm working for gratitude, and despite my fears, i am very grateful.

i'm at work. i suppose i ought to do some.

Monday, February 11, 2008

ice falling and art

I went ice skating at Millenium Park tonight. It was a hoot and sometimes, a slightly painful holler. I try to go ice skating at least once every winter, if only to remind myself how beautiful Chicago is. It worked. Chicago is gorgeous, and in the dead of winter, full of light and mystery.

I had a really wonderful time, trying to ice skate, but found myself referring to the activity as "ice falling". After my friend and I were tired out, we took a short walk up to The Bean and looked at the wall-sized colored ice sculptures that will be taken down very very soon. It was so inspiring to see art that was so simple and well-thought out. It's been a long time since I've been excited about art.

I'm not much of artist, myself, though I've known a good many people who have dedicated their lives to it. Critiquing artwork has been something that I always find myself doing, even though I don't think my opinions on technique are valid. I tend to look at any given piece and wonder about the artist: what they were thinking, what they were trying to achieve, the feelings that they wanted to pull from people who look at their work and whether or not they're satisfied with the finished product. After viewing the ice sculptures at Millenium Park, I felt confident that the artists were pleased with their work, because I was so pleased with seeing it.

They had taken several sheets of ice, painted them, and put them together as a mosaic, or a sort of icy stained glass window. The beauty behind using ice was that when it melted, parts would break off or fall, creating new dimensions and visual centerpieces. It was so transient, I remember thinking, "Just like the city."

I love my city, and even though I don't ice skate so much as I ice fall, I feel connected to the ice sculptures, knowing that they are also ice, falling.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Say it ain't so!!!

polaroid stopped making instant film? no more cameras? whaaaaaat?

i've been using a polaroid camera since i figured out that my fingers could be used for more than picking my nose. i still own my father's ancient polaroid camera, and i also possess a newer model. the newer one was a present from a dear friend who understood my need for instant-image-gratification. i love the solid "click" and happy whirring of an instant camera, and i feel utter joy when the picture slides out, undeveloped and firm inbetween my fingers. i like shaking it like, well, a polaroid picture.

and now it's over. stupid future.

Friday, February 8, 2008

omigod. this is great.

and now for something completely silly.

who are you callin' cold turkey, huh?

quitting smoking again. again. as in, for the millionth time. this time, it's gonna stick. i'm quitting all my addictions. this week. i think it'll go well. why can't there be cigarette vending machines on the street? i think twenty cancer sticks are just too much. i get a pack, and i'll smoke them all. if i could just go buy ONE, whenever i feel like i'm about to kill someone, that'd be awesome.

quitting "cold turkey" sucks. that phrase sucks, too. it ought to be called, "quitting patience and the ability to be civil." that'd be more accurate.

on the plus side, i totally had a dream about a young christian slater last night. we went out for ice cream. it was nice.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

voting shouldn't have been that difficult.

the next day. the wednesday after power tuesday ought to be called let-down wednesday. or something like that.

i woke up on power tuesday, bright-eyed and excited to exercise my right to vote. man, what a mess. first, i couldn't find my voter registration card.

"I KNOW I got it. I know it. I did it when I changed my address. WTF? Come on, Post Office, you had months to do this. WHERE the hell is it?"

so, i went online, and found a whole new world of frustration.

"What do you mean, I don't exist? I'm right HERE."

so, i looked up my polling place, with the help of my big brother. we found it, and i went.
nope. not there. so, i looked up ANOTHER polling place and went there.
nope again. crap.

i was getting very upset, so i made a last-ditch effort and hit up the last place i voted at, four years ago.

but WHY??? how did that happen? i changed addresses, registered and followed the rules. this shouldn't have been that much of a problem. yet it was. however, our heroine emerged victorious, albeit tired and pissed off. i don't trust the post office anymore.

Monday, February 4, 2008

try, try as i might.

i can't play my guitar. i desperately want to, and i practice everyday, but damnit, i just can't seem to string together the chords i know into something pretty or coherent. if music were food, i'd be making a souffle out of turds. turd souffle. and it wouldn't even rise. gah.

okay, i think my fingertips have stopped tingling. here i go again.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Denial/ Prolonged Truth

I know everyone is watching the Superbowl right now, but I opted to sit at my computer instead. I know I could be at a Superbowl party right now, enjoying junk food and good company, but I decided to quarantine myself because I'm scared. I've been having these fits of honesty, lately. At first, I wasn't sure if I was being selfish by purging secrets despite knowing that feelings would be hurt in the process. Since the onslaught of blunt, unforgiving truths, I've realized that the Truth isn't always the way to go. Sure, it helps communication, but only if both people are ready to communicate.

I was taught, as children are taught, to always tell the truth. ALWAYS. There are no exceptions. Now that I'm older, I feel like I've been lied to. There are reasons to lie, reasons to withold, reasons to evade and hide things from others. Some of those reasons are actually valid. Some of them are not.

What I have decided is that to "come clean" is only good if you're willing to get your hands dirty. I know I'm mixing metaphors, but here's the deal: Once a lie or untruth is excavated, there's a lot of dirt, dust and muck to sift through before the shiny truth can be seen. If you aren't willing to clean it up and wash off the mud, then leave the truth buried and burn the map.

In one case, I'm very glad I 'fessed up. It was absolutely The Right Thing To Do. I'm glad I did it, and I'm glad it's over. In another case, I'm devastated. No, i take that back. I'm actually relieved, and I feel selfish because they weren't ready for the truth. They went digging in a graveyard and got upset when they found a rotting corpse. They weren't ready for the truth, and for that I'm very very sorry. So, I write.

The truth is, I'm writing because I don't really care for football. Sorry to disappoint.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

There's Nothing Better...

than watching one of your friends having the time of their life. Wednesday night was one of the happiest nights of the year for me. My dear friend, Evan Jacover, took the stage at Schubas' to promote the release of his CD, "One Pair of Shoes". Not only is Schubas' my favorite venue in Chicago, but Evan is one of my favorite performers. His music is folksy and fun, clever and catchy, and his performance is always sincere, goofy and oddly intimate. Seriously, this guy could make friends with a rock.

Come to think of it, that's kinda how we met. No, I was never a rock (but if I was, I think I'd be some sort of clastic, like shale or sandstone), but I wasn't out looking for a new friend when I went to one of his shows at Uncommon Ground. I was actually on a date, and we'd gone there to see my friend, Kelly (of Divebar, who also played with Evan on Wednesday) sing backup. I like to hear Kelly sing anytime I can. The lady has a voice sweeter than a marshmallow angel smothered in honey (doesn't that sound good? yeah, so does she). As I sat there, watching and listening to this goofy guy with his guitar, singing about food and candy and math, I felt like I HAD to give him a hug. So, after his show, I did. He gave me a t-shirt. It was nice. Looking back, I realize how awkward that exchange was, but I also know that we're friends now, and it's purely because he knows how to make an audience feel comfortable and appreciated, which is something a lot of great performers lack.

I've been to numerous shows, and I feel that the best shows are like a see-saw, with the artist on one end and the audience on the other, with the music as the board, and the board balanced on a structure of appreciation. Without that appreciation, the board, the audience and the musician are left flat on the ground, with nobody having dangerous playground fun. When everything is in place, though, everybody gets a chance to experience that high and watch others experience it, too.

That's what Evan's show was like. Like a trip to the playground. It was fun. I wish I had a picture to post, but I don't, so I'm just gonna tell you to picture the happiest thing in the world and give it a guitar and a mop of curly brown hair.