Tuesday, May 29, 2007

18 millionth new favorite website


I watched two videos and both blew my mind.

Cute song with art by same dude, "I Wanna Be Famous."

Monday, May 28, 2007

Music to my ears

I was just walking back from lunch, and I saw a family walking toward me. Mother, father, two very young children in a double-wide stroller. The little girl on the left, about three years old, was singing, "Shot through the heart, and you're too late!" Yep, that's my kinda little girl.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

It's o-fish-o at last

Remember I said I was distracted by something going on in my life so I didn't have the energy to write very much? I can finally tell you why.

We're moving August 1 to St. Augustine, Florida.

It's been a big secret because I didn't want to jeopardize my current job or make any waves until things were more settled. Well, my boss finally knows. It's all complicated how it worked out, but I literally said to her, "I've been holding my cards pretty close to my chest; are you ready for me to lay the whole truth on the table?" She said yes. And she was actually relieved that my suspicious behavior wasn't her or the department's fault, just a quirk of fate that Team Wy is leaving Chicago.

I'm scared. I already love St. Augustine, but it's a town of only 15,000 people. Chicago? Over two million. Sure I've lived other places that were smaller than Chicago, but I consider Chicago my adult home. I was a child in Kentucky, but I came to Chicago straight from my undergraduate degree and really grew up here. I learned to be an adult in Chicago, and this city is a big part of my adult identity.

If I felt like it, I could get Korean barbecue at 2 am here. In St. Augustine, the bars close at 1 am. Granted, I rarely stay out until 1 am, I've never actually gotten Korean barbecue at 2 am, but there's lots of things in Chicago I do often that I won't have there.

Really, it's the museums I'll miss. It's the sidewalks downtown full of people rushing to eat lunch in their hour break. It's the fashionable ladies, the radio stations that always know what I want to hear, the ethnic neighborhoods that take me to different countries without going more than five miles from my home. It's the anonymity. Knowing I'll never see someone again so I can create my personality however I want for those five minutes we interact. It's the smelly subway system that can take me to two airports from which I can go anywhere in the world.

It's my friends, my community, my source of inspiration.

But I'm ready for a smaller town. I'm actually quite tired of how difficult it is to live in Chicago. It's epic to go to the grocery store, where it's crowded and understocked. What I dislike most about Chicago is that everything is so used. Everything's been walked on or touched by countless people. Nothing is fresh. No matter how many power washers and street sweepers the city employs, nothing is new. My seat on the train? Has it been peed on recently? The door handle coming into work? At least 3000 other people touched it this morning. The bathroom at my favorite Indian restaurant? No one has cleaned the walls in a dog's age.

The last time I visited St. Augustine, at a bar my friend told me, "The bathrooms are pretty questionable here." I laughed. It was cleaner than any bar I've ever been to in Chicago.

And that's what I want. A new place, a clean place, a beautiful historic place, a small place, a new community, a new way of gardening, a new ecosystem. And I'm getting that.

But I'm still too busy to blog much as we prepare for the move. Sorry about that. Soon I'll be back from my mental distraction. I'm thinking of you often, though I write too little.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Lessons in love, via e-mail

I received this quote via e-mail subscription service this morning:

"The hardest-learned lesson: that people have only their kind of love to
give, not our kind. -Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983)"

I felt illuminated reading that. I wasn't easy to love this weekend (not that I often am). Bristly and withdrawn, I cursed at old ladies in parking lots and loudly criticized a father's parenting skills inside a computer store. Matthew asked me, "Please don't be so angry any more." It required frozen custard to soothe my prickly soul.

But love. It's true about loving someone. Though I've been with my husband ten years, I never would have understood McLaughlin's quote before. I love, but not always the way I want to give my husband love.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Put a bandaid over my mouth

I overlook the glaring gaps in my personality. It’s my warped self-perception mirror—everyone has one—but sometimes a moment of brightness illuminates the rusted spot and I see the flaw for what it authentically is: an accident in my personality.

My friend at work just told me, “I wore a bandaid on my face and no one said anything to me about it. You know why? It was a Thursday and you weren’t here.” She was teasing me, pointing out that I point out the obvious, but it was true. If I had been there, I definitely would have asked about the bandaid.

“But I do it out of love!” I called after her.

“I know you do, and it’s out of love that I tell you that you do it,” she replied.

It’s true that if I inquired about the bandaid on her face I would really mean, “Are you hurt?” I wonder if I say it that way though? I think I do. And my friend, saying she tells me what I do out of love, I think that’s her way of saying, “I wouldn’t tease you to your face if I actually thought you were a jerk.” And she’s right. Who but the most unloving would point out someone’s flaws in a jeering way?

I think “accident” is the perfect word for gaps in my civility because they’re unintentional. They just blossom like sprongy moss in the dark corners, sending out spores. The spores populate in my mouth and exhale, “What’s that bandaid on your face?” It’s completely unconscious. I’m not aware of the annoying statement of the obvious mold, it just happens sometime. I like to think I’m naïve, not willfully stupid.

I prevented a crash of word mold onto someone’s shoes just a few weeks ago, and I was proud of myself for being mature.

I stepped into the elevator, and there was already a man riding in the car. I’m always curious about the people in my building and what offices they work in, so I gave him a casual lookover. Honestly, he was one of the best-dressed men I’ve ever seen. His suit was cut of smooth cloth so exquisitely—like nothing I’ll ever afford—and he looked crisp and perfect. I started at the collar of his shirt, looked at the perfect drape of his shoulders, the fall of his waist, and the delicately diveted cuff of his trousers --- and then his shoes.

His shoes were equally perfect in appropriateness to his suit, but they were the largest shoes I’d ever seen. The man stood quite petite, not much taller than my 5 foot 2, but his feet were of an extraordinary length. The shoes must have been custom made, or else I couldn’t imagine how any shoe would ever fit those long, thin, narrow feet.

My thoughts raced frenetically over the accidental words I wanted to say, “Those shoes must be custom!” “You have the biggest feet I’ve ever seen!” “I love your suit!” “How can you walk with those giant feet???”

And … I said nothing. I thought, “Remember how much it hurt all through childhood, every day of your life, when you tried to shrink and not get noticed, praying that this would be the day that no one looked at you and made fun of your huge nose? Remember that feeling of dread? Remember the horror of being physically different? That guy went through it too. That guy’s big nose is his big feet. He’s heard everything you could possibly say, and all you could possibly do is hurt him and remind him of every time he was teased for his giant feet.”

And … I said nothing. The light of self-perception opened, and I held in the accidental spores of incivility. I looked back up to his face, into his eyes, and smiled, sincerely.

I’ve always regretted that I didn’t tell him I loved his suit. And that I didn't point and say, "I have a big nose."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Floridian foliage

I just went to Florida to visit a friend for a weekend. We had a fab time, and I got to meet all her friends and rock out with them. But what really slayed me was the Florida flowers.

These photos were taken in Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory:

In Florida, they were growing like gangbusters in everyone's front yards. My friend didn't notice this as exceptional, but I wouldn't shut up about it (surprised, I know). I kept pointing, "Look, look! I totally just saw that in the botanical garden!"

My friend said, "Oh, hmm." Eventually she warmed up to my enthusiasm and just laughed at my awe over Floridian flora.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Killer inside me

It seems like it's been a lifetime, but, ten years ago, my last college roommate was asked to make a cup that you couldn’t drink from as an assignment for her ceramics class. She started out with slabs and made a triangular wedge instead of a round cup. She put a crooked base on it and poked holes in the bottom so liquid would run through. Now, here’s the oddest part of the piece, she put multi-level wedged spikes all around the “mouth” of the cup. My roommate crafted a seriously intimidating undrinkable cup—maximum security all the way around the brim.

I saw it, and I asked, “What is that thing?”

She explained the assignment to me. Then she said, “The funny thing is that the cup is supposed to be a metaphor for sexuality.”

I gaped. I had never seen my roommate more aptly symbolized ever. She was bristly, topsy-turvy, and odd-ball, but those were the same qualities that made her friends love her.

At the end of the semester, the professor said it was his custom to keep one object from every one of his students. He irked me at the time, but my grown-up mind has decided it was to prepare budding professional artists for giving up what they loved to their buyers and galleries. He chose my roommate's undrinkable cup. They even argued over it, saying how important it was for her to keep it, but in the end she surrendered it to him

The undrinkable cup took up huge residence in my mind, spreading out and resonating over the years. At odd moments I find myself imagining my own undrinkable cup, and what it says about me at the time.

Today I had a vision of my undrinkable cup. A replica of a Greek wine goblet, on a tall spindle with a large, wide dish and handles at either side. The Greeks decorated the interior of their wine cups with heroic or erotic images. One image was Hercules striking down the Amazon Queen by thrusting his spear through her breast, straight into her nipple. I always hated that image, and it made me want to cry when I studied it in art history. But my undrinkable cup, my Greek wine goblet, The Amazon Queen towers over Hercules and pinions him through the loins. Holes on either side of the image would drain the wine, so no one could obscure the power of the Amazon Queen.

My vagina is killer.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Apple Green -- ha ha ha ha hah!

You Are Apple Green

You are almost super-humanly upbeat. You have a very positive energy that surrounds you.

And while you are happy go lucky, you're also charmingly assertive.

You get what you want, even if you have to persuade those against you to see things your way.

Reflective and thoughtful, you know yourself well - and you know that you want out of life.

#1 is the most inaccurate, stupid thing I've ever heard to describe me.
#3, "get what I want"? Sure, I get what I want, because I take a birdshot approach to life and something I like is gonna make contact.
#4 if by knowing myself well means I know I am not upbeat but uptight, wound-up, and neurotic.

Although I do love green apple flavor candy. Yum!

My Odessey

I’m feeling my Odysseus today. Remember that scene where the crew gets stuck in Polyphemus’ cave? I feel kinda like that today. Like I might get eaten. I totally want to tie myself to the belly of the cyclops’ sheep and sneak my way out of the cavern. I know I’d make it.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sorry Team Christine's Angels

You regulars may have noticed I'm writing slower than usual. I'm on a little mental hiatus while my brain adjusts to some new things. I'll come back with more tales of karaoke and bad lyrics, don't you fret. And in a couple-few months (that's how real Chicagoans say it) I'll explain what all the psychological hub-bub is about. In the meantime, I'm thinking about you and taking notes on what I want to say in the future.

More hair failures

Martha Plimpton was like IT after “The Goonies,” right? She was everywhere and in everything in the 80’s, and lord god did I want to be her. She was a pre-teen superhero of my desperate aspiration.

She had those short pixie cuts that I think she’s reverted back to after experimentation with Drew Barrymore locks. My mom chose my haircuts when I was a kid, and she chose the pixie cut for me several times in grade school. Atrocious. They never came out right and they hurt my already negative social status something fierce. I was lower than zero.

I remember that once my mom took us to JC Penny’s for a hair cut, trying to be thrifty, and my haircut came out so butchered that my mom had to surrender and take us back to the more expensive salon to fix my hair. Random bits stuck out all over the place. I shudder just remembering how much I was taunted for that hideous haircut. And in retrospect it wouldn’t have been so hard to fix if anyone I saw had had any skill.

I tried to Martha Plimpton it anyway. I remember seeing her in a magazine at my friend’s house, and Martha had her pixie cut parted on the right side of her head so far the line was practically drawn just over her right ear. I wanted that. I wanted to turn that bad haircut into Hollywood 80’s glam. So I tried it.

I used a similar method as the basketball hair umbrella incident. I parted my hair all the way on the right, bent over sideways to the left, and slimed half a mousse bottle over the exterior of the part to get it nice and flat.

I had the good fortune to try my new method on a weekend and wear it to my friend’s house. She asked, “What are you trying to do to your hair?” But she wasn’t actually that mean about it.

“I’m trying to look like that girl from “The Goonies.”

“Oh. It looks kinda funny.”

In the Kentucky summer heat, my coiffed hair melted under the noon sunlight. Slowly, the forced over fronds drooped to the right. It was like an ugly peacock unfolding gradually on the right side. Every so often, a layer of hair would break free and drift down by gravity’s pull to where it naturally belonged. Onion skin by onion skin, the stinky stuff fanned over, so that I had a small bush on the right side of my head and my regular flat hair on the left.

It’s a shame I didn’t have Martha Plimpton’s Hollywood stylist. I could have looked kinda cool. If you could have overlooked everything else about me that was totally lame in grade school.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"My momma told me not to use it!"

My mom didn’t teach me how to style my hair when I was in middle school. She never taught me how to style my hair at all, actually. She’s going to hate this, but I still have a tiny little half-ounce of resentment toward her inside me.

All my middle school friends seemed to have such magically perfect hair while I struggled to get my annoyingly plain, straight hair to do anything cool. My mom told me, “I would have given anything to have straight hair like yours instead of curly. I used to iron my hair flat.” My mom was into sunny-side-of-life morale boosters more than practical advice.

I tried replicating my friends’ magnificent hair on my own. And did a horrible job at it. I used half a can of Aquanet per application, but still my hair fell flat and lame. How did the other girls manage to look so chic? (If by “chic” I reinterpret hair history as being redneck Kentucky fashion with huge bangs and wavy, poofy long bits.) Mine was limp, flat, dull.

My bleakest memory of hair disaster happened during a middle school basketball game. My first boyfriend was going to be there, and I wanted desperately to impress him with perfect, magnificent hair. I prepped for hours before the big event. My method: I flipped my head upside down and sprayed my hair on the bottom with a liquid pint of Aquanet. I stayed that way while it dried. I waited, blood pounding in my ears, until at last the foundation layer had dried. I then sprayed another pint of Aquanet shellac over that. It took forever to dry.

At last I flipped my head up, and there, I had it, full hair with body. What was actually happening, however, was an umbrella effect. The rigid frame of plastered hair on the bottom was supporting my stalk-straight hair on top into and outward fan. That was good enough for me.

I arrived at the game, and my girl-rival who was after my boyfriend sneered nastily, “How’d you get your hair to do that?”

I answered, “It took an hour to do so don’t touch it.” I didn’t know she was insulting the umbrella-ness of my hair. And it turned out that gallons of Aquanet and basketball just don’t mix.

As I played and got sweaty, the hairspray goo re-liquefied and crept down my neck in sticky trickles. I swiped my neck with my hands, leaving them flaky and sticky, which should have helped my mad basketball skills except that I was the world’s crappiest pre-teen player ever.

The umbrella hair system broke down as the Aquanet dissolved. I ended up with spikes of hair frames separating from one another and creating gaps in between the hair armatures. The previously fanned, unsprayed hair slipped into the cracks of the fan, and I was left with straight hair flowing in between hair-sticks of shellacked do sticking at 90 degree angles from the bottom of my scalp.

Can you envision that? I only sprayed the underside of my hair, remember? It was beyond hideous and profoundly embarrassing. It really looked like a sprung umbrella sticking out from my flat hair. I made another player give me a rubber band for my hair, but the rigid bits were not really cooperating with going into the ponytail, while the limp bits seemed to be surrendering from apathy. I could hear the stiff bits crackling as they snapped in halves and folded into my ponytail. Now I had broken umbrella arms sticking out from a limp tail.

After the game, the rival sneered at me again, “What happened to your hair, Christine?” I finally knew I was being insulted, and I wished to fall into a pit in the basketball court and disappear forever. Of course, I was never that lucky, and instead I had to sit with them in shame while they sniggered at my miserable hair.

It’s ultimately for the best that I couldn’t style my hair; I don’t have any of the embarrassing middle school photos that could have haunted me. Instead I have emotional scars but great, timeless photos. I’ll settle for that.