Friday, September 26, 2008

What a good time to blog! In the morning!

I'm a total morning person. I forgot that... but give me some expensive, burnty tasting coffee and an hour of free time at my disposal, and it all comes flooding back. Quite obviously, I will proceed to use that extra hour productively.

Yesterday morning, I was reading on the bus (because when you go to work early, you get to sit down and relax instead of standing in stop-and-go Lakeshore traffic for twenty minutes with your armpit in a stranger's face and your canvas tote suffocating a small child or sitting elderly person). Anyway, I'm reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, and right before my bus came to a stop, I read this line - an excerpt from a letter written by one character to another (a friend he's been separated from due to circumstances beyond their control):

I am not meant to be alone and without you who understand.

I won't bore you with the context, but upon reading I ran three blocks to my office, coffee sloshing and scalding and spilling, sat down at my computer and wrote this long, emotionally driven email to some of the people I can't imagine living life without (if you didn't get it, I'm sure it will eventually become a Precious Moments clipart-filled forward you receive on some lazy casual Friday). I think I was in some sort of trance. It was pretty sappy, but completely from the heart (I do not bullshit before 9:00 a.m.). I moved to Chicago with a purpose, and I'm still so completely glad I'm here, but sometimes the idea that I physically extricated myself from the very people I can't live without is baffling to me...

So anyway, there you have it. A beautiful line to reflect on. Give me a few more days, and I'll be off this contemplative kick and onto something more palatable, like turkey burgers.

And now for something completely different...
Do you watch these Target Women videos? You should.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thanks but no thanks on those yogurt coated clusters.

Dear All-Bran Yogurt Bites Cereal,
When I purchased you at Jewel on Monday evening, I forwent my usual box of raisin bran because a) you were on sale and b) your box conspicuously claimed that you contain "Crunchy bran flakes with yogurt coated clusters." However, upon opening said box this morning, I now think a revision is in order. Something to the tune of "Crunchy bran flakes with three yogurt coated clusters," because that is more accurate. I just spent the last ten minutes physically sifting through your flakes with my hands (which is gross, but you drove me to it) in search of additional clusters (none!). Next time I want to buy a box of bran flakes, I'll do just that, which will leave me with enough leftover cash to justify the purchase of [some crappy magazine].


P.S. The sample packet of fiber drink mix you threw in isn't solace enough. It just makes me think of drinking a class of pencil shavings. Nice try though.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're going to try to see it.

A few summers ago... five summers ago to be exact, I stayed in Omaha in between semesters to intern at an ad agency. Because I'm innately shy and pretty severely introverted (I've only recently learned the value of talking to coworkers), I would spend every lunch break in my car, listening to the City Club forum and eating a PBJ, as women from the various banks and other ambiguously corporate entities in the area power walked around me. A few months prior, I'd purchased David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, only to leave it sitting on the shelf where I would visit it from time to time, imagining the day when I would have enough strength to lift it (it weighs as much as a baby or cat) and enthusiasm to read it. So, after chewing to NPR for a few weeks, I decided to tackle the impossible. And every day after that I would read about three pages over the course of an hour, the majority of the time spent trying to find my place again after getting distracted by a bird or a power walker or the booming sounds of Dodge St. construction. To put it lightly, the book is a behemoth. It is long. The print is small. The pages are bible-thin, and it is written in a stream-of-consciousness style that make the thoughts of a five-year-old seem organized and concise. Long story short, I gave it my all... I tried for a month or so. I made a dent, but I never, ever finished it. Since then, I've carted it around to every duplex and city I've moved to, hoping to eventually dive in again. If I'm going to be honest with myself, it probably won't happen, but it's kind of comforting having it nearby. Like knowing there's goodness inside is satisfaction enough...

When I learned that David Foster Wallace had died (a week ago today), I read a little more about him, I stared at the lurking book... and today I found the commencement speech he gave the class of '05 at Kenyon College. I didn't go to Kenyon, but that's my year, my generation, and his speech struck more of a chord than I expected. The power of perspective is immense, and while no one should be OK with mediocrity, everyone should try a little harder to accept what cannot be changed (at least immediately) and turn it into an opportunity for growth. I say everyone... at least I mean me. I don't think life is short (short compared to what?) but it's still not worth wasting the time we do have on bitterness or regret. Enough. Read.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I've never fainted before, but I imagine if one we're going to faint, this is what they would feel like beforehand. I'm trying to keep myself occupied. If for some reason a string of coherent sentences is interrupted by something like this: fdlsafjdklsa fjf;ew9qiru3-qw[ femak, it's because I'm lying face-down on my keyboard.

So I get about 72% of my news from Gawker, 6% from, 8% from the NYT, 5% of my editorialized content from Slate, 9% from assorted blogs and 2% from cereal boxes, containers of Yogurt, the Red Eye and the old man who stands on the corner of Michigan and Chicago yelling about communism. I guess I'd liken my love of Gawker to a gun-toting Republican's love of conservative talk radio. It's preaching to the choir, but it's really good preaching. Anyway, any iota of admiration I had left for Joel Stein (read: jealousy) was wiped away by his LA Times article on Palin, which Gawker speared first. I just echo their sentiments. I'm too tired to set up a link, but it's there...

Update: Last weekend, while out and about with MC, I found a copy of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell nestled among more notable works at a little used bookstore in my neighborhood. I decided to sit on the floor and read some excerpts, and right then and there, I was finished with it forever. It wasn't worth the $6, or the humiliation of the transaction with the cashier... It's just downright horrible, and my standards are ungodly low.

That's all I have for now. Hopefully the weekend will result in a story worth telling. TGIF!

(If you realized that the above percentages add up to 102% like I just did, five minutes later, you win mathematical superiority over me.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

While I'm alive, I'll make changes changes to earth.

Fall will always be hands-down my favorite season. I guess it had a 25% chance of winning out, plus it has my birthday, two pretty decent holidays, etc. But still. But STILL. It’s the only season that simultaneously renews my enthusiasm from where I am and makes me miss the places I’ve been. It’s three months of sensory overload, and I am in it for the long haul. I had no urgent tasks to accomplish over lunch today, but I made myself leave… even in the elevator I got nervous about the uncertainty of a pointless lunch break. Determined not to end up perusing Walgreens for an hour, I proceeded to wander, my biggest purchase/accomplishment being a small soda from Flat Sammies. I managed to come back feeling refreshed.

I kind of fell off the 826 wagon after moving to Lakeview, mostly because I lazily let time pass, and the distance to Wicker Park seemed too far, and then I just started to feel guilty. Blowing small situations out of proportion comes pretty easy for me, and I began to assume that after a prolonged absence, they wouldn’t want me back. After all, volunteers are a dime a dozen, and I imagine they may be upset that I borrowed a few books and then conveniently dropped off the face of the earth. Regardless, I’m going back… I have a TA meeting tonight and a workshop to man on Saturday. We are rewriting the endings to fairy tales. I am excited.

The theme in my head seems to be travel, for two reasons. Jo returned from India last weekend and came over last night to show me pictures of her travels. What a beautiful place. Having never been to India, only about half of the pictures looked like the India I envision – all Darjeeling Limited and monkey thieves. The other half exhibited a surprisingly varied terrain. If you’d thrown in a guy wearing rope sandals and smoking weed out of an empty bottle of Fat Tire, I would’ve sworn it was Colorado. Anyway, by the time she left, my desire to travel (which has never really been satisfied or even taunted) sort of overwhelmed me, and I made myself go to bed. And then I dreamt that I was robbed by monkeys.

Second, and more importantly perhaps, my sister leaves tomorrow for 14 months in Honduras, where she will live at an orphanage, teach children, do some social work, etc. And I only ask two things of her: That she change the world (not save it, mind you, just change it) and bring me an orphan of her choosing. But in all seriousness, and not to make this blog completely family-centric, I’m so ridiculously proud of her. If anyone’s truly carrying on my dad’s legacy at this point in time, it’s MC. I’d like to think that I will follow suit in some way… I really have to if I don’t want to eventually be eaten alive but thoughts of what I’d rather be doing. But in the meantime, I wish her well. Assuming that she doesn’t even read this, an open message to Mary Clare or anyone else leaving tomorrow for 14 months in Honduras:

I’m going to miss you so much it makes me want to crawl into a closet and eat a box of Reduced Fat Wheat Thins. Can’t wait to visit you (it will be just like DR ’07, only with more guaguas and public urination).

Here is a Frightened Rabbit song that makes me think of you, not because you’ve ever heard it before, but because it more or less summarizes a pretty vital life philosophy:

And here is some Daddy Yankee:

Safe travels. Te quiero.

Friday, September 05, 2008

It rained all day yesterday. The entire day. Bus stop to bus stop, sleep to sleep, etc. And it's funny how soon people forget that just a few short months ago, we were trudging over ice and through snow without batting an eyelash. We were nursing bruises, frostbite and crippling cases of SAD, but we carried on with our sanity generally intact. Now, after a summer of decent weather and consistently clear skies, 24 hours of rain results in a state similar to marshall law. Every conversation came back to it... Walgreens made a mint off of it (I stopped in to make my daily purchase of hair elastics and cheap mascara and found a long line of disaffected tourists waiting to buy overpriced umbrellas)... Plans were canceled and shoes were ruined. I stepped outside at the end of the day with an fairly important decision to make:

Take a train and a bus to Bucktown to go to the gym
Pro: Healthy, etc.
Con: Rain

Take the express bus home, drink a beer and watch The Bucket List
Pro: See above
Con: N/A

Will leave it up to you to decide which option I chose.


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