Friday, December 29, 2006

Sky High-atus

I wrote these journal entries during my trip to visit my sister and her betrothed in Cincinnati the week before Christmas. I thought it would be an easy way to work myself back into the habit of posting in this journal regularly. The personal journal entries end abruptly, so don't expect some grand objective/retrospective look at the totality of my stay in Cinci. I actually started writing what I think may be my first novel in the middle of my regular day-to-day journaling.


As I make my descent into Cincinnati's Lunkin Airport from a tiny little prop plane, I'm reminded of why I'm so attracted to the water. From ten thousand feet above land, everything that's paved or settled looks so linear--just a bunch of interlocking pieces of nature, tiny terrariums subdivided and demarcated like dioramas by men. But the bodies of water are different. They are awkward and unruly, curved and seductive, rippling and sparkling circles amidst an otherwise stoic and rectangular landscape of olive drab and brown.

The water appears in different shades, the deeper, the darker; the rougher, the whiter. I'm the only passenger on this plane and I feel like a celebrity. The captain says "ma'am" to me in a slow drawl over the intercom in the cockpit. The flight attendant, Debra, offers me a sundry assortment of food and beverage, but I decline. It's only an hour trip.

I wonder what her story is as I see her black trunk shift under her seat as we make a smooth landing. Stickers from London, Vancouver, and Honolulu grace its weathered skin. She is wearing a white turtleneck and glasses like mine. I imagine that she and the steady, long-legged pilot are lovers.

To save my ears from the uneven pressure in the noisy cabin, I'm chewing a folded-up drinking straw that my friend Cory playfully presented to me two nights ago. I'm fairly positive that I left my pack of chewing gum on the living room floor before I left this morning.

I laugh audibly at a particular house, surrounded by a white picket fence that is clearly askew from up here. I can see all of your imperfections, suburbia. And they are much more calculated and precisely awry from up here. Height--distance--is a truly great objectifyer.


First day in Cincinnati felt a little bit like a homecoming, only the kind of homecoming where it's the people who are familiar while the setting stays foreign. Down here I get overly excited when I see restaurants or stores or streets that I remember from prior visits.

Yesterday we shopped for hours and Natalie spent a record $22.00 at the Dollar Store. We bought some fabulous puzzles, one with a mythical beast fight scene that looks something like this:


Unfortunately, this gift is being forfeited to the family "Yankee Swap." I'll have to beat up my kin for it, I suppose. [Update: My cousin Derek has since won the puzzle. We all assembled it on Christmas day and I will add a picture of us with it. It's fab] Anyway, we assembled a 100 piece winter-scape puzzle and started a tragically obnoxious train puzzle (500 pieces and just as many similar shades of green to contend with!) We drank champagne (good stuff, from Michigan I reckon) and then went with Seth to eat Mediterranean at a swanky place called Andy's. Delicious, delicious! We destroyed a sampler platter filled with tabouli, hummus, baba, and ludmeh (?) (I'm also definitely destroying the spelling of these names, I'm sure.) I ordered fattoush, and it was the best I've ever had in my life (don't tell the Vajskops!)

After dinner was the Over the Rhine Christmas Concert with friends Christie and David--charming folks. Christie is a truly earnest and friendly girl in an adorable tweed cap, boyfriend David snaps unlimited candid photos on his miniscule digital camera. He wears a corduroy vest that's a size too small over a boyish striped rugby.

Just passed a place called "Unicorn Miniatures!"
Must go tomorrow!

?/12/06 I don't know the date

Today saw bumper sticker: "Your child is a Honor Student, Mine is a Marine." Get it? "A" Honor Student? How about "An" Honor Student? Sounds like that Marine's parents are on board the Ship of Fools.

I can't concentrate on anything in this coffee shop. There are two college-age kids in jeans and button-down shirts, with hip haircuts, who sat down and immediately began talking "business" which apparently translates to pretentious dissertation of the latest James Bond movie.

Now they're debating which Bond girl is the hottest. They're actually quite eloquent. I like the curly-haired one's Pumas.

This place is charming, but not too charming.

Now they're discussing the finer points of the VHS-DVD conflict. Part of me wants to jump in and say something clever about how the gentle hum of the spinning heads of a VCR help soothe me to sleep. I'll win them over, they'll ask me to co me out with them tonight for an art film and a beer, and then I'll decline and let them in on my "out-of-towner" secret.

The folks at this place roast their own coffee daily and it's very rich and bold, but never burnt. Today I'm drinking Guatemalan. I'm allowed one free refill. I'm a sucker not to take it.

Everyone who works here is hip--pierced, tattooed, vintage. The clientele doesn't seem to mind with their bifocals and their sweater vests and moth-eaten age. I think there's an English professor one table beyond the film geeks. He's wearing denim, clicking away diligently on his slim Sony laptop, glancing occasionally over his cluttered array of textbooks, one of which is the "Best American Essays of 2004." I imagine that he is a creative writing professor and that no one in his class gets anything higher than a "B+." He's saving his "A's" for the next O. Henry or O'Connor. I should pass this journal to him so he could...(insert self-deprecating comment here.) =) [Edit: That smiley face is upright in my journal.]

P.S. The Mocha Java is great!

On the next page, I began writing my novel.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Pointy Bangs

I've been studying pictures of TomKat's Baby Suri for a few weeks now, and I finally realize what it is that's freaking me out about the thing. She looks like a miniature Liza Minelli. Don't question me on this one. Just check out the evidence:

That is all....Jazz hands!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Seasonal Mix

I'm one song away from completing this year's Fall Mix CD. I'm putting a draft of it up here, and I'll add my "liner notes" later on. You'll notice a severe lack of female representation on this one. Originally, I had some tracks from Joni Mitchell, Loretta Lynn, and the Indigo Girls on here. Unfortunately, they got crossed off (and so did a large number of perfectly qualified men.)

Right now I should be writing my Odyssey paper. I'll do it after this, I swear.

The final track is a song called "Saffron" by a local band (made up of some mates of mine) named Return of Simple. They play piano-driven pop/rock with really smart, introspective lyrics. I don't yet have their new album, but I'm seeing them play at Wilbert's downtown, so I'll pick up a copy there.

Here's the list:

1. Beck--Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes (from the Eternal Sunshine soundtrack. This movie, and this song always remind me of the fall.)

2. Cat Stevens--The Wind.

3. The Raconteurs--Steady as She Goes (acoustic version.) I know it's a pretty well-known pop song, but it felt good here and I like the unplugged version very much.

4. The Shins--Gone for Good. Again, another fairly well-known tune, but I dig it. It's a song about a transitional time and there's really nothing quite as transitional as the fall.

5. Simon & Garfunkel--Old Friends. I wanted an S&G song and it took me forever to decide which one was the most appropriate. Again here, I've included a song that lyrically speaks to the theme of change.

6. Sufjan Stevens--Romulus.

7. Iain Archer--Canal Song (End of Sentence).

8. The Decemberists--My Mother Was a Chinese Trapeze Artist. I may still strike this.

9. The Walkmen--Another One Goes By.

10. Billy Bragg & Wilco--Remember the Mountain Bed.

11. The Long Winters--Ultimatum.

12. Bob Dylan--I Want You.

13. Elliot Smith--Needle in the Hay.

14. Jolie Holland--Ghost Waltz. The only girl!

15. Ryan Adams--My Winding Wheel.

16. Iron & Wine--Naked as We Came.

17. Wilco--Say You Miss Me.

I think I just realized that Wilco is my favorite band. I was never able to answer that question before. My favorite solo artist has been Ellis Paul for the past five years or so. But I've always answered "early Police" when people asked me my favorite band.

My favorite band is Wilco. Just FYI.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Cake Mistake

Last night after a family friend's wedding, my mother told me of a ridiculously silly old wedding superstition that she learned in her youth.

When the wedding cake is cut and passed out in a wrapper or napkin for guests to take home, you're supposed to put your piece of wrapped cake under your pillow. Then, whoever you dream of in the middle of the night is allegedly the man who you're supposed to marry.

I did this, mostly as an experiment in absurdity.

I remembered my dream this morning. I had a foggy/unclear dream mainly involving one of my best guy friends. He's gay.

This is just like Prom.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Books Are [In] My Bag

Today I visited Berea Library's "Friends of the Library" book sale. It was one of those rare dealies where they hand you a paper grocery bag upon entry and whatever you can fit in it, you get to take home for a mere dollar.

Days like these remind me why I should probably try to stay alive.

I thought I'd create a post detailing the many gems that I snatched up today. The sale seemed pretty picked-over, but I was able to procure a great deal of decent (and some indecent) literature. I also found a few prize CDs. Here's the grand list:

1) Dante's The Divine Comedy. A paperback prose translation by H.R. Huse, Copyright 1954. I have a copy of this'n already, but I really liked the annotations in this one. It has a lot of personality and really sweet cover art. Pitchforks a-plenty!

2) Maurice Sendak's Higglety-Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life, Paperback Copyright 1967. In this "children's" book, the hero of the story, a mutt named Jennie, renounces her possessions and goes on a journey to discover the meaning of life. Heavy, man.

3) Bob Colacello's Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up, Hardcover Copyright 1990. This actually doesn't look that great, but having a Warhol book on my shelf couldn't hurt.

4) Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.'s God bless you, Mr. Rosewater, Paperback Copyright 1965. I haven't read this and I'm genuinely excited about doing so.

5) Anne M. Raso's New Kids on the Block, Paperback Copyright 1989. Yea, it's an NKOTB classic with "fabulous photos inside" AKA pop trash!

6) Frank S. Caprio M.D.'s The Sexually Adequate Male, Paperback Copyright 1952. It's got case histories about impotence! Sold!

7) A gift for James. Secrets!

8) David C. Cooke's Better Bowling For Boys, Hardcover Copyright 1963. This book was owned by someone named "Nikki" who wrote his/her name on the inside cover. I always thought Nikki was a girl's name. This made it okay for me to buy a book explicitly targeted toward boys.

9) Jeremy Daldry's The Teenage Guy's Survival Guide: the real deal on girls, growing up, and other guy stuff, Paperback Copyright 1999. The irony of books with titles like these is that if you're a guy and you're caught reading them, it's probably less likely that you're going to survive a severe ass-kicking. This fascinates me so I grabbed it. My favorite section of the book is in chapter two (Surviving All the Changes in Your Body.) It's called "Plumbing (Masturbation, Wet Dreams)" and it's just after "Greasy Hair" and "Being Stinky." Awesome.

10) Munro Leaf's El Cuento de Ferdinando, Hardcover Copyright 1962. The original English translation of this children's book is Ferdinand the Bull. It's one of my dad's favorite stories, so now I can torment him by dangling a version that he can't understand in front of his face.

11) Ben Franklin's Wit & Wisdom, Hardcover Copyright ? This book is lame. It's basically a collection of witticisms from the Poor Richard's Almanack. I like Ben Franklin so I picked it up. Whatever.

12) John Osborne's Look Back in Anger Paperback Copyright 1974. One of only two plays that I got. I've never read this one and I should.

13) Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman Hardcover Copyright 1949. My favorite play! I was lucky to find it because it was mistakenly categorized as "Horror and Science Fiction." Ha.

14) The Pocket Book of O. Henry Stories Paperpack Copyright 1948. I haven't read O. Henry in a long time. I used to really admire him. Now I can revisit whenever I want to.

15) The Jesus And Mary Chain Hate Rock 'N' Roll (1995.) A CD.

16) Spike Jonze's Adaptation (2003.) VHS. Every time I go to a library sale or to Blockbuster, there's a dirt-cheap copy of this movie. I even saw a bunch of them at Marc's one day. I'm taking this as a sign. I really liked Adaptation and it was free today so I might as well own it.

17) J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey Paperback Copyright 1961. This was the prize of the afternoon. I am happy and incredibly psyched to read this one.

18) John Beecroft's Kipling: A Selection of His Stories and Poems Vol II Hardcover Copyright 1956. I always liked Kipling.

19) William Faulkner's The Faulkner Reader Hardcover Copyright 1954. He writes his own foreword in this sucka'.

20) Darby Conley's The Get Fuzzy Experience Paperback Copyright 2003. I can't believe this didn't sell before I got to it. What a score! Get Fuzzy is fantastic.

21) Grace Catalano's New Kids on the Block Paperback Copyright 1989. Ideally, I would have found two NKOTB books from different stages in their career. Oh well. You work with what you've got.

22) Sol Gordon Ph.D.'s How Can You Tell If You're Really In Love? Paperback Copyright 2001. This book looks as though it was never opened and it still has a Borders price tag on the back. This is the same author who wrote the book Why Love is not Enough.

23) Denise Johnston (ed)'s Cats, Cats, Cats--I Love Them All Paperback Copyright 1987. This is a sort of animal rights book, but the title just kills me. Don't kill the cats though,or Denise Johnston will find you and own your face.

24) Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Hardcover Copyright 1943. Good times.

25) Moulin Rouge OST (2001). A CD. I like the soundtrack better than the movie.

26) Shawn Colvin's Whole New You (2001). A CD. Go, Shawn Colvin. I'm a folk nerd.

27) Cornershop's When I Was Born For the 7th Time (1997). CD. Track 2 = Brimful of Asha. Oh yea.

28) PUSA's Self-Titled Album (1995). I lost my copy of this years ago. Everyone had this sucka back in the day. Now I've got it again, and it's just about as scratched up as my original copy would be by this time.

29) Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, April 2000. This is really lame. I just picked it up because it was on a "free"table and it's almost Halloween so I guess I have a sweeter spot for Hitchcock these days.

I also got five free vinyl records and I made friends with two gentlemen in the record room. We exchanged trivia about the Captain & Tenille. It was swell.

Enough literature. I'm going to study math now. Eesh.

Monday, October 9, 2006

A light is waiting

I realized today that Full House is absolute crap.

It's not even bad enough to be good. What was I thinking?

This is possibly one of the worst sitcoms ever created.

I can't say much more right now. I'll come back with some worthwhile analysis later on. But for now, this revelation alone is blogworthy.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Strangers in the Stacks

I have a collector's nature. I keep things in plastic, I leave tags on, I save heaps of ticket stubs and theater programs, I have four closets, etc. I also revisit things. There are some books I've read at least five times, and some movies I've seen at least forty.

I also have this thing where I collect people. This man I met at a pet store when I was twelve, a girl named Amy who indexed her poems as she wrote them in the back of a lined leatherbound notebook every Thursday at Arabica in Pleasant Valley. Mark, a stocky kid with thick glasses who was hypnotized at an orientation program my freshman year and who I've been secretly observing ever since.

And today I thought of a gentleman I met at the Brecksville Library in the middle of the summer, one night after work whilst I was picking up a few essentials. Here is a transcript from my other blog giving a detail of what occurred:

I was browsing through the movies, just looking for some new films to watch because I realized I was going to have more time at home this weekend and I always like to be well-versed when it comes to cinema. I picked up a few movies and went to stand in line at the check-out. There was some sort of altercation. A woman and her two girls were having a battle of wits over whether or not their copy of "Madeline" was in fact overdue, since they had allegedly just turned it in tonight. They were arguing for a good two minutes when I started to get antsy. Now normally, I'm such an impatient person that I wouldn't hesitate to just reshelve the movies and come back another time but just as my weight began to shift away from the counter, a voice distracted me from my nervousness. "I'm sorry but I can't help noticing--are those shoes in reference to the film, "Me and you..." "Me and You and Everyone We Know? Yes they are!" I interrupted him excitedly, pleased to death that somebody had actually picked up on my reference. See, several years ago at Marc's I found a pair of flat-soled brown corduroy tennis shoes for a few dollars. I bought them, wore them a few times, but then inevitably another pair of hot new tennis shoes took their place and my brown cords got stuffed in the back of the closet. This year, however, I began wearing these shoes religiously. My wardrobe has grown to be overwhelmingly brown so they're practically essential these days. In the movie, "Me and You and Everyone We Know," the main character is a kind of performance artist. She's an intense romantic, almost to a fault. When a charming and mysterious department store shoe salesman encourages her to buy a pair of pink flats, she does, and creates a moving artwork by writing "Me" on one shoe and "You" on the other and then films her feet from above, gently caressing each other. It really is a beautiful moment in a cleverly-crafted film. So I expressed my excitement to this strange man with the well-kept gray hair, thinning, but appearing to be quite soft and smooth. It had the appearance of being pressed flat and then shaken out, which made sense to me after I noticed the shiny, sleek motorcycle helmet nestled under his left arm. In his right hand, he held a copy of the Robert Duvall film "The Apostle." I mentioned that it was an interesting choice and he explained to me that it was a revisit because he had recommended it to a friend and remembered how great it was. I thought I was the only person to frequent the library and check out films that I've already seen multiple times. We chatted. We chatted about "Me and You and Everyone We Know" and about how we weren't sure what to think of the girl for being so brazen with a man whom she just met. (Metafiction?) He smiled endlessly. His round wire-rimmed glasses caught the light so I couldn't look into his eyes the whole time. Then I finally got called up to the counter, checked out my three movies, and left. I turned around and said "bye." And then passed through the Stanley Power Assist doors into the parking lot. His bike was parked right outside to the left in the closest spot to the door. On the way out of the parking lot I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw him leave the library, looking left and right--I assume for me. I kept waiting for him to come up behind my car driving up 21. I turned before he could catch up to me and I lost him.
Today in my Religion & Film class, we discussed "The Apostle," which was the film that this strange man was checking out of the library the night we met (and the night we parted.) It's so strange that I still feel a connection to him so many months later. I was familiar with "The Apostle" before seeing it in class and before I met my stranger. Still, I wonder how much longer I'll think of that gentleman's face whenever I see "The Apostle" on a shelf at the video store or at the library, or even whenever I see Robert Duvall.

Because, you know, I see Robert Duvall a lot. That dude is everywhere.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

You're my Rushmore.

Upon the invocation of the t-shirt muse, I created a new piece of art yesterday with a $1.39 Jerzees cotton tee and a black Sharpie. I don't have much time to write about this'n because I have a paper to write which is exponentially more important than this, but I thought I'd post anyway.

Why, yes! It's Jason Schwartzman as Max Fischer in Wes Anderson's brilliant comedy, "Rushmore!" Thanks for knowing! Go, Yankee Racers.

A simple stencil-style design traced (I don't usually trace but I had the luxury of being able to do so since it's a thinner/lighter fabric) with a black Sharpie.

"The secret, I don't know... I guess you've just gotta find something you love to do and then... do it for the rest of your life. For me, it's going to Rushmore."

Here I mimicked Wes Anderson's handwriting to capture the youthful precociousness of Max. I wanted something that looked somewhat childish to make a striking contrast with the actual phrase.

Alright. Off to write about the Iliad. Wish me luck, lovers!

Friday, September 8, 2006

You been out ridin'....bicycles.

When I was a wee little girl, I was very close with the four boys next door. We would play together almost every day and during the summer we spend hours riding our bikes up and down their long driveway, playing "garage" and "drive thru" and other such games. Anyway, one afternoon their father unveiled to them the bike that he rode before he got his first car. It was a 1982 Huffy Desperado, tan with a dark brown banana seat painted with an orange and yellow desert landscape. The handlebars curved and tilted back so when you leaned all your weight against the back of the seat, it felt like you were riding on a chopper.

Soon after the boys received this bike, its novelty wore off. They were distracted by cooler, newer models and Desperado started gathering dust and rust in the back of their barn. It stayed there until a fateful garage sale one summer day when I was in my third year of high school. I saw Desperado, marked with a price of five dollars, and vowed to save him from his life of celibacy. I took him home and gave him new tires. I oiled the chain, I put new bolts in the bar holding the seat in place, I took steel wool to the chrome and rubbed all of the rust away. I weather-treated every inch of Desperado. When I was done, the bike looked quasi-new. It looked so good, in fact, that the boys next door found a renewed interest in Old Desperado and soon I found that they had taken him from my back porch and had begun to ride him again. I was proud that I had made Desperado desirable once again, so I hardly protested.

It wasn't until this summer that I was reminded of Desperado when I began to take leisurely bike rides around the park. It would be nice to have a bike at school but I wouldn't want to bring my good bike there. It's cumbersome and worth too much money to just leaved chained in the basement of my building. Besides--most of my walking is confined to a very small area. A bike isn't completely necessary--it would just be fun. And then I thought, "what's more fun than Desperado?"

And so, dear friends, yesterday I ventured to my neighbor's house and spoke with one of the twins who is quite savvy with mechanical things. I asked if he remembered Desperado, and slowly, he recalled the splendor of this rusty relic. We ventured to the attic of the barn and found Desperado, now looking like Frankenbike, with the seat of another bicycle transfixed where the banana seat used to rest, and with a few of the wrong parts attached to his handlebars. After a good hour of labor, however, Desperado was back in business, and I pedaled him up to my car (with a bit of a running start actually--without the gears and all, it's hard to get going on that little cuss.)

Today for the first time I rode a bicycle to class. He waited loyally outside for me whilst I engaged myself in lectures on philosophy and world literature. And then we went for a jaunt around Coe Lake and through downtown Berea. My friends all seem to "get" Desperado. They appreciate him for his kitsch and for his good rattly nature. But I think other students at my school are still skeptical. I watched as one young man chained his mountain bike next to mine on the rack outside of Marting Hall. He looked quite perplexed, indeed.

I may need to get a helmet. Desperado's tires rattle a little bit because they have these weird plastic mudflap things over them and they shift when I go over bumps. Today I almost faceplanted in front of a construction worker sitting outside of Pizza King. I think I might want to get a Vespa helmet and some oversized goggles so I can look even more alien to today's modern college students. Actually, I think the next step is designing a new picture for Desperado's long and lean banana seat (which I'm confident can fit at least two people, provided their legs are short like mine.) At first I thought that a photograph of Kenny Rogers would be delightful, but now I'm considering that Hank Williams might be a little more badass.

With or without the handsome mug of an outlaw country singer gracing his seat, Desperado is my little buddy and I look forward to riding him off into many more sunsets this schoolyear.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

I am the Charter!

The Maelstrom is making great strides this year and the community of Baldwin-Wallace College would be wise to don their water wings, lest they drown in our massive and beastly wake.

Five years ago, a humble little group of hyperintelligent and progressive students at Baldwin-Wallace got together and felt dissatisfied with the available campus media. Back then, we were a one-paper college. We had the Exponent, a by-the-book campus newspaper with little to say. The Exponent was bad back then. It's changed since, but more about this later.

So these like-minded kids decided that it would be cool to start an underground newspaper. And just like that, it happened. Using only Microsoft Word and some pilfered office supplies, a renegade group of would-be journalists began to serve up a subversive and satirical bi-weekly magazine that kept students laughing and thinking in ways that no other campus newspaper had. This was a different sort of magazine. It was edgy but it hated being called edgy. It was different but it prided itself on uniting all of the college's bizarre subcultures.

When I was a freshman, I joined up with the Maelstrom. After nervously submitting two writing samples to the editor-in-chief, I was embraced as the youngest staff writer in their history (brief as that history was, I was proud of this feat.) My first story made it onto the front page of the year's debut issue. Ever since, I've been devoted to this publication.

Last year as a sophomore I stepped up as co-editor-in-chief with a very capable partner. I didn't want to see this thing die but it was clear that the dynamics would soon be changing drastically. Four of our strongest staff writers were seniors and they were all set to graduate. And without funding, the only way to recruit new writers would be to beg around campus. It slowly became apparent that we might need to reconsider our place on campus. Can the underground sustain us forever? Will we have to sell out? Will our demographics change? Do any of us know how to manage a budget?

For the Maelstrom to live, we need to become legitimate. And so, today I say with no hesitation, that the Maelstrom is now an official club at Baldwin-Wallace College. I'm proud of this. I'm proud because I was able to sustain something that was created by people who came before me and now it has a chance of becoming a legacy. Even after I graduate, the Maelstrom will rave on if all goes well.

I hung my first club poster in the student Union yesterday with a fellow Maelstromite. He's my friend. Everyone who writes for Maelstrom is my friend. Everyone who reads Maelstrom is my friend.

I'm not afraid of being a sell-out anymore. It's more important to me that as many people as possible are able to get in touch with the Maelstrom and become a part of it. Our ideals aren't changing. We're still a little elitist. We're still going to be irreverent. We're still going to print really offensive advice columns and declare "victory in Iraq!" on April Fool's Day. That's who we are.

I think as an officially sanctioned club we get to nominate people from our group for homecoming court. So the minute I get to ride around downtown Berea in a tiara on the back of a float, you can talk to me about selling out. Until then, I have new business to attend to.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Wayward Spiral

This morning I woke up and felt like something was missing. I feel like this a lot of mornings upon waking, but usually it's just one of those "who am I and where do I belong" type conundrums that I forget about by lunchtime. Today there was something actual and concrete missing from my world and I couldn't figure out what it was.

I took my shower, brushed my teeth, got dressed. When I walked into my living room I noticed that I had left my hummus out on the coffee table overnight. So that must be it. I must have been feeling lost because I knew I had forgotten to do something semi-important the night before. It's the funniest thing too, because I can't tell for the life of me if the hummus went bad. It's got an overpowering smell to begin with so it's not like it suddenly smells rank like sour milk or something.

Anyway, I forgot about my emptiness for a while after I replaced the hummus in the fridge. Note to self: don't let any of your guests eat that hummus.

Then I packed up my books for class. Women's lit. Religion & film. Respective notebooks. Respective folders. Day planner. Journal. Journal. Journal? Bueller?

It was nowhere to be found. Not in desk drawers, not in closets, not under chairs or in my laundry basket. Not in the fridge with the spoiled (?) hummus. It was just simply gone. I didn't have time to look for too much longer so I began to walk nervously to class, feeling strangely like I wasn't wearing trousers or like I was sleepwalking the night before and unconsciously plucked off one of my eyebrows.

Now, reader, you must understand the importance of this, the mysterious disappearing notebook which eluded me so cunningly and cruelly this morning. I carry this notebook with me everywhere. I fill at least a page every day with some of my most vulnerable thoughts and musings. I've got song lyrics in it, poetry, hypothetical conversations between myself and people I love, even a really embarrassing sharpie cartoon drawing of Weezer.

What if someone finds it? I can't even imagine. I don't have my name in it. The closest ID stamp within the pages is a cartoon self-portrait that only vaguely resembles me. If someone were to find this notebook, he or she would have a field day leafing through pages and pages of my existence. He could steal all my good ideas and chastise the bad ones. He could read the most unfinished and sophomoric passages aloud to members of the English department.

The English department. Located in Marting Hall. I was in Marting Hall when I realized that literally every one of my classes this semester is in Marting Hall (the philosophy and religion departments are located here as well.) There was still an off chance that my spiral notebook could have found its way to one of the tables in the Union or the Cyber Cafe (where there are FOOTBALL PLAYERS! Eeesh!) but I've only eaten there three or four times this semester. It had to be in Marting.

Frantically, I ran up to Barb in the English office. Barb is one of those all-knowing secretaries that every institution seems to have one of. She's Superwoman. She's untouchable. She's probably got a third eye or something. Anyway, I talked to her and she showed me that the only item in the English "lost and found" was a yellow folder. But she told me to go upstairs and check the Religion office.

I've never run up that third flight of stairs faster in my life. And this is saying a lot because that third flight is a killer. The stairs in Marting are insanely steep because the engineers of this building all those decades ago must have thought that they needed to conserve space. Or maybe it was designed for the pygmy literati.

Anyway, I made it up the stairs and as soon as the secretary in the Religion Office put the defibrillator paddles back in her desk, I resumed normal breathing and from my reclined position on the floor I noticed, in a small printer paper box top under a table to my left...

my spiral notebook.

It's okay.

It's going to be okay.

I'm gonna go buy one of those child leashes now. Later.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Dig the New Digs...

Here is a shot of the essence of the apartment. See how worldly we are? We're rocking an Indian throw over our decrepit recliner, a wooden Japanese sake set, a Costa Rican tablecloth (I think it's South American anyway), and out of this picture is some Chinese art that we've yet to hang. We also have a French painting which will also grace the wall somewhere.

Below is a view of John looking disapprovingly at my antique sake set.

Another view of the apartment at large...

My bed. I read and write and sleep here.

We have so many appliances. All of them are essential. Well, maybe not the ice shaver..,

Here is a shot of the kitchen, where we've got a huge fridge, a small (but mighty) stove, and much storage space.

My desk, tucked away behind a bureau. I like being hidden whilst I work.

So that's that. Come and visit sometime.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

In the van, with my friend

You never told me you were leaving
So I never thought to cry.
The concept of distance is deceiving
people grow closer
but that's not you and I.

Everybody says I'd love Chicago.
Maybe that's why I'm afraid to go.
I'd rather drown here in the wake you left behind,
wondering if it's better not to know.

You've got your own skyscrapers now.
I hope you never take your head out of the clouds.
I always knew you'd take off and fly
but not without saying goodbye.

It's pretty cold back here in Cleveland.
I turned my collar up today.
I passed three places where we might have stopped for coffee
back when our words still knew just how to melt the ice away.

If you happen to get carried away
by Chicago winds while you're walking down the street one day,
just think of me and I'm sure you'll be astounded
by how the ones you left behind can keep you grounded.

You've got your own skyscrapers now
I hope you never take your head out of the clouds.
I always knew you'd take off and fly
but not without saying goodbye.

This is another jealous song
But it's too late now because you're long gone.
You're bigger than this town could be
but are you so much better than me?

Are you so much better than me?
Is there something there that I can't see?

I don't know where that song came from but I really like it.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Marissa V 2.0

I'm not going to dye my hair purple. I can say it's about the money but it's not. I have a friend who owns a hair salon who would most likely hook me up so that money shouldn't be too much of an issue. It's not because I'm not sure about the right color. They know their colors and they know what's going to look good on me and what isn't.

This whole thing comes down to cowardice. My fear looks funny in writing. I'm an eccentric person. I do weird things. People know this about me. A lot of people relate to me because I'm different. So why not look a little more unconventional on the outside? What difference will it make?

Why do I have such an irrational fear of being poor? I have plenty of money. Why do I suffer and moan through the afternoon without eating lunch? Why not just take a single bill out of my fattened wallet and cross the street to buy something off of the McDonald's dollar menu? Why am I afraid to eat McDonald's?

Lately I've felt like there's another person inside of me pestering my comfortable shell and making me question the way I live my life. I know that if I let that person be free I could do so many wonderful things. I might buy a truck with the money that I've been saving since I was six. I'd spend my afternoons driving around trying to find a job that would make me happy. Or maybe I wouldn't work. But I'd definitely drive. I'd jump in my car and take epic road trips across the country.

I'd drink and I'd stay out late. I'd learn, but I'd do so on my own terms. I wouldn't turn down my music at stop lights and I'd shop at actual stores---not thrift shops and markdown places. I'd make a movie--a feature length movie, and I'd make it with equipment that I bought. Top-of-the-line equipment. I'd be a Mac girl.

I'd stop being afraid of dancing. I'd learn how to swing dance and I'd get really good at it.

Maybe I would give comedy another shot. I don't know why I'm so reluctant to really invest myself in improv. I used to love it and be good at it. Confidence would never be a problem if I were the new me. Everything would roll off of my shoulders. And I'd stop worrying about impressing people. The new me would be impressive enough.

I wouldn't be afraid to throw stuff away. I don't know why I feel the need to collect, to capture and store and hoard memories. It's all just clutter. The new me would understand that and say goodbye to the extraneous.

I didn't wear socks today. I think maybe I wanted it to be easier for other versions of myself to slip out from under my feet like ringworms and take hold of my ankles, dragging and pushing me in new and exciting directions.

That's a ridiculous image, but the new me wouldn't care what you think of it.

Monday, August 14, 2006

If you give a girl a sharpie...

A new nerdy t-shirt, designed by me.

This time, I actually needed to use a ruler for some of the design. But it was drawn, not traced, since tracing was impossible with this thick dark fabric.

The "A" in the logo was the hardest part. Once I got that down, I knew the rest would be easier. The "n" in "Splendor" also proved to be quite difficult, especially on the ribbed material I was working with.

I copied the back design from a cell of an actual "American Splendor" comic. It's actually one of my favorites, even though the artwork isn't necessarily the best. I tried to copy the image exactly but it's tough to do. I take solace in the fact that everybody draws Harvey differently anyway.

There's our girl, sporting her latest creation. She made it in the driveway, stretching the shirt over a big piece of cardboard. She finished just as the sun was starting to set.

And there's a nice little back view. The real splendor in this picture is that fine geek physique.

Below is a gift for a good friend of mine who really digs the movie "Sideways." No ruler was used. All the letters were drawn by hand with two Sharpies.

The front design was copied from my DVD.

Anyway, those are my latest. I'm getting pretty good at it so I think I might start taking requests. My next big project is a shot of Joel and Clem from "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." I'm going to use the aerial shot of them on the ice. They'll be in the lower corner of a powder-blue t-shirt and the cracks will spread all the way up to where a pocket would be.

Before I get to that though, I might try practicing some other simpler stuff.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Goin' Cohen

Tonight I finally got to see the film "Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man" at the Cedar Lee Theatre. It's a fantastic tribute to one of the greatest and most underappreciated songwriters of our time. I was particularly moved by his humility, his self-deprecating tendencies, his denial of what others call his genius. His lyrics are so poetic. I'm so glad that a few of the better musicians of my generation have picked up his songbook and continued to breathe life into it because his words really are timeless. This can be a good thing when he writes about the beauty of love, or it can be disheartening and painfully real when he writes about the torture and agony of war.

Anyway, I wrote a song tonight. I almost feel ridiculous putting it after a post about how wonderful Leonard Cohen is at writing songs. I just wanted to mention that I saw the movie and this is what follows that thought I suppose. It's no Cohen. But it's the best I can do for now. The other night I had a conversation with someone about having trouble seeing myself from the outside. I realize that this is becoming more of a problem as I get closer to "freedom" from my childhood home--as I get closer to my diploma, to my possible career, etc. So I wrote this song as a conversation with myself. I tried to open up a dialogue from me to me. It's also a bit of a thank-you note to the person whose actual conversation inspired it. I don't know how much I'm going to be able to learn from this song, but it felt good to write it. I guess a lot of my songs are like those letters that you write but never send.

I was startled by your honesty
"I'm lost," you said and I could see
the mounting fear,
a cavalier deterred.

You're the center of your universe
you said to me and so I'll sing it in the verse
so when you hear it from my lips instead
you'll swallow every word.

You're better than what's got the best of you.
You're smarter than the test you're going through.
Go out and get the debt that's owed to you.

You know I've got tea and sympathy
But as long as you've got time to drink with me
Then you've got time to think about
who you want to be.

This place you're in is dark and cold
You've told me shakily it's getting old
You're bottled so you might explode
Please, take it from me.

you're better than what's got the best of you.
You're smarter than the test you're going through.
Go out and get the debt that's owed to you.

For all your existential turmoil
there's somebody who can see
stones you never could have overturned alone
and that person could be me.

You're better than what's got the best of you.
You're smarter than the test you're going through.
Go out and get the debt that's owed to you.

Another note:
Parents who buy vehicles with televisions in the headrests do such a disservice to their children. Instead of having another extraneous flat screen tv, these kids should instead be spoiled with the rich American landscape. They should count cows and license plates from different states. They should wave at proud cities as they pass through in wonderment of what is new and excitingly unfamiliar. Instead they sit dumb in front of a tiny consolation prize with unnatural color and stereo sound. Will these kids ever be impressed by the dangerous grace and balance of a towering skyscraper? Will they feel humble in the vastness of an open yellow plain? Landscapes will not exist for them! All they will know is the falseness that is projected twelve inches in front of their vulnerable, ignorant faces.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Eschew! Bless You! (Allergic to Flowers)

Most girls are happy to get flowers from their boyfriends. In fact, from my observations over my years as a single woman, I've noticed that this is all that some ladies hope for from their significant others at any given time. I've actually heard things like this:

"He didn't have to take me out for our anniversary, but it would have been nice to get flowers."

"He didn't get me flowers for Valentine's Day. Isn't your boyfriend supposed to get you flowers on Valentine's Day?"

"I told him that flowers were a waste of money but that doesn't necessarily mean that I don't want them."

I'm usually of the mentality that flowers are nice every now and then but overall I think the idea of giving flowers is a fairly unoriginal cop-out. I've seen so many girls walking around with bouquets on their birthdays, on anniversaries, and on that most horrid of all the questionably fabricated holidays, Valentine's Day. And every time I see one of them, beaming ignorantly with that stupid glazed-over baby rabbit look on her pretty little face, I can't help feeling a little bit sorry.

These are girls whose boyfriends are doltish clones. Sure, they should get points for remembering, say, three semi-important (depending on your opinion) days of the year. But flowers? That's a little textbook for my taste. None of these guys would have the brains or the courage to get their girl something different.

I don't usually get flowers from my boyfriends. And the only boyfriend I had who ever got me flowers did so on creative days for interesting reasons. Example: once I was stage managing a play and he sent me a bouquet on opening night. Quite thoughtful. This is the same boyfriend I stayed with for an extra few weeks after he bought me a copy of "Synchronicity" on vinyl, because I thought a gift like that should definitely warrant a second chance.

Another fellow I dated bought me an original print of a poster for a movie about Santa Claus fighting the devil, made in the early '60s. It's incredibly rare (the film and the poster.) He still won't tell me where he got it. This was one of my birthday gifts from him. There's nothing floral about it. I love it.

I think the reason that my relationships have been flowerless is because of my bashing of the flower right from the start. When I'm being courted, I tend to verbalize my dislike for the flower for two basic reasons:

a) the guy will think I am low-maintenance, and thus, better girlfriend material.

b) the guy will think I am practical (flowers die!), and thus, better girlfriend material.

b) the guy will think I am unconventional and unique, and if he appreciates this, he is better boyfriend material.

Of course, after I finally snag the guy, I do go through times when I think, "Why would I do that? Flowers are nice. I wouldn't necessarily mind getting flowers from this fellow." And then there's the danger of ending up with a guy who is cheap and is merely dating me because he doesn't have to spend money on frivolous presents. Mostly though, I find that the man I'm with takes on the challenge of finding unusual presents for me with great fervor and tenacity.

This weekend my lover surprised me with what is probably the coolest present that he could have found for me. It's an Enid doll. One of my favorite books is the Daniel Clowes graphic novel, "Ghost World," and Enid is one of the two main characters in this novel. In 2003, Clowes designed an Enid doll and marketed it ironically as a "Hi-Fashion Glamour Doll." And now I have one. It's positively delightful.

Earlier in our courtship he thrilled me with two thrift-store records: Shaun Cassidy's Born Late, and Tom Jones's The Fever Zone. (Oddly enough, I already had the first of the two titles in my collection but we can't fault him for that--it's really absurd that I owned that record in the first place.)

This is the kind of stuff that I'm used to. That may make me sound like I'm hard to please, which is not the case at all. I really am low-maintenance. I don't like asking for anything. And usually it's because I don't want anything. I don't like to be spoiled at all and most of the time I'm perfectly happy with an extra phone call or e-mail or maybe a letter. I'm a better giver than a receiver. But I do immensely appreciate the extra effort that my fellow goes to in order to insure my happiness.

He doesn't need to wear himself out buying such weird gifts though. I kind of like lilies.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Playing the Odds

I think I'm going to try to write a song every night. That way, even if only one out of every five isn't a sappy love song, then I'll have one decent song every week. I can deal with that.

Last night I re-wrote "Enid," a song that I based on the character of the same name from Daniel Clowes' graphic novel, "Ghost World." I'm really happy with the product. It has a pretty strong melody and a decent-sounding chorus. I've known for a while that I needed to write a song about Enid but my original version was really wordy and didn't feel right. I didn't capture enough apathy in it and even the tune wasn't appropriate. Here is the new version. If I think of it later I'll post the old one--I don't have my other journal with me so I don't have the lyrics to copy.


My name is Enid.
How perfect is that?
I live in a town with some lawns
and some strip malls.

Biding my time
a bottle of hair dye
a record that spins me a lifetime
until fall.

Am I really moving?
I can't tell.
Put something soothing
on the record player.

It's hot outside,
we follow the weirdos.
We call them our people
but she doesn't seem to believe.

So maybe I'll leave
on a bus and I won't say goodbye.
I'll meet some new strangers.
Hey that's some kind of reprieve.

Am I really moving?
I can't tell.
Put something soothing
on the record player.

Is this really living?
It's just as well
with nothing to offer
but the shell
of some other ghost
inside of me.

There's a ghost inside of me
There's a ghost inside of me
There's a ghost inside of me
and her name is Enid.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Sassy Arse

Most of the time when I see this I take it as a warning.

The pants say, "This ass is juicy. You'd better stand back." I often follow young girls with printed posteriors the way a jainist maneuvers sidewalks and dirt roads with a broom to protect small organisms from harm. Carefully anticipating fallout, a few steps behind the behind, I shake my head in disbelief. Mostly I'm shaking my head at the nubile, soft-skinned, fleshy sexual being in front of me, her swaying arse printed with a promise. Maybe she's "FOXY" (FO on one cheek, XY on the other.) Maybe she's "SASSY" (SA on one cheek, SY on the other--the other "s" often gets lost somewhere in the middle.)

But sometimes when I'm shaking my head I'm disappointed in myself. For looking. And for wondering what my ass wants me to communicate to the world. What's my ass-essence? When I saunter down the street in the midday sun, earbuds in, closed off from the world, can my heiny do my talking for me? How transcendent is her message?

Here are some words that I think the back of my pants would like to communicate:

EXISTENTIAL--it was my choice to put on these pants this morning and the rear end of said pants say that much and more. When I walk in these pants, I'm looking for purpose. I'm in control. When I take them off, I seriously don't know what to do with myself. I freak out.

SARDONIC--maybe I don't take myself too seriously when I'm wearing my ass pants. Big deal. When I wear my sardonic ass pants, SARD on one cheek and ONIC on the other, people know that the real message is actually just tongue-in-cheek.

ESOTERIC--this will guarantee that I only get hit on in my ass pants by a particular kind of man or woman. Someone who gets it. Someone who's smarter and cooler than you.

SURREAL--my rear is dream-like, homie. Recognize.

FUTILE--sometimes this means that any attempts to attract attention to my bum by printing words on my pants are useless. Sometimes it means that your efforts to get into my pants are useless.

MANIFEST--my heiny is your destiny. There it is. Seriously, it's right there. Bam.

NARCISSIST--really, when you think about it, there isn't any other word that's better for this particular use.

POMO--maybe I'll pair my butt-talker sweatpants with a wool sport coat and a pair of thick-framed glasses. And saddle shoes. Maybe I'll be carrying old records under my arm. And maybe I'll eschew the grand narrative.

So there are my ideas for some truly original ass-pants. Look for me on the street--I'll be wearing them for sure. Just don't expect me to answer if you call out to me. I think my back end is bad by itself without my own thoughts and musings getting in the way.

Monday, July 31, 2006

They all sound the same

I often get frustrated with myself because I have trouble writing songs of great consequence. I don't usually sit down and try to write songs of social or political importance. I don't say, "Hey, I should write one about freeing Tibet or about spousal abuse." Usually a good string of lyrics will pull me in and I'll just let the song happen. When I do approach a song with a particular agenda, it ends up sounding forced. So I've learned to just let my process flow freely.

That's where the problem is. Apparently my subconscious mind only has thoughts of love--that's the agenda. So even when a song starts out with a different message, love somehow ends up seeping through and coloring the final product.

"Fall Back Samantha" is a song about an abusive relationship. But it's also a love song that reveals the abused woman's perspective.

"American Splendor" is about Harvey Pekar's battle against cancer. But it's also a love song, sung to him from his wife Joyce's perspective.

"Got You By the Memory" is about landmark locations from my life being destroyed or taken away by corporate America. But it's also a love letter to the memory of some places that I've lost.

There are others that aren't love songs in a classic sense that are also somehow flavored with love. And of course, I always joke about 70% of my original tunes being written on the subject of unrequited love.

I know it shouldn't bug me. If you can write love songs, you should write love songs. But sometimes I wish I were more versatile. Right now I'm in the best relationship of my life so it seems every time I pick up a pen something saccharine pours out onto the page. And then I try not to vomit on top of it, telling myself that maybe it's salvageable. Maybe I can pull something bigger out of some of those amorous little nuggets.

For now, here is another love song. At least it's something:

Beneath the bruises
that you left
on my neck
I feel my pulse and know just what it's there for,
what it's there for.

In my room at night
I rifle through
my records
and throw out all the songs that you don't care for
you don't care for.

For you
for you

When you're not here
you're here.
I hear your footsteps
on the stairs and at my door,
at my door.

And when you are
I smile
and realize that I've got
one more cup to pour,
one more cup to pour.

For you
for you

When you leave
you take the color
I paint by numbers
on a calendar where days all lead to you.

In my dictionary
all the synonyms
for need and want are all defined
by one word and that one word is you.

It's you
it's you

You're the coffee grounds
that I swallow down
get me through the day.
You're the traffic signs that tell me where I'm going to.

You're my tylenol.
You're my Wailing Wall and
when I've gotta fall
you're my favorite kind of parachute.

That's you
that's you

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Latent Functions of Pie-Making

I wrote a new song tonight. It just happened. It's the product of about five minutes. This is a good thing because for the past two months I've been slaving away at about three songs that are still unfinished and my usual method of songwriting is to just crank out about five songs in three days. So the fact that I wrote this one so quickly might mean that I'll have a good songwriting spurt. Whee!

Here are the lyrics. It's probably one of the simplest songs I've ever written, especially the chorus. I like it alright though.

There are a hundred miles between us
Try explaining distance to a pair of idle hands
Try to cool the fire of a late-night conversation
Next time I see you I'm gonna have a list of demands.

I tried so hard
I tried so hard

In my dreams you nibble at my neck
Like you're some sedated shark
Thrashing covers as we turn and glide
We're so steady in the dark.

But I wake up cold without your head to hold
And my bed looks way too wide
I guess I just can't make another night without you
There's nothing but a pillow on the other side.

I tried so hard
I tried so hard (2x)

It's good to have a muse. Anyway, I'm just glad I got to use a shark in a song. One time as a joke I improvised something called "The Ballad of Mr. Quint" where I used the chorus of "Show Me the Way to Go Home" between the verses. So I obviously sang about Jaws in that one.

I think the next song I write should have flapjacks in it or something equally absurd. We'll see...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Play "Misty" For Me

I come to work early every day. It always feels good to sit in my car for a few minutes before somebody comes with a key to open up the building. I have time to collect and examine runover thoughts from the previous night, do a bit of reading, actually chew my breakfast, and generally take some time to enjoy the early moments of a new day.

Yesterday morning, because of a doctor's appointment that ended at 8:30, I was incredibly early for work. I got there at 9:00 and technically we don't open until 10:00 so I knew it was going to be a while. I reclined the driver's seat in my mom's Toyota Corolla, which I've been driving during the few days my Echo has been in the shop. I manually rolled down the windows, and laid back with my current book club read--Connie Schultz's "Life Happens."

I was really enjoying myself, reveling in the glory of being scarcely a pinky finger away from the end of the book. I had stopped popping my head up to look for the boss's car in the parking lot. I was determined to finish the book this morning. And I knew I would.

Then out of nowhere, I was jilted from my seat by an offensive knocking at the half-open window on the passenger side. I jerked forward, startled, and saw a young man, maybe thirty years old, leaning towards the car smiling at me. He was a man of medium build with bright green eyes, a purple button-down shirt, a braided belt, and he had smooth sandy brown hair that he wore long like a student. If it weren't for the scar that crept down along the right side of his smile, he wouldn't have seemed creepy at all.

I suppose this is why I wasn't opposed to saying hello and conversing with him. "You look comfortable there," he said, and I could almost hear him wink although I was reluctant to look him in the eye. "Are you reading?" I nodded and told him that I was in a book club. "You came to work early just so you could read, didn't you?" I laughed and told him that I did because I wanted to finish before my friends and I met to discuss it.

Then it happened. He leaned back from the window just slightly. At this point I was looking right at him when he spoke.

"So where's the Echo today?"

I closed my book. My eyes narrowed and my knuckles tightened. I felt like I was in that moment in a bad horror movie--the one where you finally know who the killer is. This is the moment where the orchestra strikes suddenly and you jump out of your skin in spite of yourself. That one sharp fiddle squeals and everything feels eerie and dissonant. This is how I felt. A strange man knows what car I drive. I've never seen him before, and he knows I normally drive a Toyota Echo. And he's pointing it out to me. Be cool.

"It's in the shop. Oil leakage." And then I added in a tone of voice that's meant to sound coy but probably sounded nervous and frightened, "How do you know I drive an Echo?"

"I work upstairs at the juvenile center. I see you coming to work a lot. I've never had the chance to say hello." The business I work at is housed beneath a juvenile detention and rehabilitation center. So he works with the criminally-minded youth. I hope and pray that they haven't given him any ideas.

Boldly, I offered my hand to him, and my name. He returned the gesture.

"Anyway, I thought I'd just come by and say hello. I saw you with your little book there and figured I'd make a smart-ass comment. I'll talk to you later."

He'll talk to me later? What is that? And how condescending of this man I don't know to say "your little book." What is he reading right now? War and Peace? The complete works of Shakespeare? The dictionary? Where does he get off calling my book "little?" And color me old-fashioned but a person who calls himself a "smart-ass" just after an introductory handshake is no gentleman.

Needless to say, I went from being creeped out and scared witless to being offended and annoyed. He walked away. I continued reading until I finished my book and then I locked my car and headed towards the door, shooting paranoid glances at the cracks in the blinds of the windows above me.

Monday, July 10, 2006

On my list

I'm a big fan of making lists. I've done it my whole life. It keeps me organized on a day-to-day basis, and making lists helps me define myself and my interests in a really anal-retentive fashion that started to become charming after Nick Hornby (and especially after John Cusack) made it that way in "High Fidelity." Now I can make lists all the time, almost immediately when prompted by others or when challenged by my own mind (which usually happens because not too many people really care enough to ask me to list my top five of anything.) For instance, if you asked me what my top five flavors of Rosati's Frozen Custard are, I'd say:

1) Key Lime Pie
2) Birthday Cake
3) Higbees Chocolate Malted (So Classic)
4) Apple Pie Ala Mode (Which is a redundant name because, duh, it's "ala mode"--it's ice cream.)
5) Peanut Butter and Banana (Always listed as "An Elvis Favorite" on the calendar. And as far as I'm concerned, if Elvis does it, I'm doing it.)

Or if you were wondering about the top five songs I don't want played at my wedding:

1) Abba "Dancing Queen" (Also number one on my top five most hated songs list.)
2) The Village People "YMCA"
3) Kool & The Gang "Celebration" (Madonna's "Holiday" is a much more tolerable alternative.)
4) Diana Ross/Lionel Richie "Endless Love"
5) Marcia Griffiths "The Electric Slide"

Or if you asked me the top five records I'd like to get frisky with if it were physically possible and socially acceptable:

1) The Police "Outlandos d'Amour"
2) The White Stripes "Get Behind Me Satan"
3) The Black Keys "Rubber Factory" (Great wordplay here...)
4) Elvis Costello "Elvis Is King"
5) Wilco "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot"

So now it's time to add a new list to my repertoire.

In a blog entry posted by a woman in my boyfriend's comedy troupe several months ago, she wrote of our courtship:

"A friend of mine is in the beginning stages of a relationship, the part where everything is magical and great and you still notice little things (like how they bite their lip or check the mirrors when they drive, not the little things like how freaking loudly they chew.) The woman my friend is interested in actually poetically noted the "angle of his jaw" or something sweet like that in a post bursting with the iambic energy of a blogger in love."

Looking back, she couldn't have been more right. I'm past that overly cautious, selflessly obliging, respectful period in our relationship. It's time to put everything out on the table. This post is for James. We've been together for six months now and all-in-all everything's peachy. But a relationship is only as good as the sum of all its parts, right? All of its completely annoying, frustrating, and at times, mildly infuriating parts.

So, per our conversation tonight, lover:

The top five most obnoxious things that James does:

1) He tries to force food upon me in tasteless ways in public places. This happens a lot with baked beans, which is strange because how many times are you really in a situation where you get baked beans with your meal? I can't even enjoy my food in peace without him trying to make a pass at me with a heaping spoonful of the stuff. It's like the old parenting trick where you tell the kid to open the hatch so the plane can fly in. Only it's not cute. Sometimes the beans come in a quaint little crock that I have to comment on and draw his attention to. And that's when he perks up and goes in for the kill. The jerk. Stop feeding me.

2) He reads from a book called "Magnificent Monologues For Teens." Okay, so he only did this once, but he kept it up for a long time and still references it when we chat. We were just lying in bed one day and he reached over and pulled it off the shelf and proceeded to read aloud, in character, some of the most juvenile acting monologues I've ever heard in my life. Nothing that I did could distract him from this book. Nothing. I had to lie there and listen to a kid named Jared try to blackmail his teacher into giving him an "A." And then a troubled girl called Susan or something who didn't know you could get raped by your boyfriend. I'm not going to get this hour of my life back.

3) He works out. And he likes to talk about it. Not in great detail. He just likes me to know that he works out. Here is a simulated conversation that is likely to take place on any given weekday:

M: So how did work treat you today, Mister?
J: It was really dead today. Really slow.
M: Did you do anything else?
J: You know. I woke up, got coffee, went to work, went to the gym and worked out.
M: That's cool.
J: Yea I worked out so hard.
M: That's cool.
J: Seriously I was wailing on my guns. I worked out so hard. So hard.
M: Rock on.
J: I've told you I work out, right?
M: I don't think you've mentioned that a hundred other times, no.
J: Well I do. I work out. Hard.

I'm tired of this black hole in our daily conversation. It sucks us in every time. I'm going to have to stop asking him about his day on days I think he might have time to go to the gym.

4) He is really bad with directions. Granted, I'm not the best at giving directions either, and I tend to forget how to go to places I've been to a million times. I'm sure there are countless little proverbs and fables that tell me not to throw rocks from my glass house or whatever. But say there's actually a glass house, okay? And James knows where it is. And he drives there all the time. You'd think he' d be able to tell me how to get there in fairly simple terms. With street signs and road names and landmarks and stuff, right? Not so much. The one time I was actually frustrated with him almost to a point of anger was the time I was stuck at his apartment and didn't know how to get to the coffee shop he was going to for his radio show. I got the weirdest directions ever. And one time I needed the address of his workplace so I could mapquest it (after I learned that the James version of the map was better used as a placemat or coaster) and he couldn't provide that. Boo hiss.

5) He doesn't like my idea for a magnetic compass. This was the one invention I thought of that I think might actually be plausible and helpful to people of the world. Math teachers, anyway. I won't post the idea on this blog since it's pretty much public domain and I don't want some leech stealing my genius idea, but trust me when I say that even though it has limited appeal and seems a bit simple and maybe even unnecessary, it would make the world a better place. And it's damn crafty. But when I pitched this idea to him in bed one morning, he shot me right down. I was pretty supportive of his hot air balloon movie concept--I even helped him cast it (all hypothetically of course--I still think Adrien Brody would be killer as the brooding hot air balloon pilot.) So when do I get the boost I deserve?

That's my list. Actually, I really had to stretch to think of a fifth item. And of course there's a follow-up list. There has to be. A sappy rebuttal. You saw it coming:

1) It's kind of cute that he tries to feed me. Call it an Oedipus thing, but sometimes I appreciate the almost paternal gesture. And sometimes when we're together we forget to eat so when he's trying to feed me, it means that I'm getting fed at that moment, which is a good thing.

2) He seemed really happy and entertained when he read from that book. And it was funny at times. I guess I don't have much of a rebuttal for this one. It was pretty annoying.

3) I appreciate his physique--he's very fit and strong. And I guess I'd rather hear about him working out hard than hearing about him drinking heavily and eating giant bags of potato chips while playing Halo 2 on his couch or something.

4) I mostly just get frustrated about directions because usually if I'm lost it means that I'll be spending less time with him and that's a bummer.

5) My idea for a magnetic compass is brilliant. And I stand by that.

Of course, this is all in jest. Simple tom-foolery. The only reason I did it at all was because it would be pretty hard to narrow down the top five best things about him.

When did I ever become this sappy? I'm losing my edge, man. I'm getting soft in my old age. Anyway, at least I don't have a Cosby Sweater yet, right?

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Pictures of Me

This is a picture post. I love blogspot for allowing me to share these photos with you, free of charge. Thank you, blogspot. Huzzah to you!

Firstly, here is a detail of part of the design I drew in Sharpie on my t-shirt the other night.

And here is another section of it. That's Thora Birch as Enid in "Ghost World." I wanted to draw a cartoon of the live action movie instead of a cartoon of the actual graphic novel. I think it turned out pretty well...

And there is the full product. Sorry about the weird layout here. Anyway, you get the idea. It took me about an hour and a half to complete it. Not bad. I was watching "American Splendor" while I made it. Nerd alert!

Here is a shot of my new guitar. I'm pretty sure she's a girl but she doesn't have a name yet. Suggestions are appreciated but I reserve the right to tell you that they are stupid or to completely ignore you.

There is her head. Gorgeous, yes?

And this is the sexy body. I haven't been able to keep my hands off of her. Keep the snide remarks regarding my sexuality to yourself. This is a different kind of love entirely.

Speaking of sexy bodies, here is the prize of this entry. It's me in a pink dress. This doesn't happen...well, ever. So enjoy it. That's a vintage cotton dress from the 60s--it used to be my mom's I believe. It's got a few white birds stitched onto it which you can almost see in this picture. I'm in love with it. I wore it to see "Wicked" at the State Theater last week. I have to find more occasions to wear it. I simply must be seen in it again. I look strange in a pink dress, no?

Anyway, that is all for now. I have a few more pictures of debauchery and frivolity that I must share but it's completely late and I'm fixin' to go to the zoo tomorrow with my buddy and pet the sharks.


Monday, July 3, 2006

I'll sell it all...

I want this guitar:

The love of my life

Last year we had the acoustic version of it in the store and I fell in love with it. I would try to play it at least once a week when there was downtime or when I finished my work early. Sometimes I would punch out and just sit there and play it for a few minutes, maybe a half an hour. It was perfect. The way it felt in my hands, the softness of the neck, the easy action, the full sound, the gorgeous inlays, the ruby red pickguard that was shaped like a cloud of smoke. Everything about it was right with me. The reason I talked myself out of buying it time and again was that it wasn't electric/acoustic. I couldn't play it at shows. This was a cop out, of course, because I could always rig a pick-up to it if I really wanted to spend the money on it. But I already had three guitars at the time. It was impractical, no matter how wonderful this one was.

I actually sold the guitar last fall. I played it for a customer and he loved the sound. He took a few runs with it and I eyed him up and down, watching the curve of his hand around the guitar's neck, the way his forefinger and thumb plucked the soft strings. I watched him the way a mother eyes a new babysitter with her child as she reluctantly passes out the front door, worrying all the way down the driveway, expecting the worst, wanting too much for someone else's happiness and safety.

The guy returned the guitar a week later. He claimed that the pickguard was loose. And it was, a little bit. But how could he think that this guitar wasn't good enough? This situation only made me feel like the guitar actually belonged to me. Maybe we fit together. The more I think about it, the more I realize it might have been a sign.

Here's an even bigger sign: We got the electric/acoustic version of this guitar in our store this weekend. My heart is breaking right now. I want to sell my three guitars for this one guitar. I want to sell my first guitar. My FIRST guitar. I feel like such a child for wanting this so badly. I was just saying last night that I'm going to need to buy a new car soon and here I am foolishly craving the Washburn J28SCEDL. I played it this morning and my heart pounded. My face got hot. My eyes burned. I want this.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

She's Crafty

I'm about to design another t-shirt for myself. In the past, I've only made shirts with text. I usually use sharpie, printing the text first on a sheet of paper, and then transferring it by hand to my t-shirt. I've got one that says "Turning Suburban" which I made for my character in the film I worked on this spring. I made another one the other day on a neon green tee that says "Jukebox Hero."

If this shirt turns out to be any good, I'll post a picture of it on here later. I don't know why I feel the need to post this right now, because if it ends up being hideous then whoever's reading my blog will pester me to see it. I should really not say anything about it. Don't ask, don't tell, right?

Whatever. I'm making a shirt. Give me leave.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Out of town

I just got back from Cincinnati today. Apparently the day after I left Brecksville, the town flooded. There was a freak thunderstorm that lasted for a few hours that poured tons of water onto my hometown and left quite a bit of devastation in its wake. Our gazebo was in danger of floating away. Waters gushed six feet deep or higher throughout the suburb. Kids were paddling around on surfboards where sidewalks used to be. This is what they tell me. I didn't hear about any of this, oddly enough, until I piled into my parents' van after a long weekend of sweating in the dry Cincinnati heat. I was completely disconnected from all of it.

I went down on Wednesday night to see my sister. An engagement party was in the works for Saturday so because my parents would have to come down anyway, my mom drove me and I met my sister in Columbus so we'd only have one car down there.

She lives in a house with her fiancee and his roommate. She moved in with them when her roommates moved out. It was stupid for her to pay rent on the place when she's going to move in with her fiancee in May anyway. The house is alright on the main floor. Nice kitchen, lots of space. Upstairs is tricky because all three bedrooms are connected in the middle and separated by a sliding closet-door type of mechanism. I'm sure this makes for some interesting situations in the later hours of the night. I'm just saying, it all seems a bit "Three's Company" for my taste.

Their roommate is a smart guy. At least he seems smart, but he also seems a bit unmotivated. It makes me wonder if he's a philosophy major. He works at this hip sushi restaurant called Aqua (he quit his old job as head waiter at some five star restaurant or something because it had no benefits.) The guy seasons his Ramen noodles with his own spices. Seriously. And his spice rack is incredible. He has fennel. I want a spice rack with fennel. Anyway, he mostly lounges around in his shorts until early evening and then ducks out to work in all black and a pair of green checkered Vans slip-ons. Cool dude.

It's hot in the house. The morning after the third night there, this proved to be catastrophic. I woke up in the middle of what I'm pretty sure was a heat stroke. I basically laid on the bathroom floor shivering and being sick for about an hour until I got up enough strength to scour the house for some kind of medicine. Excedrin on my sister's nightstand. Thankfully, there were no hallucinations this time so I stayed on the couch under a Bengals blanket until my fever broke and then promptly drank about a gallon of water to regain my strength. Enough about the heat.

On the second night my sister and I passed up free tickets to see Rusted Root. We shopped and grabbed dinner at a Thai restaurant called Bangkok Bistro. The food is supposed to be served on a spiciness scale of 1-10 but I guess the chef must have had some loose wrists or something that night because my four tasted like her seven which tasted like her eights of meals in the past. Either way, it was delicious and it cleared my sinuses right up.

We rented a terrible movie called "Tennis, Anyone?" (Seriously, Donal Logue--I don't know if I can forgive you, man) and popped it out after about forty minutes to watch "Walk the Line." This made me nostalgic for my fellow who called almost on cue in response to my long-distance pining. What a guy.

The next day included more shopping. And then a Greek Festival.

Something about this night really got me. My sister has been dating her fiancee for seven years and I think it wasn't until that night at the Greek Festival that I finally started to feel like I actually know him. We walked there from his parents' house and on the way he told me that all of the negative traits that my sister has are ones that I don't have. He started calling the two of us Yin and Yang and encouraged my sister to spend more time with me to study my behavior and emulate it closely. I told her I'd make her a tape that she could listen to while sleeping. They both laughed at this. I felt like I was in a movie for a moment. Like he might pull me aside and tell me that I was the woman for him, not my sister. A ridiculous notion, of course, but it made me chuckle to think of a scenario like that.

At the Greek festival he knew everyone. At least twenty people anyway. The Greeks know how to party. The men walked around with two $12 bottles of wine while their women played cheap carnival games for even cheaper prizes. I'm told that there is traditionally a rope climbing wall where drunk Greeks fall off and embarrass themselves. Everyone in my party was extremely upset at its absence this year. Maybe somebody died.

On the way home from the festival there was a bit of a fight. It was the first time I've ever seen my sister's fiancee get fired up and fight back with her. My sister isn't always the most agreeable person (this is a huge understatement) and usually he is completely easy-going and opts to let her have her way or say or eat wherever she wants or whatever. But this time I felt squeamish in the backseat of his car. I wanted to cup my hands over my ears and tuck my chin into my knees until it was over.

Oh yea, our bridesmaid dresses are celadon, which is this indescribable sort of green. I call it asparagus. I don't know much about dresses which makes me a weaker writer. I'll have to study up on the terminology and update you later. Or I'll just find the website and post a link.

On Saturday there was an engagement party. I was convinced that it would be awkward for me but I was totally comfortable. I played this Southern Ohio-bred game called cornhole and won six straight with my sister's man. I drank bourbon slush and got better and then it got dark and I got worse. I actually remembered peoples' names. I mingled. My brother let me have half of his beer at the end of the evening. (Read: I now feel like I've crossed that line where I have an adult relationship with my siblings.)

Last night I had to stay in a hotel with my mom and my dad and my brother. It was sort of surreal. I felt like I was on one of our old family vacations. My dad snores like a beast so I got no sleep whatsoever. It's funny--even in his sleep my dad is a competitive freak. My brother would start to snore just a little bit and he would get exponentially louder. It's no wonder I'm so fiery--I was raised by Vince Lombardi.

On the way home we passed a place called Rob's Western Palace. There was a horse on the roof. Classin' it up.

I've arrived home just in time for the city fireworks display, which will mark the end of our three-day home days extravaganza. It was almost canceled because of the flood but our mayor assumed that people would need some kind of relief. I wonder if the firecrackers got wet. I may call the library this week and see if they need help cleaning out stacks. They may be closed for a month--they were horribly waterlogged.

I also plan on heading to the Salvation Army this week. I just cleaned out both of my closets and all of my drawers and my bed is a breeding ground for old unwanted clothes. I can drop these off and get some new ones. I intend on dressing like Annie Hall at work one day this week. I really want to convince them that I'm insane. I'm sure there are benefits to being the crazy person at work.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A chord, accord, this chord, discord

There were moments when I'd look up at him, bent over his guitar--a perfect Taylor with pointed abalone inlays and a marbled red pickguard that rolled and peaked beneath the sound hole like the crest of a tsunami. It was a wedding present that probably would have taken me three weeks of work to pay for. I'd see the thin goatee curl from his bottom lip and under his chin, the top of his head nodding rhythmically in a hypnotic, almost sleep-inducing manner. In these moments, I mistook harmony for love. I felt our voices blend and flourish. His was rough and weathered, strong and textured. Mine felt soft and unassuming at times, then thick and full when suddenly emboldened by his timbre.

I felt him react to my voice. I felt our pulses form a union. Our notes clung to each other passionately, floating with ease through cracks in the boards of the heavy wooden ceiling above our heads, slowly closing in, feeling comfort in present company. There were no others in the room. We were strangers on a train, brothers separated at birth, the shifting wind. I felt like we were contributing to the pull of the tide--as if each of the notes that joined seamlessly from our lips were fragments of thread in some giant quilt of meaning that could wrap this world in comfort and warmth and peace.

This was love at times. It was unexpected, unlikely, invigorating, fluttering love and I was swept into its wake, surrenduring to the current, to the centrifugal force that kept pulling me closer and closer to the neck of his guitar as it rocked and tugged seductively.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Ho-Ho Hobag

Well, friends, earlier today I made a flashpoint decision. I performed an action of what I thought would be little consequence. It wasn't one of those things that you think about so much while you're doing it, but immediately afterwards you get washed over by a huge tsunami of regret and it takes awhile for your conscience to settle down again. I didn't run a red light, I didn't have unprotected sex, I didn't even pay a hobo and a hooker to fight each other and then stuff their dead bodies in my trunk afterwards.

I ate a Ho-Ho.

Rachel and I were tired of shipping. We were working hard and decided that we'd like to grab some lunch. Pooling together a handful of coins that we gathered from under floor mats of our cars, hidden pants pockets, and cracks in the sidewalk, we headed out to Taco Bell. I had a bean burrito (89 cents) and Rachel had two soft tacos (1.49 or something like that.) It was all very economical.

We came back and I opened the fridge to put in a warm can of Dr. Pepper that was soupifying in my car from my late night trip to Franklin. And there they were. The package was opened, torn down the middle, revealing two sumptuous Hostess snack cakes nestled together like a pair of cream-filled baby bunnies--baby bunnies that begged to be consumed in the wake of cheap Americanized Mexican fast food.

My cohort and I took the Ho-ho's. I asked her whose they were and she mused that they were probably Chuck's (our boss, and the owner of the fine establishment that currently employs yours truly.) I said that they looked like they had been in the fridge for a while and somehow, in an unspoken agreement, we ended up noshing on the things before we could even make it down the stairs to our office. They were good--a little dry, but chilled to perfection. It wasn't until after we ate them that my companion started to frighten me a little bit. "Chuck's gonna be so pissed when he can't find his Ho-Ho's." She kept saying this. At first I was scared to the max but after things stayed quiet for awhile, I calmed down.

We didn't think much of our escapade until we heard a scream from upstairs. "Where are my Ho-Ho's?" a voice shouted out. And then without warning, "WHO ATE MY FREAKIN' HO-HOs? I'M CHECKING THE CAMERAS AND WHOEVER TOOK THEM IS GETTING FIRED!"

We were screwed.

Quickly, we composed ourselves and snuck out the back of the store and across the parking lot to the Sunoco, a place where everybody knows our name. Unfortunately, they only had the Little Debbie brand of chocolately snack roll and I was told that wouldn't do. We then ran across the street to Walgreen's where we found a large box of them for $3.69. Of course, considering the fact that we had to pool loose change together to be able to afford lunch, there was no way in hades we were going to be able to buy that box. We ran back across the street to the store where Rachel grabbed her debit card. On the way out, we were being hotly pursued. Or maybe it just seemed hot because it was a good 88 degrees outside and I was wearing a blazer. No matter. The point is that our boss and the victim of our gluttonous little scam was nothing less than shaking his fist at us as we ran back across four lanes of traffic. He screamed "Rachel!" from the curb the way Marlon Brando screamed "Stella!" in the rain in "A Streetcar Named Desire."

Rachel charged the Ho-Ho's and while we waited in line we thought of excuses--how we were going to explain this to Chuck. In the end, we came back and returned him a box of Ho-Ho's, laying on a thick bold-faced lie so ridiculous that it was obvious that we stole the original Ho's, but charming and self-effacing enough that nobody could ever be angry with us. Because we're smooth like that.

I can't believe I was concerned about being fired over communally eating a Ho-Ho but I'm not the slightest bit worried about being canned for blogging on the job.