Saturday, January 29, 2005

If it came down to it, the Kleenex would win.

Today I saw a homeless guy on Oak Lawn with a sign that read:
"Hungry Vet. Visions of a HOT Cheeseburger. Please Help."

This sign made me think two things (neither of which had the slightest tinge of pity... sorry.)

The first was: "Dude. If it's a 'vision' of a chesseburger, how do you know it's 'hot'? They're called the five senses. Read up on 'em."

The second was: "Hey, I could go for a cheesburger right about now. But if I was going to make a sign, I'd pick a font much cooler than 'Bum W/ Sharpie Ultra Black Condensed.'" Maybe something with a serif... who knows.

I had another "Damn, I wish I had a camera" moment about two mintues later. There's this hoity-toity Bentley/Mercedes/Porshe/Other cars I'll never be able to afford dealership on Oak Lawn, and there were all these jacket-and-tie types out for test drives today. I don't need a picture of them, but I would like to have a picture of the medial strip right in front of the dealership, because there was a strategically placed box of tissues sqaring off with a just-as-strategically placed roll of toilet paper.

I mean, huh?

Is there some sort of message I'm missing here? (If I had a picture, I could maybe decipher what the artist was aiming for. I'd at least have more time to scratch my head about it.) It was pretty cool, though, to see the jacket-and-ties going about their test-driving business, all "look at me, throwing this Bentley into reverse without the slightest concern that someone on Oak Lawn might actually be trying to get somewhere and could be hindered by my carefree display of auto ballet on a major Dallas thoroughfare," while, on a medial strip mere feet away, some weird installation art/social commentary/creative use of sanitary paper products was in full swing. The juxtaposition was fascinating.

In other news, this week I: was named the design equivalent of "assistant to the regional manager," got scammed out of a sum that will go unmentioned for reasons of pride and sanity, sulked a lot, was pelted in the face with a teal-colored balloon, got an e-mail from Wonderboy5000, and was told, via a "number-1 bestseller," that I am a domestic at heart and that, if I don't already like spending time in the kitchen, I should read a book about cooking, because that's all I've got to look forward to.

Rock.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

I'm Not. That. Innocent.

I'm really over that "'sup" look from the 'hood. You know, the one where you cock your head back to the left about a quarter of a centimeter and purse your lips a little. It's like the laziest greeting ever, especially now, since the gesture itself is taken to imply the 'sup, thus rendering speaking unnecessary.

But anyway, that's what she gave me.

('Sup look from the 'hood) "Whaddaya in for?"
(Nonchalant) "I sped. You?"
(All tough gal) "Seatbelt violation. But I didn't do it."
(Huh?) "Didn't wear a seatbelt, or didn't violate a seatbelt?"
(Duh.) "Didn't have a seatbelt violation. I'm pleading not guilty. I always wear my seatbelt. Everyone should."
(Ohhh.) "Yeah. I do. I always do." (How, pray tell, do you get pulled over for a seatbelt violation? Isn't being issued a seatbelt violation like the officer admitting he was checkin' out your rack while you were in what you thought was the privacy of your own vehicle? Furthermore, can you make a citizen's arrest for the issuing officer on grounds of sexual harrassment? Those dudes deserve to have the tables turned on them every once in awhile. Except Officer Kevin.)
(Finger-combing crispy bangs) "Real crime is I was driving through Highland Park in the first place."
(Moving right along) "Yeah, they'll get ya." (Craning neck to hear: "The law's strict on this. One more violation and you're in jail." "Yeah, I know, but..." "No buts! Pay your fine and quit drivin' around trying to kill people! NEXT!" Wait... let me get this straight... the law is strict about not driving around trying to kill people? Good to know. Learn something new every court date.)
(Facade falls) "I'm not guilty. I'm not. Always. I always wear my seatbelt."
(Uh-huh, whatever) "Better hope your issuing officer's not here then."
(Wait a tic) "Yeah, better hope. Wait, why?"
(Now who's the one in the know about the justice system?) "Well, if he's not here, no one's here to bring a case against you. If he is, then it's his word against yours, and who do you think the judge is going to believe?"
(Ah. Shit.) "Well, they'll have to tell me if he's here, won't they? How am I supposed to know if I want to plead guilty or not guilty if I don't know if I could win or lose?"
(Lady, please) "They're not going to tell you. It's a crap shoot. Hey, you're up. Good luck."
(Shit, shit, shiiiiit!) "Uh-huh."

Sometimes I wonder what happened to that crispy-banged vehicle safety crusader. And by "sometimes," I mean I haven't thought about her again 'til now.

I also wonder how, when there are apparently people who don't know that it's bad to drive around on murderous rampages (which is an assumption, but a true one, I'm sure), I (innocent, white-shirt-wearing, driving a little too fast to work on a holiday, for God's sake!) could be punished for something so minor. People have too much time on their hands. Too much time to be grotsky little bi-otches.

Anyway, I'm on parole now.

And by "parole," I mean probation.

(But really, doesn't parole sound so much cooler? "Yeah, I can drive to lunch, but I should call my parooooh-le officer first. Can't be too careful, ya know, when you're on parooooh-le." Yeah, totally sexy.)

Sunday, January 16, 2005

"So you're just, like, prematurely OLD?"

I feel old. In the months since graduation (there have only been six), I’ve fallen back on the phrase “I’m too old for this” more than any normal 23-year-old should. Of course, one of the times that phrase was employed involved certain people running around hotels in their underwear babbling drunkenly about “Vodka Claus,” so I’m validated at least once.

I saw “In Good Company” this weekend, and it kind of freakishly hit home. The Topher Grace character, who’s married to a job he knows nothing about and who carries on his most meaningful conversations with a goldfish, is accused of being “prematurely old” because he graduated, landed a job, got rich/married/divorced in a matter of months, and woke up one morning realizing he envied his Volvo-driving underling.*

The getting rich/married/divorced thing isn’t so applicable, but still…

What the heck is wrong with me that I’d rather tool around in a well-appointed SUV contemplating 401Ks and networking strategies and the latest episode of Frontline (OK, Real World/Road Rules Battle of the Sexes) than act like the average bar-going, money-squandering, entry-level 23-year-old? Stability from stability is nothing to write home about. (But then again, why write home about anything? I go there every weekend to do laundry; why not just tell them about it.)

At least I got a new phone number so I can join up with the HP Singles.** Maybe social interaction will loosen me up a little. Or maybe all the HP Singles are career-driven, stability-chasing business wunderkinds who joined as an outlet from their intense careers and accelerated need to get a proverbial life. Ummm…

*The Volvo, of course, symbolizes the Dennis Quaid character’s sense of suburban stability. His car’s a wagon, not an SUV, but there’s still an eerie parallelism with my own Volvo-centric observations, I think.

** I really hope my out-of-state number is the reason they didn’t call me for my “screening.” Maybe they found out that I lied about my zip code (I spend a lot of time in that zip code; I just don’t technically live in it!) or that I’m wanted by the HP police for a major badass speeding offense.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Label Whore

The stamp across my hand reads "COMPLEX."

Is that a nod to my access (granted by presence of aforementioned stamp) to "eight clubs in one?" Or is it an inky description of my very nature? And, if it's the latter, how did the dude at the door know?

Either way, I can tell the stamp's not making any plans for coming off soon. After all the lathering and polishing and scrubbing and buffing, perhaps a better brand would be "CHAFED."

Friday, January 07, 2005

"Welcome to Academia. Bitch."*

Northwesterners started their Winter Quarter on Monday, and I've already been assured that the two things that MUST happen Winter Quarter are indeed happening. One is snow ("ten feet" according to sources in Texas. And by "sources," I mean Mary.)The other is midterms (or quizzes or problem sets or projects or proposals) occurring about point-five seconds after classes commence. So, in the spirit of being tested on knowledge you don't yet possess (or possess by fluke,) a quiz:

1.) [Physics] The other day, our apartment was frickin' freezing; Mary (in six layers, including scarf) said she felt like "an effin' popcicle." This is not to be confused with a popcicle made of Effin brand vodka, because, as we all know, you put vodka in the freezer to chill it -- the freezer temperature is not low enough to make vodka freeze. At what temperature, then, DOES vodka freeze? (This is question #1 because it is of the utmost importance; I really WANT an Effin popcicle, now that I've had time to think about it.)

2.) [TV Trivia] Fill in the Blank.
Elaine: "I don't like to go to those back specialists. They all have clever names like 'Great Vertebrations' and __________."
Hal: "Oh, mine doesn't. It's called The Lumbar Yard."

3.) [Pop Culture Speculation] Jay-Z has 99 problems, but a bitch ain't one. So what are the 99? (I'll give you a bonus: one is "bad grammar/ use of the word 'ain't.' What are the other 98?)

4.) [EQ Trivia] Multiple Choice.
Erin is:
a. Not that innocent
b. Stronger than yesterday
c. Toxic
d. Overprotected
e. Not a girl, not yet a woman

5.) [General Knowledge] Am I right or am I right?

That's it, kiddos. There's no extra credit, but you can use your books. Highest score gets an Effin popcicle.

* Yeah, that title is stolen. Hence the quotation marks. But it's fitting, even if it's not being used as a (very effective) pick-up line.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Hazy and Dolorous

I’m in that wispy state that comes from waking abruptly from a 40-minute “am I really asleep?”-type nap. I'm acutely aware of all of my joints (is that a sign of kinesthetic genius?) I’m working on a restlessness that is the sum of six diet cherry cokes, four bottled mochas, five hours of sitting, staring, drawing (trying to, at least), watching, drifting.

It goes something like this: “Lost in Translation” plus big comfy bed plus late night/early morning, plus caffeine-induced jitters equals power nap (power trip). My dream (a by-product of conversations past, viewing material present, and illustration activities remote): I am one of those trippy Japanamation girls. Pink pigtails. Toothpick legs topped off with a pleated white skirt. Bangs that could define geometric laws of linearity. Eyes that take up three quarters of my face. I want to communicate (at least I think I do), but my black ovular mouth only moves in one direction (up down) and the whatever fills the ensuing talk bubble is certainly not English. I can only express my frustrations ocularly: the orbs morph into two slivers with three black lashes each. A crescent tear appears at each temple. Scene.

I remember – pre-sleep or post? Must be pre-, during the karaoke scene – a time when I could throw back some mid-shelf tequila and rock myself and the other regulars out to a song destined for (or already comfortably positioned on) a worst-of-all-time list. I remember Air Guitar Evan, and the point at which laughing at his strumming and grinding and vest-wearing shifted from logical to slightly uncomfortable. I remember the only bar with a Golden Tee I never saw anyone play.

4:30. Any Sunday: My least favorite time of the week. Too early to turn in, too late to take off the pj’s, too early to be creative (only after dark), too late to be productive. It’s 4:28. If this was 2004, or oh-three or oh-two or oh-one, I would be in a cab from O’Hare, slightly carsick and jet-lagged (no time difference, but jet-lagged nonetheless.) I would also be (balance, always balance) in awe of the three weeks’ progress of the icicles and in anticipation of winding down and catching up, of starting a new quarter and prepping for yet another first day of school. And of course, in spite of some lagging, nagging feelings of heaviness, I would make time for a new year’s welcome-back galavant to 1800.

Now: Time to fold the laundry, doff the pajamas (if only for a few hours), get behind the wheel and drive back to the ordinary. It’s Sunday, the last 4:30 before a string of five (sometimes six) 4:30s spent “on the clock.” There will be no 1800 tonight: no karaoke, no cleavage, no secondhand smoke, no amaretto sours or sours of any kind. This is a different kind of rut altogether.