Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Clarity

I've become far too intertwined with television, I've decided.

Today, for instance, I stood on the platform, springy (actually malleable?) from four hours' steady cats-and-dogs, and watched. Watched as the guy next to me — of indeterminate age and origin, practicing his golf swing with an invisible knot of titanium alloy etc..., humming, then singing, the bridge of what sounded like a Spanish lament — was silently attacked. The spider that rappelled from the damp rafters eventually nestled up beneath the collar of The S(w)inger's pique polo. When he (meaning the man, and also his new traveling companion) boarded the train, I walked the extra three yards to avoid sharing a car.

The logical — the neighborly — thing to do would have been to alert The S(w)inger to the presence of the descender-slash-nestler. But I just looked on like I was just watching another episode of Primetime Favorite or Tops in its Timeslot or Critically Panned (But a Cult Favorite!) or whatever the hell drivel I imbibe between the hours of 7 and 10.

The only thing missing was the just-loud-and-long-enough-to-be-eerily-uncomfortable canned laughter.

[Although, had I been brave enough to board the same car and witness the denoument of The S(w)inger episode, and wacky man-vs.-beast antics had ensued, I'm sure I would have issued a chuckle or two.]

Sunday, September 25, 2005

It was Colonel McMustard in that one place with the thing. Do I win?

I've had to explain on multiple occasions this week that I have no competitive drive to speak of, a deficiency, I think, resulting from my being an only child. I didn't grow up playing games — card games, board games, outdoor picnicky games — because, as only children the world over have piteously discovered, there are only so many games one can play alone.

Sure, there's Solitaire, but... really? My grandmother plays Solitaire. Cross that one off the cool list. No, when I was little and looking to while away the hours, I favored the modification of multiple-player games over ones that were specifically designed for one person. This naturally ruled out games that didn't involve a certain amount of chance.

For instance, I always wanted to own Guess Who, that game where you and your opponent each have a character card, and you ask questions ("Does your guy wear glasses?" "Is your guy a chick?" etc...) to narrow down the suspects and be the first to guess the other player's character. There was no way that was working with one person. Same with Battleship. But games like Trouble and Sorry— basically anything with dice or spinners or random card-drawing — worked fine.

I have to think my parents were kind of taunting me with some of the games they bought me. OK, I practically begged for Clue: Master Detective,* but they had to know when they got it for me that I couldn't play it with two dummy hands. It wasn't just that that was patently not fun; it just didn't work. Period.

I'll take that one as a parenting oversight. But buying me a Ouija board? Now that's just plain cruel. ("You're moving it!" "You know I'm not, because you're me. Quit talking to yourself and conjure some spirits, bi-otch!")

I also had Monopoly (not impossible to play alone, but not fun), Mall Madness,** and this kickass game called Heartthrob that I could never play alone because it required you to guess which of three hunks your opponents would choose to "dance with," "date," and "go steady with." (I always liked Ricky, the one with glasses, but I never got a chance to tell anyone.)

I never had Girl Talk, or Life, or Trivial Pursuit, or Twister (talk about the worst game to play alone ever!) and for that I feel kind of deprived. And that's not even mentioning the fact that I'm scarred for game-playing life now. I hate playing games because I'm not sure I know how to lose gracefully.

This brings up an odd phenomenon, though, one that I have other only-child testimony to back up: when you're playing a game, you against yourself, there's always one self you favor over the other to win. Like, you'll think, Today my favorite color is pink, and the closest gamepiece to pink is red, so I want my Red Self to beat my Blue Self in this game of Sorry. And then, if you're me at least, you'll manipulate the game to make your Red Self win. (Oh, that roll wasn't fair, Blue Self, you lose a turn. Sucka! ... Wait a tic...)

So, yeah. If you ask me to partake in a MarioKart tournament or a game of Euchre, or even TV Tag (which, by all accounts, I would be very good at) don't be surprised when I turn you down. Ask to watch me play Tetris, however... well, that's another story for another post. A post about addiction and hallucination...

* I remember wanting Clue: Master Detective specifically because Fran and Ally, my older, British, across-the-street neighbors had it and I thought it was the shit. I was always Miss Peach, who didn't exist in the original Clue, but who was prettier than all the other female characters and wore a big wide-brimmed straw hat. Also? I remember pronouncing "lead pipe" like "leed pipe" for the longest time.

** I always used to get so frustrated with Mall Madness because it took literally forever to set up, and then the game only lasted a few minutes. I could usually convince my dad to play with me; I'd spend all this time setting it up, and he'd beat me within the span of ten minutes. Every. Time. (Because "the object is to get in, get what you need, and get out of the mall.") Hey, I just wanted to browse a little, OK?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Check it.

New city. New camera. New distraction (for me and for you).

Sunday, September 18, 2005

"I know, right"

I hate when people say that.

Where did "I know right" even come from? People say it everywhere, so it's not a regional thing, like pop vs. Coke*. It kind of cropped up everywhere at once, I think. Like, one idiot said "I know, right," and somebody heard them and thought, "wow! That's a great way to agree with someone with a handy, built-in, easy-out option if you later decide to disagree with them." Then, of course, it wound up in Mean Girls, and thus "I know,right" became a permanent part of the American lexicon. And now everyone says it, almost reflexively.

EXHIBIT A — Me: Now everyone says it. You: Ew! I know, right?

And what does it even mean? That you have an opinion, but you need my permission to validate it? Don't ask me if you know immediately after you tell me you know. Either you know or you don't know. The next time you say, "I know, right," expect me to say, "no, you're wrong. You obviously don't know, so don't waste my time trying to convince me you do." It's the worst catchphrase since "am I right or am I right?". Don't give me options, 'cause I'll take you up on them.

* It's Coke. It's all Coke.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

... And She Was Always Down

Today started off well enough. Because my move didn't end up costing me nearly as much as I'd originally thought, and because I started a sort of unemployment contingency fund that I'm not going to need, and because it's gorgeous in Chicago, and because Fernando has agreed to teach me the ways of the photographic world, I decided I was going to invest in a pimped out new camera.

I did all the research, read the reviews, analyzed the pros and cons, and picked a camera I liked. I even convinced myself that I needed to make such an expensive investment to build up my credit. So out I went, on yet another public transportation adventure. Turns out my phone had other plans for me.

I know I've written about Freakin' Sprint! before, so I'll spare the tirade. I'll just say that my phone started acting weird, then up and died, en route to the camera store without showing any I'm Sick signals prior to. I panicked, thinking I'd have to buy a new phone, track down everyone's numbers again, be incommunicado for days: basically I'd have to pick up the pieces of my broken life because of Freakin' Sprint! and yet another of its fuck-ups.

The only thing I could think to do was storm a Sprint store and tell those bastards what was what. Again. So I went to Comp USA, pretended to be interested in a computer, discovered that Comp USA has what is officially the slowest internet connection of all time, so I went to the Apple Store instead. I found out that the closest Sprint store was on La Salle, so it was back on the El, then walking, then walking some more, then... finding out FREAKIN' SPRINT was CLOSED ON SUNDAY! Because no one's shit breaks on Sundays, it's like a rule from the Bible or something. (Freakin' Sprint!)

And then that "I'm-Having-The-Worst-Week-of-My-Life" inner dialogue started. And I have had a pretty shitty week (although, I know, I know, it could be a lot worse.) I had to work on Saturday, I'm getting sick, probably because I haven't been sleeping, I haven't really clicked with my coworkers because I don't have anything to add to their ceaseless marathon-training conversations (which won't end until mid-October) and I've generally felt pretty sad and alone all week.

Last night, Robyn and I were out and she asked me, "Do you ever look around at these places and feel really depressed that you're back out there again?" I had to think for a minute. I told her, "Yeah, but take away the 'again.'" It's true. I haven't felt this undesirable in awhile, and being called into work on Saturday (when I've only been on the job for four days) really put a damper on my curling-up-in-bed-and-sorting-things-out-on-my-own ritual.

Oh yeah, and on the ride home today, a guy sat down next to me and proceeded to unwrap his brand new shiny digital camera and fiddle around with it, like, how the hell did he know I had initially set out to buy a camera before everything went terribly terribly wrong?

But, as usual, things started looking up when I got home and decided to actually do something about at least one of the things that was bothering me. I'd had enough with my phone, so I took a screwdriver to the back. That didn't do anything except scratch it, so I dropped it on the floor (I figured if I was going to have to buy a new one anyway...) The battery popped out and I put it back in and... good as new! See? Throwing things always works. I learned this as an only child. Then I went for a walk to the hardware store and bought some bolts to put together the table that's been sitting in pieces on our floor since we moved in. I won't go into how Freakin' Ikea! screwed us (literally) by giving us the wrong connector parts not once, not twice, but three times, but I will say that I've taken that thing apart and put it back together about a hundred times. I bought some new pieces I thought would work, took them home, jimmied them around a little, and hey! They actually fit!

Now we have a pink kitchen table! I was so motivated after my crafty streak that I cleaned off our back porch, something I've been meaning to do for a couple weeks.

So, see? Everything balances out. I can't say assembling cheap furniture made me feel 100% again, but it helped. Starting tomorrow, things can only get better. And also? Did I mention our pink kitchen table? (Pix to come when I get my new camera — fingers crossed for tomorrow!)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Ain't nothin' but a number

I've only experienced movie theater meltdown two and a half times.

The first was during Babe: Pig in the City, which no animal lover — or even animal kind-of-liker — should ever subject themselves to. Ever. I'm talking animal creulty to the highest degree. I had to be dragged out of the theater crying. By my mother. At age 15. It was a sad, sad spectacle.*

The second was when I went to go see 13 Going On 30, and while I probably should have been crying because of the pathetic "redesign'** attempt that Jennifer Garner's character uses to win favor with her high-fashion-magazine coworkers, I think I was actually having a quarter-life crisis. I was right in the middle of my "oh-my-god-I-graduate-in-two-months-and-I-don't-have-a-job-yet-fuck-fuck-fuck" phase, and watching ol' Jen just wake up one morning with basically my dream job — and then take it for granted — is so not what I needed. Why couldn't I wake up as a magazine editor who's also magically in charge of the art department, huh? I had to pop a Xanax after that one. How many people can say that about a bubblegummy chick flick?***

The half time was a couple of weekends ago, when I went (alone, natch) to see The 40-Year-Old Virgin, a.k.a. the story of my life. It only counts as a half time because there were no tears involved (yes, there were tears involved with 13.) I decided after seeing it that I am never going to see a movie with an age in the title again. Ever.

It's like, who is Hollywood to give us an age limit by which certain things — if we want to be considered socially acceptable — should be achieved? Don't those seemingly innocent comedy writers know they're doing major damage here?

I mean, maybe some of us like going to the movies alone. And having hundreds of cats... er, comic book figurines. Maybe some of us (and here, of course, I'm only talking about That Guy From The American Version of The Office, Which Is Way Less Funny) don't need to be goin' outand gettin' laid and seein' movies with other people to feel like not-losers. Maybe some of us resent you implying that 40, or 30, or, I don't know, 23, is too old to not have gone out and had all kinds of meaningless sex in preparation for all that not-meaningless sex we're supposed to look forward to when we're married within your encouraged time frame. Ever think about that, Hollywood?****

So, yeah, boycotting movies with ages in the titles. Not getting my single-admission fare is really gonna stick it to the Hollywood Man.

* What really got to me for some reason was the goldfish that was tossed out of its bowl and left to writhe in breathless agony on the floor. Why this (and not, say, the bull dog almost drowning, or the beagle with broken back legs) is what stuck with me, I'll never know. Perhaps there's a traumatic goldfish incident in my past that I've supressed.

** FYI, for all you non Art Directors (ahem): Gluing themey pictures on a piece of poster board, upon which you've drawn whimsical little swirlies (!) and used hand-drawn block letters instead of a legitimate typeface (!!) does NOT constitute a redesign.

*** Also, I saw the movie when I was in the middle of The Hellacious AssPubs Interview Nightmare debacle, and every time I rode into the city to interview (or to be told, "we just forgot, can you come back next week?") I would see a huge, building-sized 13 Going On 30 poster. It was like the cities of Hollywood and Chicago had conspired to piss me off royally and point out that I was never, ever going to get a job. Ever.

**** An important footnote: The weekend I saw that movie was the weekend of the Chicago Air and Water Show, which I've never been around for in the past, but which I take to be an excuse for people to go out to the Lake, get heat stroke, have ice cream drip down to their elbows, see some planes and shit, and assist their too-young- or too-old-to-take-care-of-themselves relations in doing the same. And, I'm sorry, but I was walking out of the theater feeling all sorry for my loser self until I saw the throngs of people pushing strollers and struggling with diaper bags and water bottles and bug spray and toys and dog leashes and programs and sticky-faced kids and slushy Lemon Chill backwash and sunscreen and untied shoes. And then I was glad to be alone and I patted myself on the back for making it this far without even the remote possibility of getting knocked up and having offspring and then being forced to take that offspring to sweltering, crowded, panic-inducing outdoor activities.

[PS: Thanks, Tumbleweed, for making this post possible. If I got everything I wanted, I wouldn't have anything to write about.]

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

New gig, day one.

New job seems good. Here's an excerpt:

"Hey, you must be the new Art Director. From Northwestern. I went there, too. Hey! I just remembered. There's a mini-marathon fun run tonight, and if I bring a freind, we both get free t-shirts! You up for it?"

Uh... I had to curb my initial response, which was, "Sheeeah! I can't even make it up to my third floor apartment without wanting to die!" And then I had to resist the urge to blurt out my secondary response, which was, "The only place you'll see me running is away from a marathon!" And... my third response ("Just because 'fun' and 'run' rhyme doesn't mean they were meant to be used in conjunction with one another") was also squelched.

I told her I was still unpacking and hadn't found my running shoes yet (my entire employment is going to be based on a lie, a LIE!!

In other news, I accidentally on purpose groped some guy reading Nabokov on the El on the way home. He was so asking for it, though.