Sunday, October 30, 2005

Hazy and Dolorous: the Anniversary Edition

New look, here's why: "so hot right now" is about to be the last phrase that describes life in Chicago. Better to change now while the changing's good. Also, it's been a year to the day, and I'm getting really sick of looking at that orange star thing.

And speaking of anniversaries (see what I did there?)... there's all kinds of hubub about the 50th anniversary of Lolita. And by "all kinds," I pretty much just mean a party at a bar here in Chicago, and a stellar piece by Chris Norris in this month's issue of GQ. (I'd link to it, but you'd just get a teaser — oh, how apropos! — It's highly recommended reading, though, if you have access to GQ.)

The gist is this: "Those mythic forbidden nymphets — who have not just puerile hips but a dewy eagerness, a trusting vulnerability — are doomed in an era of cardio strip classes and flavored body glitter." Too true, Chris.

Norris's position skews toward the masculine (how's a guy supposed to devine true nymphetry when he's daily confronted with thirteen-year-old mallrats sporting "pornstar" t-shirts and visible thong lines and "bullseye!" back tattoos?) but that's only to be expected in a men's magazine. What's unfortunately overlooked in the piece is the feminine flip-side: how's a true nymphet supposed to garner any kind of appreciation (the genuine kind, as perpetrated by Nabokov's hero) when competing with those same mallrats? For all intents and purposes, nymphetry is looking like a lost art.

This is not good news for the girl who's never owned pants with writing across the butt and who, as recently as last night, chose fleece over fishnets when costume-coordinating. I'd like to think I still have a few tricks, a few nymphetish resources up my (full-length) sleeve*. But the success of these tricks relies on so much that can't be controlled: no one who hasn't read "the lyrical, anguished, prismatic prose of twentieth-century English literature's greatest work," for instance, could truly appreciate the execution of a well-timed Lolitaism.

Still, as long as we're seeing stuff like Norris's, stuff that asks "where are you hiding, Dolores Haze? What the hell happened?", there is hope...

* I'm quite partial to the coy "oops, how did we end up holding hands under the table?" routine. The "I don't know much, but I'm an excellent student" thing has also had a high rate of success, but it's not for beginners. (Hee! Isn't it funny that I let you think you seduced me? That's probably the best trick I have. And in retrospect, really, wouldn't you have to agree?)

Friday, October 28, 2005

You're so not money, and you don't even know it.

In an affront to journalists and other punctuation nerds everywhere, the U.S. mint has issued this nickel.

That's right. Three exclamation points. Three!!!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Just click your heels three times...

Between the ages of five and eight, I was Dorothy for Halloween (and quite a few days in between Halloweens*) every year. My grandmother had made my costume, so it was perfect to a T: blue gingham jumper over a white button-down shirt, white ankle socks, plaited hair (blonde, but that was no matter to me); I even had a stuffed Scottie dog that I carried around in a basket.

The only thing we could never get right was the ruby slippers. I've always had abnormally tiny feet, and I don't think I started wearing "grown up" sizes until I was in sixth or seventh grade. This anatomical deficeit posed quite the costuming difficulty: apparently back in the '80s, the powers that be didn't find it fitting to make red shoes in little girl sizes. (Now, of course, there are red shoes — red glittery shoes — in little girl sizes, and you see them all over the place. My little cousin got them for Christmas when she was two and I was 14. Oh boy, was I jealous.)

We — my mom and I — tried all the ruby slipper options we could think of. They made red jellies in my size, but jellies just aren't practical for hoofing it around the neighborhood at the end of October (besides, the real Dorothy's shoes didn't have holes in them. Unacceptable!) We found a couple of pairs of red leather pumps, but they were too big for me (they fit Bizzy, my other cousin, who's the same age as me, perfectly, and she was Dorothy all those years, too. Again: jealous.)

I had quite specific criteria for the ruby slippers, which were, after all, the ultimate accessory for the Dorothy costume. They had to have a heel (because when else was I going to be allowed to wear heels at age 5?) and I would settle for them not having a bow so long as they were sparkly like the real things.

After a few years of costume frustration, my mom, at her wit's end, I'm sure, came up with The Corduroy Solution. The Corduroy Solution involved a pair of navy blue platform Mary-Jane style corduroy shoes in my size, caked with a thick coat of Elmer's school glue, and shaken vigorously in a brown paper bag filled with red glitter. Here's what we didn't plan for: Elmer's school glue + glitter = sparkly clumps; and then: corduroy + sparkly clumps = stripes of glittery blobs with rivets of sticky inky blue in between. Not. Cool.

I wore them anyway, of course, and thought they were awesome because they were the closest thing I'd ever seen to legit ruby slippers that actually fit me.

When we went to see the real deal ruby slippers in the Smithsonian a few years after my Dorothy phase, we realized what should have gone down: sequins fastened to corduroy shoes with E6000, the greatest adhesive substance maybe ever. But by that time, it was too late: my feet had just tipped over the cusp into grown-up sizes, I had outgrown my Dorothy pinafore, and wanted to be "something scary" for Halloween.

This year, Robyn showed me this Dorothy costume. Now that's scary.

* Also, before the days of all the new-fangled DVD/laptop/iPod technology, I had the entire Wizard of Oz movie home-recorded onto two cassette tapes. I was obsessed. I used to listen to them before bed, in the car on the way to school, and apparently at lunch. The worst day of my six-year-old life was when I dropped tape 2 into my vegetable soup, never to hear it again.

** And on a completely unrelated other than the strangely evocative ties to my childhood note: It's corn and corn alone day!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Hey baby, wanna get Chipotle'd?

As age-old questions go, "What happens to those crazy Real World kids once their 15 episodes of fame are over?" is a classic.

The answer, apparently, is this: if they don't go on to do Gauntlet/ Inferno/ Guillotine/ Whatever the hell, and if they're Jamie from the New Orleans season, they go to Chipotle — my Chipotle — for a little Monday-afternoon burrito action. And they make themselves audience to the Total Erin Spazzfest, which is, I'm coming to realize, inevitable in the presence of the slightly-famous... or cute boys in general, as the case may be.

So, I'm heading into Chipotle for the first of the week's four-plus Veggie Bols (hold the beans), and, shit, shit, oh, holy shit! the door's locked! Chipotle's closed! I'm going to have to go another day (another day!) without it! I throw my whole body into the door-tugging. Hair flipping and pouting and huffing and stomps of frustration ensue in short order. Lunch Companion calmly swings open the other door (the one on the left, as if anyone goes for the one on the left first!) and Spazzfest screeches to an abrupt halt.

But not before I've caused a complete scene in the glass-walled atrium, you know, the one through which everyone (including brutally hot ex-Real Worlders) can totally see what's going on. Brilliant, Erin.

OK, smooth hair, take a deep breath, shoulders back like nothing happened. Good. Take comfort in the fact that Chipotle's not closed after all, and that you don't yet have business cards, should you be tempted to drop one (with cell number printed neatly on the back) amongst the tortilla chips of a certain MTV has-been.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Set To Solsbury Hill

Maybe I've been in a deadline-induced haze for the past week, or maybe I'm just plain losing it, but I'm aware that the songs I've lately been listening to on constant repeat (like this one) have been really soundtracky. You know, the kind of songs you listen to on your iPod that make you feel like walking in slow motion, that make you feel like you're in a movie and everyone else around you is just an extra or an audience member.

And if the last week of my life was a movie, the kind that ends with a white-hazy, slightly-slowed montage of all the pivotal moments, the tangible emotional ups-and-downs, the scenes included would be the ones in which I...

...made my weary, overworked way toward the last remaining seat on the El, then stopped dead in my tracks and did a very obvious about-face because the guy next to whom I'd be sitting was petting his snake. I wish this was a euphemism. It's not. It was an actual snake (garden, probably harmless) — no cage, no box, just wrapped around his wrist, poised to slither away (and, inevitably into the next seat) at any moment. I opted to stand instead, and kept raising my eyebrows at my fellow passengers. None of them seemed to get it.

... consumed cheese pizza smothered in Lousiana hot sauce for five meals in a row.

... got drunk with my new coworkers for the first time, in that all-too-vulnerable "we've been cramped up in this room with each other for nearly sixty straight hours, let's get plastered" scenario that rarely leads to admissions you don't regret the next Stella-cloudy morning.

... got over it, and subsequently felt thrown right back under it... Woke up one morning with violently passionate convictions about it, and the next morning with an absolute indifference to it... Embraced the feelings of "something's missing" as good for the art, then, shortly thereafter snapped out of it ("nothing's missing!") and worried about the art suffering... Listened to this and thought "Fuck yeah!" and then "Really?" And "Uncle Joey?"... Listened to
this and thought "That's more like it" ... Vacillated, wavered, ran hot-and-cold, got over it again... Stayed over it. Resolutely.

... met a boy who had this* to say about Virgina Woolf (who I categorically detest, but may have to explore again outside the realm of academia) and who had a hand in this... Felt a bit coquettish for the first time in a long time... Giggled a little.

... baked a cake and received two marriage proposals (both accepted) because of it.

... caught myself belting out a few bars of this out loud on the train (lucky for me — and the rest of Chicago's public-transportation patrons — it was late, a weekday, and relatively uncrowded on the Red Line).

... Wrote the most random, linkcrazy, abruptly ending blog post.......

* "The Waves and Between the Acts, especially, do very special things to me, as do her belletristic nonfiction portraits. And even though the sexual politics of Mrs. Dalloway are basically odious and smug and retrograde, there's still a wrenching perceptiveness and prettiness and maybe even honesty to the whole thing that makes my distaste both that much more intense and entirely beside the point. She's one of maybe 7 or 8 writers this century that make me so jealous when I read her prose I'd be slitting my wrists if my knife were sharp enough."

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Immaculate Misconception

On Friday I got a letter from Planned Parenthood. And it wasn't just a letter; I am now a bona fide, card-carrying "Friend of Planned Parenthood." No questions asked, no money down, no commitment required (hey! Just like my real friends!)

The obvious question is: how did Planned Parenthood choose me to be a friend? The letter wasn't addressed to "Erin With a Capital V," as it probably should have been, so either they think I'm a different Erin altogether or (I'm inclined to go with this option) they're just so in awe of my arsenal of creative birth control methods that I qualify as a "friend" because they know they have a thing or two to learn from me.

Well, round up all your other gal pals, PP, because I think I've found the ultimate answer to the world's population control problems. Ready for it? Cat Socks. That's right. I folded not one, not two, but three pairs of socks with cats on them Saturday when I was doing my laundry,* and I'm pretty sure everyone at the laundromat (including the cute boy who works there, the one who sees a lot of rifraff, so who must find me attractive at least on a base level) saw me doin' it.

And who's to say how many guys I've warded off by actually wearing said Cat Socks (I mean, I had three pairs — three pairs!!! — in just one load of laundry. How many pairs are actually residing in my sock drawer?)

So this is why Planned Parenthood is so keen to be pals with me! I'm a family planning genius! There's no way anyone who owns this many pairs of Cat Socks could ever run the risk of unplanned pregnancy. Or planned pregnancy. Whatever.

Included with my "Friends of Planned Parenthood" card (which now lays claim to the coveted space between my Blockbuster card and the Barnes and Noble gift card with 53 cents left on it) was a letter to my state representative, urging her to support pro-choice and family-planning programs. The letter ends on this note: "Furthermore, with half of all pregnancies in this country being unintended**, I believe we should be doing much more to support access to affordable, effective family planning." I added on in pen: "Which is why I think one pair of Cat Socks should be included, gratis, in care packages sent to all unwed women. I know I personally could go for another pair. Pink, if you please."

* The phrase "Saturday when I was doing my laundry" may also be submitted into evidence as to why I am such a highly sought-after family planning guru.

** Terrible passive grammar here, PP. (Add "grammar geek" to the above-mentioned evidence list as well.)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Hoo-Hoo Hoo-HOOW!

Today I cleaned the apartment CSI-style. And by that I mean I got into all the little nooks and crannies and swept up all of Robyn's and my DNA-laden hairballs. I also mean that I used lots and lots of bleach.

Although — will those crazy criminals ever learn? — using a gallon of bleach wouldn't have helped me out if I'd actually committed a crime (really, the crime here is how disgusting our apartment's gotten). But seriously. Everybody knows all those crafty CSI guys have to do is spritz some of that spray-bottle stuff, whip out their nifty blue lights, and, voila!, case solved. So really using bleach for crime-related cleaning purposes just ensures that the Las Vegas crime lab will hunt you down with just a twinge less alacrity.

See? I'm learning by watching TV. I've learned how to be a more effective criminal (should all moral integrity — and my insane queasiness around blood — one day evaporate, that is). I've also learned that I would make a terrible crime scene investigator. Not because of aforementioned queasiness (although that probably would hold me back a little, huh?), but because of the hairball thing.

On CSI the team always finds one hair. One. Hair. And it always leads them to the suspect. Every time. Here's how things would go down if I was a CSI:

CSI: I found a hair! We've totally got him!
Erin: Nope. Nooo. That one's mine. Sorry.
CSI: That's OK, we've got another one right here.
Erin: Uh, yeeeah. Also mine.
CSI: This huge wad of hair in the corner?
Erin (sheepishly): Heh. Would you believe me if I said it wasn't mine?
CSI: I'm gonna need you to go ahead and wear this hairnet.

And then I'd be the CSI with a hairnet. Not cool. Especially in light of the fact that the third thing I've learned from CSI is that looking fierce on the job isn't just acceptable, it's encouraged... maybe even necessary.