Monday, December 31, 2007

"It's New Year's Eve,
And hopes are high
Dance one year in
Kiss one good-bye..."

-Sunset Boulevard

It's about 8:30, and I've been feeling like Cinderella all night, avidly watching people at Job A setting up for a champane dinner and dance, compleat with twelve-piece jazz band and four intelligent lights that are calmly bathing the black-tied early birds in cool blues and sparkly whites. Also, about four hundred balloons, anchored securely to the ceiling, awaiting the midnight drop.

2007 has been a long year. It hasn't been the greatest year and it hasn't been the worst, although I'll be relieved to see the back of it. I never really celebrated or even much noted the passing of the years before. But I'm determined to do better this year: something's gotta happen now or something's going to give. Or, as dad reminded me when he brought me back a week ago: something's coming, something good. Change is in the air, I can feel it.

Part of not celebrating New Year's was never having any resolutions, but with the determination to make a clean break from 2007, I've decided to make a few. Firstly, to be more cheerful, friendly and optimistic and less down on my situation. I can feel myself being more cranky, bitchy, cold and condescending, and that has got to stop. Secondly, to stop being late for everything. Crappy public transport is no excuse for showing up late to every meeting. And thirdly, to start going to church again. There's a coldness that subzero temperatures can't quite explain, and I think the answer is in a house of worship.

I'm looking forward to 2008. It's going to be a good year.

"I just wanna update my blog quick, I wanna talk about my deodorant."

Last week I bought a deodorant bar from Lush called T'eo--for once I'm not naming inanimate objects, that's actually what it's called in the catalogue. Lush is a great store--they're totally organic and environmentally friendly, and they also have a store in Covent Garden. So one whiff sends me back to my favourite place in the world. I wanted to buy a deodorant bar because the sticks that I use normally tend to gunk up my clothes after awhile. I used a non-aerosol spray in London, but that's not available here. So I decided to try this stuff. At $7 a bar, it's an investment, but I love it. LOVE IT. T'eo looks like a little bar of chalky soap, and it smells like citrus heaven. You pat it on under the arms and it deodorizes like magic. The best part is that it also makes your room smell good!! And there's no packaging beyond the little plastic bag they give you to take it home. The woman at the store told me it should last about three or four months, but since I pat it on every chance I get (citrus heaven! heavenly!) I'll be surprised if it makes it another three weeks.

Samio is here--we just had a midnight diner run (not such a good idea since I had pasta and veg for dinner--overfull belly panda is not a happy panda) and now she's working her way through "The Onion's Year End Wrap Up" while I sing the praises of T'eo.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

this is MY SHIP!

Firstly, has a hysterical take on scary radiator noises. I agree-they are terrifying (second only to The Dark)-the ones in my apartment sound like the tormented souls of the damned.

Speaking of the damned. I've been reading Mutiny on the Bounty which fulfills several of my reading requirements:

1. It involves a ship
2. Takes places circa 1790-1805
3. Men in breeches
4. Is small enough to fit in my purse
5. Battered enough that I don't feel bad about shoving it into my purse

I found this book at the thrift store. I felt kind of ripped off because this copy was originally thirty-five cents, but the thrift store charges fifty cents for paperbacks, but it's all for a good cause, so I decided to suck it up and fork over the extra fifteen cents. I was afraid that I wouldn't like this book because I've bought books that have fufilled the above criteria only to plow to a halt halfway through them because of the dense language but Mutiny on the Bounty is RIVETING. I mean--it's just an amazing story. AND IT'S TRUE! I had no idea that the story was based on actual events. It's just amazing the sheer forces of will that were involved in these events. Of course, being a book about the Navy, there's a lot of talk about duty and honor and even though modern interpretations tend to sympathise with the mutineers, it's obvious that the narrator still feels a great deal of loyalty to Captain Bligh, and we're supposed to be horrified that anyone would disobey orders or break ranks like this.

The authors manage to create these incredibly suspenseful story ("WILL the mutineers be HUNG?!") even though the narrator mentions the battles he's been involved in--Camperdown, Copenhagen and Trafalgar--and all these take place after 1792, so it's pretty obvious he survived--but even so, I nearly missed my stop on the train because I was dying to see what happens next. Roger Byam is the name of the narrator, and he's based on a real-life figure, Peter Haywood, who, after being acquitted of mutiny, went on to become a captain in the navy. (He also served on HMS Bellerophon, which is the ship Napoleon surrendered on, fyi.)

I was quite pleased with myself for not having to look up the definition of "fothering" while I was reading, and gave a little squirm of recognition when the president of the court martial was named as Lord Hood. Slowly, the bits of British naval history fall togther. (Another reason we're supposed to sympathise with Captain Bligh--Nelson spoke highly of him after Copenhagen, and if Nelson likes someone...I still get a kick out of how ANY naval occurence in this time period must have one Nelson reference. It's so cute.)

I definitely recommend this book to everyone. It's just so damn fascinating.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Celebrity Hack

There's home and then there's not home, and I'm definitely not home right now. I am feeling a little more centered about finding a new job and living in Chicago, but still ansty about Seeing the World and trying something different. In the meantime: worked for twelve and a half hours today. Welcome back!

Christmas was magnificent. I am the happiest kid on the block because I woke up to find a Singer sewing machine under the tree, causing me to dance around breathless with joy. Finally, a friend who won't get sick of my endless contemplations of period clothes. (not that I don't have friends who are excited about period clothes. But I'm sure even THEY have hit their limit of my reverent recitations of Nelson's decorations et al.) By Mom's count, we had forty people in our house at one point, and most of the afternoon was spent singing. I love to sing with my family, we are endlessly musical, and what we lack in training we make up for in enthusiasm. (except for KT. She has amazing talent, also enthusiasm. Also, better hair.) The highlights of the day were marked by a pair of Announcements, one of which involves a Boat, specifically the purchasing of by my dad. Dad, who was quickly corrected by me when he regretfully told me that I couldn't borrow it: "But Dad, if I have to drive it, how am I going to sit up in the bow and bark at passing jetskis?!"

So we had a long day of family fun, and in the evening I settled down with "Half Blood Prince" in front of of a roaring fire and watched Law and Order with mom...just like being at home. Yesterday Dad brought me and the new Singer (which doesn't have a name yet, since I'm trying to figure out if it's male or female) back to Chicago, pausing momentarily for brat-y goodness at Kenosha. If Napoleon had had my stash of leftovers, he would have made it to St. Petersburg. My one regret about working today is that I did not have the luxury of eating my way slowly through the fridge. Also, my roommate got to the taco salad. Damnit.

Happy news on the job front: I have a Very Promising job interview tomorrow for a full-time office position (yay), the only slight downside is that they would probably want me to start Monday. I am supposed to be working on Monday., this is awkward, but if you REALLY had wanted me there, wouldn't you be offering me more than eighteen hours a week? I feel bad ditching my wonderful boss, but a real job is, well, a real job.

News at eleven.

Oh wait, it is eleven.

Good night all.

Monday, December 24, 2007


Mom has just pointed out how Dad's new snowblower isn't as heavy as the old one, mentioning how after blowing, one must shovel, and looking at me in a pointed fashion.

So I'll keep this short.

I am home, and it is good to be home. Many times before I've mused on the meaning of home--is it in Chicago, is it London, is it here in my parent's house, where I grew up but where I no longer live (posters of HP on the back of my bedroom door notwithstanding). But this is home. Right now, today, here helping my mom make meatballs or avoiding helping Dad shovel, this is home. I'm so happy to be in a place where I know that right now, this is exactly where I belong and where I should be.

I felt it this weekend too, being surrounded by friends old and new, reminiscing about the greatest city in the world and speculating on the future. Home-not-home in Chicago, but in the love and friendship of people all over the world. It's like sunshine after a long winter.

Like I said, I have to keep this short, but I'm hoping that everyone will feel this way this Christmas--this is the best present I could have receieved. I have already been paid for a review of Sweeney Todd, so I'll post the link here once I write it, but rest assured the movie was great. Merry Christmas everyone, and God bless us all in our contentment.

Friday, December 21, 2007

happy winter solstice

Today is the shortest day of the year. I am happy that from now until June, there will only be more hours of sunlight, because I'm tired of doing things in perpetual semi-darkness.

In a couple hours, friends will start arriving from all over the world to celebrate mah birfday with me, acts of love and friendship that I am so grateful for. It's been a hard year, a long year, and I hope that 2008 will be better. I'm not anxious to leave my late early twenties behind, but the future is calling, it's now or never.

I'm going to be leaving to go home for Christmas in a couple days, so I probably won't get much of a chance to post here between now and the 26th, when I'll be back.

So my New Year's resolution for this year is to be the positive, optimistic, cheerful person I'm used to. More than anything, I hate how my current situation has turned me into a cranky, stressed out, grasping individual. That's not me. I must turn my attitude around, or else I'm going to start hating myself as well.

Until then, Queen:

It's a hard life,

In a world that's filled with sorrow

There are people searching for love in every way

Yes, it's a hard life

But I'll always live for tomorrow

I'll look back on myself and say,

I did it for love.

Yes, I did it for love.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

For Once, the Catholic Church and I Are in Total Agreement

"The Golden Compass" is a crappy movie.

Although we dislike it for different reasons. Yahoo has this article, which says that the Catholic Church has slammed "The Golden Compass" with a "stinging broadside" (broadside being a nautical term), saying that it is "Godless and hopelss." Let it be shown that I too wish to broadside "The Golden Compass" with cricism, except MY problem is with the story and the script. I agree with the Catholic Church there should be more God, if only so when he humanity brings down the Kingdom of Heaven, people will feel more than just "what is happening? I'm so confused." Which is how I exited after seeing the film a couple weeks ago. The Catholic Church is scared that these books will cause children to question their religion, turn away from the church and possibly give up on God all together. The movie is about as threatening as VeggieTales, but the Catholic Church has been denouncing it anyway, since the books just might make a few people think.

Last night I finished re-reading the His Dark Materials trilogy ("The Golden Compass" is based on the first book, "The Northern Lights"), and I understood and enjoyed the story a lot more than I did when I read it in college. It is kind of bleak, especially at the end when the Church's power is destroyed, and the onus for making the universe a good place falls onto the shoulders of people. That's a LOT of responsibility, especially for a couple of kids. But at the same time, it's no different from what Jesus tells us--"do unto others as you would have done unto thee" and the one about treating the least of my bretheren as you treat me. (yes, yes, I know, it's been awhile since I've cracked a Bible) What's the difference, saying you're acting this way for the glory of God or because it's the decent thing to do? Maybe because the dark side of that is where it gets scary: if I am acting decently for the Glory of God, then what is to stop me from hurting people for the Glory of God? (cf, Spanish Inquisition, Crusades, etc.) Yet when godless heathens act decently or hurt people they're considered examples of how degraded humanity has become, how far away from God we've moved. Truly, what if there is no God, and it is up to us to be decent or not? That's a lot of responsibility. I don't know if I'm ready for that.

Saying "I'm not strong enough to take responsibility for being a decent person" seems like kind of a weak and weird reason to be a Christian. But, then again, Jesus died for our sins--how can I do better than that? Yesterday I talked about how bitchy and crabby I've been lately, and these are just little examples of being a bad person. Small moments when I could choose to be more polite or just spread around anger. These are the marks that are going to get read back to me on the Day of Reckoning, since I'm not planning on committing any murders any time soon. I'm not even strong enough to reel in my contempt when someone answers my questions slowly, or when people stand on the left on the escalator. How can I hope to build the Republic of Heaven on my own? Better to continue the work that Jesus started and try to bite my tongue when the situation calls for it.

Christmas is a week away, and I've been thinking about it a lot lately. Not in a "yay, I'm so excited to go home for Christmas!" or "yay, Jesus!" kind of way, but in a "when is this holiday going to be over so I can get back to normal" kind of way, which makes me slightly ashamed. There are reasons for the season, whatever your beliefs, and regardless, we should all take the time to slow down and appreciate the year that was and the year that's coming. But I can't do it this year. I don't know why. Maybe it's because of all the crabby and the stress, it's pushed goodness and patience out of my heart. I think "His Dark Materials" affected me more than it did before, because the message hit a little harder this time. The onus IS on me, after all, no matter what, to do the right thing.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Other People's Presents

I've decided I don't like wrapping other people's presents. Work at Job A started today when I was presented with a box and told to wrap what was inside. Inside was a Wii. I realised, looking at the box, that it had obviously been purchased directly from Nintendo, then couriered via a United Airlines flight to Chicago, where it was going to be presented to some deserving Child Christmas morning after being wrapped by yours truly. I was momentarily taken aback by the casualness of the present, when parents all over the land are tearing their hair out trying to get one, but then I remembered that these are Very Rich People and they probably called up their good friend the CEO of Nintento and mentioned how little Tarquin was fading away from a lack of Wii. So I wrapped it. It took me forty-five minutes because the only paper we have here is Crappy Brown, better suited to retirement parties and funerals, and every bit of it is too small to go around the Wii box. I'm sure the Deserving Child will not notice my careful hiding of double-sided tape, but the parents are no doubt fuming over the fact that I had to tape two pieces together and then carefully hide the join under a ribbon. When I finished, I was presented, Rumplestiltschkin-like with another three boxes--all of which are too big for good ol' Crappy Brown. sigh. The good news is the powers that be have taken pity on me and are asking people to pay for wrapping, which is nice. We (okay, "I") don't mind wrapping things that come from our store, but we do not sell the Wii.

This ties back to a snarky article I read in the paper the other week. A journalist was talking about his favourite restaurant, and how he and the maitre d' are "pals," they say hi, they schmooze, whatever. Then the other day, he was seated and he saw his "pal" the maitre d' with her "customer face" off from across the room, and he realised--this is her job. She's not my friend, she's just THAT GOOD that she makes me think I am. He realised she has a hard job and she does it well, and he hasn't appreciated that before now. So on his way out he gave her twenty dollars--he said that she took it so quickly he had to make sure that his fingers were still there, a snarky comment that still rankles. Because people don't realise. Working in the service industry around Christmas has given me a better appreciation for waiters, clerks, maids, coat check people. The other day at Job A the coat check lady told me that two twenty-somethings had left ten bags of Christmas shopping (think Gucci, Prada, Tiffany, etc) with her while they had tea--and when they came back for their stuff, they left no tip. NADA. Now, I don't know if they didn't realise that tipping also applies to stuff and not just coats, but I was outraged on behalf of my friend. I luckily make enough that I don't have to rely on tips, and twenty dollars will not make or break my budget, but it would be nice to put something in the bank occasionally. I'm not saying "pay me to wrap your Wii" but at least understand that this very expensive machine you couriered across the country has been carefully handled and hand-delivered to your door so you can take the credit come Christmas.

Of course, I do it too. Yesterday, after my job interview before work, I stopped of at a McDonald's for a cup of coffee. Growly (I had had no caffiene), high-strung and mad (on top of EVERYTHING ELSE, I've lost my CTA card, oh, what a world!) I barked out an order for COFFEEEE! at the poor guy across the counter. Did not make eye contact, but thrust a five dollar bill at him while reaching for my cup. He mumbled something. "WHAT?" I said, impatiently, "WHAT?!" He said, "It's a free cup of coffee, miss. It's Monday." I immediately felt embarassed that I hadn't taken the five extra seconds to understand him the first time. And I'm ashamed that I wasn't nicer to him--after all, there are positions where you can expect to get tipped, and then there's working at McDonald's. I think I muttered an "oh, sorry" and slouched away, red-faced, clutching my coffee. We are all working hard. Must remember that--if nothing else, we are ALL working hard.

Update: About five minutes ago, the Dad who had bought the Wii called me up, concerned. I had wrapped the Wii by itself, then wrapped the extra controllers and memory card separately, all together in a shirt box. He just wanted to make sure that everything was there and find out what was in each box I had sent him. I politely told him, refrained from mentioning that people do find time to wrap presents themselves, and wished him a good day. Okay. So I'm working on the snarky part. Working hard, working hard...right.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Normality on a Saturday

I feel bad for not going out last night with my friend, even though he had asked me three weeks ago, but after a week of being sick, not getting enough sleep and going to two job interviews in one day, I was ready to crack. So I stayed home and went to bed at 7:45. And slept until 8:30. Clearly I needed it.

Today I had to return to the clinic so I could get my TB test examined. I can tell that I'm feeling better, because I saw an anti-abortion protest outside a woman's clinic, and I nearly got off the bus to give the protestors a piece of my mind. Five males (of course!!!), holding pictures of babies (no dead fetuses, thank God) and the Madonna and haranguing Christmas shoppers. I understand pro-lifers even less when they're male and I don't appreciate them waving religious iconography in my face. If an angel had come to me in a blaze of light and told me that I was going to bear the Son of Man, you bet your fur I'd keep it. Not all women have that assurance. Moving on.

Actually-I'm sure there's a whole essay in there about how Mary had no real assurance that everything WOULD be okay and she kind of had to go on faith, etc. etc. but now's not the time.

I spent the intervening hours between my visit ("is my tetanus shot supposed to look like this?" "What, does this hurt?" *poke* "OW!" "It's fine. It's just a reaction." Oh, good...glad to have cleared that up...) and working doing some Christmas shopping. I have no idea what to get my mother. Normally I'd get her a sweater or a pair of slippers and be done with it, but this year I want to get her something sparkly. The problem is...I just haven't found it yet. Suggestions? The problem with Christmas shopping is you tend to find lots of things for yourself. Like, for example, an antique metal locker from HMS Mercury that was only--ONLY!--$125 that I have no use for whatsover, but it says "HMS Mercury" on it. Also, inkwells.

As I walked to work I ran into another protest, this one against furs, outside of Saks...I applaud people who are willing to stand out in the snow and get slushed on, but, really, guys (again, all men, hmm...), this time of the year, you're just in people's way and probably pishing them off.

Now CNN tells me that Hillary Clinton is losing her lead in the Iowa polls, after gleefully pointing out that a blizzard on January 5th could make all the difference. (read: "Those poor rubes. The fate of Middle-Earth lies in their hands, but they might not be able to shovel out!!") I'm quite excited to think that Barack is slowly edging into the lead. I'm totally ready to follow him as a president, but I wasn't sure anyone else felt the same way. Well, there's still eleven plus months until the vote, but good numbers are a positive thing. Yay.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

So far, so good

The site of my TB injection remains flat and colourless. The site of my tetanus booster (thank you, US taxpayers) hurts like a sob. Ironically, it's about an inch south of the snitch tat, where hopefully tattoo #3 will be appearing. Someday. In the meantime, everytime my bra strap slips off my shoulder it rubs against this spot, causing me to growl in pain. This happens a lot. I need new bras.

I have another interview lined up--this one for Monday morning, for a real job, not a temp agency, a job involving Admin and Reception and Business Professional. Which I have done before. Is it theatre? No. Will it allow me to a) have only one job b) get a new apartment c) have enough money that I can afford tea in teashops on Sunday so I can write JK Rowling-style d) buy plane tickets to London and e) adopt a warm and fuzzy? Yes. So I need to get a haircut and wash my suit. Check.

I have completely given up on my roommates. Before I left I was despairing about how it is going to take me a long time to clean, and one of the guys said "oh, if you'd just leave me a list, I could help out..." Implying of course that I would clean--he would "help." So I said, as I dashed out the door to wash work clothes so I have something to wear during my two interviews tomorrow, "would you mind shaking out the rugs? I'm going to sweep and mop when I get home!" Two hours later (at eight thirty) I returned home. Rugs: unshaken. I had hoped he might get the hint and shake, sweep and mop, but since a direct imperative was beyond him, I don't know why I thought he'd go above and beyond. Other roommate also not so gret: Cans still appearing in the garbage despite a slightly desperate post-it note saying "please recycle! thank you!!!"

for the record it took me ten minutes to shake, fifteen to sweep and fifteen to mop. And another ten to bitch.

but I have not given up yet. For in the store today, an incredibly helpful lady named Diane (clearly, a reincarnation of the goddess of wisdom and patience) gave me refund on my organic peanut butter even though I did not have the original receipt without quarrel. Thank you diane for being such a decent human being. I really need some of that right now. She even gave me the FULL refund, not the price on sale, but the extra two dollars, which I promptly spent on a jar of chunky Jif. Preservatives be damned.

Also, Herbal Essences makes a shampoo called "DRAMA CLEAN." Yes I bought it, how could I not? Have you been paying attention to this post? "nickilovesdrama?" "nickiloveshistronics" more like.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pricked, prodded and preoccupied

Another hoop I have to jump through to volunteer with wee children is having a tuberculosis test. I always associated TB with eighteenth century writers, but apparently it's having a comeback tour in our schools and hospitals. So I made an appointment with a low income clinic downtown and went down there today. In the course of two hours I was:

1. Seen by 4 different people
2. Stabbed by three of them
3. Reassured my blood sugar level is perfectly normal--no diabetes (woot)
4. Ditto high blood pressure (double woot)
5. Robbed of blood for a cholesterol test
6. Given a TB test which involves a clinician inserting a tiny needle under my skin and then blowing it up like a balloon, or a science fiction movie. I'm sure there was some kind of medical reason for doing this, but then again it could just have been "hey, look at this cool thing your skin does!" If I do not have TB the bubble is supposed to go away. If I do, it will get harder and bigger. Right now--it's gone. So much for me retiring to a sanitarium and reading the plays of Henrik Ibsen.

So I have an owie on my inside right arm, my left shoulder, my left finger and my left forearm. I only saw the doctor for about ten minutes. I was really impressed with how efficient these people are, but at the same time it was a little disconcerting at being shuffled around so efficiently. I also felt very out of my league because almost everyone there was Hispanic and more than half had a baby(ies) or small children attached to them. (as Extremely Efficient Clinician #1 took my weight (their scale is broken, btw) another one weight a brand-new baby who was six pounds (six pounds!!! awww!!!) causing me to lean over for a look and prompting EE #1 to swat me on the arm and tell me to stand still.) I learned a new word tonight--CONSULTARIO! Which is a much cooler word than "exam room."

I'm relieved everything looks okay. I will return on Saturday to find out about my TB bubble and my cholesterol test. Meanwhile I'm feeling a little better. Migraine on Sunday was followed up by a bout of stomach flu on Monday and yesterday I worked thirteen hours.

I had a really bad moment this morning--probably due to the fact I was lightheaded (stomach flu+not eating=light head) and was wondering how to pass the three hours between working and my appointment. An image of a bookstore with a coffee shop flitted into my head and I thought hazily "oh, I'll...just go there..." I'd been there a lot even though I'd never had coffee there, but I figured I could get a paper or...and then I realised the bookstore in my mind was actually the Waterstones right off of Trafalgar Square. Where I used to kill a LOT of time.

I carried that with me all day, very cranky, very upset at my life right now, only to arrive home to an email from a company inviting me to interview with them for a stage management position (paid) and a voicemail from a temp agency about a REAL job.

Monday, December 10, 2007

70% Better

I'm feeling better today...last night after a 1776 production meeting I came home, took a scalding hot shower, put on flannels and socks and curled up into the fetal position and slept like the dead for twelve hours. I think in addition to being overworked and underfed, I'm severely dehydrated, because I drank three liters of water before going to bed--and I didn't get up once during the night to use the bathroom. I did have to reschedule a meeting at (yet another) temp agency--I just hope the perky secretary on the other end believed me when I said I was suffering from a migraine and didn't secretly think I was just avoiding going outside. I don't know why my body's reaction to getting sick--any kind of sick--is to immediately shut down blood flow to my extremities so my fingers, toes and nose feel as cold as though we were hiking Mount Everest. SEriously. When I got home last night, I thought my fingers would for sure be black once I prised off my mittens. Naturally, as a precaution today, I put on a hoodie under my winter coat and almost immediately regretted it when Stage Two kicked in and I turned from freezing to feverish. I am a LOT better today though. I sort of feel like, oh, I don't know, say like Professor Lupin after his transformation at the end of Movie 3 ("I've looked worse." "Really sir? Because you look like sh--") Better, but fearful that it could come back at any time. I never get migraines. What is going on?

I probably should have stayed in yesterday, but I stubbornly insisted on taking advantage of my one day off this week and going to see "The Golden Compass" even though I had read bad reviews. I have to admit, I was very disappointed in the film--the acting was superb, but unlike the books, which do not dumb down their messages for kids, the film had to spell everything out for their audiences, and did not allow us to discover the story on our own. I was very sad with the way the story moved around so much and focussed so much on the big action scenes--although Kathy Bates was, as always, an inspiried . Ah, well. That's why we read books after all.


This must be a migraine...a nuclear bomb slowly exploding in my head...feverishness...pain in my limbs...nausea...sensitive to light and sound...feeling extreme cold...all bloody day...

Oh My God. Make it stop, please, Jesus, make it stop.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Glamourous Life


Someone just drove past me on a Segway.

And I'm at work.

They just whizzed by me, down the hallway.



Whew! Seriously though *wipes tears from eyes* I love rich people. They're so disconnected.

Wait, wait, here he comes again...bwahahaha...I shouldn't laugh, he probably has problems with his legs or something, but I don't understand how the Segway ever got off the drawing board.

Okay, seriously though.

I don't read Glamour magazine, except when it gets slow at Job A, then I might pick it up. Also occasionally my self-esteem is SO HIGH I need a puncture so I flip past the size 000 models and remind myself that I have a long way to go.

Going to need energy. Better get some cake.

One of the things Glamour does is send a hapless intern or reporter or whatever out into the streets of NYC to see how friendly people are. The scenario usually goes like this: hapless intern is carrying eight cups of Starbucks coffee plus bags of pastries. WILL ANYONE HELP HER, FOR GOD'S SAKE!!!! Disguised cameraman takes pictures of people walking by looking at her in sympathy, intern notes how the only person who helps her also asked for her number, when intern finally dumps all the coffee, a friendly passer-by helps her pick up the carnage, etc. Last month it was a woman trucking around a pair of giant suitcases.

I find these "articles" interesting on the sociological level. First off, it's always a woman, so already there's something inherently sexist about the experiement. "oh, help me! I am a hapless woman forced to fetch and carry! help! help!" Well honey, I've said it once--if you're going to pack that much luggage, you better be prepared to carry it. Also--if you sign up for an internship, you're going to have to get coffee occasionally. DEAL. (This month's victim noted how she would never EVER make anyone get her coffee. Yeah. Right. Isn't that why God invented interns? I know someday I'm going to get an intern and make her get me coffee. Well, make tea. And she better do it right.) PS: Starbucks, Intelligentisia, Argos Tea, Dunkin' Doughnuts (not that anyone goes to DD--not haute enough, I guess) et al now have these handy little bucket o' coffee containers with a screw on lid. Kind of like a gas can for coffee, only insulated. So there's really no reason to be carrying around eight cups of coffee, unless everyone wanted something different. And if they did--well, that's the point when you'd whip out those quivering eyelashes... "but, but...I can't CARRY eight cups of coffeeee!"

Actually, come to that, I think a gas can would be a GREAT way to carry around coffee. Imagine the looks you'd get emptying a pot at a gas station into your gas can. And then drinking from it.

I would actually have more sympathy for someone carrying a suitcase (been there), and I might also want to show a visitor that yes Virginia, there actually ARE friendly Americans. I don't know about helping someone pull a suitcase down the road, but hitching it up the stairs? Sure. Although--I have been in situations where parents are hiking strollers bearing children up the stairs and I've swept past. I know it's possible to grab the footrest and carry (moms and dads working in tandem have this down) but I'm less anxious to do it when there's a chance that the Precious Cargo might fall out. Even if the parent is holding up traffic.

The other problem with the Glamor 'speriments is, again, the fact that they're always conducted by women. It would be infinitely more interesting if they did it with a woman and also a man and compared results. Especially if the man also asked a passerby to unstick his hair from his lip gloss.

Friday, December 07, 2007

100% Organic and Preservative Free!

In my never-ending quest for perfection I recently bought a jar of organic peanut butter. I love peanut butter. I eat it every day for breakfast, and up until recently, my PB of choice was chunky Jif. Yeah. Sounds like a blues band, doesn't it? Chunky Jif and the Jive Five. Yeah. But I'm worried that chunky Jif has too much sugar and preservatives in it, so I decided to give organic a try. It took me about ten minutes to find an appropriate substitute: a honey-flavoured chunky PB from Arrowhead Mills. (the organic community eschews the time-honored tradition of colour-coding their PB, blue for chunky, red for smooth, so I had to pick up each jar and look at it. My jar, like Maria at the end of West Side Story, has a lovely yellow cap) It cost me $4. Today I had the last of my chunky Jiff on one slice of toast, and the chunky Arrowhead Mills on the other. The first thing I noticed about the organic stuff is that it separates. So you have oil, then roughly-chopped pieces of peanuts, then the creamy butter, and you have to mix it together. Okay, fine. The taste...well, it's not as sweet, that's for sure, it's more peanutty than any PB I've ever had (except for this generic stuff in London...never again...) And it's sticky. Each bit prompted a sip of tea to get my jaws unstuck. I mean--this is the kind of sticky that Shel Silverstein was writing about when he was warning about the horrors of PB. Better than Jif? Eh. Probably. I compared the labels, and this is what I found: Arrowhead Mills ingredients: peanuts, salt, honey, soy lecthin. Jif: Peanuts, molasses, salt, mono-and diglycerides. That would be the preservatives, I'm assuming. And maybe preservatives aren't a bad thing: I realised, as I went to put my preservative-free organic peanut butter in the fridge that it expired Nov 22. 2007. Ooops. Who checks the expiration date, anyway? I want my food to last for years, so in, the case of a 28 Weeks Later like scenario, I will have a good supply of PB while I try to work out an acceptable substitute. I'm still going to give the organic stuff a shot, but I think I might take this back to the store and point out they had expired product on their shelves.

The simplicity of the reciepe has given me pause though. Maybe I should try making my own damn peanut butter. I have the honey, after all. And a bag of peanuts from Fleet Farm is, what, a buck? Hmmm...

Speaking of things organic, I was surfing around yesterday (and by "surfing around" I mean "screwing around") and I found a very nice cotton t-shirt with a black and white sketch of George Washington on the front--very classy, very understated. Clearly what the General would have wanted, had he had access to a screen printing press at Mount Vernon. I thought about adding it to my collection, but then I thought about wearing something like that. I mean, Washington was, after all, a slave owner. And there is a point where irony and tongue-in-cheek humor crosses the line, so I think I'll be content with my GW action figure. I'm wishing I had bought that Nelson T-shirt...if only because it was a portrait of him in pink...

Thursday, December 06, 2007

An Act of Incredible Hubris

Some of you have been asking. And, since this blog is all about me, me, me! (when it's not about Nelson) here it is: mah wish list. If you are shaking your head in disgust at my incredible act of hubris, then feel free to read no further. If you're thinking "at last, her birthday is coming up" read on.

Beethoven's symphonies

Sewing machine

Harry Potter 5 on DVD

"Sweeney Todd" the movie soundtrack (available Dec. 18th!)

Black trouser socks

A backpack (small but sturdy)

Nice-smelling lotion (Bigelows #5 lemon-verbena from Bath & Body Works)

Blank journals

Black, waterproof, no heels, knee-high, appropriate for winter leather boots (size nine)


This t-shirt

A yoga mat

A kitten

The Horatio Hornblower books and DVDs

Plane tickets to London

Okay, it's a much longer list when it's all written out like that. Er. But everyone's got a list, right? Right?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My Fingerprints: Let Me Show You Them

One of the things I have to do to be able to volunteer with small, impressionable children is get my fingerprints taken. So today I bundled up and bundled down to the Center, where a very efficient woman scanned my fingers into a machine. How cold is it here today? So cold that I had to give the woman a baggie containing my snapped-off fingers when she asked for my hand.

It's very hard to type with with no fingers.

I was very impressed with this machine: I had a hazy vision of walking around all day with my fingers stained purple "voting for the first time EVER in Iraq" style, but instead she just slapped them on the machine which took an electric picture and loaded it right into the computer. It took, literally, two minutes. Five, if you count the time needed for Horatio Caine to take off his sunglasses, make a pithy retort and Roger Daltry to scream the intro to "CSI Miami."

God I miss CSI Miami. Dream job: steady hours, dog, home in time to see CSI Miami.

Speaking of dream job. We have a new person at Job A, and I am trying to be happy that we found a new non-idiotic person for this role, but at the same time I'm a little cranky that the place is willing to hire a completely new person and give her more hours when, hello!, I'm right there. Also, ruffled a little because I've been asked to train her how to close. Do not seem to recall THAT being in my job description. Grrr. Trying not to jump in and say "let me do it!" while she fumbled through her first close put fifteen extra minutes on my timecard, but mah patience, it is thin.

The happy news for today is I found a new winter coat--exactly what I was looking for. I actually bought one at LB, went to Sears to try find a scarf/hat/mittens, found a coat I liked better, bought it, and took the other one back to LB, thoroughly confusing my manager. But I like the Sears one better. I always say myself as more of a button-up peacoat than a zip-up furry hoodie, though it was fun to pretend for a half hour.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Terribly snobby

Would it be terribly snobby of me to say that "For Unto Us a Child is Born" by Handel just doesn't sound as good unless it's being played in St. Martin's in the Field?

Okay, then, I won't say it.

Things I am grateful for:

1. My knees, both of which still work.
2. Annie's Honey Bunny Cereal which does not contain high fructose corn syrup.
3. Overactive radiators that I don't have to pay for.
4. The first chapter of "The Uncommon Reader" by Alan Bennett, posted on
5. Hershey's new Truffle Kisses. Bliss in a kiss.

I'm feeling rather low-ish today. Working two jobs is taking its toll, plus I'm panicking that I'll never get out of this cycle of working low-paying jobs. Which I WILL, but sometimes when it's five o'clock at night and it's fully dark out, this primal fear of an eternity of mediocrity kicks in and I have trouble breathing.

I know things will get better, because they always do. I'm still looking for a "real" job as well as other theatre opportunities. And breathing. Breathing is key.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Day goes Quickly by

Today the description of the weather could have been taken from "The Return of the King:" It never got fully light out, but the grey day started turning into evening about two thirty pm when it began snowing mixed with rain. It is freezing, except for the streets, which are a slushy mess, gross grey slop slowing everyone down and soaking into your shoes. I do hate a city winter. Next week LB is going to be having an associate's sale, so I think I might break down and buy a new winter coat. One with a hood.

I had to rush from Job A to Job B because the other person from Job B got fired which means more hours for me--but also more rushing. I managed to scarf down a quick sandwich in the lunchroom, where CNN was interviewing Magic Johnson, asking him what sort of message he wanted to spread today, World AIDS Day, December 1st. CNN told me that it has been 16 years since he publicly admitted he was HIV-positive, and did a brief look back over the things that have changed. Now, of course, a lot of people think "oh, that's an old disease, I could never catch it--and besides, they have drugs now that make you live a lot longer." Witness Magic Johnson, living for 16 years past his diagnosis date.

Happy as I am that Johnson can be a source of inspiration and a voice of advocacy in this world, I am also kind of sad, because 1991 was of course the year that Freddie Mercury succumbed to AIDS. And Freddie has a much more profound influence on my life than Johnson, but he's not around any more. If I had a time machine I'd go back to 1983 and lock Freddie in a room for about two years. I haven't done anything for World AIDS Day ever--not raised money, not attended rallies or informational sessions, but today I was feeling the hole in the world created by the death of Freddie, so I fashioned a red ribbon and pinned it to my lapel using my nametag. No one has asked me what it's meant so far--everyone has been too busy shopping--but I know what it means. I remember.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Almost like afternoon tea

Le sigh. There is a cold that is so cold that all you can do is scream. I was sprinting home from the train station when I passed the mailman who had a package in his bag...I got all excited thinking it was the General, except that it wasn't. Dang. Now I am in my house, drinking tea and eating Maria cookies, which are almost exactly like biscuits I used to eat in London. Yay!

I've decided to start volunteering at a center for learning, so this morning I got on the train and headed south. When I was looking through a book of maps last week, there was a page of pictures of houses in Chicago around the turn of the century--cramped slum houses compared to the neat urban houses of the suburbs. The houses that flashed by could have been from the first set of pictures. Obviously, they were much better taken care of now, and were interspersed with condos, wee gardens and paved streets, but every now and then you'd get a defiant four story brick building that just looked...old. The L runs a lot higher off the ground as well, so you definitely get more of a sense of sailing along, disconnected from the below. The Center is tucked away next to a park and a hospital. It was started in 1976 after the government shut down the local after-school program and parents picked it up. Now they have three buildings and two hundred full time employees. The building where I'll be working was originally some kind offices that they added onto, deliberately creating kid-friendly classrooms and play areas. I stopped in to meet the three-year olds I'll be playing with. They were shy, but not nearly as shy as I was. In the future I hope to help out with the after-school home work assistance and mentoring programs, but right now since I'm working at night, I can only go in the mornings.

The volunteer coordinator had set up a special event for today: cutting out felt stockings that the kids would decorate and hang up around the school. She was hoping for a dozen or so people, but in the end it was just me. I didn't mind. It was great to talk to her--in a way we were a lot a like. Like me, she did her undergrad close to home (Chicago) and then went away to do her master's (New York). also like me, she worked in a big company before deciding that she really wanted to do something worthwhile with her life. It was refreshing to talk to her about our interests and different topics like immigration or families. I still feel very knocked about, though I don't know why exactly, and so to have someone say my resume is very good and understand how I need to be doing something that's not soulless is like--well, I want to say like balm on a wound, but that seems kind of dramatic. and's nice to be needed and appreciated.

I still need to find a new job, but I think I'm going to start looking in the non-profit sector. If cutting out felt stockings for a couple hours can make me feel worthwhile, imagine what doing this all the time might do.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Tonight was the first night I was able to watch any kind of political debate, and, ironically, it was the Republican CNN/YouTube debate. I noticed two things: First off, Anderson Cooper can't moderate to save his life and secondly, Rudy Giuliani's got a lisp.

Okay, anyway. the topic that sent me flying to my computer was a question about gays in the military. The YouTube video was sent in by a man who laid out his credentials: a brigadier general with forty-two years in the army and oh yeah, he's gay. So do the candidates support openly gay people in the military. but wait! before we get to the answers--the general is ACTUALLY THERE in the auditorium, so each of the candidates gets to thank him uncomfortably for his service before going on to say that they were afraid that openly gay people in the military was bad for "unit cohesian."

Oh GOD if ever we needed the Daily Show, it would have to be when Mike Huckabee was talking about small, tight units that were threatened by the gays, but never mind. Curse you stubborn studio heads!!! Denying us the gleeful Daily Show goodness!

Where was I? Oh, right--so each of the candidates (well, I believe it was only Huckabee, McCain and Romney who talked) each said "thank you for serving your country" and then went on to spin some crap about how it was bad for morale.

Okay, but here's the thing. In the Army, THEY TELL YOU WHAT TO DO. So if you're uncomfortable with Private Pink over there, your lieutenant could either a) tell you to beat up on him or b) tell you to man up and deal with it. So whoever is in charge of the Army (and technically that's Bush II, right? oh, god...) could decide TOMORROW, "you know what? Let's just not make a big deal out of it." and everyone would have to listen because it's the ARMY.

So then someone else said...ah, hells, they all look alike, if only one of them were black or something... "and the other thing is, a lot of these kids come from conservative backgrounds, so to ask them to serve with people who go against their beliefs is putting them in a situation where they're not comfortable." I'm paraphrasing, and I wasn't taking notes, but at this point I got down on my knees and started praying. You know where ELSE these sheltered conservative kids are going to run into people with differing viewpoints? How about FALLUJAH? Or KABUL? And--seriously--if they can't handle a fellow soldier with different opinions on female attractiveness, how can we ask them to deal with a completely foreign culture?


Then Anderson Cooper asked the Brigadier-General if he felt his question had not been answered. To which he replied "With all due respect, I do not." and I was shouting "No! Don't give these jerks ANY respect! They don't know what they're talking about!"

The thing that sent me sprinting to my computer though was a comment that one of them made earlier in the night, which rounds up all my angry threads neatly. They were talking about Iraq and the military and one of them...uhm, I think it was Huckabee again or the other one who's not McCain or Romney...he said something about military tradition and then started listing off great battles, starting with Concord. (For the record, I find it funny that no one ever mentions Civil War battles--after all, technically no American ever lost one of those!) First off--LEXINGTON and Concord: not such a good battle to mention, since it was kind of a draw. STICK TO YORKTOWN. Dork. Secondly, (and this comes back to the gay thing) you know who fought at Concord? Black soldiers. Yeah, they where there up until the Continental Congress said "You know what? Let's not have black soldiers" and then GENERAL GEORGE WASHINGTON, who is so awesome I just misspelled his name twice, wrote to them and said "No."



I don't mean to shout.

But you see my point. This (by "this" I mean excluding certain groups from the military) has happened before--and it got FIXED because the COMMANDER IN CHIEF had the TESTICULAR FORTITUDE to say "No."

And I'm sick of people justifying a lame policy because it would be bad for unit morale and because there's a war on. No, you know what's bad for unit morale? Causing more divisiveness in this country because you're not willing to be a leader who can say "You secure? I'm secure. Bring it on." That's how this military was integrated (racially and genderly and that's not a word but it's late) and that's the reason I'm not voting Republican this year.

Not that I'm a one-issue pony.

But it kind of sums it all up, don't you think?

I will try and put up some vid of this debate, but it's so fresh it's not even posted yet. You can probably find it on YouTube by the time I hit "publish" though--watch it, it's beyond belief.

Overlooking John Hancock

We had the first read-through for "1776" last night...everything went very well. The director told me once again how happy he was with everything, and I finally got a chance to see all my handouts printed out. I didn't realise this, but I've produced almost a hundred pages of written work for this show--each character gets a biography (except for John Hancock, who didn't get cut and pasted, mrrr)and a photocopy of some info about their home state. I also got a chance to meet some of the cast. Including, ironically, an old Pointer Alumni, Jon Blyck, who is playing Josiah Bartlett. We kind of eyed each other across the room, and then it was like "hey! I know that person!" So that was nice. The actor playing Rutledge was Harry Houdini from the "Ragtime" I saw this summer, so I spent a good twenty minutes trying to place him: "where do I know that creepy guy from and why do I keep picturing him in chains? OH!" So after he read-through I casually mentioned to him that I enjoyed his performance. He was very polite, and I managed not to embarass myself by telling him he was FAR more handsome than the historic Rutledge was. I think that's my biggest problem: I have WAY too much information for most of these actors. I could probably sit down right now with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and give them a forty-minute lecture on why they are friends and their different viewpoints on government--with slides--but obviously that's not going to help actors. So now I'm going to concentrate on learning more about specific state history...not that anyone needs it, but just in case they ask. I'm very excited about this show (obviously) and I'm glad to see that everyone else is too. It feels good to be back in rehearsal.

So I have two jobs. One is Lane Bryant and mostly for the clothes, the other is also retail, but it involves Very Rich People, so I don't talk about it much on my blog. Suffice to say that I follow directions, am tidy, timely and basically competent. The manager has taken a shine to me--which is great! Except that I'm working through a temp agency, who has me signed up for part-time hours. I was getting more hours before, but now they've hired a new person who WILL be getting all the extra hours and I will be getting...errr...very few. Add to this my manager (who, as I said, has taken a shine to me, but is unable to influence whether or not I get hired) has decided that I am just the answer to a prayer and that together "we" will whip this shop into shape and get it all organised. Fine. I like responsibility, I like a job well done. But. She has also started complaining openly about one of my coworkers--nevermind the fact that I agree with her, it makes me hugely uncomfortable that she's taking me into her confidence, giving me responsibility and yet she's unable to get the place to hire me full time or at take over my temp contract so I could get some benefits. Yesterday she literally had me backed into a corner complaining about my coworker, the management and voicing her fears that they're going to fire her. She was supposed to leave at three, but she ended up staying until quarter to four because every five minutes she had to turn around and say "And another thing..." Now, I love my boss: she's hardworking, level-headed, not afraid to take charge and she's traveled all over the world (sound familiar?), but I just don't think I can take the "stress" of being her number two without the "benefits" of more "hours."

So I guess I'm going to have to look for another job. As much as I like working part-time so I can have time to write, I'm not able to put any money in the bank and the demands of this job are starting to outweigh the perks. Of which there are many. But when you've had me here for two months, can see what I do, have raved about what I can do and then turn around and hire someone else full-time? Yeah. Sounds like it's time for good-bye and good luck and get out.

Meanwhile, in youtubeland: The Spanish answer to Shrek comes via an animated version of "Don Quixote" called "Donkey Xote." (say it like "donnn-KEYzote." Geddit?) I really want this to be good, because it looks like a funny concept, but...alas, the trailer just has me wishing that Pixar had got there first.


Knew it would come to me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

An Open Letter to Neal Stephenson

Dear Mr. Stephenson,

I just got the results back from my "GRE" test--that's the one they make you take when you apply to grad school so they can see if you're smart enough--and I am happy to report I got a 5.5 out of 6 on the essay. I was aiming for a five, so I did better than I expected. Almost perfect, actually. Anyway, I just wanted to write to you and say thank you, because the essay question I had was something along the lines of "It is always a good idea to have an outcome in mind before conducting scientific experiments" --and then I had to agree or disagree. Well, I disagreed. Big time. Because, you see, I had just started on Book 3 of the Baroque Cycle--"A System of the World" and, as you probably know, since you wrote them, the Baroque Cycle is all about Science and Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries, so I was learning about Science and Scientific Theory through the magic of fiction. And, since I am a left-brained sort of person, the information stuck with me a lot better than it did when I was sixteen and sleeping through Mr. Lyga's biology class. So when the question came up on my GRE, I laughed (silently, so as not to interrupt any of my fellow testers), then proceeded to argue against the statement, liberally peppering my essay with references to Newton, Hooke, Halley and that one guy who started the Royal Observatory whose name escapes me. I wrote it just like the Princeton Review told me to, with a hint of "colour" thrown in courtesy of your books. Now, I would say I'm not your biggest fan--while I enjoyed the Baroque Cycle, I feel like I should get a medal for slogging through three thousand pages, also, Book Two "The Confusion" was just that: confusing, and not very funny, actually--but I am definitely one most in your debt. So thank you very much for doing your research and providing such excellent, wonderful, memorable details. I look forward to re-reading "Snow Crash" and wish you much luck on your future endeavours.

yours, Nicki

Monday, November 26, 2007

veep on ice

I just read that Emma Clarke, the woman who does the famous "Mind the Gap!" warnings on the Tube has been sacked for posting, uh, "alternate" Tube announcements. My favourite one is "To our American, friends, you are most certainly talking too loudly." YES. Yes, you are. I can understand why London Underground had to let her go (I mean, she was riffing on the customers there), but on the other hand--it's nothing we haven't thought before.

In other news, CNN is telling me that veep Dick Cheney (aka Lord Doom) is undergoing heart surgery to install an electric shocker that will regulate his irregular heartbeat.

Now, I don't wish anyone dead. No. No, I do not, not even Dick Cheney, but I am a bad person, because my mind did briefly stray into a cinematic tableau, where VP Dick Cheney was out cold to the world, his chest open like a Christmas turkey, small black heart sluggishly pumping bile. And standing over him, swathed in white like an avenging Angel, a heart surgeon, his hands stained red, arms outstretched as he struggles with his inner conscience: should fullfill his oath as a Doctor or should he rid the world of evil, EVIL! Nurses standing around, breathless, their shining eyes on him as they await his decision, the only noise the faint hiss of the respirator and beep of the heart monitor. Beep...beep...beep...still they wait...beep...beep...beep...a single line of sweat is as if eternity has slowed, all posterity is holding its breath...beep...beep...the lights one moves...dimmer now, greying at the edges...beep...beep...fade to black.

CNN tells me, however, that this will be an outpatient procedure, which means my disgusting little daydream will never happen. sigh. I am a bad person. Blame the imagination. And the fact that I've been watching LOTR for two days straight. Too much epic drama and you start seeing it everywhere.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


I know I posted like, three minutes ago, but after I went to LB to do a little shopping ($238+BOGO+Associate Discount=$85. woot.) I wandered into Macy's. And I just had to post about the FAO Schwartz display--they have a menagerie of life-size stuffed animals, zebras, ponies, baby elephants, etc up on the fourth floor. I was wandered around with a goofy little smile on my face, dodging children, "Did you ever see the faces of the children/they get so excited" from Tommy running through my head, feeling genuinely Christmassy. And then I saw the unicorn. Not exactly life-size (I always pictured them huge), but still huge, horn down, ready to charge into someone's living room. and I just felt really happy that some little kid was going to wake up on Christmas morning and there would be a unicorn in their living room. I couldn't even get cynical about how it was $800 and some spoiled brat who doesn't deserve it will probably be hanging her Gucci clothes off it in five years time, no, I was just really happy thinking about the happy child thirty days from now.

I wandered down to the ground floor where Macy's has a mini-Lush store. Lush is an organic soap store, with fizzy bath salts and henna hair dye, and they also have a store in Covent Garden--which is where I got my Christmas fix last year. So if I closed my eyes and inhaled, I captured the happyness of being in London around Christmas. The lucky sales girl had an easy sell after that.

Then I went home and prepared to cut up eggplant for dinner. Pumpkin spice candle burning merrily in the window, classical music on the radio, and then I sliced right through my thumb. Yeah. It happened that fast. One second I'm thinking about the last time I had eggplant Greek style, the next minute I was dripping blood all over the sink. It's not deep, but it is painful. My left thumb, on the side, nicked the nail. Luckily it's the one finger I don't use when I'm typing so I can update every one on my day. A good day--but I really wish I hadn't ended on such a sore note.

If only I had a real unicorn to heal me with it's magical powers...


I am squirming with happiness. My director managed to open everything I sent him and he emailed me saying it was "just what he wanted." Happiness. So now I'm off to go shopping in celebration. Squee.

In the meantime, I thought I'd put up a drawing I did the other day. At one time my notebook margins were filled with odd doodlings and sketches, some of which were quite involved. Alas, I'm no longer being bored to death by teachers, so my drawing skills have fallen off sharply, but sometimes I pick up a pencil again.

This is Jonathan Strange reading "The Friends of English Magic." It occurred to me that they didn't really have bathtubs as we think of them back then, so I tried stuffing him in a sitzbath. I like the result, even if he doesn't really have any room for his manly masculine calves. Must be all that striding around the King's Roads and whatnot. My apologies to any loyal readers who come here looking for a PG rating--and also Susannah Clarke. I know I could never do JS real justice.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Summer Patriots

I just emailed the biggest batch yet of Revolutionary research bucket o' joy, and I'm done for the night--the last one bounced back because my director's email is full. Oops. Sorry. I spent most of Thanksgiving inside working on research, and eating pizza. Spoke with a faraway friend for almost two hours, and then ate more pizza. The heat in our apartment has gone from "nonexistent" to "oven" so I am a very happy puppy, nice and warm. Today was much the same--both roommates are gone, I have a chunk of research accomplished, and now I think I'll crack open that jar of salsa and watch me some LOTR.

I worked yesterday at LB. It wasn't too terribly crazy, although I did pick out a couple shirts that I'm going to back for tomorrow. My manager got a call late yesterday That the regional manager was going to be making a surprise visit on Saturday—so suddenly we needed to restock, clean and get the back of the store tidy. Naturally we ended up finding this out at four pm, when everyone else had left. They asked me if I wanted to stay late, and I said sure…so I was there until eleven when I finally had to leave or else. On my way to work that morning, a bottle of juice I bought was leaking into my shoe, a fact unbeknownst to me until I had landed at Michigan Ave. Now, my shoes are plastic (thank you Payless), except for a bit of felt on the inside, so I toweled them off and put them on, figuring I could handle clammy shoes for six hours. But then I discovered we were having a heating problem, so the store was cold enough to chill beer—AND I ended up working for fifteen hours. Needless to say, my feet are not happy with me today, which is why I haven’t hobbled any further than the corner store for milk. I was looking forward to the fat paycheck until I started adding up the clothes I found and the GW figure which will be mine in approximately four hours and realized that I had made, oh, maybe $20. Oh well. I needed some new clothes anyway. Easy come, easy go.

Then today, more research. It’s so hard to know what to write when you’re preparing information for actors. Do they want you to extrapolate from the text of the play? Do they want to read primary historical sources? How do you explain to normal, modern people what living in the 18th century was like? Think of all the objects and norms you take for granted, and all the events in your life that have made you who you are. Have you ever said “What was life like before the internets?” How about—what was life like before the telephone? How do you condense that down so it’s meaningful for someone who has maybe two lines in a play? Then multiply that by twenty-two. It’s been fun, but I’m looking forward to going to the reading on Tuesday and finding out if anything I’ve sent over has been helpful—and if not, what would be. I feel like I’ve learned a lot, but that’s not helpful if I’m not communicating it effectively.

More than anything, I’ve learned that the founding of our country was an unbelieveable occureance—even cooler than the lame mythology that’s grown up around (deep rumbly voice here) “The Signing of the Declaration!” “The Winter at Valley Forge!” “The Battle of Yorktown!” Our founding fathers were just guys, you know? and not all of them were quite sure they liked the idea of this independence thing, thank you very much. But they all decided to say screw you to the mother country and try this experiment—and btw (Bush, I’m looking at you here) when it FAILED, they TRIED SOMETHING ELSE. That’s so cool. They were just men, doing their thing (well, except GW, who is, in fact, probably descended from Trojan warriors or something) and voila! America.

The other day at my other job, CNN was on, and they were being jerks by asking hapless passerbys questions from the Citizen’s Test (oops, misspelled Citizin) administered to new immigrants. One of the questions was “Who was President during WWI?” Got it? One of the other workers said “Oh—Roosevelt and Truman” and I immediately became smug because they were asking about world war ONE, where the president was Wilson. But then I felt guilty because I know that I couldn’t answer every question on that test—and that I don’t know if I could have said “AND Truman” in a pinch. I wanted to say something like “yay, Americans together!” but in today’s climate I don’t even know if that would be okay, so I kept my mouth shut. (yeah, for once)

Although I now know that Sam Hutchinson was the first president of the United States in the technically most technical sense of the term. Just in case it ever comes up.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

mah comes

I know you're not supposed to get excited about your birthday unless you're like, *twelve*, but I'm really looking forward to mine. I'm doing one of those justifying things, like "New birthday? New panties!" or "oh, I can totally bid on the George Washington figure on eBay beacuse IT'S MAH BIRTHDAY!" Oh, and while I'm on eBay...might as well see if "horatio nelson" hits anything.


Now. I know you all love me, but I also know that paying 700+ dollars for a piece of paper that Horatio Nelson once scribbled his name on is ridiculous, so I'm not going to suggest for a second that mah birthday is coming up and we all know how much I like Admiral Nelson.

Nope. Not gonna do it. Because I love you all more than I love Nelson.

Am, instead, going to sit back and enjoy my small plastic Nelson figurine, my Nelson bookmark, my Nelson cards, my Nelson winestopper and my Nelson books (none of which were actually touched by Nelson, but some of which came from Greenwich which is very close to where Nelson was and one card was even, I believe, bought from a shop on Nelson Road) and think about maybe making that paper-mache Nelson I was thinking about maybe making.

Nelson's autograph would be cool. But being surrounded by people I love is even cooler.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I am Famous!!!

One of the great timewasters,, published one of my submissions the other day. Alsome!

12PM They Don't Look Too Good, Either
60-ish suit in Cubs jacket on cell: I'm on the bus right now. I'm going to the Cubs game. Well, I just left Dad, and I gotta say, it doesn't look too good. They're feeding him through a stomach tube and they've got him on a drip. You know, he had that quadruple bypass a couple of years ago and he's got diabetes now... He's been unconscious most of the time when I visit him, and... Yeah, well, don't wish me good luck. The Cubbies are the ones who need it!

Clarke Street bus
Chicago, Illinois

Overheard by: priorities schmiorities

In other news, it occured to me today that having an iPod cord dangling from your coat pocket serves roughly the same purpose as a watch chain. Ostensibly to let you listen to your music, but really just to let everyone know what you're rich enough to afford an iPod. I just wish there was some kind of way I could hang some seals on Napoleon, that would be the sweetness.


Just what I need: a twelve inch tall poseable figure of George Washington complete with removeable telescope, cape, sword and tricorn. *small drool*

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving Plans

Now that I'm working in retail, my whole schedule revolves around when the shoppers are hopping. Which means this week--Thanksgiving week, the busiest shopping day of the year--will be the busiest week I've had in a while. I like being in a city for Christmas: Macy's has their window displays out, each window a marionette diorama of a scene from the Joffrey Ballet's Nutcracker; a puppeteer was doing a Punch and Judy impression on the street corner; the Salvation Army bellringers are out already, wishing people a Happy Turkey Day instead of a Happy Christmas. I'm annoyed by how Christmas has somehow managed to seep out of its Thanksgiving Day boundaries, but the cheer and happiness is not so forced or worn out that I can't enjoy it. I'm working on Black Friday (but, also, participating in Buy Nothing Day, which should provide an interesting counterpoint) and the Saturday after. Putting money in the bank for a snowy day.

I'm not going home for Thanksgiving, and I'm not cooking. The roommates will be gone, so I will have the house to myself for a change. The last two years I cooked dinner for twelve people in Britain, and the year before that was Boston, so I guess I earned a year off this year. This week Thanksgiving will simply be "Thursday: the Day Off" and I'm trying to come up with something I can do that doesn't involve stores. Possibly sewing on a dress, or maybe making a pumpkin pie. Working on my 1776 research, which has been woefully neglected. Or maybe just watching Lord of the Rings from dawn until dusk.

I guess this post is a little depressive. I didn't mean for it to be. I'm just excited for my birthday, what with people coming from all over the universe to help me celebrate, that I completely forgot about setting up this other holiday. Oh well. There's always next year.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

food glorious food...

I went to Paulina's this morning, a small restaurant which has the best pancakes within walking distance. The owner of the place is a grizzled New York man who orders around people waiting like they're soldiers. I ordered banana pancakes and eggs. Ten minutes after they arrived it looked like Austerlitz after Napoleon had gotten there and when the busboy tried to take away an egg I wasn't finished with, I stabbed him in the hand with a fork.

So. Happily full now, but sleepy. I really should work on some 1776 stuff, but...I started re-reading the Harry Potter series, and I'm enjoying it so much. I haven't read the first books in years. Literally, I can't remember the last time I read book one. But I'm about halfway through it, and I'm having a great time. It's so much fun to see all the little cues that Jo has scattered through the books, and to "meet" the characters again for the first time. Love it.

Oooh, I was going to put a picture up here of some fan art...but I got distracted. teehee.

Maybe I will go finish book one and take a nap.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


After breakfasting on Midol, I went to meet a composer about potentially working together on a script. The meeting went well and I have high hopes we'll work together.

Afterwards, I was going to see a movie, but instead I went to Wal-Greens and bought:

1. Feminine products
2. A microwaveable heating pad
3. Two (2) bars of Lindt dark chocolate

The woman behind the counter did NOT ask how I was doing.

Comfortably wrapped around my new heating pad now, waiting for the nausea to subside so I can have chocolate for dinner.


Waste of a perfectly good Saturday, if you ask me.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Rule Britannia

While reading the Guardian Unlimited today, I happened across this article which features this picture:

That, friends, is what is commonly called a "yob" weeing into a delicate china teacup. Apparently a Belgium advertising firm feels that this is the best way to get Belgians onto the train to London. I thought this article was interesting because most of the people who commented on it "got" the photo. Yeah, it's slightly offensive, but you have to admit, that's what most people think of when they think of England. Not me, of course, I think of Nelson, but somehow I don't feel that would be appropriate. (Please, no one-handed jokes that is just...oh. Ooops.)

One of the commenters on the article--"LairdKeir"--was not happy though, asking, "Do the British have no self-respect anymore?" and offering a link to his blog, Imperial Flags. Well, I like flags, so I clicked on the link, which is nothing more than a bunch of pictures of this man's collection of flags from the British Empire's heyday. Okay, fine, everyone needs a hobby. What got my eyebrow raised was this picture at the bottom, apparently a feel-good poster from WWII:

"That's right, everyone together, except you darkies, you go in the back. What? You're getting dust in your face? Well, just close your eyes and think of England man!!"

Oh British Empire. How far you've come.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Contemplating the Dollar

I picked up my first paycheck from LB today--a whole $32. Whoo. While I was waiting to retrive said paycheck, I was lovingly fingering a red and black jet bead necklace and earring set and thinking maybe it would be the perfect accessory to a certain upcoming birthday party--until I flipped it over and realised it cost $30. Four hours of work = one necklace. Maybe not.

Last night after work I was craving a Coke. I mean--just gagging for one. I think this has something to do with the fact that I'm trying to rid my diet of high fructose corn syrup, and my body was cranky because the only sugar it had had that day was Splenda. I decided to be bad and get a Coke, but I only had One Dollar. Coke in the convenience store costs at least 1.25 (which, with Chicago tax, comes out to roughly $4.06), but then I remembered that McDonald's had been having a deal on soda, so I trundled across the street. Alas, the deal, advertised over the summer as "42 cents for a cup of Coke the size of LAKE MICHIGAN!!!" was over. The small Coke was now $1, which, with Chicago tax comes out to roughly $4.06. Dar. No soda for me. I decided to suck it up and wait until I got home, where I could just be a grown-up and steal one of my roommate's Cokes.

I got a front-facing seat on the train, near the end. Almost immediately after I got on, a thin homeless man came through the door and started asking for money, explaining to everyone that he only needed five dollars to get into a shelter, and waving around a dollar. Now, most of the time I don't give money to people who ask (homeless persons and Greenpeace alike) because I a) believe they will buy alcohol with it, b) don't agree with their politics or c) I don't have any money on me. But this man struck me as particularly persistent: he walked up and down the train, stopping to harass people and wave his dollar in their faces. And everyone--to a man--ignored him. Even when his dollar came between their face and their newspaper. Not a glance.

I gave the man my dollar. I didn't really need it, and now I have thirty-two more dollars, so I figure even if that's only a rough profit of $31, I'm still coming out ahead. It's strange how other countries have their versions of the particular beggar you see over and over again: in Greece you have black clad weeping widows who kneel for hours outside in the sun, holding out a hand, occasionally with a child in tow. In Paris you have Algerian immigrants who will ask to show you a trick, then tie a bracelet on your wrist and refuse to let you go until you give them some change. In London, you have the thin, spaced-out train junkies who have given their speech so many times they sound like zombies. And in Chicago you have genuinely crazy people who--through a combination of no universal health care and madness brought on by the cold--can be downright scary sometimes.

Today there was another man on the train asking for money, a tall blind man holding a McDonald's cup (the kind that would have been 42 cents earlier in the summer) in one hand and a white cane in the other hand. He managed to walk down the aisle of the swaying train without falling and without holding onto anything. Once again, he was largely ignored, although the woman next to me quickly rolled up a dollar and tossed it into his cup so he didn't realise she had done it. I wanted to turn to her and say "I gave a dollar last night! Why did you give that guy some money?" but I didn't want to embarass her. Or myself. The Bible says we shouldn't make a big deal out of charity, and being the only person on the train who gives money can make you feel like a spotlight is shining on you. It shouldn't though--after all, the most it earns you is a thank you before the person moves on. After all, it's only a dollar. And, really, what can a dollar buy you these days?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

AND Helium

Attention British Airways: If you are going to have a sale, do NOT put "$207!!!!" in giant letters, with a tiny footnote that says "*and up!" and do not add the bloody taxes on at the end so that by the time I worm my way through your insidious and useless website instead of getting a "fabulous deal!!!" on airfare it turns out you're actually charging the SAME BLOODY PRICE to London as everyone else!

I am so bored with Chicago. I just want to leave.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Salon has an interesting article about a lawsuit being filed by JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books. It appears that the creator of the fansite Harry Potter Lexicon has decided to publish his exhaustivly encyclopedic website in a handy reference guide form, for those times when you're actually offline and need to find out what Snape's sister's name was.* I don't hang out on the Harry Potter Lexicon, I'm a fan but not obsessed.** Now JK's publisher has moved to block the printing of this encyclopedia, saying that the fansite was okay, but any commercial venture that makes money off of Rowling's characters or plots is not. Rowling has said that she wants to publish an encyclopedia of her own, so it's a fair assumption she doesn't want any competition.

Here's the thing: Rowling is on record as saying she has used the Harry Potter Lexicon as a reference, checking in when she needs to confirm a fact--about her own universe. I think we can safely assume then, that the HPL is exhaustively, obsessively accurate, in the way that only creations of obsessed exhaustive fans can be. I look forward to a HP encyclopedia, and I don't much care if it's written by Rowling or by a fan--I'd almost rather go with the fan, since they have been writing, editing and cross-referencing things as the books were coming out and is likely to be more accurate. I can almost guarantee it will--remember the Maurauder's Map mysteriously reappearing in Book 5? And Rowling frantically backpedaling in interviews, saying that Dumbledore had given it to Harry? When was this, exactly?***

You see my point. The article makes a better case about previous litigation, and what constitutes fan/research useage of materials, and what infringes on copywrite, blah, blah, blah. My concern is less with copywrite infringement than it is with accuracy. Tolkein took decades to put the world of Lord of the Rings in order, but with the Internet, the HP universe was constructed as the books were being printed. Why wouldn't HP fans want to take advantage of that? More importantly--why should we wait for Jo's official version? That hasn't stopped us from creating articles, fan fiction, fan art and even scholarly research.

Most importantly, Jo--let it go. We are your fans and we love your characters as much as you do. You have a bazillion dollars in the bank, you can afford to let a few geeks print up some HP research books. I know it's the principle of the thing, but it's not. Do not sue your fans. We have powers beyond your imagining. I can live without a shiny new set of collector's edition Harry Potter books in the collector's box, but can you live without my love?

Fine. You probably be can,**** but you see my point. Let it go.

* Trick question. He doesn't have one.
** Tattoo notwithstanding. Sweet hell, that's comprehensive
*** Alfonso Cuaron, you're on notice. "How do you know it's a map, sir?"
**** With your bazillion dollars.*****
*****(stupid exchange rate)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Justice For All

The place where I work has a couple of flat-screen TVs tuned to CNN, apparently for the purpose of raising my blood pressure, because I usually take my break when Bill O'Reilly is on. And lately, every night, when I stop on my way out the door to put my street shoes on, some over-coiffed news anchor on CNN has been absolutely haranguing Sgt. Drew Peterson about the disappearance of his wife.

Peterson's wife went missing two weeks ago: Peterson, who is twenty years older than Stacey, has apparently not been helping out with the search, claiming his wife called him the night before and said she was leaving him. Stacey Peterson's family say she would never leave her children, and have organised a search, which is focussing on the wooded area around their home. Stacey is Peterson's fourth wife: his first one drowned in their bathtub under mysterious circumstances.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Fine. So is CNN--and every newspaper in Chicago. Now, I may have my suspicions, which I may whisper to my neighbors over the back fence, but the last time I checked the rule was "innocent until proven guilty." And I am absolutely sick to the stomach watching the "legal analysts" on CNN gleefully (literally--full of glee) pick apart the disturbing points in this case, as if he had signed a confession. Today a pundit put so much emphasis on the word "accidental" in the sentence "His first wife's death was ruled accidental" that I could almost "see" the "quotation marks" hovering around her "head." I'm ferociously mad that they (and by "they" I am naming the Sun-Times, the Tribune, CNN, and Fox News)seem to think they have the right to be judge, jury and executioner. The last straw came yesterday when the Chicago Sun-Times ran a front page headline which said: "It's Official! Peterson is a Suspect in Potential Homicide Investigation" like the entire world knew that this was a foregone conclusion. "You think you're such a clever bugger, but we've got your number," says the paper, all the while marveling at the stupidity of the police.

Attention media outlets: YOU ARE NOT THE LAW. The police have a VERY GOOD REASON for declaring/not declaring someone a suspect based on evidence that I'm fairly certain you have not seen. SO BACK OFF.

Obviously Sgt. Peterson has been laid off from his job while the investigation is pending, and last I heard they were going to exhume his wife's body to perform another autopsy. I'm not defending the man, only saying that the media circus surrounding this guy has gotten completely out of hand, and I am not going to listen to the sanctimonious chip-wrappers if they keep it up. Let the police do their work, let the family alone so they can deal in private and stop acting like you have all the answers. You don't.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I just want nice things

I put off the last step of our bathroom makeover because I knew it was going to be bad. And it was. The last step was waterproofing everything, which involves a Tub N' Tile waterproof enamel that is so vicious it has to be mixed together before you can use it, and even the directions say you're not supposed to be painting for more than five minutes before taking a break. It took me a couple hours, but I still have a headache and I was, I think, briefly high during the afternoon.

So I decided to get out of the house and see if I could find a kitchen table. I found almost exactly what I was looking for at Linens and Things, but it was $249. I didn't really expect to find what I was looking for at the price I wanted to pay, but I thought I'd browse. I'm so frustrated with my roommates--both of them--since neither of them apparently care about what our apartment looks like. Wandering through the decorating section of Linens and Things didn't help either, with cheezy wall-plaques that said things like "Home Is Where the Heart Is!" I almost bought a bread plate though because it said "Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread" like the plate Laura Ingalls Wilder got for her wedding, but it was some cheap metal, not peweter. Someday I'm going to have a nice plate like that, when I have a place where "Home Is Where the Heart Is!" does not look out of the place. I'm trying to decorate our apartment, but our--strike that, MY--budget is so limited there's only so much I can do. The local thrift store has furnished an an abundance of gorgeous museum-grade prints for a dollar or two, but they hang forlornly in an empty dining room. Whenever I ask the guys about potentially helping out, they get a hazy look on their face and become conveniently absent. A feminist article from Bitch noted how whenever men do chores like sweeping or dishes they will come and inform their mates, like they deserve praise. I have discovered this is true, but I don't want to live in an feminist experiment, I just want nice things.

The only option, of course, is to get a job with more hours so I have some extra money. I know this--but oh, that would take so much time away from my redecorating. I ended up getting a candle for the kitchen that smells like spiced pumpkin cookies--and if the roommates come home and ask if I'm baking, I'll just innocently ask "and where would I roll out the dough?"

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Albanians Among Us

Some of my loyal readers have heard me talk about my landlord and his family. My landlord, bless him, is approximately 7,000 years old, so in addition to not being able to speak English very well, he also can't hear. And he has a weird tendency to come upstairs any time he wants to check out how our apartment is doing and occasionally use our bathroom. This has increased recently (the visits, not the bathroom breaks) because of the repainting/remodeling we've been doing. I don't complain, because for once I am living in a place that has colour on the walls, but it is unnerving when it's ten o'clock on a Saturday night, I'm hunkered in a feral position over a pint of Ben and Jerry's and I suddenly hear a wheezing cry, "Richie nothere?!" Richie, of course, being my roommate Rich who has lived here for six years and has been adopted as another son. The second floor of this apartment belongs to the daughter and son-in-law and their two gorgeous girls, who have a tendency to listen to modern Albanian pop music at the top of the dial (11) on Saturday mornings. So loudly, in fact, that if I could speak Albanian, I would understand every word. SO LOUDLY in fact, that this morning I finally kicked off my London slippers and went downstairs to bang on their door and beg them to turn it down (6). No one answered ("I know you're in there! I can hear the football!") but the music mercifully fell silent.

(Must just briefly mention a new ad I saw for Yahoo Personals that shows a red rose, then a bunch of white roses with the caption: "When You're Ready to Find The One." You would think, if Yahoo was so keen on helping me find The One they wouldn't charge $25 a month to stand in the way of Tru Love. Vomit. Some of us don't want white roses. Some of us want sunflowers.)

I'm finally almost finished with "The System of the World," which is the last book in the Baroque cycle that I started, oh, about three years ago now. I almost didn't read the last book, since the second one was so draggy, but then the third one took place entirely in London, so I thought, what the hell. It's a good book. But the story is so confusing that I have NO IDEA who is on who's side, what their motivations are, nay, even who half the characters are. I daresay only sheer bullheadedness will get me through the last fifty pages. I'm just glad that Neal Stephenson has picked up the pace and made it funny, though not enough to prevent me from falling asleep on it every night. (I don't want to drop a book that heavy on the floor--it might go right through, and even if it doesn't, I care about my neighbors too much to wake them up. So I have another pillow.) Although "Snow Crash" might have defined the term "crack book" to a generation, alas, the Baroque Cycle doesn't live up to it.

In order to prolong the agony, I'm taking a break and reading Barack Obama's book "Dreams of my Father" which is good. Strike that--amazingly inspirational. I think it's interesting because of the way he identifies himself with different communities, but he's always searching for "home." Sounds familiar. Also he has a tendency to talk in grand flights of grandiloquence like yours truly. And I'm slightly embarassed that when he was twenty-five, living in Chicago, he was heading up community action organizations, whereas I'm not doing much bub blogging, but his experiences are so inspirational that I'm going to see if there's an organization where I can get involved. I'm sad to see how much he's changed now that's a big-shot politician, but I can totally identify with young-idealistic-Barack. I definitely recommend this book--some of you might be getting it for Christmas.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

omg spukt!!!

So I know I wasn't really sure how I felt about this whole Internet thingy, with the facebooking and the reconnecting with people who I maybe should just never think about again, and then I read stories about women and their psycho exes stalking them years later--but. I think that it might just be okay. I have such a far-flung network of people that I talk to that without the internets I honestly don't know how I'd keep in touch with everyone. I usually spend two to three hours a day emailing, y'all. And sometimes, all you want to know about a person is what they can cram into a Facebook update. The downside of course, is that I spend two to three hours a day emailing, and then sit at home alone, warm and fuzzy in the knowledge of my web of friends.

But the exciting thing is that I am planning to celebrate my birthday this year, and have been assiduously inviting people from all over the world to come and take part--and it actually appears as though I may have people from all over the world coming to take part! Yay! Friends from high school, UWSP, Goldsmiths, Chicago, all mixing together gloriously, all connected by a common thread: Me. Like Zaphod Beeblebrox, I have discovered I am the center of the universe. Yay. And if you're reading this, you're invited too--so save the date: DECEMBER 21st!!! We will be attending the tale of Sweeney Todd, then retiring to an establishment to partake of adult beverages and possibly pancakes. If you're interested in coming and haven't received an invitation, please email me and I will add you to the list.

MEANWHILE. If you're like me and dying with impatience for sweeeeeney to come out, then why not join me in another musical adventure, this one staring Napoleon? You think I'm kidding? I'm not kidding. I read about "SPUKT" today in the paper--and it instantly moved up to the top o' my list of plays to see. A musical adventure about Napoleon that details his mid-eastern conquests? Good lord, it sounds like something I would write. I will just say right now though that if there isn't a passing reference to Nelson I will be sorely disappointed. Still an all though--promises to be great fun.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Bone-crunching coldness

Firstly I'd like to apologise for my smarmy remark in my last post where I said that I was feeling smugly benevolent toward a man who was clearly escaping the cold in the library and who had fallen asleep. It's actually not funny, even the fact that I was sleeping too, and inappropriate for me to say something like that. Part of the reason I liked the free museums in London, after all heat and AC when you were roaming around the city.

This is the sketch I included on the cover of my Madison app to give it "character." Note the cup of tea and book.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Happy Place

I left a couple hours early for work so I could stop at the happy place--aka the Harold Washington Library in downtown Chicago--and do some more research for 1776. This library is big and gorgeous, truly, a monument to Learning, but it is also a place where homeless people can be inside and warm, provided they are not disrupting patrons. Signs posted around the library tell us that we are not allowed here if we have "neglected our bodily hygeine so that it gives offense to other patrons" and we are not allowed to eat, drink, smoke or sleep. I was feelingly smugly benevolent as I tolerated a gentleman snoring quietly behind me, until I realised that I had infact fallen asleep on "Jefferson's Pillow" (the title of the book--no joke) and may or may not have drooled slightly on my hand. At which point I decided to go for coffee. My find of the day was a historical map of Philadelphia from 1776 which was in a book that was, oh, roughly the size of a Smartcar that I managed to wrestle onto the photocopier which promptly spat out a letter-sized sheet that included most of the river and none of the city. Dar.

On my way to work I passed by a tall, bushy white hippie wearing Hari Krishna robes and holding a sign that said "World Peace Through Marijuana" with a helpful little peace sign drawn underneath. As I was passing he offered me a...piece of paper and said "hey, come on, check out my website, it's free! You can't be ignorant all your life!" So I turned around and beat him over the head with his stupid sign. Well, no, but I really wanted to. About the only thing less productive than smoking pot is standing on a street corner, advocating that pot will stop the world's evils. The ignorant comment rankled as well: I almost opened up my very full backpack to show him the mountains of knowledge that I would soon absorb. That's the second time in a couple weeks someone has accused me indirectly of being stupid. Coming on the day when I (lovingly) dropped my PhD materials into the mail for Madison, I'm hoping that it's just a coincidence and not verifiable fact. (wait, there was a GRE word for that...empirical! that was it) I felt much better once I got on the subway and listened in on a conversation that involved two girls discussing at great length the length of their hair--then I realised they were probably students at DePaul, and therefore probably eighteen and I began to ardently wish I was eighteen again. Then I remembered the terrible perm I had when I was eighteen and decided maybe I was better off being in my late early twenties after all--clearly, I'm a lot smarter now anyway.