Friday, February 29, 2008

Yup, waiting.

My departure date has been pushed back to the 13th, which means I have two weeks (TWO WEEKS!) to sit around and do nothing. And I'm not actually exaggerating, because I did nothing today. Well, I made arrangements for some temporary housing at Williamsburg while I find a place, and then leapt into the truck when dad suggested we "go for a ride? huh? d'you wanna GO FOR A RIDE?!" But, in the meantime, nothing.

I heart Wisconsin, I really do, it's beautiful here and there are lots of things to do. But there's a foot of snow on the ground, no buses, and going anywhere is out of the question. I just hope I turn the next couple weeks into a writing and yoga fest and not a "House Hunters" marathon. I'm so excited I'm bored. How weird is that?!

Thursday, February 28, 2008


So, about two months ago I applied for a costume technician at Colonial Williamsburg. I figured they'd never give my application a second look because while I love to sew, I have no practical experience.

But three weeks ago they sent me a sewing test. So I did it and sent it back, figuring they were going to get ten sewing tests that were better and I'd never hear from them again.

Then they wanted to interview me. So I had a phone interview last Friday, figuring they were going to also interview a hundred more qualified candidates who were already living in Virginia.

Then, yesterday, the phone rang and when the woman introduced herself, the thought that ran brightly through my head was "Wow! It was really nice of her to call and say they're hiring someone else! No one ever calls!" And I almost missed the part where she invited me to join their team.

Bloody hell.


Yeah, so...I had to tell her I needed to think about it for a few hours. I feel really, REALLY bad that I won't go down to Mississippi. I had prepared myself mentally for it and I was ready, but--well--after a long conversation with the parents (over a plateful of fried fish) I decided that this would probably be a better decision. So I called my new boss this morning and told her I'd be there in two weeks. Then I had to let MS know I wasn't coming. That was not fun.

So I will be working in Colonial Williamsburg, as a Costume Maintenance Technician (think practicum student), which is a full-time, year-round, hourly position. I will be sewing on buttons and fixing holes and maybe, MAYBE building some new clothes. Also measuring reenactors for breeches. I will be living in Williamsburg, Virginia, which was founded in 1699, one of the oldest cities in America, an hour south of Washington DC, near the Atlantic Ocean (my favourite) and since all the apartments I've looked at have had no problems with dogs, maybe that dream will come true as well.

It's all so sudden!

But very exciting.

Right now that I've had a little time to sort of think, absorb, I'm sitting here looking up at the ceiling going "God? Are you up there? Are you telling me something?" After all--of all the applications/job interviews/PhD statements I wrote, this is the one that comes back to me. Did I finally get lucky after a half-dozen rejections? Or has the Higher Power finally got me manuevered into the position She wants me to be in?

I must work very hard and not screw this up.

But it's so exciting! Virginia! omg!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hey girl, you are beautiful!

I'm updating both of my blogs at once: does this mean that somewhere the time-space continuum has warped and black holes are popping into existence as we speak?

So I've gotten into the habit of reading blogs about women who are losing weight: That's right, some blogs actually have a point of purpose, whether the authors are losing weight or having babies or fighting The Man, they'll blog about things from that perspective. Instead of me, where the only thing all my posts have in common is, well, Me. Ha. Anyway, I read blogs about women who are trying to lose weight, and I remember how hard it was for me to change my attitude about how much I weighed and I'm really proud of some of the ladies I read. I started thinking a couple years ago "well, if i was going to be skinny, I'd be skinny by now, but I'm not, so I guess I'll just be okay with me. All of me." That attitude shift was accompanied by a forty-pound weightloss, courtesy of London, so I'm sure that had something to do with it. I'm still big according to everyone on the planet, but not as big, and I'm healthier. And I'm happy to be this way. And if I ever get down under two hundred pounds I'm having a party, but, eh, it'll happen or it won't.

But I can't focus on it constantly. I can't make weightloss the sole goal of my life, because, unlike quitting smoking or drugs, you can't quit eating. (well, you can. But then this would be a totally different type of blog) Also--with my attention span I have a hard time finishing ANYTHING I start and dieting is BORING. I try to do yoga every day now that I have a mat, but I also try to write every day. I try not to eat the entire bag of cookies when I need dessert, but I have to have cookies or else all I will think about is cookies. And, cookies. And--damnit. See? But I totally respect women who are working on weightloss and who need to write about it and support their goals 100%. We have so much crap shoved in our faces about what is beautiful and what we should be doing with our diets or our lives that getting past that and saying "I am doing this for ME ME ME" is half the battle.

For me, it's getting down to a lower weight so I can finally get that back tattoo I've been dreaming of. For some people it's wedding dresses. But in the meantime--life goes on. And I want to live in a world...where there's tiramisu.

Meanwhile, more Mika to love. I am going to get his album. How can you not love this--fat acceptance AND people dancing through the streets of London!?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Fun Stuff

1. I still say "when I grow up I want to." So does my dad.

2. The coolest person I know is my grandma. She tells me stories about voting for FDR and I tell her no fair using politicians who were around before I was born when we're talking politics

3. I took second-grade reading when I was in first-grade. When I was in second-grade I had to repeat it.

4. Everyone calls me Nicki sooner or later, even if I introduce myself as "Nicole" and they don't know any of my other friends.

5. When I was five my best friend was Jessica.

6. One summer I worked at an ice-cream parlor

7. The people who mean the most to me are far, far away from me. Or snoring in the next room

8. I love traveling more than anything.

9. I make baklava better than anyone I know. Okay, I'm the only person I know who makes baklava.

10. I'm still waiting for my first "real" boyfriend.

11. I once bought a sword in Wisconsin Dells and used it to cut a hamburger in half at a Culver's.

12. My first play was produced when W. was president and I know he didn't see it.

13. My favourite ale is called "Hardy's Kiss" and I haven't found it in the States.

14. I am afraid I'm getting arthritis in my right thumb.

15. My favorite colors are purple and red. Preferrably worn together.

16. I’ve lived in three states. I'm biased towards Wisconsin

17. One of my best friends in the whole world is my journal

18. I have ridden in a motorhome and the backseat of a car through several hundred miles of Canada

19. I have never been to Mexico.

20. My first internet experience was eWorld, an AOL-type community for Mac users that went defunct when I was fifteen.

21. I can handle any answer except radio silence.

22. I’ve always wanted to visit Russia.

23. For a peanut butter cookie, I’ll give you a fifteen minute backrub.

24. I’m still waiting to discover what I’m qualified to do in real life. I have a degree from Stevens Point and Goldsmiths.

25. I’m a Methodist.

26. I like model ships made out of ANYTHING.

27. It’s much easier for me to avoid temptation if I'm not tired.

28. I enjoy mowing the lawn.

29. My birthday is on December 21st, which is the first day of winter.

30. I can say "please" and "thank you" in at least five languages, but I can't spell epharisto, which is "Thank you" in Greek.

31. Both of my eyes are green and I am very vain of their colour.

32. I sat in a theatre with Ian McKellan once. He was wearing leather pants. I was wearing jeans.

33. I have a great appetite for real Greek salads.

34. I took two stones from the Thames river when I left London. I took two so they wouldn't get lonely being so far away from home.

35. Being married is a state which mystifies me.

36. I directed Hedwig and the Angry Inch and I still can't believe it.

37. To my true astonishment, I’ve discovered I thoroughly appreciate Hamlet as a piece of literature, so much so that I don't want to see it performed on stage.

38. I am French-Canadian, Scottish, Bohemian, French, and Dutch. I'm most geeked out about the Bohemian part.

39. I don't really care for Indiana.

40. When I’m not writing, I'm reading or sewing.

41. My "first" car was a 1994 Buick I named the Argo.

42. Alan Rickman once rolled his eyes at me.

43. I never learned how to draw people in proportion.

44. I’ve always wanted to go to the moon.

45. Everyone I voted for previously has lost the presidential race. I am hoping this changes this time around.

46. I collect hats. Apparently.

47. To my horror, I've discovered that I've started talking like how I write: run-on sentences and too many words where a selected few would suffice.

48. I have never acted, but I would like to try. However I suspect that announcing my intentions to study acting would just about finish off my poor parents.

49. I have an iPod named Napoleon. He holds all sixty of my musicals very nicely.

50. I am an epic-saga old fashioned type of romantic. Also a feminist.

51. Sometimes I think too much about things and then my head hurts.

52. I believe in unicorns.

53. I have a pair of jeans that were a hundred dollars which I got for thirty. I think I've worn them maybe three times, but I will never throw them away because they are soo cool.

54. Cold weather drives me MAD.

55. Friends can talk me into doing things by saying "I don't believe you would ever do that." Sometimes I think that's why I have two tattos.

56. I used to be first-base person when I played softball and I was DAMME GOOD at it.

57. I will also dance along to the radio if I'm home alone.

58. I’ve always had a fierce wanderlust. I blame my Bohemian ancestors.

59. I still worry about actors reading my scripts and talking about what I've written. I'd rather not be in the room for it.

60. Sarah-Evil-Sarah was my best friend in high school. We no longer speak.

61. I'm not comfortable sleeping in the total dark unless it's a familiar place.

62. I dress very conservatively unless it's summer, then I wear a bathing suit as much as possible.

63. People compliment me on being a redhead, which is still weird to me even though I've been dying my hair for twelve years now.

64. I was an illegal alien for about two months once.

65. Global warming scares me because I'll probably be around to see the beginning of the worst of it.

66. When I’m not writing or reading, I’m sewing/embroidering.

67. My favorite art style is Rococco or Barock or New Empire. My favourite painter is Turner, followed closely by Frieda Kahlo and Klimt.

68. I love good actors. Current faves include LAurence Olivier, Javier Bardem and Cillian Murphy. I feel slightly guilty that they are all also gorgeous.

69. I talk to myself while I'm walking and work out dialogue.

70. I’m beginning to really like sushi.

71. 16 was my box number in third-grade. I think it's because my name was sixteenth from the top of the list. I've never forgotten it.

72. The thing that impresses me most about Canadians is their laid-back-ness. They are not easily roused and I think that is a plus.

73. I think I'd make a good mom. I have names picked out for seven children.

74. I'd like to marry a British man and be interviewed by Neil Gaiman. I'd also like to win several million dollars, build a replica of HMS Victory and go sailing around the world.

75. My sister-in-law is having a baby. I don't know which is weirder: that she's actually HAVING a baby or the fact that my brother is the FATHER.

76. I'm most comfortable in flip-flops.

77. When I was a college freshman, I didn't have to work. Later on, I worked in a paper mill for two summers, which paid for my college tuition.

78. When I was fifteen I got a purple/maroon Scwhinn bike that I picked out for it's color and not because it was a man's bike. It's named Windsong. And I still have it.

79. There have been many times when the only thing preventing me from picking a direction and going is the fact I don't have a car.

80. I used to sing in a choir. I miss it a lot.

81. I have the London Underground map memorised. All right, zones one and two. That comes in handy when you're in Central London.

82. I enjoy eating cheese curds far too much.

83. I remember rain being warmer when I was younger and you could go out and play it in. Now all the rain is cold.

84. My mother used to make popovers when we were younger and then she stopped. Then my brother bought her a popover pan and now she makes them again, but only for Easter. I always try to be home for Easter.

85. I know how to drive a forklift.

86. I miss living with friends.

87. I have a fondness for tea biscuits.

88. The last time I wore a necktie was when I graduated from Stevens Point.

89. The last time I wore a tricorn was yesterday.

90. I voted twelve times for purple M&Ms and I'm still mad that blue won.

91. The last time I rode a horse I fell off.

92. I have five books about Nelson. Two of them were gifts. I'm very embarassed about this.

93 I read blogs and marvel at how similar some people are to me.

94. My mom collects hippos because she thought it was a "rare" animal for people to make. She now has a couple hundred.

95. When I was younger, I couldn't talk when PAcker news was on. Now that I'm older, dad isn't allowed to talk when presidential news is on.

96. The hospital where I was born is now an apartment complex. I dream about knocking on someone's door someday and saying "hi, d' you mind if I come in? I was born here."

97. If ever belonged to any military organization, I strongly suspect they would carry flintlock muskets and sign their letters "Yr Humble & Ob't Srvt."

98. I once found a lost dog. I took it over to a friend's house and we called the Humane Society, and then we looked in the paper and realised we could have gotten a reward.

99. My first paying job was working for McDonald's. It was my dad's first job too. When he dropped me off the first day we had a moment.

100. I have a younger brother. I'm more excited about that fact now that we're older.

101. If I drink more than one cup of coffee I get the shakes.

102. I used swim four times a week.

103. When I quote the Declaration of Independence, I'm with Jefferson: it's "INalienable rights."

104. I stole this from this blog:

Monday, February 25, 2008

what have we learned?

Nicki should never blog when she's full of chicken, tired, pre-moony, sore and feeling dramatic. Blar.

Am doing better today. Twenty minutes of yoga and a shower with actual water pressure equals a small miracle.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Leaving Chicago

I left the apartment for the last time by the back door...I had to get my bike off the back porch, so I walked through the empty space--empty of my stuff, that is--and down the back doors, out through the alley and I was gone. I thought I would feel more upset, more something, but I mostly feel tired. It's like someone who has long been sick has died--this is a sadness that you were anticipating, a sadness that needs to be got through Dune-style, passing through and around and over me and when it is gone, I remain, different, stronger.

And it doesn't stop you from crying or rending your clothes or being really upset because this. bloody. sucks.

Dad and Peter rented a trailer and hauled away my belongings and me as easily as picking up a dropped book and we made Green Bay by five pm. I thanked them both about a hundred times--not only for the physical exertion of hauling my precious books down three flights of stairs, but also because I couldn't explain how I was feeling. I wanted to apologise for not trying harder, for not making it work out, for missing London so much, for always being so sad. And they said "don't worry about it" and "that's what family is for" when I explained that I sent an email out to some people I know here asking for help moving--no one responded--and I assumed by that I have no friends in Chicago. I'm sorry. Thank you. And they said "don't worry about it" which I understand to mean "stop it. We love you." And when I got home Mom had cooked two chickens and an entire bag of green beans (which are my favourite) and I understood that to mean "don't worry about not getting into Madison, I still love you." And Brenda showed me paint chips for baby's bedroom and told me to come play with her dogs.

So I ate too much chicken and tried not to worry too much about putting my brother in the hospital with a herniated disk and smiled gamely when dad railed on about different actresses at the Oscars.

I feel so pathetic.

But I am loved.

Friday, February 22, 2008

love love me

this is why Britain rocks--watch this video and tell me if you don't feel like jumping around like a spasmodic twelve-year old. That singer is named Mika and he's been compared to Freddie Mercury...if you can put up with his squealing long enough you'll see Beth Ditto, plus-sized unabashed lesbian and all around fabulous person. And yes, that is Mika on those high note-harmonies. Oy.

I ended up not working last night and finishing my stuff for today early, so I have a few hours of breathing room to pack. I think I'm going to make myself a nice lunch of fish, peas and rice.

That's all for today.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

pow pow pow

Has everyone heard about the deadly satellite that was shot down by the Navy yesterday? No? Apparently, last summer one of the US's spy satellites stopped working and was about to fall out of the sky. The government was fairly certain it wouldn't be a problem, since it would burn up on impact or, odds on, would fall in the ocean. But just in case it didn't--they decided to shoot it with a missle and blow it into tiny pieces which would definitely burn up in the atmosphere. Now we also find out that the fuel used to keep this thing is the sky is potentianlly harmful. So the blowing up was also to ensure that no one would come in contact with this radioactive fuel, on the off-chase they survived a direct hit by a white-hot piece of outdated Cold War technology.

Anyway, the missile firing goes off and the satellite is destroyed, as confirmed by some grainy green-grey footage courtesy of the Navy (seriously, we can shoot a satellite out of the sky but we can't manage to get a digital camera up there?!) and the threat has been neutralised. Meanwhile, other nations (Russia...China...) are saying that this is just another attempt by imperialist America to demonstrate their abilities to keep up in a new space race. Rah.

Well, I like space, I like the concept of being on the Moon and the Mars rover thing was pretty cool a couple of years ago, but it's sad that right now most of our governments only see it as a place to extend existing land wars. and it's sad that the utopian communities in so many sci-fi books are unlikely until private interests are able to launch space rockets. And let's face it, peacenik communes are unlikely to raise that much bank anytime soon. I'd like to go to the moon someday, if it ever becomes feasible.

Meanwhile, (this has nothing to do with anything) please read the following articles about Barack Obama. the first one is about him campaigning in Wisconsin (obviously written by a non-Wisconsonite, as evidenced by the apparent astonishment over the consumption of cheese and brats by the natives) and the other one is about Barack being a bridge to the Muslim world. I disagree with the author's point that he has a unique viewpoint because his dad was nominally Muslim, but I think the fact that Muslim COUNTRIES are more willing to deal with him is something to keep in mind as the presidential race...slogs on.

"How Barack Won Wisconsin"

*Bonus super-cute picture of the candidate

"A New FAce for American Diplomacy"

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

badger badger

Remember in the first book of Harry Potter where Harry finally gets to read his letter, after being chased down by a huge hairy half-giant in a storm-tossed cabin?

And the letter reads (sorry, have to paraphrase, I packed my books last night):

"Dear Mr. Potter

We would like to inform you that you have been chosen to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry..."

And Harry is jumping around nearly blind with excitement because he's just found out he's a WIZARD?!


Only, instead of "Mr. Potter" put "Nicki."

And, instead of "Hogwarts" put "University of Wisconsin Madison Grad School."

And in front of "accepted" put "not."



I feel THAT EXCITED but on the other end of the emotion spectrum.


Sorry this is such a mean-spirited post, I'm feeling a little wounded today.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

democracy is not a spectator sport...

...unless it's democracy overseas.

Yay! A good day for historical, world-changing events!

first up we have PAKISTAN which managed to hold elections relatively peacefully even after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. And early counts are saying that Musharraf's party is OUT! God only knows what kind of unholy coalition will form as a result of this, but hey, what's the worst they could do? FIND BIN LADEN?

Next--eastward and northward--we have the sovereign country of KOSOVO! Yes, Kosovo, that plucky historically ethnic enclave of Albanians has broken away from Serbia to form their own country. Yay! Baby country! Toss out your European maps--it's time to redraw some borders! (the beeb does it better here)

Then finally: CUBA! Apparently Fidel Castro will not be seeking reelection, prompting Nicki to say "they have elections in Cuba?" and her roommate to give Fidel three months to live. GW Bush was quick to claim a "victory" saying the US would be more than happy to help Cuba move towards democracy, although the embargo "will remain in place." Dang. No visiting Cuba in the near future--hey British friends, pick me up some cigars while you're there, 'kay?

And also--bonus domestic round--TODAY are the Democratic primaries in Wisconsin!!! I know most of my loyal readers hail from that best of states and I hope you all voted!!! Voting is fun! Democracy is not a spectator sport! Barack Obama is our best hope for a bright new future! (oops sorry, I didn't mean to be partisan, but hey--what can I say?)

Monday, February 18, 2008

I love my brother. Just when I'm tired from working a ten-hour day and feeling depressive about my chances for Madison he calls me up and cheerfully steamrolls all my self-deprecations, shouting into the phone and crushing my weak defences.

Thanks bro. Next time, please call when you're not slaloming around Green Bay in your terrorist-mobile.

The Bonaparte Blogs

not such a big fan of President's Day: I don't appreciate how stores across the country are trying to turn it into another Day of Consumerism. If you wanted more of us to Consume, then maybe you shouldn't make Valentine's Day so exclusive. Jerks. also, I don't appreciate the generic "President's Day" which was officially created to combine the observance of Washington and Lincoln's birthday, but which is slooooowly coming to mean all the presidents. And you, my loyal readers, know there are a couple presidents out there I choose not to celebrate. Never mind the fact that both GW and Lincoln are so amazingly cool that they deserve their own days. For the record--Lincoln's was about a week ago and GW's is on the 22nd. Mark it with cherries and wooden teeth, also the destruction of the British army.

I am working today, no President's Day Sales for me. I'm still at home, and I have discovered a aural treasure: a podcast that is totally devoted to Napoleon Bonaparte. It's basically a conversation between two men, Cameron Reilly and J. David Markham (an Australian and an American) who are both huge, HUGE Napoleon history buffs. Well--not just buffs, they are also two of the leading figures in the field of Napoleonic study. It's funny and informative and, after only, oh, nineteen hours of show they are up to the Battle of Austerlitz which took place in 1805. Yes, the same year as the Battle of Trafalgar, very good. They did fail to mention the awesome victory of one Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, but, as they said, they do tend to be rather pro-French which, by necessity, renders one slightly anti-British. You can check it out here. I'm on episode fourteen right now and at the rate I'm going I should be at the Battle of Waterloo in, oh, roughly a week.

What a strange feeling...after working all week and writing for two hours last night my hands hurt. THAT hasn't happened for awhile.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

sewing with a hammer

I can see how this sewing thing is addicting. I just finished my second project--a bag for my yoga mat--I'm already itching to start another. I'm quite proud of my bag, it's something I designed myself. Sort of a long tube of fabric with a bit of stitching across one point to stop my mat from sliding all the way down, grommets on either end and a carabiner to hold it all together so I can sling it across my shoulder and go bounding off to a yoga class, should the urge take me. The grommets were quite perplexing until I realised the instructions were serious when they said to lay the tiny anvil on a slab of concrete, so I left off banging away in my living room (take THAT, tiny running-around terrors with your horrible tween music!) and finished the deed on the threshold in our kitchen. Ta-da.

It's a cold, rainy, miserable day today--as it's been for several weeks, but today is especially nasty, since we've had rain on and off, and I'm loathe to leave the premises, since I might go when it's not raining, only to come out again in a thundershower. Yes, thunder. God bless the Midwest. Today was meant to be a Day of Beauty, since I was planning on giving myself a pedicure and getting my hair cut, but on the way home from the salon I stopped and bought a copy of "B*tch" magazine and now I need to do my taxes. Say rather a day of beauty and brains. What can I say? Some girls have it all.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Stuff & Nonsense

I failed to finish my project for this week in a timely manner so I am sitting up tonight to do it...three AM and I just hit "send." It's like college again, only with more carpal tunnel from track-padding and less rendering. I'm worried my hands are getting old.

Tomorrow I'm going to start packing/cleaning. It occurs to me that part of the reason I'm so cranky is that my environment is quite disgusting. In the back of my mind I've had the small post-it: "well, it doesn't matter, I'm leaving in a couple weeks anyway." But meanwhile, I'm still being annoyed by dust and dirt, etc. Also, I have absolutely no clean clothes and it is hard to shower and feel fresh when you have to put on dirty socks.

I'm also sick of my bed. I have an Aerobed, for those of you who don't know, which I bought because I suspected that I might not be staying in Chicago forever, and I didn't want to be hauling around a mattress and frame. I have no problem with my bed, it's comfortable, squashy, it holds me up when I sleep. But it's getting fatter, and by that I mean more squat. So none of my sheets fit, and I wake up with them tangled around my feet. And in my room--which is already small--my squat bed is taking up eighty percent of the space so there's only a tiny path around the bed, which is strewn with blankets, clothes, "Great Works of Poetry," quarters, occasionally small plastic historical figures and old issues of the RedEye.

And I'm sick of having a double bed. When Brenda & Peter set up house, murmurings were heard that it was such a small bed, but Brenda said "well, what more do we need?" And I agree--and I don't need a double bed. Confirmed singleton that I am, I think I would be much happier with a single bed, a pile of pillows and more floorspace to toss half-read books. I will have to look into this more later on if I get an apartment. The Buying of Beds is a Serious Matter.

And I have so much stuff. I don't know where it all came from. I know I'm going to leave my tiny black bookcase here--I paid $15 for it, but basically it's a waste of time, since anything with less than four-thousand square feet will be inadequate to my booky needs. And, ah, my books. Will I be able to part with any of them? Even the thrift-store finds I bought because it was cheaper than paying my library fine? Where did all these posters come from? Do the frames come or should I roll them up for now and "get them framed" in the future? Will that ever happen, really?

I get so attached to things. Ridiculous things, everyday items that you would think have no sentimental value, I hold in great esteem because they have been with me for so long. Like my razor--well, the handle--it's been with me since freshmen year of college, to Boston, to London. I was so upset when I lost my CTA card because it was in my Oyster holder--which I had had with me since week one of London. My old library cards, even the expired ones. My pink brush, the first hairbrush I ever bought for myself--lost between here and Madison. It's funny the things we pack up and choose to take with us, the things we "have" to have, and the things we can bear to part with. I've learned I can do very well without my razor--but God forbid I should venture forth without pen, paper, ink.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

aw, how does it feeeeel?!

I am listening to Bob Dylan—not one of his anthems of the sixties, but “Mr. Tamborine Man” which I have fond memories of, since it was (is?) one of the few songs I could (can?) play on the piano. I was planning on going to lunch as soon as I finished the list of schools in North Carolina only…there are a lot of schools in North Carolina. So I will blog.

I’m ready to go anywhere, I’m ready for today!

After posting last night I realized that I did not have to work at Job B, so instead I headed down to “A Taste of Heaven,” ate strawberry shortcake and worked on the bell hollee project. For two hours. I think I begin to understand what authors mean when they say they are “pregnant” with a story, because, even though I was trepidatious about the party scene, it came easily enough once I shifted locations. And the scene after that is there, and the one after that and so on. And I don’t even mind that it’s terrible, because—well, a story like this requires a shipful of research, so of course it will be terrible until I manage to get some grant money to do some “research” down in Nevis.

Having said that, I’m still antsy and anxious. Perhaps something to do with the fact I’m cooped up inside all day (hello, five-pound weight gain, where did that come from?!) staring at my dirty floors. Then last night when I was journaling I realized that I will probably be gone from this place in two weeks and THEN I started fretting about packing. Having made the decision to leave Chicago, I’m ready to go. Had it not been for this last temp job, I think I would have been gone by now. The whole situation is just—I’m ready to leave. Ready and willing.

Today is also Valentine’s Day, and I thought I would avoid the hype by sitting at home, but even NPR conspires against me, using cutesy phrases like “There’s no love lost between Obama and Hillary!” and doing in-depth reports on how much roses cost this year. I’m not as upset about Valentine’s Day as I usually am. Sure, I’m single, but, eh, what else is new? I’m working out my new attitude of singular poetess, in the tradition of mediveal nuns who gave up men for the ability to read. I could go lusting after a lifestyle that clearly I’m clearly unsuited to (i.e., dating) or I could work within the “limitations” of the lifestyle I’m already leading, and instead of moping about after the unattainable sit down and bang out the next great American play. The only thing I’m lusting after right now is a Puppy, and, being the self-sustaining woman of the new millennium that I am, I can very well buy one for myself. Heck with you, V-Day, I’m going back to work.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Be of Good Cheer

I am trying to remain upbeat, but the fact is that I am incredibly hot, uncomfortable and tired after sitting all day in a non-ergonomic if personally historically chair, and in ten minutes I will have to leave for Job B.

The girls downstairs have chosen to get out some of their after-school energy by running around and screaming at the top of their lungs.

My roommate, who is using up all his sick leave before he is laid off in March has spent all day sleeping, watching movies and now playing guitar, seemingly unaware that the garbage needs to go out, the kitchen floor needs to be mopped, the bathroom could use a scrub and the fridge is downright scary.

And I'm fairly certain that, queen of the footwear that I am, I have no clean socks to wear to work tonight, which means only one thing: laundry on Saturday.

On the plus side I caught a glimpse of our neighbor's golden lab Henry as the pooch went charging up the stairs of the condo next to us. And President Bush signed the bill that will enable us to borrow $150 billion from China so I can get an extra $300 bucks next May. And Barack Obama is leading in delegates, and, were I half as lazy as my roommate, I would have taken yesterday off and gone to hear him speak in Madison. Also I'm healthy and working, so it's not all bad.

Today's word is Palafox, courtesy of "The Golden Ocean" which I finished with breathless delight today. Not strictly a nautical tern, but on the list of dog names nonetheless.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

hell hath no fury like a writer who knows how to construct a complaint letter

Okay, loyal readers...what do you think, should I send it?

Jack Potter
Postmaster General
475 L’Enfant Plaza SW
Washington DC 20260-0010

12 February 2008

Dear Sir,

I am writing this letter in regards to my recent experience at the post office located at 4850 N. Broadway St., Chicago Illinois, 60640-9998. I use this post office because it is the nearest location to my house and I do not own a car, but after today I am going to be taking my business elsewhere.

My goal in using USPS today was to mail a small package (5.9 ounces, by your scale) in an Express Envelope, overnight to Williamsburg, Virginia. I arrived at the post office at 8:15, unaware that this location opened at 8:30, and decided to wait. By the time 8:30 rolled around, there were at least seven other people waiting—people mostly like myself who had to mail a small parcel or letter. When the location did not open promptly at 8:30, some of the people grew upset and knocked on the door prompting an employee to come over and indicate, by pointing to his watch, that it was not yet eight-thirty. Several of the people waiting with me pulled out their watches and cellphones in response to show that yes, it was in fact past 8:30. According to my cellphone, it was 8:37, according to the bank across the street, it was 8:35 and according to the watch of the lady next to me it was 8:34 by the time your doors were finally opened.

I had intended on using the Automated Postal machine, since I was using regulation envelopes and had no dangerous items, but after I punched in the zip code, the machine helpfully informed me it was unable to help me and I should get in line. Which I did at approximately 8:45. By this point—even though I had been the first person to arrive at your location at 8:15, I was now five places back in line. Some of my fellow customers who had been waiting outside with me were growing belligerent, calling for more windows to be opened, and to be sure, I could see USPS employees moving around behind the two open windows who were apparently not assisting customers. (The second window, I should add, was opened after I got into line, which means it would have been after 8:45, a full fifteen minutes after the location officially “opened”)

My turn at the window came at 8:57. (My accurate timekeeping was helped immeasurably by the Art Noveau clock on the wall.) Unfortunately, I was not able to get the name of the clerk who assisted me, but my receipt tells me it was Clerk No. 10, my address label tells me her initials were C. V. and at nine o’clock on the morning of February 12th she was working at window number four. When I stepped up to the window, the clerk apologized for the delay, and I told her I understood, trying for patience. After all—I had put my items into an envelope that only needed to be weighed and metered, so I figured that after my half-hour wait, things would go smoothly. The clerk told me that due to a post office closing early somewhere between Chicago and Williamsburg, I would not be able to use their express service. My package would arrive on Thursday instead of Wednesday. I told her that was all right, and she took my debit card.

I had accidentally affixed a “Priority” address label to my Express Envelope, so she pushed an Express address label toward me and told me to fill it out. As she rang up my debit card I quickly filled out the address label, pausing to punch in my PIN as she directed. When the transaction had gone through, she told me to step aside and finish filling out the address label, but I was nearly done and had waited for so long that it seemed to make more sense to me to stay here until I had finished. If I had moved over, another customer would have been able to be helped, but I would have had to wait another five minutes—instead of another fifteen seconds while I wrote. I told her to “hang on a second.” She told me to move aside. I said “I’ve been here since eight-fifteen—“ she cut me off and said “Ma’am, no you haven’t, we opened our doors at eight-thirty,” and I tried to explain I’d been waiting outside. At this point she raised her voice so everyone behind me could hear and said, “Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to step aside so I can help another customer!” and I said “They’ll understand—“ meaning, they’ve been waiting as long as I have. To which she replied “All they’ll understand is you’re taking up the window—“ And at this point, I pushed the completed label back towards her.

I have no doubt, if this clerk had allowed me to finish my label without arguing with me, I could have done it in half the time. As it was, I was very upset that this person—who clearly understood that I had been inconvenienced to some degree, as she had apologized when I first stepped up to her window—could not allow me the extra ten seconds to fill out an address label. Instead of listening to me, she interrupted me and insisted that I move over, causing more of a delay than if I had moved. She accepted the label, rolling her eyes at the trouble I had caused her by not moving over and stuck it on my package, handing me the receipt without a thank you, and I left as quickly as I could.

The only thing that prevented me from taking by business elsewhere today was the fact that seconds before the clerk began to get belligerent, my debit card went through. Not only did I pay the full Express Shipping rate for a package that will not get there tomorrow, but I had to suffer being inconvenienced—I was more than an hour late for work—not to mention being publicly humiliated. I respect the fact that dealing with impatient customers all day must be a demanding job, but I cannot understand how a clerk will not summon up the patience for a customer who only needs an extra fifteen seconds to fill out an address label.

I finally exited the post office at about 9:15, an hour after I had arrived. This is not the first time I have stood in line for more than twenty minutes at this location, but it is the first time I have been shouted at and abused. In the future, I will be avoiding this location all together, and I will use a private company for my shipping needs. It is my hope that this letter will illustrate the need for USPS employees who display patience and who are willing to listen to their customers, instead of treating us like we are a nuisance.


Nicole M. Lemery

CC: Jack Potter, Postmaster General
Vice-President & Consumer Advocate
Consumer Affairs
4850 N. Broadway (via fax)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Working hard

Today's nautical word is "futtock" as in "futtock shrouds" which are much better explained by the intelligent seafaring updaters of Wikipedia.

Futtock is a great word...apart from sounding slightly naughty, it's not exactly an every day word, so it's great for impressing the ladies at parties.

And by impressing I mean showing off, not making them be sailors in the British navy.


I've been listening to "The Golden Ocean" by Patrick O'Brian, which is his first book. It's not an Aubrey/Maturin novel and is about an actual voyage that took place in 1740. So in addition to being helplessly lost with the nautical dialogue and various intricacies, I now have no idea if anything is well-done, since there are no references to "Nelson would have approved." It's still an incredibly good story though. I'm only worried I'm going to run through all of O'Brians books in a matter of weeks and then be without suitable reading material for the rest of my life. Dear, dear, I shall have to pace myself...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

More Sunday

This morning I was awoken at eight-thirty (eight-thirty!!!) by the BOM BOM BOM of horrible tweenage music. As I lay there, a war broke out within my soul. Part of me, the old, crochety twenty-six year old swore up and down we were going to go down there and kick in the door and break whatever CD was in the machine THAT INSTANT. Then the twelve-year old part of me reminded me how annoying we used to be when we were twelve and listened to "Phantom of the Opera" over and over and over again at top volume and how no one had ever threatened to take our cassette and pull the threads out until there was nothing left but a shining pile of innards. Yes, I said, but did we listen to Phantom at EIGHT THIRTY IN THE BLOODY MORNING?! Luckily for all involved, sanity prevailed and no doors were kicked in. But I have a sneaking suspicion today's music may have been something along the lines of "High School Musical" in which case it might have been kinder to commence door kicking/CD shattering, etc. Arg.

So, fully awake at eight thirty I proceeded to:

A. Finish my jacket (yay! It looks really cool!)
B. Watch some more "Boondocks"
C. Do yoga.
D. Make pancakes and coffee from beans (and this time I think I got the amount right so my coffee was merely "strong" as opposed to "espresso injected directly into your soul")
E. Work on "Bell Hollee" for four hours, pausing briefly to discover that the house where Nelson got married to Frances is now a destination for honeymooners.*

And now it's quarter to four and I think it's time I got out of my pajamas and braved the shattering cold to get some quesadilla stuff. I has a craving.

I love Sunday.

*Ow! Historical irony brick! HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

I'm a Writer!

Okay--first off, is everyone okay? I had a really disturbing dream last night and I woke up afraid I was going to get a Phone Call or read that Barack Obama had been shot (something else I've also dreamed about). Everyone okay? All limbs accounted for? Yes, yes, except for you, Admiral, anyone else? No? Good.

Secondly--tada! I'm a writer! Films 4 Two finally put up my articles about Sweeney Todd and Hairspray. I'm so thrilled! I wasn't sure if they'd be published since I didn't do any more revision, but here they are. yayy! And I even have my own section now--"Nicki Loves Adaptations." Yayyy! I'm a writer!

Okay--off to do writerly stuff like write query letters and figure out my taxes. Yay!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

wasabi! also, ships

I'm sure many of my loyal readers have heard about what happened at the Lane Bryant in Tinley Park by now. If you haven't, the short version is that a gunman entered the store last Friday and shot five women dead. One woman survived to give a great description, but they haven't caught the murderer yet.

I work at Lane Bryant--not the same store where this happened, but the feeling is definitely more alert. Our security monitoring system gave us several "panic buttons" we can wear around our necks, and our security guard now stays until we leave, instead of taking off when the store closes. Even so, I nearly had a heart attack when someone knocked on the door and asked us if we were closed. It's incredible how quickly and easily this happened and it's scary thinking it could happen any time. After work, instead of hopping directly on the train I walked down to a Seven-11 for a gallon of milk (because not only have I drunk all my milk, I've drunk most of my roommate's). Several streetlights were off, and a sanitation truck was throwing some kind of haze into the air--I tried not think about what that was too much. The whole city was eerily lit and strangely empty. I can see why they filmed "Batman" here. It took me more than an hour to get home, the train packed with people when it's usually empty. For once, it felt good to be surrounded by people.

Instead of a McDonald's attack (my first option) I found a little pack of California sushi rolls at the Seven-11 for dinner, so now my nasal passages are on fire. Ah, wasabi. Even from a packet you are still good. Tomorrow I'm only working one job (yay) so I'm going to get to the library for the next book about Jack Aubrey. I can't get over how good these books are.

So I'm starting a new project. If you head over to you'll find a work in progress by Me, about a character that I've had rolling around in my head for quite awhile now. I think I've got the story worked out, but to induce me to keep writing, I'm going to publish it as I go along. The rules are: A, I must write every day even if it's only a line or two. B, No going back or erasing or revising, not yet. That's it. The story will involve some familiar faces later, so please don't make too much fun of me. There's plenty of historical lit to go around.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

This is the life: bohemia

My job, as I mentioned briefly yesterday, allows me to work from home for the next week or two, and let me tell you, with as crappy as the weather is, I'm totally grateful. Without being too specific, I will tell you that I spend a lot of time on the internet, looking up information from various college websites. I never realised how many colleges there are. And I never considered applying to more than one when I decided I wanted to do my PhD. I always figured I'd do it at Madison or not at all, so since I was already checking out college websites I hopped over to UWM to see if they've rejected my abysmal application yet. Aaaand--

Nothing. Still in transit. Okay. Meanwhile, I'm pulling out my hair here, frustrated with temping, the weather, the lack of usefulness in general and my dislike of Chicago in particular, so I've decided to leave. Pull up stakes and head out. Farewell and godspeed. I know I wouldn't be staying in Chicago anyway, whether it's Madison in September or somewhere else tomorrow, so I've decided to cut and run. She said petulantly.

I know that I'm not very good with the long-term plans, and I tend to get antsy about, oh, anything requiring me to focus for more than five minutes together. I guess I just haven't found anything I'm passionate enough about to hang in here for. Yet. And I'm single, no kids, no dogs and only my student loans dragging me down--so now might be a very good time to be traveling about for awhile. I am making plans to head down to Camp Victor in Mississippi for a month or two and whither then, I cannot say. By that time I'll have heard back from Madison and will either be settling happily into an apartment in Mad-town or making huge, dramatic, sobby plans to move back to London and marry for a visa. Or something. I'll be back. You haven't seen the last of me.

I feel like I'm apologising for leaving. I don't mean to be. I don't want to feel like Chicago is driving me out, like I'm saying "oh yeah? well screw you, I quit!" because that's not how I see it at all. I feel like "Okay. This is not working. Next!" I'd rather not look back on Chicago at all. (and anyone who has had to listen to my rants about London will be relieved, I'm sure) I hear the anxious well-wishers asking if this is going to contribute tothe furthering of any sort of career, and I wonder the same thing. There's only so long one can go sopping up life experiences before you have to turn around and write. My resume is so piecemeal right now it hardly matters if I take two months off, and the money sitch is somewhat relaxed right now.

The question still remains: how does one begin to live? To make that transition from college to "real life?" I feel like this past year (past five months especially) I have been suspended in a not-really-living life. Were I working at a job I liked with coworkers I got along with, I might have gone out with them occasionally, swapped stories of friends back home and dates on the weekends. Instead I see a new set of coworkers every week, sometimes more often. Were I working in a theatre, I'd be surrounded by people who shared my common interest, heartily debating whether or not Shakespeare is still relevant. I should have taken those sailing lessons last summer--at least I could have embarassed myself the first time someone told me to tack to port and I tried to tell them it used to be "larboard" two hundred years ago while the boat tips over. But I did not...this isolation is of my own making. The becalmed state of my life is all of my own doing, and all because I do not feel like I belong here. Stubbornness brought me here, kept me here, and now I'm leaving--probably stubbornness again. Will I find a "life" down the road? Who can say? But at least I'll be looking instead of sitting around waiting.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


I had a lovely time at home this weekend. The ride up was uneventful (lor, I do love Amtrak), ate mountains of cheese (some of which was fried, necessitating the wearing of larger jeans) and spent lots of time with my family. It was nice to actually see everyone, instead of being distracted by the bustle of Christmas.

Saturday I spent a couple hours with Grandma, quietly discussing current political candidates and my continued singlehood. Grandma thinks I'm too, how did she put it, overwhelming. I know in the past I've been called aggressive, but when Grandma says so, attention must be paid. Perhaps there is something to be said for waiting until the second date to utter the fatal phrase "So, who are you voting for?" Then I went over to my brother's house to spend time with him and his wife and wear out their puppies. Three thousand ball-tosses later, my mittens were thoroughly soaked in melted snow and dog slobber, so we went in so they could cover my shirt in hair. Aw. Puppies. Peter, ever the gracious host, fell asleep on the sofa, leaving me and Brenda to chat about things. How nice it was to actually talk to someone who was actually my age and there in the room. I didn't realise how desperate I was for conversation until Brenda hauled one of the dogs into her lap and asked me how are you doing? Baby Lem is doing well, I am happy to report, heart beating like anything. Saturday night, Mom, Dad and I went to Pasquale's in DePere--the restaurant which spawned my best-traveled T-shirt, the one that reads "Heaven is where the chefs are French, the lovers are Italian, the police are British and it's all run by the Germans, hell is where the chefs are British" and I forget the rest, but you've probably seen it anyway.

Sunday morning we got up and went to church for an intriguing sermon (bless me, I almost wrote"lecture!") about John Wesley, founder of the Methodist faith. My church, Bethany United, has finished a new renovation, and the church looks splendid. It needs some paintings, but the architecture is beautiful. Then we went out for pancakes. After dropping dad of at home, mom and I went shopping, I got new boots and a yoga mat, then home for a pre-Superbowl nap. The Superbowl was celebrated with food and much cheering. My favourite commercial was the one with Napoleon--and I was rankled when the Milwaukee Sentinel called it one of the worst. "Does anyone really know who that short guy is anyway?" they queried, prompting me to yell "He was five-six! Totally average for his time!!" Milwaukee Sentinel, speaking as the target audience, you don't know what you're talking about.

Speaking about short historical figures, mom and I had this exchange as we strolled through the bottle shop, picking up some Mr. T's for bloody mary's:

Me: (hissing in front of a display of Admiral Nelson's Rum) Look at this! Look at this--a historical travesty, that's what this is!
Mom: What do you mean?
Me: Why do they have to use Nelson for their rum and then get it all wrong? I mean, A)he never wore an eyepatch--B) he's got two arms and C), he's got a beard!
Mom: Yeah and D) he's too tall!
Me: Exactly! Travesty!

Yesterday I voted, a strangely patriotic experience. Dad took me over to the village hall, and I explained to the nice lady behind the counter that I wanted to participate in a democracy, and seh handed me the ballot. She asked "would you like a clipboard so you can go in the corner for some privacy?" and I bawled "No, I don't care who knows I'm voting for Barack Obama!" And with a swipe of my ballot pen it was done. Then I sang a verse of "My Country Tis of Thee" and walked back to the car. DEMOCRACY! Feels good.

The ride back was uneventful. I downloaded the audiobook of "Master and Commander" onto Napoleon for the ride, so I spent the whole ten hours having nautical porn poured in my years. SEriously. Twelve hours later I'm note entirely sure there is a plot, or if this book is merely an excuse for Patrick O'Brian to go "and then THIS amazingly technical nautical thing happened! And let's put in a bunch of nautical terms! So that anyone listening will suddenly feel like they're hearing a foreign language!" Which is why I suddenly sounded like a nineteenth century sailor when I went in for a job assignment today. "Lor bless my soul, mam, I could soirtainly use a bit of a job so I could!" Right.

The fun part is that I'm going to be working from home for the next couple weeks, yay. The bad part is, no free sodas or coffee. Oh well. I'm sad that I was only home for a weekend, but I'm glad that I'm working. Can't wait to go again.

Friday, February 01, 2008

mountains of snow be damned

I'm going home for the weekend to hang out with my family and eat real cheese.

See you all on Monday.