Sunday, April 29, 2007

today i'm abusing ...

maria taylor: good start



* blah blah blah. i know. it was on grey's anatomy last week. and that's why i'm using the grey's anatomy video. but i swear i liked this song before last week's episode. and i'm vain enough to make sure you know that.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

top things overheard ...

everytime i'm at the chalet, the same guy hits on me. first he asks what i'm reading from across the bar. then he sidles in next to me. then he says something like: i layed the carpeting in here. if you can find a seam, i'll buy you a beer. i did a real nice job. i bet you can't find a seam.

i never take him up on this, as i'm not one to necessarily get trashed alone in hermantown while doing laundry.

tonight, soonafter i'd walked into the laundry room, this guy came in with a woman. i didn't even have to look at him to know who it was.

"see. there's the butt of it right there and you can't even tell."
"wow! you can't! no seams at all!"
"over here you can kinda tell where there is some water damage."
"ohhh that's not that bad."
"but it wasn't my fault. it was bad carpeting...."

he continued to tour his seamless work for the next ten minutes. later, they were nuzzling at the bar. he left me alone.

but. there was enough other action to go around. i give you: top things over heard or said to me tonite at the chalet:

[in no specific order. these are all gems]

my grandma was a real bitch. she tried to abort my father with a [indiscernable] iron.

the best book i ever read? jaws. and that was when i was all stoned out during the 1970s.

i rode my bike here. can you believe that? riding home? i've done it. it's just a couple of miles up there. but hammered? at my age? i'm gonna throw it in the back of their truck.

you'r a good lookin' girl. course you stood out more on the range where there were fewer women.

right now i'm abusing in the shower ...

rachael yamagata: reason why



* today with a clip from the oc when marisa was at her best.

the change ...

a lot of women with my current medical condition [my period] will clutch their lower torso and curl into the fetal position and spend a few hours contemplating regular or super absorbancy. at some point they may tuck their cell phone between their face and their pillow case and groan to a friend: ughhh. i hate being a woman. get this over with. kill. me. now. ouch, this hurts. the pain the pain. and then there may be a joke about menopause being the only thing they have left to look forward to thrown in for comedic effect.

not this lady. menopause, dear readers, is my greatest fear.

this became obvious to me yesterday when it formed a semicircle around me at whole foods. the cashier and the woman behind me were both fanning themselves and ruing this heat! this heat! it's so damn hot in here.

cut to me wearing a polar fleece. i'd spent the past three hours sitting on my space heater and considering all the ways to show it a proper amount of affection. a poem did not quite seem like a grand enough gesture. throwing it down on the floor and grinding on it seemed excessive. perhaps nuzzling and flowers?

all this fanning screamed of menopause. pelvic weight gain and panic attacks and every thought a few decibles higher. coarse grey hair and waking up with a seriated knife in my teeth.

years ago i stopped dreading the aging process. i think the day i turned 24 was the last time i got into a birthday funk. while occasionally i will see a cartoonish version of my life where i'm on a very slippery slide, clawing at the railings as i plunge out of control into middle age, this is fairly infrequent. i understand that some people [jcrew] go home at night, kneel next to their bed and thank jesus that they are not as old as me [31]. and perhaps some people think i'm lying when i say that i love being this age. but i do. my hair has more potential, my clothes are better and sometimes i make food that tastes pretty kick ass. 29-30 days out of the month i don't even check greyhound prices to dallas and the exchange rate for plasma and the steps involved with changing my identity.

and the two or three days that i do get psychotic may be pms related, but i'll take it over the alternative. menopause.

i'm not afraid of 32 or 38 or even 42. and i'm not sure when menopause starts or how long it lasts because i refuse to research things that scare me. knowing the whole truth would probably make me throw up my own uvula.

i'm not afraid of what happens after menopause. i see a lot of productivity and activity and grace and happiness in the post-menopausal society. i'll take bifocals and pain pills and falling asleep during wheel of fortune. i'll take the denny's AARP discount.

but menopause, you middle aged puberty, you freak me out.

thing i am making a conscious effort to abuse today ...

the cure: mint car



*this song makes me ridiculously happy

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

a bear in dere ...

last night around midnight i saw two bears bumbling along on the lawn of city hall. seriously. it took an entire drag of my cigarette for my brain to realize that i was standing in downtown duluth looking at a bear and its cub. on the lawn. of city hall. i sprinted inside, up the steps and yelled: bears! city hall! lawn! and it was like someone hit the eject button on my friends' stools. everyone scrambled to the window. i fumbled in my purse for my camera phone and raced back outside.



i think i scared them with my spastic activity.



they kind of sauntered away when i stood in the middle of the street trying to capture dark images in the dark on a bad camera.



blitz, an amateur picture maker, came out with a camera with a lense the size of a telescope. jcat and ryeguy followed. we walked up the steps in single file like a scene out of alien, trying to follow them. but they went west and we were going north ...



i headed toward the giant fountain, thinking that if i was a bear, i'd head toward water. jcat and ryeguy got bored and left the hunt. blitz and i continued to peek into bushes.



i was purposely being a little loud so i didn't get my face ripped off. that's no way to go.

Monday, April 23, 2007

today i'm abusing ...

joshua radin and schuyler fisk: paper weight



* i'm cheesemccheester. whatevs. but if i wrote songs, i'd wish i wrote this song.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

pitchforks, law school and pesto eggs benedict ...

there are two schools of thought on my ability to parallel park. a handful of friends think i'm a worthless waste of a steering wheel and say things like: "hey! who abandoned a honda civic in the middle of the road?" or "it's pretty bad when you can't tell which side of the street you were trying to park on."

hilarity ensues.

yet, somehow i have fooled chuck into thinking i am the zen master of all things parallel parking. that i can fit my wheels into the back pocket of a pair of acid washed jeans. i give him a play-by-play.

"okay," i'll say. "i'm parallel to the car in front me. now i'm going to twist the wheel one and a half clicks to the right. okay. okay. now i'm going to put it in reverese until my back wheel is at a precise angle with the front wheel of the car in front of me. okay. okay. twisting the wheel back. easy. easy. reverse. done and done."

once, i really felt in the zone, and i nearly called him from in front of his house so he could watch greatness unfold. [instead i just told him about it as soon as i got inside].

i am a cocky piece of shit.

last night my entire street was abandoned, save for one car in front of my house. i'm listening to "i could hold you forever" all caught up in blah blah blahler land, thinking of the things i'll later eat and drink. then i hear scraping and the sound of metal being mangled and tortured. i had managed to nail that one car on the block with my front bumper. all of my parking hubris left my body via ear valve, leaving my soul deflated.

i looked at the damage. some surface stuff. paint. no dent. i leave a note.

"hi! i accidentally hit your bumper with my car! please call me! i am a rare fourth street resident with car insurance! love, christa!"

chuck comes over to take photos, rubs at the bumper and decides we've merely traded paint.

***

bubbles had a party last nite. a few friends in her living room and an upstairs neighbor who seems to have some sort of illegal narcotic lodged between his thought process and tongue movement.

"why are you wearing a cast?" i ask him.
"long story," he says. "it involves a princess. i was at caribou and i couldn't come up with a decent line. next thing i know i'm stuck in minnapolis, caught beneath a pillar and i can see the sun."
bubbles, chuck and i give him confused looks.
"can someone come upstairs and roll a joint for me?"
we can't. we go into bubble's apartment.

***

i start with a box of wine. jcrew shows up. she is livid about 12 things in particular and is in hysterics. now, nearly a day later, her whinny is still vibrating in my head. if you play jcrew's voice backward, you will hear satanic messages.

"i want a cheeseburger," she says.
"me too," i say.
"i mean, i seriously need a cheeseburger," she says.
"i know," i say.
"i need a double cheeseburger from mcdonalds," she says.
"i could go for a cheeseburger," i say.

i segue into a milky liquore that tastes like slimfast. then realize that the box o'wine, billed as four bottles-worth, has been depleted by two knuckleheads on the couch who are drinking it by the pint. i now tap raspberry vodka mixed with seven up. it tastes like gatorade, but has the exact opposite effect.

***

i wake with the knowledge that, while quite soaked last nite, i was on the more sober end of the social spectrum. but it still hurts worse than being hung over on a beach on the fourth of july.

***

jcrew and i meet for brunch at pizza luce. she is still in scream-mode and is quite rankled when she can't find a parking spot. she is screaming at me via cell phone.

"JUST ORDER ME SOMETHING!" she screeches.
"waffles?" i suggest.
"NOOOOOO!" she yelps.
"breakfast burrito?" i ask.
"NOOOOO! I EFFING HATE THOSE!"
"pesto eggs benedict?" i ask.

she screams into the phone and hangs up on me.

my hangover hits when she slouches into the booth. coicidence? i doubt it.

me: "i would actually feel better right now if i was hanging from those rafters from my neck."
jcrew: i would feel better with a pitchfork in my skull.
me: i would feel better if my eyeball was on fire.
jcrew: i would feel better if my arm was ripped off my body.
me: i would feel better if my arm was ripped off my body and i was beating myself in the face with it.

***

later, i plot with jcrew how i am going to spend the next part of my day.

me: this thing is going to come out of my body as a nine year old that can, like, do cartwheels and knows spanish.
jcrew: it's going to come out with its own boating liscense.
me: its going to come out having already been to three prince concerts.
jcrew: its going to have a degree from harvard.
me: it's going to be engaged to its high school sweetheart.
jcrew: it is going to have travelled to madrid.
me: it ran with the bulls.

***

"oh look," jcrew coos. she has calmed down. finally. "our waitress even divided up that order of cheese bread on our bills!"
sure enough, she did.
"how cute!" jcrew says. "i'm going to give her an extra big tip."

i look at my friend. minutes earlier her head was spinning, green liquid was squirting out of her orifaces and she was fluent in a growly latin. now she's miss congeniality. what, the ...?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

today i'm abusing ... (two for the price of one. i feel great passion today) ...

i'm from barcelona: we're from barcelona



and, if you like that, you'll want to go steady with this one:
i'm from barcelona: tree house



*there are more people IN this band than NOT in this band.

and i'd have gotten away with it, too ...

fannie called me yesterday with more evidence that the entire world is just one incestuous circle, all sucking from the a shared pot of sun-scorched potato salad at a municipal park in kellogg, minn. you are always just one horse shoe toss from someone who knows someone who knows someone ...

she'd received an email from a friend that was cc'd to the photographer. the photographer isn't from this state, didn't attend college in this state, has a few relatives in this state, but didn't necessarily enjoy his three-yearish stint in this state. at least not the part that involved hurricane me and the most horrific finale ever finaled.

she wrote back to the sender: is that m. photograher photographer? the one who lives in [city that is quite fun, but probably not on any of your destination lists because you dread the entire state and the way it dulls your soul one plain at a time en route to denver, which doesn't suck at all].

yes, the sender replied. do you know him?
know him, the fanster answered. he dated my friend for two years.
here i imagine there a pause.
oh. that's your friend? he asked. yeah. um. she's the one who broke his heart.

ugh.

five years later all i can see are sad brown eyes and his disappointed frown and hunched shoulders. i always told him that when we broke up, i'd forget what his face looked like and instead picture bruce springsteen. unfortunately, with the advent of myspace, i can see what he looked like last week.

i hate being reminded of times when i've been a self-centered asshole, oozing with self-entitlement and convinced that i was an axis for the entire world. its like seeing pictures of myself with a perm times nine hundred fifty kajillion. i really don't consider myself a dick.

i crawled back into chuck's bed groaning and gagging and feeling like the reputation i'd buried had resurfaced. then he reminded me that i'm not like that anymore. [i hope, he added. twice.] then fannie told me that i'm a nice person. then i remembered that the photographer had absolved me a few months ago via an email that contained some f. scott fitz wisdom and some kudos for a poem i'd writen him years ago. so i let it go.

let this be a lesson to you. if your last interaction with someone is a bad one, that is how you will be remembered.

***

chuck and i were leaving the crap factory last nite and i found a business card on the windshield of my car. the name: mb, a man i'd had about a two-month fling with many, many, many personality flaws ago.

what the? i studied it. looked up and down a deserted fourth street, including sniper spots on building tops to see where this had come from. mb doesn't live in duluth, and if he did we'd have not had that fling. mb doesn't visit duluth, as far as i know.

chuck got the wrong vibe from my confusion and thought maybe we were about to be attacked.

"can you, um, unlock the door?" he asked.

i spent a few blocks explaining mb to him. then i called the cell phone number listed on the card. mb was at the crap room and he mumbled some drunken inaudibles to me. he called again later, but by then had dulled his speech patterns to a preschool level, so i continued to have no idea why he is here or how he found my car or what the what the what.

[let me note that mb is not a bad person, i just wouldn't get myself in a similar situation in the present time]

time span: 12ish hours.
hauntings: 2.
sighs of relief for my current situation: seventy two.

today, if i had this cd, i'd be abusing ...

pacha massive: don't let go

things i'm abusing today ...

organic green peppers on tuna fish

Friday, April 20, 2007

i got nothing ...

i haven't played organized sport in awhile, so i'm taking this competition pretty seriously. i'm hunkered over a bin of mostly-nonripe avocados at super one, trying to find one i can sink my spoon into within five minutes of purchase. next to me is a man with a hand basket with a similar need to be immediately gratified by an avocado. he's squeezing, i'm squeezing, he starts squeezing faster and more frantically and i'm doing the same, digging in the bin, chucking green avocados aside and sweating.

it is clear that there is only one ripe avocado in this bin and we're both treating this like the avocado plucking world championships. finally, breathless, he turns to me and says:

"are you going to, like, use this avocado today?"
and i say: "yes." using his pause to dig on his side of the mound. "are you?"
"yes." he says. grits his teeth and we both resume the competition, giggling nervously. we both know we are trying to win.

***

i'd purchased a large beer about 10 minutes before jcrew, my ride, planned to leave the pio. i decide i will walk home if i'm unable to slam the contents. or, sneaks and biggie are at the bar, i can cab home to our matching address.

everyone leaves. i pull out a crossword puzzle and sit at my empty table. the table is filled with dead beer bottles and barcadi diet debris. i'm one cigarette floating in melted ice from appearing sad and lonely. i'm not. as i've said before, drinking should almost always be done alone. more time for premenstral introspection. now's my chance.

scrubs invites me back to her table. my landlord's girlfriend is a schizo. unfriendly until she teeters to about .36, all hopped up on this greenish liquor. i'm sure i can have a better conversation with 41 across: sapporo sash. (obi).

i decline.

ed grimley walks in. it doesn't look like he is here on purpose. more like he just stumbled in through the first open door and lo and behold its his favorite bar. he falls onto a stool. the bartender waves a purple sweatshirt in front of him, all torro! like. he stands, grunts and charges the sweatshirt. she pulls it away and does it again. finally she hands it over, and he falls on top of her in a groping show of appreciation.

"that reminds me of a book i read once," a regular says.
(this is going to be good. bullfighting. the sun also rises?)
wrong. he is thinking.
"herold and the purple crayon," he says finally.

sneaks says that she, biggie and i are going to walk home together. in my head, this looks like a grunting, drooling, publically urinating parade. with biggie playing the role of quasimoto, trailing a block behind us. hunchbacked with an eye squinched close. sidewalk burns on his knuckles.

"how about we take a cab," i suggest. "you call, i'll pay the three dollars."

sneaks, biggie, ed grimley and i squeeze into a cab. i'm on sneaks lap. at the duplex, i run inside to get a pan of oatmeal cookies i made. the stairway of the duplex smells like skunk. that's when i notice one of sneaks suitors sitting on the steps, half passed out, waiting for her to get home.

my oatmeal cookies are stuck to the pan and the meter is running and ed grimley is still sitting in the back seat. moaning into the cab driver's ear.

"out," i command.
i can see this is going to take some serious coaxing. i throw his hat into the front yard.
he's not getting out.
meters running.
"good luck," sneaks says.
i grab him by the collar of his purple sweatshirt and have a freakish display of adrenaline and strength. i heave him out the open door. when i turn around, he is sprawled on the boulevard.

we cruise off into the night.

today i'm abusing ...

ben kweller: penny on a train track

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

panic attax ...

for most of my friends, the tax season is their own personal episode of wheel of fortune. around january they start confiding the huge bundles of dinero they are anticipating and the gadgetry and fine, shiny wares they will purchase. this always makes me feel like a mathematical and financial failure, as i've never received a similar haul. maybe once i got 25 dollars back. maybe.

i always wait until the last possible second to send my check. it feels like i had the irs's illigitimate child and i have to buy the bastard's diapers now they won't let me see it.

this year i turbo taxed that mess a few weeks early and saw that i would be getting an $1,100 refund and i practically crapped my pants in glee. i had visions of a kayak or an ipod, a new laptop or, gasp, a SAVINGS ACCOUNT! then i realized i'd made an error. i double backed through the paperwork, punched in my numbers and literally watched my refund number roll backward 6's and 5's blinking on my screen and i'm like "stop stop stop!"

and so i went from winning a new jeep and a dog, to owing 275ish dollars.
i wept for my unborn dog, jake, and the unrealized frisbee caught in his teeth. cruising up the shore without my hard top and listening to summery music. eventually i'm going to start living in reality. but probably not today.

i remember when i was still living in rochester. completing my taxes at about 11:30 p.m. on april 15th. hank's bated beer breath, watching me sign the forms. we were in a hurry to get to aquarius club -- at that time, the city's worst excuse to get manhandled under a black light. we would take over a large speaker and turn it into our personal dance stage and grind on the railing. across from us, different groups of sequined performers gyrated. they had actual choreography.

i dropped my tax forms in a random blue mailbox on the way to the bar, and weeks later i received a message from the irs: a fine for my tardy payment.

last year i did something similar, although i took my taxes to the post office. i wasn't sure where it was located, and turned off on 40th west and found a lot of stuff that wasn't the post office. i called oregon, who directed me back to 27th. i mailed that junk at 11:55 p.m., and hi-fived the other stragglers on the way out. then i went to the bar.

this year i finalized my taxes around midafternoon. took a nap. woke around 8 p.m. yawned and thought: eh. i've still got time. i went to buy stamps, realized i'd forgotten the paperwork, stopped at coldstone creamery and ate a large strawberry blonde ice cream treat for dinner. came home and watched the news. yawned some more and thought: eh. i've still got time.

my postal contact called me soon after and told me that this year was void of stragglers. the collective had done a bang up job of paying their taxes on time, and the extra two day extension had gone unrealized. i said i'd still not mailed mine. he sighed.

i finally got to the post office around 11:10 p.m. the place was empty. my procrastinating people had left me hanging. i dropped it in the box and finally just one car pulled into the lot and a girl sprinted into the building waving an envelope.

but i was already in my car, so i didn't get to give her a hi-five.

today i'm abusing ...

camera obscura: hey lloyd

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

prom and circumstance ...


prom, 1993
guess who's prom date replied: it just looked like any other boy's boob after a nipple-revealing incident on the dance floor?


bp blindsided me on a busride home from a cross country meet, before my freshman year had even begun. he slid into my seat, i removed my headphones, he asked me to the homecoming dance. i panicked. looked at the emergency exit and thought: "now that's just cruel. i'm trapped!"

this proposition was bittersweet. admittedly, it was good because it set a precedent that in high school, i would be a girl who was asked to dances. unfortunately i'd known bp since second grade and he was not the male lead in any of the moony diary posts where i plotted my romantic future. bp was a character. emitted an entire brass band worth of sounds from his body with no shame. a real handraiser. sometimes a bit of a narc. character (read: not necessarily hot), in high school boys, is the equivilent of being a high school girl with a good personality (read: flat).

i did what jessica wakefield would do: told him i would get back to him, and put my headphones back on.

but if i wanted to go to homecoming, i'd have to go with him. pista family rules. go with the first person who asks, or sit home and watch my social stock plummet and begin considering the way my lips will rust from lack of use. so i went with bp.

***

betsy the backstabbing bitch knew i was going to ask ab to turnabout. i'd only been, like, plotting it for weeks. i was waiting for him after school. i was his ride home every single day for three years. the rumor beat him to the lobby. betsy had gotten to him first.

truthfully, he wasn't going to like either of us. but i felt that i had a better shot at him. i knew that his family had the same go-with-the-first-person-who-asks rule. i writhed on the floor in agony. then i asked his twin brother instead.

***

in four years of high school i went to four homecomings, four turnabouts, four sadie hawkins days and two proms. these are the only two times i remember being asked or asking anyone. and i only remember them because they were the equivilent of my own personal slasher flick.

***

while in vegas, my mom and i spent some time with two 18-year-old girls who mistook sin city for singe city. neither wanted to return to minnesota with her original top layer of skin. by a few days in, they were already flaking and well-done. something i would return if i'd ordered it in a restaurant.

one of the girls had found a 400 dollar prom dress and had gotten approval from her mother to make the purchase. she'd scoured minnesota and had been unable to find anything she liked in our snowy little backwoods state. i find this hard to believe, considering we minnesotans have this fancy little area called the mall of friggin' america. while hellish, it is also pretty thorough.

***

"so," i asked the girls at dinner one night. "when a boy asks you to prom, does he do something elaborate? or does he just, like, trap you on the cross country bus for instance."

i've seen laguna beach. i know that stephen tricked kristin by leaving her anonymous stalker notes; deter rented a limo when he asked jessica. i'd assumed this was part of the pomp and circumstance of living in the OC. but when i considered that someone would pay 400 dollars for a dress, it occured to me that the lourdes high school of 1994 was a vast social chasm from the lourdes high school of 2007.

"for sure," the 400 dollar prom dress said. "as soon as people find out that you are going, they want to know how you were asked. and if you don't have a good 'how i got asked to prom' story ..."

she shook her head.

this girl's date, whom she described as the epitome of tall, dark and handsome, gave her a bouquet of balloons. she popped them until one rained confetti on her bedroom floor and he jumped out of the closet and asked her. the other girl's date (or actually, his mom) baked her a pumpkin pie. her favorite. the word "prom?" was written in frosting.

"who has the best story?" i asked.

the same girl has won for two straight years. one year her boyfriend parked a large rooster-shaped billboard in front of her house; this year he took out a classified ad.

today is just another day when i'm glad i'm 31.


turnabout, 1993
now here is a vision of unrequited love to a pearl jam soundtrack


homecoming, 1993
my lord i was one sassy senior. like veronica mars.



turnabout, 1994
lawdy, lawdy, i snagged myself a college boy


headless wonder: turnabout, 1994


prom, 1994

Friday, April 13, 2007

losing at the 40 ...


photo by chuck


"you're going to tape these to my hands, right?" chuck asks me.
"of course," i say. what kind of person would i be if i didn't wind duct tape around both of his hands, attaching two bottles of mickey's. he's kidding, i hope. as much as i'd enjoy watching him play edward 40-hands, i'm not nearly savvy enough to run his remote controls for two hours. or to anticipate any of the other unzipping or scratching involved with caretaking for someone whose hands are affixed to the drink.

and then there is the whole "we aren't in a frat" thing. i know this because when i suggest that we play century club with our matching 80 ounces of loot he balks. shakes his head and mutters something about not needing drinking games.

i played century club once. a one-on-one versus the twin in ireland hall. freshman, maybe sophomore year. we faced each other in matching dorm room chairs, smirking. similar height and weight and tolerance levels. one shot every minute until we couldn't take it anymore. my friends crowded behind me. he didn't invite an entourage. when he left to use the bathroom about 60 minutes into the game, my friends congratulated me on my composure.

"you don't seem drunk," they said.
i stood up and it hit me. i fell back into the chair.

chuck and i take green sharpies and make a line on the other's drink.
"this is where i think you'll begin to feel the affects of a mickey's big mouth," i say scratching a line above the label and taking into account his overall festive tenor.

about 20 ounces into the night we're both a little bleary.

we try to play spades, but i can't remember the rules.
we play war and he wins.

"it kinda feels like we are playing games we would be playing if we were on a long bus ride," i tell him.

we play backgammon. i've never played. he wins.

lately he wins at everything. we've been playing golden tee 2007 lately and he didn't know some of the keys and still wins. finally during our last game, on the 18th hole, i explained how to read a green. taking uphill or downhill or straight into consideration. as well as the degree of curvature of your lie. he won by quite a few strokes. next time he'll win by twice as much.

this mostly sucks because he doesn't even have a victory dance. he wins quietly. my victory is loud and braggy and includes pom poms and a few leg kicks and and "i won i won i won i always win" chant.

there were only three bottles of mickey's left at the hammond. my second 40 is a miller high life. the champagne of beers. i eye the bottle and it looks more like the champagne of kidney infection. served at room temperature.

i can only stomach half before my inner gagger rebels. i lose again.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

the drought ...

christ has blogging gotten boring lately. luckily, chuck and i are going to drink 40s tonight so you don't have to hear about how suddenly i'm in the early stages of becoming a serious sleepwalker. i'm currently a sleep talker and a bit of a sleep-consumer-of-a-half-a-can-of-black-olives wake-with-a-salty-fork-in-my-mouth sort of gal.

i think this will be an interesting new development for my life. i eagerly anticipate waking for the first time splayed on the on my living room floor with my head in a bucket of kfc spicy chicken popcorn. granted, i'm going to have to start hiding my car keys and locking up mapquest so i don't wake up in the crotch of a tree somewhere near the canadian border. or any crotch anywhere for that matter.

and from the "god i'm super funny" files:

chuck: i just gave you a taste of your own medicine.
me: hmmm ... it tasted like chicken.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

broke down mountain ...

i am currently surrounded by things that do not work or work ineffectively. this means much chain smoking and swearing. i've been taking it out on toonses by threatening to squirt him with 409 everytime he creeps within a 4-foot radius. (between you and me, i'd never squirt it at him. but he's just gullible enough to scamper away, sliding along my kitchen floor like he's playing bumper cars with the stove).

1. my shower leaks. all of the clothes on my bathroom floor are sopping up 10 pounds of water and leg hair. getting out of the shower is like stepping into a kiddie pool. my landlord has been using my frequent vacancies to caulk the shit out of it. he is the worst caulker ever.

2. my laptop sounds like it is revving up for moon exploration. everything takes five minutes to load. i can't download the photos of myself in prom dresses that i emailed myself. sometimes my internet browsers unexpectedly shut down.

a). my itunes won't start at all. this makes musical discovery tricky. when i again start mooning over john mayer, you'll know why.

3. my dvd player choked on a chick flick starring cameron diaz, jude law, the titanic chick and jack black. now it won't play one starring scarlet johannson, whom i prefer to the aforementioned. i'd watch it on my laptop, but ...

Monday, April 9, 2007

dear diary ...

me: i wonder if my mom ever read my diary ...
chuck: i think she did and you repressed it and then later you rebelled and said "oh yeah? well i'm going to let the WHOLE WORLD read my diary."

Friday, April 6, 2007

double down town ...



editors note: the following is a ridiclously lengthy post about my trip to las vegas. today i'm subscribing to the idea that my blog is my online journal and that i simply want to record the events of the past few days. i don't anticipate that anyone will read all of it. i am comprised of pure hubris, but i'm not stupid.


when some people plan trips, they will try to optimize the amount of time spent at the destination. they will think it is perfectly reasonable to expect a duluthian to board a plane in minneapolis at 9 a.m. even if it is someone who is not able to sleep prior to 3 a.m. they will survey your lifestyle and think that being a night person is a lifestyle choice that can be fixed by an intervention or fat camp.

and so i leave duluth at 1:30 a.m., blessed that lil latrell works nights and can coax me through the dregs of sturgeon lake and barnum and straight through the white castle drive thru where i over-order: two jalapino cheeseburgers, chicken rings, moz sticks and hi-c. i roll my luggage into brother pista's at 4:30 a.m. with a whole new repretoire of songs i will some day karoake.

i sleep for an hour. then i find him standing in the doorway telling me it is time to wake. i drink coffee and right before the parent pista's pull into his driveway i'm overwhelmed with white castle intestinal mayhem. i writhe on his toilet, ruing a lack of reading material and this pain, this utter pain.

i can't board a plane in this state. the bathrooms are too small for the sounds, smells and matter that needs to come out of my body. i'm convulsing and sweating and thinking some pretty mean thoughts about white castle.

brother pista dumps tums into my open palm and sends me on my way. it seems to take.

***

"can i have the window seat?" ma pista asks.
"yes," i say. reluctantly.
"good because i like to look out the window," she says.
"really?" i ask. "because i like to stare at this fat man to my left. the one hawking bloody luggies into his handkerchief. the one with a fanny pack filled with prescription meds, strapped to the seat in front of him. the one balancing orange juice on his belly."
"perfect," she says.

ma pista's small head is the same size as the small airplane window. as we fly into vegas she coos in delight.

"lookee, lookee, chrissy," she says. "its the sphynx!"
and
"oh lookee! there is the pyramid!" she is thrilled.

all i can see is the back of her head and her new stylish wedge haircut. i want to tell her that i can't see jack through her melon, but remain silent. travel is about compromise.

***




we are staying at paris, centered in the middle of the strip. decorated with a faux eiffle tower and a hot air balloon. we are meeting up with my mom's friend, the woman's 18-year-old daughter and her daughter's friend. these two are little hotties paralyzed with a religious mission: jesus has called them to bronze themselves to pre-prom perfection. already they are so tan that they should accessorize with A1 steak sauce. but this is not yet enough.

ma pista and i ditch the rotissere and begin walking the strip. in and out of hotels: mgm grand, the belagio, the mirage, ceasar's palace, new york new york, mandalay bay. we walk for hours. my flip flops are creating freakish bubble blisters between my toes. the one on my left foot looks like the crumpled face of a dead president. my arches are black with street soot and sin. and they ache.

"what time is it?" i ask ma pista.
"1:30 p.m.," she says.
"really? it feels more like 3:30 p.m.," i tell her. a tiny joke. we've come from central time. in our bodies, it is 3:30 p.m.
she misses the joke. stares at the "statue of liberty" and says: "huh. it really does."
when i laugh, she punches me in the arm.

***

at dinner i learn that one of the prom girls has been seduced by a $400 prom dress and a pair of $100 shoes. this seems ... excessive.

***

"what time is it?" i ask ma pista.
"hmm ... 10 p.m.," she says.
"really? it feels closer to midnight," i say.
"i know!" she says. "it really does."
again i laugh. after a pause she gets the joke again and rolls her eyes.

she conks to sleep and i roam the streets for another hour. by day, vegas feels like a garage sale wrapped in the county fair.




by night, vegas feels like a good reason to wear body glitter and stilletos.



***

day two brings more walking. more shopping. i break a cardinal sin and opt for running shoes and capri pants. this seems okay as we are in sin city, after all. it is pefectly acceptible to look like i drive a minivan.

later i fall asleep face down on a lounge chair. a copy of "the robber bride" for a pillow. my cell phone gauging my rib cage. i wake groggily to the phone vibrating against my body. it's my mom. it's time to eat. i wander back into paris in a sun stroked haze, my legs bruised by the stripes from the chaise. i stick my key card into a room three floors above our's and officially wake when my error blinks red.

***

on an ordinary day, i consume my weight in water. in vegas, you have to be connected to the mtv beach house to find a drinking fountain. water costs a pink pancreas. keeping your urinary tract free of bacteria requires wads and wads of fresh bills or a private detective. magnum pi.

our room doesn't have wifi. it costs $12 to use ethernet.

we don't even have a coffee maker in our room.

"i can't find a 'do not disturb' sign," my mom says.
"gift shop," i tell her. "six dollars."

***

i feel a freaky kinship with our 18-year-old friends when i realize that two of us are in a constant state of text messaging. walking the strip with our eyes trained on tiny screens. punching out long messages. mine are things like: "much like you, [ma pista] gets drunk without drinking." and "hi cute stuff, i like you."

and "oh my. he just called me and asked me to place a 50 dollar bet on north dakota."

***

i've had it with the strip. when i close my eyes, i see neon streaks. i want to go downtown toward the career gamblers and streets splayed with urine samples. i want to see where nic cage barfed in "leaving las vegas" and i want to see the giant glowing cowboy.

"i want to ride a mechanical bull," i tell my mom.
"i've heard that really hurts your crotch," the $400 prom dress says.
i want to say "lots of stuff does" but that seems inappropriate in front of this audience. instead i shrug.
"a mechanical bull?" my mom says. furrowed brow. "what if you get hurt?"
"i'm an athlete," i tell her.
"so was christopher reeve," she responds.

ma pista, her friend and i board a bus for downtown. it takes 40 minutes to travel a few miles. i'm gripping a pole and aching to wash my hands. i'm staring at the other passengers, my armpit assaulting a stranger's sensory system.

my mom has a look ono her face. a cross between stifled hilarity and disdain for public transportation. i hear the phrase "let's take a cab back," from about four other passengers. including my mom.

"you know what really would have upped the resale value on that bus ride?" i ask her. "chickens roaming in the aisles."

***

i'd scoured some travel literature and become enamored with the idea of my mom and i hitting some sort of trendy nightclub where we could potentially spot justin timberlake or elvis or belinda carlisle.

"the cover charge for men is like 40 bucks," i tell my mom pointing at jet. "but its free for women."

i look at my gap cargos, my adidas running shoes, my dirty hands and her similar look.

"course, we'd try to walk in and the bouncer would probably say, 'nice try mister,'" and i'm so simultaneously spent and wired that i laugh for a half hour repeating "nice try mister" between sobs of hilarity.

***





downtown is fan-frigging-tastic. if i should ever make my way back to las vegas, i will stay downtown. it is seedy and pungent and real. it is an old fashioned version of plastic. my mom is convinced we are one left turn from being stabbed to death.

we wander into a casino and ma pista and her friend plunk money into a slot machine. i lag about, i want to learn to play craps. instead i'm lured to the bar, where a rockabilly band is rockabillying. i settle into my stool with a sam adams, cheerful about getting something for $6 instead of just jamming it into a machine.

a man in a suit takes my hand. he wants to teach me to swing dance. his name is legion and he is from los angeles and he's in town for the rockabilly convention. i follow his lead for about two minutes and realize that i don't really want to be touching this stranger and since it is my vacation and i can do whatever the hell i want, i decide i want to drink the rest of my beer and watch the band passively.

"i have a car," he tells me.
"i'll pick you up tomorrow night and take you to see 40 rockabilly bands," he adds.
"live a little," he coaxes. "you can bring your mom."
"i'm staying at the belagio," he adds. "it is across the street from paris."

i decline with much enthusiasm. head back to ma pista, who has won $29 playing wheel of fortune.



***

again i roam the streets as my mom settles into acapella snores. i see enough six-year-olds trailing after their parents that i'm convinced i've stepped into kindergarten round up. in front of paris at 1:30 a.m. (which feels more like 3:30 a.m.) a woman is passed out with her head against a railing. she has a baby carrage parked in front of her.




it seems reasonable to offer the infant a cigarette and firecrackers.

***

ma pista and i walk miles to the stratosphere. in line we get into a heated debate: i think that it is okay for women to make babies out of wedlock. ma pista thinks it is cruel and she would feel badly about any child who's parents did not love each other enough to get marired. we spar for 15 minutes on a hypothetical topic, realize we are getting hot and bothered about something we don't need to even talk about. eventually we find common ground: we both think it is assinine to go on a ride that sends its passengers shooting out over the ledge of the stratsphere. and we wonder how they clean the puke off the windows of this building. we are friends again.



that night we go to "mama mia." i leave with dreams of unearthing my abba cd. i will now always sing abba in the shower, i promise myself. i feel sad that i am not in musicals. meanwhile, the plotline is thin, the female lead scampers too much and annoys the fuckola out of me. but the rest of it is fantastic and silly and well-worth my mom's 49 dollars.

***

ma pista wants to find a unlv hat for pa pista. this involves more walking. finally, in the middle of a street i stop. i'm spent. i've created a geriatric hate-crime against my body.

"i'm going to go into this bar right here and wait for you," i tell her.
unfortunately, it is margaritaville. jimmy buffet's bar. a testament to my need for a drink and the state of my complete lethargy: i loathe jimmy buffet. i'd rather eat my own eyeball than listen to "cheeseburger in paradise." i settle into the bar and drink an $8 margarita and consider the number of ways to hate a parrot.

then i have another margarita when she and her friend return.

***

i wander in front of paris with a small buzz, cooing romantic monologues to chuck into my cell phone.

i'm buzzed enough from margaritaville that i decide it is imperative that chuck see the outfit i'm wearing. when we hang up i solicit a man.

"will you take a photo of me with my cell phone?" i ask.
"um. okay," he agrees. "but wouldn't you rather be in front of like a fountain or something?"

"nah," i tell him. "i just want my boyfriend to see my cute outfit."
he snaps a photo. it is not satisfactory.
"i need my jeans in the shot, too," i tell him.
he snaps another photo. this one is better. he eyes, cocks his head and says "are you sure you don't want something sexier?" he asks.
"nah," i tell him. "he already knows."




i'm in the elevator when a couple tells me that tony danza is in the bar downstairs. i weigh my options: this means returning to the casino. but this also means a celebrity sighting ... something that doesn't really matter to me but feels like it should. and besides, its TONY DANZA.

i spot him immediately. i text chuck: tony danza sighting.
and since i have my phone out anyway, i decide i can probably take a photo of him. i walk past, but am too scared to push "capture." i don't want to be THAT GIRL. i stand in the bar, ignoring him for a few minutes and giggling to myself at this sighting.

"what's so funny, christa?" the man who took my photo asks. he's standing alone next to a pole.
"tony danza," i tell him. "over there. i want to take his photo, but i don't want to take his photo."

picture man drags me back to the bar.
"take it over my shoulder," he says.
"nah ..." i say.
"come on, christa, live a little," he says.
"i can't do it," i say. scurry back to the elevator.

***

we leave the next morning. ma pista gets pista because i eat summer sausage on good friday. she also gets annoyed when i make a jesus joke, which, as you know, are some of the funniest jokes.

***

pa pista is late picking us up from the airport. i'm seething like a diva. i want to get back to duluth with a level of angst unrealized in the prechuck era.

***

chuck makes us fresh margaritas. we settle into the couch. i'm lapping salt off the rim of the glass like a porn star.

"i only had three drinks in vegas," i tell him. "and that was over the course of three days."
"you went to the most hungover city in the world and only drank three drinks?" he asks incredulously.
i nod and proceed to get wrecked on margaritas.
its good to be home.

now who's the boss? ...

i saw tony danza at my hotel bar.
i woke my mom up to tell her.
"who was he with?" she mumbled sleepily.
"um. alyssa milano, judith light ... ," i told her.
and she went back to sleep.

Monday, April 2, 2007

vegas, baby ...

oh she got me good. ma pista, knowing that i will only drive to rochester if an immediate member of my family is getting married or buried, pulled the ultimate deke. since september, she has been plotting that we would spend her spring break together. sitting on the sun porch, getting feverish on red wine and celtic music from a strategically place six cd changer. gossip. girl stuff. in another life she was an informercial for pedicures and footware.

this is fine. this is nice. but you know me, i can play out rochester faster than you can come up with a clever, albeit vulgar, nickname* for my hometown. in its wildest moments, that sleepy hollow conks out before CSI's denoument.

HOW TO PLAY OUT ROCHESTER IN ONE NIGHT:
while rochester claims the largest share of chain restaurants per capita, stand strong. remind yourself that you HATE tgifriday's, you HATE macaroni grill, you really, really HATE applebees, you don't necessarily HATE the olive garden, but you can suck up that drool in duluth. there are only two great restaurants in rochester, and the india garden will always be closed. this is fine, because the redwood room is where it is at. spinach salad with homemade dressings, endless bowls of soft bread and freshly grated parmesean cheese. an indigo girls derivative groaning, yoddling and playing covers on an accoustic guitar.

after ma pista has passed out on the pull out couch with her cheek pressed against an unfinished crossword puzzle and pa pista has played his last hand of video poker, you will still have an hour before barnes and noble closes. best to hit the one at the galleria, the one in an old castle-shaped theater downtown. tell the 17 year old ringing up your purchases that you used to work there, too. watch her unchanging pupils as she apathetically says "oh."

it is time to look for your exboyfriend oneniner. you won't have to look hard. he will be at rookies, where every night is either ladies night or dualing pianos night or some other night that inspires sophomore girls from the community college to claw off their own six dollar bras.

oneniner will either be at the bar or behind the bar pouring pulls of jagarmiester. you settle into a stool after the all-encompassing hug. he will tell you 1. that he just had a dream about you; 2. that he just finished a really good book.

you will ask him if he has recently impregnanted anything and then ask after each member of his 10-person family, their spouses and children and how his softball teams look this season. find out whose couch he is sleeping on these days. drink a little more than you should.

sneak carefully back into your parent's house, raid their fridge. mow down on chunks of cheddar cheese and the questionable contents of their tupperware containers. pass out in the glow of mtv.

by the time ma pista wakes you at 8:30 a.m. the next morning, you'll be ready to go back home.

END OF DIGRESSION

ma pista used her keen maternal nose to realize i probably didn't have a trip to rochester on my docket. between 2000 and 2001 i probably drove back and forth 75 times. i can highlight the pros and cons of every bathroom in every gas station between here and there, and the last post i ever write on this blog with be that exact review. then i will lock myself in the garage with an idling civic, AM radio and a warm mug of diesel.

so she tried a new approach.
how about we go to vegas?
vegas?


this sounds vaguely like something i can sign on to. although the irony of visiting sin city with sin's mortal enemy keeps me awake at night choking on my own giggles.

"we should go to a show!" she suggests.
"can we go to prince's club?" i asked her.
"prince, who?" she asked.
"prince prince," i said. "you know. prince."
"hmmm," she thinks. like it is the name of someone with whom i went to high school. "prince. ... oh! prince!"
sometimes she is a mockery of minnesota history.

(this means that i will enjoy a shrimp spinach salad at prince's club during the lunch hour. i'll take photos of things that prince may have touched. and that night i'll inspire self loathing one verse at a time, singing like a lark along with celine dion. "cuz i'm your laaaaaaadddddyyyyyy ... and you are my ma, a, an. whenever you reeaaaaccchhh for me....")

"you know, in vegas, people don't wear jeans and sweatshirts," my mom told me yesterday.
"well, then. i'm going to look like a martian!" i told her. "everyone is going to want to get their picture taken next to the freak show!"

so. the next few posts will be on location. and that location will not be rochester. and if all goes according to plan, at some point on the way home my mom will turn to me. press a finger against her lips as though saying "shhhhh" and whisper: remember. what happens in vegas stays in vegas.

*crotchfester