Sunday, September 30, 2007

say you ...



"sometimes, you might forget about this. please don't."

Saturday, September 29, 2007

banal probe: what if i went to each of the major duluth grocery stores and binged on samples? ...



as a night grocery shopper, i tend to miss out on the tiny retiree kiosks filled with samples. today i set out to make up for years of missed indulgences. first i plotted a route that encompassed each of duluth's major grocery stores; then i set out for a three-hour tour during peak shopping hours.

make no mistake: i was not actually shopping. i was skulking the outer parameters of the stores, investigating pedestrian culture one see-through domed pineapple hut at a time.

my travels found me neglected, cohersed, and stuffed to the uvula with $1.99 banana bread. i was sometimes charmed, sometimes guilt-ridden by my own freeloading ways. i found that the further from my home base that i traveled, the more disappointed i was by the fare. but mostly i realized that within this town, you can't give a javelin toss to a gnawed toothpick without hitting a super one.

STOP ONE: SUPER ONE [15 S. 13th AVE E.]
i find myself jostling elbows with two college boys for a slice of bakery-made banana walnut bread. [at this point in my travels, this is novel. later, banana bread will represent the epitome of lazy freefare]. loafs are on sale for $1.99, 50 cents off. i select the piece most liberally doused in butter. it is moist and delicious but mostly i'm just in it for the butter. as you know, i'm a dipper.

STOP TWO: SUPER ONE [LAKESIDE]
lakeside is oppressive. it feels like i'm wearing an electric shock curfew collar. i fear that someday i will be trapped out there at midnight without food or gas or easy interstate access and from that day on i won't be able to stay up long enough to watch conan o'brien.

one time i was at a party in lakeside, and when the police busted in 20 minutes after i had left they found 6-10 sober adults playing cranium. ["sorry officer, we'll try to spell words backward more quietly," my friend reportedly said.]

but this lakeside super one smells promising, and by "smells promising" i mean: smells like kentucky fried chicken. i work my way quickly toward the smell, which is coming from the deli, but instead of spicy popcorn chicken, there is this handwritten sign:

homemade chicken cashew salad
on an empty, unmanned sample table.

MOUNT ROYAL FINE FOODS
i know that this will be a milestone moment in my investigation, as mount royal is not only my favorite grocery store -- it has the exact lighting that i want to always be surrounded by. this good feeling is enhanced when i walk in and the song "come dancing" by the kinks is playing.

there is a platter of hor devours in the meat department: ham or turkey options, rolled into aesthetically pleasing pink bite-sized cylinders. this is an intimidating sort of sample arrangement. it is hard to be casual about your grazing when you have to actually approach an official counter manned by an official sample lady. luckily, this bird ducks into the back room just as i approach. i opt for turkey and a generous chunk of asiago cheese and drop my toothpicks into a container marked used toothpicks. i can only hope these slivers are recyled into IKEA furniture.

i move on to a chili con queso served with baked tortilla chips. a few feet away, garlic hummus has an older man and his wife in a tizzy. they are playing "find the hummus," trying to match the label on the display to a label in the hummus case.


a stocker is refilling the toothpicks near the pineapple chunks. i hip check him and dig in.

this is by far the best buffet i've stumbled upon thus far, but with all of the sample items packed in the same vicinity, i feel self conscious as i stuff my face. like they are going to drag me out by my dirty hair and drop me in front of the vat of macaroni and cheese at old country buffet. where i belong.

SUPER ONE [KENWOOD]
finally, a beverage. i take a shot of bayfield natural apple cidar in the produce section. it is acidic and tastes like the potential for a hangover. near the meat counter, a woman swabs at the fry pan to increase the amount of cheese on my bite of chicken kiev. "2 for 5 dollars," she says and i turn around. "would you like to buy some?" another woman behind the counter asks.

clearly at super one in kenwood, sample lady is a commission-based job opportunity.

feeling pressured, i flee, mumbling something vague about maybe stopping back. i end up in the bakery, where a woman half my height tries to bully me into more of that $1.99 banana bread. here, the pieces are smaller and less buttery and i also have the option of sans walnuts. sans walnuts trumps avec walnuts every time.

"you can't even make this bread for this price," shorty challenges me.
"i'd imagine not," i say, scurrying away with a mouthful.

i circle back to the chicken kiev. i'm going to need something for dinner tonite. something that isn't served on a toothpick.

PIGGLY WIGGLY
i've missed a grocery store further up woodland avenue, so i have to retrace arrowhead. based on the parking lot at the piggly wiggly, sampling here will be tricky. i may be the only customer they have had all day.

makes no difference. there is nothing free for me.

SUPER ONE [BURNING TREE PLAZA]
this may be the superest of super ones. unfortunately, i'm too late. there is an empty dome with a handwritten sign: "pretzel crisps. great with cheese dip!" i'm sure it was, before the vultures [ie my people] descended.

there are some donut crumbs in the bakery department. i'd have to lick my finger and swab at the community bowl. i'm unwilling to do this. perhaps earlier in the day i'd have been more ambitious.

then: more banana bread.

i don't even make eye contact. i get the feeling that someone involved in the super one chain is a manic bread baker. this banana bread overload smacks of someone's meth addiction.

CUB FOODS
the cheese department rarely disappoints on the occasions that i have been here before midnight. today i am left with stella's low fat blue cheese crumbs and a handful of broken crackers. i take two servings because this is my home grocery store.

WHOLE FOODS
local romanesco and colorado green beans with grateful harvest sesame dressing. i want to put my face in this bowl and begin lapping at this sludgy brown organic mess of yum. near the deli i sample from a tray of sesame rice. there is also cubed cheese, but i am too shy to approach the dish this time. not sure why. shyness rears its boring head and occasionally interfers with what i am called to do.

SUPER ONE [WEST]
nothing. not even banana bread. but there are girls out front selling hot dogs in front of a sign that says: don't be a meanie, have a heart, buy a weinie.
this gets stuck in my head for about an hour.


i drive home and eat my $2.50 chicken kiev.

banal probe is a new weekly feature where i get off the couch and do something not particularly innovative for no real reason or importance beyond the post potential. so far i have a short list of experiments including things like: walk the length of duluth; learn to like mushrooms; see what i look like as a 125 pounder; subsist on liquids for as long as possible; go an entire day without talking; nicotene patches, whatever. suggestions? e-mail me at bgtc17@hotmail.com.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

more tv than you should be allowed to cram into your skull ...

someone tried to break into my landlord's drop top. they cut three-fourths of a rectangle into the stretched fabric while it was tucked safely away from his drunken fingertips in the lot at the radisson. the perp then reached inside and unlocked the door, setting off his car alarm. they missed out on stealing, i'm guessing:

tanning goggles
a happenings coupon book
a purple plastic dinosaur he has jammed up against the windshield

"it kinda looks like i have a sunroof," he told me.
"wait. landlord has a convertible?" junior asked me.
"yes," i confirmed. "does it make it better that it is pinkish purple?"
"yes," junior said.
"does it make it even better that the convertible he had before this one started on fire outside of a bar in superior?"
"yes," junior said.

***

i took the route past quinlan's home last night. the street out front echoed with a four-person argument.

"can you hear that?" i asked chuck, who i was talking to on the phone.
"yeah," he said. "what is it?"
"fight outside of quinlan's," i said, driving past slowly. "i think it shows maturity that i didn't take a photo of it."
"photos are fine," he said. "just don't take video."
"anyway, wanna go out? i asked.
"okay," he said.
"quinlan's?" i suggested.
"to the place where people are screaming out in the middle of the street?" he reminded me.
"yep," i said.

***

my landlord's exgirlfriend the russian was at the bar with her husband. she has chosen to not acknowledge the sum of my matter. i wish more people would respond to me like this. meanwhile, i occasionally look at her to see if she is still ignoring me. yes. yes she is.

nothing really happens at quinlan's, until 10 minutes before what should legally be considered last call. a foursome enters the bar and in some way manages to piss off the bartender, who flips on the overhead lights, throws up his hands and retroactively stops serving.

we walk to the pioneer, safe in the knowledge that at 2:05 a.m. on first street, my landlord will have at least a pitcher of busch lite left. and he will be deep enough into his personal celebration to be generous with his fruits.

my landlord talks about his car.
his girlfriend scrubs shows me photos of her nephew, a small deck of sears portraits of the tot in a handful of outfits:

shirtless with suspenders
wrapped in a boa shapped like fairy wings
in a funny little hat

"why is he dressed in drag?" i ask scrubs.
"i know! isn't he cute?" she purrs.

cute, sure. but i can't help but wonder if he is being raised by the village people.

***

we begin walking home and when we're cutting down to the casino to find a cab, headlights appear in an alley as one comes barrelling upon us.

"remember that time we had that cab driver who took all those back roads and alleys?" chuck asked.
and when the car stops, it is that same guy. 90 degree turns on two wheels at 80 miles an hour. through alleys. god bless him.

***

today i:

drank coffee
ate chicken nuggets from the dollar menu
watched gossip girl [i'm starting to like this show for all of the reasons i hated it last week]
watched newport harbor [how come no one mentioned until episode nine that clay, the mario lopez lookalike, is a junior and not a senior?]
watched real world sydney [i could watch kellyanne's facial expressions all day long]
read the internet [there are not enough blogs in the world to satiate my blog appetite]
watched the office [no comment necessary]
co-created cheddar chive bread and potato leek soup ["it smells like we cooked every onion in the world," chuck summed it up. deeeeeelish.]
watched reaper, chuck, two and a half men [funny. funnier. funniest]
played scrabble [61 points for the word "telling"]
wondered if there is a movie worse than pelican brief, while becoming increasingly enthralled with the pelican brief.
made a list of actors who make you not want to see their movies:
vin diesel
the rock
tom hanks, post "big"

i'm spent.

poltregeist and orange crush[ing] ...

picture your best friend from seventh grade.

now imagine that person, alternating things if, at that point your life, this "best friend" character was the same sex as you. or keeping it the same if that it what you prefer. pretend that every night is a friday night sleepover: the movie poltregeist, four little caesars pizzas and some orange crush and the whole night at your hands.

now imagine 24 years later you are dating that person.

that is my relationship. and that is why i am endlessly happy.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

lets roll that old odometer ...


before i wake today, my blog will achieve 100,000 career hits. to celebrate the occasion i've, using a green sharpie and scratch paper, handcrafted this special sign for the lucky person who metaphorically rolls the old odometer.

the piece is entitled: the blogolution of blahblahblahler and while i encourage you to intepret the piece as you will -- i'll give you a hint: the smiley faces in the five zeroes represent the five phases of my mood toward blogging in the past almost-three years i've been online.

i've signed it.

the piece is yours, including a first edition framed photo of me giving you a cheerful thumbs up, if you are no. 100,000. good luck!

and for the hundred some of you who don't win tomorrow, please take pleasure in knowing that i have some grand new plans for the direction in which this site is headed. for instance, i'm thinking of walking the length of duluth or developing a taste for shittake mushrooms.

whatever. eventually i have to get off the couch. and when i do, there will be some exciting new features!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

save the cheerleaders ...


this is not the cheerleading squad. i don't have a photo of that. instead, this is one of our junior high basketball teams. i'm not sure if it is seventh or eighth grade, but i believe about eight of us cheerleaders are represented in this photo. me? i'm the doe-eyed minx third from the left in the back row; fannie you will recognize as the spindly legged no. 35.

in the spring of 1987, we were 10 seventh-graders trying out for eight spots on the next year's cheerleading squad. this was exactly as mathematically cruel as it sounds. argueably the top two graduating cheerleaders -- andrea lindquist and sarah kopersky, the duo that seemed to invent crisp arm movements and short barking declarative sentences in st. pius x's own gymnasium -- were to teach us the cheers, and walk among us suggesting better elbow placement, more sincere smiles and wicked pony tail flipping in two afterschool sessions.

tryouts were midweek. we would partner up, and perform two cheers, then join together for a grand choreography that amounted to us spelling the word v-i-c-t-o-r-y and a closing singalong of the school song.

all of this in front of a jury consisting of the eighth-grade cheerleading moms and select representatives from the lourdes high school cheerleading squad and their coach. winners would be notified immediately after tryouts, and we would be unveiled to the school during morning announcements the following day.

most of us would make the cheerleading squad. two of us would not.

looking down the badly formed not-quite straight line, there were some givens:

fannie and i could do both front walkovers and backhandsprings and had previous cheerleading experience rooting for my brother's hartman insurance youth football team;

gina p. had a sort of cheerleading birthright. she was a legacy, with two sisters who had been cheerleaders at lourdes. not to mention one of the judges was her next-door neighbor, a mother whom, for the purpose of this post will be referred to as carol snott;

neva had older brothers at lourdes and could potentially win simply because the varsity cheerleaders would recognize her as dominick's little sister;

maggie m. was about 50 pounds of prime basket-toss bones -- not that we would ever master that move.

and there were some definite outcasts infiltrating tryouts:

joan m. lived next door to an alleged whore house, and favored a thick layer of black eyeliner that seemed proof that she would be pregnant on her first try, perhaps even before eighth grade cheerleading season started. her mother wrote romance novels, and joan spent busride after busride trying to convince me that stryper was the quintessential heavy metal band;

patrine did not deserve to be a cheerleader because she had recently transfered to st. pius from one of those rinky dink small outlying towns where men wore letter jackets well beyond high school and dated sophomores.

frankly, i'm not even sure why were trying out for cheerleading. our duties included standing on the sidelines for the boys' six home basketball games. additionally, most of us also played basketball, which meant we could only cheer when our games did not conflict. mostly we would be charged with one all-school pep fest -- including a dance routine to something by milli vanilli, i believe -- and we could wear our red cheerleading skirts and white sweaters instead of our school uniform on days when we would be working a game.

still. it would suck to be one of those two who didn't make the squad.

tryouts went okay. mrs. snott gathered us in the gym to read off the names of next year's team:

blah blah fannie, me, joan m., blah blah, maggie and patrine.

no dominick's sister, no gina p., the legacy who came out of mrs. p.'s womb with cheerleading hair. we were all a little stunned. some of us dared accusatory looks in joan m.'s direction and mouthed 'go back to flipping kasson' to patrice. we filed out of the gym so we could go home and talk about the slighting on the phone.

the next day, the ten of us were called into sister patricia's office for a special meeting. the nun who was our principal told us that a miscalculation had occurred. gina and neva were supposed to make the cheerleading squad, but the varsity cheerleaders had made a mistake in tallying scores.

sister patricia looked at patrine and joan m., and told them they were being cut from the team.

this reaked of mrs. snott. maybe gina didn't make the team because her hands were double-jointed, and it kept her from making aerodynamic swipes; maybe neva had been too obnoxious or spelled c-h-i-e-f-s wrong, or maybe she didn't harness enough school spirit in her little chicken legs. by morning they had already decided to work on their basketball skills and forget this cheerleading nonsense.

but mrs. snott had contacted sister patricia. mrs. snott was this gossipy busy body who probably first wanted to see gina p. fail, then fix it for the value pack of positive emotions it would elicit during the snott's family dinner. even my mom couldn't stand her simply because both of her daughters always wore ribbons around those pony tails. "those snott girls and those stupid bows," my mom would sneer right now if i called her. i remember mrs. snott, at the meeting, explaining why joan m., specifically, should never be a cheerleader. how we all should have known it was a mistake.

none of this made sense to me.
"why can't we just have 10 cheerleaders?" i asked mrs. snott, who snorted and rolled her eyes and probably thought something like "well, then, how will you know who is better than the others?"
"there are only eight uniforms," sister patricia reminded us.
"can't we get more?" we asked.
"YOU'LL LOOK LIKE AN UNORGANIZED HERD!" mrs. snott screeched.

[looking back, this seems like a given, regardless of how many cheerleaders we had. we were seventh graders who weighed no more than the sum of our marrow and whatever we'd had for hot lunch; we had big clumsy feet strapped into white keds, which in itself is a recipe for gym floor disaster.]

eventually my mom got in on the action and agreed to take over the squad from mrs. snott. all ten of us. my mom surveyed cheerleading costumes and organized a bake sale so we could buy two new uniforms in addition to the bullhorn shaped patches with our names embroidered inside. [while cheerleaders never got to keep their uniforms after graduation, the patch would make a scrap book ready parting gift, a momento of those two home games, one pep fest and three front walkovers in time to "girl you know its true."

we got our patches before we received our uniforms. fannie had lost hers before she even got home from school that day. "sorry, mrs. pista," she said to my mom. "keep looking for it," my mom cheerleading advised.

she never found it. but years later, tucked into sleeping bags in her basement for a sleepover, whenever the furnace would kick start one of us would say: "what was that?" and i would say: "i think it was your cheerleading patch!"

this post was inspired by the start of a new season of heroes. don't ruin it for me. i haven't seen the final episodes of season one, yet.

Monday, September 24, 2007

i spend too much time considering chuck klosterman ...

i always have to remind myself that i don't actually know chuck klosterman, the scraggly furred pop culturist whose most-recent book IV i am pulling out of my purse every time i have 14 seconds to spare. chuck klosterman IV is a collection of his meaty, hubris-marinated, prose which has run in spin, esquire, etc.

and it is fantastic.

MY PERSONAL KLOSTERMAN KRONOLOGY
i read fargo rock city, in both hardcover and one sitting

i sent klosterman a very dense e-mail (1) with a word-count that surpassed steve martin's shopgirl. klosterman responded in a timely fashion and with the great breadth(2) one would expect from someone who included his then-phone number in the introduction to his own book. this may be because i likened him to douglas coupland, while not necessarily a compliment, i thought it was at the time.

i read sex, drugs and cocoa puffs and agreed with every sentence he wrote about lloyd dobler

i subscribed to spin magazine, but was really subscribing to klosterman's voice in my head

after issue-upon-issue, i became bored with klosterman's voice in my head. his first-person accounts (3) of chilling with bands were quaint at first, but became grueling when the word "i" appeared in abundance in an interview with thom yorke. in those days i was experimenting with having an opinion. my opinion was that i didn't care what klosterman ate for lunch, if yorke was in the room. he was like the guy with a good personality ruining my view of someone hot.

i read killing myself to live and thought it was a stupid excuse for someone to pay klosterman to drive around the country listening to "janie's got a gun" and waxing about his exgirlfriends, then getting stoned in warwick, n.j., site of the great white explosion of 2003.

yet, when seth cohen (4)twice referenced klosterman during season two of the oc, i felt strangely proud of klosterman's growing iconography. i would eventually see him on VH1 and his byline appear in esquire and various new york times publications.

i see chuck klosterman IV on a display table at urban outfitters and wonder how i missed his latest and i wonder if i care and i decide "why, yes! i do" and buy it. along with this hat that i haven't removed in weeks.

it took me until page 17 of the trade paperback to decide it is game on again with my klosterman fandom.

I KNOW PEOPLE WHO KNOW KLOSTERMAN
i have about one degree of separation from klosterman about 10 times over. between friends, acquaintances and people i pretend i actually know, many have probably sucked down kettle one vodka with klosterman. i have met former roommates, college friends, people who know someone who has made out with him or even dated him. once i did not attend a party he attended less than a mile from my then-apartment (5).

then there is the whole minnesota pride factor, where you celebrate a local who has gone on to a VH1 and seth cohen status of celebrity (6). i understand that klosterman did not grow up in minnesota. he isn't like josh hartnett or the movie untamed heart, starring christian slater and marisa tomei. but north dakota has always seemed like sort of an appendix to my home state: they don't have baseball or football teams -- so they adopt ours -- and i reciprocate by not being opposed to the fighting sioux if the gophers have already been knocked out of the frozen four.

then there is the first-person writing vehicle. klosterman does it exclusively. it is exhausting until you realize that this is how he delivers some of the most insightful moments in a feature: klosterman and val kilmer pour through kilmer's dictionary collection; meg white yawning on a couch and only laughing at jack's jokes; bono giving a ride to four U2 fans and letting them hear unreleased tracks; steve nash sprinting across the street in the rain to pick up diapers. maybe it seems like he doesn't need to be involved in every plotline, but eventually, bound together in one collection, you start to see klosterman as the quirky main character, surrounded by quirky celebrities and it is not unlike some sort of harry potter who-do voodo, where a guy with funny hair suddenly pisses off billy joel.

and, since it's in first-person, you feel like you know him. (7)
maybe its not enough that i saw tony danza sitting at the bar in lost vegas. maybe, even though i'm hardly a celebrity gawker, i just want one to call my own.

NOTE
chuck klosterman purposely lived on chicken mcnuggets for a week long before the movie "super size me" was invented.

ANOTHER NOTE
this book has inspired some great conversations this week about the difference between a nemesis and archrival; how more options give us less common ground; how barry bonds will be a metaphor for this era.

CONCLUSION
whatever. i just wrote this so klosterman would find this next time he googles himself. (8)

FOOTNOTES
(1) he probably shouldn't be flattered: during this same era i sent thank you notes to coke-cola, doritos and easy cheese. i also sent a poem to my then-favorite poet lynn emmanuel, based upon the introduction to her book "the dig and hotel fiesta"
(2) he asked me if i knew hank, whom he had met at a party while he was in duluth. i can only assume that the conversation between these two minds quickly cleared the room and resulted in dobermans yelping in horror
(3) i realize this is a character contradiction from a blogger who writes about herself on a daily basis
(4) seth cohen did, afterall, introduce the general population to deathcab, bright eyes, the shins, christmukkah, comic books and the geeky cuteness of tousled hair.
(5) the very-same row house where i first read fargo rock city and composed my email to klosterman.
(6) currently celebrating diablo cody.
(7) i once received an email from a blog reader telling me that i needed to be more demure, or my boyfriend was going to dump me. i'm assuming he felt obligated to tell me that because of the comfort level i'd provided by writing in first person.

(8) whatever. you do it, too, and no one has ever said your name on the OC

Saturday, September 22, 2007

mathematic ratios of lite plain cream cheese to everything bagal ..

if you have been to cub foods after midnight at least three times, you know cindy. the 50-something woman with crazy swath of grey hair and oversized square glasses. the only employee in the store at that hour who isn't waxing the pet food aisle, stocking canned beans or staring, stoned, at the 2 liter bottles of orange crush, counting down the days until season two of "heroes."

and if you know cindy, you know that her back frequently hurts, she has a window air conditioner -- but just in her bedroom -- and that she is tired. meanwhile, she knows your name, how you spend your pre-midnight hours, what you crave at 1 a.m. she's got a pretty spry little shuffle. sometimes she will point out the coupon flyer you didn't bother to reference, so you can save 40 cents on crest. cindy is among my favorite consumerism sherpas.

this is probably because she knows my name. a lot can be said for someone who makes you feel like a regular. how to win friends and influence people didn't sell a quatrillion copies because it has an aesthetically appealing cover and fits in your purse.

sometimes i think of the events from my personal history that cindy has witnessed:

1) going to cub foods with my landlord for orange juice to cure his cold, stumbling upon a sale, and leaving with 20 frozen mosticiolli meals that he would later cram into the faces of afterbar attendees;
2) the time i got traded makeup tips with sven sundegaar;
3) bags upon bags of iams; hearty chunks of brie and raw slivers of prescutto; suave.

as i'm less of a grocery shopper and more of a grocery whimmer, i frequently find myself in her checkout lane during cindy's reign. anytime i use the self checkout while she is working, i feel guilt and shame and hang my head as i make 14 smooth, autistic slides over the scanner to figure out how much regular absorbancy tampons cost in the time that it has taken her to service three customers.

my other favorite people involved with monetary transactions include:

1) tom, the camel lite pusher at the ghetto spur;
2) the omnipresent woman with the blonde bob at bixby's who has mathematically figured out the lite plain cream cheese - to - everything bagal ratio;
3) robyn from blockbuster, a multitasking phenom who can prescribe effective ways to suck a day and a half off your life in front of the tv;
4) the sandwich artist from subway who wants to buy my civic;
5) the tall guy at starbucks who finds it reasonable that i select my coffee based on the description, in a sort of backward version of the horoscope;
6) jeannie, the former bartender at the pioneer who always let me use a 32 ounce mug with the name sasquatch engraved in the side, even when everyone else was using 12ers;
7) the woman at vision world who deconstructed my face to find a suitable pair of eyeware.

a few nights ago i was at cub foods with a desperate craving for apple cinnamon apple jacks. cindy's line was three deep -- and in a strange twist of consumer fate, my favorite blockbuster employee was in front of me.

"hi, christa!" cindy chirped, midscan.
"hi!" i said, then turned to robyn, "i'm a bit of a regular."
"me, too," she said.
during robyn's turn, the two discussed waffles and french toast.
cindy didn't have much to say about my apple jacks.
but when another woman got into line with a catfood-filled cart, cindy said:
"hey! you aren't wearing my favorite shirt today!"
"i wore it yesterday," the woman replied. "i can't wear it everyday."
"she has a shirt with paw prints on it," cindy explained to me, oozing with the kitchy cuteness. "it says 'all my kids have paws.'"
i nodded.
"sounds adorable," i agreed.
"i'm a cat lady," the woman behind me explained.
i nodded again, bagged my food and traded some hearty bon voyages with cindy.

i was driving out of the parking lot when cindy flagged me down waving a dollar bill.

"you dropped this," she said, handing it through my window. "the woman behind you saw it."

i thanked her and drove away.

it reminded me of the time i found a dollar laying on the floor in the checkout lane and the pissy goth girl who was ringing me up ripped the bill from my hand and said:

"i'll put it in the lost and found."

she sucked.

Friday, September 21, 2007

i left my butt on central entrance ...

today i quit smoking for 144 minutes. i threw my final butt in the general direction of the miller hill mall and decided i was done with smoking, for all the reasons i'm always done with smoking: boring, expensive, and the pending citywide smoking ban.

october to infinity seems like a horrible time to be cowering in the dank doorway of chef yee's sucking down a camel light while my friends enjoy hot toddies and bask in the warm glow of the pull tab vendor at the pioneer. i've seen st. elmo's fire. no one wants to watch fun from outside the window.

before i'd made this crucial decision, i started toward the ghetto spur, where i seem to have the same inane conversation every day:

me: camel lights.
ghetto spur guy: do you want the buy two get one free deal?
me: no.
ghetto spur guy: i suppose you're quitting after this pack, right?
me: you never know.
ghetto spur: you aren't quitting. ...

[and the next time i see him he always gives me a smug grin. i could punch that freakish doomsday seer]

instead i skipped the gas station and continued on with my smokeless existance, telling myself that as long as i stayed calm and relaxed all day it would be easy. i'd use the nervous energy i typically expell in plumes above my head, and harness it for good: chomping gum, chipping the polish off my fingernails, yanking the life support on the grey hairs that have set up residence on my part line.

for 144 minutes i was fine. then, as soon as jcrew got into my car she asked for a cigarette.

"i quit," i told her.
"you WHAT?! you QUIT?! you DON'T HAVE ANY CIGARETTES?!" she screeched.
i shook my head. this would be exactly the kind of high-stress that ends with me sticking a wad of trident under the nearest table and digging for my cougar lighter. jcrew has all day to rally intensity and develop opinions on the world. me, i'm still trying to adjust to daylight and flicking gunk out of the corner of my eyes.
she paused.
"i have some at my apartment," the devil said. "we can smoke when we get there."
great. marlboro ultra lights. the equivilent of ordering a keg of o'douls.
"i mean, i was still kicking it around," i said. "i suppose i could stop at the ghetto spur."
"DO IT! FAST!" she said.
we took a six-minute route and turned it into a four minute venture.

the naysaying clerk was standing outside on a break. he gave me a knowing look. i bought a pack of camel lights, walked back past him:

"bet you're going to quit after that," he said.
"i quit for 144 minutes today," i said.

then the devil with a kate spade bag came screeching along.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

the airplane maneuver ...


"before i go to bed, someone needs to make me a meal."

this is the airplane maneuver. i [the passenger] sit on a futon chair watching two episodes of "real world: sydney" while wearing ear buds so as not to inflict the pain of screeching 20-something philosophers on chuck. chuck [the pilot] adds an extra layer of ear muffs. he clicks through his music collection. were i to guess, i'd say he has heard about one minute, 32 seconds of dozens of songs by now. he's quick with the trigger finger.

there are deviations from this plan. he doesn't always wear headphones. sometimes i sit on his knees.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

appetite for intestinal destruction ...

i conjured evil. i thought i was just making chili.

but somewhere between sunday night and monday night, somewhere beyond the place where my taste buds veer south into my digestive system, something went amiss. i woke up screaming from a night terror around 6:30 a.m., sweaty and my skin as opaque as wax paper. i crawled around the apartment looking for a cool place to put my head. i propped it on the bathtub.

then i crawled back into the bedroom and shrieked SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH MY BODY! chuck was awake, fully clothed and standing over me before i could manage another wan gurgle. my body, i realized, doesn't contain enough orifaces to get this evil out of my body fast enough.

the exorcism took about 45 minutes, and left me drained. i could stomach nothing more than tums and naked juice for breakfast; tums for lunch; tums and french fries for dinner. chuck thinks i poisoned myself with a dirty ladel. i think i brewed up evil in a discounted chili pot from tj maxx.

so, you can have my chili recipe. but you're going to need a priest.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

lady luck ...

the other day i was streaming the current on my laptop and jotting names of songs and bands that caught my ear into my designated operation band investigating notebook. i do this every day, sometimes for six hours at a time, because i have all. the. time. in. the. world for such frivolity. [this is how i've come to learn about the dresden dolls. thank goodness for the current, as i've not yet heard mix 108 play any cabaret punk].

i tuned in when i heard a broody -- if not broodier version than even the smith's could muster -- of "there's a light that never goes out." i quickly clicked on the running song list and saw that it was by joseph arthur. joseph arthur, covering the smiths. nice. this is why i do this, i thought excitedly to myself, to find things just! like! this!

i clicked on all sorts of illegal web sites, looking for a downloadable version of the song and coming up short. finally i sucked it up and went to itunes and just as itunes was about to rip the 99 cents from my arthritic granny clutch, i recognized the cd cover. readers, i owned this song already.

it was february of 2005 and i was at starbucks with lil latrell. i was browsing the cds while i waited for them to finish making her drink. two discs picqued my interest: valentine's day compilations. one with covers of truly romantic songs like "there's a light that never goes out" [and if a ten ton truck kills the both of us, to die by your side, well the pleasure the priviledge is mine] and one with valentine's day songs by the original singer. this had artists like jewel and jason mraz.

i said to lil latrell that day, i'm going to buy these. and i'm going to start trying to be cheesier. i am going to let things tug at my heart and i'm going to weep.

that life decision cost me 30 dollars, not including the copies of "the notebook" and "beaches," which i purchased a few days later to further my growth into sentimentality.

i don't think i ever listened to the romantic covers. when i went looking for it a few days ago, it was in my car. right where i left it more than two years ago.

it is times like this, when the stars align and i realize that i saved 99 cents by spending 30 forgotten dollars a lifetime ago, that i begin to think that you are all just a figment of my imagination and that i am in charge of my world. that if i will myself to own a copy of "there's a light that never goes out" by joseph arthur, it will appear in my backseat. that this is all just like the dream where i don't even panic when i spit the chunks of teeth the consistancy of vomit into my open palms. i know my teeth will grow back.

consider this: remember the day that i had two contacts stuck in one eyeball? i'd not worn contacts since. today i went to plop them into my face and noticed that one of the three contacts i'd removed from my body that day was completely dried out. it had sucked up all the saline sollution and would be like stabbing my eye hole with a wood chip.

but, because everything goes my way, i had two brand new contacts in the other side of the case, lubed and ready and maliable.

add to this the fact that i made chili last nite, using a recipe as a guide, but substituting virtually every ingredient out of laziness or a lack of comprehension of what the ingredient actually was. and it turned out amazing. it was like i was physically unable to phuk it up. the right amount of garlic, perfect jalapino level, italian sausage. granted, i nearly severed the bone in my middle finger opening a can of tomato chunks ... but whatever.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

'faced book ...



i do not plan to do anything today that requires from me to stray from this outfit:

thin t'shirt from american eagle, which provides a not-so accurate 3D effect on my upper torso; chuck's flannel pajama pants, which he is going to have to harness the strength of a thousand lightning bolts in order to reclaim ownership; urban outfitters hat on day six of the hat-from-urban-outfitters marathon i'm competing in.

WHAT I DRANK AND WHERE
"i could drink," i said when chuck got into my car. and he agreed to participate. i'd not drank since the wilco show* and in the 10 days that followed i felt myself becoming prudish and wholesome. it was uncomfortable. kind of like cramming myself into a pair of size 2 skinny cordoroys and then poking at my own muffin top with a nail file, uncomfortable. it seems that unless i consume a certain amount of the drink over the course of the week, i start to channel the pilgrims. covering my ears when i hear the eff word.

the first week was easy. then one night i was standing outside of the hammond liquor store and two guys with dreadlocks and quilted pants stumbled into the parking lot. aw! fun! i thought. five minutes later a similarly dressed woman on crutches followed. "i think they ditched you," i told her. "of course they did," she said. "they're my boyz."

it hit full-fledged envy when chuck told me that inside the bar, the woman had said: "see you all in a few weeks!" and a man had said "this place is going to be totally different when you get back. it's going to be mahogany."

i missed drunken rambling.

as soon as i knew there was a tall beer in my future, i got a little punch drunk. chuck said the word "houkah" and i laughed for 15 minutes straight. anyway, i was a two-beer wonder last night, catching a buzz in the manner of a drinker half my age and with half my experience and a fourth of my body mass. it helps that i was still a little drunk from the slivovitz fumes of last weekend.

12 SECOND REVIEWS
i don't tell you what i like enough. i'm fixing that with today's episode of 12 second review. these three items have taken up real estate in my heart.


this mint-flavored 15 spf chapstick from whole foods makes your kisser tingle.


don't let the label fool you. these are not mints. they taste grape nerds mated with flintstone vitamins. deeelish.


here i defer to chuck's accurate assessment: it feels like you're using a flannel shirt.

FACED
so, to the -- i'm assuming -- delight of my 26 friends, i joined facebook yesterday. i needed to find a reason to spend more time online, connecting with my peeps. i haven't had this much fun since i joined myspace. i've spent my day updating my status:

wearing pajama pants
talking
looking for a chili recipe

i now have a new avenue to spread my enthusiastic and spamish graffiti at 3 a.m. after a night at quinlin's. where are those scientists with that computer with a built-in breathalizer i ordered two years ago?

HERE AND NOW
i'm thinking of eating a pumpkin pie blizzard.
and i'm searching for a really good spicy chili recipe.

* i did have a glass of whiskey and strawberry fanta on friday night. i'd advise against this combination in the future.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

individually packaged purse treats ...

yesterday i made an entire lunch from things i found in my purse. i had, a week ago, the foresight to know that just because i could not inflate my gut enough for the individually packed rye crips from a bread basket at pickwick did not mean i'd never be able to.

i ripped through three packages of two-by-four inch crackers, deciding that they only taste like the body of christ if you forget to put them flavor-side-down on your tongue. for the most part, this was like licking cremains of a box of wheat thins, so broken were the crackers. it was less like eating, more like standing with my mouth open in a sand shower.

whatever. it was lunch.

it seems, through some sort of evolution, i have become a food horder. similar to your college roommate. the one who locked her door so she could dive face-first, uninterupted, into a mound of twinkies, bite sized snickers bars, moon pies and cheetos and other processed nonsense she'd packed in her underwear drawer, only to act nonchalant when you bust down her door and find her shoving spoonfuls of skippy peanut butter down her throat, then scampering into the bathroom and wretching.

except i don't actually binge. and i certainly don't purge. at least not anything that isn't at least 60 proof.

but i do stow packaged food in my purse, and i do it subconsciously. i think it is a direct result of the fact that i usually forget to eat until i do a pre-faint teeter and realize that if i don't stuff something into my face immediately, my stomach is literally going to eat itself. lest i am in the mood for a stick of mint-flavored chapstick, i better have something on hand. like the rye crips i'd liberated from the bread basket.

typically, i'm opposed to solid foods until 4 p.m. i chug coffee for approximately four hours as a form of pre-eating calisthenics. then i tend to veer from the food district, often getting stranded far from edibles. and frankly, as long as i'm being honest, my refrigerator tends to be filled with a meager amount of already-perished perishables.

"how old is this clif bar?" chuck asked the other day as i split a peanut butter flavored purse treat in half at a stoplight. my stomach drooling for a taste of its own lining.
"who cares?" i said, my mouth already full.
the package was dingy and crumpled, the clif bar flat from being whapped about in the child-sized backpack i carry.

my unemployed friend likes to tell the story of the time we were walking down the street and i pulled a wad of napkin out of the pocket of my northface vest and offered it to him. i'd squirrelled it away at a banquet we had attended earlier.

"want a half of sandwich?" i'd asked.
"did you just pull that out of your pocket?" he'd asked.
"so?" i said.
"no," he said.

Friday, September 14, 2007

whores running around shakin' their behind for the menfolk ...

chuck and i were at cub foods in search of black nail polish for me and cracker barrell cheese, wheat thins and strawberry fanta to improve on a viewing of jaws.

en route, we saw this:



"holy crap! they're sluts!" i said.



"check out the twincest," chuck said.



[by the time we got home, tivo had already deleted jaws -- misconstruing our recent battlestar galactica bamboozlement with a lack of interest in disco-era sharks. we'll watch rocky instead.

"this strawberry fanta is so good," chuck said.
"it tastes like fun," i agreed.
"it tastes like pacman," he said.

"everytime i look, all the slices of cheese are gone," he said.
i gave him a guilty look.
"well ... i guess endless love isn't going to read itself," he responded.]

Thursday, September 13, 2007

on hanging out ...

we are at hugo's waiting for a sausage and onion pizza and i am being led to believe that this wait will be epic, but worth it. i trust it will be worth it because there is a pacman machine parked against the wall. pacman machines don't lie.

chas and i finish a crossword puzzle race, and i have that smug glow of a crossword puzzle race champion who is trying to keep her limbs from flailing into spontaneous victory basket tosses. palsy-like muscle twitches where my mouth is trying to not smile. i am the winner if you take speed, and not accuracy, into account in defining a champion. i can spell things wrong super fast.

part of my victory, i feel, came from a certain amount of vicious out-psyching. i made huge sweeping gestures as i filled in the blocks, often chuckling as i scribbled; damn-near winding up before crossing out completed clues, knowing that my opponent across the table was aware of my movements. hopefully distracted by them.

"i felt like i was taking a test," chuck says.
"let's never do that again," i say. i am relieved. once i win at something i like to move on to the next thing. like ... pacman.

"did you hear that guy at that table say something about a full body message?" i ask chuck.
"no ... what was he saying about a broken windshield, blood all over the place and a stolen first aid kit?"

we are still waiting when the door whooshes open and six preteens stroll inside, and four of them stumble into the booth in a very contrived way:

one side is girl-girl.
the other side is boy-girl.

"you guys should switch places," the leader suggests. i assume she is the leader because she is the tallest, and when you are 12, the leader of your girl group is usually determined by height.

they switch places and two boys with skateboards plop down, one on each side of the table.

they are, counterclockwise:

a girl who has acheived a goth level of black eyeliner, although it is likely she was striving for pretty;
the leader, tall, long hair and wearing a stocking cap;
an adorable boy with olive skin tones and thick, straight dark hair who is still blissfully unaware that he will someday use that face to knock the wind out of girls in algebra class;
a boy i didn't get a good look at;
a chubbier boy i'd earlier mistaken for a girl;
a fresh-faced girl-next-door sort with red hair and bangs and, allegedly, a boyfriend named bob.

i can only assume, as the waitress delivers a round of waters, that i will spend the rest of this epic wait ruing the day their parents' met. i don't know any preteens, but if i am to believe what i've read, they are bred to be rude without remorse. they rarely speak with other humans, favoring electronic communications. they relate to anime characters and zwinkies bearing their likeness and they like songs that sample songs i used to listen to 20 years ago which weren't relevant even then. they covet 400 dollar prom dresses.

and that is where i am pleasantly surprised.

"i went to your wedding," one of the preteens announces to the waitress. that is when i realize these are neighborhood kids scrounging together a few bucks to sit around a table, drink water and eat french fries. and i start to like them. i like them because they are kids hanging out in a pizza parlour and i didn't know that happened anymore. and i like them because these girls are on an entire different plateau than these boys, and watching them makes me cringe with embarrassed recogition and subsequent delight.

"what's that on your sleeve," the faceless boy asks goth girl.
"huh? oh. it is my sleeve. it has a lacy bottom," she answers.
"oh," he says. looks around.

"i haven't, like, checked my makeup in soooo long," the leader announces. pulls out a small mirror and peers into it. the other girls nod. they can't believe how long it has been since she has checked her makeup, either.
"where should i put my skateboard," the adorable boy asks. the word "makeup" didn't even resonate in his ear chamber.

"this place used to be so different," says the boy whose face is hidden. "there used to be so much stuff on the walls."
adorable nods. they are waxing poetic about half a lifetime ago. half a lifetime ago they were six.

a woman comes in to pick up her take out order. the redhead girl next door knows her, waves and says "hi, mrs. ---." she blushes when the boy next to her puts his arm around her, jokingly, and when the woman is gone she says: "did she see you do that?!"

there is more nervous giggling.
"i have a boyfriend, anyway," she says.
"bob," the leader adds.
bob sounds fake. or at least like someone from three towns away that she met at YMCA basketball camp and won't see again.

this is wholesome fun. bikes not even parked, just tipped over on the sidewalk in front of hugo's. photos taken with cell phones. we did this, but it was at the waldo's pizza place at the end of fannie's block. and it was pizza by the slice, video games, and occassionally boys, and it was fun using my thumb nail to carve "CL" into the wooden booth.

when we leave, i consider giving them our leftover pitcher of root beer. when we leave our pizza on the table, they are eyeing it when chuck returns to grab it.

"we should do this more often," i'd heard the leader say.

yeah, i think, you should.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

a funny thing happened in my eyeball ...

i opened a new pair of contacts a few days ago and stuffed them into my eyeballs. they went in easily and i was impressed. usually i spend about 15 minutes in front of the mirror stabbing at my face, bloody tears gushing.

today i decided to wear glasses. get a little fresh air into my pupils. i removed my contacts, and put on my glasses.

i couldn't see anything.
i took off my glasses.
i could totally see out of my right eye.

i assumed that my vision had corrected itself. that i was healed. that i'd only have to wear a contact in my left eye for the rest of my life. i'd be half perfect.

i experimented.
glasses on. blurry.
glasses off. half blurry.
left eye closed. sharp, clear vision.

"it's almost like i'm still wearing a contact or something in my right eye," i mused.
chuck walked closer. peered into my face.
"you are," he said.

sure enough. i still had a contact in my eye. this means that i have been walking around wearing three contacts for the past few days. that would explain the headache. but it doesn't explain how it happened.

a head start ...

my favorite blue hat is crammed into a pillow case and approximately four hours from my head. it is not lost, it is at my parent's house, and has been since my mom and i went to vegas in march. the fashionista put the kabash on it in the airport because it didn't match my flip flops.

i love that hat. it is warm. sops up wine spills like bounty the quicker-picker-upper. and is a wardrobe chameleon that knew no season nor accessorizing boundaries. i wore it when my hair was clean or dirty and when the hat was clean or dirty.

look how much fun we had.




i tried a different hat for a few days last winter, thinking -- wrongly -- that it is good to have options:



but, let's be honest, i look like a foreign exchange student from finland. and it made my head itch.

i went back to ol' blue and let the good times roll.




this summer i dabbled in this gem a bit. not nearly enough as i'd have liked. it, too, was a flexible piece.




at wilco, i was missing my old hat. the hat hat.
"i miss my hat," i told fannie.
"hat...?" she said.
"the blue one ..." i reminded her.
"yeah," she said slowly. "maybe its time to get a new hat."
"a NEW hat? i could just have my mom send me the blu-" i started.
"nah. new one," she said.
"but she would," i said. "then i wouldn't have to worry about finding a new --"
"i think its time for a new hat," she said. a little more sternly this time. like it wasn't just a suggestion anymore.

yesterday, while in minneapolis, i decided to try to find a new hat. i like having a favorite hat and i'm glad that i set a precedent early in my life that i would show up and i'd be wearing a hat. nothing is weirder than when someone thinks they can just start wearing a hat. note: this has nothing to do with my hair or the shape of my head.

i wanted something that i could put on my head the second i left the store, yanking the tags off with my teeth, my gums bleeding as i crumple the receipt in my purse, and not remove until the fourth of july when it is a stained and smelly wine rag.

world? i'd like you to meet my new hat. hat, this is the world. let's get acquainted. i think we'll be seeing a lot of each other this winter.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

enjoy the cylons ...



when you tell people that you cannot come to their party, or have to go home early, because you are watching "battlestar galactica" on dvd, they get this sort of sour smug look. like this is just the sort of information they have been waiting to hear: evidence that you should no longer be entrusted with anything cool -- if you ever were. that you are one high-powered telescope away from a one-night stand at a roswell convention.

chuck's line of defense starts like this "it's a lot like 'lost.' i mean, it doesn't have to take place in outer space ..." and here eyes are rolled, or just glaze over, and bodies twitch and he would have more success giving a detailed account of the genetic make up of fruit flies. i wouldn't actually consider myself a sci/fi person. although i did enjoy "alf" for a few seasons. but something about bg is stuck in my craw -- and it's more than just getting sucked in by moving pictures on a television -- like the time i really got into that tori spelling show.

i have been having bg-inspired dreams every single night. sometimes it is subtle: i'll dream of a meteorite landing in the living room; sometimes it is pretty specific to the show: duluth is attacked by terrorists, who happen to be cylons -- the robotic villians from bg. sometimes it is just the word "cylons" playing like a mantra in my head as i'm sleeping.

the other night i was in that almost-asleep phase and i started thinking about how i could make a hand signal that sort of looked like a cylon fighter ship. i plotted it as i drifted off, excited to wake up and show chuck the new cylon symbol.

he eyed me warily. he seemed close to prescribing me an mtv.com marathon including "the hills" and "real world sydney." anything to get me to stop singing "enjoy the cylons" and "she blinded me with cylons."

"you're obsessed," chuck said.
"what?" i said. "it's not like i'm writing fan fiction. ... but if i were going to write fan fiction it would be about ..."

eventually he came around, though, and added sound effects to go with my cylon raider hand puppet.

sunday night we rented disc one of season 2.5 at hollywood video. they didn't have disc two and when we left the video store, i felt a bit of panic. with only three hours of bg, we would be sure to run out of episodes before bedtime.

"this just makes me uncomfortable," i said in the car. "it's like spending eight hours with just four cigarettes left."
he muttered something about addiction.

readers, if you've made it this far into this post, we did run out of episodes. he found the next episode online. one with japanese subtitles. we crawled into bed and watched the 12 minutes-worth that had downloaded on his laptop, then reluctantly put it away and went to sleep.

i kept waking up and thinking ... i just had another battlestar galactica dream ... then falling asleep and having another.



yesterday we went to minneapolis for the day. we walked around, looked at records, toured fannie's new home and went to dinner. sitting in a suburban sports bar, i eyed the time and was startled to realize that if we didn't shake it, we weren't going to get back to duluth in time to rent the next episodes. we would be stuck from midnight to 4 a.m. with just each other as entertainment, while missions to caprica went on unrealized by us.

we walked out of the restaurant at 9:30 p.m. and headed north, all the while doing math. we were cutting it close. i began considering the ways we could have shaved time from our trip to the cities. "we shouldn't have gone into fannie's attic," chuck said. "maybe i should have ordered soup," i lamented.

i considered calling blockbuster. having them put two discs on hold, then rushing into the store just before they locked the doors. but could we get all the way up central enterance in time? would hollywood be closer? probably. but could we be sure they would have the episodes we needed.

we did math. lots of math: x many miles, x many miles per hour, then weighed it against the clock. unforseen sidetracking: i needed to get gas.

we mapped and plotted. hollywood video. take the cody exit. if they didn't have bg, we'd start watching heroes, season one as a plan b.

another mileage sign. chuck did more math.

"we should get to duluth at 11:54," he said. peered at my odometer. "if you are in fact going 77 miles per hour."

we pulled into the parking lot at 11:52 p.m.
"seven minutes," some cranky hollywood employee croaked at us.
we headed straight to the section. chuck found the next two discs.
we did it. with time to spare.

we have two episodes left. season three is not yet out on dvd. i promise that by tomorrow i'll shut up about battlestar galactica.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

vlad the impaler ...



parking at pickwick, when you are actually going to eat at pickwick, feels a lot like driving sober at 2 a.m. down superior street. you will the old man wearing a reflective vest, the guardian of the lot, to challenge you. just like on a sober saturday night at 2 a.m. i'm prone to U-turns and triple lane changes just so, if pressed, i can blow .00 into the breathalizer and get a gold medal in the field sobriety test thus advancing to the regional field sobriety championships, then, hopefully, the Worlds. parades, nike sponsorships, talk shows, balloon animals bearing my likeness.

what i'm trying to say is that i was once damn-near tackled by a cranky old bingo caller when i parked at pickwick, then doubled back to fitgers. the sounds that man made ... it was like stepping on a t-rex's tail: loud, indiscernable, angry, prehistoric.

we ate at pickwick last night when my craving for a hummus sandwich from the brewhouse was bastardized by the 45-minute wait. instead i ate polish sausage slathered in saurkraut and we played the game: "date, or dad?" then "cougar, or mom?" as we surveyed the other tables. our dining area looked like the ballroom in vlad the impaler's castle, dulled only by the northern touch of hanging antlers on the wall.

"this is the kind of place you take your parents to tell them you're pregnant when you're 15," i suggested, looking around.
"this is the kind of place a 19-year-old girl, home from her first year of college, brings her parents to meet her fiance -- and he's 45," chuck added.
"and he owns a subway in grand forks and has a cell phone on his belt," i honed.
"nah, he's the manager at a subway in grand forks and he has a pager on his belt," chuck said.

i watched a woman to my left slam glass after glass of red wine, then teeter sexily from the restaurant on a young man's arm. cougar.

my food was awesome and tasted like camping.

***


we headed up the shore to the lakeview castle for the slivovitz festival. something about the word festival is so ... festive. it smacks of a man dressed in tights and wearing a miss slivovitz sash. it was only 10 p.m. "i think they crowned miss slivovitz a little early in the night," chuck said.

girls danced. upstairs, people were chugging small shots of slivovitz. some groups kept entire bottles on their table, plastic shot glasses stacked in the middle. chuck sampled two, i smelled one deciding that ingesting any form of alcohol on this night would be an immediate ticket to the emergency room and a spontaneous kidney transplant. i decided my vice for the evening would be cigarettes, which have never interfered with my ability to pee.

"you should try it," a man coaxed.
"nah," i said.
"what'reya pregnant?" he asked.
"no," i responded. "i'm just not in the mood to singe my esophogus."

two men escaping a wedding party played video games.
"the word douche-bag just popped into my head," i said.
"if this were a john hughes movie, that guy would date rape molly ringwald," chuck noted.

we spent a few minutes on a new game: which man in the bar is pissing off his wife the most. the winner was a member of the wedding party.

***

we decided to travel on in the most impractical way possible, the bar that is the absolute furthest from the lakeview castle: the alpine in gary.

there was saw, in no specific order, kevin neelon -- in character.
a man wearing a hat that said T&A.
when a tiny man told chuck he'd been waiting 15 minutes for a drink, we ditched out for schotz across the street.
i sang "let's hear it for the boy," and waddled back to the table with my extremities shaking in a way that says "yes, i can do karoake when i'm sober. but it results in a form of social epilepsy."
we went to moldeez, where it was an unrealized karoake night. instead of singers, the dj just played songs.
a man alternated between air guitar and pool cue guitar.
a woman went whitesnake video all over her boyfriend.
some guy was wearing his high school hockey jersey.
we debated the merits of the j. geils band, bon jovi, journey and determined that -- if given a lineup -- it would be hard to discern loverboy from foreigner.

"that guy, the one who has been playing air guitar? he's been open mouth kissing every boy in here," i noted to chuck.

then, as the dj was packing up his gear, i coaxed him into letting me sing "supernova." that cleared the dancefloor pretty damn fast.

***

we came home, ate spoonfuls of top the tator and watched battle star galactica.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

my only regret is missing the nitty gritty dirt band ...


look who's here! it's futbol!

in the past month i've had three sets of guests camping at chez overweight and needy feline. the latest victim sentenced to two nights of sleeping with a finger on the 409 spray-bottle trigger is futbol, in from miami, and about to be woken in 15 minute increments by a cat who has nearly learned how to say in human: touch me while he rams his head into yours.

as a special treat for futbol, minnesota power removed me from their "first warning" club and upped me to a priority "disconnected for negligence immediately" level. poor guy. this proved very confusing, as one outlet in my apartment still worked. i can only assume that it is somehow wired to my downstairs' neighbors apartment. i have a hard time understanding how they remember to pay their electric bill when, once, biggie fell asleep in the back of a strangers' pickup truck because he forgot his way home from the pioneer.

whatever. i spent 12 minute flicking at the fuse box, showered in the dark, made as nice as i could with my hair sans hair appliances, went downtown and had power restored.

but not before toonses puked on futbol's suitcase, which i tried to sop up with carpet cleaner and generic paper towels before the feisty lil argentine noticed the beige weight control chunks.

within three hours of waking it felt as though i'd lived three days worth of grievances.

***

jcrew: what time does [duluth restaurant i've chosen to not eat at for phobia reasons] close at?

me: 10:30 ... you aren't going to eat there, are you?

jcrew: well. india palace is closed. ...

me: but you heard the worm story, right? i mean i told you about the worm!

jcrew: [tells worm story to futbol] yeah ...

me: i've never heard anything good about that place. in fact, i've only heard bad. really bad.

jcrew: like ...

me: well. fannie ate there and said it was too expensive for what she ate.

jcrew: and ...

me: well. i heard they don't recycle or have bleach on site.

jcrew: what else?

me: well. a bunch of people went there and it took two hours and they were all served at different times.

jcrew: but, i mean, is it good?

me: THE WORM STORY!

jcrew: but what else?

me: THE WORM STORY SHOULD BE ENOUGH!



***

today is my landlord's birthday. his girlfriend scrubs organized a surprise party for him at [in unison] the pioneer. i'm sure it was a very special night for the little devil. they decorated. i couldn't get enough of the taco chip dip and the mounds of cheddar and colby perspiring more than a dirty old man wearing a blue tooth. and i even saw strangers wearing pointy hats in my landlord's honor. meanwhile, the pioneer rang with a steady stream of my landlord's favorite songs.







i leave you with quote of the day: i smell so bad that it's almost satisfying.

now making up for years of skipping the science fair ...

i don't know what you did last night, but i attempted to cure a scorched tract with a drug cocktail of: 2 phenazopyridine hydrochloride pills and one tiny yellow wal-finate -- the walgreen's version of a four-hour not-nondrowsy allergy medication. my thought process at 4 a.m., in chronological order, having been propped up in the bathroom for four hours:

i'm bored. i can only handle endless love in small, small doses.
these characters remind me of adam and michelle, who were dating in junior high. adam in eighth, michelle in seventh.
they were so in love.
one time michelle's parents came home and found them both naked and kissing in the living room.
they were no longer allowed to talk, let alone date or stand naked in the living room.
they "broke up" but continued to pass notes and meet on the sly.
in founder's hall, a cove in the church basement. at burger king.
eventually they fizzled.
i should walk to walgreen's for some pain pills.


at 4:39 a.m., alone in the hillside, i considered the way my life could take an awkward turn into a lifetime original movie. but then i realized it was just a cat in the bushes. to be fair, i was also freaked out by the gas tanker replenishing super america's supply and the bored and creepy gaze of the driver and the kenny loggins song coming through the outdoor speakers at the closed and eerily lit store.

i sprinted the last block.

by the time i got back 20 minutes later, i really had to go again. so i sat on the throne and began, again, considering if this is just a beer allergy. i've broken out into hives before after a night of indulging. maybe hops mess with my innards.

so i looked in the medicine cabinent and found allergy meds and immediately went for the not nondrowsy. i was wide awake and thought not nondrowsy might serve dual purposes. quell inflammation; knock me out.

i immediately fell asleep.

i woke at 1:30 p.m. and was toeing the line of catatonic. chuck was talking. i could hear the words. the room smelled like coffee i couldn't move. i was the head in metallica's one video and completely unable to move my mouth enough to tell him this:

i just had a dream that i had a white chevy celebrity.
it was kind of beat up.
i had to move it, but i had to push it instead of driving it.
so i pushed it to a new spot.
then i had to push it further.
then a little further.
then it rolled over a hill and backward into lake superior.
when i looked over the ledge, i saw my car, on its side, in about 30 feet of clear water.
shit.
so i asked the man who lived by the drop off what i should do.
he gave me a phone book and told me to call a tow truck.
he said it would probably cost 40 dollars.
and i thought "that's a pretty good deal."
i couldn't figure out the phone book, so he opened to the right page for me.
end of dream.


right before he left, i finally mustered enough strength to ask him how to degroggify. he said: try two pots of coffee. i woke again at about 4:30 p.m.

i spent the day looking like i'd been smacked in the eye sockets and i'd let a third grader comb my hair.

anyway, i still can't tell if it worked or not, the allergy medication. but if it did work, i believe i'm a medical anamoly, as no one else in the googlesphere has mentioned this form of relief. i will then tell doctors to throw out their expensive textbooks and pick up a copy of the norton anthology.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

playing kiss covers ...


this is what it looks like when wilco plays bayfront festival park.


this is what it looks like when i play bayfront festival park.

i come to you from chuck's bathroom, where i have sequestered myself for the early part of the middle-of-the-night hours. apparently i let a pilsner fester too long before braving the porta potties at bayfront festival park tonite. i'm taking 12 ounce shots of water and loving st. francis for installing a triple prong outlet in this room so i can post amid the warzone that is my flaming urinary tract.

[spoiler alert: i've just read a particularily steamy scene from endless love. and i'm still in chapter 2! unfortunately, like when i'm enjoying any form of art from 1979, i have a hard time visually anything in high definition and without a guy named turbo with a comb in his back pocket. sexy becomes silly.]

so. tonite was that wilco show we had talked about. poor fannie mcfanster left minneapolis on a 93 degree day, only to pop her hand outside of her escalade near hinckley and learn that a tank top and open toed sandals were an optimistic fashion choice. for the first 15 minutes of the show, i had to keep reminding myself that i was not a senior and i was not holding a saxophone in the bleaches of a grudge match between the lourdes high school football team and the pine island gophers. horizontal rain does funny things to my hair and my nostalgia button.

i had a blush of one of those "i love you duluth, you're smart and funny and pretty" moments and wondered why bayfront park isn't booked every weekend of the summer. hell, i'd pay to see my mom play piano and lip synch to simon and garfunkle if it was at bayfront. [and you know how i feel about garfunkle ...]

so my first favorite part of the show was when they played heavy metal drummer. my second favorite part of the show was when fannie pretended to know the words to a repetitious part of a song and belted it with the same enthusiasm as the rabid half naked fans behind us, waving their shirts and hooting. my third favorite part was when a huge ship appeared really close to the shore behind the stage, and imagining how well the people onboard could hear the music.




anyway, i hope you didn't come here for a review of the show. i had fun. i like wilco, whether they are playing in my car or on a stage. but i am completely incapable of telling a good performance from a bad performance since i like most things. i get distracted easily by a woman who had climbed on a man's shoulders, and the cute hippie couple to my east with an infant strapped to the woman's chest. i can spend 12 minutes trying to figure out if one of those guys on stage has a red light blinking in his mouth and six minutes thinking about the time i saw B-R549 playing in a bar in nashville. and still sing along. and then remind myself: oh yeah. watch wilco.



meanwhile: fannie won the 'nels cline gave me chicken pox' design contest. here she sports a yellow version. her friend smithers seems to be sporting 'blue steel.'

Monday, September 3, 2007

last chance (for white pants) ...




phew. got my final wearing of these bad boys in right under the wire. see you the day after memorial day, white gap capris.

other worldly advice that i'll be following today:
i'll flush public toilets with my foot
and i won't talk to any strangers who don't know the family code word.
i won't eat potato salad that has been sitting in the sun

from the pressing concerns file:


why are these two nails freakishly long?

when i was in high school i had a 12 inch hair that was growing out of my stomach. i also had a wart on my right knee and incidentally most of my pants had a hole in the right knee that i would dig at the wart through.

i doubt that this is related to the last two fingers on my left hand in any way ... but sometimes weird things grow out of my person.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

help, my leisure list is eating all of my leisure time ...

the hardest part about living a life of leisure is making time in my leisurely schedule for all of the leisure that i already do, and the new forms of leisure that i am looking to incorporate into my already leisure-packed day.

i am more than three issues back in keeping up with my new yorker subscription. a more honest assessment would be ten issues behind. i carry them around in my little backpack, but at some point i just end up glancing at the cover and tossing the issues aside. it is clear to me that i am not spending enough time in the bathroom to get through more than just the cartoons. in a perfect world, i would read 60-80 percent of this magazine and then donate it to a nonsubscriber. maybe i should start eating more bran.

in the meantime, i am receiving a monthly subscription to some running magazine as a sort of thank you for signing up for grandma's marathon, but deciding not to run. and, in an unfortunate twist, this week's food issue of the new yorker came bagged with a sample copy of something called fashion rocks. i've barely had time to look at the pictures.

ideally, i would be reading approximately a book a week. i used to be able to crank through about 62 books a year ranging from addiction memoirs to chick lit to books in the news. i have been stuck on sin in the second city by karen abbott for more than a month, and i actually like this book. i'm 3/4ths through the new michael chabon, but it is so good that i can't get myself to even touch it. it's like i'm afraid of it or something. i've hidden this book somewhere so the cover stops mocking me. i also have a copy of endless love squirreled away in chuck's bathroom and i'm four pages into crime and punishment, which i've been carrying around whenever i step outside for a cigarette.

to top off all this failure, the food encyclopedia that chuck got me for my birthday is taunting me from his coffee table. it's so pretty. so interesting. so fact-filled. the odds of me reading this book in its entirity are a little less than me becoming an olympic ribbon dancer. but i would like to skim it -- say a letter a week -- until i can bore the masses with a monologue on the pear.

and on the topic of food, i want to be cooking more. i want to make grand meals. i want to chop and saute and mix and grind things. preferably vegetables. i want to make gazpacho before gazpacho season ends. i want to know the origin of everything i put into my body for every meal.

the hills is on monday nights; real world sydney and newport harbor are on wednesdays. thankfully i can watch these in my leisure, as they are on mtv.com. additionally, i'm a little hopped up on season one of battlestar galactica -- which i'm watching with chuck -- season one of life goes on -- which i'm watching alone -- and i have some big thoughts about season one of heroes and season four of nip/tuck comes out on tuesday. we have inadvertantly been neglecting the AFI top 100 movies of all time list.

also being neglected: the superior hiking trail, with just a few segments to go in the 39-mile route. on the other hand, i've been running again. but i like to get in an hour workout, and, well ... that takes an hour.

now that i have an ipod, i have a designated time when i can listen to the podcasts i've oversubscribed to and the music i've been overdownloading.

now that i have a new laptop, i'd like to be doing more recreationally writing, in addition to blogging and the reading the 30-some blogs i follow. i'm also trying to keep updated on the family secrets mafia trial via the chicago sun times.

what is it called when you have to make a to do list for leisure?

Saturday, September 1, 2007

birthday roar by the shore ...

hyperbole, my ass. i had the best birthday since the one where i came luging down the birth canal. i'm sitting here, swinging between "i love the '80s" and the food network, waiting for the wendy's dollar menu to alleviate the dull thud in my head, and wearing a stranger's jesus and mary chain t'shirt. this is absolute perfection.
we walked to coney island for lunch. it is a little early to make this bold of a statement, but i believe the chili-onion-cheese-slatered-hotdog may be my mouth's new super potato ole.



to be fair to the super potato ole, in this picture our coney dogs look more like a punishment than lunch. although, this photo accurately conveys how i felt about 12 minutes after snarfing mine.

for dinner we ordered a 16 inch canadian sunset pizza from VIP. by the time the delivery man used the pizza box like it was a set of marachas, we were left with a 10-inch pizza. complaining about the mess seemed futile. what was he going to do, bring us a new pie? there are a lot of places in a 16-inch pizza to hide snot and cat feces.

we got to the red lion around 10:45 p.m., and for the first time in my experience with this bar, there was a line. one time i was standing outside the red lion and a woman teetered outside and emptied everything but her stomach lining all over the sidewalk. she was wearing a denim vest without a shirt underneath. i had to arc out to the street to get back inside so i wouldn't get rail whiskey and nicotene on my shoes. i hope she was compensated for the free advertising.




i learned a valuable birthday lesson this year: instead of going to the pio and hoping it's fun, i went to the fun and hoped the pio would show up. i was still trying to get my first drink when f.scottie sent me this text:

that bar made me fear for my life. happy birthday.

for a second i saw my landlord about three deep at the bar, scrubs behind him preened to pretty perfection. i did not see him again for the rest of the night. he probably left, insulted that no one yelled his name when he walked into the bar. not to mention he likes his beer on the quick, and it took two or three rounds before i figured out that each time a bartender deigned to talk to me, i should order in bulk. [by the end of the night, chuck pointed to a six pack of sam adams in the refrigerator and said: i'll take that. they even gave him the carrying case.]

i received a bad touch from a stranger while standing near the stage. i forgave him the first time, when i assumed he touched my ass on accident. but when he literally stuck his hand up my skirt and grazed lower butt flesh, i understood that this was more than just a crowded-bar coincidence. unfortunately, i couldn't discern one pervy old dirtbag from another, so i didn't know who's eyeball to gouge at with my thumbs. i hope his probation officer is reading this.

on the other hand, this sort of bar anarchy came in handy when bubbles called. i tried to take the call on the deck, but the bouncer wouldn't let me take my beer outside. i ducked into the empty men's bathroom to chat. [here i have to ask, why all the lemons in the urinal, boys?] when i opened the door, chuck was standing outside and said my favorite sentence of the night: what are you doing in the men's bathroom?


this is a random crowd shot that includes a bald spot, cleavage and i believe chuck's fannie. this, jcrew noted while watching the bands and people dance, is everything that i've ever made fun of about the duluth scene. i know, i agreed, it's super fun, isn't it? she would later leave to hit the strip club across the street. as if this was her birthday r something.

this is bubbles and me
the bar closed early. or maybe the stock was finally depleted, save for a spoonful of nyquil and some vanilla extract. whatever. we went to carmody. i asked a guy wearing a jesus and mary chain stoned and dethroned t'shirt if i could buy it off his back. i asked if he'd take a check. i told him that it was my birthday and offered to trade him my sweatshirt.

finally, he took the shirt off, handed it to me and said: happy birthday.

i put it on immediately and haven't taken it off since. other birthday loot included: a used lighter with a picture of a cougar on it; a pack of camel lights and flowers. chuck gave me the pier one cutting board i'd been drooling over, a completely thorough food encyclopedia that he said has more information than the internet and a red ipod nano! weee!

today i walked downtown to get my car. i had, fortuitiously, brought flip flops so i'd not have to make this trip in wedge heels. i'd not-so-fortuitiously neglected to pack something more than the skirt that i wore last night. the one that screamed, touch me inappropriately, inmate 35591! so this is what i looked like.

a good old fashioned walk of shame. an underrated way to welcome 32.