Monday, September 29, 2008

froggie ...

enough time has passed that i can say now, probably without sounding like a pompous ass, that i used to be pretty good at the long jump. and later when the men in charge of determining which sports girls could compete in without spraining a uterus gave a grizzled, bulbous belly and cigar-smoked nod to the triple jump -- i was pretty decent at that, too.

but first i was good at the standing broad jump.

PRESIDENTIAL FITNESS TEST
more than pickleball, badminton or parachute or earth ball, more than even floor hockey, my favorite chapter of grade school gym class was the presidential fitness test. here i measured my athletic prowess against my classmates, who were hanging apathetically from a chin up bar.

i indexed their strengths:

allison, a gymnast, had puny arms with cartoonish muscle lumps. she killed at the flexed-arm hang.

sophea had a low center of gravity and was a spontaneous sweater. he ruled the shuttle run.

joan was a tomboy. she could throw a softball the length of the church parking lot.

the softball throw was my lone weakness. luckily, our gym teacher -- mr. a, a man who resembled clark kent -- had added this to the curriculum without the presidential seal of approval, so my bumbling did not count in the final fitness test tally. it was just for fun. i took this competition to sit on the asphalt and mentally prepare for the real events.

my strengths were running the 50 meter and the 600 meter, the standing broad jump, situps, flexed arm hang ... all but the shuttle run where i was adequate, but hardly lithe. i could crank out a decent time, my keds sliding across the dusty gym floor. but i probably wouldn't win. i had to score high enough in the other events to make up for this slight deficiency.

i pitted myself against the best in each event, choosing to race against the fastest runners, follow the strong athletes' performances so i knew how long i had to hang with my chin poised above that bar, arms shaking, face red, feet squirming. i strategically marked who's feet i would hold during the situps competition, then let them go first. 60 seconds, how many situps can you complete. then i would beat them by at least two situps, greasy hair flying, my bony spine bruising and my plaid uniform skirt snaking up to my belly button as i seizured my way to victory on a two-toned gym mat.

one year i scored in the 98th percentile of all the elementary school students who were my age across the country. my name was written with a sharpie on a piece of construction paper on the wall of the gym, the names of the other high-finishing students listed beneath it. i looked at my name every day on my way to lunch. there at the top, with a star next to it. the 98th percentile. mr. a. said it was a school record. well, it tied a school record.

i pictured ronald reagan sitting at his desk in washington, d.c., rifling through this year's presidential fitness test results and seeing: christa pista, age 9, rochester, minnesota, right there among the best of the best.

"over 6 feet in the standing broad jump!" he would say to himself. "hey, nancy! get a load of this! this girl also beat every boy in her class at the 50-meter dash!"

i watched the mail for a letter of congratulations that never came.

HIGH SCHOOL
martha was not just an athlete, she was a lifestyle. she was red lipstick and wild colored paisley leggings. her thick hair in a ponytail on top of her head. she would set up a camp near the long jump pit, in the infield of the football field, and it looked like she was moving in. an umbrella to block the sun, a cooler, a walkman. sometimes an entourage.

that girl could jump.

for two years i settled for distant second-place finishes behind this athlete from rochester's sleepy neighboring farm town byron, minnesota. she was the calmest, coolest winner in the history of wins. unflappable and confident. pretty in a way you only see on manequins.

one time, when she wasn't around to challenge it, i jumped 17 feet at the newly-opened national sports center in blaine, minn., during the true team state meet. the blue awkwardly-shaped track was clean. the take off board had punch. because the venue was new, and because martha wasn't there, for at least one week i held stadium record in the long jump.

around this time, my friend hinz began calling me "froggie," a nickname i didn't necessarily not like, but which resulted in an entire litter of frog beanie baby gifts, and later frog tea sets and frog windchimes, and a frog who played jungle bells when you squeezed it's foot. this was a lazy period of gift reception.

martha graduated after my freshman year. i buffed up my own collection of paisley leggings and worked on my own mythical diva mojo. i made a mix tape featuring the song "groove is in the heart" by dee-light. i developed an OCD routine that i performed before each of my three jumps in prelims, and more fiercely before each of my three jumps in finals.

1. stand on the runway approximately 80-100 feet from the takeoff board.
2. jump in the air twice.
3. bend at the waist and touch the asphalt.
4. stand straight and stare down the sand pit.
5. go into my crouch, left leg forward.
6. run my hands down my left calf.
7. snap my fingers.
8. return to crouch.
9. take five, long slow strides until i hit a swatch of white tape placed on the runway. if i overshot or undershot this mark, there was still time to start over without being disqualified.
10. take off on a dead sprint.
11. hit the board and throw myself as high and as far as i could, back arched, hips forward, swinging legs around to the front for a final push of momentum.
12. land.
13. look over my shoulder.
14. walk away from the pit, while emptying sand from the crotch of my shorts. this resembled dancing.

if, at any point, i was distracted from this, i had to take it from the top.

unfortunately, martha had an heir apparent: liz. an outspoken farm girl who wore quilted flannel shirts over her byron track uniform. where martha was a study in natural fluidity, liz was a hack. formless. lucky. like me. not sure why we were good at this or how we got this good or when it would go away. liz and i went back and forth, number one and two at most meets, standing on the blocks, bowing to get a medal wrapped around our necks.

when our teams were at separate meets, i checked her scores in the newspaper. chuckling when she only hit high 14s, cringing when she went high-16s. Ruing the day she hit the 17s, which was only a matter of time.

my junior year, i missed the state meet. i didn't even make it to regions. i'd scratched all but one jump in prelims during subsections, then done poorly in finals. the entire track team was sitting on the side of a hill watching. a cluster of purple sweatshirts. it was the last unfinished event of the day. the 1,600 meter relay had long been called. the camp had been dismantled, the tarp folded and trash collected. they were waiting on me.

defeated, i walked slowly toward the bus.

"how did you do, christa?" a clueless sophomore thrower asked me.
i growled and threw my walkman in her general direction. not necessarily at her, per se, but close. my dad gave me a long talk about sportsmanship that day. the whole "gracious when losing" speech. i recognized it. i'd been giving it to my friends in fourth grade.

INTRODUCING THE TRIPLE
the triple jump in an unnatural series of movements. the sprint down the runway is the same, as is the initial takeoff. and OCD jumping-bending-snapping routine and the "groove is in the heart" warmup.

i'd launch myself off my right leg and cover upward of 14 feet before landing on my right, hopping to my left, landing on left and then launching myself into the sand.

to be a competitive high school triple jumper in the mid-1990s required just having a solid second phase -- that right foot to left foot part. some young athletes will simply take a step. but if this can be completed as an actual jump that is between 10-12 feet, consider it a victory. i had a pretty decent second phase. again, it was accidental.

i graduated from high school with some school records and a few trips to the state meet in various events. but i learned quickly that there is a big difference between being a good jumper in rochester and being a good jumper in minnesota.

THE COLLEGE YEARS
i was sitting in the track coach's office, torn between st. thomas and st. mary's. "we can't give you a scholarship," he said. the differences between division II and division III and the elusive Divsion I was not something i yet understood. "but we can make it financially possible for you to go here."

[to this day, i'm not sure what that means. i do know that 10 years later i'm still paying for four years at st. thomas, which means "financially possible" was a euphemism for "financially ridiculous." ]

my friend hinz was already on the tommies' famed track and field team, winners of umpteen conference indoor and outdoor titles. she took me to a track party after the MIAC indoor meet when i was a senior in high school. the party was busted up by cops minutes after we got there. we filed out of the house, careful not to make eye contact with anyone with a discerning eye toward what a high school student at a college party looked like. regardless, i'd made my decision: st. thomas it was.

i was never the best jumper in the conference. hell, on a good day, i was like third-best on the team. our leaping leader was meghan, a short girl with legs up to her armpits. she was the least imposing jumper in my competitive history. but on a regular basis, meghan jumped distances that would have stunned the red lipstick right off martha.

around this time, the nickname froggie became one of those funny ironic nicknames. like slim or shorty or curly.

to my credit, we had a good team. and being third on the st. thomas track team could translate to fifth place overall at a meet at st. olaf. by this time i had stopped fooling myself that i could compete in running events and instead devoted all of my attention to the jumps. our jumps coach was a booming bearded man who ruled with a mix of degredation and sexual innuendo. we called him cheech and avoided one-on-one interaction.

it was hard to get used to hard work and practice, having gotten by on luck and charm for so many years. i had a tendency to skip track practice and when i went, to complain about my shins. one day i was laying in the infield and cheech asked me why i wasn't improving.

"i don't know," i shrugged. "maybe my boom is getting too big," i indicated to my ass.
he nodded.
"maybe you're right," he said.
i spent the rest of the day like a dog chasing my tail, trying to gauge the bredth of my own butt.

i had all-but given up on track by the end of my sophomore year. the outdoor conference meet conflicted with a handful of high school friends coming to town to visit. i ignored the carbo-loading, early-to-bed sentiments that had been passed out on a worksheet during a team pep talk / strategizing session where we planned how we were going to win the MIAC title. again. [hmm ... just show up? don't drop any batons? try not to scratch or false start?]

i drank busch lite that night until the sun came up. i slept on the floor of my dorm room. i woke at 10 a.m., wrapped myself in a steve urkle sleeping bag and hopped on a bus for hamline university, a scant five miles away.

while my teammates warmed up, i did some half assed stretching and eventually settled in for a nap under a tree. when it came time to triple jump, i dragged myself to the pit, yawning on the runway. the sun in my eyes. the wind hurting my hair.

that day i jumped 37 feet, 2 inches in the triple jump. a personal record. first i'd hit something in the 35s. then i'd topped that. my jumps just kept getting better. my mom was on the sidelines, whooping like an alarm clock as each distance was announced. cheech roared. i was ahead of that leggy old meghan, even. froggie was back in town.

meghan got me on the last jump by a few inches. barely any. cheech asked me if i wanted to sign up for a last chance meet, try for a provisional mark and see if i could sneak into the national meet.

i said no. that would mean another week of practice, and i was tracked out. besides, i saw where this was going, and i'd already had that graceful in defeat conversation years ago.

AFTERWORD
i went out for the track team my junior year, but i don't remember a second of it. i quit my senior year and didn't miss it at all.

martha and i were both in hinz's wedding. i keep looking for liz on facebook.

i haven't jumped in more than 10 years. i haven't talked about it in probably three. being pretty okay at such obscure events doesn't really translate in the real world. it's kind of like being a philosophy major.

this is why i can write about it now. i mean, who even cares?

this girl's weird and prudish spiral ...

i had a quiet week filled with cooking, lounging and reading. then the whole thing came unhinged on saturday night at one of those nouveau bachelorette type parties that are coed and don't involve any clothing that says "suck for a buck" in puffy paint. readers, this was undoubtedly the wildest party i've been to in years.

unfortunately, my camera was picked up by the exotic dancer and i haven't gotten it back from him yet. by exotic dancer, i mean one of our friends in a pair of daisy dukes with a tight black plether jacket and a white feather boa, dancing on a coffee table to the song "faith" by george michael.

i couldn't even stand i was laughing so hard. also, i should note that when the show started, i sprinted out of the living room with some sort of internal fight or flight instinct. i hid in a corner by chuck and my face was bright red. i am on weird and prudish spiral.

as for the rest of the week:

MAKING FOODS

chickpea stew with couscous [via]: this may be my greatest recipe-following accomplishment to date, this neon yellow vegan stew of carrots, chickpeas, red bell pepper, onion, garlic and butternut squash soup ladeled over couscous. it tasted like something straight off the menu at india palace, and looked like something that would make traffic yield. i wanted someone to come into my kitchen and pat me on my head and congratulate me for making yum. also very, very, very simple.


tempeh burritos with tofu cream sauce from the art of tofu cookbook: these burritos are filled with corn, peppers, crumbled tempeh, zucchini, onions and some seasonings and then spread with a sauce made from tofu, miso and dijon mustard ... this was so fun and labor intensive, but for some reason only every other bite tasted good to me. chuckster, however, loved them.


READING
"twilight" by stephanie meyer: Bella Swan, the new girl in school, is brave — albeit clumsy — a misfit who smells like freesia and has the high school boys in a drooling tizzy. Especially Edward Cullen, who sits at a back table in the cafeteria with an impenetrable gang of equally attractive and socially inept friends and siblings. Bella is drawn to Edward, who runs hot and marble cold when he is near her … until finally he confesses that he can’t stay away from her.

True love ensues. The dangerous kind of true love, akin to falling in love with a mound of cheese curds. Nuzzling up to the greasy batter, maybe even licking a crumb, BUT NOT EATING IT! NO DON’T EAT IT! YOU LOVE THIS FOOD TO MUCH FOR IT TO BE GONE! BUT IT SMELLS SO GOOOOOOOOD!

Edward, the male lead in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight is a vampire. His electric touch is like a cold stone; his skin is glitter in the sunlight. And his eyes, his eyes are:

black — coal black.
careful.
a strange ocher, darker than butterscotch, but with some golden tone.
gold-colored.
light again today, a deep golden honey color.
serious.
befuddled.
brooding.
scorching.
impenetrable.
troubled.
bright, excited.
mocking.
dancing.
searching.
burning gold.
bright only with humor.
glorious.

full review here.

"downtown owl" by chuck klosterman: Follows a few months in the lives of 17-year-old level-headed, slightly depressed, Mitch — a mediocre athlete who’s ideal bedroom would be as sterile as a hotel room. Julia, the 23-year-old recently-hired history teacher who’s resale value skyrockets because she’s new in town and she’s in a town of men who want to ply a woman with alcohol. And Horace, a widower who enjoys solitude, spy biographies and wars he did not fight in. The omniscient unnamed narrator is a smartass, 80s trivia guru, with a keen understanding of how a cold winter wind could feel like snorting Cocaine.

full review here.

READING THE INTERNET [instead of things on paper]
"in which you might want to save that for the second date" : i've been reading this site for about a year ago and it reminds me of a magazine in the way that i have come to have some favorite writers -- one being molly lambert. here she makes a list not unlike something you would see in cosmo, but makes it funny and specific and clever in a way that these lists almost never are.

adverb police: i forgot to link to this last week, but in the ultimate show of word nerdmanship [my highest praise, fyi] jodi counts adverbs in the klosterman novel. she later returns with a review that had me in stitches. jodi in a rage over a book is one of the greatest kinds of rage. [she does things like throw books across the room.]

"diagnosing chuck klosterman" [via]: my favorite part of this salon feature is where klosterman confesses that when he is in a crowded area, he looks around and wonders who would be the terrorist in the crowd. when the interviewer asks him to do it in the nearly empty east village bar where she is interviewing him, i knew he was going to say himself. when sarah hepola takes offense at not being deemed "the terrorist" klosterman tells her "i think you'd listen to me before i'd listen to you."

MOVIE MANIA
"bringing out the dead" 1999: nic cage brings his "leaving las vegas" face to this true story of a new york city ambulance driver who is on a bad run where he can't save anyone. both funny and depressing and yuck at the same time and it is shot in a way that suggests surfing on hunter s. thompson's brain waves during his most whacked out moments. cage's character develops a creepy allegiance to a former junkie who's father he brought in. should the relationship continue beyond the closing credits, they have an awkward conversation in their future. this movie is great.

"this boy's life" 1993: leonardo at that awkward age where he still looks like gilbert grape, stars as a young tobias wolff. his mom's on the lam from everything and he's riding shotgun, singing showtunes. they settle in a small town in washington with her most recent verbally abusive nitwit husband. just for fun, play "spot eliza dushku" when viewing. it's a little skeevy seeing buffy's faith as a 12 year old.

"mrs. parker and the vicious circle" 2006: jennifer jason leigh wears kicky hats and growls a lot as dorothy parker. a lot of it is hard to follow, but man it is like a good-time tutorial. henceforth i will say: "dah-ling ... should we go wild tonight?" and it will sound like toonses is sitting on my stomach when i say it. also, a strange all-star cast that includes andrew mccarthy, gwyneth paltrow, matthew broderick, martha plimpton, etc.

TV TIME
"the hills": lo is the oozy goozies narc. "dear lc," she writes in her prada log each night that lauren is in italy. "today audrina betrayed you by not rolling her eyes once when she ran into heidi; meanwhile, stephanie pratt is face-first in your reject pool." it's amazing how things come unhinged when lauren isn't there to tell her friends stage left and stage right. these people thrive on complicated incestuous circles, like their own self-contained vc andrews novel.

"one tree hill": as lucas gave the basketball team a pep talk, i was rewriting it in my head. and in my head, i was saying: "for the rest of the season, the ravens are going to play with just four men on the court. ... for q!" and then, two scenes later, the ravens are playing with just four men on the court. i love when the most ridiculous fan-fiction i can conjure actually is realized.

Friday, September 26, 2008

portrait of overcaffination ...


look at my crazy eyes!

i'm no chemist. and when my life finds me alone in a room with a pot of coffee, i struggle with when-to-say-when and frequently end up in an agitated state of spazzy. today, after ranting about 10 different topics between the ghetto spur and central entrance, i heard myself quacking maniacally and thought: what's with the crazies?

i stopped myself my rhetorical thought and said to chuck "oh yeah. i drank nine cups of coffee. ... i should learn how to fly a helicopter."

this was the kind of overdose that made me wish i at least had a trampoline.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

if that's what you just know ...

today i was at cub foods when i saw two college aged girls obviously doing their first "oh look we buy our own groceries" trip. they examined everything and said things like:

"do we need a cheese grater?"
and
"should i get some lean cuisines ... ugh. no processed food" then quickly shuffling away, cart teeming with frozen pizzas.

they stopped next to a display with pickles.
"are kosher pickles like real pickles?" one asked.
the other gave a resigned shrug and said "i have no idea. i don't even know what kosher means."
"i just know it means unclean," the first one responded. "i guess i don't need pickles."

i did not correct her. maybe that's what you learn sophomore year.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

when i lived in rochester part I ...

when i lived in rochester, i used to set aside certain days to play a game called "housewife." "we should play housewife tomorrow," i'd slur to fannie at 3 a.m. laying in the parking lot of the smiling moose. this meant she had to call talbots and say the displays would go naked for the day while she was virtually bidding on "the price is right."

i took the words in the most archaic 1970s, priviledge sense of the word. "playing housewife" meant that i cleared my schedule to eat pizza and lay on the couch. the only "housewife" i knew in the 1970s made great cookies and had a bathroom floor you could wash your face with. she was my model. her name was sharon and her sons were quite attractive and her daughter had the tan of a KFC deluxe meal.

i would call my friend hank, who could easily jigger his schedule, to come lay on the couch with me and wipe the pizza sauce off my chin. no showering. just good old fashioned leisure. sweat pants. drawn shades. the kind of housewife who wears sunglasses while watching "days of our lives." housewifery.

i don't know where i got this idea of the housewife. my mom wasn't one. from about two minutes where i started having memories, she was in college. it must have been from "the young and the restless," which taught me a lot and still guides my "hot or not" sensibilities. [victor? hot. paul newman? hot. criquet? hot.]

anyway, this is an elaborate post to say that tomorrow i am playing housewife.

THINGS I AM GOING TO IGNORE [aside from the obvious. ... like phones]:
clothes i need to take to goodwill
clothes i need to take to the dry cleaners
a refrigerator that needs to be liberated from some bad leftovers
hair that performs better when washed
tempeh burritos that i've been excited about making

THINGS I AM NOT GOING TO IGNORE
tivo
eggs
cheese
bagals
couches
blankets
sweat pants

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

things i ate after school while watching three's company ...

i grew up in a house where the only decent snack food was hidden in my parent's walk in closet. thin mint girl scout cookies that my dad inventoried and only ate behind the locked door.

and so i was forced to be creative:

1. a stack of saltines with a stack of an even amount of cheddar cheese, sliced with thread
2. a stack of saltine, spread with country crock butter
3. saltines topped with a chewed saltine [true story]
4. ruffled potato chips topped with sandwich pickles
5. ruffled potato chips with a dip made from dried lipton soup mix and sour cream
6. vanilla ice cream topped with dry nestle quick chocolate
7. plain rice krispies with nestle quick chocolate
8. nestle quick chocolate mixed with graham cracker crumbs
9. graham crackers topped with wet powdered sugar

not just one of the above, but all of the above, every day.

i thought of this tonight while spreading peanut butter on baby carrots, then eating saltines with butter. then, still hungry, scavenging through the pantry for something i could dump on top of polenta. anything. curry gravy? tomato sauce? my only options were northern beans, jam, oatmeal or a can of black olives.

Monday, September 22, 2008

most domesticated stunt to date ...

last week a cockroach tried to jump into a pair of ballet flats and i saw a rat that would wrestle in the same weight class as toonses. then we got back from new york, and stood in the streets yelling "hello-hello-hello!" and sometimes went for entire walks without seeing another human.

also, i pulled my most domesticated stunt to date:
1. found pile of old cooking magazines
2. exacto-knifed out the good recipes i'd tried and the ones i thought i might want to make.
3. slid recipes into a transparent folder, and clipped it into a 3-ring binder.
4. started conjuring big ideas involving color-coding with post-it stickies.
5. laid down on the couch with a damp wash cloth across my forehead.

as for the rest of the week:

MAKING FOODS

sausage and peppers with crispy polenta [via]: this isn't the healthiest food i've ever made in my life. and aside from my first go-round with polenta, it's not necessarily interesting. but it tastes good and it's easy.

MEALS TAKEN IN PUBLIC [outside of new york trip]

burrito union: i've got this baby honed to perfection: one fisted bean and rice, hold the rice. black beans. lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. spicy sauce, the spiciest in the house, and seasoned sour cream. this week i added a fitgers' root beer and was only disappointed because chuck ordered their special cream soda with was a perfect thick-tasting not-thick drink. i should have had that. although ... the root beer was a nice runner up. anyway, i always write about this burrito, but don't usually get the photo.

note: we went back the next day after a long walk for a cold cream soda. "pint or 22 ouncer?" the bartender asked. we went with matching 22s and both ended up laid up for upward of 45 minutes in sheer delicious agony. "i feel like i ate all my halloween candy in one sitting," chuck said.

let this be a lesson to those who heed my food advice.


MOVIES WATCHED ON A 4-INCH IPOD TOUCH, HI DEF SCREEN
rosemary's" baby, 1968: mia farrow stars as rosemary woodhouse, a wispy waif of a daddy-complex married to a somewhat employed actor. unbeknownst to rosemary, he has taken up with a gang of satanists and has allowed the devil to impregnate his wife in exchange for a decent role. the prenatal care for raising healthy satan-spawn is a wicked brew of smelly herbs and a whack-job witch doctor who tells rosemary that it's okay to weigh 76 pounds in her second trimester. only after rosemary chops her hair so she looks like robert redford's third-grade class picture, do her nondevilworshipping friends begin to suspect something is off. naturally, they are killed off to avoid blocking the birth of pure evil. so. damn. fantastic.

jumper, 2008: hayden christenson stars as david rice, a 20-something with the ability to teletransport himself from one end of the couch to the side closer to the remote control. this ability lands him in a bank safe, where he fills bags with bundles of money so that he can lope around like a trust-funder and sneer at the poor. meanwhile, he's got it bad, and has had it bad since he was 5-years-old, for rachel bilson -- who is no summer roberts. she uses a slack jaw and wide eyes to nonverbally indicate that she knows he is up to something and she doesn't approve.


smart people, 2008: if the current trend stands, it seems that ellen page is going to continue playing the role of 'juno' in various incarnations for the rest of her life. or at least until she learns inflection. in this movie, she is juno as a young republican. it's actually a pretty cute movie that answers the question: whatever happened to lowell mather?

WHY DO I WATCH TV?
"the hills": more and more, it becomes obvious that lauren and heidi's most complicated romantic relationships will always be with each other. that thing with spencer is a blip in comparison. lauren uses her black fingernails to claw at heidi's inner circle and relishes the opportunity to chew demurely on her straw and concede to heidi's sister/spencer's sister/the viewing public that she misses heidi. then she collects information about her former best friend, scrapbooking it in her brain.

lauren is the quintessential jilted lover who facebook stalks her exboyfriend and then befriends his new girlfriend.

then, when she accidentally runs into heidi, she rolls her eyes and pretends to hate her. they are the new ross and rachel.

"america's next top model": kudos to isis for getting through the swimsuit episode with a little too much here and not enough there.

"one tree hill": the nanny carrie kidnaps dan scott story line seems to have been written by a telenovella addicted summer intern. meanwhile, the rest of the show seems to have been written by the guy who makes my drunken noodles at thai krathong, because this show is inducing a similar amount of snot and tears.

"gossip girl": seriously. at the end of every episode i think: so wait. are dan and serena together or not? i can never tell.

BEEN READING A BOOK
"the wind-up bird chronicle" by haruki murakami: … and with that, my top five books of all time has to be reconfigured. mostly, reading this book feels like leaving the house early on a sunday morning for a long walk to nowhere in particular. veering off to kick a pile of leaves, grabbing a cup of coffee from a cafe, stumbling into an alley and staring at a garage door for an hour. falling asleep on a park bench and waking up unsure of the surroundings. spinning a circle with your eyes closed, then trying to walk home.

In a good way.

full review here.

READING THE INTERNET [cuz that's what i do]
"10 books not to read before you die" [via]: on naomi wolf's "beauty myth": I don’t know if Naomi is a genuine academic – I couldn’t be arsed to Google her – if she is, she is probably Emeritus Professor of the bleeding obvious. he also refers to hunter s. thompson as a tosspot. if you think i am not going to incorporate that word into my daily wordage, you don't know me very well.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

today i ...

1. forgot that grandma pista was in town until it was too late to chase down her tour bus. this has the potential to drop me about four steps on 12-step program i've been using to nudge myself toward adulthood. her voice mail messages made my soul hurt. gah. she was less than a mile away.


2. went head-to-head with a powdered donut. i looked like i'd rolled in lawn fertilizer. when i wiped my hands on my jeans, i left hand prints not unlike mary lou retton after a spin on the parallel bars.



3. ... although my friend drock fared worse:

Friday, September 19, 2008

reason 101 that i love facebook ...

... i wrote some status update saying i was resisting fun and blah blah blah beer and got a comment from tj that referenced some scene where he was tackled into the shrubs outside of the smiling moose -- the bar where i spent ages 22-24ish. [now it's a highway]

i have no idea what in the hell he is talking about. i tackled tj? into the bushes? outside of the moose? hmmm ... sounds like me.

i responded that i had no idea what he was talking about and admitted that my 20s are filled with dead spots.

but! tj was cool. in the same clique my high school boyfriend belonged to. a class older. i always liked him. he was always a little more arty than those pedestrian nerds he hung with. i never felt compelled to make out with him, which was rare, as making out with my boyfriend's friends [when we broke up in five minute increments] was always imperative. as far as i can tell, that is the only reason anyone would make out with a chubby trombone player, seventh man off the basketball team's bench slash jeep owner in 1992.

now tj is a photog in san fran. and engaged. he introduced me to a good book and i hooked him up with some girl i knew who was smart and cute. i am assuming that failed, but beyond introduction, i stayed out of it. that was so long ago i don't remmeber the girl's name. but she made a mean curry. ...


so now i'm IMing with peter, whom fannie snowballed with at the halloween dance in seventh grade. his mom was the secretary at our grade school. i asked him if he remembers this moment on his wall. he replied that it was a song by cheap trick. i added that his witch's nose fell off while they were dancing. he's still writing back. i asked him about the high school boyfriend. all he can tell me is that this guy likes hi-def tv and has three kids. much different from the stoner who knocked on my bedroom window at 2 a.m. some nights.

another story for another time.

god facebook is mint.

facebook is so weird.

right now i'm aflutter about a lot of high school memories. and i don't think that is a bad thing. these were some of my favorite years of my life.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

bright lights, big post ...

chuck and i stole out of town late saturday night, the keyboard still warm arranging a flight, hotel and shuttle services in new york city. up until friday, we were saying things like:

"well, we could take a train to glacier."


chuck waits patiently for me to order chicken rings at the white castle in hinckley. i can only drive past this place so many times in a week before eventually asking the head cashier to scrape everything off the grill, put it in a supersized cup, and give me a straw. i avoided the jalapino cheeseburger, though, recalling a dangerous stomach convulsion prior to a flight to las vegas in 2007. an airplane bathroom is no place to be trapped with explosive anythings.

we got to our midtownish hotel on sunday evening: starved, sleep deprived and disoriented. that's the only way i can explain how we ended up at this thing that billed itself as a pub, but was suspiciously void of things that typically make a pub:



1. short drunken irishmen singing hearty limericks
2. burgers and/or cabbage

"i guess i'll have the smoked salmon," i told our disinterested waitress.
she put this in front of me:





pros: a hill of capers and a mound of onions and a dollop of horseradish.
cons: i felt like the salmon was licking me as i ate it.



i salvaged what i could from the side ingredients and deemed the whole experience a failure. for the price, i could have had eight weiners from the cart on the corner.



we considered going to bed after that. but it was about 9 p.m. and we were in new york city, and it was likely my food was still burping up me.



"let's just go out and have two drinks to celebrate our trip and then sleep," chuck suggested.
[this, along with the sentence "let's just see where the night takes us" is one of the most dangerous in our relationship. two beers turn me into a drooling ball of fun. the kind of fun that thinks 3, 4 and 5 would taste good. by then muscle memory takes over and i'm ordering no. 6.]





this is the face of exhaustion. this face will rally.





this is a face of a woman about to wipe her mouth kung fu style and say: IS THAT ALL YOU GOT FOR ME?!



we spent the evening at a bar close to our hotel. early in the night a woman pitched forward and threw up on the floor. her caddy covered the mess with a bar napkin.



"i'm done drinkin'" the barfer announced.
"you sound like some sort of hick from florida!" her caddy scolded.



the place cleared out. our bartender had taken to calling me "pumpkin" based on the pumpkin-flavored beer i was drinking. the bartender himself was liquified. head propped on his hands, waking up long enough to decide to make us shots. i'm guessing we didn't pay for a drink from midnight on.



"you gotta try this beer," the bartender slurred to chuck. "it's 10 percent alcohol. ... atta boy, now try this. ... this one's only 9 percent."




"what time do you close?" i asked the bartender.
he shrugged and said: "4 a.m.?" like he was asking if that sounded like a reasonable closing time.

i'm told we left before that. i'm told.




***

on monday i woke to great pain. the kind of pain that even melted velveeta cannot fix. i sat in the booth of a diner wearing sunglasses and moaning. chuck led me back to the hotel, hand propping me up at the armpit, concerned that the pumpkin beer had eroded the part of my brain that looks before crossing the street. i snoozed until 4:30 p.m. and tentatively made my way back into the world.



we began walking around: central park, times square, block after block after block.






near here we must have missed a celebrity sighting. a dozen people were buzzing into cell phones in a way that suggested a starlett.
"wha's she doin' wit dat guy?" said one bystander. "he must have a schwantz out to here! a pooooooorn stah!"
the word schwantz is so underrated.





somehow, in this grand city of new york, we had veered away from any sort of food. we wandered into an area where the occassional restaurant looked like just another pretty building where i could eat a plate filled with salmon tongues.




chuck began struggling with his footware. luckily there was a duane reade on every corner teeming with insoles for his screaming dogs.



just as cannibalism was beginning to sound acceptible, we found a small french restaurant in the murray hill area called serge. hoping there was more bredth to the menu than goat brains and stewed arachnids, we cautiously checked out the menu. i was immediately sold on the special: pumpkin ravioli with a goat cheese sauce.




this was so lick-your-plate good. not to mention the place was very charming, with a waiter who took a table of french patrons hostage, grunting and gurgling in their native tongue with animated gestures and beeping so we could all follow his story at the most basic level. when a woman at the table next to our's pulled out an honest-to-god fan and began breezing herself, the waiter came over, stood on a chair and wafted air toward her with a menu.
we also had chocolate mousse.



more walking.




one of the worst things about me is my inability to take photos. it seems like something i should be able to do at least on a passing level. this scene was so cool: big moon, chrysler building, wispy clouds. shakey hands, out of focus. this is actually the best photo i made. you should see the reject pile.



on this night we decided to go to the algonquin. drinking in literary history is expensive. when i told chuck that i'd never read any dorothy parker, he said: "that's like me never reading any bukowski." sold.


chuck's umpteen dollar manhattan, which he was surprised to find was made with seagrams seven.




for 17 dollars, i hoped my margarita contained the tears of a genuine mexican. it was tastey, this drink that costs the same as a month's worth of electricity in duluth, minnesota.


we arrived just in time for last call, so the bartender asked us to finish our drinks in the hotel lobby. ah, done! best news i had all day. although there was no sighting of the famed matilda, the hotel's live-in cat.



from there we wandered to another bar. the least-sports-bar-looking-sports bar in the history of sports bars. our waitress was a slinky russian woman who oozed like water from table to table. we sprawled out on the couch and didn't watch ESPN.




on tuesday we woke up relatively early so we could walk around some more. this is our room at the beekman tower and me in a shirt from the gap that makes me look a little like someone who would have a funny little talk show and marry portia derossi.




this shirt has ruffles.


our travels brought us to little italy, for the st. germain festival. pizza vendors, carnival games and a surprising amoung of mobster-celebrating. a tent entirely dedicated to the godfather I and II.
"well, i got the al capone one already," a teenaged boy said to his mother at a souvenir table.
chuck got the most fantastic slice of ricotta and pepperoni pizza.
i ogled canolli, but was still full from my second cheese omellette in two days.



taking the staten island ferry was about the best decision we had made in days. it was a relaxing little ride across water.


chuck catches the show.


obligatory shot of the city.


obligatory shot of the statue of liberty.

we learned that chuck klosterman would be reading from his new book just a subway ride away and decided to attend. i have complicated feelings about chuck klosterman that i try to explain each time his name crops up here on my site. i like him, technically. i like that he has found the level of success that he has. i think he is very smart, but the kind of smart where i don't want to get trapped trying to match wits with him at a party because i would lose. i tend to prefer his nonfiction to his fiction, but concede that his nonfiction is often writen in first person, which is not always necessary when, say, he is interviewing thom yorke. that said, i'll continue to read as much of his stuff that i can. i always feel like i am just one chance party from actually know-knowing him, as he knows many of my friends.



i spotted him a block before the bookstore.



"hey!" i said.
"hey!" he said.
"we're coming to see you!" i said.
"good!" he said.

i proceeded to ramble on and on and on about our one-degree of separation and how that one time after fargo rock city i'd sent him a very long email to which he responded with a very long email.

we parted ways with me feeling like a psycho stalking, word-gushing idiot. chuck klosterman is someone i, unfortunately, have not have a fake internal conversation with in my head to avoid such a strange and uncomfortable meeting.






we landed pretty deep in the crowd, snagging a seat on the carpet. klosterman read a chapter from his new novel and then opened things up for questions. when asked "would you ever teach in the US, and where would that ideally happen, he prefaced his answer with a long story that wound so far off track that i wondered if he'd forgotten the question. finally, he paused and said: so, in answer to your question, yeah.

thus proving exactly what i've always said about him.

i grabbed a book and got in line to get it signed. but first i saw rex from fimoculous and did another round of cheerleader-like antics that left me bright red. for some reason i forgot to say the words "from minnesota, too." or even "a blogger, too!" and so we shook hands awkwardly and i was so shaken by this stupid moment that it took me 10 minutes to realize i was the last person in line and that this line was not moving. i put the book back and we left. only at street level, when we had disappeared into that anonymous crowd, did my shame abate a bit.

it's hard being me. you probably don't know that i'm shy.


we went to five napkin burger, a restaurant in hell's kitchen and ate al fresco. one table away, a woman was loudly explaining the crapping habits of her new dog, right down to the texture and frequency. i could not tune her out. luckily, this burger was good enough that even her monologue couldn't ruin it.


bacon cheese burger, baby.


we found a bar in hell's kitchen and sat outside on barrels. i had an appletini.

on wednesday we had very little time for any sort of major entertainment. we ate pizza near the hotel, a take on the slice chuck had in little italy. this was so. damn. good. it made pizza man seems like it was made out of melted barbie dolls and iams weight control cat food.


... and not to mention pretty pizza.

our shuttle to the airport fell through so we took a car service. our driver seemed desperate to t-bone a school bus or at least trade paint with a cab. we arrived three hours early at laguardia, so i hunkered down with the wind-up bird chronicle and a backpack pillow.


i was getting bad glare from the sun.



chuck read the onion.

we got back to minneapolis around 11:45 p.m. and brother pista picked us up from the airport. next time we go for a week.

i'm back ...

... with all sorts of bad ideas involving my thighs incased in spandex and a pair of red cowboy boots and this town's lack of neon signage.

ps: totally forgot we have a cat. in the disappointed way.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

live from new york ...

so chuck and i are in new york city right now. manhattan to be precise. we're roaming the streets and drinking too much, just like we do in duluth except that here we sometimes fall into a pocket of space where everyone is speaking russian, spanish, french, or japanese.

we got here yesterday evening, walked around a bit, ate the worst food i've ever tasted and then at 9 p.m. considered going to sleep. but we powered through: no sleep the previous night? pshaw! go out! it's new york!
"lets have two drinks to celebrate being here and then come back to the hotel," chuck suggested.

we had about 90 drinks, made bffs with some locals and we must have come home at some point ... although i don't remember it specifically but i did wake up in my bed. at like 1:30. then i went back to bed. until 4:30. what a waste. oid. wasteoid.

THINGS LEARNED IN NY SO FAR:
1) just because it's a restaurant, in new york, doesn't mean your entree won't be disgusting.
2) hey. in the dark, that dresser looks like a toilet.
3) chuck is a navigational expert. like, seriously.
4) just because a bar stays open until 4 a.m. doesn't mean you should take last call.
5) central park is for lovers. and batshit crazy squirrels.
6) nothing unhinges repressed catholicism like st. patrick's cathedral. it smells just like st. pius x.
7) i should have worn my other shoes.
8) 24 hour korean market = happy cheese, bagal, banana and gatorade party.
9) sometimes a margarita costs 17 dollars and still tastes like a 5 dollar margarita.

Monday, September 15, 2008

untitled ...

MAKING FOODS

creamy herbed potato soup, from moosewood restaurant daily special cookbook: i'm obviously pushing the soup season a little early, considering we're still sleeping with a fan in the window. this is pureed and the addition of neufchatel gives it a smooth, whipped consistancy. mine turned a little green because i accidentally flooded it with dill.

MEALS TAKEN IN PUBLIC

takk for maten, salmon and havarti sandwich on grilled lefsa: henceforth all sandwiches should be wrapped in lefsa, which is potato flatbread pliant enough to origami into a salmon holder. this sandwich was pasted together with havarti. it was so good. it tasted like a gourmet sandwich that should cost twice as much as it did. the potato salad was so smooth it looked like a mound of sour cream with small chunks of baby reds and dill.
i went back a few days later for turkey, gouda and egg on lefsa and it was equally awesome. this new norwegian cafe is really cute and really comfortable and in a really good location and is so perfectly duluth. go there.

MOVIES
"smithereens" 1982: susan berman stars as a frizzy hair frazzled screecher who is trying to climb into the music industry in anklettes paired with high heels. "i just want to sit next to a pool and sign autographs," she muses in one her one contemplative moment of this cinematic disaster. while she's stalking a local musician, a self-described sketch artist who lives in a van has developed unrequited love for her based on a two minute subway ride where he watched her paste photocopied pictures of herself to the wall, using mustard as glue. the musician abuses her, she abuses van man. musician steals her money and moves to LA; van man sells his van to a pimp. our heroine wanders the streets of new york with two shopping bags filled with her belongings, an 8-inch tv set and a pair of red converse high tops. this is the worst movie i've ever seen, although it seems to have influenced "desperately seeking susan," which is far from the worst movie i've ever seen.

"fierce people" 2005: this time we won at on-demand roulette, scoring the greatest movie i'd never heard of and sparking an interest running for president of the donald sutherland fan club. it's one of those "coming of age" stories about a 15-year-old boy and his mom and a summer spent among rich people and is very light and john irviney -- right down to the adult male with a situation in his nethers. then, suddently, the entire movie shifts into something completely different and tragic and horrifying. but this is so good. i highly recommend this movie. plus, it's nice to see that the girl from the jodie foster movie "panic room" advanced beyond that awkward gender neutral skateboarder look.

TV TALKIN'
"one tree hill": this show defies the logic of television in two ways: a) every episode feels longer than an hour. because b) something ALWAYS happens. it's never just a filler episode. someone always gets mugged or dies or ends up shackled to a bed, held captive by a sexy albeit psychotic nanny. this is the second straight week that i've actually wept for these sassy 20-somethings.

"america's next top model": this is only my third season watching ANTM -- although it is admittedly the highlight of my week in tv. but are they taking mtv real world castoffs this season or what? this season could be called "america's next top infection." poor tyra.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

queen of the castle ...

on thursday chuck and i drove down to the roseville mall so chuck could get a new laptop. he wanted to drive to the apple store instead of making the purchase from some blue-shirt named chad. we spent a relatively short amount of time between duluth and hinckley trying to decide how we were going to approach the white castle attached to the little store off the highway. chuck didn't seem interested. i was talking a good talk.

"no way," i said unconvincingly.
white castle is my favorite restaurant.

we had to stop at that gas station anyway so i could get something to drink and there was that white castle smell: onions, pig hide and crisco. deeee-lish. it smells exactly the same before it goes in, as it does when it dribbles out. particularly if it comes out in a high-traffic porta-potty in mid-august.

typically at a white castle i like to order two jalapino cheese burgers, cheese sticks and chicken rings for dessert.

on thursday i just grabbed myself a red g-2, avoided eye contact with the menu board, and made a beeline for the safety of the car. a virtual pope mobile in the face of the white castle's bullets of temptation.

we had just merged back onto the highway when i smelled something so awful that it could only be a crave case. "did you burp?" i asked chuck. "no," he said.

and that's when i realized that i'd gotten white castle smell in my hair.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

capillary recovery time [my day in photos] ...


prologue
chuck has taken to calling toonses "t-bag." t-bag has taken to using his tiny rat face as a ballpeen hammer every morning at 6 a.m. before we go to bed, we prop 15 pounds of spare change against the door to "lock" it. unfortunately, t-bag weighs upward of 20 pounds. he has a 20 foot runway that starts in the living room. i can hear his pitter-patter pitter-pattering more quickly, then wham. headbutt. when he gets the door open, he peeks inside and screams:

WAAAAAAHHHHWAWAWAAAAAAHHHH!

it's like he has been watching "the shining."

he wants me to get up and watch him eat. this morning i followed him into the living room and he led me to his food dish [which was full]. if i don't watch him, he goes crazy. if i do, he simply nibbles away at his iams weight control content at the audience.

after this morning's show, i popped a soy sleep II and went back to bed. having a cat that has the exact same personality as me is only charming sometimes. i need to buy him a helmet.


i wake to beeps that indicate the coffee pot has been idle for an hour. this means chuck has consumed an entire pot of coffee. this means i'm going to have to grab him by the lapels and rip him from the ceiling.

i crawl toward the red room and read the internet in it's entirety and school everyone i know at word twist on facebook.



it's time to get serious with some errand running. the chalk board is a dusty mess of needed supplies. namely, toilet paper. cannot function without it. [i like to wear my jeans more than one day in a row between washings.]



i put on my favorite errand-running outfit, and leave list in hand.



i stop in at a new norweigan cafe on lake avenue -- takk for maten -- that my friend the norweigan wonder has been pimping pretty hard. it's adorable, with sandwiches made from my favorite cheeses and served on lefsa.

i snag the choicest seat in the house, a hightop in the window where i can pretend to be a live mannequin. or a puppy.



on mesaba avenue i see a strange waving movement out of the corner of my eye. it's a guy on a motorcycle with tiger ears taped to the top of his helmet, a tiger tail taped to the back.

i follow a school bus up central entrance and at a stoplight near cub foods, a dude driving a green chevy gives the kids in the back seat the finger.

target is a treat. the bathroom smells like baby aspirin, so i kick back and chill a bit in my stall until i realize there is something a little unsanitary about a bathroom that smells edible. i leave.

i am trying to find a birthday card for ma pista. i find that it is almost impossible to find a "funny" card that doesn't include a fart joke.


holy crap! someone better do something about tivo STAT! gossip girl, one tree hill, 90210 ... it's obvious that chuck won't be up to the task of cleaning it out. so i settle into the couch, taking one for the team.


eventually it becomes necessary for me to go for a run. when i get to the ymca, i realize i've forgotten my water bottle. and while the woman on the treadie next to me will surely emit enough sweat to keep me hydrated, i decide to hit the vending machine for liquid that doesn't disgust me.

i push E5 for the fruit punch flavor, but in the small print, function brainiac carambola punch promises boost my memory so i can find my car keys. AND IT IS ONLY 2 DOLLARS!



i run enough to coat my body in a layer of silt and threw glares at my treadie partner who had put the turned the fan to blow directly on her with absolutely no oscillation. i bow out of my run right after the song "true faith" by new order, guzzle brainiac and find my keys right where i thought they were: in my PURSE! of all places.

this is what i look like after a run. sort of what i'd look like if i was a seventh-grade girl and just got pantsied in front of the eighth-grade boys basketball team. this red-face business is exactly why if i am ever in a beauty pagent, my talent cannot be running. my capillary recory time is my weakness.



back home for homerun pizza, chocolate soy milk and america's next top model.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

those judgey blue hairs ...

today i was running mysteriously early for a meeting with girl talk on treadie 2 at the ymca. i like to consider this my treadmill, the one directly in front of the dangling television permanently jammed on espn.

to the casual human sprinkler tossing sweat, snot and spit on everything within a ear-shot of her clomping stride, it probably looks like i'm watching baseball. not-so, oh-porous-vessel-of-bodily-fluid. i've learned the hard way that i can't watch people run bases while i'm running on treadmill. i lose track of which foot i'm on and tend to try to match joe mauer's stride. i end up dizzy and hanging on the handrails, the dance of a woman who has gotten tangled in a dog leash. without the dog. without the leash. no, i'm looking through the tv, watching my own reflection. i swear i can see myself getting faster. it's a good show.

as i neared the community center near my old apartment, i remembered that today was a day for voting and ditched into the parking lot, narrowly avoiding a collision with a bingo-ink stained snowbabies collector and her limping paramour, whose shirt looked like he'd used it as a coffee filter.

i was home. i hurried inside and inhaled deeply: ah, yes. campbells chicken and stars and band aids.

i love voting.

an election judge championing an applique wolf scene across her f-cups took my last name, referred to me as "christina" and said: are you still living at blah blah blah, apartment 2?
i paused.
no? i asked.
oh ... she frowned.
i just moved, i said. like literally just moved.
like a few days ago? she asked.
well ... more like ... within the month, i lied.
oh ... she frowned.

here another election judge chimed in. i could tell she was the higher-paid volunteer because she was sitting on a stool, meaning the other minions had to peer up at her over the top of their trifocals for the final word.

"no way," was judge judy's verdict.
"against the law," the wolf whisperer responded adamantly.

another woman chimed in asking for proof of my new address:
id? she asked.
nooo ... i said slowly. in fact, my id is three addresses old, but i can't part with it because it lists a weight i prefer.
utility bill? she asked.
well, i moved into my boyfriend's place, i explained. the bills were already in his name. what about a new yorker subscription?
they shook their heads in unison, neck folds rippling like old glory outside of perkins.

could your boyfriend vouch for you? one driftwood sculpter asked.
he's at work, i said.
after work, then? she suggested.
he works until after the polls are closed, i explained.

sometimes when i tell the truth for too many sentences in a row, it starts to sound like i'm lying. like there is no boyfriend and certainly no new yorker. i'm just some chippy with a ranger rick subscription from thunder bay, ontario who took a greyhound to duluth so i could go all no. 2 pencil on an oval next to roger reinert's name.

i stood in front of the card table o'judgement for another second, trying to think of a way to explain to these heavies that this wasn't even a real election and that i should get an 'i voted' sticker by virtue of showing up for their poorly attended party. instead i just left.

Monday, September 8, 2008

full review here ...

last week was excellent. it started with a surprise visit from my teeny tiny friend lil latrell and then the week gentley moved toward my power weather: 50-something degress and/or rain. plus i got the greatest pair of sweatpants, and managed to find a pair that don't say something trashy splashed across the butt. we found two great movies on on demand and i've decided to only write about tv shows when i actually have something to say.

wee! onward.

MEALS TAKEN IN PUBLICA
the chicken quesadilla at chester creek cafe can actually be held like a piece of pizza without sagging sadly and barfing tomato and chicken chunks onto your plate.

chester creek cafe, chicken quesadilla: i think that if you are a chicken quesadilla person, your tongue has gotten bored, fat and lazy. chicken quesadillas represent a lack of creativity and an acceptance of a flimsy doughy food, stuffed with dirty grill debris.

that said, the chicken quesadilla at chester creek cafe won me over with the words "sun dried tomato" and "avacado" on the menu. i'd just woken, so i decided to dabble in nonoffensive applebees fare while my tum-tum sparked to life.

wrong. this quesadilla is made of a sort of light and flakey pastry. the chicken was so fresh, so not-canned, and cooked to such a perfect whiteness that it looked and tasted like it had just been surgically removed from a fresh kill. a fresh kill that had been allowed to freely roam on a very wholesome farm where it was showered everyday, buffed dry and fed brocolli. this chicken probably never even took a shit and if it did, it looked at the ground and said with a british accent: oops, it appears i've shat. and the sundried tomatoes ... gah. i'm a convert.



thai krathong, drunken noodles: this best-food-in-the-world is not on the menu at our local thai restaurant. it's written in flourecent ink on the special board behind the host stand nearly every day.

drunken noodles are the spiciest food i've ever eaten. "you're eyes are watering," chuck noted. "your lips are bright red," he added. "you just steeled yourself before you bit into that mini corncob," he laughed.

i love drunken noodles. as we walked home after dinner i was full and firey. i imagined five thai men sitting in my stomach around a bonfire having a sweat out, passing a giant stick and talking about feelings.

MOVIES!
breakin' 2 electric bugaloo 1984: in the 24 years since i last saw this movie i'd forgotten that it is a musical and that the bicurious cast dresses in geranimals. the plot line is a bit flawed: neighborhood kids must break dance their way toward 200,000 dollars to save their community center from the evil clutches of the city government. seems like a community center wouldn't require private funding ...? they learn a valuable lesson in: in times of adversity, a dance-off usually solves the problem. i'm going to say this was a better movie when i was nine.

foxes, 1980: jodie foster, with the face of a 14 year old girl and a body suggesting menapause, is a troubled teen with troubled teenaged friends -- particularly annie, who's hair has the most righteous natural feather to it. adults talk like characters in a tennessee williams play and the whole thing is a little uncomfortable to watch.

BEEN READING
"the night of the gun" by david carr: There are so few ways to deviate from the addiction memoir outline, short of posthumous publication. The plot lines are easy, like a murder mystery or a romance novel. Your hero is a drunk/junkie/bulimic/sex addict. Your hero faces a lifestyle change in which the options are extreme: change vs. death. Your hero dusts himself off [typically more than once], washes his hair, excavates the past for meaning and and writes something intelligible about how at one point he poked drugs into his eyeball and seemingly assaulted a cab driver — according to police reports. Now he writes for the NY Times.

see full review here.

"what i talk about when i talk about running" by haruki murakami: Haruki Murakami’s novella-sized memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is part passive-aggressive self-help, part stream of consciousness journal-writing. Plotwise, he writes about training for the 2005 New York City Marathon and struggling with the limitations of his body as he gets older. He throws in occassional memories of how he started running at age 33 and the day he was simply a bar owner sitting at a baseball game and decided he wanted to write a novel.

The whole thing is really simple, common sensey and above all else charming.

full review here.

WATCHING TEENS CAVORT ON THE TELE:

"90210" henceforth to be known as 9021-NO. although i'd missed rob estes since silk stalkings went off the air, rendering usa network simply gilbert godfrey's tomb. anyway, i'm giving this six-to-eight weeks to develop into something that doesn't look like a SNL skit, but only because i have redeveloped some loyalty to jennie garth since "what i like about you" came into my tivo.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

pursed ...


tonight at pizza luce i took the opportunity of leisure to clean out my purse. chuck got me an ID case for my birthday [shining in the lower right beneath a business card from the northern waters smokehaus] yet a few days ago i had to fumble for my ID because i'd not yet committed to the case.

the pile to the far left is the keeper pile: some hippie gum [cinnamon flavor], a notebook filled with books i want to read from a quaint period before i found the amazon wish list, and "the wind-up bird chronicles" because when i'm waiting for something -- anything, actually -- i like to read. and i always end up waiting for something.

the middle pile is the throw-away pile: atm receipts, an old birth control shell, envelopes for a birthday cards from my grandma pista and lil latrell. a beaten down pack of instant oatmeal [apple cinnamon] because i am always always always afraid that i will wind up hungry somewhere. but this has gotten gross.

the right side is also keepers. important keepers. for instance, did you know you can call northern waters smokehaus and ask if they can make you a sitka sushi sandwish before you drive there? just learned that. parking in canal park is a lot like ... i'm not clever enough for a comparison right now. trust me: if you can do it without casting plastic surgery onto a skateboarder or some blue tooth tube steak from minnehaha, it probably means you know how to teletransport. worth it for the sandwish, but if they're out? you just ruined your not-yet-imprisoned year for nothing!

up in the center right is my michelob golden draft light. i've ceased drinking tasty beers in favor of low-cal beers. why?! because at the end of the night, i like to know that i've saved myself upward of 400 calories and had just as much fun. good beer is great! if i ever become a beer snob with penchant toward moderation, i'll drink those brews. but me? i still like a buzz. not enough to stop going out, but enough to say: the smaller the belly puff, the better.

blue moon? i'll see you in 2020!

not pictured: a tampon that became unwrapped in my purse. this happens often. what is it about an unwrapped tampon that is so disgusting? and does gagging about it make me not a feminist?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

hold on loosely ...


this is not .38 special.

despite not being able to name a single .38 special song, chuck and i walked downtown for their free concert tonight outside of fond-du-luth casino. fond-du-luth casino is the lawless home of the steaming microwaved meatball baguette sandwich. the radius of the block is humid with the smell of dirty quarters and marlboros.

every .38 special song chuck could think of was actually by loverboy.
i remembered slow-swaying in junior high to some sort of "dah, DUH! needs a second chance" something or other that was probably by .38 special.

a band was playing when we hit the hot spot. and there were people: it looked like a six greyhound buses filled with carnies had been belched out onto superior street. a makeshift dance floor had been cordoned off, and inside a woman performed alone with some moves i recognized from a classic jane fonda workout tape, and infused with an occasional sun salutation. soon after another woman joined her, breaking into jumping jacks.

one by one, people broke away from the idle crowd to dance. it was like watching a charles manson recruiting film, these dancers all wide-eyed and seizuring. not a full set of teeth in the bunch. "all i can smell is peppermint schnapps," chuck whispered. word. if i closed my eyes i could channel the second floor of ireland hall the morning of a tommie-johnnie football game in 1995.

a man in front of me turned around and spit in my eyeball as he exclamed:
"I LOVE THEIR TAPE!"

i started to get the feeling that this wasn't .38 special. this was a warm up band with pretty vanilla stage banter, an acrobatic piano player, and a gaggle of fans who will never know the summery pleasure of corn on the cob. i couldn't stop gawking: at the office workers sitting in their windows guzzling mike's hard lemonade, at the souvenir table with new t'shirts for a vintage band, at chuck who had this look on his face ...

"i have no idea what's going on here," he said.

we left soon after.


this was supposed to be a photo of my new sweatpants

up all night ...

i'm told that my parents used to find me sitting in the hallway playing with a doll when they went to bed every night after johnny carson.

in elementary school i'd wait until the house had stopped rustling, flip my lamp on and read a christopher pike or mary higgins clark in a single sitting while everyone slept.

in high school i crept into the family room to watch mtv in the dark, jumping onto the couch whenever a car drove past, wondering if a boy was going to knock on my window or do a one-ringer, the code to call him back. [this happened often enough that it was always a distinct possability, but not often enough to justify the nervous tick.]

after 3 a.m. rollerblading, general campus wandering or sitting on benches near the arches off summit avenue smoking menthols and talking smart, a handful of girls told me that no one wanted to be my roommate sophomore year because i stayed up too late.

once, when fannie and i lived together, i was hanging out with my friend teemo in our living room long after she had called it a night, and she yelled from her bedroom: shut up your big dumb laugh!

for my first few years in duluth, i'd crawl back to my apartment well past sun up. afterbars lasted until we had cashed a family-sized serving of cheeseburger hamburger helper and commuter traffic had drizzled down to nothing.

after that i went back to reading all night, tearing through two or three books a week. squinting at the final chapter around 11 a.m., scorching my stomach with a pot of coffee, sometimes making eggs, deciding to just stay awake for the day -- then crashing around noon with my legs still bouncing from the caffeine.

when i met chuck, he was also going the distance. our dates ended late-late-late, and even now we are typically up until about 4 a.m.

chuck has kept traditional business hours this week. passing out tonight just 39 minutes into a movie, even before the 10 p.m. news. exactly the kind of behavior we both think is hilarious.

i'm doing nothing. i emptied tivo of the things he doesn't watch, i've read half a book. i flipped through a magazine and found a pair of cute boots online. i attacked my google reader, catching people's updates within seconds of being posted. i read some more of that book and had another whole meal. i've consumed about 96 ounces of water in the past six hours, and flushed about 80. i've googled "how many ounces of fluid does a bladder hold?" and estimated appropriately.

left to my own devices, i seem incapable of putting myself down for the night.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

welcome, spawn of hollister ...

the other day i watched the spawn of hollister move into our neighborhood. it was a wholesome vision, really. he had apparently followed his parents to town in a hand-me-down jeep cherokee, yanking a rickety trailer filled with ... hell, who knows? an electric guitar, a bullhorn, a custom-made beer pong table tricked out with christmas lights, a case of code red mountain dew, axe body spray, beef jerkey and back issues of maxim -- if i had to guess.

his mom and dad and little brother unpacked the trailer and when i tried to drive past hollister politely shut the car door so i could eke through. and i thought: aw, how nice.

unfortunately, hollister is moving into the demon house across the street. and if i know that address -- which i do because it's the channel i turn to when i need something a little more real than reality tv -- the second i can't see his mom in my rear view mirror he is going to crack about 35 grain belt premiums and decide he hates the face of one of his party guests. that address brings out the crazy. even in the most pedestrian of b-average seeking, jv-varsity football quitting, parents-blaming-the-coach-and-petitioning-for-his-firing, eva-mendez-drooling, country-club-caddying, high-school-junior-girlfriend-having business major with a spanish minor.

the street is going to become engorged in some sort of two-backed beast display of ultimate fighting, the likes of which hasn't been seen since menudo's last slumber party. he's never going to get the stains out of that shirt.

i know these things.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

a lesson for the ages ...

so i was only 45 minutes late for my birthday party -- which was a display of athleticism in itself. because at about 7 p.m., when i bumbled from bed still wretching and heaving and trying to make ammends with my spleen i was pretty sure that i'd not be able to sit upright long enough to get carted from duluth to superior, wisconsin.

some time around 3 p.m. i'd woken long enough to point to a shirt i wanted on the internet, and chuck found it for me at the gap.

know what's gross? mich ultra light on a rancid stomach that is already stewing. i basically had to chew my beer to gag it down.

then lil latrell made a surprise visit. from lawrence, kansas, to superior, wisconsin for the party. weeee!

finally i ramped up a bit. then i ramped up some more.


this is my favorite photo of the night. seadawg and beegee singing "hound dog." beegee was the surprise karaoke hero of the night with a very patsy cline twang that easily segues into blondie. nicely played, friend.



here i am with my friend blitz. he doesn't seem to sing.



chuck performed fantastically: some snoop dogg, some britney spears. he has a fantastic repretoire.

poor litrell drove nine hours to spend all day yesterday sitting on the couch. i stayed in my pjs all day and played game after game of super mario brothers. chuck picked up food from the brewhouse. then more super mario brothers. i took a break just to watch an episode of "what i like about you" and then went to bed at midnight.

today we had lunch at chester creek cafe.




let this be a lesson to you all: NO PREPARTIES! a birthday need only be a one day affair!

next up: reading, knitting and church going and bread making and cat petting. who's up for a crossword puzzle?