Monday, May 26, 2008

Friday's (late) Feast


What is the nearest big city to your home?

Chicago. Sprawling, wonderful, intricate, lovely Chicago.


On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how well do you keep secrets?

Pretty well. Of course, about 40% of the time I forget I even know the secrets I'm told. The fact is, people tell me secrets, and then it turns out the secrets aren't interesting at all, so I forget about them almost immediately.

I'm pretty good about keeping the juicy ones, though.


Describe your hair (color, texture, length).

It's brown, ramrod straight, falling past my shoulders. Nothing useful can be done with it. Whatever you try, it just straightens itself right out again. Color from the home coloring kits won't stay in it, neither will curls or clips. It's obnoxious.

Main Course

What kind of driver are you? Courteous? Aggressive? Slow?

I am the only person in the tri-state area who knows how to drive. I have a news flash for you bitches: at a four-way stop, the right of way goes like this:

1. People turning right.
2. People going straight.
3. People turning left.

So the next time I'm turning left and you just sit there staring at me, don't look all shocked when I cuss you out.

Other than four-way stops, I'm pretty laid back. I cuss at people a lot, but I'm not aggressive. I like to play cribbage on license plates. I let people in to "re-shuffle" my hand.


When was the last time you had a really bad week?

Early April, whenever that trip to St. Louis was. That was pretty awful. But my noggin is finally all healed up!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

We don’t need no education

I read an article today talking about how education isn't look at as a way to broaden your horizons so much as it is a way to stay out of minimum wage jobs.

Part of it said:

"Most of their talks inspire, but many have also adopted an underlying message that links education, graduation, and material success. It's a message that unwittingly reduces the worth of an education to the expected wages it can bring. It sees tuition not as a ticket to a liberated mind but as a down payment on future income. In our excitement for the graduates, we've put the emphasis in the wrong place."

Look, this is 2008. It has been years since I've met anybody who wants to actually debate an issue. Everybody I meet thinks that any issue more serious than the latest episode of "Lost" is boring, or they have an interest in the important topics but lack the ability to debate. They just want to yell.

I've been working on my 2-year degree for three years now. I didn't want to go to college for the learning; I wanted to go to college so I could get a job that didn't involve cleaning toilets. That's it.

The art of debate and the importance of democratic debate are lost on our citizens. Basically, nobody gives a shit.

Why do you think gay marriage is suddenly being talked about again? Because nobody really thinks about real issues, and everybody understands gay marriage. It's a valid way to win voters.

Why does Congress keep calling the heads of the big oil companies up to discuss gas prices, and then not doing anything about it? Well, if you were bothering to learn all you can about the situation, you would know that these prices are being driven by investors who have no place else to put their money.

On May 6th, oil prices went up based solely on the speculation that oil prices would go up. What the hell does the oil company have to do with any of that? Nothing. That's big business. Wall Street, free trade.

If you bothered to use your education and the resources around you, you would notice that nearly every day the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P are down, even though nearly every day the price of oil hits a new high. The other stocks are falling fast, and oil is the only sure thing around. Congress - college graduates, all of them - should know this. This parade of oil tycoons is frivolous and pointless, and they know it. But they're banking on us to vote for them because they called the oil execs in to talk to them. Because none of us really uses anything we've learned to find out what a bunch of morons Congress takes us for.

Everybody living in poverty now who is thinking "man I really wish I could afford college" isn't going to college to learn about Schrodinger's cat, world history, or the Pythagorean Theorem - they're going so they can make money and get out of poverty.

When a kid brings home a bad report card, the parents say "What about college?" Not because they're concerned that Junior is going to vote for the wrong politician, but because they're concerned that Junior will never get a job and move out.

We are a country built on capitalism. We love it, we embrace it. We are addicted to it. We love our credit cards and our shiny electronics and our fast cars. All we want is more toys. We have no interest in the goings on around the world unless it's dirty laundry or dead people. This is why we know a lot about the lives of the members of the Royal Family, but most of us don't know how to find Myanmar on a map. And the only reason we are bothering to wonder where Myanmar is is because there are a lot more dead people there lately.

So yes, we go to school for the wrong reasons. We retain little, if anything, of what we learn there. But we get our degrees and buy our toys and raise our kids to go to college so that they, in turn, can buy nice things. This shouldn't be surprising. If we could make more money any other way we would. An education is the next best thing to a guaranteed higher income.

Look at all the people will college educations who can't even grasp the difference between "there," "their," and "they're," people who don't know what's wrong with the sign that says "10 items or less," and people who think Benjamin Franklin was a President are making more money than me. Why? Because they have a degree. They don't really know anything, they just have a degree. And they're doing great.

This is America. We don't need no education; we just want to be able to afford our rock n roll lifestyle.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Intro to Introverts

"Introvert" is defined as "a person who tends to shrink from social contacts and to become preoccupied with their own thoughts."

That's what I do. Some people mistake it for being shy, but it's not the same. See, when you're shy, you really want to meet new people and talk to strangers who seem interesting, but you're scared to. With introverts, we don't really want to meet those people or talk to those strangers. Hell, even people we know and like aren't always people we want to talk to.

For introverts, hell is having to talk to people at breakfast. For introverts, small talk is a form of torture that should be covered under the Geneva Convention.

We don't hate you, and we are not being anti-social. We're just a special shade of indifferent. We prefer thoughtful silence to constant yammering.

Yes, we get bored of it and we go out. On occasion we can fake it and make it look like we are not the social retards you've known us to be. And then we run home and spend hours by ourselves doing whatever we please, and reveling in it.

We are not the wallflowers who are wishing people would come over and talk to us, we are the wallflowers who are enjoying watching other people talk. It's not that we have nothing to contribute or nothing to talk about - no, quite the opposite. I will sit and talk about some subjects with total strangers til I'm blue in the face. Chicago history is one of those subjects. So is juicy gossip. But sitting around talking about the weather or stocks or other boring things, well, I tend to tune that out. And if you want to make me hate you, then by all means let's start a deep discussion about spirituality or our feelings.

Alone is not the same as lonely. If I wanted company, I would call people and go see those people. And I'm not just staring blankly into space when you do corral me into going out, I am pondering things that I don't feel like explaining.

I'm not being uppity or elitist, I just...well, I just don't feel sociable. That's a pretty basic explanation of introversion. I'm not depressed or upset or in need of special attention, I just am not a big talker around people I hardly know, and I have no interest in entertaining people.

I don't go out on Friday nights. By 5:30 Friday afternoon I basically can't stand anybody. I have talked politely to every moron, cheapskate, and lunatic that has walked past my desk. Of course there are nice people who come to my desk, but these respites are brief and only make the slack-jawed morons seem more unbearable. There is a very short list of people I would even bother to pick up the phone for on a Friday night, and most of those people know better than to call me when they get off work.

That's not to say I just sit home and stare at the walls. Sometimes I go downtown, or go for a walk or a drive. I can be okay in a crowd where nobody knows me, because nobody will strike up a banal conversation with me. I can't be out with people I know and like, who know and like me, because they will expect me to be chatty and sociable, and I just don't have that in me by the end of the week.

It's how introverts are.

So don't be offended if we don't come out very often. Don't get huffy when we leave your party early or turn down invitations to just hang out. Don't get all upset when we do come out and we don't have much to say. It's just who we are.

And face it, you wouldn't have us any other way.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Goodbye, June! Hello, teen angst!

My mom's coming to stay with me June 6-28. This is kind of a big deal. She's in town for a series of three classes she has to take to keep her law license current and it's easier to just stay with me instead of flying back and forth three times. Yeah, she's a lawyer. And that's the least of my problems.

See, my mom's crazy. Now hold on, I know you're thinking, "No, MY mom is crazy!" but seriously, my mom is nuts. Level two borderline personality nuts, according the shrink she used to share with my sister. And she's in a cult. By "cult" I mean group of people who make sure only certain people are allowed in the group, and the group is insane. The cult, among other things, doesn't like the colors red, black, orange, and grey. When one of their flock fell over at a restaurant after Temple, they prayed for his ascension (read: death) as he lay there with his heart attack and his new found faith. They don't eat meat (Mom's a vegan), they don't like "bad" music and movies. By "bad" I'm not talking about Lords of Acid and "Debbie Does Dallas," though those certainly count as well. I mean shit like "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Stand by Me." I tried to watch "Stand by Me" with her when I was in high school and she had a panic attack about ten minutes into the movie.

Oh yeah, did I mention the panic attacks? The screaming, crying, throwing things, punching herself in the head panic attacks? The Joan Collins ("no wire hangers!"), gut-wrenching, always-ends-in-suicide-threats-or-a-pity-party panic attacks. She's anemic, too, so when she's hungry these come out in full force.

Oh, her medication? She won't take any. It's against her fucking religion. She also thinks I'm a straight up bitch for asking her to get help. Her current living situation is in my sister's basement that she shares with my sister's eight year old daughter, and the rest of the house is occupied by my sister's other two kids, my sister, and my sister's boyfriend. That house is too small for her drama. She doesn't have a job, though she finally had an inteview last week. It went well.

She still sometimes thinks of me as the lying, mischievous brat I was when I was a kid, when we last lived under the same roof. She didn't get the memo that I grew up, that I know now what I didn't know then, and that I'm well aware of the things that I still don't know. She doesn't say this, she doesn't have to. She's my mom, I know what she's thinking.

She cries at everything. Part of the problem with her coming in is that I have to hide all the stuff that will make her cry. This includes books (Palahniuk, Bukowski, "History of the Devil," etc), music (Lords of Acid, Frank Zappa, Johnny Cash), and DVDs (all the horror movies, the "Arrested Development" set, "Harold and Maude"). I have to hide the red carpet I was going to put by my bed. I already bought a blue comforter for her, since she can't use my orange or red ones.

My siblings don't do this for her. They just do whatever the hell they want and if she can't handle it, it's her problem. We all know she's crazy, and they are always surprised when she acts like she's crazy. Then, when it comes time to have a Serious Talk, she's already wound up and nobody can get through to her.

Me, I like to pick my battles. For the month of June, my battles won't be about "Rocky Horror Picture Show" and "Joe's Garage." I won't come home to find my mother has "accidentally" spilled something on my red rug and threw it out. I won't reach for "Ham on Rye" in mid-July and wonder where it's gone.

We are going to have Serious Talks. We are going to answer the questions "What the fuck do you think you're doing?" and "Why do you think it's appropriate to act like that?"

And that's the part that really gets me down. I don't want to have those talks with my mom. I don't like seeing that look of disappointment that I always brought to her face when I was a kid.

I didn't get the good part of her when I was growing up. I didn't get the carefree era of regular paychecks and a steady boyfriend. I grew up so clenched up and stressed out that I started to just tune her out, tune everybody out. In high school, when my brother was off at college in Alaska and my sister was off married to the wrong man, I got a little bit of Good Mom. She introduced me to classic movies, something I have and will always be grateful for. She showed faith in me, and never once said "Oh, you can't do that," when I wanted to try my hand at anything.

When I was eighteen and my left leg was gripped in unfathomable pain, she held me and cried with me and tried to feel my pain for me, tried to share my burden. She held my hand when we walked down the street and didn't pity me when I was doubled over in pain, walking with my hands down around my ankles because standing up straight was excruciating. She didn't make a big deal about the tears I watched drip off the end of my nose and land - splat - on my oh-so-hip Doc Martens.

I didn't get Good Mom when I was growing up. I got her when I was seventeen, eighteen years old and had her all to myself. I got her when everything was going so wrong in each of our lives, when the world kept hitting each of us separately with the one-two punch of real life and real loss.

My brother and sister didn't get that Mom. They didn't stick around to see how it turned out. That's the Mom I want back, the one who gave me Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and "The Universe Song." That's the mom I'm packing up my stuff for, that's the mom I want to have here in June. Yes, there will be Serious Talks, and there will be crying and fighting. But for a few days at least (hopefully, most of the days), there will be "Operation Petticoat" and "Meet Me in St. Louis." There will be sewing lessons and family stories and (dare I say?) cooking lessons. There will be my mom, my secret mom that my brother and sister never had the patience to know. All this for a month of doing without some of my favorite things.

And to me, that's a bargain.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Friday's Feast


What was your favorite cartoon when you were a child?
Oh, there were so many. I loved Scooby-Doo until an incident with my kindergarten teacher that was inexplicably embarassing. She pointed out that "Maggie" (the name I went by then) rhymed with "Shaggy," and giggled in such a way that made it clear that she was making fun of me. Bitch.

I liked Thundercats, Transformers, She-Ra, and Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman figured into my Plans for Being a Grown Up. (These plans, in my mind, deserved capital letters.) I was going to marry Maxwell Smart, and I knew this just as surely as I knew Monday followed Sunday. We were going to live in the city, and we would live next door to the A-Team, and Wonder Woman and I were going to Hang Out and be Best Friends and she was going to be nice to me. (This cofession, whispered at the tender age of six to my favorite great-uncle, was met with a grave and understanding nod and best wishes to my future marriage. This is why he was my favorite uncle - he never laughed at my dreams.)


Pretend you are about to get a new pet. Which animal would you pick, and what would you name it?

I nearly got two parakeets this week. They were offered - along with a cage, bowls, toys, and food - on Freecycle on Thursday. I sat at my desk and daydreamed about having two little parakeets, teaching them to say "I pity the fool" and "Psht bitch please." After a doctor staying in the hotel stopped by my desk to bitch about the price of the internet, I added "I gots to get paid, son!" to the list. I would name them Laurel and Hardy, and teach them to sing along when I played my uke. (There was a lot of time for daydreaming on Thursday.)

I looked up what it took to take care of them, and the grand plans for Laurel and Hardy flew the coop, if you'll pardon the expression.

I don't want another cat, they tear things up. I'd love a dog, but my place is too small. Fish are boring, I have a poor history with hamsters and gerbils, and I would never find anyone who would take care of a pet lizard if I went out of town.

So, I started small. My neighbor and I went to the Garfield Park Conservatory today; they were having a sale on herbs and flowers. I got a little geranium that smells like lemon. I named her Gladys and plan to get her a hanging pot tomorrow. If I can make this work, I might try fish next. Wish me luck.


On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how much do you enjoy getting all dressed up for a special occasion?

Ok, here's the thing about me dressing up. I am always the most inappropriately dressed person around. From weddings to court dates to just regular dates, I am always over dressed, under dressed, or just wrongly dressed. I can't get fashion; dumb-ass me always takes into consideration things like "Well there's no way I'm going to make it tonight in shoes like that," and the outfit sullenly follows.

I would love to get dressed up, but there's no place to go and I would do it wrong anyway, so rating this a 10 would be moot.

Main Course

What kind of music do you listen to while you drive?

Depends on my mood. I like loud music, though, so I don't zone out and forget to turn when I should.


When was the last time you bought a clock? And in which room did you put it?

I don't remember exactly, but it was probably a CD player/radio/alarm clock and I put it in the bathroom. I like to listen to the radio when I'm taking a shower before bed, and in the morning when I'm getting ready. I don't have one in there now, though. Instead, I torment my neighbors with my atrocious singing at night and in the morning I listen to the news from the bedroom.

That came out wrong. Well, you know what I mean.