Friday, May 29, 2009
(It reads: “And then I come home and look at a photo of dear Eleanor Roosevelt wearing an improbable yet wonderful hat. Where does courage come from? I call my aunt in Israel. She is 92. And I ask her, “What is the most important thing?” And she answers, “Self-confidence.”)
Her most recent post, "At Ease," was a little bit of a disappoint to me for reasons I can't really pinpoint—maybe because it feels like, to a degree, she's lumping all soldiers into one tiny box? I'm not sure. But it was of particular interest to me because my brother Tom will be returning to Afghanistan for his second tour later this summer. Wonder what he'd think about it?
Either way, I think she's clever. Check it out.
Wrong. I slept through it.
Something is wrong with me.
I've come up with a couple of solutions:
- I hire a large man to throw me out of my bed every morning. If that large man would also make me breakfast and wash my dishes, that would be ideal.
- I train Layla and Mufasa to perform a song and dance every morning. You know, like in Cinderella.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
And I still don't have a helmet. On second thought, I probably should get a full suit of armor if I really expect to ride a 3-speed Schwinn around Chicago.
But seriously, I think I need a helmet. I'm terrified.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
This is what will be playing:
Okay, now that I've bored you with the soundtrack of my life today...in other news:
- I finished In Cold Blood by Truman Capote this morning. I'm appalled that I just now read this masterpiece. Incredible. Read it. Now.
- BOO to you, California. How long is it going to take to give gay men and women their equal rights as human beings?
- And last, but not least: Eileen had her baby today! I can't wait to meet Baby Carapia. Congrats to Eileen and Aron!
Friday, May 22, 2009
I will never look at a bee the same way again. Please, please read this.
So when you’re at some Memorial Day picnic this weekend, this is what the bees will be saying:
“Oh, my God, you gotta try this pollen. It’s so fucking . . . it’s better than the nectar, even. This is the best fucking pollen I’ve ever had. God, I so badly wanna just go sting the fuck out of someone, you know? Just land on their ass and sting. . . . I’m so fucking jazzed right now. And then I hope they’re allergic and they just blow up! We gotta get out of this hive, we gotta get mobile . . . 'Going Mobile'! The Who was a good band. Let’s go find a picnic or some sunbathers or something. . . . I’d love some coconut suntan lotion or a . . . beer. Wouldn’t you love a six-pack of Stella Artois right now? That’s the best beer. Stel-la!”
I’m sitting at my desk giggling my ass off. Thank you, Noah Baumbach.
“Oh, my God, there’s a picnic. Let’s totally go there right now. . . . I think this fat kid’s allergic . . . I’m so going to sting him! Oh, my God, he’s totally swatting me . . . did you see that dude’s face! Fucking hilarious. He was all, like, 'It’s a bee, it’s a bee!' And his mom was all, like, 'Don’t aggravate him!' Aggravate him is right! I’ll go ballistic on you, tubby! Marlon Brando! Stel-la! Got it. I’m on fire. Let’s do another line. I don’t know, behind that hibiscus, I don’t give a fuck. What do you mean, I did the last of it? I just need a bump.”
It’s a bee, it’s a bee! HA!
I think we now know how Bee Movie could have been a lot funnier.
Monday, May 18, 2009
My new baby looks something like this:
It's so beautiful, it hurts.
My birthday party at Grandma and Grandpa Eckhardt's house this year really was a memorable one. Not only did I have tears in my eyes from stifling laughter throughout our 3 p.m. dinner, thanks to the grandparents' tales from their annual trip to Florida (I'm not sure if they knew it was funny), Grandma E was just so damn chatty that she started cutting my birthday cake before the birthday song. Of course, the three candles were there—"Past, Present, and Future!" (uhh, maybe you have to know my grandma to find that funny)—but a third of the cake was missing as I made my birthday wish. Priceless.
And just when I thought it couldn't get any better, Grandma asks if any of us want a bicycle. I follow my grandpa out to the garage with low expectations. I am presented with the hippest bike the streets of Chicago have ever seen.
I fully expect something of this nature to happen within 48 hours of possessing my Schwinn:
I also hope to be engaging in these types of dialogues:
Life is going to be sweet.
Friday, May 15, 2009
It’s really been a magical day of indentured servitude. Err, interning. First, I attempted to sneak in unnoticed at 9:35. Of course I tripped over my flip flop—yes, I’m allowed to wear flip flops—and made a big smacking noise on the floor as I walked in, so that failed. But then I looked around and realized something: I am invisible. No one turned from a computer screen. Half of the people weren’t even here yet.
The day just kept getting better. I started two writing assignments—one for Betty Crocker’s website about “quick and easy dinners” and another one for Chick-Fil-A’s company magazine. I have spent a large chunk of my day writing about planning a taco night with your family. I find this hilarious and wonderful. I’m going to tell all of my friends I’m planning to host a taquisa. Bet you don’t know what that is! But I do! It’s a taco party!
Just as I was craving tacos and starting to write a grocery list so I could throw a taquisa for me and the cats tonight, I smelled pizza. Next thing I know, I’m in a conference room looking for the veggie pizzas and talking to some guy about IU. This was also the moment that I realized my eyes were completely bloodshot from my allergies, my hair is in a messy braid, I’m dressed like a pseudo-hippie, and I’m talking about going to a Big Ten school. I might as well have said, "Are you cool, man?"
I scurried out of the conference room and stared down at my plate of pizza all the way back to my desk.
I spent the next several hours diligently working on my masterpiece about tacos and pretending to be invisible. Suddenly, a woman pushing a cooler appears at my desk and offers me a beer.
This is so wonderful I’m ignoring the fact that she asked me if I was of age and that the beer she handed me was a Miller Lite. If she had pulled a Stella out of that cooler I probably would have kissed her.
Great start to the weekend!
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Kathryn Jean Lopez, who penned this ridiculous rant about Judy Blume—the beloved author of Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, Superfudge, Just as Long as We’re Together, and many more FANTASTIC books—needs her computer taken away. She refers to Blume as an “unnecessary presence in children’s lives, as a substitute parent and cheerleader of that sex-ed-crazed culture that she served as a trailblazer of”—and is angry that in honor of Mother’s Day, Blume wrote a fundraising letter for Planned Parenthood (PP). Lopez calls this “insulting.” You know what I find insulting? A woman who hates on Judy Blume!
An excerpt from Lopez’s article, starting with a quote from Blume’s PP letter:
"Blume continues: ‘I’m a mom, and I’m also a writer and an activist. Nothing has made me prouder than seeing my own children — and really, all young people — grow up to be healthy, educated, and in charge of their bodies and their lives. That’s where Planned Parenthood comes in. There is no organization that I know of that supports motherhood and all that it means more than Planned Parenthood. That’s why I’m honoring moms everywhere with my gift to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund today.’
Richards [president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America] accuses critics of a lack of ‘compassion.’ But a Mother’s Day fundraiser for the single biggest abortion provider in the United States (subsidized by your tax dollars) is insulting, most especially to the women who are suffering because they rejected motherhood and know they ended a life in the process…
I’m grateful for the Blume fundraising letter, though, because it highlights something busy parents and teachers all too often don’t realize: That book your child is reading is imparting values, and they might not be your own. ‘I first heard about sex from Judy Blume,’ a fortysomething mother of six told me immediately after I mentioned Blume’s name to her. Today, perhaps, that’s not the situation — Blume’s not the first time — our culture being as oversexualized as it is. But Blume remains an unnecessary presence in children’s lives, as a substitute parent and cheerleader of that sex-ed-crazed culture that she served as a trailblazer of. And a presence trusted adults put in children’s lives, as if issuing an Imprimatur, a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.
Though frequently thought of as the harmless author of Superfudge, that description fudges the reality of Judy Blume. Her books are hormone cheerleaders — as if adolescents’ bodies needed the help. In Forever, Blume is right where she was in her fundraising letter, praising a progressive grandmother whose only fault seems to be that she is so devoted to Planned Parenthood rallies that she doesn’t have time to help her granddaughter get contraception from that organization. Planned Parenthood does provide young Katherine the Pill, making a graphic first-time scene possible.
Next time you’re just happy your daughter or son is reading, consider that your child may be reading, “Can you spread your legs some more . . . and maybe raise them a little?” That’s in Forever, which is clearly a pre-teen or teen book (if that makes it better — I’m not so sure). Deenie, however, is for children on a fourth-grade reading level. Would you knowingly hand your third or fourth grader a guide to self-arousal? You are when you hand him Deenie."
ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME. First of all, I am so sick and tired of people misconstruing PP’s mission. Yes, it is an abortion provider, but if you think that’s entirely what PP is about, it’s time to educate yourself. PP’s mission:
"Planned Parenthood believes in the fundamental right of each individual, throughout the world, to manage his or her fertility, regardless of the individual's income, marital status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, national origin, or residence. We believe that respect and value for diversity in all aspects of our organization are essential to our well-being. We believe that reproductive self-determination must be voluntary and preserve the individual's right to privacy. We further believe that such self-determination will contribute to an enhancement of the quality of life and strong family relationships.
Based on these beliefs, and reflecting the diverse communities within which we operate, the mission of Planned Parenthood is:
* to provide comprehensive reproductive and complementary health care services in settings which preserve and protect the essential privacy and rights of each individual
* to advocate public policies which guarantee these rights and ensure access to such services
* to provide educational programs which enhance understanding of individual and societal implications of human sexuality
* to promote research and the advancement of technology in reproductive health care and encourage understanding of their inherent bioethical, behavioral, and social implications."
Has Lopez ever been to a PP clinic, I wonder? I highly doubt it. I went to PP for several years, and my wonderful mother, the same one who put fantastic books such as Deenie, Are You There God?, and Just as Long as We’re Together in my hands, was the one who brought me there for my first visit. And thank God she did, because there I was able to ask the questions about my sexual health that I was too embarrassed to discuss with her, learn about proper uses of birth control, and get good, important health care—without any judgment, ever.
PP also cares about women’s emotional health and physical well-being, and provides patients with information about abusive relationships and phone numbers for counseling centers and crisis lines if they suspect a patient is having problems. I know this from my personal experiences at PP—something Lopez clearly has no knowledge of, since she reduces the organization to simply an abortion provider. She writes, “But a Mother’s Day fundraiser for the single biggest abortion provider in the United States (subsidized by your tax dollars) is insulting, most especially to the women who are suffering because they rejected motherhood and know they ended a life in the process.”
She really doesn’t get it. PP celebrates motherhood—and a young woman’s ability to have the knowledge needed to plan being a mother, safely, intelligently, and when she is ready.
It’s because of PP and books like Judy Blume’s that countless young women have learned to be comfortable with their bodies, that their feelings are normal, and that they have every right to access health care and education about their sexuality—no matter if they are poor, rich, white, black, 16-years-old or 45-years-old.
To call Blume’s books “hormone cheerleaders” is the insult, not Blume’s support of an important organization such as PP. And how dare you call Deenie merely a “guide to self-arousal,” Ms. Lopez? HAVE YOU EVEN READ IT? Well, I have, multiple times, and what I took from that book had nothing to do with self-arousal. Deenie is the story of a beautiful 13-year-old girl whose mother is pushing her toward a modeling career—until she is diagnosed with scoliosis, and has to wear a back brace for the next four years. Deenie reinforced the values that my parents had already instilled in me—that there was more to a person than his or her outward appearance, and that the right kind of people would like me for my brain and my personality, not for my looks. THAT is what stuck with me from Deenie.
So back off, Lopez. And while you’re at it, why don’t you actually do some research and visit PP’s website? You’ll see that the home page features a link to information about Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, which includes information about safe sex, birth control, masturbation, and, yes, abstinence. It’s not a giant cheer for abortion. I think you need to read this, since you obviously are as misinformed as the teenagers who have been taught abstinence-only sexual education and that masturbating is dirty.
Better yet: Go to the library. Check out Judy Blume’s books. Read them.
Monday, May 11, 2009
I overslept. I put on mismatched socks. Then I realized they were inside out. Did I fix this? Of course not. Thought I'd boost my mood by wearing a new shirt. Feeling pretty good about this, then I look in the mirror, only to discover I have become five months pregnant. Overnight! It's a miracle!
I guess the cooks at work knew something I didn't—they kept repeatedly wishing me a happy mother's day last night, even though I've told them, repeatedly, I don't have children. I am a child. I have no business pro-creating. "But you will someday!" Antonio says. Oh, right. I forgot. I have a uterus! I better use it! Throw away the oral contraceptives, ladies! Free love for everyone! Time for a baby!
But, after working two doubles this weekend, I was too tired to fight about my uterus and such, so I just shook my head and shrugged. The response:
"You might not be a momma, but you are a MAMACITA!"
Then he gave all the servers a free piece of banana cake. So really, everyone wins.
Now, back to my miracle illusion pregnancy. I'm thinking I should use this unflattering shirt to my advantage. I have to work tonight. And who would you tip better: a pregnant young waitress in a pretty flowery maternity blouse, or an un-pregnant young waitress in a poorly fitted shirt? I think we all know the answer to that question.
And that is why I will be rubbing my belly as I talk to my customers, and loudly talking with the other servers about baby names.
By the way, I made it up the escalator safely this morning. I know you were all worried.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Okay, so boo hoo me. I’m an intern again, waaah waah waah. I miss being a professional, full-time employee. Yada yada yada.
I guess I just keep waiting for that “ah ha” moment up here in Chicago, when suddenly it all makes sense and I realize that I made the right decision to come up here. You know, when I get hired for that perfect job, and everything turns into rainbows and unicorns.
But then again, maybe we don’t all have those moments—maybe it’s not the case of it being wrong or right. Maybe it just is.
I think that’s the problem when you build something up in your head—Chicago was always part of this fantasy life I had for myself, so when I actually made it a reality, my expectations for what my life was going to be like up here were a little ridiculous. I think I envisioned living in a loft downtown and being a famous columnist in six months. (I also think I’ve been watching too much Sex and the City.)
From the time I was 17, before I’d even been to Chicago, I was telling my mom that I wanted to move there after college. Then, right before I started at IU, I came to visit. That sealed the deal for me. I was definitely going to live in Chicago one day. I knew it. I talked about it all through college with my roommates.
Then, graduation day came, and the reality that it was time to become an adult hit. I was lucky enough to land a great job working for Indiana University’s Office of Creative Services, and so my plans changed. Looked like I was staying in Bloomington. But I loved Bloomington, and I loved being close to my family. It made sense.
Yet still I was unhappy. My friends had all moved on, and I was still in Bloomington. I was tired of Bloomington! I was supposed to be in Chicago! I was restless. I had to get out. I was missing out on something bigger. Every time I’d go up to Chicago for a weekend to visit friends, I’d think, this is where I’m supposed to be.
And because—aside from a semester in London—I’d never lived more than two hours away from home, I took for granted how great that is. And also because I’d gotten hired for every job I’d ever applied to, I arrogantly thought, no big deal if I quit my job. I’ll find a better one in Chicago.
So here I am. Living in Chicago isn’t exactly what I thought it would be—I got a well-deserved kick in the ass when I realized there are about a million other ambitious young writers and editors out there—but it’s still exciting. I can’t regret leaving Bloomington, because then I’d always regret not following my dream to live in this city.
But some Friday evenings, I’d give anything to be able to hop in my little Neon and make the hour and 40 minute drive from Bloomington to Knightstown. I’d gotten so used to that drive on 37 over the last six years that I would make the trip basically on auto-pilot. The best part of that trip was turning on to Mill Road and pulling in the driveway of my childhood home, where my dad would always meet me out on the back porch and grab my bag for me. After I’d make my immediate bathroom run—an hour and a half is too short of a drive to make a pit stop, and too long for me not to guzzle an entire bottle of water—I’d meet my dad in the kitchen, and he’d say, “Ready for a beer?”
There’s something about sitting in my dad’s kitchen, drinking a Heineken with him and telling him what went on that week, that always made me happy I was in Bloomington. It was the best way to spend a Friday night, geeky as that might seem. And even better if some of the other family came by to eat dinner with us. It was home.
Of course, although I definitely appreciated those moments at the time, I appreciate and miss them even more now. (Kind of like appreciating having health insurance and a salary.) But I’ve realized something: I can either wallow in all the things I miss from home, or I can appreciate all the great things about being in this city. Like my friends. Like Kuma’s Corner. Like my adventures on the blue line. Myopic Books. Hipsters galore. The list goes on. And I might bitch about waiting tables, but without that experience I wouldn’t have met some really great people. I’ve met some pretty awful ones, too, but that’s just material for my book.
And I’ll get that great job eventually. Maybe there won’t be any rainbows or unicorns, but I’ll sure as hell be more appreciative this time around.
Besides, I can still hop in my little Neon and drive to Knightstown to have a beer with my pops. The drive is just a little longer now.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
From the Wall Street Journal:
President Barack Obama's 2010 budget eliminates most federal funding for abstinence-only sex-education programs and replaces it with a pair of new teen-pregnancy-prevention programs that could include discussions of birth control.
But like other proposed cuts in the budget, it isn't clear whether Congress will go along. Liberals have derided abstinence-only education as ineffective and even misleading, but the Democratic-controlled Congress has continued to fund the programs.
In total, the Obama budget proposes $164 million for teen-pregnancy prevention. Of that, about 25% would be open to abstinence-only programs, which would have to compete with other initiatives. The rest of the money is reserved for programs that have been proved "through rigorous evaluations" to be successful, the administration proposal says.
Let's just hope that abstinence-only programs don't even get that 25 percent.
Oh, what am I thinking--we should probably follow Bristol Palin's advice and just tell teens not to have sex. And we have to make sure they don't know how to use condoms. Hooray! Babies for everyone!
"Umm, I would have waited. To have sex. Obviously." --Bristol Palin
WOW! Thank you, Bristol! You're almost as smart as your mom! Jesus Christ. This is what happens when you don't tell kids about birth control.
Thank you, President Obama, for having common sense and cutting these programs. And one last "fuck yeah" for today: Hooray for Maine!
But here in Chicago, every day it’s something (though sadly, not all as memorable as Monday morning’s commute).
Tuesday afternoon a man clucked at me—yes, CLUCKED—as I walked past him on the stairs. A few minutes later, as I was trying to hide behind my Bitch magazine and ignore the inevitable claustrophobia that sets in during rush hour, I glanced over the top of the magazine to find two nuns staring at me in horror. I grinned at them and continued reading. Hee hee hee.
But this morning I had a special hipster delight on my morning commute. If only I had had the audacity to pull out my camera and capture these two young men’s ensembles. If only. But I did have the pleasure of overhearing this:
Faded Jean Jacket-wearing Hipster: "I mostly just love that album cause it's like, ‘we're recording this on a 4-track in our basement’ and the quality is just, so raw and real."
Super Geek Hipster, nodding: “I know exactly what you mean. Exactly.”
Alison, nudging the middle-aged woman next to her: “Look at this fucking hipster.”
Middle-aged woman: “I know exactly what you mean. Exactly.”
So maybe that last part of the conversation didn’t happen. But it should have. Instead, I almost missed my stop, had to duck under Super Geek Hipster’s arm to get out, and then almost fell over due to the powerful wave of BO.
So you’re the one stinking up my favorite record store! I knew it!
Monday, May 4, 2009
Now that I’m using public transportation on a daily basis to commute to my internship, it has inevitably opened up new windows of awkwardness. Until today, nothing too exciting or painful had happened, with one exception: My first day of interning, I got on the train, and I made the rookie mistake of making direct eye contact with the bum screaming to the invisible person on the seat next to him. So of course, he decided to look right at me while screaming repeatedly, “THE MOTHER FUCKER FUCKER FUCKERS! THE MOTHER FUCKERS TOOK IT! YOU SAW THEM!” The older lady next to me then looked at me as if I was the one screaming nonsensical profanities in her ear, so I shrank lower and lower in my seat and pretended to be invisible.
After I made my switch from the Blue to the Green line, I was still a little shook up from that encounter, so I sat down next to a harmless looking young woman who was sitting with her kid on her lap. I took a deep breath, smiled at the person sitting across the aisle from me—another Hoosier faux-pas, apparently, as he responded by grimacing and averting eye contact—and I opened up my bottle of “sparkling water beverage.” It exploded. I quickly apologized and asked the woman next to me if I got any of it on her: “Not yet,” she responded, in a tone that suggested if and when it does, I might die. Her cute little girl points and laughs at me as the water continues to spill out of the bottle, and all over my pants.
Five minutes later, Alison Hamm enters her new office looking as though she might have peed her pants.
Yet, somehow, that incident was nothing compared to this morning’s commute. As I'm transferring from the blue to green line at the Clark/Lake stop, I’m riding up the escalator in my Monday morning daze, listening to my iPod, fairly oblivious to my surroundings. Right before I reach the top of the escalator, I notice the enormous man ahead of me on the escalator balancing a trolley loaded with boxes. Just as I’m thinking that a trolley on an escalator looks a little dangerous, the enormous man with said trolley gets stuck at the top. Before I can react, I slam into him and am suddenly trapped on a moving escalator, tangled between a giant, the trolley wheel, and the side of the escalator. The guy behind me somehow jumps over the side of the escalator but doesn’t bother to try to help either of us. Meanwhile, all of the people on the train platform ahead are now staring at me and the giant as I yelp, my headphones fall out of my ears, and he attempts to lift me over the trolley and off the escalator. In this process, my ribcage slams against the trolley, the giant and I accidentally go to second base, and I almost fall as I finally escape.
Once the giant trolley man gets off the escalator—somehow, without mangling anyone else—he starts to stroll past me as I limp to the side, clutching my ribcage. “Oh, are you okay?” he asks casually, as though nothing dramatic and possibly life-threatening had just happened.
AM I OKAY?!?! It’s 9 AM, I almost met my death on an escalator, and you just touched my boob. NO, I'M NOT OKAY!
It’s the kind of situation that makes a person want to start screaming, “THE MOTHER FUCKER FUCKER FUCKERS! YOU SAW THEM!”
Sunday, May 3, 2009
This just reminded me of being 19 and telling everyone who would listen how much I loved Donnie Darko. Particularly this scene (please ignore the weird unrelated audio at the start of clip):
"What's a fuck ass?"
Friday, May 1, 2009
In 2 short days, Diana Koo (aka, "d") has become not only the top commenter on my blog, but she has also officially contributed possibly the best comment ever to be seen on any blog, anywhere. And that is this: I'd like to say that once we met, Diana realized how normal and cool I was, so she overlooked these geeky details. Not exactly. But D and I quickly realized in our tiny closet of a dorm room--as I handed her Capri Suns from the mini fridge to the top bunk where she was napping, and she confessed to me that she ate my Pop Tart--that we were kindred spirits. AKA, both fucking crazy. Still, I would never have survived freshman year at IU without my nightly dinners with D at Wright Food Court, where I scared her by eating fish sandwiches and finishing my meal in 5 minutes, and she astounded me by how slowly one human being can eat a meal. Soon we discovered the glorious wonders of the "C" store and the Big Ten special from Pizza Express, and I discovered that the Freshman 15 wasn't really a myth.
On a more serious note, I also would never have survived losing my mother my first semester of college if it were not for Diana. She's going to call me a creep, but I still have the note she gave me the morning I left to go to the hospital the day my mom died. Neither of us understood what was about to happen, but we both knew it was bad. And she had more compassion for me and my family than some people I'd known my entire life did. That's just the kind of person she is. It's certainly not easy to lose your mom right when you start college, but did you ever think about what it's like to be two months into college and be sharing a bunk bed with a girl whose mom just died? Especially when that girl doesn't talk about it, seems "normal," then on the weekend gets blackout drunk and starts weeping in your lap? Yeah.
An example of what she had to deal with (circa soph year, University Commons):
Basically what I'm saying here, in case you didn't get it, is that we call her D-Money for a reason. Because she is money.
So, my first Friday tribute goes to Diana. (I haven't yet decided if there will be any future Friday tributes, just FYI.) DIANA KOO, I LOVE YOU! kiss kiss, meow meow.
*DISCLAIMER* the above photos are from sophomore year of college. Please keep that in mind. Thank you. Please take the time to view this photo, which more accurately portrays the foxy mommas that we truly are. And by we I mean D. Hot momma. :-)