Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Duane the Dancing Boy

I was in desperate need for a laugh today. Thank Jesus I found Duane:

Duane the dancing boy entered my life thanks to this Videogum post.

Do what you love?

Since I am clearly in need of some career advice, after reading a Slate interview with Penelope Trunk, the CEO of Brazen Careerist and author of book of same name, I thought I’d check out her blog and see what she’s all about.

I think I might have fallen in love when I read this post. And this one.

Of course, I still don’t have a career to speak of, unless you count my increasingly terrific skills as a waitress. But at the very least, I giggled loudly to myself when I read, “I am a writer, but I love sex more than I love writing. And I am not getting paid for sex.”

The woman has a point.

The Long Goodbye

Slate is doing a series on grieving, and the first two posts by Meghan O’Rourke are frank and well written. It really hit home with me for obvious reasons, but whether you’re “in the club” or not—and I hope that you’re not—it’s a worthwhile read.

It reminded me of this selection from Inventing Memory, by Erica Jong:

“I never thought my mama would die. She seemed immortal to me. Since she was the ground of my being, her death seemed unthinkable—however much she annoyed me at times. Now I am standing at the edge of the cliff with no one to catch me. I’m sure all daughters feel this way when their mothers die.”

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Swayze Fest

After surviving my mind numbing drive from Indy to Chicago today, I was unpacking and glanced at Patrick Swayze’s beautiful face staring at me from my Dirty Dancing wall calendar. Yeah, that’s right, my Dirty Dancing wall calendar. Best Christmas present since North and South on DVD.

Anyway, all this inspired me to share a little Swayze with…umm, the readers of my blog? HA! Maybe if my “readers” are lucky, Swazye Fest could become an annual Sunday occurrence.

So, my Sunday gift to you: Orry Maine rescuing Madeleine. The Oscars have nothing on this scene. And if you have no clue who Orry or Madeleine are, well, you will after this.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Two Interviews, Two Kick Ass Female Artists

This probably warrants two separate posts so I can ramble on about each woman’s individual awesomeness, but, alas, I must go don a black apron and try to look cheery while delivering beer and burgers, so I don’t have time.

interviewed Erica Jong last week. She has a new poetry collection out—will someone buy this for me, please? —and without even reading it, I recommend it. I recently snagged her poetry collection “Ordinary Miracles” at Myopic and immediately read it cover-to-cover. She’s a genius.

Next up is the NY Times article “Wild Thing” about Neko Case. Her new album, “Middle Cyclone” comes out next month. Paste also had a great cover story on her this month. I’d link to the site, but it’s fucking terrible, so do yourself a favor and just go buy the magazine, because it’s fucking terrific.

I can’t believe I was two tables away from Neko at Kuma’s Corner this summer and didn’t take the opportunity to swoon all over her. But I did stare at her a lot while whispering, “I think that’s Neko Case! That’s Neko Case!”

But can you see why I might be intimidated?

More Lykke Li

Not that it was necessary, but here’s even more reason to love Lykke Li:


Note that there was a kazoo solo, and at every concert, she wears a “signature jingle-bell-and-kazoo necklace.”


Monday, February 16, 2009


All this Roald Dahl talk reminded me how fucking hilarious/fantastic Gene Wilder was as Willy Wonka.

Good day, sir! HA!

A Whipplescrumptious delight

So this is where the BFG was born. I love it. Monday just got so much better.

If you want to really geek out over Roald Dahl, his official website is pretty sweet, too. And if you’ve never dabbled in his adult fiction, go read some immediately. “Taste” and “The Landlady” are two of the best short stories I’ve ever read. In college, I really enjoyed one-upping my fellow English majors by mentioning these stories after they talked about the wonders of Hemingway’s “Hills like White Elephants.” We get it! The characters are talking about an abortion! You’re not that clever for figuring this out!

Of course, that conversation would quickly turn into a super geeked out conversation about how many times we read James and the Giant Peach and Matilda as kids. And sure, maybe this scenario only actually happened one time. But you better believe I mentally one-upped my classmates many times with my superior knowledge of Roald Dahl.

side note: Where the hell is my copy of The BFG?
side note 2: I need a writing hut. Preferably in an English garden.

(Hat tip to Jay for this site, but from here on out I claim everything cool as my own find!)

Monday tape

The usual monotony of my Monday day shift was disturbed today thanks to President’s Day, which apparently means everyone goes out to lunch at Logan Bar and Grill and forgets their manners. I shouldn’t complain, since I usually make about 40 bucks on Mondays and spend the majority of the day reorganizing ketchup bottles and staring at the clock, but… if I had to say, “Chips, fries, or veggies” one more F*$&ING time at a table where no one was paying attention to me, I was going to knock someone’s head off.

I’m pretty sure my boss prefers that I smile at customers rather than snarl, but by about 1:30 the best anyone was getting was a grimace.

I really wish something along these lines would have happened instead:

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I love you, Reckless Records, but what’s up with the BO?

One of my favorite Chicago discoveries is Reckless Records—largely because of its proximity to Myopic Books, my heaven on earth, but also because of the fantastic fact that you can purchase half a dozen or more used CDs of good quality there and not spend more than 40 bucks. Thank God for Reckless Records: I can now again shake my bon bon to the Soul Coughing album I lost in high school, turn into my mother by cleaning the house while jamming out to the Eurythmics, and most importantly, complete my Van Morrison collection, all at approximately $4.99 a pop.

But…what in the eff is up with the overpowering smell of BO that penetrates the store? My boyfriend and I, prior to entering the store, look at each other, take a deep breath, then see how long we can dig through CDs without breathing. The smell. Is. Awful. I get that to be a real hipster who belongs in such a hip, hip store, for some reason you are supposed to look like you’ve just rolled out of bed and put on clothes from a different era, including super tight low rider pants that will inevitably give you ass cleavage, but why, why, why can’t you put on some deodorant first?

Then again, maybe I shouldn’t blame the cool patrons of Reckless, and just blame the store itself. I swear the stench is coming out of the walls. I just hope it didn’t penetrate to all of my awesome new music.

And one last beef: Umm, where are your female employees? Are they hiding in the back where it doesn’t smell so bad?

Annie and Aretha would not approve. And yes, this little gem is on my “new” Eurythmics album.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I love this more than a little bit

Need a midday boost? Put Swedish pop star Lykke Li’s “Little Bit” video on loop on your computer (preferably on your Macbook, please) and just try not to dance around your living room, cubicle or whatever.

Apparently she was in Chicago last Saturday. Unfortunately I was too busy waiting tables to the horrific background music of Logan Bar and Grill that included such marvels as J Lo’s “I’m Real” and Aerosmith’s “I don’t wanna miss a thing” to go see if all the white folks were standing still or not.

My favorite person in this video has to be the guy in suspenders and shorts, though the bearded man on piano is also pretty spectacular.

You’re welcome:

Monday, February 9, 2009

My favorite cheerleader

I’ve never been a cheerleader kind of girl. The constant smiling, the ribbons, the gymnastics, the uniforms, the standing on the sidelines, the … well, everything about it freaks me out.

But there was always one cheerleader that gave me the boost I needed: my mother. Maybe it comes with the territory to be a natural cheerleader for your children (minus the ribbons and the gymnastics I hope), but I’ll argue that my mom was one of the best.

I thought about this today as I pulled my Yogi Tea out of the bag and read the message (there’s a different one on each tea bag): “Be proud of who you are.” I immediately pulled it off and stuck it on my dresser mirror, next to the photo of my mom and me. When I was in high school, I woke up one morning to find a quote my mom had stuck on my dresser mirror that said, “I care not so much what I am to others as what I am to myself.”

It was a good message for a 16-year-old girl, particularly one getting called a slut every day as she walked down the tiny halls of her high school. My mom’s lesson—cheer, rather—for me that morning has always stayed with me. And now, at 24, when she’s no longer here to stick messages on my dresser to give me the good kick in the ass I need to keep my confidence up, I’ve decided to be my own cheerleader.

So as I slid the tiny paper with the words “Be proud of who you are” under my dresser mirror’s frame this morning, I smiled at my mom’s image in our photo from the time when she was my cheerleader.

Somewhere, she smiled back.


I had rainbows on the brain today after I finished reading Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem, “for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf,” which led to my idea of chasing my own rainbow. My brother gave me this book for Christmas, and I highly recommend it—though I’m sure it’s even better to see as the performance. It’s beautiful, empowering, and thought provoking.

In “for colored girls…” Shange discusses everything from date rape to love to sisterhood. That theme really stood out to me—women’s loyalty to other women. It reminded me how important that is. But I also loved her depictions of relationships between men and women. Basically, it’s fantastic. Read it.

Here’s one part I especially loved:

“i loved you on purpose
i was open on purpose
i still crave vulnerability & close talk
& i’m not even sorry bout you bein sorry
you can carry all the guilt & grime ya wanna
just dont give it to me
i cant use another sorry
next time
you should admit
you’re mean/low-down/triflin/& no count straight out
steada bein sorry alla the time
enjoy bein yrself”

And that is why I love reading women’s writing.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Here I Am, Finally

What aspiring writer doesn’t have a blog these days? That would be me, until about two hours ago. I’ve always written off blogs as self-important rants that no one except the blogger cares about. However, I’ve finally accepted that I’ve been dying to join the ranks of young, self-important, aspiring writers everywhere blogging their asses off.

So here I am. I’ve been thinking about starting this for a while, but it took seeing my friend Beth’s blog to finally do it. (Thanks, Beth! And I swear I didn't mean to inadvertently call your blogging self-important!)

Maybe I’ll be the only person to read this. But who knows.

But I’m writing. And that’s what’s important, self-important though it may be. I’d been hoping to come up with some kind of theme before I started a blog—something to give it some sense of significance—but I haven’t nailed that down yet. So for now, I’ll focus on me: what interests me, what pisses me off, what makes me laugh. All this as I “chase my rainbow,” the name of this blog.

If you do read my blog, I hope you enjoy it. Right now, it’s essentially my writing exercise, posted online for everyone and no one to see.

Small Town and Scared Shitless in the Big City

Tonight, after eight months of living in Chicago, I have finally realized the unavoidable reality of my new life: This city scares the shit out of me. After pacing around my apartment all afternoon, restless and desperate to be out exploring, or even reading in a coffee shop—ok, fine, Starbucks—as opposed to in my bedroom, I finally did it. I packed my bag with my newest issues of Paste and Bitch magazines, cell phone, wallet, and novel, and stepped out of my apartment.

My filthy Neon Sport was parked right outside, but still far enough away for me to have one nerve wracking encounter: a male neighbor checking his mail. Why is he staring at me? He’s coming out of the gate…He’s coming toward me…oh, he’s walking to his car. I’d already practically leapt into my car as he walked past, looking at me like the lunatic I am. I shook my head at myself in my car mirror, trying to decide at what point I thought all men who made eye contact with me were planning to murder me. Back home—or what had become home after six years, Bloomington, Indiana—when a man stared at me, I thought he was checking me out, not about to rape and pillage me. On the upside, maybe my irrational fears were keeping my ego in check, at least.

So I journeyed to Starbucks, because I’m too nervous to try to find the hip new coffee shop, New Wave, that I heard opened in my neighborhood. (I pass Starbucks almost every day on my way to work, so it’s in my comfort zone.) As soon as I walked in, I was annoyed. It’s the typical Starbucks weekend crowd: yoga moms with their kids, college students on laptops, everyone on cell phones. I ordered my standby, a chai latte, and scampered to the back room, praying for an open table so I wouldn’t end up heading straight back home, defeated and depressed.

I snagged the last open table and finally relaxed, drank my chai, and read my magazines cover to cover. Then, with new bravery brought on by caffeine and finding a parking spot right outside, I decided to find the Borders I knew was on North Avenue. (Fine, first I texted my boyfriend, a lifelong Chicagoan, to double check the spot.)

As I turned onto 90 West, screaming along to the Doors on XRT, I felt great. Empowered. I was exploring the city! On my own! I am an independent, confident young woman! Hoorah!

And then my confidence shattered. As I drove down North Avenue, gaping at the familiar stores that looked so much fancier outside of the College Mall in Bloomington—Express, Gap, Banana Republic, and on and on—I thought, I don’t belong here. The cars zooming around me with Illinois plates were cleaner, fancier than my 98 Dodge. The women walking out of Victoria’s Secret were impossibly trendy. Everyone had shopping bags in hand. I had 134 bucks in my checking account. And where in the fuck am I supposed to park?

After driving around in a circle around the Borders for about ten minutes, I saw a Public Parking sign. Relieved, I made a right and started to pull in the garage. 0-1 hour, $9.00. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” I yelled at the sign, making a young father jump and clutch his kid tighter while walking to his SUV.

So I turned my Indiana car right around and drove home. When I turned on to California, I basked in the glow of the now-familiar Popeyes and IHOP signs. I parked, walked through the gate of my apartment building, clutching my bag and looking around me, and realized how much I miss Bloomington.

But I’m here. And at least I’m trying.

So for now, I’m content to sit in the safety of my kitchen, listening to Fiona Apple and hanging out with the cats. I’ll explore more later.