Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Have a Very Merry Fresh Aire Christmas.

My office has a penchant for the lite station's merciless, nonstop holiday music extravaganza. After the end of my 56th hour of this stuff, I can swear that I've never listened so attentively to Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" or Celine Dion's "O Holy Night." My head is spinning. Because really—no one should have to listen to so much Christmas music until, oh I dunno, say, Christmas.

And while there is no escaping the relentless holiday cheer, I cannot tune it out. Instead, I dwell on lyrics—How do I properly deck the halls, and who IS Parson Brown? Or I simply get swept away by the rocking strains of Mannheim Steamroller. (WAY better than Trans-Siberian Orchestra, by the way.)

Speaking of Mannheim Steamroller, J and I entered a treacherous impass in our relationship the other night as I YouTubed away.

"YES!" I cried as I stumbled upon this raging video of Mannheim Steamroller in concert. It wasn't just the puffy sleeves of the percussionist or the electronica strains mixed with French horn--herein this music lies my childhood holidays.

My family listened to Mannheim each Christmas for as long as I can remember. The decking of the halls, the trimming of the tree. It all took place to the soundtrack of Christmas 1984 and Fresh Aire Christmas 1988.



And here I was in reverie, sitting at J's computer and relishing those big chunky headphones and jamming out to Carol of the Bells, when I heard an audible gag come from J.

"This. Is. AWFUL," he retched.

"What?! No, it's not!" I cried, stunned. "Just listen! It's not amazing, but it's great."

J seemed to reconsider for a brief moment. After all, he and I have relatively similar tastes in music. He tolerates my forays into indies like m. ward, even enjoys Feist and Imogen Heap to some extent. I have always loved his house music, and I have a special place in my heart for some Metallica like the S&M concert. But here, we had found ourselves, much like little penguins, separated by splitting and cracking slabs of ice--once united, only to be separated forever in the cold unknown. Except in our case, this ice slab was musical taste, and I was drifting off toward 1980s Christmas Pop Island alone.

"...it's awful," J declared, scrunching up his nose to prove his point.

I was totally unprepared for this blow.

And it's not surprising. I realized that no one had ever listened to Mannheim with me, except of course for my family. Here J was, my first boyfriend to listen to my prized holiday music tradition, desecrating its sanctity.

"It is NOT awful," I snapped. "YOU don't UNDERSTAND."

But something inside me changed. I listened to the keyboard like I'd never listened before. The music suddenly sounded dated, kitsch. Composer Chip Davis's genius crumbled before me, amounting to no more than a late-night VH1 holiday special on those crazy 80's musical trends like keytars where someone like Pauly Shore might be commissioned to make fun of my favorite songs. Oh, Lord--please show Mannheim mercy!

Despite my inner turmoil, I let the subject drop, moving onto more holiday light-and-music synched videos, pretending to be steadfast in my love of Fresh Aire. I would not let on that my foundation was shaken.

Today, our lite radio station rang out Mannheim Steamroller's Carol of the Bells. At first I cringed, embarrassed for my admiration of those electronic church bells and breathy digitalized voices. Then, from across the room, "This is awesome! Who is this?"

"It's Mannheim Steamroller!" I offered, "And it IS awesome."

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Birthdays, Christmas and the Gift-Giving Blues

So, yesterday was my birthday. (Example of one of many conversations I've had at work: Thanks!... Yup, 23 now... Oh, you. You know, I actually HADN'T yet heard a joke about how young I am! Good one!)

My day started out with J giving me a bottle of my new favorite wine (that is impossible to find anywhere but Saratoga, CA and Cincinnati, OH for some reason) and a gift certificate to a Lincoln Square cheese shop, The Cheese Stands Alone. This boy knows that the fastest way to my heart is getting me liquored up and then stuffing me with dairy.

What made this gift all the better was that I didn't want anything this year for my birthday. I couldn't think of a single reasonable thing I wanted. The list of unreasonable things (tickets on Emirate Airlines to Dubai, an all-winter vacation back to Puerto Morelos, a personal massage therapist...)--that was easier.

Things seemed simpler when I was younger and things were black and white: I want this, I don't want that. I still have these vague recollections of my childhood and the things I wanted:

  • a yellow teddy bear
  • chili soup made by Mom
  • Tinkertoys
  • Winter Ball Barbie 1991 (I got three--one from my parents and two from different friends at my birthday party. Talk about awkward.)
But, like any of us when we age, I simply cannot think of what kids want today. I don't exactly have my ear down to beating pulse of Saturday morning cartoon advertisements and I interact with children on like a weekly basis via sloppy smiles over booths at restaurants or waves on the El.

So, now I'm facing a big problem. I signed up for the Chicago Sun-Times Santa Helper Program. Aayliyah, age 9, "good scheduet at school" and avid chore-helper at home, has written the following:
Dear Santa,
I am nine year old. I have been a good girl. I have been very good scheduet in school. I have done all of my chores at home. Santa would you please have some dolls and a doll house. And can you give me biary you can put a password in so nobody but me can read it. And a doll cars.
Underneath, she drew a picture of six kids singing around a fireplace. Really, this picture is what got me. It's just what my coworker calls "North Shore white guilt"--this girl is really sweet, an artist, AND (the ultimate!) she edited her writing. Underneath the scraggly words are more, slightly-erased, scraggly words. It is cute.

After a brief search on Toys R Us, I found this Password Journal by Radica. It's $22, has got the password, a diary inside AND secret compartments. Perfect, right?

NO. The overall user rating is 2.5 stars, with one of the most recent reviews threatening to strangle the guy who made the toy.

So here is my dilemma: Do I get this girl what she wants, regardless of what crap it may be? Regardless of how soon it will break? Regardless of the fact it may not work at all? Or do I get her a regular old lock-and-key diary? Or do I scrap it all and just go for the doll stuff? Advice welcome.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Trip to the South

J and I drove down to the Ohio River on Saturday--a short jaunt from Lebanon, really, but one that ended up consuming our entire day as we wound up and down the Ohio and Kentucky banks. For J, this trip into Kentucky was his first venture into "the south except for Disney World," and for me, I hoped it would be a confirmation of my love of the raw and unrefined relics of southern Ohio and northern Kentucky. In between the rusting, abandoned hay balers and the darkly weathered tobacco barns, I wonder how I grew up only forty minutes from another world stuck in another time.

Our first stop was on the Ohio side of the river--Ripley, Ohio. A quick Google search told us that Ripley offered us two sure-bet stops.

First, the Rankin House, a home-turned-underground railroad stop whose reverend-owner helped over 2,000 slaves to freedom over forty years. After two missed turns, one settler cemetery and two wild turkeys later, we found our way to the startling top of a ridge where the little home teeters at its peak.

From the home's modest front steps, you can see the Ohio-Kentucky border carved for miles in either direction by the river. I stood at the crest of the hill with November wind licking at my face, imagining the people who stood on that very spot 150 years before me and wondered what they thought as they faced south from this summit, whether they too looked at the landscape as a map and saw it as if it charted their lives--at the bottom of this hill was their past to the south, and through the threshold of the door behind them was their future in the north.

It was not easy to keep these lofty thoughts in mind as J and I entered the museum/house itself. Neglect in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had worn the floorboards and walls thin, and a stuffy, self-important 30-something curator was droning in contemptuous monotone to a couple with two anxious kids in what used to be the family's dining room and now served as the gift shop. J and I opted to do the self-guided tour, which was a pretty quick one since there weren't many signs to read and the family's original furnishings have all gone on to posterity. We hit up the gift shop on the way out, paying our $3 each to the curator who seemed miffed that we handled the house without him.


On our way out of town, we made our second stop at a Ripley, Ohio winery (they exist!) for a wine tasting. While I had expected the rolling hills of the river valley to house a picturesque olde-tyme Gothic Revival farmhouse with rows of faded fall grapes around it, I was dead wrong. Instead, John and I rolled up to a 1970s Ranch house three blocks behind a McDonalds in a totally residential neighborhood.

WINE TASTING, proclaimed a sign to reassure us that we wouldn't be knocking on some poor old lady's door if we dared approach it. After I parked, J and I took a good look around us and then at one another.

"Are we going in?" J asked.
"I guess so," I shrugged, checking out the middle-aged ladies decked out in faux fur coats and home perms who were carrying two cases of bottles each.

When we did get the courage up to leave the car, we discovered that the house had been gutted. Where floor-to-floor carpeting and La-Z-Boy furniture should have greeted us, concrete floor and dozens floor-to-ceiling barrels consumed the room. We opted for the $6 wine tasting option--two glasses with the winery's insignia and tastings of four different bottled wines. We mingled with only one another, avoided bumping into other tasters for the obligatory chit chat that might follow, and scarfed down crackers and Kraft cheese. It was awesome. At the end of the fourth glass, we decided to buy their new release, a 2005 Petit Verdot, fermented right there in those barrels. And we kept the glasses.


As we crossed into Maysville, Kentucky, J took a shot of the WELCOME TO KENTUCKY sign, commemorating his first trip "south." Appropriately enough, Maysville appeared totally shut down for the day (it was about 3 P.M.) and nothing seemed open. We did, however, drive by the town's theater which displayed a plaque that boasted Rosemary Clooney's childhood in the town.

A few miles down the road, we hit up Augusta, another town that claims Rosemary Clooney (this time with a Rotary International clock in her honor). More exciting Clooney claims lie in a house just off the state highway in Augusta, where George grew up. (We hoped to glimpse him at home for the holidays, but we didn't have any luck.)

Having been driving for several hours in what felt like a haze of November gray, I realized my body would shut down in a matter of minutes without a dose of caffeine.

"There has to be a Starbucks here."
"There's a cafe over there," John pointed to a quaint, hand-painted sign that did, in fact, say CAFE.
"Do you think they have Starbucks?"

It was here that I realized I am a city dweller. I grew up in a town that got its first Wal-Mart when I was nine and its coffee shop my junior year of high school, and where, up until recently, the only shops on our main street (other than the 200-year-old Golden Lamb and staple Ice Cream Parlor) were antique markets, and this whole daytrip, I had been explaining the art of tobacco making and covered bridges to J. But here I was--in a town of 1,200 people where between the antique shop and general store on Main Street there is literally a trailer home parked in an empty lot--and all I want is generic coffee, in a thick paper cup that I can carry.

We parked the car ("Look, J! No meters!") in front of the cafe, and peeked in. A friendly woman with dirty blonde hair swished up, carrying Christmas decorations.

"Oh!" she smiled, surprised (there was no one else in the restaurant). "Y'all just caught me puttin' up the Christmas decorations! It's that time of year alrea'y. Now, y'all want somethin' to eat?"

"Um, actually," I said, becoming increasingly aware of my cheeks flushing in embarrassment, "do you have coffee? that we, um, can carry out?" I glanced nervously at the white-washed chairs and bead board walls, well aware of how my conscience was yelling at me to be polite and sit down for a whole meal since, after all, it was Saturday and she had no business.

"Oh, of course! I just finished a pot!" she smiled again and proceeded to describe what amounted to Starbucks grinds in a coffee pot in back with such a flourish that it sounded like she had grown the beans herself and my mouth watered.

"Sounds wonderful," I said and then poked around the Christmas decorations and handmade soaps while we waited.

Some minutes later, her high school-aged daughter reemerged from the back, carrying my coffee and J's peppermint hot chocolate, her eyes locked on J with a shy smile on her face. It occurred to me that probably not many 20-something guys pass through Augusta on vacation, and I smiled too--partly for the feeling of knowing exactly how that girl felt, and partly because that home-brewed Starbucks was the best damn coffee I've ever tasted. We walked down to the river bank one last time, and then got in the car, ready to head back home.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I love the 90s, Jerry

I want Jerry Seinfeld to go away.

Don't get me wrong. I think that he embodies comic genius, and his dead pan delights me. In fact, I'm a huge, huge "Seinfeld" show fan. But that is just the problem.

After Seinfeld the show ended back in 1998, Jerry disappeared with it in attempts to separate himself from the phenomenon that bore his name. But for someone like me--a young teenager whose television consciousness first awoke at age six with Seinfeld and developed in that sacred Thursday 9 P.M. EST time slot--Jerry's disappearance even more embedded him with the show.

As Michael Richards ventured into a spin-off that lasted for two episodes, Jason Alexander jumped from one TV special to the next and Julia Louis-Dreyfus had more luck with her New Adventures of Old Christine, I learned to accept their faces in new roles--even if I did still refer to them as Kramer, George and Elaine. ("Hey! Elaine is giving the commencement speech this year!")

But Jerry continued to embody "Seinfeld"--a human time capsule of the 90's, a reminder of better times when the news was defined more by what constitutes "sexual intercourse with that woman" and less by extremist violence and inept, corrupt government leaders. Jerry Seinfeld's face means prosperity, insularity, boy bands and bad movies. In short, in the lines and curves of Jerry's face lies my childhood.

So when I see Jerry now, on HP commercials and late night talks shows with his endless Bee Movie plugs, I want to grab him from the screen and shout: Get out of here! You don't belong! Don't you SEE what is wrong with the world? Don't drag the good old days into this mess! Stay where you belong--on TBS reruns and DVD box sets!!

As long as I don't have to see Jerry out and about today, I can turn on those reruns and snuggle into my couch. I can pretend to be 10 again, knowing that I'm pretty sophisticated for watching such high brow, adult NBC Must See TV, and feel optimistic about a world where the biggest concerns are close talkers and man hands, long division and chapter books.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

omg lol rentz

When we bought our hulking Windows 3.1 Gateway computer in 1992, my mom was first to take lessons on how to use it. Where my dad shies away from the ever-changing world of technology, my mom jumps in head-first.

Because of that, I owe my mom a great deal for what I know now about computers. After she took CompUSA's basic training course, she taught me how to master the C-drive. When she bought Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, she encouraged me to learn and soon I was the fastest typing 8-year-old I knew. I sat alongside her as she explained that on this new thing called the Internet, I could press on the blue underlined words to go to (gasp!) a new page. Afterward, she and I signed up to receive daily update emails as the men and dogs of the Iditarod mushed their way across Alaska that March. As a privileged member of the Internet community, I brought the emails into my fourth grade class for our teacher to read aloud.


So that my mom would send me a text message two weeks ago should not have surprised me, but it did. Computers my mom had mastered, but cell phones are another story. While my parents have had a cell phone for over ten years, it was not until they accidentally hit a combination of buttons last month that they knew there was a speaker phone function. I've spent several minutes explaining how to change the headset volume to my mom. We've spent more time together changing her ring tone, and even more minutes poring over the alarm clock function. How, without my help, did my mom send her first text message:

"Did u know eric clapton lives in columbus bye"

Having never received a text message from my parents before, I wondered. Did my parents really mean to send this? Maybe it's one of those text spams? Had Mom and Dad always been such Clapton-o-philes, and why did they think this fact was so important that it needed to be texted to me immediately?

I shook my head with the airs of T9 superiority and threw my phone back into my bag. And while I meant to ask them about the text message, I completely forgot their text the next time we spoke. Then, today they gave me reason to remember with another one. This time, they sent a different kind of message:

"hang in there"


There still wasn't capitalization or punctuation marks, but it really didn't matter. It meant the world to me, and I texted back: "thank u--love u guys."

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Gender and Sexuality Through the Lens of American Baseball Advertising...and Dane Cook.

America’s favorite pastime is baseball. And during this year's playoffs, I learned a few things from it. For example, did you know a woman’s favorite pastime is bitching at her husband? And that all husbands are just total idiots? It’s true—just look at the latest bout of Fidelity Investments commercials that ran during the WS07.




Unfortunately, YouTube doesn’t have more of these commercials posted, but I know them pretty well, so here’s a summary smattering:


-The one with the husband who can’t wait to go scuba diving off the Great Barrier Reef, dude, but his wife is such a joy-kill and makes it clear—they’re going to Paris, godammit, and who told this guy he could make decisions?

-The one with the token black couple who bicker for 30 seconds about how neither of them knows what’s going on with their investments, but who the hell cares and whose turn is it to feed the dog, anyway? (For the record, I found this video in a Google/YouTube cache with comments about its racism, but the clip had been removed.)

-The one with the husband who meekly explains to us his investments and how they work (apparently THIS old white guy was paying attention, right Fidelity? High five, my WASPy brothas!) while his wife interrupts several times in acidic tones: “I don’t care.”




It’s not as if Fidelity has discovered some new approach to marketing—namely the approach of Choosy Moms Choose Jif and do all the laundry with only the help of their imaginary friend, Mr. Clean, while Lazy Husbands Drink Bud and vegetate in front of the television while visions of bikinis dance in their heads.

And yeah, sometimes America succeeds in exaggerating the shtick and poking its consumer-driven finger at itself while laughing with the belly of, say, Captain Morgan-infused frat dudes who heist the Sororitastics at a Halloween party in their gender-specific, sex-joke-laden costumes. (Personal favorite: the bunny and the carrot!)

But sadly for us, or maybe even more sadly for the legal folks over at Fidelity, their Bickering Couples ads fall short on the side of satire while crossing the unyielding line of political correctness. And after 30 seconds of gender stereotypes bordering on sexism and racism, we’re left wondering what the marketing division at Fidelity was thinking. Of course, this campaign is coming from the company that has not yet divested out of Sudan, so misogyny begets bigotry, I guess.



As a Colorado Rockies fan’s girlfriend, I can tell you that World Series 2007 could have only been worse if Fidelity had had as many ad plugs as Frank TV. I’m still emotionally reeling from Dane Cook yelling at me during every half inning, so another dose of Fidelity pegging me as a soon-to-be wrinkled-and-nagging wife could have only dragged my self-confidence down farther.

Thank God there’s only one October.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

N/P tunes

Not that I'm shooting any nonprofit films right now, but J told me this morning that Moby is now offering free music for any documentarians, film students, etc. who are in need of some seriously cheap (and by seriously cheap, I mean free) music. I think that's pretty damn cool. For my own purposes, I am learning about this all a little too late, but still... Moby is pretty awesome, even in 2007.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Generation Q?

If Thomas Friedman hadn't done enough for me to hate him throughout my years at Northwestern, then he certainly topped himself with this piece today.

But seriously, another oldie trying to peg a moniker on our generation falls flat on his face, and in doing so, seriously angered me. While I sometimes dream of a hippie life once lived burning my bra and tearing up my draft card, I also don't think Friedman understands how websites like Facebook and MoveOn.org translate the virtual into the real.

And besides, wasn't it Friedman's generation that traded in their tie-dye for neckties and left us with the consequences of their greed? And isn't Friedman's paper the one who has remained disturbingly "quiet" in these troubled times where just today our president claimed that judicial oversight on the executive's citizen surveillance is a "step backward?" Why is it that Friedman can accuse us of not showing enough outrage, while he wastes his column tut-tutting his children's generation, our generation--a generation that has been thrust forward into a cutthroat society where SAT scores, college application essays, and GPAs rival unreasonable passions and dreams?

Perhaps Friedman forgets THIS generation is a product of his own, and it should not be the burden of one generation to deal with the mistakes of its predecessors.

I'd appreciate any thoughts you have because, after all, Friedman seems to think you and I won't discuss them.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Mika-ddicted

I've become seriously, seriously addicted to this video.


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Friday, September 28, 2007

NBC iSucks

I'd like to add my name to the list of Office fans disappointed by NBC's decision to move the episodes online rather than on iTunes.

This old blog entry from TAUW details how iTunes essentially saved The Office's ass when NBC first agreed to put the show's episodes online. (I can only dream of what might have happened for Arrested Development had iTunes had video back in 2004...) But NBC seems drunk and greedy with success. The NYTimes reported that Apple claimed NBC had demanded that the episode charge increase by three dollars, from $1.99 to $4.99 per episode. (NBC denies this claim and says they wanted a higher wholesale price, not retail.)

But who cares about all those numbers and figures when you just want to rewatch that really cute scene from last night's episode where Jim takes Pam's hand while they walk blissfully together down the sunny sidewalk? Answer: Nobody.

And so, today when I wanted to watch aforementioned scene, I was totally willing to accept that NBC had moved its shows online--even happy since two of my three favorite shows air on NBC (The Office and Heroes). But when streaming video is constantly interrupted because of your average shitty Comcast signal and the throngs of other fans trying to access the same tools, it's enough to make you want to turn back on The Office and run to the sheltering, all-American arms of of ABC.com to curl up with a rerun of The Bachelor.

Speaking of which, how is it that ABC's video quality is soooo gooooood? My third favorite show is Ugly Betty. I used to relish in purposely missing its Thursday night airtime and then curling up Friday afternoon with a cup of hot chocolate (or a glass of Riesling, but who's counting?) and watching the beauty that is ABC's streaming full screen video. Meanwhile, somewhere in a distant universe, some Office fan screams in agony as NBC's grainy stuff (that people outside of the U.S. can't watch, by the way) stutters and stumbles its way across the Internet.

NBC says that by November, us Office fans will be able to subscribe to a weekly download service where we can watch the last episode of The Office for free on our computers for one week. Afterward, it will somehow self-destruct, a la Mission Impossible and/or Tom Cruise's dignity.

The next advancement for NBC's viewers will be when they can do exactly what they were doing on iTunes--legally pay for the episodes, download them to their computers and watch them on repeat to their hearts' content. But don't hold your breath because NBC says to expect that to happen by...drumroll...mid-2008.

Until then, I'll accept that NBC has pushed me toward lawlessness on Youtube or wherever else I can watch Angela crush Dwight with another rolly chair.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fear and Loathing

I was never a normal child. Rather than the carefree child I should have been, I emulated something more like a worrisome grandmother who takes Lou Dobbs seriously.

I’ve whiled away days looking at old diaries, reflecting on exhausted hopes and fears, and wondering how I came to be the way I am and was. I still have no explanation for the hours I spent fretting as a young child, concerned about things like—if I lay in bed on my back, I’ll turn into a corpse; or if I don’t love my dog with diabetes enough, she’ll die; or what if I grow old and become like the Chicken Lady down the street in her dilapidated Victorian house full of chickens and their feces.

When I was in elementary school, I got a brand new diary—a plastic book stuffed just slightly with some synthetic material that softened its cover. Plastered on the front, of course, is the word “DIARY” in curvy, sophisticated letters. Below are a pair of pink and purple ballet shoes, balanced precariously on a line of unmelodious notes on a music staff. I can’t tell you when I first bought the diary because, for some reason, I tore out most of its first pages—seemingly an entire section of pink papers have gone missing in the series of pink, yellow, and then blue lined pages. So, the early years remain a mystery.

However, the plot thickens quickly from the first entry about my elementary school’s May carnival to the third entry dated January 26, 1993, which reads directly as follows:

Tonight, I was getting scared because I always—hold on. [Here, I vaguely remember hiding my diary under my pillow as my mom came in to tuck me into bed. I was very suspicious of my mother and convinced myself she was reading my introspection. Every few pages there is an entry written with forceful capital letters like, WHO IS READING THIS!! Of course, if I had any real investment in hiding the diary from Mom, I would have probably not used string to tie the key of the diary to its tiny lock for constant easy access. Anyway, as I was saying:] Sorry. Well let me get back to what I was saying. I have thought my parents steeled me away from the hospital and then pretended that I was their child. [I told you. Suspicious.] But I was also worrying about MORGAGES, TAXESS, CHECKS, BILLS! It’s just a disaster. I’ll wright back when I’ve got this all sorted out.

Well, I haven’t exactly got it all sorted it out. But I am “wrighting” back to say that at least can look back at my eight-year-old self, a gangly, freckled girl wrought with self-doubt, suspicion and fear of finances, and sympathize.

Although I eventually purged the image of my so-called mother and father ripping me away from my rightful parents--some young, good-looking and successful couple, of course--moments after my birth and wielding me home like a trophy, I didn’t get through it easily. Before I could accept my parents as my own mom and dad, I first had to believe that my dad was having an affair with his secretary, then that my mom had secret children from a previous marriage, and finally that there may be more of my siblings hidden in our barn. After several investigations, I determined that these half-siblings didn’t exist after all and that my parents have legitimately conceived and birthed me.

But old habits die hard.

J tells me that I worry about small problems as if they’re big ones, and that if I don’t have any problems, I create them.

At age ten, I started a section in another diary (I had dozens, most of them, like this one, half-full and sporadically dated) dedicated to “Child Advice.” Child advice…from a child. At the time, I saw this as my breakthrough. I, at age ten, would write and publish the first ever by-a-kid, for-a-parent book of parenting advice. I was like Jane Austen, a social iconoclast, breaking down stereotypes and an editorial pioneer, forging words into new territories.

7/18/95. Another note. Sometimes your child will lean towards you, then more towards their father. If you have a son, he’ll go toward you when he’s real young, then toward his dad when he’s probably somewhere between 5-11. Don’t be left in the ‘woman’s place!’ Are they playing baseball? Cheer ‘em on, if you can! Then when your kids are grown up, they’ll be by both of you!

Age 10, and already I feared my own unborn Oedipus.


In my oldest diary--a blank journal stolen at age 6 from my mom's closet, I wrote in its first three pages a children's story, illustrated with a red Bic pen. A simple three-pager, it was riddled with a child's fear of abandonment and her secret desire for a pet cat rather than her moody miniature Schnauzer.

Cat and Keeteen, By Caitlin, 1991

[page 1:] I have to go to the store wiffout Cat and Keeteen.
[Here we see two cats left sitting lonely at a closed door.]

[page 2:] Mamma, I'm scaerrd abot Cat and Keeteeen. Mamma saeys, Its OK. Dont warry abot Cat and Keeteen.
[Pictured: Daughter clings to mom's hems.]

[page 3:] Yay! Cat and Keeteen!
[Here, our heroine has returned home, stick arms thrown up in the air while Cat and Keeteen jump at her feet.]

Scientists and psychologists everywhere extol writing as therapy. And at age 6, I was doing just that. We put these thoughts into words, or sometimes into crudely drawn kids' stories, to work things out. These days, the demons I face are slightly more complicated than my guilty desire for a cat to replace our dog (although then again, for a six-year-old, what can be more complicated than that?). Fears for young 20ish Caitlin are embodied by unemployment, death, and the impact of the Empire of George W. Bush, among other things. But still, I find myself rationalizing--and admittedly, occasionally repressing--to work things out. I usually do this by doing what I'm doing right now--writing. So I guess some things never change.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Kid F'n Nation

Am I the only person in love with Kid Nation?

The general feeling, surmised by the acid test of a Google Blog Search, is not just negative. It's Midwestern-soccer-mom-running-on-nonfat-Starbucks-and-Vicodin angry. Elisa, posting on mothertalkers.com, bemoaned how Kid Nation dared show its hardboiled viewers everything from homesickness to "younger children being picked on by the teenagers." God knows that only happens on TV screens.

And while I'm sure some of these kids ended up on this show with a soft--or maybe not so soft--push from stage moms in the wings, I also have to say that the first episode revealed nothing worse than a sprained muscle and some chalk graffiti.

If anything, Kid Nation appears to be Kids Say the Darndest Things, reality-show remixed, minus-Bill Cosby, and plus-desert. Or, something like this:




And as if the excitement of their Showdowns--wherein the first episode, they pumped red, blue, green and yellow water that left the kids with sickly, food-coloring tinted skin--was not enough, the Easy-to-Love and Easy-to-Hate kids add a whole new dimension of moral pondering and introspection that may leave the average CBS viewer quivering.

To simplify things, here are a few of the of my own Easy-to-Love and -Hate Kids, broken down by their bios from the Kid Nation website, which--luckily for you--I have spent entirely too much time on today.



Easy-to-Love


ALEX, 9

OK, not only is this kid freaking adorable with his little bucktooth and tinted glasses, but he's also the most lucid kid on the show, next to Michael (see below). Just check out his answer to this question:

Who have been some of the worst U.S. presidents, and why?

George W. Bush, for leading us into a war without checking his facts first and for not having a clear plan prior to the invasion. He also suppressed anyone who wanted to question his decisions, which is against the American concept of free speech. William Harrison because he was too stupid to wear a coat at his inauguration speech, and caught pneumonia and died without doing anything in office.
ANY kid who cites William Harrison is a winner in my book.



MICHAEL, 14

This kid is Buckaroo City's 14-year-old, white version of Barack Obama. It seems pretty certain that he is not only a genius (Knowledge Bowl!!), but he's also super-sweet. What would he do if he won the lottery??

Become a philanthropist.

I'm also pretty sure that the Town Council really owes Michael that $20K gold star for bringing the kids to order not once, but twice. Michael is also the anti-thesis to Greg (see below).


LAUREL, 12

Just in case there was any question to how much more mature women are than men from the very earliest of ages, Laurel is here to remind you. She is easily the most competant and take-charge member of the Council and also has the best accent. She especially won me over when she took aside Jimmy to encourage him to stay. She's obviously an emotional person, since she even apologizes to Bush before bashing him:

Who have been some of the worst U.S. presidents, and why?

I'm not sure if President Bush will read this (probably not) and I don't want to hurt his feelings but I am not to happy with his decisions. I believe he vetoed a bill that would allow children to get access to free health care. The whole War going on that he is in favor of and I am strongly not in favor of. There has been a lot of lying and deception with this President. He does not seem real bright like a president should be.



Easy-to-Hate

Jared, 11

So the word 'hate' might be a little strong when directed toward an 11-year-old. I don't really hate this kid at all.

But I couldn't help but feel thoroughly creeped-out by this kid every time he was on the screen. Memories of childhood flashed back where there was always that ONE kid--you know, the one doing bad MLK impressions and talking with religious fervor about the "shells of men"--who left you hiding under the swingset.

However, I have to absolutely give Jared props for his best quote of the show so far:

"This is like the worst day in three years."



Brett, 12

When faced with choosing one of two rewards for each kid completing the Showdown, Brett wanted the Town Council to choose the crap ass TV instead of seven outhouses.

Enough said.




Greg, 15

Greg is Kid Nation's male answer to reality shows' formulaic cast member "The Bitch We Love to Hate."

We have Greg to thank for the chalk graffiti as he and his minion Blaine torment kids half their age. He also seemingly underwent a change of heart when the $20K star was unveiled. Although evidently, unlike Sophia who received the first one, he'll unveil a new leadership style a la Ted Kennedy. See video below.






That video alone makes me shake in anticipation for the next episode. Oh God, oh God.


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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Andersonville

It may not sound entirely possible, but I'm relatively certain--the sun shines brighter in Andersonville.

Out of the canyon walls of downtown and the towering buildings of the near north, Andersonville's sidewalks radiate sunshine and streets play with their leafy-green shadows. Rosy-faced babies strapped in strollers squint in the light and their parents, clad in the hippest clothing you'll see parents wearing, glance in the storefronts. In our own Swedish farmhouse-turned-apartment, the third floor rises above the neighbors' dark brick buildings and the sun filters through skylights. It's not a dream. It's the North Side.

And while Andersonville is hip, it's no Wicker Park where the need to be counter-culturally cool hangs tangible in the air. There's no need for presumption along this north bend of Clark Street. In fact, it's that effortlessness that makes Andersonville just so cool, like the older kid you secretly admired in high school who was quirky but comfortable with himself no matter what everyone else was doing.

The neighborhood, tucked just south of mostly-Hispanic Edgewater, is rooted in hard work and charm. The streets are dappled with brightly-painted old farmhouses turned apartments. Before they were apartments with dark-paved city streets, they were homes for large Swedish families who worked in the cherry orchards and farms surrounding their northern suburb. Of course, it didn't take long for Chicago to bloat and swell onto the north side, loosening its belt as it devoured its own boundaries. Some Swedes stayed, but Middle Eastern, Hispanic, and Korean families moved in, adding their own tastes to a neighborhood filled already with flavor. Soon afterward, young hipsters moved in and opened their new boutique stores, sweets and coffee shops, but kept the feel of the neighborhood--keeping the dive bars divey, the old Swedish water tower towering, and the cheap produce shops...well, cheap.

My new favorite haunt is undoubtedly Sweet Occassions where I've rediscovered a love for all things Irish Mint. I also have spent a ridiculous number of hours poking around in The Brown Elephant, trying on big derby hats and oversized sunglasses. Andrea and I spent most of Thursday afternoon layering every scarf there about our necks and checking our reflection in the mirror.

John and I have also totally exploited the restaurants in the neighborhood, traveling beyond even the Hopleaf (God bless the Kwak) and trying out pizza places like Ranalli's Anderonsville outpost, Turkish/Middle Eastern Reza's, and of course Hamburger Mary's, which is no independent spot, of course, but I had never eaten there before.

But I have to say that my favorite dinner so far was the only one we've made at home. Try this C&J Fatty Sandwich recipe:

Ingredients: Sourdough bread, bacon, fresh peanut butter, Muenster and Gouda cheeses, Granny Smith apples

-Fry bacon til it's good and crispy.
-Cut up apples into thin slices.
-Slice the loaf of sourdough into medium-thickness slices and toast.
-Slather one side with the peanut butter, another side with butter.
-Layer the apples, sliced cheeses, and bacon onto the sandwich and close the sandwich.
-Fry in pan on medium heat. Try butter in the pan rather than other oils, and enjoy!!

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Friday, September 7, 2007

iPhone, schmiPhone

Okay, okay!



I know that everyone is freaking out, just like this dude, because Steve Jobs lowered the price of the iPhone by $200. That news is two-days old.

But I, one iPhoneless girl, can't help but put a plug in all this pissing and moaning. What's more, I think all those "I was first to the new technology!" twats deserve that $200 slap on the wrist.

I endured more obvious flaunting of their new hot thing by iPhowners on the El, at Panera, and even at the Evanston Fourth of July fireworks. (What our founding fathers would think!) Usually, the iPhowners would go about their technoboasting in the same quiet way:

Hm...It sounds like some people near me are talking about the iPhone. I think I'll take mine out at hold it at eye-level for everyone to see while I send an email.

Oh, you have a Blackberry? Let me sit next to you and angle my iPhone at you so you can see all the pretty graphics.

Oh, what time is it, you ask? Let me just pull out my iPhone to check, rather than glancing at my wristwatch.

Do you possibly need to make a phone call, friend? Oh, feel free to use my iPhone. (pause) Oh, didn't I tell you I got one? Here, let me show you.


I mean, look at that guy in his Panama hat and thick-rimmed glasses with his newly-bought iPhone. I think he's okay without that $100 refund for his ego-boost.

Oh, and if it drops in price again, I'm buying one.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

My Big White House

In August 1987, my family moved away from the pretty, curved lanes of our Wilmette neighborhood to the unknown--Lebanon, Ohio. There are few things I remember about this period of time (I was, after all, only 32 months old). Mainly, I remember the large cardboard boxes, whose rough edges, in my many attempts to make forts or climb them, managed to slice open my hands and knees many times over. I also remember a profound sense of sadness, though I couldn't quite place that description of feeling at the time. I knew things were different than they had been and that things were changing. I simply didn't like it.

Then, one night, shortly before we left, my mom took me on a walk around our neighborhood. It was one of those walks where we brought the stroller, but I would jump out and then push the contraption myself, playing Mama to my doll Baby Nikki, who was named after our six-year-old neighbor (who I revered). We trailed about the quiet black street, the decorative rocks that flanked the road catching the last orange-pink light of sunset. It had rained earlier that day, and the wetness held fast onto the light in its last moments. My mom had already explained the move to me several times, but I asked a lot about it. As we rounded onto another street, she explained again.

"We have to leave Caitlin's Big White House"--that's what I called our home--"to move into a New Big White House," she told me. The prospect that the new house would also be Big and White was somewhat reassuring, although not entirely welcoming. But it wasn't just the house I didn't want to leave--I didn't want to leave Nikki, or our other neighbors, or the garden we had, or this neighborhood. My entire world revolved around about a square mile radius around Lake Avenue and Meadowlane Road, and I wasn't about to leave it.

As I shuffled my feet along the blacktop, I spotted a different white house, not quite so big, but close enough to our home. "Couldn't we move to This Big White House?" I asked.

"No, honey," my mom said. And then she explained why, but I stopped listening because I realized that it was inevitable. We were leaving My Big White House, we were leaving my world.

Eventually, my parents closed the sale on our house, and that night we stayed in a motel near Old Orchard. We hit the road in the middle of the night--3 AM, actually--so we could be in Lebanon the next morning for my parents to finalize those papers as well. I don't remember any of this, but I do remember stopping at a Perkins somewhere in Indiana as the sun approached rising. I wore my Doctor Denton's jammies and padded around the restaurant, excited now about all the activity.

I fell asleep for the rest of the trip and woke up as we pulled into Lebanon. My eyes adjusted to the light as my neck, gone limp in sleep with my head lilting onto my right shoulder, now craned to see what was around me. As things came into focus, a large, baby blue building towered over me at the corner of what I'd later know as Broadway and Silver Streets. We continued down the town's main street, already bustling with weekend tourists, and finally made a left turn to trudge up our long, hilly driveway. There, at the top, was the New White House.





I'd like to say that it was here--where I got out of our Jeep Wagoneer, running about our huge yard, hugging the towering trees and chasing butterflies--that I fell in love with my house, that I adjusted. But I don't remember. Here, everything goes fuzzy again. My mom tells me that I cried sometimes before bed and asked when we could go back to My Big White House. I didn't understand, it seemed, that this wasn't just a long vacation where we brought all of our belongings. But, evidently, I adjusted. This New Big White House allowed for lots of Big Changes as August slipped into fall that year--a big girl bed, potty training, some light swimming lessons. And eventually, it wasn't the New Big White House, it was just My House and it was home.




I guess I write this out so that as I pack up the things around me, interview for more jobs, try to convince my parents that I haven't ruined my career future and cope with leaving behind a city, a boyfriend, and a life that I love, I can remember that it'll be okay. That there are more Big White Houses in my future.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Day Trip to Northern Illinois

We decided last night, at about 10 pm, that a day trip was necessary. And though I can't quite do justice to all the moments, but in bullet-point form (my go-to in lazy moments), here are a few:

--A underworn-socked-light bulbed-scrubbered trip to the Target on Golf
--A lunch at the First Ever McDonalds (well, across the street from the First Ever)
--A windows-down trip up to Lincolnshire for sweet corn
--A putt-putting adventure at Par-King (most ridiculous, strangest mini golf ever)
--A lovely drive through the country-ish/north-westerly suburbish of northern Illinois
--A trip to an abandoned beach and an abandoned nuclear plant in Zion
--A discovery of a small envelope in a soda vending machine that read: OPEN ME. We did, and it was nine pennies. We put it back in case they were laced with SARS.
--A marshmallow and hot fudge creme sundae from Culver's
--A trip to the Naval Academy.
--A jingle-filled afternoon of fresh made songs about Kennilworth and Wilmette
--Oh, and making that damn good corn at the end of the day for dinner. :)

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Sunday, July 8, 2007

Summer in the city

Things are slow, quiet. And for the most part, that's good. After the boiling hot/smelly subway/New York chaos that was last summer, the lazy, beachy, part-time employed life is somewhat welcome for one last Summer Vacation. Not to mention, that being away from New York as long as possible is good considering who knows how long I may spend in my future there...

I spent yesterday morning with Hayley at the Farmers' Market where we bought raspberries, blueberries, and various other goodies. We subsequently packed ourselves turkey bagel sandwiches and threw on our swimsuits for a trip to beach. We basked in the sun for almost four hours, catching up, reading, plunging in the cool lake and throwing a frisbee around in the waves. It was great.

It was also nice to spend some time with a friend I hadn't seen in a while. It seems so hard--maybe at this age, or maybe forever--to keep in touch with friends. I've spent quite a few nights here saying "goodbye" to people, promising to keep in touch, and wondering if we ever will. I also keep running into friends and acquaintances on the street, half-making plans to go get dinner or a drink and seemingly never following through on the promise made. I can't help but wonder if sometimes an unreturned or unmade phone call is my fault or the fault of someone else, or if it's no one's fault and we're all so busy. But then I find myself sitting around on a sunny afternoon and thinking that it should be another day at the beach or something of the like.

There must be some delicate balance between the quiet buzz of the air conditioning in a room by one's self and the loud roar of a college party. It's just hard to find in the middle of July when it's almost 100 degrees outside, I suppose.

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Monday, June 4, 2007

thoughts upon graduation

I'm running on little to no sleep from the last few days, but it's important that I update now.

I'm done.

Done with college, that is.

After a website crashing, recreating it, a finished documentary, and an econ final in the last, well, three days, I'm done.

If it were not for sitting at John's computer, listening to the raging theater party outside my window and having just returned from Jeff Redinger's apartment where I hung out with freshman year Willardite-types, I might be able to fully appreciate and comprehend that phrase--I'm done.

But instead, I languish in the residue of heat, the drip of the Ridge and Davis air conditioners, and the darkness of this darkened room and pretend that this is not it. That this might be another beginning.

And I suppose, ultimately, it is. But how can one move forward when one is too busy looking behind her?

So I will allow myself this time to decompress, to wax nostalgic, and to do whatever it is that all graduating seniors do (drink? cry? repress?) in the next week before graduation. Perhaps I will be ready. And perhaps I won't.

But at the end, for most of my life, I will be a Northwestern graduate. So for now, I will relish in this threshold--this in-between--and wait.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

"How many of you guys have heard of... blogs???"

When will journalism classes teach appropriately for students who have already mastered the crazy wild unruly media of the Internet? It's nothing new for us nutso college kids. Nothing earth-shattering. I'm so tired of reading about the Internet.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

VT

I find myself setting aside my homework and obsessively reading about the Virginia Tech tragedy. Since last Monday, I've been engrossed. When I first heard from a voice message from Katie Sparks, I practically sped home to turn on the television. Of course my first thoughts were of Michael, my friend from home who goes there, and I started contacting anyone who might have heard from him. Eventually, I got a hold of Brandon who had just spoken with Mike and knew he was okay.

I couldn't focus on my homework all Monday night, nor could I focus in class throughout the day on Tuesday. Instead, I looked at the facebook profiles and news on each individual victim, imagining what Northwestern's campus would be like if something like that happened here. As more details emerged about the killer's bizarre life and his gross, unfounded anger, I became so angry one day that I literally broke a spatula.

I finally received an email from Mike on Thursday, assuring me (after my panicky email from Monday afternoon) that he was okay. I was sad though. Mike and I grew apart over the last three years, and although I hear about him from friends like Nick, I miss him. I guess that's what a tragedy like this does--it puts things in perspective. Mike and I may have lost touch, but there's a part of him that will forever mean so much to me since we were so close in high school and a part of me that feels like we could as easily grow close again as we grew apart. When I heard about VT, I couldn't help but think back to my senior year when Brandon, Michael, Katie Odell and I formed one big hug on my front lawn after attending the visitations of two girls in their class who had died two days before in a car accident. "I don't know what I'd do if I lost you guys," Katie said. It's four years later, but I still feel the same way.





I guess I had to get that out. I should get back to homework--a new website due on Thursday, a quiz on Tuesday, etc. etc. I tried to relax this weekend by celebrating John's early graduation, surprising him with a trip to the floatation tank center and then a crazy night of dancing at Smartbar for DJ Heather's new Om record release and birthday party. And today was gorgeous, although I spent most of it scoping out Marquette Park to find a new documentary subject (our subjects backed out yesterday, a day before our scheduled interview). We found one, thankfully, and the sun was shining.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Northwestern on the Southwest Side

My feelings about the nearing end of college are not unique or original, but that's okay. I still feel anxiety, excitement and a bittersweet twinge inside when I imagine traipsing about Scott Hall's lawn following the Medill convocation. Maybe it will rain instead.


Still, how am I to know what I want to do? I write. That's something, I'm told. Professor-mentors pull me aside and tell me that I've got "it," but words of encouragement mean nothing if you don't believe it yourself--especially if you don't know what "it" is. Instead, I run from one thing to the next, hoping that something will click. If it's not service, it's narrative non-fiction. If it's not writing, it's film. If all else fails, I'll audition for the next production of Cats.




Before I collapse back into another six hours of sleep, I have to mention that my six hours on the southwest side today culminated into much more than almost two and a half hours on the road and some fruitless exploration.

Two of my groupmates in my documentary class joined me in Marquette Park today as we sought out what remained of the Muslim population there. We ended up poking our heads into a boarded up storefront whose door was open, discovered it was a "Social Club," and sat sipping tea with the owner Ah'med, a Palestinian immigrant, for almost two hours. We walked away from his shop with the beginnings of an amazing doc topic and, quite seriously, a new friend. We have made tentative plans to bring our cameras and empty stomachs for a traditional Palestinian meal at Ah'med's house during the weekend.

We were happy enough with Ah'med, but ventured on a bit further down the street to a Muslim community activism center. There we discovered yet another great topic for our film--this one involving released convicted armed robbers and murderers who have turned to the Koran for guidance as this community organization puts them on their feet. I'm basically psyched.



Can't college last forever? College makes experiences like I had today so easy to access (given that you major the right way, I suppose). I may have to work harder in my future to make these things happen in my life. But I do know that I will, no matter what I end up doing, keep seeking new these new places and people. It's what I love to do and what helps me breathe--especially when I'm anxiety-ridden about an impending job search. :)

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

It's Finals Week

And I'd be remiss not to mention that after running into Grant and Scott, who were carrying an emptied Heineken box full of Rockstar Energy Drink, red cups, two ping-pong balls, and--for some reason--orange juice, I have now seen two "grown" college men play energy drink pong in an emptied library tower past closing time. And now we are sitting in the dark, backed up against a wall and testing our computers to make sure they will turn off at a moment's notice if someone should open the door to this room to make sure it's empited.

I guess it's college, and I'll enjoy it while it lasts.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Because I can't get enough Mary Poppins...



Here's a theory.

Remember the scene in Mary Poppins when she teaches Michael and Jane that "In every job that must be done, there's an element fun. Find the fun, and snap! The job's a game!"?


I'm pretty sure that scene ruined not just me, but my future as well.

Let's get real. There is no work being done in this scene. Mary, Michael and Jane run around the nursery, half-playing with toys and half-snapping their fingers, causing the toys to jump back into place, cupboards to shut in orderly fashion, and clothes to fly into the air, folding themselves mid-launch, and plop into dressers. I'd happily do that "job" every day.

Now, I know we're supposed to look through this scene and see the true message, but I can't. My brain remains childlishly literal: They weren't having fun while cleaning! They were just having fun!!!

That said, I seem to expect that things will simply drop into place for me. That a job will come by my door, that I will become some discovered actress/writer/illustrator/blogger/trapeze artist and things will be set. Unfortunately, life doesn't work that way. I'm singing showtunes and snapping my fingers when I really need to be tidying the nursery.

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Monday, March 5, 2007

Inconsistencies

Perhaps I'm crude, but I couldn't help but comment the other night as I watched the last hour of DM on Julie's computer that it seemed strange to see all those strobe lights and lasers for a dance marathon to benefit people living with epilepsy.

I remember vividly my freshman year when our efforts to raise money for autism research were personified as a mother and her autistic son took the stage to thank us for all of our hard work. How was the thanking handled this year?

I know, I'm horrible. But aside from the fact that this was a legitimate question, I took note that this was yet another in a string of incidents marked by irony and inconsistencies.

In an art store, it turns out, you get all types. Not just the crazy sculptors or the anal architects...

Last weekend, I helped a blind woman to the paint aisle to pick out black paint for her. As I asked her which "black" she wanted--Mars Black, Ivory Black, etc.--I wondered what her artwork looked like, if it was somehow prophetic, or if maybe people's praise precipitated from their discomfort with looking at the artwork of a blind woman. I later found out she is not just a painter--she is a teacher.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Senior Year

"I look back and can't remember most of my undergraduate career," Brett said over Dixie Kitchen brunch yesterday. "I mean, I know I took twelve classes, but I couldn't really tell you much about them."

After I finished my cheese grits and eggs benedict, I went home, filled up a suitcase with used textbooks and drove to Norris. I got $98.75 for roughly two dozen books that culminated most of my own twelve classes that I cannot remember either. Now I don't even have the books to prove I took them.

Though I won't admit it any other time except now, I spontaneously cry sometimes just by looking at Facebook or my room. I'll pick up my high school scrapbook and the people in the pictures look back at me from a different dimension. Some are now strangers. Some have passed on to the next life. Some, were it not for facebook, I could not tell you where they are or what they love.

And, I think, is this what becomes of the now? Four years down the road, will I look through pictures and say, I wish I still had the love we had in that relationship. I wish I knew what she was doing. I wish I had known him better.

There's so much pressure to get it right--this senior year thing. And who can?

Later that night, I met some of my favorite people for margaritas and burgers, shared some laughs, got drunk and played games, sang until my throat hurt, and had a sleepover. I may not get everything perfect, and I may keep making some of the same mistakes that I keep trying to fix, but for the meantime, I'm doing the best I can.

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Thursday, February 8, 2007

Nostalgia

I miss New York.

I'll be sitting at my computer (like on a day like today) and suddenly start thinking about walking down 7th Avenue in Park Slope and the sound and smell of crisp leaves crackling and crushing under feet and strollers. Or I'll think about what various dirty words the street vendors at the Court Street stop in Brooklyn would toss in my direction as I rushed off to class. Or I'll suddenly think of the view of the dirty canal from the F line as it slips around Red Hook. Or I can taste the chocolate shakes from the Shake Shack and hear the music in Madison Square. When the sun blinds me in Chicago, I think about the glinting light bouncing off the flying towers of New York. I can't help it.

I haven't gotten into the city (here, in Chicago) nearly as much as I'd promised I would. I really have no good excuse either other than how much I hate the El after riding the MTA subway. I am, however, going into the city on Saturday for an animation festival at the Music Box. Had it not been -30 degrees below last weekend, I was going to go bar-hopping. There's still time and plenty of city.

For now, I apply and search for jobs and torture myself by wondering where I'll be in a year. Which is why I must stop thinking and wondering and drowning in what-if's. For now, there is now.

I live in Evanston. And that's fine.




(it'd be nicer if I had my iPod...)

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

A New Kind of Experiment, that may lead to lots of humiliation

I once read about drunk blogging... the process of drinking and blogging at the same time. Tonight, at the risk of all things good in my life, I will accomplish this feat while a Streetbeat Party happens right outside my bedroom.

Now understand--during most Streetbeat Parties, I sit in my room and drink the Streebeat DJs' booze and surf the Internet. Tonight should be about the same, but with this whole blog thing thrown in. I will now go steal some of their vodka to add to my Hpnotiq to make my first cocktail of the evening at 10:30 P.M.


11:23 P.M.: As far as Streetbeat parties go, this one is kicking. Not only are there no theater majors here this time, but more than three DJ's showed up. However, par for the course, they are all dudes. Most of them are dudes I don't know. I literally can hear grunting outside of my room. Here are a few of the dudes:

Dude 1, whom we shall call "Juan," is that dude who girls just love but don't date because they're pretty sure they'll somehow fall short of him because so far he seems perfect. John and I have tried to hook Juan up in the past but with no success. Juan is a total catch--good looking, smart, multitalented, enthusiastic about life and the things he does with his own, all that jazz. Juan is still available.

Dude 2, whom we shall call "Old Guy What's He Doing Here?" or OGWHDH?, arrived a healthy forty-five minutes late. OGWHDH, although old, is hip. He brought Beefeaters. For discussion: What's better? Beefeaters or Bombay? Talk amongst yourselves.

Dude 3, whom we shall call "Headphones Guy," wears headphones in the cold like they are earmuffs. For him, it's a fashion statement, but for everybody else, it's just a big mistake. Headphones arrived at the party ready to go.

Dudes 4 and 5, whom we shall call "Freshmen," arrived before anybody else did.

11:34: (wondering how much bass these apartments can handle before they shatter into pieces) Matt's part over at Church and Ridge has already been broken up, evidently. People attempted to enter the WNUR Streetbeat's free party, and were immediately turned away. Electronica DJ's are harsh.

11:46: My favorite thing about college parties is the mindless chatter. I just met a freshman girl (Note: Count is now: Girls: 2, Boys: 34, or something like that) who told me how she is choosing between Classics and Economics as a major. God love her. This conversation subsequently turned into an awkward conversation about majors and futures with four or fives individuals. We made several conclusions based on generalizations and then laughed at everybody who wasn't one of our majors to make ourselves comfortable, (SESP's!!!). I also was rewarded with champagne for walking into the room. This is another very uniquely COLLEGE experence. Nowhere else will you arrive into a place and will people shower you with booze. "Hooray! You're here! Now we'll take Peppermint Patty Shots!" Only if you're between the ages of 18 and 22.

11:50, one more thought before I go: I asked that girl how she was "liking it." What a bitchy thing to say! Oops. I'll go make up for it.

11:57

12:12 I met a bunch of people in my kitchen. I don't know who they are. One girl asked me how I got the real martini glass with the slice of lime. I told her, "Suck it." Actually, I said, "i live here."

A Haiku:

If you live with me
You can drink all that I have
Otherwise shut up.

12:46: Ran out of booze, Mike goes to Jesss's in order to grab tequila...to salvage the situaion with tequila and raspberry vodka... Mike comes in room, asks where John is, we dont' know . Go find him. In ktichen. Telling off Dude Number 6.

1:01: Mike got an audition at Yale. Jess didn't. It's ok though. ((input by Jess)) We're all here now.

1:10: I tried to get Dude #7 out of here. It didn't work. He just asked me how New York was. Jess said I was drunk.

1:11 Guy came in said "Hey what's up". Caitlin said "heeeeeey". Guy said "uh" and left. ((input by jess))

1:14 Wine glass broken by Pete in kitchen... That makes 2/4 for Julie. All of all for Caitlin?

1:26 Mike is showing off about some place in Italy (Burano...the smaller Murano, whre they make glass --input by Jess) where I (Caitlin)31 don't know.

1:41/; I'm going ro be naked all th theiml


1:46: I'm here again and this time I spilled and it was my fault. This time it was Jon's fault and I spilled it.

1:48: Oh, shit!

1:51: shit swet bedrooma~ Son'r hwre hwe hCW ROO MUXH PD RHr~ roo lRW~

2:04: Jess and Mike are on my bed, tring to make pictures. I don't like this. I also walked on on Brett trying to pick up some half-pretty girl who is not really prettyl.

2:37 : Oops.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Uptown in Chicago



I miss New York. Chicago is small and I bought in to the idea that a city is only a city if you get lost every time you go in it. I guess I better start getting lost in Chicago again and remind myself that it's not just Belmont, Southport and Uptown. Speaking of which...

John and I celebrated our first anniversary together on Sunday evening. Much to my surprise, he had arranged for us to sneak illegally into the abandoned Uptown Theater and spend a couple hours exploring it. If you're unaware of John's documentary on the subject (which would mean you have never spoken to him before), then you wouldn't know that the theater is the largest movie palace in the United States, a last decaying remnant of the decadence that was the 1920's.

Though the theater is falling to pieces in some places (a chunk of plaster here, a warped wood-panelled wall there), it maintains an overwhelming beauty that literally takes your breath away. It's hard to believe that architecture in the United States every took on such European, indulgent attention to detail. Where chandeliers no longer illuminate the towering ceilings, the handwork of hundreds of artists hides veiled in cavernous shadows, forgotten.

The most striking thing about being in a place like the Uptown--a place abandoned, forgotten--where thousands of people walk by each day, unaware of what sits inside, is how it simultaneously is ravaged by, and untouched by, time. It decays, yes, but somehow it feels as if you might shut your eyes, reopen them, and find yourself in another time--maybe wearing your best outfit and waiting in the ticket line for a seat to the latest talkie; children running between the brass posts and velvet ropes, soon to be stowed away in the theater's nursery; the mechanics and the electricians downstairs, toiling in the heat by Titanic-sized boilers and fans, unwittingly taking in Legionnaire's air and a stinted life; the women in their Mezzanine boxes, chattering and fanning themselves; the projectionist's assistant struggling up flights upon flights of stairs to deliver the burdening film reel and when he reaches the top, he can stare from the box--ten stories above the rest of the audience, the rest of the world--and watch.

But then you open your eyes and you remember that it's 2007. The theater is abandoned, crumbling under the weight of years of neglect, and life goes on. Who knows what will happen with this amazing place, but I'm glad that I've been inside and seen it with my own eyes. Oh, and Bob, the building manager, said he'd happily sneak anyone else in who wants to go. :)


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Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Enter Sandman

Do you ever have dreams where you suddenly find yourself in your third grade classroom and realize you forgot to complete an assignment for Mrs. Perkins back in 1992 and now you have to repeat the entire educational process?

And it's the science fair again, and there's Ronnie again with his fancy bird feeder that is so obviously made by his parents, and what does it have to do with science fairs, and what did it have to do with science fairs back in 1992??

You're panicking and your knees don't fit under the kid-sized desks anymore and you don't have your pencil case and God-only-knows where your Trapper Keeper is, and oh no, where did Mom put the lunch money--didn't you just have a paying job? You guess not. You guess, in fact, you're going to have to come up with something quick to match Ronnie's bird feeder and hope the other kids like you and maybe get Student of the Week or a gold star by your name on the bulletin board. You guess you'll just have to stick with it.





Except this time, it's not a dream.

Welcome back to Northwestern, Caitlin.

You didn't graduate yet--remember? You're a senior now. You've only been interning these last six months. You live in a dirty Evanston college apartment, not in a Brooklyn brownstone. Also, you haven't bought any books yet.

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