Saturday, January 29, 2011

Egypt: Somebody explain to me why I feel British Empire Guilt when I wasn't even born?

Saturday night I got a text from a friend who was drunk at a bar downtown, and upset the bartender wouldn't give him a free drink for being Egyptian. Later he sent me a text where he misspelled Ana Masry. "The place I've always considered home is burning. I'll get herpes from whatever tramp I want!"

I spent most of this weekend reading twitter feeds and Al Jazeera and any other information that came streaming across the social media network. I thought to myself, there's just no way I can understand this fully. There's so much going on. And I tried to wrap my head around it, to know the names and the significances. I thought I was a failure, until I had conversations with other people who knew far less than me. But that doesn't make me feel better, only sadder that we are all just trying to play catch up because none of us knew the history before this. Except my friend of course, whose family over there is scared the government will fall and the Muslim Brotherhood will come into power through the elections, because they are Christian. That's the other perspective, right? Not from Fox News, not from a covering their tracks government, but a real thing, how real citizens also feel.

And listen, right, I got so many emails from people who tell me I have to spread around how secular the revolution is, and yes I believe it is, but it's never the young people who hold the power after the revolutions. It's the young people with the good intentions and the fire and the verve who start them. But it's the political parties who make the changes later. Its the old men, who have been planning for a while. I have nothing against the old men, inherently. Just, it disappoints me that even now, at this age, I can find myself sucked into the cry for revolution without clear analysis, that the part of me who wanted to scream in high school for communists and feminists and sweat shop workers is still on speed dial. I support all those things, I support these protesters, but when do I get old enough where I do my research before getting indignant? Rather than having to quickly backtrack and make sure. I want to keep the fire in my belly, but I want more control over it. I want to look through the emotional things, keep them somewhere safe and useful, but see also the whole picture, the reality of things. I just want to know.

Image from Sherif9282

Not that it isn't needed. I've done my backtracking and I'm sure. Of course it's needed. It goes beyond needed to this thing that is a given, an expectation. You can't freeze power in place for that long, first of all. Power is an organic thing, a naturally violent thing, and regardless of political or religious beliefs, power will turn against you if you try to keep it on a leash for too long. It requires blood and anger to live. And maybe I shouldn't be so hard on myself, because the automatic response of "a country should be what that country determines it wants to be" is something my parents got right in me.

Still, the hardest part, the part I want to capture here, is what it feels like to be a liberal white woman, in a prosperous and stable country, who's never had to deal with revolutions or emergency martial law or even seen a working tank in person, to try and understand and feel and keep up on these events which are so important. To want to be educated on them, and to feel like the media is a vast awful puzzle I have to navigate and double check and be sure of. To want to see every angle, and to only get the feeds.

But there's where Twitter becomes a vital part of revolutions. First of all, it has become a thing that the people in power can no longer hide an uprising. First rule now: turn off the social media feeds. First consequence: everyone in the world will automatically know you have done that. You can't get by silently squashing stories in the media anymore, doing quick and quiet raids on newspapers, arresting tiny cells of dissenters. The minute you turn off Twitter, that thing that is better than anything else at getting people to one place all together, then anyone following them on twitter knows. And within minutes the story of your uprising is out there. Me, sitting at my work computer, in Ohio buried under snow, I know within minutes. I look forward to reading the inevitable book someone is working on right now about the role of social media in political revolutions.

Last night, a group of friends and I sat around and played a game about money. That's what we do here in the United States - we make expensive foods, drink wine, and play games about investing money in foreclosed homes, while we sit in our lovely safe houses and listen to music we share for free, and the girls wear low cut shirts and talk about being doctors and birth control, and in the middle of winter in a cold land, we are the extremely lucky ones. And if I was in Egypt right now I would be spending the night on a street with thousands of other people, surrounded by watchful men with guns.

It is dissonance in my head, trying to exist in one and understand the other at the same time. I wonder if it is an impossible task, if like learning a language, you never really get it until you've been in that land. Like, I can talk your ear off now, about the political players involved, and what's happened this last hour, the possible outcomes, and the resonance for Israel and the Region, but I'm just really echoing the words of other people I've read. I want a personal experience for this, and it turns out my personal experience is of being "that American girl". So unsatisfactory.

Image from a Reddit user in Egypt, on a digital camera.

This is a picture someone took on their phone, from their cab. It may turn out to be the next Tiananmen Square Tank Man.

This is a picture of the gummy bear ravioli that was made last night.

Image from

But I hope they stick it out for something more than some cabinet changes. I hope they get to be whoever they want to be.

Fridays Questions Hear the Wind Howling and the Cats Fighting and All the Coffee in the Universe Brewing

So before we even get started on questions, let me share with you the very best thing on the internet this morning, from
It's the online equivalent of wind chimes.

This week has been full of stuff, a group dinner in Amish country with pies and horses, necklaces from Spain, Revolution and the subsequent bar discussions that happen in other countries because of it, and finally but most importantly Babies. Little Baby is off her breathing tube, which is amazing, that a 2 pound little person can function like that on their own so quickly, and it sort of makes you realize how lame you are for ever thinking you can't do anything.

All I know is that to me
You look like you're lots of fun
Open up your loving arms
Watch out here I come

Etiquette question: what is the best way to tell my friend WITHOUT PISSING HER OFF that she is freaking out way too much about her wedding and above all, I don't care what she does. And I would like to be involved as little as possible in her crazy plans.

There is no way. You are going to piss her off. There are things that happen in people's lives, weddings and births and deaths, where really you just have to go along with what they want.

Which is why you should be careful about who you let become a close enough friend that she would involve you in her wedding. Because you are going to go through something like this with every close friend you have at some point. So if you don't really love them enough to put up with the craziness, you probably should have been keeping her at arms length the whole time.

But before you go disowning half your friends (though seriously, not a bad idea), how about taking her out for drinks, giving her a vicodin, and talking to her about it? After the vicodin kicks in. Her craziness is coming from stress and fear, not about the wedding, but about her future. Above all, when you broach the subject, keep yourself out of it. Express your concern for what she's putting herself through. That way, even if you get nowhere, you don't get labeled the unsupporting bitch. That's how all the good cons work anyway.

I defriended an ex-fling on FB and he texted me today to ask if I was "okay." I have no interest in being friends with him and am in a relationship anyway. Should I reply or ignore him? I feel bad about hurting his feelings but I don't think he gets it.

He would probably "get it" if you told him.

Why do people refuse to confront people on things like this? We all know logically it's better to make issues like this clear to someone right away, that even if it hurts their feelings, it's better that they not stay confused and you not be vague. But every time a situation occurs, even one like this where you don't want this person in your life, we agonize over our actions. We're not agonizing over their feelings, only our own. We're just being selfish and avoiding confrontation because it makes us uncomfortable. Just man up and tell the guy you don't want to be friends. He'll never contact you again, and if he does, then you can feel completely guilt free in talking shit about him to your friends. I mean, I'm with you sort of, you would have thought he would get it when you defriended him. But he may also just be worried about your feelings, and thinking he somehow hurt you. No, I know, I don't think so either. But you should try to be generous to people until they prove you wrong.

Why do eggs turn sort of greenish when you cook them in the microwave?

Do they? I would try this out, but I only have one egg left and I'm not wasting it in a microwave. Who cooks eggs in a microwave? I mean, I guess if you don't have a stove. But if you do, fucking go wash a pan and cook that properly. That's something an animal produced from it's body, give it a little respect.

Other things you should not cook in microwaves:
hot chocolate
macaroni and cheese
tuna melts

If you can't be bothered to turn on your stove, maybe you don't deserve to eat it. Speaking as someone who has descended to the very depths of microwave laziness, I know this to be true.

What are your favorite types of questions to be asked on the interwebs? How about in person?

I like to be asked things that have nothing to do with me or you, because those details will come out in the answers anyway, but instead about things that exist outside our emotional lives. Subjects that make you have to think about the rest of the world. Asking questions like that are the nicest thing you can do for another person.

What is the best way to exact revenge on a shitty landlord?

Get cats. Lots of them. Old cats.
This is a double edged sword though.
Maybe start shaving your cats in the bathtub without the drain catcher in?

Or, hey, crazy idea, you could move and stop giving him money.

Regarding Egypt and Tunisia, is democracy really worth the struggle and bloodshed of revolution? What is the point having a right to vote when the political system is inevitably hijacked by those with money/power?

I'm very young, you know. I'm only a few decades old, and when I'm even decades older, I'll still be too young to tell you the point of bloodshed. But one thing I think, one thing important to revolutions, is that its in the details. It happens instance by instance, and even though revolutions may look the same, they are individual creations, specific to their time and their country. As an outsider, someone not a citizen in that place who hasn't had to live there in that culture and experience that corner of the universe, how can we possibly understand what's worth the bloodshed or not? Sure, you can make logical arguments for it or against it. But you're not feeling it. You're never going to feel the want or the desperation or the anger or the fear, not the way those people do.

So I find it impossible to judge the people in the streets.
But I feel totally okay judging the governments, and the single men or women responsible for the rule of law.

A revolution is like a very big vote. Its a group of people discovering they don't have to act alone, that the concept of mass has value. It is, objectively speaking, a work of art every time. And democracy, in every one of its flawed and inevitably corrupted incarnations, is at least keeping some small part of that spirit alive. So I find that beautiful, even when I read election results and feel useless and despairing.

The root of the issue is not single people in power, it's that when you come right down to it, people are not very nice and they are selfish, and if you have ideals of any sort, you are going to find them thwarted when you try to make the masses understand them.

So really, the only one to get your ideal society is fascism. Of course, the society I would design would be perfect. For me. And your society would be perfect. For you.

I don't know, perhaps the point is to not look too big, to look at small things one by one, and not lose hope in small things that you want, and that's the real way things get accomplished, by not allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by the reality of the macrocosm. Work for what it is you want here and now and only in this moment, because this is the moment you own. The world exists sure, and some singular miraculous individuals get lucky enough to affect it on a large level, but every single one of them started out working for their own moment, in their small life and small place. Which is sort of like voting too. Voting is just choosing. It doesn't need to be confined to an election.

And after all, in the end, at least we aren't serfs any more. And much as it may sound witty to talk about how presidents are just other names for monarchs, that really isn't the case. So that's important. As long as the people in power can't stay there forever, things will change in some way. Having term limits is the most important contribution of democracy. The revolution in Egypt is because of lack of change, and not the way we complain about with no change in intentions, but actual frozen government and frozen power. Imagine if Bush had been president for 30 years. You know, your entire lifetime? I think I'll talk more about it tomorrow.

Ask Me Anything

Friday, January 28, 2011

Meet the New People!

So on January 27th, 2011, after months of pain and stress and worry and love and tears and frantic phone calls and hope and hushed expectations, while it snowed outside and cars drove home from Akron and workers went home and college kids did laundry and planes flew in the sky and plows cleared the roads, Marty and Rebecca found their girls. It took a very long time, but they called them home, and they came, like good little girls, knowing when it was time to come in from the snow.

Adrianna Day

And they were pushed and pulled, squawking like little birds, from inside their mother's warm stomach. There was blood and there was pain, and she was so brave as they cut her open, even as the spinal wore off while she lay there, and she clenched her teeth and willed them alive, like she had been for months. She was the bravest mother bear.

Evelina Renee

And when he came back from seeing them in the space age little nests they slept in, tiny little chicks curled up in newness, bodies just unpacked and unwinding, Snow Pea and Snow Angel, Big Baby and Little Baby, clenching their little fingers tight and fighting already against the wires little soldiers, his face was this glow of "fantastic" and he had the look of a man whose head had been filled with light.

And now! A new family! A thing created triumphant! And nothing can ever be ugly again, not really.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I Wish Someone Would Tell Me If I Actually Have an Accent or Not

So instead of writing today, I'm going to do this accent meme thing that's been passed around the interwebs here lately. Supposedly, there is no Midwest accent, and I do tend to think that any words I'm mispronouncing are thanks to my parents and their silly Pennsylvania accents.

If you're really dying to read something of mine today, you can find my new piece Counted up at Turning River.

Record aloud the following:

  • Your name and/or username
  • Where you’re from
  • The following words: Aunt, Roof, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting Image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught, Orange, Coffee, direction, naturally, aluminum and herbs
  • What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
  • What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
  • What do you call gym shoes?
  • What do you say to address a group of people?
  • What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
  • What do you call your grandparents?
  • What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
  • What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
  • What is the thing you change the TV channel with?
Oh, I'm going to add some links, so you can see some other people doing it. Shoot me a note if you do it and I'll add you.


Monday, January 24, 2011

This Post is About Football, At Least The Way I Watch Football

In the beginning of the century, the Wilds lived as split, right up the middle like the old worn out mountains that divide the continent. And on the coast, the tribes had been powerful too long, and their people grew loud and proud with themselves. On the other side, once strong centers of industry had faded into rusty ghosts of their former selves, and still farther west, the tribes still loyal to the pantheon of animal gods, backwards and waywards in their intent.

Everyone had sensed the balance of power shifting, wandering around unfocused. There had been skirmishes all year, small raids among the less powerful tribes. As the winter set in, two immediate events happened.

The first was that the bears woke up early, and had nothing to eat. No one knows why they woke up, possibly a shift in the magnetic poles, or someone had been meddling in caves where they shouldn't. But wake up they did, and since there were no berries or fish or small game this late in the dead winter, they followed their noses out of the woods to the developed lands, where they could smell the meat coming from the slaughter houses.

The meat Packers had worked in those factories for generations, and for hundreds of years they had defended those rusty bloody buildings from marauders. Even against dozens of starved fierce desperate bears, and maybe because of the desperation, they knew how to take care of their own. And thus the bear clan was slaughtered. And their god Ursa became angry and plotted revenge for her children.

The second event was that hostilities came to a head between the coastal CEOs and the laid off steel workers that lived in the hills, the ones that had fed the CEOS and built their towers and their arsenals with blood and sweat wrung from now defunct factories. Confident they could easily quell the uprisings, the CEOs sent in their armies of unmanned death drones, The Jets as they called them familiarly, speeding across the woods and rivers to attack the poor and bitter militias of Pitts. They strafed the ridges, destroying homes and families. But you can't send robots against the common man. The common man will always win. A general with an alliterative name, stamped on his steel torso by his makers, cannot hope to survive against men who have already fought hard just to survive in their homeland. So the drones were brought down with force, crashing burning in the river, and their scrap metal was used to repair the roofs.

The neighboring villages recognized that now was the time to align themselves between the two armies of Man, for a final war was coming, the fight for domination of a land with no industry no money no hope, but one where they all had to live anyway, so fuck it, somebody has to win.

@BridgetCallahan Laid off steelworkers should easily beat unmanned robotic jets, if they use their ground cover wisely. #footballmakesnosense

@BridgetCallahan And starving hibernating bears should easily crush the meat packers, because meat packers never have health insurance #footballmakesnosense

@BridgetCallahan Also because they smell like meat. Why would you ever go to war with bears while smelling like cow? #footballmakesnosense

@BridgetCallahan Bears, I am so disappointed in you. WHERE WAS YOUR MAGICAL ARMOR?

@BridgetCallahan Dear Jets: where are your jetpacks? Where are your unmanned death drones? I don't understand this game. You suck.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Conversations about our relationship with the Center

Friday was a weird day. First of all, it was so goddamn cold. It was frostbite cold. I left my house in the morning, and was amazed at the snow on my car, for no good reason. I knew it had been snowing. But I think I've reached the point with winter where I'm just living in continual shock that it's not over yet.

The rest of the day was spent sliding back and forth between errands, gym, grocery store, mundanity, and then up to Akron to see Rebecca and eat dinner, the highlight of which were these dried kiwi chips I picked up at Heinens. So green and addictive, with those awesome little black seeds. I appreciate the kiwi's attempt to keep its seeds more edible for easy distribution. Even the nurse had some. And so we'll take those seeds in our intestines back to Macedonia and Cleveland, and nice attempt Kiwi, it won't work, but still, kudos for effort. I had my first interaction with one of the babies, as she moved underneath Bec's stomach, and that was great. We watched Star Trek and drank sparkling cider.

Driving back to their house, we had a moment of glitter, where all the snow began to sparkle, the stuff falling and the stuff on the road, and the stuff around the moon.
Then Marty and I watched some Planet Earth, and I got sucked in by exposed sea beds in the Rockies and had dreams of climbing alone in places you can't see except by helicopter.
On my ride home, I stopped at a gas station because my car wouldn't warm up in time, and I didn't want to get on the highway till it had, so I bought some weak gas station coffee and added hot chocolate, then sat in the car checking emails until I felt everything was sufficiently cozy. Because let me tell you, I am terrified of deer. Wait, here's the imaginary conversation I had with the theoretical cop who might pull me over.

"So is there a reason you were going only 50?"
"Well, I work with cars for a living, and frankly, I am terrified now of ice, nighttime driving, and deer. And since this is my car and my safety, I feel I should only drive the vehicle at the speed I feel safe at. Which in this case is how a 70 yr old woman with cataracts might drive."

There will come a point in my life where I just refuse to drive anymore, I know it. It will make me sad, because I love driving, and I will drive for hours and hours in the day. But at night? Jesus, I can barely handle it now. You would hate to be behind me, I'm the car always going exactly the speed limit, no more, and possibly slightly less, and you'll get pissed off and send out facebook messages about stupid people who can't drive in the snow, oh my god you live in Cleveland, what did you forget it does this every year? No, I haven't forgotten. In fact, I remember having to drive 2 hours every day just to get home from the East Side, in whiteouts, where there were no lanes at all. So just fucking go around me, okay?

There was a buck that ran across the road on my way to Marty's, right in front of me, and I had forgotten (since I'm a city girl and don't often see deer at all, so it's still thrilling in the way I still get thrilled to see the buzzards, and raccoons, and anything in the wild besides dogs and cats) how big those things are. It leaped across the road in one bound, a few car lengths in front of me, and was just massive. We talked about that too during Planet Earth, how we forget the true and actual size of bears. The true and actual size of creatures we only see on film.

And then at some point, this conversation was had:
M: Oh Bridget, I just read the most horrible article. I'll tell you about it in the car.
B: oh GOOD.
(later in the car)
M: Okay so there was this experiment done, where they shot a photon through a screen, and they found that if the scientist was conscious of the photo being shot, it behaved like a particle. And if the scientist was unaware of it, it behaved like a wave. So the conclusion is that human consciousness is needed to make the universe exist, and it's called biocentrism, that these things only exist as particles when we're aware of them.
B: But see, you tell me that, without reading it, and the conclusion I draw is that the photon must have consciousness, if it's behaving differently under certain circumstances. I don't understand why we would assume it was our awareness having the effect, maybe it's the photons awareness.
M: No, you have to read the article.

And indeed, you should read the article, cause it's not really like that at all, but actually is sort of. Its a philosophy trying to be science, and I don't necessarily have an opinion on it's veracity because frankly I've read that article three times now, and it will probably take me a little more time to get a real grasp on the concept. I know I have a gut reaction to the idea that after all this time dissuading ourselves from the idea of being the center of the universe, I'm repulsed by the idea of heading back in that direction. But that's the simpleton's knee jerk interpretation, I know that's not what's really at the heart of the matter. That's the philosophical equivalent of people arguing crosshairs are okay because they like guns. The really important take away is the possibility. Now my head will be full of kitchens that aren't really there, and buildings that shimmer out of phase when I turn my head, and all sorts of nifty little visuals like that. But somewhere in my mind, even though I know its wrong, will stick this idea of the little Photon That Could, hiding from the apathetic white coats, being tricky.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday's Questions are Back from Their Vacation to Artsy Land

I don't think smoking's that bad. Do you?

Here are ways in which smoking is bad : your mouth tastes awful in the morning, and while drinking, and pretty much all the time to someone who's a non-smoker. You feel reliant upon something other than water and food. You hoard together your last quarters before payday to get that last pack you know you're going to need. You kill your pets with secondhand smoke. The inside of your car window gets this dirty nasty fog on it that makes it hard to drive at night. No matter how fancy you are dressed, you show up with ash on you somewhere. You will probably die. When you get sick, you get really really awful sick.

Here are ways in which smoking is good: It helps you meet people at work, talk to people outside the party, gives you an excuse to stay up just a little bit longer with him outside alone to see if he's going to make out with you. When you have no food in the house, you can get by. When you are despairing, it gives you one complete little action to perform. When you are outside in the snow, the smoke mingles with your frozen breath and helps you pretend it is not really that cold.

Why a dog? Why pets at all?

Yesterday I was talking with a friend about what kind of actions a person prefers as a sign of approval. Meaning, are you the kind of girl who wants compliments, or action, or gifts? What makes you feel most loved from your friends? And he, not being a girl at all, stated that he feels best when his friends have made it clear he is useful and steady and reliable, when his opinion matters.

So that's sort of the thing with pets, right? That they are these tiny creatures, moving and thinking on their own, that rely upon you and give you approbation all the time. You are the supporter. Only, unlike children, they never really move past that stage, and they are most of the time not expensive and easy to maintain.

But the blatant reality is that they are furry and pretty and are basically animated toy dollies.

And dogs are toy dollies you can take places, and run around with, and they will guard you and worry about you and then want to be with you when you wake up and keep your feet warm.

Sometimes that is a giant pain in the ass. But sometimes it's an unmitigated joy. Because even those of us who really just need someone to take care of them can tie ourselves back down to the world by having to take care of something else. And it's love, even unintelligent love is love. Even slave love. Even hostage love.

In the end, all animals feel this way about you: Which is proper and right.

Honestly who do you care more about when you see shows like Hoarders, the people or the animals?

I don't watch that show, or Intervention, or Biggest Loser, or any of those shows about people being rescued from despair. Because I don't care at all. I don't have some masochistic need to compare my own life to them and feel guilty. I don't have a superiority complex that needs stroking to stay alive. And I don't like to see disgusting things just for the sake of the gross-out, which is the same reason I don't watch gore movies. The images we put inside our brains stay with us, they don't go away, they stay in there buried, and I've got quite enough desperate visuals tucked away in there for a lifetime, plus all the room I'll need for poverty and starvation and tsunamis and war in the future, I can't fill it with this kind of clutter. Why do I need more things to feel bad for? Haven't I got half the people in the world for that already? Haven't I got the images right in my own city? Shouldn't I, if I really want to communicate with the pain, just go out there in my neighborhood and find it for real?

One can't just go around feeling awful for everything all the time. You have to focus on the things you want to help, which is practically an arbitrary choice, with all the buffet of pain around us. A TV show isn't going to make it into my parade. Focus people, focus. Don't just go giving out your tears like candy.

Which would be worse, having to wear a bump it or only being able to watch semi homemade with Sandra lee for a year?

Considering I actually own a bumpit, which I can't use because my hair is too fine and thin, but if I could I probably would wear, I think I'm going to have to choose Sandra Lee. Jesus. How much canned frosting can one person consume before their body finally starts rejecting it, and trying to throw their liver overboard through their belly button?

I'm so resentful she's in politics now.

If someone offered you free Ed hardy and four loco for a year not only for free but with a generous stipend for advertising their product, would you accept for the money and product or keep your dignity?

Um, money. Always the money. I'm not a hard sell on the 4 Loko, because I think people who can't handle caffeine with their alcohol are pussies. It's my preferred way to drink, and I wish the caffeine didn't always have to come in juice that tastes like ground up sweet tarts, but the point is, I would drink that. I would write a whole book about drinking that, and it would probably be a big seller, because it would be a descent into madness. It would go to use. The Ed Hardy gear would be less wanted, but I could always give it to a homeless shelter at the end of the year, which really, is way better advertising, to give all your ugly awful clothes to people who really need them because hey, clothes are clothes.

Dignity is overrated. Most people don't give a shit what you do to make money.

What are your feelings on hedgehogs? Can they be trusted?

The thing with hedgehogs is that they are stubborn egotistical little boys, who build up a wall of defensiveness because the other boys won't play with them because they are prickly. And so they curl themselves round in a spiky little ball when trouble starts to come, instead of running, which girls understand. And therefore they are vulnerable to badgers and other larger creatures in the know. And we want to tell ourselves they are sweet inside, little adorable woodland creatures, but honestly, why can't you just accept your hedgehogness and move on with it, Pig Snout? Why do we have to keep finding a way to make you uncurl?

Hedgehogs may live longer, but they are not a lot of fun to be around. I guess I would trust them as far as I could throw them, which is probably pretty far if I wore gloves.

Is there a polite way to tell a friend that while technically talented their art still sucks?

No. You should not be friends with people whose art you think sucks. If I meet an artist or a musician or a writer, I make damn sure I find their stuff palatable before I go getting all intimate and chummy, because the whole point of having me as a friend is getting intelligent criticism when you ask for it, and if you're going to be all shitty when I tell you my honest opinion then why are you hanging out with me in the first place. It's a terrible position to be in, and you should probably just never talk to them again. Unless you are trying to sleep with them, in which case accept the fact you have bad taste and lie your ass off.

How do you dream up these questions?

Oh, but I don't. I beg for them.
Ask Me Anything

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Just some babbling about time

First of all, I have to tell you how surprised I am that with all the factories and schools I've visited, I don't have more pictures of clocks. I think these are the only two. I can't remember if that's because people always take the clocks when they leave? Or if it's because I have an aversion to measuring time. It seems to be an important distinction, and I promise on my next trip I'll pay more attention. Which probably won't be until March, because it's full on winter headrush here, what with the snow and the ice and the me falling down every time I go outside because I bought all these cute boots but unfortunately none of them have any tread. Oops.

I'm also, speaking of time, which we will be in a second (hahaha shutup), disappointed that the January Thaw has yet to appear in Cleveland. Seriously, every year, there is one week where the snow lifts and we get 50-60 degree sunny days, and it is the memory of this week which has been keeping me going for the last two, so I need it to show the fuck up already. Maybe it will be next week? In time for the Amish country drive? Or maybe climate change has stolen my week forever? I am one of those people who have very specific expectations of their seasonal experiences. Like, in my mind, the week of Easter is always perfect, no snow, no rain, lots of daffodils. While I know reasonably this cannot be true, I still hold this to be true. Just like it's also true that my birthday always has perfect weather.

So time has been fucking with me lately. Seasons and years and weeks and minutes. What do you want Time? I have never worn a watch, and maybe this is why I'm always at odds with you, Time. I'm 31. I work 10 hour days. I take 40 minute showers. I cannot fall asleep before 1am. I try hard to be on time, but am always reliably 30 minutes late, except to work. I hate to plan a bunch of stuff for one day, because even if its all play, I feel rushed. I like when things are open ended, and have no limit or direction. I hate the structure of a schedule. When you give me a schedule, I will try to mess it up almost immediately, in order to relieve the pressure.

I joined a gym lately, and yes I know it's the whole New Years thing, but the truth is that there are those of us who want to join in the fall, and then tell ourselves it's better to wait until after the holiday drinking fest to really be serious about it, and also you always get deals in January. So I just started, and the 30 minutes cardio feels like an eternity. After fifteen minutes, I'm just so bored I could cry. But I tell myself, every time, that if I was fucking, this would be nothing, that 30 minutes is not even past foreplay, and so therefore I have no excuse, that of course I can do this, that it's a minuscule amount of time really. If it was something I really liked, I'd be able to do it forever.

So I have to devalue time in order to live with it. And I wonder now if that's how we all get by.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Difference Between a Toy Girl and a Real Girl

So in the beginning there was a log that screamed, and the old man rescued it, made a puppet out of it. A very naughty puppet. He gave this ungrateful puppet his last three pears for food, sold his coat to get her to school, gave her literally all he had in the world. The puppet disobeys, runs off to the theater, somehow makes some money. But then instead, of giving the money to her destitute creator, like her chirping conscience tells her to, runs off again to the woods, to follow some fairy tales that mutilated animals tell her about(never trust foxes and cats that aren't actively trying to eat each other, Bar Rule #1), and then gets herself hanged by some thugs. This was the original ending. The Blue Fairy, and the donkeyness, and the growing ever growing nose, that's not how the story goes, but now of course it does. We're always changing things to add Blue Fairies. There is also, in another version, instead of lots of police and assault and unmarked graves, a city of Lost Children. Let's ignore this version, because we all know that's not fiction, that the City of Lost Children is very real and around us all the time, breathing poison into our lives through all the holes boredom has poked, like shiny little rips in the lamps, little glitters on the bedroom ceiling. Let's instead talk about that oh so naughty puppet, bad little moppet, Little Toy Girl that tries to be good oh so hard and make good friends and eat good things and run her little wooden feet so ragged on horrible torture creations that just make her go round and round in place, and then she goes dancing round and round some more, and wouldn't it be easier sometimes just to put her feet in the fire and leave them there, they're only wood after all. Sometimes she wakes up and she's just so wooden, so stiff and unfeeling and can't even bother to think about being selfish, beyond that primal right-at-the-center-of-her feeling to just hide and tell everything to fuck off, Blue Fairies included. Right? Fuck being a real girl? What do real girls get, anything so much better than this cave? Splinters, that's what real girls get, right in their eye.

But what do toy girls get? Oh dear Muppet Head, Bowling Ball Head, listen well. Toy girls get stuck out in the yard, forgotten by feverish boys, rotting little stuffed rabbits with missing eyes and patchy velour. Toy girls get scribbled on by bitchy little women, and toy girls get lost in the living room on road trips, buried in sandboxes where neighborhood cats pee on them and rain soaks their plastic heads. Toy girls get left behind. Real girls have the option of catching up, because they can walk on their own. And they can pull out splinters without crying like a broken baby doll with a string running out its back.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Vodka is Made From Dinosaur Bones

He does these things you know, being a planner and a doer and a person of interest, he organizes these once a month, different liquors each time. Which gives us all an excuse to get drunk, and K. an excuse to make charts, and P. an excuse to smoke a cigar even though he quit cigarettes, and J. an excuse to bring up ancient British queens in conversation. K. is an encyclopedia, and J. is a Bullfinches Mythology, and L. controls things in space. They are interesting drunks.

This month was vodka. Since vodka is nothingness, is indeed the complete absence of something like hope or work or free countries or a life without Russian borders, we did it blind. 9 mason jars full of mystery nothingness, and we guessed.

9 shots of nothingness, of bone vapors and wheat blood and potato tears, which we smelled and sniffed and sipped and cringed (I brought those mixers for after the tasting yo, we were purists at first, but they sat there laughing at me in their juicy way, as I took taste after taste, until by the end I was already drunk and ready to never taste straight vodka again ever)

I guessed wrong on almost every one. My favorite turned out to be Ketel One, but hey, the local boy, the Paramount from Berea Rd, my go to freezer bottle of ten dollar goodness, it came in second only to Grey Goose. There was a bottle with an LED sign on it, that you could program to say things, any things. And The Rest? Imagine having to drink a bottle of nailpolish remover, only really slowly. Smirnoff came in dead last. Dead.

But then, when it was open free for all and after I had huddled in the snow with the cigar an appropriate amount of time, then is when A. started pouring the shots, and so many shots were had. Just sitting there, talking to the new girl with my birthday, over and over again, fill, tap, drink. I love the tap. The tap is my new favorite thing. Tap. Books! Tap. Boys! Tap. Projects! Tap. Oh god with the tapping.

By three in the morning, it was me and the 2 girls and the roommate left, and I was so drunk, I was so almost but not quite embarrassingly drunk. The kind of drunk where you think the people in the room with you are like the best kind of people that have ever existed. E! She's so cute! And J! So polished! And P! Stand up guy! In the morning, they were still all those things, but really morning was still far away for me. It was at least three drunken emails away, fucking smartphone Little Brother.

A. got up from his ritual mid-tasting nap, and then we had a little dance party for a minute, and I reverted to what I always revert to, taking pictures of building, of doorways and floors and windows. So much more fun than trying to catch people in moments, buildings stay still for you. I am always the last one standing. It is cold. Coldly satisfying, like I get to make sure the doors are locked and the babies safely tucked away, and I'm just one of those girls who can never go to sleep when there might be something to pay attention to. Cold like actually cold, like shivering exhaustion cold, which makes sleep so much better.

4 hours later, I woke up and we all made breakfast no they all made breakfast and I watched, and I decided that in fact I had died in the middle of the night, and I was dead now, but I could handle it, being dead is just a thing. We ate in the middle of the ruins, there was some conversation about ethics and I was being surly a little about Hearst and the duplicity of media (I am so full of bullshit, it's like being drunk fills me up with word spit and then I'm drowned for days) and I drove home, and the entire way back I was convinced I had completely forgotten how to drive. My car was a bike and I was falling off. My car was a machine, and I was toy girl.

I got home, filled up a gallon jug of water, and just lay on the couch for the entire day watching Hercule Poirot movies and documentaries about ancient tsunamis on Crete, and Masterpiece Theater movies about girls in Jane Austen novels.

And now here we are.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What the Psychic Told Me

So the psychic party got canceled, since apparently everyone in Cleveland is so certain of their future, they don't need to pay someone to tell them they are going to be laid off and get tetanus. But me, I'm the kind of girl who once she gets a fairy tale in her head she doesn't let it go.

Side note about fairy tales: they are awfully judgy. The old school ones. The ones I read when I was little, over and over, the pink and red and blue and green and yellow fairy tale collections my parents gave me which are the best books ever (and by the way there are 7 other colors I don't have, so if you are ever struggling for a present to buy me, HINT), these are the best books to read your little daughters if you want them to grow up to be struggling writers with obscenely idealistic moralities and a fear of scary old men who live in the woods. I mean, for instance, the story of Half Chick? Who is some weird mutant chicken thing, literally a split down the middle bird, with one eye and one leg, who wants to be something he's not, hopping around as half a real thing what kind of nightmarish image is that, and ends up being a weather vane after almost being boiled alive twice and several other nasty trials? The twelve dancing princesses, whose only crime is tricking their daddy so they can run away to a pretty ballroom and string along some willing princes without having to marry them? The thirty identical sisters with rose birthmarks who are carried away by giant goat eating eagles so the true daughter can be revealed? Anyway, my point here is that because I grew up on these stories, I'm hopelessly romantic against my will, I feel way too much empathy for animals, and my insults for people are a little skewed. When I think a girl is plain, or crude, I call her a peasant. When a guy is lacking princely charm, he's hapless. And then there are the gypsies.

I woke up intending to clean this morning, but instead King Tycoon was all like "no, let's have breakfast instead." So breakfast was had, and then it was decided we should go to a psychic. I had the taste for some magic. Really, how could I have thought to go to a psychic ever without Jere? Never, I should have never thought to. I should have known it wouldn't happen till he was with me. He's my shaman of the Wasteland after all, he's the one that find the old magics with me in all the dirty rusty places, he and me we make the best buddy movies together. "You believe this stuff," he says, "and that's why we're friends." "No!" I protest. "Yes, you like having just that little piece of hope planted in you." Oh, but that conversation came later at the bar. Oh god, what if he's right about everything, that man?

First we had to find a psychic. How does one find a witch in the Wasteland? You go to the gay neighborhoods and the black neighborhoods. Duh. First we found one on Detroit, but even though the sign said open (and there were zebra throw pillows on the red velvet couches in the waiting room which is frankly why I said There We're Going There), there was no answer at the door. Probably the witch saw we were coming and hid in the backroom, quaking. Upperclass witches have no taste for blood. So next we drove to E. 200th, and in a shabby broken down storefront, next to a daycare, we rang another bell.

Out of the back curtains came the witch, short with dark skin and pink fuzzy slippers, with snaggled teeth and a slight Eastern European accent. Or New Jersey. Definitely a gypsy. She let us in and gave us the rundown on prices. She told us there was no bathroom because she was waiting for the plumber. She had terrible grammar and kept saying "was" instead of "were". I opted for the expensive psychic reading, no cards or palms for me please, I used to do that shit in my sleep in high school. So I followed her first, into the closet turned cave. She asked me for something metal, silver gold something. I don't wear jewelry (no one's given me any yet), and so all I had were my keys and my camera. The camera seems most appropriate right? So camera it is.

"Now hold this in your hands and make two wishes. Tell me one and keep the other to yourself. Do not wish for money, because that is bad luck." Oh no worries, I never wish for money. Why waste wishes on something like that? I read stories, I know how that turns out. I wish for money, I end up a sturgeon being netted over and over by an ugly fishwife in an endless loop.

I told her I wished to be a writer. In reality I was only thinking of one wish, that wish every one makes when they have to make wishes. But I kept that one to myself.

First she told me I was hard working. I could almost hear Jere laughing from the waiting room.

"Also you are happy go lucky, but you plan things too far in advance. Stop making plans, and only live in the present. The next three years are going to be your lucky years, everything you have been working towards is going to come to fruition. You are going to work hard for the next three years, and you feel you are unlucky now, but you are actually very lucky, and this will show. Your next three years are your best years. Your lucky day is the first Friday of every month."

I thought about what I did the first Friday of this month, and thought that just might be true.

"You have been badly hurt in your past relationship, and after this past year, you know who your real friends are and who talks about you behind your back. There are three big changes that will happen this year to you - one, a change in where you live, two a change in your financials, three a relationship. You will either move or drastically redecorate. You will get more money and move up in your career. Someone will offer you an opportunity which will seem risky and stupid, but if you do it, it will pay off for you in a big way. In the next six weeks, someone will reveal their feelings for you, and this will be a good man, someone you need who will be your soul mate. In three years, all this work will be over, and you will be happy and get what you want. Your lucky number is 7 and your lucky color is blue. Do you have any questions?"

I didn't say anything this whole time, because I had it in mind that I didn't want to give her any leads. But then see, when it comes to asking questions, I never ask when I should. Last weekend, this guy said something at the bar, agreed with something he had no real reason to, and instead of asking him then why why why would you agree with this, I said nothing, and now there's no reason to bring it up really, unless I want him to think I'm exactly the kind of girl who obsesses over weird things people say and then bring them up again months later, which by the way is exactly the kind of girl that I am. And so it was this time. I didn't know what I should ask. Shouldn't you just let the witch tell you what's what, and then wait to see how it plays out? No names, no IDs, no back history, just give the oracle the sacrifice and see what the hell comes out.

But back in high school, when I was a little witchy witch myself, I got really into numerology (oh calculations of the gods and demons and cats and fat girls with fake nose rings), and you know what? My lucky number is, actually really calculated by birth day and year and number of letters in my name ect, 7. And my lucky color is blue. So there you go. The witch got me in the end. Hooked just enough to squirm.

Properly, the way this story should end is that I drive by next week, and that place, with it's thrift store pink curtains and dingy gray industrial carpet, is utterly and totally gone. Never existed. But this is Cleveland, so that could happen anyway, no magic necessary.

Better ending to this story: I just now ran to my purse to see if she gave me my camera back. She did. Fucking gypsies.

me: so also apparently I have only 6 weeks until true love

I was really surprised she was willing to give such a short number
Rebecca that is weird. kinda specific for a fortune teller.
me: also, technically, she only said reveal, not that he would be revealing good things, or be single, or we would get together. He might reveal he hates me.
I read too many fairy tales to trust that shit
Rebecca: hmm - loopholes
me: right, there's always something
what if like multiple people show up? How do I know who's the right one?
Like, if someone asks me out, do I just assume it's him? Or do I get all like "well sure, but also, let's wait six weeks and see what other options there are"
me: I hope in six weeks it turns out to be some really old guy from the gym who just wants someone to get drunk and watch NCIS with him
that feels pretty soulmatey to meme: you know what does it for me? Not believing weird made up numbers that sound like expiration dates for packaged cheese.
But he's got till Feb 25th to prove me wrong
Rebecca: I totally agree. She's just using the Barnum effect anyway.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Substitution for Astrology That Makes Way More Sense

So what? The axis of the earth has betrayed us, oh silly 3000 years of movement and gravity, and now those little scrolls Mom used to buy in the grocery store checkout line are false, though I suspect they aren't going out of business any time. So what? So we no longer need the stars to tell us when to harvest, when to go to war, when to have babies, when to fall in love. All those bibles of books going page by page explaining the various reasons I have yearnings for authority and am obsessed with lighting, burn them all, the ones telling me not to like you because you want loyalty and I want adventure. Buy a map. Because, hey, guess what, we've created our own stars. I've seen them.

The proposition, the substitution then, for our post modern horoscopes is this. Define ourselves by the stars we live in, the ones we've created and spread across the sky that is our land, that used to be dark and now glows with our ideas and energy and love and hate and all of those longstanding lovable awful terrible true traits of humanity. Your city is your constellation. Isn't that so much more telling of who you are? Where you walk every day and what buildings you ride the elevator in every morning, where you shop for food and where you drink and where you fuck? The houses you grew up in, the places you drove to by streetlight, where you fell down in the street and caught the bus and kissed in alleyways. The place you were born or the place you choose to live, or maybe they are one and the same. The dirt and stone you interact with, and all that webbing of wiring surrounding you all the time, no matter where you are. Don't you think that defines who you are so much more accurately than what position a chunk of rock was in somewhere amid the Great Vacuum the day you were expelled from your mother's uterus?

And maybe I'm a Cleveland, and I'm not compatible with a Boston, or an Atlanta, or a Spokane. Maybe my best signs are Chicagos, or Detroits. Maybe Cincinnatis have better sex with Phoenixes. Maybe Charlestons argue all the time and Tampas are worthless fools when it comes to money. Or, if you want to read your charts really specifically, figure out the orientation of your eyelids and the beat of your financial success, pick out the part of the constellation you belong to. The Parma tentacles only get along with other tentacles. The Ohio City hearts partner on projects more effectively with other hearts. People from the river arteries should marry people from other arteries, or possibly smaller veins, but only in regards to the proximity of the bladders.

Anyway, the most important and great part about this is it's your choice, what kind of place you want to belong to.

We could also create constellations out of the darkness too, the uncivilized places. The negative spaces are still shapes. They exist too.

This is a prime business opportunity people, this could be the start of a whole new use for Google Maps. And the world grew just a little bit larger and the men in hats took their hats off and looked at the storefronts and shopping malls around them, and started to think about location less in terms of foot traffic and more in terms of lust and loss and hunger for guidance. Which is what this is really all about, just having something tell us what to do.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Couple of Things Worth Mentioning

Instead of me writing anything of substance, you should go here to read my story about the Whales of Cleveland, and then once you read that come back here and I'm just going to spit out some random stuff.

Like, let's talk about this, they recalibrated the horoscopes. First of all, I'm not a believer in astrology. Elly is shaking her head at me right now, as is everyone else who's ever heard me vow to only hook up with Scorpios. What? It's hard to resist a good narrative guide, especially one that justified one night stands. But here's my real problem with these new astrological designations - it makes me a Gemini. And I refuse to be a Gemini. Because Cancer is the only cool name in the entire horoscope. It's like being nicknamed something awesome, like Snake, or Blade, or Poison Ivy, and then all of sudden being renamed Puppy. Cancer is the only hardcore sign. The Claws. Not switching it. If anyone buys me a pendant with fucking twins on it, I will chew it to pieces in front of you.

Along somewhat the same lines, tomorrow I'm going to some psychic party, which is this thing where we all hang out at this girl's house and pay for private readings. If this psychic doesn't tell me that I'm going to end up alone and anonymous, I won't believe a word she says. We'll see. Once, when I was working at the Village Inn slinging pie in Phoenix, a customer lady followed me out of the restaurant after my shift, gave me a card, and told me I should call her for a reading. I almost did it, since hey, psychics singling you out is always creepy right? But then she mentioned she also sold candle baskets, and I threw out her card. She was surprisingly hot for a psychic. You never know, maybe I'm a supervillain, and she was only trying to intervene to save the world. Or maybe I was going to meet my true love, and then since I never called her, I missed him, and now tomorrow I'll find out it is too late. It's okay if that's true. These things happen.

The great thing about the internet is that people email me randomly, and sometimes even send me stuff. Without me asking. For instance, once upon a time, I got an email from Miss B, telling me about how much she liked fake banana flavor, which is a stance I can get behind. I don't know Miss B. But she writes well, and I'm a word slut. We talked back and forth a little. Then she decided to go on this grand European tour, and send me emails all about the trip. It was fantastic. I got to hear all about Iceland, and London, and snow in Prague, and Christmas villages in Geneva. To top it off she sent me this:

Which is awesome. In theory. Anytime a complete stranger sends you random chocolate, it's awesome. And I love absinthe, in theory. There's that whole "pretend you're a heroin addict while burning sugar in your spoon" sex thing, it's hard to resist that. Anyway, I finally tried's okay. But there's this weird crunchy thing happening inside there. I'm not sure if the liquor inside crystallized? I remember eating some other liquor filled chocolates, and the sugar in the alcohol had done the same thing. But other than the weird sensation of there being wafer where no wafer exists, I give it a tentative thumbs up. I'll definitely be making Camilla try it tomorrow. Now I want to get drunk on absinthe.

Yesterday, when I went to dig my car out, since it only snows when I forget to put my car in the garage the night before, I found a package of these waiting for me:

These are Krista's "Love Pucks". I named them, which is why I got a whole package for free. I didn't take the picture though, I stole it from her site. I suck at food photography, it requires having cute dishes and clean counter space. Wouldn't it be great if I could always get free pastries every time I was cute with the words? Also the mocha rum balls she included? I can't show you a picture of those because I already finished them off with copious amounts of coffee, they were so good. Anyway, the Love Pucks are awesome.I would share, but no, you can't have any. I'm not sure if she sent me the vegan ones or not, but if these are the vegan ones, than Krista is a motherfucking baking genius. Krista is just one of those girls who is good at everything. You know, good at decorating, good at dressing, good at making jewelry, good at drumming, good at being a totally chill person, and now good at making vegan bakery. If I didn't owe her three years servitude from saving my soul in Tremont years ago, I might be jealous. You should go buy stuff from her.

So instead of mentioning the horrible Arizona shooting, or the bees being systematically slaughtered by Bayer, or the new planet they found, or the fact my cat probably has a UTI, or that I got my hair cut again, or the important meeting I have tomorrow morning, I'm just going to eat a Love Puck, edit some pictures, and go to sleep early, cause Next Week Some Other Shit is Starting. I need my strength for things to come. Which might just be supervillainy.

The moral of the story is you should all feel free to email me or send me shit as much as you like. Also One you never heard of I push it hard to further the grind I feel like murder but hip hop you saved my life. Night.

Monday, January 10, 2011

So Close to Something Better Left Unknown

"I forgot about Michael and was delivered back to something crude and familiar, a time when my life hinged on maintaining an animal stillness"

First of all and most important to how everything went down, you can smoke in Pittsburgh. Getting to smoke inside, at the bar, is like Christmas every time. Every cigarette. Even the 20th one in a long day of drinking. Christmas Miracle. Also important to this story is the fact that every shot she ordered came in a full size glass, and was basically a mixed drink without any ice. Without knowing these two things ahead of time, one might wonder how she was persuaded to spend 48 hours going between bars, one after another.

To get to Pittsburgh, there is a long long stretch of darkness that comes first. There is a toll road. There are hours of black two lane highways that roll first across the flatness of Ohio, over a million rivers and creeks, and then cuts into the Pennsylvania hills as if the flatness gave the road speed enough to crash into the mountains and erode them like a glacier over time, the millions of cars chipping away at the hills as the young people drive back and forth between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, back and forth for shows and family and girlfriends and meetings and parties. There is the toll worker that will ask her if she's caused any accidents yet, and she will hazily (drugged by the driving) not understand if she's driving badly or if he's pseudo hitting on her, in that way that men do when stuck in jobs they hate, and as she drove away she realized her left breast was almost hanging out her dress, she's all dressed up for seeing people, and she'll try to pull herself together before the destination because even though driving is a still frozen activity it's impossible to arrive at a place unscathed. No matter how nicely you tried to look, you will always present the appearance of just rolling out of bed when you get where you're going.

But once the drive was over, Johnny had her meet him at this bar which was actually a club. The opposite of a place she might go or might expect, a bar with two dance floors and 25 yr olds grinding to Will Smith and Backstreet Boys, which is retro now, in the very clubbiest part of Pittsburgh which by all appearance (poor actual Pittsburgh, thrown against the hills in the shadows, while the downtown tries to glitter and shine) should not exist. But have enough college kids in one place and everything will eventually exist. There was a group of people she didn't know, and the one cute friend she sort of knew who was standing there watching Johnny and his girlfriend and shaking his head at being there as well, but what the fuck, if we're going to be here then I will fucking be here she thought, and she bought Johnny's girlfriend a shot, which was three shots in one glass, and sang along to Rhianna because that's what you do sometimes to get in with the girls, and accepted that tonight was going to be a night where strange girls motorboated her and she paid cover charges, and she tried to be the best kind of sport, but was still very relieved when they left for a real bar. One that was still crowded at close, but where there were less wanna be video dancers, and more girls in cute jackets with glasses, and guys actually talking to each other instead of escorting their conquests home. And the first night ended up in an attic after party, smoking in small groups, which was her thing anyway really. She does well in attics. She always ends up in attics.

In the morning, they went to the casino early in the morning, early for them anyway, by 12? Unheard of. Johnny won 50 on the roulette table immediately, within five minutes, and then walked away, and she appreciated the resolve, because the point was the casino champagne brunch, unlimited drinking oh and also eating. Casinos in the daylight are always fun to her, less hustle and bustle, more watching the old people eat away their retirement savings and this particular casino had more daylight inside than she had ever seen. Usually they keep it dark, so you don't know what time it is, and you lose track of yourself. But here it was bright and clean and the buffet area was just like any other breakfast place, only the old waitress named Patty kept bringing her champagne to fill up her lip gloss stained flute, and later gave Johnny's girlfriend an ibuprofen wrapped up in foil from her purse, which made her fall in love with the waitress and secretly hope the rest of the table gave her a massive tip. She tried french toast first, when that failed, the hottest stir fry she could get them to make, drenched in chili oil. The plates were hilarious. The girl with nothing but sushi and cornbread. The guy who tried everything seafood they had. The other guys, one with three plates of food at once, another with nothing but heavy Italian, and then finally when they all started on desserts, Johnny's insistence on a shrimp and dessert plate. And Robin eating it. Because at least it's pretty colors. At least it looks edible.

Then the bathroom at the casino, which appeared to tipsy her to be a portal. Not to heaven or hell, but some ambivalent dimension where there were some annoying ghosts, but mostly you just walked around alone, the Shining but for Midwest retirees, and sometimes you got your period while out of town and it caused you to give even less of a fuck than you normally would because that's what PMS does to her, when it's all said and done and there, then everything else, the hours and the people run together in happenstance, and she doesn't care about anything because there are shiny lights and new people and champagne and Kanye and tunnels. Hormones draining makes her gleeful. Sure she doesn't really feel like a girl, but she feels like a person. Johnny won some more roulette money, and talked about his system, which was not a system but a prayer to the power of everything on black. She tried to stay a quiet drunk, but then turned the music up loud in the car, because even around people she didn't know she tried to keep her mouth from running, especially the sarcastic things especially the strange thoughts that might make her seem too weird. Especially the kind of conversations she feels are inappropriate to have around other people's boyfriends, though she doesn't mean anything by it, she's just one of those kind of drunks.

The plan was to drive to Ambridge and see an abandoned building. But the plan was derailed pretty quickly when they realized they hadn't left the casino till 4, and the light went away while they were at the rugby bar, where once again they met people who worked at the casino, like they did at every bar. So instead of straight to Ambridge, they went to a cold snowy park at the top of a hill, and there were lights everywhere across the valley, progress glittering like stars, like her skin cells felt they must be glittering too, between the artic biting cold and the warm flush of discovery. It was the very prettiest park, and she thought about the difference between Lake people like her, and River Hill people, like him, which is snow tires and a sense of land bound ambition, where the views are not where the waves crash, but how high you can get up in the sky.

Johnny kept apologizing, because he didn't realize that the story she was after was the adventure that just sort of happened, not always the planned kind. And they drove in the dark on the Ohio River Blvd, above the valley, singing to Belle and Sebastian, then tapping fingers to bluegrass. He took her to another bar, the kind she liked so much more, where she finally got to talk to him a little, and make him tell her stories about breaking down in the desert and about childhood friends who were genius musicians. Things you can't get people to tell you when they are in groups of friends, the sort of things you have to drink with someone alone to get into, which were the conversations she liked most, she's a much better singular drinker because Johnny, it's not your loud bar singing or flailing hand gestures she wants to know, it's things like what makes you the most nervous, or which of your friends you like more.

Then they drove to the old stone inn house his parents lived in, and she had coffee with his mom out of dainty blue teacups with pink roses, and the house smelled lovely, like old wood and older paper. He showed her the cabinet full of buddhas, and when they left, she thought about how she missed her family, because his mom reminded her of her own mom, back in Cleveland on crutches because of a fall, and she felt guilty for not doing all the vacuuming last time she was there because she was running late for something else.

They stayed up late again, to drink more gigantic shots made with bright blue energy drinks and vodka, to talk to girls with eyes the same color as the shots, then eat smushy sandwiches with coleslaw that fell down her dress, the same dress she would wear for three days in a row now, and finally end up back in the attic talking about activism, plugging away at the hardness of the universe, and the point in your life where you realize what your role really is, the thing that you are, your true nature. She said she was an observer, he said witness, and it became boom fact yes that is what she is. And she said, you are a doer, but she had her contacts out by then, and his face was only a fuzzy blur across the smoke, and she didn't know if it took.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Fairytale of Hoboken Part 4: All the Remaining Driftwoof

Just a few of the other things that happened when I wasn't paying attention but my fingers were.

Here is my requisite NYC street shot. I couldn't use the one with the taxi in the forefront cause I was like "ew, taxi in the forefront, it's SO NYC". We took the seriously quick jaunt by bus to Port Authority Sunday night, to see the closing performance of Elly's favorite show, Brief Encounters. Which was really good, but that doesn't matter really does it, cause it's closed now. You should feel pretty bad for missing it. Here's a video of the cast members doing a set after the show. Our friend the Brit who was in it told us he had to become a spoon player for the show, and I think any profession where you have to learn the spoons is pretty a-okay. He was pretty a-okay too and got us into the cast party. It was not as much fun as Simon's cast party, but then, we had another mission at the point. The mission comes first.

Before the show, we sought out sustenance, which in the case of everyone but me was this 900 ft tall tube of beer. That's not a ceiling light above it. That's the glow of success.

The show was in Studio 54, and this is the lobby of same. SOMEBODY didn't tell me I was allowed to take pictures inside, so SOMEBODY ELSE (me) looked like a total rube.

On Monday, after the Ferry Station, I made Elly drive me to Newark. Because the first things I saw when I got off the airplane were those awesome port cranes, sticking their dinosaur necks out over the water, all massive and huge and peaceful. And I wanted them. As pets. But barring that, at least some shots.

I didn't get any though because, Oh hey, here's a cute story. If you do make it into the Port, past security and massive semis on all sides, and traffic everywhere? Well, there was this thing that happened a few years ago, and because of it they really upped security and because of that, you're not allowed to take pictures at the Port either. I found that out when I walked up to a police woman at a gate and asked if it would be okay to stand against the gate to get a shot. She laughed at me and told us to fuck off. Well, not really. But same concept.

Elly tried to make me feel better by telling me that since all our faces are digitally snapped going over all the bridges, at least since we asked the officer, they won't track us down later for doing bad things. Not exactly comforting. Also, I find it hilarious that Broadway shows and the Port have the same privacy policies.

Then, I made poor Elly drive all over Newark looking for abandoned buildings, which were extremely not hard to find. But I think she had the Fear in her from the Port incident, and she wouldn't come in. Which is okay. I just need to convince someone else to come back with me to Newark because wow, that place is like a candy store. It's an entire city made of E. 55ths. It was amazing.

Last thing, if you ever had a dream where I was kneeling on a frozen parking lot singing Roger Miller with no coat on (because I stupidly packed it for the airport) and no gloves and wearing a fucking knit dress and legging, while another girl played the ukulele and we both almost got hit by a car? I am about to blow your mind.