Monday, April 30, 2012

We are Suckers for Light

On Saturday it was rainy, windy, kind of cold. Alexis and I went to the Museum to see the Rembrandt exhibit. She picked me up at 3, and it was just cold enough that I had to wear my bright blue hoodie and get coffee. We stopped at the place at the end of my street and ordered, pulled around to the window. Alexis got hers and I paid, and then we just sat there talking waiting for my coffee. Sat there until someone came back and asked if we needed something else, and then of course I got my coffee for free, and the pattern of Us Versus Obliviousness was established for the day. Supposedly it had hailed that morning. But I never bothered getting winter clothes this past season, since we didn't have a winter in the first place. It's just been sweaters and layers and leggings, even in the snow. So now it's just less or more. Everything I own looks like pajamas now. It's all jersey, seriously. Really brightly colored jersey. Gray skies, blue dresses. 

We drove around the circle looking for parking in the afternoon gloom. At first we found a place on a side street behind Western Reserve, but then there was this woman just waiting in her car behind us as we drank our coffee, and she made us nervous so we drove around by the fraternities and back to the Circle, and found a parking spot right across the lawn from the Museum, the luckiest of all spots. 

We got our tickets and walked through the concrete art classrooms to get to the galleries. The museum's been under renovation for such a long time, I'm worried I'll forget how the layout used to be, all the hallways and landmarks I had sorted in my tiny child head. The painting of the woman in the car that hung above the staircase which took you to the Mummy rooms, and the dark gold lit Buddha rooms, the delicate courtyard garden, the room behind the Armor Hall which was a whole room taken from a monastery, all wood moldings and gilded lettering. That tiny little alcove they put all the Tiffany in, which made the glass glow hypnotically, to be so close to it and unable to step back. 

I used to know that to get back to the lobby, I had to look for the cafeteria and then it was around the corner from the gift shop and down the stairs were the bathrooms which sat across from a bank of pay phones. 

I'm just saying, I'm the nostalgic one who's going to be a hard sell on the new look when it's finally done. I like sitting in the glass Rodin room when it's raining, but that's so far been it. Whatever, it's the art museum. Nobody stops going to the art museum because they don't like the layout. 

It was a Saturday afternoon, but also a bit later, so the Rembrandt gallery was crowded but not as bad as it could have been. People were in general being pretty respectful, standing a minimum distance away from the paintings, being cognizant where other people were in the space around them. The exception being everyone with a black tour recording box held up to their head. Those people become uncoordinated zombies, they are the ones that lean in so close to look at a piece of lace the seven of us all standing around have to stand there and just wait for them to be done, cause it's a museum, what are you gonna do? Start shit? Then there's the worry when you don't want to look like you're following someone, but they are just on the same rhythm as you, and you have to wait for them to get a few painting ahead, so you don't look creepy. Once or twice old people with tour recordings actually walked right into me and then just walked away. We didn't get angry, who can be angry around great art? But Alexis and I did laugh a lot, maybe chat a bit too much about people around us. Sorry, but if it's going to be a walking around and into people like pinballs kind of party, then I'm going to talk to my friend as casually as I want.

 I went through all the way one time, and then started from the beginning again to see my favorites, when most of the crush was up ahead and the gallery was closing in 30 minutes. Then I was able to stand still and center as long as I wanted, as close as I wanted. There's something about putting your face close to an object like a Rembrandt. It is a slap in the face. Not just this artist, but any really amazing piece of art, something that's been so famous and renowned for so long it's now actually magical, it's spewing magic from every pore of it's old frame, and it's glowing magic paint or pearl or marble, the lingering electrical traces of genius. The weight of it's venerability is physically impressed on your body. It's like reaching out to touch an elephant. 

Rembrandt is not overrated, you know. He's amazing. The faces and emotions of his characters - the wrinkles in their foreheads and sleeves, the individual hairs of their eyebrows and eyelashes, the shading of their shadows. If you ever wonder why I'm just standing there looking for so long, what I'm doing is imagining those faces with modern hair and modern clothes, I'm stripping them of their lace collars and frizzy fros, and then I'm trying to correlate them with people I know in real life. I'm looking for the nose or curve of mouth that I recognize. I want them to be people I've fought with, or wanted to sleep with, or ignored at a party. I never read the placards. I feel like the placards place them in a timeline, and I'd rather think of them floating outside the bridge of history, above the falls, hovering in our cultural memory.

The next day I got wasted going in between wineries, and threw a glass of wine in the face of the guy I was with for implying something that is probably true, cleaned off the streaks of mascara on my face, then got more drunk at a bar with my sister for her birthday, and hit on people inappropriately (I gave my number on a napkin to a really cute guy who I was just too drunk to talk to and who now i have a sinking feeling I've actually met before), and Emily pretty much heard WAY to much about our family dynamics, and the whole day was horrible, tragic, and yet okay and awesome. Sometimes I'm just a bad girl, well alright it happens, we're all bad people. And the light yesterday was immaculate, it was wonderful. I'm amazed at the range of emotions one fucked up girl like me can experience in one day, and that those days exist at all is a work of art, painful but tangible and real.

Cleveland Quiz

What are the Westside Market hours?

How late does Nunzio's deliver?

The speed limit on MLK is...

Tina's always sells out of....

Those pink green and white CHOC car stickers are for what?

What day is the downtown library closed?

The beer and wine store at the corner of Madison and 117th is called...

The guy who painted those alien child looking murals in Tremont is named...

At the bottom of Jefferson Hill is a. _____ factory.

The Politician is....
And used to be located on _________ avenue.

The Atomic Playground was replaced with a .....

The shopping plaza at Brookpark and Pearl used to have a giant painted sign for a  music store called....

Daystar sells....

There are ____ Rapid Lines, and they are called......

The Grog Shop used to be located at........
And where it is now used to be a ......

The beach in Bay Village is called.....

Before it was Mittal, the steel mill was owned by....

To get to Slavic Village, you use which exit off 77?

The Chamber is a.....

Woodland Rd. turns into....
W. 25th turns into.....
Detroit turns into.....

Right next to Shaker Square is a little shopping district called.....

They reopened the Fulton bridge when?

The Cotton Club was a....

Paramount liquor is distilled on _______ road. 

If you're looking for a strip club, a porn store, or a roller skating rink, you go to.....

The ice cream stand on State Rd in Old Brooklyn is called.....
The one on Pearl next to the bowling alley is called....

Space Invaders was a.....

The worst part about waiting for a bus on Public Square in the winter is the.....

The Cinematheque is located in what University Circle building?

The old coast guard station is located in what park?

Little Puerto Rico is located along what major street?

The third Saturday in October is?

Akron sucks because....

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Let Me Be Your Caption (Not a Sext, But Could Be)

This post is inspired by this article. It's a camera that sends your photo to an Amazon team of people, who then interpret your photo in their own words, and send you a print out. I want it. I want it badly. But then I remembered that I should be aspiring not to be the photographer, but the person writing the descriptions. So I had my friends send me some photos they would like descriptions of. 

It is a DVD case for Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore being held up by a human hand, which looks to either be a woman's, or an exceptionally well manicured 12 yr old boy. The movie cover has three dogs lined up in descending order of height, and in the background an evil cat ninja is stealing what could be a fish or a fish shaped bomb. There is a price tag for 19.99, which seems optimistic in today's media economy.

It is a photo of a long wooden bar. In the background we can see all the liquor bottles lined up against a mirror. On the bar are approx 21 beer bottles of different brands lined up like bowling pins. In the middle there is a sparkler. Next to the bottles on the bar is a pink memo pad and pen, there are notes but we can't read them. A lone beer, ostracized by the group, sits on the right edge of the frame, scheming the groups inevitable takedown.

The location is unclear. It could be a sea floor, an aquarium tank floor, a museum display made of plaster. I find it impossible to definitely say this is a red brownish colored prehistoric sting ray. Something about the illustration makes me flinch, makes it seem like this is a fictional set up. It could be a shoe buried in sand. It could be a painting. There are two small white dots on the nose of the stingray/prehistoric museum display fishy/buried shoe, and they look like googly eyes. Let's name it Frank.

There is a huge black and white photo ad framed in a dark shiny wooden frame, leaning against a wall of grey blue painted slats, with track lighting shining down. The floor is burnished concrete. In the ad, we see the torsos of two young men, standing face to face, their pelvises angled towards each other, clad in the kind of shorts that look like they were foraged out of a department store after the zombie apocalypse, when you didn't have the time to make sure they fit because you were too busy trying to keep those plate glass doors closed while the rotting throngs swelled against the entrance a tidal wave of society's worst evil. 

I must be drunk. I can't tell what those animals are. I think my contacts are dry. There is a white wooden slat fence, and behind it, two shadowy black and white animals that could be pigs or cows lying down, or dead goats, I don't know. The sign says Animals May Bite, Please Do Not Feed. No worries, I'm not sticking my hand in that pen till I know what the fuck those are. 

The background is grass, and it is a sunny day. In the foreground is the headless figure of a young man, wearing shorts and a blue faded Green Eggs and Ham tshirt. He is jauntily holding with one hand a very large rifle, extending the handle out to the picture taker like one would a golf club. There is a briefcase on the ground by his leg. 

It is a bowl full of jello shots with the little plastic lids on them. The bowl is orange. I bet this photo was taken at Tina's, a karaoke bar where I always end up singing George Michael and The Cars and  *NSync. Do you like how I remembered the asterisk there?

It is the face of the man who pulled you from the sinkhole and then stole a DeLorean which he used to go back in time and manipulate you into sleeping with your mom, thus completely canceling out your existence. He is wearing a wifebeater and pulling the photographer from the car with a very creepy half smile. 

There are three young dark haired women in a crowd. Their heads are all craned upwards to display the incredibly intricate and beautifully drawn gaping maws they have painted on their necks and chests, so that they give the appearance of cartoonish mutated toothy beasts screaming. They are holding paper cartoon dialogue balloons next to their heads, which proclaim in Spanish
 "We have the right to be outraged. Educational excellence for all!" 
Behind them is a large golden lit classical building that leads us to believe they are at a capital of something. The whole thing smacks of Guernica and communism and that poster my dad had framed about the Spanish Civil War. But it could very well be taking place in Mexico, because let's face it, our knowledge of the southern western hemisphere is fucked. We're like children, we are living in our parents pre-Internet preconceived notions of foreign countries.

It is a photo of a waterfront. We see the curve of the harbor, and several streetlights standing stark against the grey blue water, and the darker grey of a mountain range across the water. There is a low modern building, and  a small single person standing by a streetlight. From where the water and the mountains meet, we see a nearly invisible plume of smoke rising ethereally into the smoky overcast blue sunlight. It is a large ship, or a volcano, or a dragon. This is what dragons look like in real life, just smoke signals coming from across the lakes, barely on the edge of our perception and we go along, living our lives, walking the bottoms of mountains, avoiding the higher regions where the monsters and immortals live. The man is standing on one leg like a crane.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

We Drove Through the City

We drove through the city, which was dark and deserted, all the colors smudging together into a palate of dirty deep blues, rusty browns, not quite grey blacks. The old brick and stone apartment buildings sat menacingly quiet, there were no signs of life, no noises. The only flickers of light came from the streetlights, which were old and dusty, the light they gave off was like candlelight. If  the electricity that ran my own city was the result of fiery modern combustion, then this city was fueled by the smoldering remains of a campfire. I crouched low in my seat, and tried to not let him see my face, my fear and confusion. All the physical locations of my city were the same, the streets and landmarks were familiar, but it was so very dead, it stank of rotting ruination. I hadn’t even liked my own city that much before, it was just a place I lived. But seeing it brought to such destruction made my heart swell with echoing desperation, as if evil persons had ripped a child from my arms. I bit my lip hard,  to distract my body and not cry, I was so close to crying.

The car came around a corner, and he stopped suddenly. I looked at him first before looking around, he was staring through the windshield and there was a bright sunshine glow lighting up his face. I had never seen him look so handsome before, maybe that first moment at the party where I had been high on the vapors and saw him across the room talking to another group of people and my eyes had gone straight to him and I think I may have actually stopped breathing that night, he had been so lovable. That does happen to people sometimes. But this moment was entirely different – he looked like he was gazing at something he loved very much, like a shipwreck survivor might look at a rescue boat, or a child might gaze at a family pet who had gone missing and then come back magically. It was only a second, but for that second he was the most beautiful man in the world, scars and dirt and all.

I turned to look myself, and there in between two crouching old tenements, was a glowing tower of glass. It was the sun, or all the stars collected in one cascade of delicate filigreed corners and niches so bright you could barely make out the details, and in this dead landscape it drew in every bit of loveliness left in the world and reflected it bright and strong and spectacularly beautiful, a supernova of the purest white light. It burned itself in my retinas and when I finally blinked I could see it on the insides of my eyelids just as clearly. Bobby was still gazing at it, I shook his shoulder hard.

“Close your eyes! Close your eyes now!”
He blinked and looked at me. The glow was etched in his skin, I could see the skeins of it in his veins, soaking into his capillaries like some sort of heavenly disintegration. I pulled his head to mine and quickly kissed him, hoping that the filthy of me and my reality would snap him out of it. I was mildly disappointed when it did. We sat there silently a moment, catching our breaths.

“What is it, Katie?”

“I don’t know. I have no idea. I don’t know what we should do. I want to get out and take some pictures.”

“No, I don’t think that’s a good idea. This is not a place we should stop, it's not safe.”

“Bobby, there’s no one around. And it will just be a few minutes, I promise. What are we supposed to do, just drive away? We don’t even know what we’re looking for in this place, what if this is it?” I was already unpacking the camera and got out of the car. I left the car door open. “Give me just a minute, promise. I’ll be quick.”

The asphalt under my shoes was crunchy with glass and debris. It looked like the scene of an explosion, and I imagined for a minute that this Tower of Light had in fact burst through the facade of whatever dreary building had been there before, had been gestated inside the real world and then banged out like Athena smashing through Zeus’s skull. So that what I was actually stepping on, grinding under my clumsy boots, was a shell, an exoskeleton. And if that was true, then one of these things could be living inside of every ugly place in this world, a whole ‘nother world of white gold hiding just below the surface of this reality. 

  I ventured as close to the glow as I could stand, and snapped away, not looking in the lenses, I was afraid it might damage my eyes actually, though that wasn’t logical. Funny, that I kept trying to resort to logic anymore. Logic was so obviously not the law here. 

The Light was warm once you got close enough, not hot or burning, but like slipping into a hot shower. When you peered closely and squinted, the light was actually moving in the tower’s walls, you could see it coursing through infinitesimal cracks in the glass, just like it had in Bobby’s face. I reached out to touch it, and realized that somehow I was closer than I had thought, I had been moving towards it the whole time. In only a few more steps I would be able to put my hands on the side of the tower. The rest of the world was blanked out around me, enveloped in the gold fog, and somewhere in the distance I heard a car door slam but it was muffled by the most delicate hum, the beating of a million tiny wings or a billion little heartbeats. I felt my fingertips reach the warm glass wall, and then it was inside me, the gold was flowing up my arm, it was traveling and winding around my veins. I looked up above me at the great expanse of the tower. It was bigger than it had looked from the street, the walls rose up 20, 30, 40 stories, I couldn’t see the top.  I peered even closer to the glass, and thought I glimpsed, beyond the light , a dark pointed face peering at me. We locked eyes, this shadow and I, and when it smiled at me, the lights sparkled on its rows of pointy tiny teeth. 

I gasped and jumped back. The connection was broken, but my mind was still clouded, I was vaguely aware that I was terrified, but the gold calm didn't want to give me back. I backed up quickly and turned to run to the car, but my eyes couldn’t adjust, the rest of the world was so black and dark. I stumbled back to the car. There was a dark crumpled thing lying on the ground next to my now closed door. There was no one in the car.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Deer Eggs

Gladys comes into the office holding a carton of eggs in her hand. The office is very modern, all the walls are painted happy shades of yellow and white, and the furniture is pale blonde. Gladys is not pale blonde, she is dark mahogany, and her figure is very trim. She wears cotton skirts and cute button up blouses. The effect of her walking across the tastefully gray carpet towards my desk is very neat and professional. Except for the eggs.

 She puts the eggs on my desk, and I can see they are larger than chicken eggs, very large in fact, and cracked all over. “You need to take these,” she says, and it is not a request. One of the eggs shakes a little, quivers on its axis in the plastic carton. There is a new crack. Something is moving around.

 “What is it?” I try to remain calm. Everything is always a crisis around here.

 “Deer eggs. I found them in my backyard, and I can’t have them in the house, Gary will go apeshit if we get deer. He loves his chrysanthemums.” She stands there with her perfectly formed hands on her trim little hips, and for a minute I am consumed with hate for neat little Gladys and her neat little yard and her neat little husband who gardens and has the same first initial as her. But it’s fleeting. I actually like Gladys a lot. I just wish she wasn’t so pretty.

 “What am I going to do with them?” Everyone in this office comes to me with the weird stuff. I suppose it’s because I don’t dress like I belong there. I tried at first, but then my entire wardrobe became work clothes, and I felt boring when I went out socially, so I decided it was better to not fit in at the office than not fit in with my friends.  And if it’s not my clothes, it’s probably the mousepad on my desk, which is blown up photos of viruses and bacteria I got from a friend of mine who works at an animal hospital. Being the weird one is okay. It keeps the serious stuff off your desk, and it’s important to not let things land on your desk. Once it’s physically on your desk, the problem is yours, that’s the golden rule here.

 “I thought maybe you could take them out to your mom’s farm. Let them live there. They’re mostly deer eggs, but I think there’s a few chicken in there too. Doesn’t your mom have chickens?”

Pushing aside the absurdity of the situation, the fact that Gladys has just brought me a tray of living breathing about to be born animals, and that she brought it as casually as one might bring in a jello salad to the company picnic, my nurturing sucker instincts take over. If there are chickens in there, they need heat. I pick up the tray and position it under the small sun lamp I have for my cactus. Gladys seems satisfied that I’ve taken ownership by my act of touching the damn things, and walks away.

 I’ve never heard of deer eggs. I sit there in my office chair for a minute studying them. They are large, almost the size of ostrich eggs. I pick one up carefully with two hands. It is hot and disturbingly smooth, like a childs hand. It gives a violent shake, and I almost drop it, so I put it safely back. But they will need to be moved. I have a bread basket on my kitchen counter, I think I can line it with a towel and that should work. It is impossible to work after that. I try to type, but the slightest movement of the eggs distracts me. I google “deer eggs” and find nothing. I feel a fear building in me, a worry, I have no idea what’s actually in those things. Are they hawks? Ducks? Platypuses? Obviously I know it’s not deer, I’m not an idiot, I know how mammals work. But it’s hard to fight the instinctual excitement of something being born. Whatever’s in there, I want them to survive.

 Finally the work day is over. I drive home carefully, the eggs cradled in my coat on the front passenger seat, my hand hovering over them in case I have to stop suddenly. I feel infinitely relieved when I get them upstairs to my second floor walkup, and they are established safely in my smallest laundry basket, since the bread basket was too small after all. They sit there, on my kitchen counter, under the sun lamp, for the rest of the night. I lock the cat up in the second bedroom. I drink a beer and sit there on my only stool, watching them, gently touching, tracing the cracks with my fingertips. I can tell which ones are the chicken ones, there are two of them and they are much smaller. They don’t move nearly as much as the 4 larger eggs, and I worry they are dead, but after all, maybe they are just not ready to come out.

The next morning when I wake up, I’m ecstatic to see one of chicken eggs is cracking too. All of them are moving like crazy, it shouldn’t be much longer. I remember something about turning the eggs, to make sure they are coming out right side up.Sticking my hand in the basket to gingerly move them is the same as sticking it in a basket of scorpions. I recognize there is now a terror weight in my chest, a large beast breathing slow hot air into my cheeks, which are hot and red. I call off work, tell them I have a fever. I have a little fantasy while I'm eating cereal that Gladys wonders why I'm not there, wonders if something happened. But better that it be me, the girl living alone with no husband or kids to worry about. I start to feel more charitable to her, but only a little.

It's a beautiful warm sunny day. I take a book with me to the back yard, and the basket, and we lay in the sun. I'm vaguely aware that an actual mother would never do this because of hawks and vermin. "Lucky eggs, you. You landed in the arms of a superior predator, " I say to them. They are being still at the moment, it must be hard work, hatching. Especially if you're a little deer, trying to kick out with your spindly little knocky knees all tied up in knots.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Me and The Car

Tonight I had to drive my sister's car home and leave her on the couch at the party. She said it was absolutely impossible for her to get up. She's passed out. I go looking for her keys, which she says are in her bag, only I don't know what her bag looks like or where she left it. I find a set of keys, and ask her on my way out if they are hers, she says sure. I go out to the car. It's rainy and cold. I want to sit in the car and let it warm up and play on my phone. I can't get the door open, but one of the other doors is left unlocked and I get in. I'm not even entirely sure this is her car, because I've only ever been in her car once before, and I wasn't paying attention. The backseat is down, which I think is from putting Myle's bike in there, so I'm *pretty sure*. But now the key won't start the car, like, it doesn't fit. It is a square in a round peg. I try it for a while. I try stepping on things, and pulling them. So I head back in. She's sitting up now. "Those aren't my keys" and she goes to find them for me. I go back out into the rain. I enjoy the walk much more this second time, it seems warmer and the streetlights have solidified.

I get in, this time everything works. I start to drive, Her dashboard lights are very dim and I start to freak out thinking maybe I didn't turn her lights on properly. I pull over next to Happy Dog and check them, plus figure out how to roll down the window. I sit for a few minutes on my phone solely so it looks like I pulled over to check my phone, and not because I'm completely insecure about what I'm doing. I hate driving other people's cars, I'm particular about knowing my own machine. But everything's fine, I'm fine, I get back to my house. I remember to go to Walgreens to buy...feminine products and cat food. I didn't plan that, this sort of stuff just happens. My cycle and the cat food cycle are synced. There's a very cute guy walking to his car as I pull into the space. I turn everything off and then I can't figure out how to get the seatbelt off. I swear to god, I knew there was a button somewhere, but where I thought it would be, I pressed as hard as I could and nothing. I wait for this guy next to me to pull away, but he doesn't he's just sitting there in his car, his lights on. I realize he is probably also having a weird drive home. Finally he goes away, and I drive off sans anything, get home, park in the driveway. The seatbelt comes off just fine. Of course it does. It's a power play.

This is about how if you make eye contact and stare down dogs to establish dominance, then her car and I had a operational dominance stare down. It smelled my fear. But actually in its oil soaked engine it's a good car, so once I learned to give my commands with authority, we figured it out pretty quickly.

Tonight was a really great show. Carey was brilliant and geez something else. I really wish I could stop listening to this Gotye song. It's just so fucking calming, like a blow dart is stuck under my ear. Anyway cars, why do I love them so much? I wish you could major in auto emotional psychology. I wish my glasses looked better on my face. I wish I had a dog. I wish I had the rest of the day to sit around and read Battle Royale and it would just rain all day and then tomorrow someone would take me to see Cabin in the Woods and not laugh too hard at me when I freak out.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I Think Thursday May Actually Be My Favorite Night

Last night reminded me of last year's Ingenuity Fest. No wait, I mean, to me. It was physically nothing like Ingenuity. But it was totally great and I think most everyone had a good time, at least a lot of people came up and told me so. In fact that's the part which is giving me flashbacks. At Ingenuity last year, it was one of those nights that are the reason people get so obsessed with social media. Most of the time, there are way more nights in our lives where we think our facebook and twitter accounts are stupid. We're just babbling insane nonsense into the void 24 hours a day, millions of us, and what's it for? Something happens politically or celebrity wise, and people go nuts, and we roll our eyes and sigh and then talk about it ourselves. But all our babbling, the weird snarky jokes, complaints, and random outbursts of insecurity build and build, they roll together in the atmosphere like storm clouds, they gather strength, and then boom, a night will happen when the downpour comes, and all the electricity building up between us crackles then relaxes. The next morning it smells good, and it's balmy, and happy order is restored.

 That image maybe sounds negative, but I really really really love storms. These nights are like People Storms.

 At Ingenuity, I met so many people that I only sort of knew, but knew enough. I knew enough about their lives that we could have conversations about real things from the get go, which is just hot. I batted and bounced around from one group of people to the next, having little bursts of awesome exchange, and yet being constantly entertained by newness. It was the ADHD of Facebook made real. I met people who read me online. I met people I read online. Compliments filled up the night like fog. Everyone was, as you say, "on". I love when people are plugged in.

 And last night, everyone was plugged in. Most people in the room knew a few other people, but not that many. The sound of 40 people having 2 person conversations about themselves is surprisingly loud. Like, I was actually sort of taken aback by the noise. It's weird to hear a room functioning and see people participating in something you dreamed up and planned. I should make a note to ask Elana if she feels that way after the KickStartLove events, because I've only organized a few "events" in the course of my life, and she's a pro, and I want to know how last night went from her perspective. She was so on her game last night. I love watching people do things they are actually good at. There's not a lot of chances for you to see your friends do their professional thing. I mean, you guys will never see me at work. I'm not going to come to your office and watch you IT, whatever that entails. Opportunities to see your non-work friends work it are rare.

 So anyway, the event went really well, and then I went to wait for Carey at ABC, and there were lots of people to hang out with and talk to.Myles and I found our particular conversation, the record groove for the rest of the night. Carey picked me up after her show, and we went to the all night grocery store because oh my car is dead but hey we're not getting into that right now. I had to get groceries, and she had to find something to eat, and I barely remember any of it because I had decided earlier to introduce Myles to tequila shots with lime and siricha. I woke up this morning in a sick wave, but it's okay, it was worth it. Being plugged in sometimes leaves you drained of power, that happens. But when I stumbled groggily to the kitchen to get water and pills, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that super drunk Bridget is actually way better at grocery shopping than sober Bridget. Cause I remember how much I spent last night, and I have like an entire fridge of fairly healthy okay food. That's, I don't know, maybe I'm just going drunk food shopping from now on. I have raisins. I never have raisins. There's banana chips and tortillas, and tomatoes. I'm sort of looking forward to being homebound, and just concentrating on cleaning and packing, with all the windows open and turkey tomato sandwiches for lunch and someday soon laying out in the backyard in the sun on my breaks. Also today is beautiful.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Morning News: I Will Probably End Up Dead Specifically Because I Like the Beach So Much

It occurred to me the other day that my desire to always live near a really large body of water is going to kill me. All the schools I applied to were in heavy hurricane zones. The danger of skin cancer gets worse every year. And now I'll probably get cancer someday just from living on an ocean shore, from being in the water.  I love Lake Erie, toxic algae blooms and all, but at this point I see my environment, no matter where I am, as being a thick soup of solvents.

 The presiding story yesterday was All the Eyeless Shrimp and Mutated Crabs That Are Rotting In Denmark...I Mean, The Gulf. Our country is so big. It's so big that we can coat the entirety of one of our three coastlines with an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil, and 2 years later we've practically forgotten about. Tomorrow is the 2 year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent complete destruction of an ancient ecosystem that millions of Americans depended on for food and livelihood. And yet we're all shocked by this story, that all that oil and all the chemicals they pumped into the ocean to try and break up the oil, gather the oil, make the oil sink to the sea floor has caused severe carcinogenic mutations to the animals living there. The animals we like to eat at parties, with cocktail sauce.

 This is probably just funny to me, but I've never been able to stomach eating shrimp specifically because of the eyes, which would remind me that they were whole little bug animals and I couldn't put a whole corpse in my mouth in one bite. But hey, no eyes now.

  "Darla Rooks, a lifelong fisherperson from Port Sulfur, Louisiana, told Al Jazeera she is finding crabs "with holes in their shells, shells with all the points burned off so all the spikes on their shells and claws are gone, misshapen shells, and crabs that are dying from within … they are still alive, but you open them up and they smell like they've been dead for a week".

.... read that sentence again....cause it's horrible.

 If you're an animal unlucky enough to be born in the Gulf, there's a few ways you could die now. You could of course die from oil poisoning, or whatever the technical term for being coated in poison is. You could be riddled with parasitic worms or covered in sponges, 2 invasive species that have taken root since the spill. You could be mutated and crippled from BP cleanup chemicals which changed your genome before you were even conceived. Or you could be eaten alive, swiss cheesed with lesions, from microbial swarms that have swelled since the spill. Or none of these things happen, you're a whale or a dolphin, you survive, but then you feed on these poisoned rotting carcasses of fish, and you die.

I know, it's easier to feel sorrier for dolphin than shrimp, cause, you know, predator. Shrimp don't seem alive to begin with, do they?

 The entire Gulf Coast is a nightmare land. It's going to be a nightmare land for probably the rest of my life. We might as well have evacuated then napalmed the whole place. That might have been kinder and in the end, cleaner. I say We because We don't get to avoid guilt here. Sure BP's the one actually at fault, but we're the ones who bought their product, who continue to buy their product, who elect the officials that keep them in business. At this point, they are almost going to HAVE to stay in business to pay all the billions in reparations they owe to the people who live there, and all the future lawsuits coming round the bend. No, scratch that, we should just dissolve them completely and divide the lootings among those citizens left. I mean, we all know this, deep in our collective soul, that if there was justice, someone would have been sacrificed to the gods for this. Our collective soul is a deeply traumatized violent irrational place, but sometimes blood for blood just feels right.

 Companies like BP are really proof that our society runs on death. We burn it, we eat it, we buy it. The entire industrial revolution was possible because of dead creatures buried in the earth. Scavengers. Jackals. Oh, I know, PREDATORS. But successful predators support ecosystem health, because it means they don't have to eat eyeless shrimp. I'm going to start The Religion of the Predator.

 The State of Louisiana refuses the notion their seafood might be unsafe to eat. "We're testing, but still, everything's tested fine so far" is what they're basically saying. Because, seriously, what the fuck else are they going to say? THAT'S ALL THEY HAVE. Oil and seafood. I can't even get mad at Jindal for his posturing on this, because the apocalypse came early to his state, and that guy is so fucked. All those people are fucked. The Great Lakes have been poisoned and wrecked by our own history of manufacturing and chemical dumping sure, but it was over a much longer period of time. People had time to move away, get out, find other ways to make a living. Those people on the Gulf coast are just stuck there all of a sudden, living in a world where the soil and water are all carcinogenic, with no infrastructure set up for employment, and they don't even know how bad the future's going to be. Because we can understand the people portion of the disaster, and make people pay for that, but we can't understand the environmental impact, it's beyond our scope. This isn't the kind of disaster where it can only get better from the initial catastrophe. It is only going to get worse and worse.

 I don't think modern man has the ability to even imagine what's actually happened, the enormity of it. We destroyed an entire ocean. We turned an entire ocean black and poisonous. That's like blowing up the Himalayas. But because our country is so big, we'll just continue to think of it once a year in April when someone trudges out a new tragic story and then everyone talks about Earth Day, and the bike people will shout some stuff, and just like every Earth Day in my memory I will feel this heavy lead weight of hopelessness in my weak tarred up lungs and chest, which will be so bombarded with conflicting leads of optimisms and horrors that by July I will have settled back into walking dead consumerist acceptance, which is more like PTSD than anything else.  I'll spend my birthday in the water because it feels good, and I imagine I will never know what it feels like to be completely clean.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Let's Focus on Our Particular Midwest Front of the War on Women

I need help getting back into this blog. I also need practice waking up early in the morning and thinking about something seriously. No, I mean it, serious topics, because a consequence of being so active on Facebook and Twitter is you start to lose the sense which allows you to grasp how heavy an event is. Sure, we're bombarded with requests for fundraisers and petitions and news links, but the trending news story will be replaced by another one in an hour, and through the course of my online day, I might read like 15 political stories or environmental pleas. It leads to righteous anger sure, but a sort of sustained righteous anger high, a buzz, an addiction to finding the newest thing to be angry about. So I'm going to try writing about one news story a day here. I'm not educated really about any of these things, and most of these ramblings will seem undeveloped, childish, certainly redundant to what every else on your feed has already said about it in 140 characters. Let's just remember this is a blog, okay? A humble little local blog. Nothing to see here. 

First up, Gov. Walker repealed Wisconsin's 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act. Almost 2 WEEKS AGO. And I don't know, maybe the rest of the country already knew about it when this Daily Beast article was published April 7th, but I consider myself plugged in sort of, I'm at least a median, and I didn't hear about it till the Daily Show this week. Maybe I need smarter facebook friends.*

The goal of that act was to allow employees to take their discrimination cases through state courts instead of federal, which is faster and cheaper. Employers and supporters of repealing the act claimed that businesses were suddenly facing way more claims. That's a fact up for dispute, one of the soundbites going around is that in the 2 years the Act has been Active, not a single equal pay suit has been filed, because the law is strict. I'm not going to look up whether or not that's true, because I don't think it matters. If employers are facing a heavier burden of suits, than maybe they should start paying everyone equally. Oh! Cry the Wearied Employers, Oh! We have so many false wage discrimination claims! Everyone we fire tries to get us! Look, not my problem if you can't comport yourself fairly and directly with the people who work for you. I'm sure there are a lot of false accusations. I'm equally sure that there are a lot of well founded ones. 2009, Wisconsin was ranked 36th in the country for pay parity. And now...

 "the law’s supporters believe it has been effective in spurring businesses to pay women more fairly. Thus by 2010, the state had climbed to 24th in the national gender-parity rankings, with women making 78 percent as much as men, compared to 77 percent nationally. “Since the law was put into place, employers actually took notice and were very conscious of the fact that they had to follow this law or they were at risk of a lawsuit,” Sinicki argues."'

So Wisconsin, I would like to hereby award you The Worst Governor Award. And that should mean something because I live in a state where this is happening: Ohio House Republicans Move to Defund Planned Parenthood.  And I live next to a state where every election becomes a shit storm of fraudulent election practices, which is just ramping up for the season. 

Oh, but wait! You also win Worst Senator of the Week! Here's the infamous quote being spread around about the repeal of the law by the repeal's main supporter , Republican Senator Glenn Grothman. 

 "“Take a hypothetical husband and wife who are both lawyers,” he says. “But the husband is working 50 or 60 hours a week, going all out, making 200 grand a year. The woman takes time off, raises kids, is not go go go. Now they’re 50 years old. The husband is making 200 grand a year, the woman is making 40 grand a year. It wasn’t discrimination. There was a different sense of urgency in each person.” 

He continues, “What you’ve got to look at, and Ann Coulter has looked at this, is you have to break it down by married and unmarried. Once you break it down by married and unmarried, the differential disappears.” 

... When I ran the numbers by him, he replied, “The American Association of University Women is a pretty liberal group.” Nor, he argued, does its conclusion take into account other factors, like “goals in life. You could argue that money is more important for men. I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious. To attribute everything to a so-called bias in the workplace is just not true.”'

That guy does not actually believe that.  There is absolutely no way he believes any word coming out of his own mouth. My knee jerk reaction was to make some excuse for his ignorance, or make fun of it, but it's time I stop giving people the stupidity excuse, and start recognizing actual cruelty and greed. 

My dad has lately taken to very seriously and sternly telling my sister and I that he really wants us to get dual citizenship in another country. I remember the first time he said it, we were all sitting around the living room, and I thought he was just being pithy. My dad's never been one to overreact to a cultural or political situation. But no, he means it. He fears for our economic and reproductive rights. And fathers all over the country should be getting Handmaids Tale chills up and down their spines. Also mothers, also anyone who has ever dated a girl or is a girl. Also everyone who can be considered a minority, because that Equal Pay Law didn't just protect vaginas, it was for everyone. This new batch of Republican bullshit, which we've up to now been tempted to write off as a religious agenda, is in fact an attempt for the party of the Rich White Male to regain some of it's Valhalla Sheen from earlier in the LAST CENTURY. I know certain educated folks have been trying to warn the general population of this for a while, that the Religious Right is just a sensationalistic mask to distract us from the actual chipping away of progressive accomplishments over the last fifty years, but now we have no excuse to write this off. Governor Walker has at least been instrumental in making it violently clear that the Right's target is not just your uterus, but everyone else's jobs and health benefits too. 

This is not a war about moral issues, it's an attack by Corporate Money, and regardless of your religious leanings, every working person in the Rustbelt should be paying attention. Because this is a region that is heavily invested in unions and employer regulation. Manufacturing has been trying to get one over on it's Midwest workers for over a century, and right now we feel so desperate and cash strapped and beat upon, that we're letting them win. Yes, we need jobs. Yes, state budgets need help. But we need representatives that are going to try and find solutions without marginalizing members of society. That's not a want, that's a need. In case you haven't noticed, if you add up everyone considered a "minority", we're the majority. 99%, blah blah blah, but true. The way we are going to rebuild the Midwest is not by making it an unhealthy, unsafe, unappealing place for new people to want to come and work and live. You should want employers to have to pay women and EVERYONE equally, because that's more of their profit that's being spent in your communities. You should want women to get health care from Planned Parenthood, because that's less of a burden on your county health systems, and in the end, on the welfare and social assistance programs too. Our cities need to focus on attracting new people and immigrants, because there's nothing healthier for a community than new blood and new ideas and ambition. If I'm an educated immigrant, with a career, looking to move, I'm not looking towards places that are systematically rolling back the rights of the citizenry. There's probably not a lot of dads over in Europe saying to their daughters "make sure you move to a place where it's hard to get health care and they discriminate against women in the workplace."

*not true. I have very smart facebook friends. At least 60% of them don't have kids.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Missing Month

I feel like an entire lifetime has gone by since my laptop broke. And it's only been a month and a half? Maybe longer? That's definitely the lifetimes of a few things. Bugs mostly.

Let's see, here's a partial list, in order of things that I can remember....

1) Oh, I gave Nina cat away to Beth, in preparation for my move next fall, and I miss her terribly a lot. I hope they are getting along. Eddy has still not figured out that the intruder cat is gone. I wonder if she ever will. That cat is crazy, her little mammalian brain is broken and I probably did that, and yet I feel no guilt whatsoever because I feed her. It's a fucked up master/slave relationship. I'm starting to not believe in pets. 

2) I got into schools! Someone actually wants me! I'm still waiting to see if they want me enough to pay for me. But this time next year I'll be living in North Carolina or New Orleans, depending. So that's terribly exciting, right? WRONG. It's just terrifying. I don't know what the fuck I was thinking. I have to pack up my apartment in like, a month. I have to fix a bunch of things before I even think about telling my landlord I'm moving. I have to throw out everything I own. Then I have to find a place to live, and a part time job, and a place to LIVE. Sorry guys, I don't have time to say goodbye to any of you. Just assume I'm gone already.

3) I went shooting some more. I'm still pretty good at it. This will probably be a handy date skill to know either place I move to. Yes, I have date skills. Knowing how to shoot a gun. Knowing how to eat fish you don't like. Drinking scotch straight. Not immediately screaming at someone when they try to argue about healthcare with you. The thing is I really like being good with a gun, because I've been so scared of them my whole life. I don't find it stress relieving or empowering though, I don't get a rush from it, other than the rush that you normally get from being pretty good at something. I don't stand there and picture people I hate when I'm shooting, which is what one Arizona lady told me she did to keep her emotions in check. See, that's terrifying. Somewhere out there, someone could be shooting a gun repeatedly into a piece of cardboard visualizing you. This is vaguely like knowing that someone out there is always masturbating thinking about you, somewhere. I can't decide which one is worse. Is it better to be hated or objectified? But that's not me. I'm too busy trying to hold my wrists steady and not fuck up and shoot the cable holding the target, cause they charge you a lot of money for that.

What's funny is I'm WAY better with a real gun, than I am playing with a fake video game gun.

4) We went to the beach for the first time of the year. It got cold and rainy as soon as we got there, sprinkled in fits and starts for about fifteen minutes then stopped. Those of us who stuck it out saw this amazing thing happen once the sun came out again - the beach steamed? A fog rose up from the sand and drifted around the feet of all the people wandering around,  sort of whispered it's way among the dunes and barriers, then faded away. Beach ghosts. I didn't know that happened!

5) It's been beautiful, sunny, and warm most days this Spring. I've had the windows open since March. I feel cheated though. I had planned on this being my last Northeast Ohio winter, and I was going to be a full snow bunny, I had plans for building an igloo, all sorts of snow painting, snowshoes on the lake, ect. NONE OF IT HAPPENED. The lake never even froze. I'm assuming this means I will be able to go swimming by May. Let me rephrase that: I will be swimming by May. If Lake Erie doesn't want me to die of hypothermia, it better get it's shit together.

6) I took off a whole week from work to write. Doesn't that sound dreadfully romantic and artistic and dedicated? It wasn't. It was fucking horrible. The first half of the week I sat at my computer trying to write a commercially viable romance novel to sell, and ended up writing a lot of scenes about past one night stands that all came off as really weird and fucked up. I had convinced myself by Wednesday that absolutely every time I've had sex, it's been unnatural. Then Thursday I woke up from  a great story dream. I love those morning, most of my good stories I dream first, so Thursday was great, and Friday. Saturday I started to get pissed off again. By Tuesday, when I had to go back to work, I had 6 chapters each of two different books, and had no fun whatsoever the whole week, and I'm pretty sure I gained 5 pounds and a lung tumor. But I still want to be a writer, barely, so there's that.

Mostly not having a laptop has meant I've been doing a lot of inconsequential stuff - shows and bars and sitting around watching Netflix. When it first happened, I tried to be positive, and told myself it was good to have a vacation from the computer, the blog the facebook the twitter. But you know what happens when I'm not constantly writing down my thoughts? I stop thinking. It's the weirdest thing, but totally true. My brain atrophies immediately. Without a laptop, I'm just a norm. A fat bored kinda mean norm who sort of hates everyone and also her own face a lot. The internet is my prozac it turns out. Whatever, those days are behind us. I have a fucking whole apartment to pack up.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why Networking is a Four Letter Word

This is the vision that the word “networking” conjures in my mind.

I walk into a bar packed with men in suits and women in appropriately hip brightly colored patterned blouses. There is a small nerdy looking man sitting in a polo shirt at a folding table, with stacks of namecard stickers. I am immediately stricken with the impulse to ignore him, to walk right past him like I’m meeting someone else and I’ve just spotted them. I don’t know why, but every time I see a folding table by a doorway with name stickers, I hate them. I never know how to write my name – should it be just my first, or my first and last? Am I supposed to put my professional title on there, or what company I’m from? It’s all wasted questioning, because I am never “from a company” and I always use my last name because I like my names together so much. Also, it’s my blog name. It’s like my brand. I mean, actually, it is my brand right? If in this new brave world we’re all known by our online proclivities, isn’t everyone’s full name their brand? Which is funny because last names usually derived from what job a person did in the village, or something personal significant about their lives, so the original surnames were all basically brands too. While I’ve been thinking about this, I have actually just been standing there at this folding table, staring at the sticker, marker in hand. I scrawl my name really quick and walked quickly away from the table, my eyes scanning the room in panic for any face I know.

Everyone else in the room has already glimpsed at the door, on the look-out themselves, Someone I do know sees me, and waves me over. So I stand with them for a few minutes, get introduced to their friends. Their friends are all dressed very nicely. I am dressed, well, like I’m always dressed, for everything. I don’t have different outfits for different occasions, I just have clothes I think I look okay in. This is the first way in which I feel inferior to these people. These are people who probably pack away their winter clothes and have outfits just for cruises. When they introduce themselves, they all ask me what I do, one by one. There are two ways for me to answer this question. The first is to admit what I do for a day job which is work for a large corporation they have definitely heard of. This is more truthful, because this is how I get paid, but also less interesting because my particular position has absolutely no relation to what they do for a living, and this is a networking event after all. So I could also answer the second way, which is to tell them I’m a writer. This is more emotionally accurate, but I don’t get paid to write, and then I have to answer all these follow up questions, like what do I write and what have I written? I want to get really famous someday so I can yell absurdly in public at people who ask me those questions.

By this time, I’ve managed to squeeze my way to the bar for a drink, and I’ve spotted someone else across the room, so I go say hi to them. I’ll have to be introduced to everyone standing around them in a 2 ft radius, and I’m going to have the exact same exchange of boring life details with them. If I try to talk to my friend about something personal, then we’re excluding the rest of the group. If I try to actually talk with someone I just met, it’s impossible to keep their attention on anything but work. Inevitably, I will find some girl around my own age, and we’ll have the conversation about how we don’t like networking events, how they’re just singles events really, about how every guy in this place is wearing a suit and that’s weird.  I’ll try talking to some guy who works for a non-profit, and by now I’m on my second drink, so I’ll start to go on about how much I like cities, and the Rustbelt, and I’ll lose him just about the time I start talking about how I think civic boosterism breeds this unhealthy expectation to stay in the same place your whole life. I will totally be monopolizing people in conversation now, because really they just want to have their five minutes of exchanging pleasantries and move on to the next person. Because they foster this hope that somewhere in this room, sipping red wine and eating stale cheese on crackers, is a person that is going to be useful to them. Only problem is I can’t have five minute conversations without getting more and more snarky as the evening goes on.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of networking, in the philosophical sense. I understand that in some professions, it is absolutely mandatory. For instance, my dad is an excellent networker, because he’s worked for nonprofits his whole life. Sometimes if you can’t network, you don’t get funding, meaning you also don’t get a paycheck. But non-career specific networking is just the practice of making friends and knowing people, which is an extremely powerful tool to know how to use when you live in any kind of society. Power is connection. I am human, I like power, therefore I like connections.  What I don’t like are people who think their job equates to their real power.  Your real power is what you can contribute as a person to an idea. Sometimes that means you’re an organizer, sometimes you’re the nebulous creative thinker, sometimes you’re the audience giving feedback. Everyone has a role to play in the creation of new things, new projects, new business. And if we could just write that on our nametags instead, how great would that be? “Bridget, creative ideas regarding abandoned property use, terrible at paperwork.” See? So much more helpful than “Bridget, corporate drone, casual dresser.”  Networking isn’t the problem. The problem is we are trying to network with the wrong things, or maybe, even deeper than that, we are identifying our entire lives through the wrong things. We don’t lead with our best foot forward, so to speak, the best foot in this case being a personality active in the universe around it. Yeah, yes, I did just go there. Because it’s true! I refuse to believe that the majority of people in this world are actually as boring as they try so hard to make me think they are! You, young man in the suit! I don’t care what your title is, or where you went to school. Tell me about what you do besides work. And please let it be something besides running. But hey, no, even if it’s only running, that’s still something. Maybe someday I need someone to help me shop for running shoes, and while we’re talking about shoes I’ll mention this other guy I know who’s organizing some charity race event and you’ll want to run in it and boom! Connection.

That’s probably the best thing to come from Facebook’s total infiltration of our lives, even the most filtered bland facebook profile is forced to be more personality specific than a business card. Someday all the old people will retire from your offices, and maybe guidelines about personal data will be a little relaxed, and we’ll all get to know each other as people rather than just co-workers or business associates.

I am currently organizing this event we’ve called Artworking. I want it to be a chance for people who do creative things, or even just have creative thoughts, to come and meet other people with artistic abilities, or  just the desire to be involved in something artistic. This started because I had this great idea for an augmented reality phone app which would allow you to view public art created virtually on top of existing places and views in Cleveland. Like, when you held your phone up and viewed a bus stop through it, the bus stop would be covered in virtual flowers, or a dragon would be eating it, or an immense crows nest is now perched on it. I love this idea. However, I have no idea how to design an app. I asked around, looking for a designer who would like this idea, or someone who could point me in the right direction. The only leads I got were business cards and professional twitter accounts. None of which were interested in helping with this idea unless they were getting paid for it, fair enough. That’s what professional networking events are for – finding clients or getting job leads. However, what I need to do is meet that one app designer who really wants to create something just because it’s cool, and we get along, and this will be fun. And I thought, how many other people out there are like me? They have this great idea, but they’re not an artist, or a musician, or a filmmaker, and they can’t pull it off alone. So this is going to be an event where those people can meet up and share what ideas or skills they have, and see what everybody else has got, maybe see where our ideas intersect, and hopefully meet someone who might help these ideas actually live. It IS a networking event, but it’s networking for the things that make us complete adults outside our paychecks. Life networking, which is the same as organized bike rides, supper clubs, or softball teams.  Except, Art.  Graphic novels, music videos, an entire wall covered in old CDs, whatever.

My high school had a motto, which turned out to be a pretty kickass motto to stare at every day. ‘We learn not for School, but for Life.”  Replace School with Work, and it’s just as valid to a 32 yr old girl as a 17 yr old one. Maybe I’ll just put that on my nametag next time, and see how many people avoid me outright cause I look like a weirdo.
Light Bistro
2801 Bridge Avenue
Cleveland, OH 441 44113
Thursday, April 19, 2012 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM (ET)
All proceeds will benefit the Marilyn Bianchi Kids' Playwriting Festival at Dobama Theatre
$15 includes admission, a drink, and a chance to meet your next creative collaborator