(this is annie)

Coffee and T



Coffee isn't Mr. Coffee's real last name, of course, but that's how our conversations always start. It is one of those small parts of our friendship that always feel comfortingly familiar. I remember the night we met; it was six years ago, maybe even to the month. I’d been invited to do a reading at a coffee shop on Roscoe, and he liked my story. He asked me what my favorite book was, and Nabokov sent our friendship on its way.

We talk every few months, send each other tiny notes in the mail, that sort of thing. (We've e-mailed each other maybe three or four times, oddly.) What our conversations lack in frequency, they make up for in meaning. We just get each other, and during the gaps in communication, our lives frequently run parallel. When we talk, we laugh at the coincidences. May: I'm going to France, he's going the week afterward. August: He's in love with a girl in Prague, I'm in love with a boy in Portland. Now: He's nursing a bruised heart, I'm doing the same. It is good to be able to ask each other, "Do you know what I mean?" and have "yes" be the truth.

"You should come out to SF," I said last night. "We'll paint the town red and you can get away from the gray weather." (I am tricking him. Fog is gray. Shh.)

It's not the first time we've talked about such a visit, but so far we haven't made it happen. And maybe that's part of how our friendship works, too. We don't need to see or even talk with each other all the time to stay connected. We just are. When it's time to hang up, one of us always tells the other one how much our friendship means. I love that, but I love that it goes without saying even more.

Before any aspiring matchmakers get any ideas... Yes, we tried dating when we first met. We tried really hard to convince ourselves that we should be a couple before realizing that a good friendship is better than a lot of people's romantic relationships are.

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Death or glory

I remember the day, seven years ago, when we found out that Joe Strummer had died. For once, I didn't mind Chicago's cold and gray skies. They seemed appropriately somber. That afternoon, while riding a crowded Madison bus westward toward Western, I wound up squished next to a fortyish guy with various punk buttons on his jacket.

"Sad news about Joe Strummer," I said.

"What sad news?"

When I told him, he looked like a four-year-old who's just had the true identity of Santa Claus revealed. Which makes sense, because there was something about Joe Strummer that was comforting, and his premature death felt unfair. I liked the Clash, but I liked what he represented, too. He embodied so much of what, in my opinion, a man should be. By all accounts, he was well-traveled, artistic, political, funny, open-minded, reflective, and intelligent. (Also, he looked good in a t-shirt.)

He seemed like a mensch — an imperfect one, but a mensch all the same. Fighting the good fight and all that. There's nothing I love like a person with convictions (I have been told that I cling to mine too tightly) and his had the benefit of being woven into some pretty great songs. It's funny how you can miss somebody you never met, but I do.

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The dreamboat from the hills*

I've been putting four things on repeat lately: Otis Redding, Girls, Sunny Day Real Estate, and Jawbreaker. (Mostly Jawbreaker — no surprise there.) Today I found this gem and immediately became obsessed with this guy who calls himself The Pyles.

This machine kills folkies? Iron Maiden shirt with that hat? That voice? The balance of earnest singing and the sense that he's holding back a big laugh? It's not big, but it is clever. And his original stuff is great. If I were 23, I'd have been in hugely crushed-out trouble — and that's saying something, considering the presence of both cigarette and mustache. Such a happy find.


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An Embarrassing Admission

Last night, I dreamed that Robert Pattinson and I were in love, driving past wheat fields in Michigan. Blame Sabrina for this. Last fall, she started reading those corny-ass Twilight books, which I have always dismissed as a second-rate Buffy knockoff. Not that I've read them, but come on, the high school girl who falls in love with a "good" vampire? I decided not to read the books, because there are countless pieces of actual literature that I have yet to read. Better to spend my time with those.

I didn't read the books, but when Sabs wanted to go see the movie version of the film, I was game. Why not? The actor was pretty cute, I said. So we spent the entire time cracking wise at the screen and slowly developing teenage-style crushes on Edward Cullen. (Byronic hero-lite! Great hair! What's not to like?) It would have ended there, except dummy me looked up interviews with Robert Pattinson. And then it was all over, because Pattinson is more interesting than his character. He likes modernist literature and le nouvelle vague, which made me think that I could take him on my Mies Van der Rohe walking tour of Chicago and he'd like it. (I always thought that was a great date; the guy I took it on was unimpressed.) Worse still, a colleague had interviewed Pattinson — at the very same moment that I was in cultural hell interviewing Paris Hilton — and when I asked her to please tell me that he was a jackass so that I could squash my crush, she couldn't do it. Instead, she said he was endearingly awkward and open. Crap! I love awkwardness!

Sabrina and I agreed that I only needed to find out something unpleasant about Pattinson, and then I could stop blushing every time a new paparazzi photo came out. We Googled phrases like "Pattinson cokehead" and "Pattinson snob" and, in one desperate moment, "Pattinson bad breath." Nothing! If anything, our endeavors had the opposite effect: The more interviews I read, the more I crushed out on his nerdiness. (In one, he alluded to liking older women. Well, hey, I'm an older woman, I thought.) You can see how Tiger Beat things were becoming. One day, Sabs found out that his favorite musician is Van Morrison. So far, this and his smoking are the only things that have cooled things down. That's not a very long list, which is why, very pathetically, my junior-high self has resurfaced to insist that if only we were to meet, Pattinson would be charmed by my equally oddball tendencies, and I'd make a Nick Drake mix tape, and I'd make him omelets in the morning. This is why I am on a strict no-Pattinson media diet. See, I told you it was embarrassing.

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Thanks, Vanessa.

The best thing I received all weekend:

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Weller Feller

Oh, Paul Weller. They don't make men like they used to. I've always had this thing for quasi-mod style, particularly when peacocked by dark-haired young men. Hedi Slimane does too, to an extent that perhaps Paul deserved a royalty check from Dior.

I love how dorky Tony Wilson is here, too.

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no more bow ties

I'm pretty bummed that I missed Crossfire yesterday. I really don't care for Tucker Carlson, and his consistently conservative views are why I do not donate to PBS (really, if you're going to have a conservative hosting a politics show, you should also have a liberal-hosted show — or better yet, more neutral shows along the lines of Newshour. But that's another story).

Yesterday, my boyfriend Jon Stewart appeared on Crossfire, ostensibly to promote the new Daily Show book. But if you watch this clip, you'll see that Stewart gave Carlson and Begala a hard time. It's interesting; why is it that a comedian is the one who's challenging our media to do better? At least somebody is, and if it has to be sexy, sexy Jon Stewart, then so be it.

Watch the clip for the full effect, but here are some highlights from the transcript:

Stewart: What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery.

Stewart: You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.

Carlson: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.

Stewart: You need to go to one. The thing that I want to say is, when you have people on for just knee-jerk, reactionary talk...

Carlson: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.

Stewart: No. No. I'm not going to be your monkey.

Carlson: I do think you're more fun on your show. Just my opinion.

Stewart: You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.


top fives

top 5 worst things said to me by dates or crushes

5. "You're so... innocent."
Said to me by one of those boys who usually shows up only in graphic novels: scooter-riding, dark-haired, Joy Division-listening, hot with infinite T's. I was too much of a good girl for him, it seems. I still see him from time to time and occasionally wish that he'd develop a Pollyanna fetish.

4. "I think I will call you Pork Butt!"
And I think I will develop a complex about my porcine posterior now.

3. "You're like a little sister to me."
The sinking of the S.S. Self-Esteem happened on a warm summer day. The ship was sailing along in warm waters, when suddenly she was rocked by a deluge of sexlessness. The ship plunged into the murky waters of the Sea of Sibling, and to this day a recovery crew feebly attempts to reassemble what's left of its dignity and allure.

2. "You dress business-casual.
Just because I was not following the day-old vomit spill of electroclash fashion, that does not mean I am Talbots-ed out.

1. "I'll call you."
Not very nice when it's meant to mean "I am not interested." I like directness.

top 5 worst things i've said on dates or to potential dates, 2003-2004

5. "Ooh, did you see the Colin Powell camera debacle on Meet The Press?
Of course not. Only the twelve other people who like to eat their eggs florentine while watching the televised spectre of Tim Russert did.

4. "The cat has a t-shirt he likes to wear."

3. "Come look at my closet!"
As it turns out, the way to win someone's interest is not through meticulous shoe organization.

2. "I feel really plain around you."
I still feel bad about having said this. See, the recipient of this statement is disarmingly good-looking. I mean, people stare. In comparison to his appearance, I felt so unremarkable that it set off a series of little explosions of insecurity. The end result is that I made him feel self-conscious. Ugh. Me=jerk.

1. "That reminds me of the time I shot a hole in the living room wall."
No, seriously, I shot a hole in the wall. With a pistol. I was only twelve. My punishment was no Girl Scout meetings for two weeks. We covered the hole with a framed cross-stitching. What's that? You're going outside for a cigarette? But wait, I thought you didn't smoke. Well, okay, I will wait right here for you...

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Two summers ago, I met a shaggy-haired boy at Danny's. He was quietly surveying the scene, looking mildly bewildered by the bustle of activity. "Aha," I thought. "Looks like I am not the only one who thinks it is a little too loud and a lot too dark in here." So I said hello and we chatted about something or other. I don't remember the details, but we exchanged numbers and I gave him the nickname of The Freshmaker. We were supposed to get together at some point, but you know how that goes. Dirty jeans + good hair + bad posture = Flaky Rocker Boy Who Will Blow You Off.

At the time, I wrote about it in my SUPER SECRET INTERWEB DIARYLAND SITE (the entry has been reproduced here).

Apparently, my hot bod did not make the right impression on the Freshmaker, as he never called again. I got over it for the most part, as I always do when people pull that move. With time I was able to see that where I'd thought he was quiet and deep, he was spacey because homeboy was often high as a kite. This realization came in part from looking at his band's song titles, many of which are about doing lots of drugs. Lame. I forgot about him, his only honor being designated Assclown of the Week.

Well, earlier this spring, I was helping Tim move some plants to his new apartment. And who do I see walking down Milwaukee, all pomp and swagger, but the Freshmakaaaah. Now, the thing you have to understand is that when people do not follow through on what they say they'll do, they feel sheepish. I know this because I was flaky once, and I felt like a jerk about it. When the Freshmaker saw me, his face looked startled, as though he half-expected me to call him out on his merde. At this point, it wasn't worth the effort, and any papercut to my ego had healed a long time ago. But when he darted his eyes away from mine, trying to pretend like he didn't see me, I realized that, in a paraphrase of 1990s dance group SNAP, I got the power. Snap indeed!


Todd met me in the armpit of Herald Square, and he looked Toddish as ever. In my old age, I actually can't remember what he looked like before he grew his hair out, but he works the style well. I told him he looked like my dad circa 1975, with the beard and the thin plaid shirt, and I hope he took it as a compliment rather than some weird projecting "Daddy" thing.

We took the train down to the pants store, and Todd purchased a fine pair of trou (again, this is what my dad says, but I really do not have weird Daddy issues, okay?). We walked south toward Nolita. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining brightly, and a breeze was blowing gently. I was wearing my favorite skirt, an army-green number (did I just say that? Hi, I'm 83) that flares out nicely. I was happy.

And then the wind gusted, my skirt inversed, and my bum said hello to the warm spring sun. The worst part of it is that I was wearing a boring, pale green thong. Why couldn't it have been something black and mysterious, or fishnetted? Now, although he claims to have seen nothing, Todd has seen my underwear and my pale rump. Great. There goes the mystery.

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peter jennings totally loves me

hot stuffGuess who I met today! Fake Boyfriend Number One! That's right! Peter Jennings! The anchor of my heart was in Chicago to sign copies of his book, so I took a nice long lunch hour and set out to meet that gorgeous gramps. Adam and I went to the bookstore and tried to hear ol' Peej talk, but some Miami Vice dude kept listening to Coldplay on the Borders listening station. Loudly. As he soulfully grooved to what was no doubt his version of Barry White, I tried to give him a look that would say, "If you haven't noticed, Peter Jennings is trying to talk to us, and you are making it very difficult for us all to hear the lilting song that is his reading voice." No dice.

After waiting in line for three days, I finally made it to the meet-n-greet table. Peter looked so handsome sitting there in his white shirt and tie, and of course I hadn't dressed for the occasion at all. Nope, I was wearing my green birdy pants and a load of cat hair that seemed to have a t-shirt underneath. Gah! He had all these people around him "helping" us civilians with our bags and coats, but I wound up dropping half of my crap. I can only hope that Peter missed my bumbling impromptu juggling act. Then it was time for us to meet, finally, after all these years of watching him on World News Tonight. It was all a blur. I remember him looking at me and very little else. I do know that I blurted, "YOU HAVE NICE HANDWRITING" and "THANK YOU FOR COMING TO CHICAGO" and "EVERYONE KNOWS I HAVE A CR--THAT YOU ARE MY FAVORITE ANCHOR." I managed to tell him where I worked, which means that obviously he knows where to reach me when he wants to call (inevitable).

I will produce photographic documentation of our triumphant first meeting at a later date.


say hello

    it's anniet at gmail.


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