(this is annie)

crying at work, again

Oh god, I cried at work today! And even the plant lady noticed as she came by to water the plants. "Hope you feel better," she said to me in a maternal tone of voice. "Dankth," I blubbered into my kleenex. The odd thing is, I've had a good day. I took a long lunch break and scooted around the West Loop, I finished my work early, and I felt fine as a fiddle. After eating some ravioli, I started thinking about an old friend, and you know what happened then: Waterworks! I hate crying, mostly because I can't do it gently. Sure, there are bigger reasons of wanting to seem perpetually nonplussed, but it's the physical effects that really sting. I wind up holding my breath and frowning and dripping snot and generally looking like WC Fields. Nothing graceful about that.

jesus of lakeview

The other day I went to the supermarket to buy some fresh vegetables and daisies. And much to my surprise, in the pasta aisle, there was Jesus of Lakeview!

Jesus of Lakeview is a man in his late twenties (?) who walks around the city dressed in a long white robe over his jeans and scuffed white sneakers. He has grown a long dark mane and a scroungy beard. "Oh, that's no big deal," you may be thinking. "Lots of hippies look like that." But the difference here is that Jesus of Lakeview is the only guy who walks around with a big cross over his shoulder. Not a plastic cross or a small veneered one, but a full-blown, splinter-filled, life-sized cross. He doesn't do this only during Easter or Halloween; he plays the Son of God all year long.

For a moment, put yourself in his mind: this guy essentially a method actor who wakes up each morning and really does think, What would Jesus do? You can't help but wonder how many decisions suddenly become weighty. Whether you are religious or not, you have to admit that much of the Bible doesn't specify how to handle certain modern dilemmas. Jesus of Lakeview, in emulating Christ's life, has to assume or intuit how the actual Jesus would live every day. Would you want the pressure of choosing whether the savior would use paper or plastic?

But back to the story. I'm all for seeking truth and wisdom, so I decided to stalk the guy. I tiptoed behind Jesus of Lakeview, tracing him through the dairy aisle and the frozen food section. Although he showed interest in some Bird-Eye frozen peas, he ultimately just dragged his cross to the express lane. I gently pushed my cart behind him and tried to act casual and dodge the cross, which threatened to maim me with the man's slightest movement. I had a brief flash of the horrific possibility: somebody in a neighboring queue would say, "Jesus, Lurlene, I told you to lay off them Steak-Umms. Good god!" Like the superhero of superheroes, Jesus of Lakeview would whip around to mightily strike down the blasphemer. The cross would whack me in the torso, flinging my puny body into a rack of tabloids. I'd live in infamy as the first to go down as Armageddon commenced at the supermarket.

That didn't happen, and the rest of the spy operation was uneventful. My reconnaissance did provide some nutritional information, which I willingly share here. If you'd like to eat like Jesus of Lakeview, a single grapefruit is the ticket! Not pink grapefruit, just a plain one. That is all our fake savior bought before scurrying off to proselytize, to spread the good word, or maybe to have some "special brownies" at the Phish concert.

dear e.m. forster:

Dear E.M. Forster,

I know everybody wants to have a catchphrase these days, a memorable "zinger," if you will. Well, I've long taken yours to heart, reminding myself that when dealing with other people, one should strive to "only connect."

Only connect. Simple enough advice. But to be honest, Mr. Forster, that is easier said than done. My attempts to connect often inexplicably fail. It's not that the gentlemen don't like me. No, they say I am funny and beautiful and kind. They say this right before they stand me up for a museum date, or pretend to not see me in a crowd, or abruptly switch from affection to apathy. Just between us girls, it's made me feel kind of blue.

As you can imagine, it is often tempting to stay at home alone with a bag of Bugles and the DVD of Texas Rangers (have you seen this? Tom Skerritt is phenomenal). This "only connect" business is no small task, and I sometimes think that maybe your pal Sartre had the right idea about other people.

In the end, though, maybe both of you can be right. Maybe you mean that the important part isn't the connection, but having an open mind and gentle heart. Or who knows, maybe you just made the whole thing up as a potential slogan for a wireless telephone company. Either way, I'll someday live in fragments no more. I'll send you a postcard when I get there.


You can go for weeks without touching another human being. Sure, there's the occasional brush of the shoulder on a city street, or the brief jolt of an elbow at a crowded show. Those are accidents. But actively being touched, or actively touching somebody else: this is not a regular occurrence. Go without for long enough, and you might forget you're missing anything. Of course, you feel an inexplicable, mild loneliness—but you can't put your finger on its cause (pun intended).

Occasionally you'll find somebody who reminds you that perhaps it's worth it to risk your shelled safety. You'll allow yourself the luxury of being touched, and the happiness of touching. Here I refer not to the sexual, but to the sweet and gentle: a kiss on the forehead, the light scent of someone else's skin. And then, suddenly and unexpectedly, it'll be gone, and you'll have to learn to forget.

the crocodile helper

Do you ever have the sort of morning when something so wonderful happens that you're positive the day can't possibly offer anything sweeter? Today I got to rub an alligator's bony back, play with a toddler kangaroo, tickle a cockatiel, cuddle a baby wallaby, and sit two inches from a pair of baby white Bengal tigers (named Willie and Axl after two great American musicians). This morning also revealed that Steve Irwin, that crazy Australian bloke they call the Crocodile Hunter, is not really an animal hunter. For years I had steadfastly refused to watch him, imagining that his program followed him around Australia as he hunted and killed crocodiles, a tireless, wacky killer in khaki.

As it turns out, Steve is actually a friend to animals. He's not the crocodile hunter, he's the crocodile helper. He finds scary reptilian beasts and rescues them from poacher and environmental peril alike. He even saves the terrifying ones that would sure-as-shit eat you alive if they had the chance, like snakes and bunnies. Why didn't anybody explain this before?

In doing some further research on our friend Steve, his patient wife Terry, and their daughter Bindi, I discovered that Steve is not a vegetarian. This seemed at odds with his whole "animals deserve to live" philosophy. Doesn't Steve think it's more than slightly odd that he devotes his day to helping his little friends, only to shove one of their less endangered brethren down his throat for dinner? His explanation to Scientific American was that it takes less land to raise a cow than it does to raise the proper amount of vegetables for him to survive. But what about the land it takes to raise the vegetables for Bessie to eat, Steve? Not to go all PETA on your ass, but why don't you just say that you simply can't pass up a Filet-o-Fish? That whole situation reminds me of my hometown's annual Humane Society Help The Animals fundraiser, which is… you guessed it, a chicken dinner.

Ahhahaah! Look! It's Mod Ben, also known as Grumpy Vespa Boy. He's actually not grumpy anymore, hence the name change. Now he's just plain old Mod Ben, and tonight he's spinning at Club Foot. I haven't decided whether I'm going to attend or not. Let's evaluate the pros and cons:

1. Will get out of the house
2. Ben spins good records
3. Club Foot is close to home
4. Club Foot has Tetris video game
5. May make new friends

1. Mod kids generally dress cutely and no matter what, I will feel like an out-of-place nerd
2. May possibly wind up quietly getting teary-eyed alone over a broken heart
3. Will probably go, stay 15 minutes, and retreat home to feel sorry for myself

Though the pros outnumber the cons, the risk of being the awkward, sniffly girl in the corner is hefty. I'm at the point of wanting to stay in all the time and sleep, but as Owlie says, that's just a bad idea.

best joke ever!

I love the nights just before summer begins, the way the evenings quietly buzz with anticipation and time ticks by slowly. Just walking around is an activity in itself, because you're bound to run into somebody, and perhaps they've got plans, and maybe you'll tag along. Or boys on bicycles zip by, and your eyes meet for a moment, and you both give each other a flirtatious "I'll never see you again" smile. Last night I ate al fresco at Mirai Sushi. The company was good, the food was passable, but the atmosphere was simply awful. Tube-topped yuppies were everywhere, their cell phones piercing the night's quiet din. Our waiter was not very friendly, and when Karinsa asked politely for the bill, he seemed to think she was joking. Come on now, there's nothing amusing about getting the bill.

Speaking of joking, what do you call a Frenchman in sandals? Do you give up? Do you? Ready? Philippe Philoppe.

hot koopa action

This is my night: Red vinyl sofa and dim bulbs lighting yellowed walls. Slumped with uncharacteristically bad posture, eyes on the checkerboard floor, words thrown into a notebook. Maybe a little small talk with K., perhaps a letter to Trevor, and if I'm feeling especially daring, a photobooth picture. I like to take them not only when feeling happy, but when feeling glum; if your scrapbooks are filled with only happy memories, it's too easy to romanticize the past. In the future I will look back and remember things purely, with a mixture of nostalgia and gratitude. At least, that's the plan.

For the past month or so, my roommate Karinsa and I have been enjoying her eight-bit Nintendo system. For the most part, we just play Super Mario Brothers 3 for hours on end. Last night, as we ate mushroom and cheese sandwiches, I finally reached King Koopa's palace. "Ooh, he's so cute," we squealed. "See how he's trying to look menacing? Aww." As we laughed, I handily beat that mofo and saved the princess. Then we were stricken with a great existential crisis: what will we do now that there's no more video game to beat? Does this mean I have to start being social again?

novocaine heart

In approximately twenty minutes I will be sitting in my dentist's chair. As I stretch out my legs, Dr. Gracias will ask if I'd like the back massager on (yes, please). She'll prepare to fix my teeth, and I will nervously shift in the seat. As the needle comes forward, I'll start sweating and clutching the armrest, and then a little novocaine pinch, and then everything will be numb. "So," I'll ask, "Got any more of that stuff? For my head? My heart?"

And now I'm back from the dentist, my tongue moving over the newness of the filling. As it turns out, the dentist decided that the cavities were so small that novocaine wasn't necessary. So the drilling occurred with no numbness, and I didn't get to present the grimly witty request listed above. At least I'll be able to brag about my resilience and toughness all week. "Yeah, I totally had fillings done with no novocaine. That shit is for amateurs," I'll tell an enthralled gaggle of mopheads at Thursday's mod night.

I re-read Prufrock again today. I'm not a fan of poetry—I find much of it too flowery, the rest too jumbled—but this poem always puts things into perspective for me. I think that's one of the things I appreciate most about the poem, that at the end of the day, I did dare to eat the peach, and I'm better for it.

rhubarb disaster

Last night I came home with grandiose plans of making rhubarb and raspberry tarts. I'd made them before, during last summer's Failed Martha Stewart Meal Jamboree. The original plan back then was to follow Martha's recipes and create a simple summer meal. The pasta made enough to feed a small army, nobody else wanted to try the delicious beet salad, and baking the tarts made the whole kitchen feel like a furnace. The meal took an entire afternoon to prepare, and the ingredients cost almost forty dollars.

This time around would be different, I decided. It would be a grand success! I'd serve beautiful, perfect little tarts to my friends, whose eyes would light up with the inner glow that can result only from flaky pastry. "Truly you are the queen of tarts," they would say. "This is bliss," Trey would remark. "Is there anything you can't do, my politically feminist yet amazingly skilled little kitchen-fox?" I'd wipe the flour off my apron and blush. "It was really nothing," I'd say with a gentle shrug. "Just something I tossed together." Cue the tickertape parade.

I unearthed my toque blanche and got down to biz-a-ness. The recipe called for pate brisee, which sounded like some scary French version of braunschweiger. Instead of making this fancy dough from scratch, I powdered my face with flour. When my roommate wasn't looking, I quickly thawed the Ready-to-Bake Pie Crusts. What they don't know won't hurt them, right? After tossing around some sugar, berries, and flour, the fruit mixture tasted lovely but didn't look so pretty. "Maybe it will look nicer and less soupy after it's been baked," I reasoned. With great aplomb I piled the rhubarb/raspberry glop on top of the dough, shoved it all into the oven, and waited for the tarts to bake.

While the oven did its thing, Trey called. He was telling me about his day when I decided to peek at the goings-on in the oven. I opened the oven door and squealed in horror. "MY TREATS! MY PRECIOUS, PRECIOUS TREATS!" Trey asked what was wrong, but how could I shatter the fragile illusion of effortless domesticity I'd endeavored to create? Sadly I confessed that the fruity liquid had bubbled over the crust and was now creating large black clumps that resembled molten lava. I managed to salvage a few of the tarts, and sent one to him with Owlie (who works with him). The workday is almost over now, and since I haven't heard from him yet, I can't help but wonder if the poor boy choked on a rhubarb-rock.

missed connection of the week

HEMP FEST, 5/18. You: tall, good-looking, blonde lady in black jogging outfit. Me: old hippie in denim who asked if you needed help sparkin' a J. Felt a strong attraction, but was too ripped to say anything worthwhile. Sure hope ya read the Reader.

like a sandbag

Sarah and Lauren invited me to go shopping with them on Saturday. I feel like a third grader saying this, but it made me so happy! We usually hang out in larger groups, but this time, the three of us traipsed around Wicker Park. We started at Smack, which is a new shop on Division. It seems that the proprietors mean "smack" as in the smack of a kiss. Unfortunately, it makes me (and others, certainly) think of heroin. I found a shirt and put it on hold, mostly because I am indecisive. Plus, we had more stores to hit, and I didn't want to drop a load of cash at the very first place. After a brief trek to the drugstore, we stopped into Myopic Books in search of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. We had no luck, but the weird thing about Myopic is that if you look at a book without reshelving it, they increase the price by a dollar. Apparently, if entire sections are messy, they'll punish consumers by simply getting rid of it (architecture is an endangered breed).

On Milwaukee, some random guy saw the three of us walking, and he yelled, "Woo! Hey! Charlie's Angels! Hey, Charlie's Angels!"

Not so much else to report, except that at p45, I looked at these drawers. "These look awfully tiny," I said to the shop clerk. "Are you sure these will fit?" She assured me that they looked small only because they were low-rise underpants. Well, I am a sucker who cannot resist the allure of terrycloth, and so I bought them. Sure enough, when I tried them on at home, my ass was bursting out like a sandbag wrapped in a rubber band.

say hello

    it's anniet at gmail.


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