(this is annie)

halloween costumes

Recycling a costume idea from 23 years ago, I went as Little Orphan Annie for Halloween. I know that choice seems obvious and perhaps cliche, but hey, why not? The only problem is that when strangers would say, "Hey! Annie!" I'd look at them and ask, "How do you know my name?" Did that three times before remembering that a red dress + crazy red wig = Annie. Miles thought I was going as Beat-up Orphan Annie, mostly because my makeup freckles had smudged, I think.

Good costumes spotted this year:

Edward Scissorhands walking in a group with Colonel Sanders
Repressed Gay Suburban Dad
Kurt and Courtney (done tastefully)
French Existentialist


several links galore

This weekend marks seven years since my friend Ethan and I took a road trip to Louisville for the very last Guilt show. Ethan drove us south in a white Civic hatchback, and we marveled at the rolling hills of Kentucky as well as the Frickin' Chicken truck (by the way, I shot that photo, and I see no credit. No credit!) The show was filled with friends, some of whom I hadn't seen in a long time. There were pyrotechnics. After the show, we slept in sleeping bags on Duncan's floor as his tiger-striped kitten pounced (and, sadly, peed) on us.

So I was thinking about that rainy Guilt-y weekend yesterday: again on a road trip, again in a Civic. During the drive, I'd offhandedly started to bring that Louisville trip up in conversation. I was going to say, "Oh, a few years ago, my friend Ethan and I took a trip blah blah blah" but then I realized that, gee, that was at the end of October 1997 (a happy ending to what was arguably the worst month of my life) —and then I went pensive for an hour or so. Even now I'm doing the math, and although it adds up, it doesn't seem possible that we took that trip so long ago. At the time, this is what I wrote: "i had a camera, but i didn't take pictures because i knew i'd remember that night lucidly." And I do, which makes it seem all the more strange that those memories happened so long ago.

grousing about applecare

So, my computer is kaput. Again. I remember buying the iBook and cheaply deciding against the purchase of AppleCare. Now, after having sent the machine to Apple three times (!), it's again not working. I haven't even owned it for two years. I feel like pulling a W to Apple, and a little bit to myself for not coughing up the extra $300 for stupid AppleCare. But the thing is, I feel like if you're spending $1500 on a computer, the warranty shouldn't cost another $300. I can see spending $100 on it, but $300? That is a lot of money as insurance for only two years (I'm not counting the first year, because that comes with the computer purchase). Or am I just being cheap? I know, I know, it's only pennies a day — but if you count up all of the things that cost merely pennies a day, you're getting into the dollar range... so, yes, maybe I am cheap.

Indian Summer - Angry Son
I was either too young or too unhip to have seen Indian Summer play, so I don't know what their live shows were like. I imagine there was clutching of the microphone as well as seeping sweat stains down the back of shirts.

Elliott Smith - King's Crossing
My old roommate Ariana used to listen to Elliott Smith as the weather turned from warm to cool, so I'm taking a cue from her. Lately, I like to hear this song while riding my bicycle around in the morning. Sometimes I think about Elliott Smith, and how sad his addiction and depression were. I'm sure that many fans and friends cared about him and wanted to help, but when you're suicidal, the last thing you want to hear is that someone knows just how you feel. All you know is that you're sad, and you hate your unlovable self so much that you get angry with anybody who even suggests that you're not completely worthless. Thanks go to Catherine, who hosts the mp3.

Mineral - Parking Lot
Is this song corny? Maybe toward the end it is, but I don't care. The first guitar swell is the audio embodiment of how I've been feeling lately.

The One AM Radio - Flicker
In a just world, Hrishikesh Hirway would be on music-magazine covers, rather than tucked away in HeartattaCk and the Venus DIY section. His voice is the kind you want to hear whispered into your ear at midnight. I've said it before and I'll say it (well, copy and paste it) again: Passivity is barely an option in listening to this record; its every groove puts a hold on the heart.

Chin Up Chin Up - We Should Never Have Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers
Title tracko-o from very good new album out right now; Insound loves it and you will, too. I saw Chin Up Chin Up at CMJ and then two days later at the Bottle, and they were ex-cel-lent. They are doing an all-over-the-place tour, so get to it! Go see them and maybe dance a little.


the uninsured hypochondriac

Because I left my old job in September, I no longer have health insurance. When I was still insured, I was very thankful to be covered, and I did my best to follow a regular schedule of doctor visits. Routine physicals, dental cleanings, ladyparts exams, and therapy visits were all part of my life. It was good.

Now I'm six weeks out of coverage, and everything is going to hell. Maybe it just seems that way to me, because as a hypochondriac, I'm prone to diagnosing certain ailments that may or may not be present. When you're insured, you can say to yourself, "Well, if I do have chronic elbowitis, at least it will be covered, and I can have the nice doctor fix me." But when you're not insured, the hypochondria tends to run rampant.

This is why, in the last week, I have:

1. Wondered if the stubborn pimple on my chin is not actually a pimple, but a egg sac of miniscule baby spiders, just waiting to burst open and release dozens of tarantulae or black widows on my face. Which, of course, will lead to me swallowing spiders in my sleep.

2. Toyed with the idea of purchasing a pregnancy test, due to weirdly long-lasting cramps that were not immediately followed by the Big P. "Oh my god, maybe this is what pregnancy feels like," I thought frantically. "And what I'm feeling is not cramping, but cells multiplying rapidly to become a terrifying, breast-biting baby." It was a purely logical thought process, marred only by the absence of coitus during the weeks (months) [years?] previous.

3. Fancied myself a rebel for leaving the house without wearing sunblock... for fifteen whole minutes.

4. Sent Jesse this text message in a panic: "Currently am freakhog (meant to type "freaking" but this is what comes up first) out over a mole change on my back. It did not look like this before. Oh god." Until I figure out how much it will cost to go see a dermatologist about this, my plan of action is to cover it with a band-aid, in case it's really not a mole but an egg sac of miniscule baby spiders...

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.


eight years of disorder

So I've been doing this for eight years now. That's a little bit more than one-third of my life. I have mixed feelings about it. It's along the lines of shaving my legs: I started doing it so long ago that it's now part of my routine, but if I could do it all over again maybe I would have just left it all alone.

See, on the one hand, it's enjoyable to have an audience. I like to be able to tell little stories to people who will never hear my voice. When I started doing this, the web felt exciting and full of promise. I'd go to my college classes and count down the minutes until I could return to my computer and update something. I don't know why it was so important to me, but the new medium thrilled me. It still does, but more on a connect-the-dots informational level than on a creative one.

And yet. I have regrets:

1. I wish I'd written anonymously. It's too easy to track me down.

2. I wish I'd written better, and about better things.

3. I wish I'd shown more kindness, online and in general. I wish I hadn't been so candid about my feelings. I wish I'd been less of a know-it-all. I wish I hadn't been so critical of people. I wish I'd have realized that in judging people, I was shifting my own self-criticism onto others who didn't deserve it. And so, I'm sorry. Sorry to old roommates and sorry to well-meaning professors and sorry to Evan and sorry to Ben and sorry to the goth girl in my art class and sorry to Lance and Dustin and Sena and people from back home and anybody else who I dragged through the dirty dust of this place. I apologize.

Originally I was going to post links to old things that I wrote — funny things to maybe make you chortle — but I feel like I need to do some sort of penance for being such an obnoxious kid. I started writing here when I was 18, and at 18 I thought I knew it all. Somewhere along the line, I realized that (to quote, um, Green Day) all I know is that I don't know nothin'. I'm trying to learn, trying to be a better person, trying to turn mistakes and missteps into meaning. Thank you for reading this long and this far.

vote in the hottt list

If you would like to vote in the Venus Hottt List (that's hot with three Ts), now is your chance.

Usually when my hands are shaking, it's because I'm cold. Right now they are shaking because I'm about an hour away from doing a short interview with Paul Krugman. I have interviewed artists and rock stars and fashion designers, but it's this one that has my hands doing the Lindy Hop. I've been preparing for the interview for a couple of weeks, but now that it's upon me, I'm afraid that I'm going to come off like a Tiger Beat reporter: So, Paul Krugman, what's your favorite ice cream flavor?

william, it was really nothing

On Friday night, I went to an art party. I'm often a little nervous about art parties —openings, galas, and the like— because you rarely know what you're going to get. It could be great, you know? Or you could get costumed performance artists pantomiming copulation next to the vegetable dip.

It's difficult to dress for an art party, too. But since I overdress for everything, I decided on this outfit: a cashmere tank top, a magenta satin pencil skirt, a black and pink birdy necklace, and my favorite shoes (they have big pink hearts on them, and even men comment on how great they are). I don't know why I am even mentioning this ensemble apart from the fact that a couple of acquaintances made overtly sexual propositions that night. I was very flustered and confused by it all, and now I am wondering if maybe I looked more like an indie-rock hooker than an art patron.

Anyway, the art party was supposed to be all hush-hush because some big-timey musicians were to perform acoustic sets. I probably should have been nervous because I'm a fan of one of the musicians' work. If the 17-year-old me had been there, I would have very sincerely told him how his band's first two records were the soundtrack to me falling in lurve with a nice boy from the south suburbs. Or that sometimes I still listen to one of the songs (track 8 9, album #2) and think of that summer, of racing down the sand dunes and night-swimming in Lake Michigan with our clothes on.

Except I'm not 17 anymore; I'm 26, and when you're 26 it seems like people often don't know how to react to that sort of sentiment. Besides, it's not like he hasn't heard variations on that compliment for years anyway. So when I was introduced to the musician in question:

Mutual acquaintance: Musician, this is Annie. Annie, this is Musician.

Me: Hi, Musician. It's nice to meet you.

Musician: Hello.

Me: Sorry my hands are so warm. (for the record, they were not sweaty; they were just very, very warm)

Musician: (Looks at me, looks at mutual acquaintance, looks around, walks away)

Me: And so we see the flight pattern of the North American male yet again.

fall into patterns quickly

I am often fascinated by the pattern of thoughts, how ideas are connected and how they sprout. Earlier today, Phil and I went to eat at Bite. A woman at a nearby table was reading the New York Times. I didn't mention it at the time, but I coveted her Week in Review. I jealously peered over at her Sunday Styles section, which featured a large photograph of Billy Crudup. Phil, noticing my jealous newspaper envy, mentioned that he liked Jesus' Son, in which Crudup played a junkie. "That movie is named after a book which is named after a good song," I said. Later at home, I did some arithmetic, and this is why I can inform you that if you add up the four songs on the Heroin self-titled 7", the total length is still shorter than the Velvet Underground's "Heroin." And as I'm listening to Lou singing about the jim-jams in this town, I find myself thinking that "Heroin" would actually be a good song to hear during brunch sometime. My head teems with these useless and curious thoughts, yet I still can't decipher The Waste Land.

i think he meant dot-org...

"They know that if you go, for example, to factcheck.com, an independent Web site sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania, you can get the specific details with respect to Halliburton." —Dick Cheney last night

Fair enough. I like facts. I will seek them. But as it turns out, factcheck.com is a redirect to George Soros' site, which proudly says in bright teal letters: President Bush is endangering our safety, hurting our vital interests, and undermining American values.


project charlie

My grade school never had DARE; instead, it had Project Charlie, a combination self-esteem and anti-drug program. For each of the regularly scheduled PC presentations, we fifth-graders had to begin by asserting our unique awesomeness in front of the class. We all had to say this phrase: "I am someone special."

Occasionally, we'd have drug-enforcement officers visit for a little show and tell. They brought handouts and real drugs so we could learn what to watch out for. "Any of you ever see something like this at home?" the officers would ask before scribbling the names of the children who innocently raised their hands.

Thanks to Project Charlie, I learned that my parents were probably lazy potheads and possibly dangerous narcotic traffickers. One afternoon, while snooping around my parents' bedroom (for nail polish? can't remember) I found a folder of yellowed, brittle rolling papers in my father's nightstand. I grabbed the papers and ran downstairs into the kitchen, where my mother was making meatloaf and watching Oprah. "MOM!" I cried. "ARE YOU AND DAD ON DRUGS?"

My mother laughed and then said no. At first I was satisfied with her answer, but then I remembered what I'd learned in Project Charlie: marijuana makes you giggle, and drug addicts frequently deny their use. Besides, her eyes looked a little too red. "Well, how do you explain THIS," I announced, shoving the evidence in her face.

She was really trying hard not to laugh at this point. (Classic stoner behavior). She's probably hiding some Cheetos right now, I thought. As my mother continued to play the keep-a-straight-face game, I changed tactics. Drug abuse was no laughing matter. It was up to me to save my family from the deadly and seductive clutches of Mary Jane.

"I've seen these before," I began. "And I know what they are! These are for MARIJUANA CIGARETTES!" As I shook the package for emphasis, little bits of paper flaked away.

"Oh honey, we haven't—those aren't even ours," my mother said. "Those belong to the old neighbors. They came over here one night years ago—"

"Do not try to pin your behavior on someone else," I said. "You must face your drug problem before it consumes you." (Tough love.)

My mother sighed. She put down the uncooked hamburger (and, I noticed, that "oregano" in the plastic bag looked miiiighty suspect) and sat down at the kitchen table. "Annie," she said, "Those papers are older than you are. They're not even ours. You know Daddy and I would never break the law."

Oh, moral confusion! Was I being taken for a ride by a cunning drug addict, or could it be that my mother was telling the truth? I quickly ran through a mental checklist. Yes, the papers were there, as was a collection of '70s drug music like the Mamas and the Papas. But what if it was all coincidence? As my mother continued to blame it on the neighbors, I decided that while I couldn't prove that she was a pot-smoking hippie, it would not be a bad idea to keep an eye on her behavior. I haven't found any more drug paraphernalia since that day back in the 1980s, but then again, she does like to bake brownies from time to time...

what fun it is to pitch in

Look, I know that I used to talk about squirrels and bands and crushes on here all the time. And I'd be mighty happy to get back to that sort of rambling, believe you me. It's just that over the last year, I've developed this passion for politics. I want our country to do better and be better, because we can and should. On my more delusional days, I start thinking that maybe I should run for office. Alderwoman Tomlin. Or House Rep. (D) Tomlin. Or Senator Tomlin-Casablancas, with campaign strategy by James Carville.

On my more rational days, I feel like I need to do something to improve general civic life. Maybe I can't be Senator Tomlin (for another nine years, anyway), and maybe I can't donate lots of money to the John-John campaign, but there are other things I can do. Because, really, there are things we can all do to make things better. It doesn't have to take a lot of time or money. Perhaps it's as simple as passing on the spendy latte for a week, and donating that money to a campaign. Or you could invite friends over to watch the debates, and talk about ways to get all of your friends to vote. Or you might offer to drive someone to the polling place on November 2. Or you could write your local paper a letter. Or you could do dozens of other things. My point is, now is the time. Do it up. Help make November 3 something to celebrate.

say hello

    it's anniet at gmail.


© 2009 avt

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