It is a bizarre day outside. People are walking around nonchalantly in bumblebee costumes and bloody masks, the wind is ferocious and howls and assaults you with the leaves and trash on the sidewalk around you, everything looks like it’s slightly the wrong color (like someone was messing around with the settings on the t.v. remote and now everyone’s faces are just a tinge too green.) It’s like being in a snowglobe, but with leaves, and on acid.
Tonight is the Wilco concert — hooray. And also, I have a bed! It’s second-hand, retrieved from a distant suburban household by Charlie and I this morning. I can feel my back thanking me already.
Still temping at the same place. I am filing many things. They are spread out all over the floor of my office. People keep stopping by to marvel: “You sure got a lot of folders, there…” When I clear some out, they marvel, too: “Wow, sure is looking better…”
The elevator keeps dinging its Wilco ding: This is not a joke so please stop filing…
The woman in the office next door is apparently in charge of collecting on accounts. She’s very adamant about her job, and she knows how to lay on the guilt: “This message is for Rabbi R—, This is the J— calling to inform you that your check to us has bounced. This is a sin.”
At my new temp job, the elevators are right across from the door to my office. The bell sounds exactly like the bell in Wilco’s “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart”. Also, I went on a lovely interview today at the Shedd Aquarium. “I am an American aquarium drinker…”
One month, 50,000 words
National Novel Writing Month is just around the corner. According to my temp agency interview today, I type 71 words per minute (which I found myself taking pride in, even as I cringed at my own dorkiness). Those mad skillz will come in handy as the novel progresses. According to my calculations, if I type at a constant rate, it will only take me 23 minutes a day! Although math was never my strong suit (as my sorry attempt at the temp agency math test demonstrated) so I could be wrong.
So yes. Anyway. I am going to try NaNoWriMo this year. And you can watch. And laugh at me. As per usual.
You know it’s been a bad day when you start muttering to yourself. And then you realize that the other people walking down the sidewalk must think you’re a complete loon. And then — even worse — despite this realization, you can’t stop muttering.
In better news, I talked with Brent and Ross, the good folks at the Alley Gallery in Evanston, Ill. They gave me a healthy dose of inspiration, which was much-needed as I trudged off to the library.
“Did you just use a semicolon in a napkin note?” — Dan, from my D.C. improv class, watching me write on a cocktail napkin with Sharpie
“Reverse psychology doesn’t work on Fate.” — Becca, from my Chicago improv class
When I moved, I realized just how much of a hoarder that I am. Sarah will tell you. I had approximately six boxes filled with papers, books, brochures, sentimental objects (This is from when he gave me a packet of M&Ms. Must save.) And more. Way more. Guilt, apparently, is a motivating factor in this kind of behavior: Why People Hoard.
Eventually I want to create an enormous filing system of everything, like Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: “Do you see those filing cabinets along the wall? Those are my secrets…. and I don’t want my files messed up or placed out of order. They’re in a special order that makes sense only to me.”
I’m sitting here in the offices of an organization where I used to volunteer, working on job stuff and helping them with their web site. The adjacent office is a music school for young children. Which means: some child is sawing out violin music (Or cello?) right now, hitting many right notes and many wrong ones. I feel the vibration in my ear drums.
Things here ain’t too bad. One day last week, after much unproductive legwork, I started really craving a spice cookie. So, even though I knew the deli would be closed, I stopped by. Bob and John were still there, straightening up, and invited me in. Bob pulled the last spice cookie out of the freezer, which he’d socked away before it got sold. The cookie was as spirit-lifting as anything, and I left feeling okay. Deli magic.
Now accepting new members…
I vote for the creation of a support network for all who have recently uprooted themselves in search of… something. This group so far includes: Me, Locke and Laz. (Our names all start with the letter “L” — coincidence?)
Helping Charlie unpack and alphabetize his CD collection…
Me: Why is Ryan Adams with the ‘W’s?”
Charlie: Whiskeytown was a better band.
Last night Eliina, Amanda and I were supposed to go out for drinks at a pub… while Eliina waited outside for me and Amanda, she was beckoned into Vee-Vee’s, the African restaurant downstairs. We went down to retrieve her and, long story short, we spent our evening hanging out with a Nigerian restaurant owner and his friends, drinking Heineken and eating jolof rice with goat. Every now and then I’d stop and think, “Wait. How did I get here, again?” My favorite moments were the restaurant owner’s anti-Bush tirades, and when Eliina was spoon-fed goat.
“Why typewriters? What happened to spoons?” – my dad, lugging my three typewriters out of the car in Buffalo, lamenting my lapsed spoon collection
Big news: I am now the proud owner of another typewriter. Eliina spotted it at a hipster yard sale on Saturday as we were wandering about in Bucktown. She whispered to get my attention and slyly pointed to it as we picked our way through other useless hipster castoffs: a leather cuff with metal studs, vintage kitchen chairs with ripped vinyl seats, an orange and blue 1970s ski vest. I kept walking. Who wants to look like a complete dork jumping up and down over a typewriter? Then my fingers started to get itchy… I moved in for the kill, bargained them down easily to $10 and walked away with the cutest typewriter ever. It works even better than the other three, and even the case looks like something Paddington Bear would have taken on the train.
Other happenings, working backwards: Saw a Found Magazine show last night with Cleo and Eliina; walked along the lake with Amanda on Sunday afternoon; spent Saturday night watching the Gilmore Girls on DVD and wishing that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups could be delivered both orally and intravenously; wondered again what the hell I was thinking; calmed myself down again. And again.
Cruel the fiddley night — course you can’t trust the night
Where both nothing and everything looks new.
But all o’sudden it dawns: I am running — not running away –
But closing in on what I’m running to.
–Paul Curreri (my friend Maria’s brother), “Greenville”
I listened to Paul’s CD over and over on the train to Chicago.
My idealism about this new situation is currently cracking around the edges, but in a good way. It’s better to dissolve illusions early, I think.
“Waking up in a strange bed, in a strange city, can sometimes be disorienting… you wake up with a start and for a few frantic moments don’t remember where you are or what is real. Life is on hold, hanging in mid-air in tiny technicolor pieces.” — Claire Hughes, Waking Up in Chicago
I found this quote in a book that I happened upon in the public library today. This morning, I wasn’t all that confused (except that I was convinced it was 11 a.m. and it was only 8 a.m.). But for the moment, in the larger sense, life is on hold and hanging in mid-air in tiny technicolor pieces. Selected pieces:
–I’m staying in Amanda and Charlie’s spare room until I find a) a job and b) an apartment. Their possessions seem to be overtaking the apartment, since they’ve just moved in and haven’t yet fully unpacked. But it’s fine by me, the incurable packrat who would nest in a hole of sentimentally valuable papers, photos, knicknacks and quilts, were that socially acceptable.
–Eliina made me a flourless chocolate cake, with carmel sauce, to die for, which we polished off while watching Gilmore Girls (they’re trying to indoctrinate me into their WB obsession.)
–Today I sat on the rocks by the lake, on a clear 70-degree day, and wanted to call everyone I knew to tell them that they had to see how beautiful it was.
–Had lunch with Amanda in a laid-back diner that apparently specializes in my favorite diner sandwich, a turkey reuben.
–Chicago feels alive, grounded, whole. I’m reading a book that Amanda and Charlie gave me for my birthday, Never a City So Real by Alex Kotlowitz, who is one of my old professors. He writes: “Chicago is a stew of contradictions. Coarse yet gentle. Idealistic yet restrained. Grappling with its promise, alternately cocky and unsure.” … He then quotes Nelson Algren’s prose poem: “Once you’ve come to be a part of this particular patch, you’ll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real.”
Come on, ride the train…
In approximately two hours, I am boarding a train from Buffalo to Chicago. I already did this horrendously long overnight trip once, and I did not like it. What’s my problem? Ah, what I’ll do to pay just $49. Also, I have problems with making big moves via plane. It’s a little too much for my psyche to wake up in one place and be in someplace completely different three hours later, stuffed suitcases in tow, knowing that you’re not going back.