Tuesday, January 31, 2006


The first time I saw Alouicious, he was running across the busy street in a fine black suit, pressed white shirt, full length black overcoat, and first-rate black fedora. In a flash of black, white and the red of his face, he looked like a track star, lithely jumping cars instead of hurdles.

The second time I saw Alouicious, only split second later, he was standing on my bus. It was only then that I noticed that he was old—possibly 80 years in age—and his clothes were a little too big, seemingly tailored to a body that once was. His face was the color of a Red Delicious apple and his old skin was smooth and pulled taut over his skull. Between the thinness of his neck, the velvetiness of his skin and the soft curve of his chin, his head looked like a penis poking out from the spacious starched collar of his white dress shirt. A penis in a gentleman’s cap-- how wonderful! I turned away to make room for another passenger and with a flick of the bony wrist on the stop chord, a site which I caught out of the corner of my eye, he disappeared from the bus as quickly as he arrived.

I hope that’s not the last I see of Alouicious.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Three weeks on a cattle car...

Those are the details you never hear about. How they lugged those wounded men from the battlefield. How they heaved their injured bodies onto the back of a jeep, or horse, or carriage, or whatever mode the soldiers in WWI used as transport. How they had to let them lie, waiting for the train for hours, in bloodied uniform, on the platform, while the sun beat down on their fair European skin. Stretchers, made from scrap Muslin, carrying the injured, loaded into cattle cars for the grueling three week journey to the nearest hospital.

Not because they had to, but because they wanted to live. All in the name of survival.

War is still gruesome, but thank the Lord for helicopters and army tents.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Three Random and Fictitious Quotes

Supply your own context:

"I had forgotten all about that, until I remembered it again and then I realized that I didn't forget it anymore."

"So he poured some whiskey on [my pustular cyst] and then I poured some whiskey in me. Lots of it, I guess, 'cause when I woke up from it I was half married to a beautiful woman."

"Always get a professional to perm your hair, or come by my kitchen on Thursdays and I'll do it for you half off my in-shop price."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Attention: Sculptors

Yesterday, while riding on the bus, I got to thinking about sculptures of little children. Now, now--this is not as creepy as you may first think--my thoughts were inspired by the sculpture of playing children that sits in the little park next to Children's Memorial Hospital at Halsted and Fullerton. Contrary to what I can assume is the artist's intent, that sculpture has never failed to put a chill up my spine in a sensation often referred to as "The Heebie-Jeebies".

The sculpture evokes the nightmare of a meteor, made up of molten bronze, that crashed to the earth and fell on the very grassy knoll where a group of small children were playing Ring Around the Rosie, thus freezing them in mid-play. I haven’t actually examined this sculpture in detail, for fear of being possessed by the ghosts of these children, angry that they couldn’t grow up to be the doctors, nurses and electronic engineers that they wished, but I can only imagine that their eyeballs are still glowing red with the fiery radioactivity that the comet once possessed.

Or maybe, I considered, they were playing Ring Around the Rosie and ironically fell prey to the very Black Plague about which they were singing.

Either way, the sculpture creeped me out and I was relieved that the bus lingered near the sculpture no longer than necessary to pick up a few passengers at the stop nearby. Although I wasn’t subjected to the blank gaze of these bronze zombies for more than a few moments, I spent the rest of the bus ride assembling an inventory of all the sculpture, public and private, I remember having seen. Out of a subsequent sub list, which I entitled “Child Sculpture,” (and, which, I beg not to be confused with “Sculpture by Children,” which is adorable), I came to the conclusion that I’ve never seen a sculpture of a child that I liked. Make that, I have never seen a sculpture of a child that didn’t startle me, scare me, make my skin crawl and give me night terrors.

I came to the conclusion that most Child Sculpture is usually publicly owned or at least publicly displayed rather than kept in a gallery or museum. It seems that the only people who want to recreate The Essence of The Child are the people who are in the business of Children’s Essences and want you to know it, such as a children's hospital in the case of the Ring Around the Rosie art. All of the examples I could come up with supported this thesis: the eerie swinging children sculpture in that one day care facility playground in Springfield, Illinois; the ghostlike reaching children in the Arthur Ashe monument in Richmond, Virginia; and the demon children that Harry Caray is wading through in his sculpture that sits in front of Wrigley Field, to name a few of the most spine-chilling.

To be honest, I’m not so sure that the latter sculpture actually incorporates children. Those little people at Mr. Caray’s feet may be Cubs fans beaten down to half-size by many brutal losses and disappointments, but either way, you get my point: children should never be cast in bronze (or made of plaster, steel, glass or Silly Putty, for that matter).

The only sculpture I can think to discredit this argument is Degas’ Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen. I grew up passionate about dance and this lovely sculpture always struck a chord with my little girl heart. As a child, I had the opportunity to see it in person and it has forever made an impression on me. The Little Dancer is so delicate and graceful and warm, owing largely to the real aging white crinoline the artist used for the dancers skirt. But I have decided to omit this example from my earlier examination, reasoning that the sculpture more effectively depicts a dancer’s elegance than a child’s heart. And besides, is a fourteen year old girl really still a child? If she were jewish, she'd already have had her Bat Mitzvah.

So, let’s face it, sculptors: excluding that one Degas piece, there is no reason for you to believe that you can recreate, through any tangible means available to you, the spirit of a child. That which makes a child a Child is not concrete. At the risk of sounding like a diaper commercial or an Oprah speech, I’ll say that a child is a sparkle, an energy, a way of thinking that is, by any possible description, fundamentally light and airy. And, from my vantage point, it is impossible to create something as concrete as a representative sculpture out of something so something so quick and elusive.

I am happy to be proven otherwise.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A Bitter Day

In the summer time, when this city is blooming with scenery, the Chicago River sparkles like a milky emerald, its color the effects of mineral deposits. When struck by the warm-weather loveliness of the river, it is hard for me to imagine how contaminated its waters are. But today, on a cold gray day, the Chicago River looks sick and angry, inky black and oil-like, it’s shiny surface mirroring steely skyscrapers and rippling with the whipping wind. I shudder to see it looking like this.

For thousands of years, the river meandered through the marshes that were once on this stretch of Lake Michigan. According to historical documentation, its waters were often muddy and blue-gray, the result of the fertile silt that made up the river bed. And until 1900, when engineers reversed the flow of the river in order to preserve Lake Michigan--or rather, to preserve human’s ability to continue to enjoy and benefit from Lake Michigan without hosting another Cholera epidemic--the river ran where it pleased, where nature led it. I would have liked to have seen it, reflecting only the expanse of the sky.

Nowadays, the river is escorted through our city by vast concrete banks and an elaborate system of locks. And the sludge below its weary waters is a toxic cross-section of the industrialization of man.

But contrary to appearance, the old river is fighting and full of life. On this otherwise lifeless day today, it is churned up and dark and its icy waters are seeking revenge on the concrete containing it. Slowly but surely, it laps its icy fingers on the concrete and freezes, prying open tiny fissures in its barriers. Bits of the concrete crumble and fall to a watery burial. The Chicago River expands another inch, celebrating another tiny victory and I can’t help but be happy about it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Sad Story about Charity Powers

When I was in 6th grade, Charity Powers went missing. The blonde hair blue eyed Charity was a classmate, but had recently transferred to a neighboring school in town. Naturally, the story of her "abduction" spread like wild fire around my Sleepy Virginia town: her mom dropped her off at Chester Skateland but forgot to pick her up and the last anyone saw of her was at a nearby Hardee's Restaurant. As one story had it, when Charity asked a sassy Hardee's employee for the time, the woman answered, "Time for you to be in bed."

Normally, when something like that happens at a school, grief counselors are brought in to help students deal with it. When another classmate died that year of Leukemia, an official announcement was made and our teachers asked us if we wanted to talk about it. And years later, when a popular senior at my high school died in a car crash, almost everyone was allowed to stay home and mourn.

But when Charity Powers disappeared, none of that happened. It wasn't talked about in an official way. Even the rumors were discussed very casually, as if we were gossiping about a cheerleading scandal or new gym class policy. We weren't given a "Don't Talk to Strangers" lessons or asked what we would do if our parents never showed up to pick us up. And I don't remember being scared. As it was, my town was largely middle class family town, and Charity was from "the wrong side of the tracks". Her mom had a different last name as Charity. Sadly, most of the adults in my town thought her abduction didn't apply to their children. Whenever it was discussed, there was always a tone of "That could never happen to you, dear, your mom wouldn't forget to pick you up."

While that may be true--my mom always did come through for me--I wasn't struck by how sad and regrettable the whole affair was until later, in my college years, when I realized the implications of that attitude. I was reminded of it again, this past fall, when Hurricaine Katrina devastated Mississippi and Lousiana and the people who were left stranded those who didn’t have the resources to leave, were initially forgotten and dismissed.

Within a few weeks of her disappearance, the chatter about Charity subsided. Months passed and Charity was never found. What seemed like a year later, her body was found in the back yard of a man who lived near the Skateland.

Recently, curious to know the truth, I researched her death on the internet and discovered the facts: Charity’s mom had arranged for a family friend to pick her up, but the friend fell asleep. Later that evening, Charity’s mom came home and discovered that she was missing. Charity was indeed last seen at a Hardee’s restaurant, and so was Everett Lee Mueller, according to 4 teenage eye-witnesses who had also been at the skating rink. When the police searched Mueller’s backyard, four months later, they found Charity buried in a shallow grave. Mueller later confessed on video tape to taking her home, having sex with her and strangling her. He testified that he was drunk at the time and thought that the 10 year old Charity was 19 years old. The next morning he thought the whole episode was a dream until he came across her body. He proceeded to burn her clothes and jewelry and bury with a shovel. Autopsy reports say that Charity’s throat was also cut and also indicated that she was also stabbed repeatedly. Mueller was tried by jury and sentenced to death for 2 counts of capital murder, but petitioned clemency by saying that he found the girl's body while walking through the woods behind his home. His petition was denied and Everett Lee Mueller was executed on September 19, 1999 by lethal injection, the 573rd American to be executed.

In my research, I came across a picture of Charity. It was interesting to compare the picture in my mind to the real picture. She looks like a normal, happy 10 year old.

When I was in sixth grade, I was told her mother was to blame—that Charity’s fate would have been different had her mother been a good mom. But what if I were at the Skateland and my mother was in a car crash and failed to show up? That creep still would have been on the prowl and the outcome probably would have been the same. And what about all of the others involved? What about the owners of the skating rink? Why hadn’t they noticed that a 10 year old girl was stranded? What about the teenagers who knew Charity? Why didn’t they offer to help her? What about the Hardee’s employees? Weren’t they worried about this little girl, who was there unattended late at night? Maybe it was unwise for the mother to leave her daughter in the care of someone irresponsible enough to fall asleep and forget her. Maybe her mother should not have left a 10 year old girl unsupervised at a skating rink, despite the fact that she was familiar with the staff.

Ultimately, the community didn’t protect her. We didn’t protect her life when she was stranded, we didn’t protect her honor when she was abducted and we didn’t protect her memory when she died.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Personality of the Week

When I look back at my old yearbooks, I am surprised to discover that the 1985-86 school year was no longer than average. You could have fooled me. I thought it was at least triple the length. It seemed to last forever thanks to the Personality of the Week program that was run by my school’s guidance counselor’s office.

Every week, this program would profile a different student from each of the 4 first-grade classrooms. Being The Personality of the Week had many advantages, including, but not limited to:

--Having your name written in fancy script on a glittery star hung with the three other Personalities’ names in a prominent hallway in school;

--Having your name written in a non-glittery star and hung alone outside your classroom door;

--Receiving a voucher for free ice cream on Friday, the last day of The Week;

and, in my humble six-year-old opinion, the best perk of this wonderful program:

--Enjoying the rare and privileged opportunity to sit on a throne (actually Mrs. Barnes’ cushy office chair with streamers tied to it for the occasion), with your classmates huddled at your royal feet interviewing you with serious and important biographical questions such as “What is your favorite candy?” and “Who is your favorite Strawberry Shortcake friend?” while the teacher wrote the answers in a noble publication entitled, “[Your Name]: Personality of the Week”

My six-year old life was lived for occasions such as these--occasions where I could show the world how lovely and talented and amazing a six-year old could be and surprise and astonish my fellow human beings with the realization of my many marvelous and remarkable traits and talents. Surely the moment my classmates read my name on the star, I would be catapulted into a glamorous celebrity world and have throngs of adoring elementary-school-aged fans throwing their bodies at my feet in hopes of having my greatness rub off on them. I was a six year old diamond in the rough, just waiting to be mined.

From the moment the program was announced, I would hold my breath every Friday when they proclaimed the name of the new Personality of the Week. But week after week, my name was not called. Perhaps they forgot me. Or, even worse, perhaps I was wrong about my greatness; perhaps I had no Personality of which to put before The Week. It was an agonizing wait. After all, I didn’t learn the phrase, “Save the Best for last" until Mrs. Shelton’s 2nd grade class.

But, save me for last they did. The only remaining day that I could be picked, after every single other first grader had already had their moment to shine, my name was announced. And although I was happy to finally be able to breathe, I was sad that I wouldn’t have the entire school year to gloat in my success. I would only have one measly week to remind everyone about my amazing term as Personality of the Week. I would have to make those 7 scrawny days count by giving the interview of a lifetime; the longest interview in the history of the Personality of the Week program; the most charming, most mind-blowing, most awe-inspiring interview known the Tussing Elementary.

In all reality, I’m sure no one else remembered my interview. In fact, I, myself, had forgotten all about it until a few years ago while I was rifling through the contents of a wicker chest that I used to keep at the foot of my bed, I came across the glittery star on which my name was written in fancy script and hung in a prominent hallway in school, and the non-glittery star on which my name was written in fancy script and hung outside the classroom door and the 24”x36” blue lined tablet paper on which was written the noble publication entitled, “Carrie Barrett: Personality of the Week”.

It read:

Carrie Barrett is 6 years old. Her favorite color is black. Liver and onions are her favorite food. Her favorite animals are spiders and snakes...

...and so forth and so on.

I would list it in its entirety if I had it in my possession, but I think you still get the gist. That bio gave every possible controversial answer that my first grade mind could think of. Seeing my first grade teachers’ handwriting on those 6 pages of yellowed paper made the memory flood back to me: sitting on that “throne,” being interviewed by my classmates and listening to them groan at my answers, making them ooh and ahh at my exotic choices, blowing their minds with my complex Personality.

I chuckled to myself with the recognition that I have not changed at all. As much as I hate to admit it, I am that exact same Carrie I was back then. I still crave the spotlight; Even now I am a sucker for recognition; I am the same little girl, thriving on strong reactions from people.

And, let’s be honest, I deserve Personality of the Millennium.

Friday, January 20, 2006

A Labor of Love

His nose is his oyster and his fingers are explorers searching for a pearl. The risks are great, but the fruits of labor are sweet and plentiful. And with a crew of five fingers helping him out, anything is possible. Nothing's going to come between him and his booty.

He starts with his thumb, the big strong burly thumb, guaranteed tough. In a moment of urgency, it charges toward the cave-like opening, its massive power mashing the nostril shut, unable to penetrate a hole as small as that. After several failed attempts, he decides to go for the wingman, the pointer finger. The finger is able to nominally break into the dark hollow, but due to its size and shape is unable to wiggle a precious nugget from the grotto. For a moment, it gets stick, but the thumb comes to the rescue with help for the pointer finger. After several pinching gestures, they both return empty handed. This is not the moment to panic. There’s always the middle finger--the longest and nimblest finger of them all! It uses its length and strength to jimmy its way into the opening but after several prying motions, it comes back tired and defeated. The ring finger is too weak and sluggish; he doesn’t even consider it.

If only, there was a way to penetrate that gnarly bush of nose hair! If only there was a finger small enough to excavate that cave! These gems need to be mined and they need to be mined now! Then it comes to him in a flash: what about the pinky? That small, underappreciated baby of a finger! Sure it’s small and weak, but what it lacks in power, it makes up in spunk. Without faltering, the pinkey takes his cue and gracefully dashes into the nostril, a perfect fit! It wriggles and writhes, thrashes and flays, freeing a crop of beautiful pearls from the cavernous nostril.

O happy day! He is a rich man at last!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

No Biggie

When I was in fourth grade, Candace Cameron came to my school for a day. Her brother, Kirk dropped her off in his electric blue IROC convertible, lowered his black Ray-Ban sunglasses to shouted to me, “Hey, Carrie! Take care of my sis!”

Take care of her I did. I showed her all of my favorite places in the school: The cement tunnels in the playground where I had first kissed Robbie Briggs as part of a dare, the art room bulletin board where my Picasso inspired Cubist crayon drawing was hanging and the secret nook where the mimeograph and laminating machines were (I had used them).

Over lunch we traded dessert and fashion secrets. She was wearing an oversized turquoise sweater with a bunch of bright red and yellow balloons decorating the front, a matching turquoise miniskirt and three pairs of coordinating red, yellow and turquoise tube socks. Coincidentally, I was wearing an oversized yellow sweater with a bunch of bright red and turquoise balloons decorating the front, a matching yellow miniskirt and three pairs of coordinating red, yellow and turquoise tube socks. I traded my Hostess Cupcake for her JELL-O Pudding Cup.

Lunch was tough. My friends were fighting to sit next to her, and in the process knocked over her Capri Sun. Good thing I had an extra one to give to her. And every time we started to talk about how hot Corey Haim was, we were interrupted by some adoring fan. Candace was pretty annoyed by it all, because she was having such a good time with me and we had so much in common, but she graciously signed autographs and answered questions about DJ Tanner and we would be back on track with our meaningful discussion.

When it came to gym class, naturally she picked me to be her stretching partner. We won the shuttle race and got to sit out on the bleachers and make up hand claps to the lyrics of UB40’s “Red, Red, Wine” while everyone else did pull ups.

At the end of the day, Kirk gave us a ride to my house. He was invited to dinner, but had to run off for a Growing Pains shoot. He promised to make it up to me by taking me to see “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” Candi stuck around for dinner and couldn’t stop raving about my mom’s Hungarian Stroganoff. After dinner, we ate Nerds and Gobstoppers, did each other’s makeup and traded secrets during the night during our School Night Sleepover.

When I woke up the next morning, she was gone. A week later I got a note that said, “Thanks for teaching me how to be cool.” Of course, it was no biggie. Stuff like that happened to me all the time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

To Ms. Zzzzz:

Renee Zellweger, I'm sure you're a nice girl. Then again, I'm not so sure. I just don't want you to take any of what I say personally, although I kind of also hope you will. I just want what's best for you. Then again I don't want you to have what's best—that’s been done. You see, you make me conflicted. I feel sorry for you and that makes me mad because no one should feel sorry for those who have power over them.

I am over that you’re “so honored” to kept in the company you keep. I’ve had it with your generous and thoughtful nods upon announcing who won Best Picture or “Best Actress is a Western/Cop Show”. I cannot swallow another practiced glance into the camera.

It’s not just your affected, overly gracious way of speech and starving, nutrient ridden body that I can't stand. It is your face, too. Your face looks like you just ate a bucket of greasy chicken that's been battered and fried in the stuff they use to make Sour Patch Kids. I know you can't help that, exactly. And you're not an ugly girl. Not at all. Its just that overly affected way you keep your face. I just wish you'd let your face be your face and not try to make it Nicole Kidman’s face. Your face is so tired of having to work so hard. Please, for the love of God, give your face a rest.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate you. When I first saw you in Empire Records, I liked you. After Jerry Maguire, I thought you were adorable. But somewhere during your life’s ride between “Me, Myself and Irene” and “Chicago” you got lost, and subsequently, you lost me. You became a shell of everything that used to be adorable and individual. I am guessing you snorted all that stuff up your nose.

You are a poster child of what celebrity starts to do to people. You, Tom Cruise, Whitney Houston, Leif Garrett, in that order, are a backwards celebrity version of that Evolution of Man drawing. Leif, of course, is the celebrity ape of the group. (Don’t ever put your kids in show business.) You’re not yet a monkey, Renee. Get out now while you can. I suggest a Jodie Foster style retreat. It would do you a big heap of good. Savor the fact that you’re quirky. Stop trying to hide that you’re a total weirdo. Stop doing cocaine. I for one would appreciate it. I’m getting rather sick of not sleeping through the night.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Don't Let Them Win!

Just because there's been a terrorist attack does not mean that your mouth stops watering for tasty home cooked vittles. Forcing yourself to eat saltines and water while you wait out the attacks means THEY WIN! I'm going to share with you 3 very easy recipes to feed your family or church group with just a few ingredients that everyone keeps around in their fallout shelter or underground bunker.

First, we're going to make a warm and homey Vienna sausage Casserole. This will be great for those dark and cold days when the smoke and ash is blocking the sunlight:

For this you'll need
12 cans of Vienna Sausages
1 can of Potted Meat (for the flavor)
1 small jar of pimentos
1 cup of dry milk
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons of French's Yellow mustard
4 table spoons of jalapeño relish
Salt and pepper to taste
French Fried Onions for toppers

Cook in a casserole dish over glowing embers for 12 hours.

Next, you'll win any war on terror with these tasty Vienna sausage fritters!

For this you'll need
9 cans of Vienna Sausages
.5 can of Potted Meat (for the flavor - you can smear the other half on a saltine and top with an olive slice for hors d'oevres)
1 small jar of pimentos
1 cup of dry milk
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons of French's Yellow mustard
4 table spoons of jalapeño relish
Salt and pepper to taste

Don't be shy with'em. Fry 'em up right in your fry daddy!

Lastly, defend your family from bored taste buds! Try these Battered and Fried Vienna sausages with a Pimento-Jalapeño Mustard and they'll be complimenting you so much you'll think they sniffed nerve gas!

For this you'll need:
9 cans of Vienna Sausages
4 cups French Fried Onions
1 cup of dry milk
1/8 cup water

Dip the Sausages in the milk/water mixture then roll in crushed onions. Fry in the Fry Daddy.

For the Mustard Sauce you'll need:
1 Cup of French's Yellow mustard
1 small jar of pimentos
1/8 cup of jalapeño relish
Salt and pepper to taste

Feel free to double or triple the portions if you're having company over to your bunker. Serve all of these with a cold glass of Tang and you can entertain anyone, regardless of the level of radioactivity outside your cozy fallout shelter!

Monday, January 16, 2006

When You Think No One Cares

Earlier this afternoon, I begrudgingly dialed the number to Dr. Chaor’s office to remind him to mail in his speaking contract. A man answered the line and startled me with a simple, “Hello.” I wasn’t expecting such a concise greeting.

“Is this Dr. Chaor’s office?” I asked, skeptical that I had reached the right number.

“No,” the tired man said, “This is a patient’s room.”

I apologized for disturbing the poor man and I hung up. Since then, I have not been able to get him off my mind.

Why is he in the hospital? What unit is he in? Was it a car crash or another accident? Does he have cancer? Is he undergoing chemotherapy? Did he have elective surgery? Are his friends there? Has his family been by? Are his nurses friendly? Is he being taken care of? Is he eating? What is he eating? What is his favorite flavor of JELL-O? How long has he been there? Is he in pain? Are there flowers in his room? Is he in a private room? Does he have stitches? Did he pull on his stitches when he reached for the phone? Are his stitches dissolvable? Was he expecting a call? Was he sad that I wasn’t calling for him? What is he watching on TV? Where is he from? How old is he? Is he married? What color hair does he have? Does he have a goatee? When was the last time he shaved? Did he know he was going to be in the hospital tonight? Is he sad? What color are the walls of his room? When was the last time he laughed? What is his greatest fear?

Or did I even speak with the patient? Maybe he was visiting and answered the phone for his wife or mother or friend.

Why is he/she in the hospital? What unit is he/she in? Was it a car crash or another accident? Does he/she have cancer...

Friday, January 13, 2006

They say...

When I was younger, I thought They all worked in the same makeshift office. Nomads, They moved to a different American city every week. They were usually holed up in an underground bunker or cave, although, in my imagination, They once worked in the sweaty back room of a Ma and Pa dry cleaning business in Tucson. Wednesdays in New York, Sundays in L.A., Thursdays are split between Atlanta and DeKalb.

They were fashionable. They wore structured suits with shoulder pads and purses with long, skinny straps. They each wore a new pair of leather shoes which made delicious footstep sounds on the shiny black marble floors of their cave offices.

They were doctors and scientists and rock stars and moms, who toiled tirelessly over telegraph machines, spending hours punching blinking buttons and reviewing reels of never-ending data.

They lived in softly illuminated modern quarters, surrounded by the sounds of hushed conversation and electronic beeping in rooms filled with the smell of brewing coffee and leather couches.

They were a covert operation, designed to keep Me in the know. They looked out for me. They wanted for Me to know that my sheets were filled with dust mites. They wanted for Me to be Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board. They lived their lives, devoted to My success and wellbeing.

But now that I am older, I realize that They are not people at all, but flimsy ideas formed in the minds America’s most cocky 21-35 year olds; written in cubicles under glaring fluorescent lights; created for profit under looming deadlines.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

5 (of Many) Wedding Ideas that I will NOT use:

(as suggested by bridal magazines, and websites)

1) Release a cage of white doves after the ceremony. Ok, first of all, gross. Second of all, I will not do anything at my wedding that has been done by some crazy lady in a mass of nut cases anxiously congregating outside of a courthouse on behalf of Michael Jackson's acquittal.

2) Likewise, there will not be a live butterfly release either. I will do without “the magical appearance of these majestic fluttering beauties as they emerge from the specially designed release envelopes or baskets.” For real.

3) Wear a pink wedding dress. I don’t care if you call it “blush” or “rose.” I’ll leave that shit for Trista. Enough said.

4) Create a website agonizing over every little wedding/reception decision, including menu font, silverware, and guest book pen selections; share website and weekly updates with friends and family. Zzzzzzzzz…

5) Give out heart shaped measuring spoons with a tag that says, “Love Beyond Measure” in fancy script. Or hand out "Love is in the Air" Car fresheners. Or distribute tiny glass slippers that say, "At Last I Found My Prince". (Can you believe that they have entire websites devoted to Cinderella Themed weddings??? Who are these people??!)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Morning Routine for Lady on the Bus (Whose Name Might be Linda or Cheryl)

5:00 am - Wake up to alluring scents and sounds wafting from Aroma Therapy & Nature Sound Dual Alarm. Slowly slide out from underneath mauve satin sheets with coordinating rose tapestry duvet and put on high heeled purple feather slippers. Remove hair sleep bonnet and un-cover pre-set and styled hair from night before.

5:05 am – 5:20 am - Make bed and arrange 100+ decorative pillows on bed. (Pillows are carefully stored in hand painted chest at foot of bed.)

5:20 am - 6:00 am – Draw bath in Jacuzzi Brand Bathtub. Add entire bottle of Rosewater to the water, swirl it around with hand carved rosewood bath paddle, and place pre-cut cucumber slices over tired eyes while soaking, listing to the sounds of smooth jazz on Light98 FM. Place pre-set and styled hair in shower cap for protection. (Full body laser hair removal has made shaving no longer necessary)

6:00 am – 6:20 am – Decide outfit. Per usual, be sure to select something that will easily transition from day to night with the addition of dressy separates to be packed in work roller board. Hang outfit on hook to steam.

6:20 am – 6:40 am – Pop open can of Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls, bake, and eat in one sitting.

6:40 am – 6:45 am – Brush teeth with Crest Brand Whitening Expressions Lemon Ice Liquid Gel. Apply Crest Whitestrips.

6:45 am – 7:15 am – Apply personalized morning face cleansing ritual from Avon.

7:15 am – 7:40 am – Use Bare Escentuals Brand Makeup to carefully apply foundation makeup. Be sure to select a heavy base that matches level of tanning.

7:40 am – 8:05 am – Using outfit coordinating colors of Bare Escentuals Brand Makeup, carefully apply trio of out-fit coordinating eye shadows and liners.

8:05 am – 8:25 am - Apply and re-apply at least 100 coats of mascara. Keep at least 5 new wands at hand.

8:25 am – 8:45 am – Apply and re-apply at least 100 coats of matching lip-liner and lipstick in a color that exactly matches at least one element of pre-selected outfit. Be sure to line outside of natural lip area to create fuller looking lips.

8:45 am – 8:55 am – Perform part of “Get Fit Fast: Abs” DVD workout. Give up before breaking a sweat.

8:55 am – 9:10 am – Pack work roller board with the following items: Work makeup bag (including 4 lipstick changes, 3 spare mascara wands, and powder), tanning oil (for lunch break tanning session), dressy separates (for seamless evening wardrobe transition), a bottle of outfit-coordinating nail laquer (to be used to paint nails on morning bus commute), a worn and re-read copy of Life’s Little Instruction Book and a fake engagement and wedding ring (to be used in the event of an Old Friend Encounter.)

9:10am – 9:40 am – Dress.

9:40 am – 9:45 am – Shower in 5 minute Calvin Klein Obsession Mist.

9: 45 am – Call work to let them know you’re going to be an hour late, lock up and walk to street to catch the bus.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

“DON'T PUT YOUR HAND IN THE ELEVATOR DOOR! It is stupid and you will lose your hand!”

What the lady on the elevator said to me, in a really harsh and condescending tone, as if I was her boring husband, Ron, whom she hasn't had sex with in 3 years and whose voice she cannot stand.

Monday, January 09, 2006


Lying down on the dirty street as helpless as a beached whale, arms and legs flopping like flippers in slow motion and a wild look in her glassy eyes. The shopkeeper of the liquor store sweeps around her as if she is a fixture. The hot sun beats down on her rocking body making it look like a sweaty frozen chocolate bar that is just starting to melt. In an unknown tongue, she praises Jesus that He has put forth upon her the ability to see the stars on a bright sunny day. She can feel the earth spinning, creating the gravity that pulls her down, but her head is in the clouds and with the birds, soaring high.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Ahoy, Maties!

I have returned from a long and relaxing jaunt around the sunny Virgin Islands where even the clouds are beautiful! Truly heaven on earth. Expect more entries to come as I am dragged back to reality by the dull and lifeless Chicago skies.