Friday, December 29, 2006

State of the Union, of sorts, and what I'd like to expect in 2007.

I've had a great week at home so far. Well, specifically the days after Christmas. I got to see some great friends I hadn't seen in over a year. I got to experience the cool part of Richmond (i. e. not Virginia Center Commons) with Kristel. I spent last night bar-hopping in Adams Morgan with Megan and Morgan, and it was the first time I got to visit DC and actually enjoy it. (I also got my picture taken.) Today Megan and I went shopping in Georgetown and I spent a lot of money, but it was still great fun (especially after running into fellow JMU English major alum, "Goose," at the J. Crew on M Street). And tonight I went out to Fairfax and saw Erin, Shannon, and Martha.

There were a lot of people I meant to hang out with while I was home, and I'm kind of bummed and I don't have another week to do a full tour of Virginia.

On the way home from Fairfax, I spent some time thinking about 2007. I rarely make resolutions, but I do have a few goals that I want to achieve in the next year. At the top of the list is making it out to the East Coast for MACRoCk and maybe a trip to New York. And there are a few others:

1. I'd like to read more books, and I may try to read a book a week again, even though I failed that in 2005.

2. I want to make more mix CDs for friends, since mailing them is a good way to keep in contact with people. (Everyone knows that sending packages is a great way to guilt your friends into keeping in touch with you.)

3. I want to work out more, since I've discovered that my metabolism is (finally) starting to slow down, and the small muscle mass I do have is dropping, my stomach is actually getting larger, and I'm unfortunately still the same weight.

4. I desperately need to get a new job, and the prospect of something new is encouraging and would be a major part of my happiness in 2007.

5. I want to follow that old rule my mother set for me in college: "Eat a salad every week."

6. I'd like to write more, in non-blog terms.

7. I want to finally frame the artwork I've accumulated over the last three years.

8. I want to take more (and better) pictures.

9. I want to start a savings account.

10. I want to have a better idea of where I'll be in two years. Grad school? Chicago? I'd like to have a clue come next December.

For New Years my sophomore year, which I spent in Indiana with Martha and friends, we all went around the room right before midnight and retracted one mistake we made that year. Since then, I've always come up with a couple of things that I wish I could just take back every year. This year, however, it's hard for me to come up with something so horrible that I want to forget. Sure, I've done stupid things and used poor judgment, but at this point, I've come to realize that instead of trying to pretend those things didn't happen, I should accept them and more on. This blog has been a good way for me to do that; if I happen to embarrass myself or put myself in an awkward(.com) situation, I've written about it. I'm kind of proud of myself to embrace, in a way, my flaws and stupid moves and turn it into something that other people find entertaining. I'd like to keep doing that next year, and I'd like to keep this blog alive for a long time to come. I've really enjoyed hearing from people I barely know or complete strangers - people I didn't already know and MAKE read this site - who have told me how much they enjoy reading what I write.

I don't really have a great way to end this - it's almost one o'clock in the morning and I'm tired and kind of sick from last night and feeling gross and dirty in that general hangover kind of way. All of those things are keeping me from pure, 100% eloquence. To sum it all up: I hope 2007 is a great year, and I hope everyone who has followed my life in 2006 will continue to listen to what I have to say, at least every now and then.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

It's going to be a long week.

I want to tell three quick stories to let you know how weird my Christmas break is so far.

My mother offered me a free, hand-me-down suit jacket. She got it from her friend from church. She bought it for her son recently, but it was too small. How old was her son, you ask? Fifteen. I officially hate my body. No take-backs.

My father has become obsessed with this Eric Clapton DVD called Crossroads. He apparently bought this after he told me he wanted it for Christmas (good thing I don't buy crap like that (I really hope he likes his Old Navy hoodie...)), which makes me amused because he just. couldn't. wait. until Christmas for it. It's a collection of live performances where Eric Clapton is jammin' with a bunch of other people, like James Taylor or Vince Gill, for example. (Yes, Vince Gill certainly comes to my mind when I think of "jammin'," too.") What was really depressing was that the only performance I saw was "Cocaine," and Eric Clapton was dressed exactly like my dad: a loosely-fitting light blue polo and shorts. No, these weren't shorts necessarily. They resembled capris. Eric Clapton was wearing clam-diggers. Not only did he have adequate storage for all of his painting supplies, but "the fool can play guitar," as my mother told me.

I went to the winery today to buy some wine. My mother's first cousin was working, so he gave me a very extensive wine tasting. The superintendent of the neighboring school system (where certain douchebags attended high school) and his wife were also there, so we all did a big, fat wine tasting together. Which was weird, because their two oldest daughters babysat me when I was a kid. Anyway, after getting a lil' tips' on the "tastes," I bought two bottles of wine (I got the employee discount, which I will never complain about). Then my cousin gave me another glass of wine. And when I finished that, my old boss came downstairs with a bottle of champagne. We all had a glass and a half. And then I had to drive home.

PS. Driving for the first time in six months is really scary, especially when you're used to riding in cabs at a maximum speed of forty miles per hour. Once you get in that car and are going sixty and you've had free wine, it feels like you're in a goddamn space shuttle.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

At least this one is holiday-themed.

Somewhere, my corporate doppelgänger (mmm, umlaut) is enjoying a nice bourbon and ginger ale at his company's posh Christmas party, whereas I am sitting here in my cubicle enjoying a slightly upset stomach from eating a luke-warm chicken breast and a non-alcoholic jello shot.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I wish I could find an entertaining TV movie that could explain the true meaning of Christmas to me.

I only have two more days of hell (read: work) and then I'm off to Ol' Virginny. (I just happened to look up the lyrics to "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny." I haven't read it since seventh grade when I had to do a big Virginian history project. Now I know why it could possibly offend some people: "There's where this old darkey's heart am long'd to go.")

When I left work yesterday I decided that I would "treat myself" (as one of the other managers described it) and call-in sick this morning. And then I realized that it's probably better to be miserable at work, because if I'm sitting at home feeling like crrrap, it'll certainly ruin the fun-pants and Uncle Buck for me. So, here I am, listening to I See a Darkness on loop.

My manager is out today, so it's turning out to be slightly tolerable after all.

I'm assuming we're not having a real Christmas party this year, since I have yet to receive an email from the department. That's pretty disappointing, since my friend Sarah told me that the Christmas party is usually crazier than the Spring Picnic, which is when I got really drunk with her and her old manager and did impressions of our co-workers. As the rest of the benefits of this job gradually slip away, I was hoping free Amstel Light would keep my morale at a solid 4.0. Tough luck. All I get is an office Christmas luncheon tomorrow, and I will most likely be bleeding awkward.

In the interest of not being completely all boo-boo bear before Christmas, I'm going to take a (FOR REAL THIS TIME) break from posting this week. I have several family celebrations this weekend, and I GUARANTEE something worth reading next Tuesday, if not by the weekend. So I'll leave you with this:

Happy Holidays, from my house to yours!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Okay, I lied.

Here's what my day has been like so far:

I woke up at 5:45 after very little sleep (I was up until around one) and a dream involving Matthew Broderick and me keeping our house protected from asylum escapees. After a brief moment where I contemplated calling in sick, I dragged myself out of bed and got dressed.

It was cold this morning. It's been in the fifties lately, but of course today was cold so I wore three shirts and conveniently forgot to put on deodorant. Great.

I got to work at 7:30, which will allow me to leave at 4:30 and still get eight hours (one hour of overtime! it's still depressing!). I sat here for about an hour and a half and decided that I really had to get a doughnut from downstairs or I'd die. I mean, I'm already dying, but I figured I could ward it off for a while by having some sugar. Luckily, Nail Clipper came by with TWO boxes of Dunkin Donuts, and I was really excited because it saved me eighty-one cents!

Then, as everyone lined up by my cube, I found out why he brought donuts. Nail Clipper's son (and our co-worker) got engaged last night. And then suddenly I was incredibly depressed again. I didn't want to hear about engagements, especially when they involve co-workers. I took two doughnuts, hoping the extra one would expedite my death by causing me to go into diabetic stroke.

Then Katy decided that she wanted the rumor to be that I was the one who got engaged last night after seeing Happy Feet, and when Maria asked Adam who the doughnuts were for, he played the Telephone Game and told her the revised rumor. Maria then ran out to my cubicle and said, "Tyler! You're engaged?!" Hilarity ensued.

All I want to do right now is wear my fun-pants (that's Christina's code word for front-butt sweatpants) and watch Match Game, which I bought on DVD this weekend. (I also bought Uncle Buck. I have a knack for spending too much money turning times of depression - Uncle Buck has been on HBO constantly, but I was determined to own it yesterday afternoon. Did I mention the new slip-on corduroy chucks I got yesterday?)

Speaking of Match Game, Christina sent me the following message on GChat: "Trendy Tyler was sooo trendy (HOW TRENDY WAS HE?!), he got his BLANK! cut." That was pretty much the highlight of my morning.

I think I need another doughnut.

All Of My Opinions Are Right 2006: Alright already, let's get this over with.

Okay: I'm in a foul mood and I've got four days until I leave for Virginia for a much-needed and -anticipated visit home. And I'll be honest: I doubt I'll feel up to blogging about hilarious shit this week, so I'm just preparing everyone for a brief hiatus. Once I'm home and I can spend a few days eating my mother's ginger cookies and stealing the TV from my father, I'll hopefully be in better blogger spirits.

So! To keep you occupied until then, here are the rest of my Best of 2006 lists! And you're lucky! I'm going to spare you the inane commentary! Woo!

Favorite Movies from 2006:
1. Friends with Money
2. Strangers with Candy
3. Volver
4. Shortbus
5. Marie Antoinette
6. The Devil and Daniel Johnston
7. The Queen
8. A Prairie Home Companion
9. Little Children
10. Half Nelson
11. United '93
12. Thank You For Smoking
13. Don't Come Knocking
14. Stranger Than Fiction
15. Hard Candy

Favorite Books Read (But Not Necessarily Published) in 2006:
1. Go Down, Moses, William Faulkner
2. Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
3. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer
4. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri
5. Saturday, Ian McEwan
6. Prep, Curtis Sittenfeld
7. Little Children, Tom Perrotta
8. Falling Through the Earth, Danielle Trussoni
9. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
10. Music for Torching, AM Homes
11. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Nick Flynn
12. The Sportswriter, Richard Ford
13. Indecision, Benjamin Kunkel
14. Enduring Love, Ian McEwan
15. Bee Season, Myla Goldberg

Favorite Albums Not from 2006:
1. Broken English, Marianne Faithfull
2. Moon Pix, Cat Power
3. Howl, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
4. Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen
5. To Bring You My Love, PJ Harvey
6. The Boatman's Call, Nick Cave
7. Before the Poison, Marianne Faithfull
8. Transformer, Lou Reed
9. The Mysterious Production of Eggs, Andrew Bird
10. Purple Rain, Prince
11. La Biographie de Luka Philipsen, Keren Ann
12. Rumours, Fleetwood Mac
13. The Swimming Hour, Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire
14. Aladdin Sane, David Bowie
15. Charm School, Bishop Allen

Favorite Albums of 2006:
1. The Greatest, Cat Power
2. Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, Neko Case
3. Alright, Still, Lily Allen
4. The Brave and the Bold, Tortoise and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
5. A Blessing and a Curse, Drive-By Truckers
6. Fading Trails, Magnolia Electric Co.
7. Post-War, M. Ward
8. Writer's Block, Peter Bjorn and John
9. The Life Pursuit, Belle & Sebastian
10. The Crane Wife, The Decemberists
11. Return to Cookie Mountain, TV on the Radio
12. Martha Wainwright, (Self-Titled)
13. Destroyer's Rubies, Destroyer
14. Bitter Tea, The Fiery Furnaces
15. Ys, Joanna Newsom

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Member of the Wedding.

Yesterday I got an email from Christina saying that she scored two free tickets to Tony and Tina's Wedding and that if I didn't tell her yes right away she was going to find someone else to go with her. I immediately said yes. Free entertainment! Free food! I wasn't doing anything else! Yeah! Tony and Tina's Wedding! Woo!

And then, about two hours later, I realized, "Fuck. I'm going to see Tony and Tina's Wedding tonight." I thought about how I'd be able to get out of it. Should I risk a chilly atmosphere around the apartment for the next couple days? Would Christina hate me?

I went home and waited for Christina to get back from work so we could leave together to make it to the theater by seven. She still hadn't come home by six-thirty, and I thought, "Great! Easy out! There's no way she'll be able to get home, change, and then make it to the theater! Crisis averted!" When she showed up ten minutes before we were supposed to be at the theater, she dashed around the apartment and got ready at lightning speed, which both disappointed and impressed me. (Seriously, she changed into dinner theater attire in like, ten minutes!)

We get to the theater and have to sit in the "cocktail lounge" while the "caterers" walked around and talked to the "guests". Christina and I were already having none of it, and when the "waitress" came by we just ignored her until she walked away to chat with another group. Christina said to me, "Okay, we have to come up with fake names. I'll be Patricia. Who are you?" I answered, "Stuart." So there we were, Patti and Stuart, sitting at a table for two in Vinnie Black's Celebrity Lounge.

Fiiiinally we were escorted in a line in front of the "chapel" and the "wedding party" arrived. That's when I realized that my cover was blown: I KNEW THE "BEST MAN." About a month after we moved here, Janna dated this guy who eventually got a part in the show. (I admit that I sort of knew this before going, but I was really hoping that I was mistaken and he was actually in The Awesome '80s Prom.) I was so taken aback that when the "photographer" approached me and said, "Oh, hey! It's so good to see you! What was your name again?!" I freaked out and told him my real name. And then he made me go up and take a picture with "Tony" and "Barry" (the "best man"). "Barry" recognized me and said, "Oh, Tyler, right? I think I've seen you somewhere!" Hahaha! HAhaha! Oh god. Ha. Haha.

If that didn't kill the experience for me, the non-stop audience participation did. I know that's expected at cheesy dinner theater located above a movie theater, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Christina burned-out on it pretty quickly, too; right before "Tony" read his vows, his "father's" "girlfriend" turned around and told us that afterward we'd all have to stand up and cheer for him. "Pass it on!" she said. Christina just sat there and stared at her. "C'mon, pass it on!" she said. "Nope, it's done," Christina replied.

The rest of the evening was filled with awkward hilarity. The "reception" was pretty goddamn atrocious, considering the food was awful, they charged for WATER, and they made me wear a sailor hat and dance to YMCA. And that, my friends, is pretty goddamn unforgivable.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Someone's gut had shit for brains.

I know we're all disappointed that the musical version of High Fidelity closed after a very short run on Broadway.I have some questions:

1. What, exactly, was the demographic for this musical? Surely the producers didn't expect kids in Williamsburg to take the train into Manhattan for a night at the theatre. Were they expecting a theater half-full of middle-aged yuppies who couldn't score their tickets to Wicked or Movin' Out? Did these producers consider that a musical based on a movie that features characters on the verge of becoming middle-aged yuppies making fun of middle-aged yuppies might, in fact, be offensive to said middle-aged yuppies?

2. Was there a costume designer? Did they go to thrift stores and buy old t-shirts?

3. What does the music sound like? I wish there was a soundtrack album.

4. Am I the only person who doesn't think John Cusack is an acting god? I mean, for every High Fidelity, there's a Must Love Dogs. Grosse Pointe Blank, you say? Pshaw! I retort: Serendipity!

5. Isn't it slightly ironic that hipsters around my age l-l-love this movie and act like it defines their generation, despite its theme of acceptance and selling out? I mean, it's a John Fucking Cusack movie, for Christ's sake.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Year of Magical Thinking Bad Haircuts.

I've already picked my New Year's Resolution for 2007: I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever go to the Hair Cuttery again. Ever. Ever. Never. It won't fucking happen again. I swear. Ever. Never again.

Usually I go to the Hair Cuttery out of a combination of fear of and desperation for a haircut, and I'm usually 97% disappointed. And even though I walk out with sharp little hairs all over my neck (because those idiots NEVER TIE THE SMOCK ON TIGHT ENOUGH and ONE PAPER TOWEL is not going to seal up the space between my vulnerable neck and the smock and will ALWAYS ALLOW hair to get trapped in there) and a haircut that makes me look like this:...I always go back three to four months later after my hair has begun to grow horizontally. And two hours after paying fifteen stupid dollars, I hate myself.

Well, this time I came out looking like this:
Granted, my hair is not that red or spiked, and my nose isn't that big. But that's exactly the expression I will have on my face for the next month. It may finally begin to soften once the hair on the SIDES of my head grows in and matches the hair on top of my head.

To put it in another perspective, I'll tell you what I told Nicole: If I had blond hair, I'd look kind of like one of these delightful children:Alas, I have red hair, and the nickname that my high school friend Eileen (Oh, Eileen Grant: I hope you Google yourself some day and find that I still have the same head abnormality!) gave me: DQT. I'm tall and lanky with a big egg-head. I look like a walking Q-Tip. A dirty Q-Tip.

Seriously, this was the last time.

Not going to the Hair Cuttery again.

No, sir. Uh, uhn.

No way, Jose.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Like a ship without a rudder.

On Friday night I went to see the Lemonheads at the Double Door with Matt (who got us in for free, thank God). I had very low expectations for the show, honestly, simply because it was sort of a reunion tour of an early '90s alternative band. Also, what would be Evan Dando be on? Pot? Valium? Crack? It was quite the crap shoot, but, hey, I wasn't paying the twenty-dollar ticket price, so, who cares?! He can sit on stage and shoot heroin for a couple of hours and it'd be totally cool, right?!

Upon our arrival I immediately realized that I was the youngest person in the entire club. Clearly the youngest person in the club. I had expected this, having been the only person to "get into" the Lemonheads while I was in college in 2003. It was a rather eclectic congregation of Lemonheads fans; there were the aging hipsters, some yuppie, suburban parents, and a couple of meathead types who were wearing one-size-too-big leather jackets, and their attendance made me wonder how well "Big Gay Heart" might go over. There was an unfortunate lack of flannel, but there was one dude who was wearing a bright yellow "Zion Roots Wear" shirt which may have been left over from the Arrested Development set at Woodstock '94.

We managed to get pretty close to the stage before Evan Dando and company came out, and it was rather awkward because we were in Biggest Lemonheads Fan!! zone and I was most likely already looking worried and NOT in the mood for sweet, harmonious jams, especially when I started to realize that most of these fans hadn't been to a "rock concert" in a long time. (Dear God: Please kill me before I ever have the inclination to go back to shows after a seven or eight year absence. I'd much rather die than have someone my brother's age make fun of me in his blog. Thank you.)

I only recognized Evan Dando when the band came out, primarily because the other two guys weren't in the original band, or even on the "comeback" album released a few months ago (although the bassist did look like my Uncle Moore with more - and greasier - hair). I was rather surprised how good the band sounded, and they played a lot of the older stuff that I recognized. And Dando seemed to be keeping it all together, so I thought, "Hey! No money well spent!" But then things started getting weirder, i.e. Dando started speaking and being generally jerky. At one point, he knocked over the mic stand as if to say, "Hey, guys, look at me, I can still rock, dudes. Totally. 1996!" He'd also walk up to the edge of the stage, lean down, and hand his pick to an audience member, who would pluck at his guitar. This was kind of cool the first time, but then it kept happening, and I wasn't sure who exactly was getting the most enjoyment out of it. Was it Randy (Michigan '97), who know had something to tell his buddies at next year's reunion? Or was it Evan, who was quite possibly thinking, "I'm totally going to rock this dude's world right now."

And then came the solo set, and Evan played a pretty good version of "Into Your Arms," and again, I started to enjoy what I was hearing. And then he'd fuck it all up again by talking nonsense ("Anybody remember that Bonnie Tyler video?!"), doing a mediocre cover of "Don't Fear the Reaper," or playing a "gay song" that was NOT "Big Gay Heart," but instead went something like this: "Lesbians are great, lesbians rule. Homos are the coolest of the cool!" Between that song and "Being Around," which features the lyric, "If I was a booger would you blow your nose? Where would you keep it? Would you eat it," I realized that listening to Dando sing this stuff ten years ago may have seemed pretty fun and lighthearted, but now he's 39, and it just seems rather immature and stupid. And on top of that, I was stuck in a crowd of Campbell Scott and Kyra Sedgwick's Singles contemporaries, and it was very weird. Needless to say, we left in the middle of the encore, which I was pleased to hear was not a shitty reunion-tour rendition of a shitty cover of "Mrs. Robinson." And it all made me wonder: who is the '00s equivalent to the Lemonheads?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

This week in awkward, preachy anonymous comments.

In response to this post:
Anonymous said...

Why do you refer to these human beings as "the temps" (here and in earlier posts)? It's dehumanizing. You seem to struggle (however humourously) with the feeling that you yourself may not be sufficiently respected. It seems to me that, instead of being willing to address this issue as belonging to your own experience, you are projecting the status of "less than important" or "less than fully human" onto a group outside yourself. Even if some of "the temps" in question profess to be ok with your terminology, in publishing a blog you are addressing yourself to a larger audience for whom the dehumanizing term "the temps" simply means what it more broadly means when uttered in our culture: namely, "this class of people whom I don't want to acknowledge as fully human, but instead want to refer to in this dehumanizing manner." Given your considerable ability to reflect on your own experience and actions, it seems to me that you'd really benefit from taking a look at this issue. Good luck! Signed, YST (strikes again).

I'm sorry, Anonymous, but saying, "I spoke with the temps today" is a lot easier to write than "I spoke with Katy, John, Eli, Celith, Garin, and Adam today" for the following reasons: less typing, natch, and also because the people who read my blog don't know who all of the temps are. It's not like I saw a bunch of Hispanic people and referred to them as "Mexicans." They're temps. Should I not refer to my co-workers as "the co-workers" because they're actually much more than that?

Also, people who leave anonymous comments assuming that they can accurately analyze someone's character based on a few hundred words posted on a BLOG are kind of d-baggy.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, it's YST again. I forgot to say that I can see from your blog that, until recently, you yourself were one of "the temps." I wanted to say that I wonder if that fact is connected with your eagerness to separate yourself from this category AQAP by objectifying and demeaning its members. Take care.

I don't know what "YST" means; I'm too busy suffering from my own self-hatred to decipher code.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Oh, man, it's almost three o'clock, which means it's almost time to go home.

My weeks have been flying by, which is great since I spent the last two Wednesdays under the impression that they were, in fact, Tuesdays, and when someone told me that the next day was Thursday I flipped out. I can't decide if this is just hilariously charming in that funny-story kind of way, or if it's actually just depressing that I'm losing entire twenty-four-hour periods of my life. What do you think, Internet? (I'd ask my cat that question if I had one, but since I haven't a Feline Audience of One to ask rhetorical questions, you're the lucky one to be on the receiving end. Congratulations.)

The only exciting thing to happen this week happened, sadly, just forty minutes ago, when I left the warm confines of my office (seriously, I've thought about spending my nights here to avoid a commute that "feels like one degree") to walk to another administrative building to get my picture taken. I was not sure why, exactly, I had to get my picture taken; I had received many emails from a communications director telling me that all "new" employees had to stop by for "a photo shoot." When I got there I was cold from walking half a block. My face was red and my hair a mess from my hat. Then I had to pose up against a greyish beige wall for my picture. And then she explained that it was going in a PowerPoint presentation to be displayed at our division's annual meeting in January. At least I'll be able to be slightly drunk when this happens.

As I was getting ready to leave, the formerly lovely communications director asked me how I liked my new job. I replied immediately: "Eh. It's a job." There you have it, Internet. I can't even pretend to not hate my job in front of members of the head office.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

All Of My Opinions Are Right 2006: Favorite Movies Not From 2006

It's December, which means a few things: first, it's cold as BALLS, and even though the weather fluxuates up and down, the high never hits above thirty-five, and with the goddamn wind here in Chicago, "thirty-five" actually feels like "two." Second, it's the end of the year, which means I come up with lists of my favorite things from 2006! I love doing this, especially since I have a blog that people READ. I also like it because (and this will come as no surprise if you really know me), all of my opinions are really facts.

So to start it off, I'll publish my list of the best movies I saw in 2006 that were not actually released in 2006:

1. Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus (2005)
This is my favorite movie about the South. It's really honest an beautifully shot. Also, it taught me what "Alabama chrome" is.
2. All That Jazz (1979)
All That Jazz is one of the best movie musicals ever made. Ever. I hated Chicago, and I feel like this is what Chicago should have been like. Grittier! Sexier! More orgy scenes set to cheesey, fake Broadway showtunes!
3. Quadrophenia (1979)
This is a great Mod classic and it makes me want to listen to the Ronettes and then run people over with my Vespa.
4. The Warriors (1979)
This is a great mysogistic cult-classic that makes me want to wear stage makeup and beat people up with baseball bats.
5. Citizen Ruth (1996)
There's this great scene where Ruth, played by Laura Dern, watches an anti-abortion video that explains where aborted babies go, and she says, "I slept in a few dumpsters. Maybe I slept on some babies."
6. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
I don't have anything particularly clever to say about this one. It's just really, really good.
7. Crimes of the Heart (1986)
This movie has so much going for it (Keaton, Spacek, and Lange), and I really like movies where Southern women sit around and talk about shit.
8. Jesus' Son (1999)
Billy Crudup is great in this and it really makes me mad that he does such a great job. I'd rather hate him for leaving Mary Louise Parker for Monkey-Face Danes. Oh, and also for those damn credit card commercials.
9. Kicking and Screaming (1995)
"What I used to able to pass off as a bad summer could now potentially turn into a bad life."
10. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)
Ellen Burstyn is hot.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A very special, awkward Christmas season.

This morning I called all of the temps into the file room to address some random issues with the updating process. Since the process changes every few days and I'm always asked to "remind" the temps to do things, I figured it'd be easier than going around the office and telling them. None of the temps have email addresses, so I can't send passive-aggressive emails like my coworkers do. (Perhaps this can help me get over the passive aggression I seem to rely on.)

As I was reading off the things I had written on a post-it (it was a very brief meeting), I noticed that Katy was trying not to laugh. I figured she just found it amusing that I got stuck with the job of training and managing them even though it's not really my responsibility. Or perhaps she just found the idea of me in charge of anything was funny. It is, kind of, if you think about it.

When I finished my talk, I asked if there were any questions. Katy was the first to speak. "Did you stand there on purpose?" she asked.

I looked up and saw that I was standing under mistletoe.

This is why no one will ever respect me.

Coincidentally, I don't think mistletoe is very appropriate in the workplace.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Uh... why did I move here again?

This is what I found outside my window when I woke up this morning:

So I'll be honest: I was kind of excited about the snow. Woo-hoo! Snow! Happy December, y'all! A foot of snow today! Yeeaah!

I like snow in Chicago! Last year, when it snowed, it was actually warmer than it was the week before, and even though there was so much snow everywhere, our lives didn't completely shut down the way they do in Virginia. People understand how to live with snow here! Amazing!

And then I walked outside and realized that Chicago is FUCKING CRAZY.

Any intelligent Southerner (and yes, there are MANY) would know that when big, fat snowflakes are literally - literally - pelting you in the face, there is absolutely no reason to leave your house. Even employers understand that. So do presidents of universities.

In Chicago, however, little old ladies will crowd the bus stops. People will walk five blocks to the El train and WAIT FOREVER BECAUSE THE TRACKS ARE ON FIRE. When THE TRACKS are on FIRE, ONE SHOULD BE EXCUSED FROM COMMUTING TO WORK.

I guess I'm forgetting to mention the only good thing about this craziness: you can show up to work fifteen minutes later than usual and no one will say anything. You could live next door and still blame your tardiness on the commute.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Brushes with fame.

After two hours of standing in line, waiting patiently, and trying to think of something clever / interesting / non-douchey to say, this happened:

Amy: Hello!

Me: Hi.

Amy: Oh, "Tyler." You're my first Tyler today!

Me: Oh. That's pretty exciting.

Amy: "Oh. That's pretty exciting." You sure sound pretty excited.

Me: Well, I'm just trying to keep it cool. You know, I don't want to embarrass myself, just in case I ever see you again.

Amy (while making direct eye contact): Oh, we'll be seeing each other again. [Beat] Okay, thank you!

Me: Bye!

Amy: ...and good luck at the clinic!

Aaaaand scene.

If only I could actually speak in all CAPS.

It's a really bad sign when you've conceded that your day is shot at 8:48 AM.

I woke up at 7:30, and usually when I wake up fifteen minutes before I'm typically at work I panic and run around my room trying to get dressed and brush my teeth and fix the hair that is conveniently standing ON END because I fell asleep the night before while it was still wet. This morning, however, I took my time, because I am SO OVER IT. I even got downtown at 8:20 but decided to stop at a 7-11 to buy a Coke instead of getting to work earlier than expected.

When I got in, I noticed that my manager stuck one of the other temps at the laptop next to me. Yesterday, Katy and I got in trouble for TALKING. We were sitting AT OUR COMPUTERS and WORKING and having a conversation, but apparently that is NOT ALLOWED because I'm actually a child and, hell, I wouldn't be surprised if I get written up. This is why I hate my job. It's one thing to have benefits I don't really take advantage of, or the need to work EIGHT HOURS on this Saturday because I don't get paid enough for working my normal thirty-five hours. And sure, after my health insurance and taxes are deducted from my paycheck I only make less than twenty-thousand dollars a year. The REAL problem is that I'm treated like a child. I may be only twenty-three but I'm DEFINITELY a little more capable than a fifth-grader.

This bad mood of mine carried over from last night. I called my mother because, as usual, the best way to get over a bad mood is to project it onto loved ones, but I managed to keep from yelling at her without reason, which she appreciated. She also tried to trick me into accepting that my job was not 100% Suck, but I was having none of it (they can give me a week's paid vacation and all the free doughnuts they want, Mom, but it's still not winning me over).

Also, I had one of my haircut-inspired nervous breakdowns. Christina has diagnosed me with an unnamed disorder where I have the constant desire for / the constant fear of getting a haircut. This also clashes with my fear of calling strangers on the phone, so I'm basically what is known in the psychiatric community as "fucked."

My big plan for this evening was to buy two copies of Amy Sedaris's book (one for myself and one for my mom), I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, and take them to the Border's on Michigan avenue to have her sign them. Unfortunately, I have to pay rent tomorrow. After I write that lovely check, I will have sixty five dollars to last me until next Friday's paycheck. I'm reconsidering my purchases. Hell, I'm reconsidering CHRISTMAS. (I blame gin and tonics.)

All I want to do right now is go home, drink three bottles of wine, watch Reality Bites, and work on my resume. I would update my resume at work, but I feel that would probably not be appropriate. Also, I don't want to have a breakdown AT work, and that would surely ensue once I open up that Word document.

Luckily, I have my roommate, Christina "WHY DON'T I HAVE A BOYFRIEND?!" Boucher, who allows me to humor myself by listing off the top reasons why she does not have a boyfriend. Here's one: last night, she came home and shouted, "TYLER. Guess whose CLOTHES I TOUCHED TODAY?!" I guessed John Malkovich, thinking that made sense given her excitement and her employment at Steppenwolf, but she replied, "NO! DAVE PASQUESI!!!" There isn't even a context in which to put that in order for anyone to understand why that's impressive.

PS. I got an A in Southern Lit. I'd be excited about this if I gave a shit.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Army of Temps.

One good thing about having temps in the office is that I begin to notice some Temp Rivalry. It was the management's poor planning to have nine temps working on mail and applications and such, work which require computers to access the PeopleSoft system. Unfortunately, there are only seven computers available for the temps to work on, so every morning my manager walks around the office, trying to figure out which full-time staff members might not come in to work. The temps, eight of which come in at eight, have begun getting here earlier and earlier in order to snag the only open cubicle which allows some privacy from people walking by. (Every other computer sits on a table against a wall and everyone who walks by can see what that person is looking at - GMail? Shock!) Our new boss, who comes to our office about twice a week to tell us, "Good morning," and then promptly disappears for a few hours, managed to find two laptops for the temps to use. Of course, one of them would not connect to the internet. After working fine for two days, the second decided to jump ship, as well. Ah, if I only had the balls.

The other great thing is that the temps float in and out of our lives so much that no one in the office even knows who the hell is still working here. I mean, I know who still shows up, since I usually see them every morning when they come in. The newest batch of temps were told to come directly to me upon their arrival so I could train them and then set them on their merry little ways. They mistakenly assumed that I was their manager. One of them would even let me know when he left on his bathroom breaks, yet I avoided the awkward explanation that I was, in fact, just a half-notch above him on the office totem pole and that, frankly, I didn't care where he went.

Yesterday, I noticed one of the temps did not show up for work, and I assumed, "Hey, she must be sick." My manager and my boss didn't say anything about it to me, and I figured it didn't matter because I'm not a manager and really don't need / care to know that information. Then, at 2:30, my manager walked up to me and said, "Hey, [The Temp] didn't come in today!"

This morning, when I was complaining to another manager about general office grievances, I mentioned how the temp didn't come in and no one noticed until late in the afternoon. She paused and said, "Wait, who is that?"

We run a tight ship here.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Lazy-assed blog entry, this time with cranberry sauce!

Things I did on my Thanksgiving break:

1. Slept past seven!

2. Saw two good movies: Volver and Stranger than Fiction.

3. Ate stuffing. Stuffing!

4. Went to the huge cineplex on Thanksgiving night, sat in the second row, and had an emotional reaction to the trailer for Dreamgirls. Now, I'd seen the preview before, but there's something about seeing it twenty-feet tall after three bourbon and ginger ales that does something to you.*

5. Saw a homeless man get kicked in the face on the Red line.

6. Saw Andrew Bird, who put on an amazing show (that whistle! those violin skillz!). It was one of the better shows I've seen all year, if only because I was standing behind an army of tiny indie rock girls who were all under five feet, was not standing near any douchey fans, and was not the person to my left who fainted about three songs into Mr. Bird's set. Seriously, I heard a loud thunk and thought, "That sounds familiar..." Then I touched my finger to my nose and said, "Not it!"

7. Watched the entire first season of Soap.

8. Bought five new pairs of underwear, ensuring another week of not having to do laundry.

9. Downloaded "Not Gon' Cry" by Mary J. Blige and listened to it non-stop on my iPod.

10. Managed to stay stress-free for four whole days! WHO'S READY FOR WORK TOMORROW?!

*Christina also had an emotional reaction to the preview, but she was sober. She's just a musical theater nerd. And thinks Jamie Foxx is "fierce."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Sick day.

I woke up this morning with a grade-A sore throat. I had about a ten minute period of time before I absolutely had to get ready for work where I laid on my bed trying to decide if I should just call in or actually do the whole rushed preparation and commute thing. I picked the former. I mean, even though I still don't have any sick pay despite working there for six months, and not all of my overtime hours are actually overtime because we only work a thirty-five-hour work week, I figured that being miserable at home alone in bed would still be more tolerable than being miserable at my desk, punching ACT scores into the PeopleSoft system. I can be miserable at work any day!

Also, there's that added bonus of the three-day work week, which has now turned into a two-day work week. Sweet, duder!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Nicole hates me.

What happens when I try to spoon with Nicole?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Usually in this nightmare I'm not wearing any pants.

My manager informed me on Thursday that, in a meeting with two other office managers, our boss, and our soon-to-be boss, she volunteered me to give an "accelerated training" session for the temps. Basically, this would entail me writing up a training packet to do the job that I've already trained them to do. Oh, and a presentation in the conference room downstairs.

I was a little taken aback, since my history of "public speaking" usually involved "passing out in front of a projector." Well, I exaggerate. Usually I go through one of those spells and keep it together long enough to rush through my speech and run back to my seat before I fall over. (The best public speaking moment: I volunteered to compete in forensics senior year of high school. I chose to read "The Macbeth Murder Mystery" by James Thurber, this big production that involved accents. During the first of the three readings, I started to lose it. I remember reading the beginning and the ending of the story, but I have no idea what happened in the middle. I came in last place.)

I spent most of yesterday writing up the three-page handout on Microsoft Word, which, I'll admit, was kind of exciting since all I wanted was a job that required some writing skills. (Yes! I MADE IT!) When I finished, I went to show my boss and do a quick run-through to make sure I remembered anything. After she praised me for being "so thorough," I asked, "So, is anyone else coming to this thing?"

"Oh, yeah," she said. "Everyone will be there."



Then I started freaking out. I can handle "training" the temps over again, but suddenly I'm training my co-workers who have all been here for about four or five years. That's only potentially awkward. Also, that involves more public to speak in front of. Oh, and did I mention that the conference room is on the first floor and has a huge window facing State Street? Yeah, so the homeless men outside could also enjoy my performance.

I quickly emailed my mom, who responded, "See? They think you're smart enough to do this! I'm so proud of you!" Well, thanks Mom, but being (incredibly) intelligent is not going to keep me from wanting to die in a professional setting. When I told Christina last night, she had a similar reaction: "That's great!" she said. Uh, right.

In a perfect world, I would try to have some fun with this. Katy and John were trying to give me suggestions like having an animated Powerpoint or wearing a funny hat. I jokingly told one of the other managers that I could always force an icebreaker upon everyone, since the people in the office are notorious for not speaking to one another and not acknowledging the temps. Even though forcing awkwardness upon others for my own benefit sounds hilarious, it'd also involve extending the presentation. So, no. They aren't going to get anything fun; instead, they're going to get an hour of me shaking and speaking in a monotone voice. At least they might get a nap out of it.

I'll have to remember to buy some glucose tablets that morning.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Dear Mr. Pentagon: Don't worry, I'm not a terrorist.

What's more frightening: the fact that someone from The Pentagon checks my blog, or that someone from The Pentagon found my blog from the link in my FACEBOOK profile?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sic semper tyrannis

In about nine hours from now I will most likely be very drunk and, most importantly, finished with SoLit class. Now I just need to somehow make it through work, which is still progressively sucking more and more each day and making me want to die, and finish my stupid outline for the final, which I really can't give two shits about even though I do secretly want (and deserve, goddammit) an A in the class. My plan right now is to just write pages and pages of what I KNOW to be bullshit, simply because Dr. Douchebag lives in Opposite Town and thinks everything that is wrong is actually right.

See how well I can compromise my values? Corporate America, please hire me for a real job.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Welcome to Gross City.

Last night Christina and I went to Improv Olympic and there was this guy sitting in the row in front of me, slightly to my left. He was with his girlfriend (or perhaps his "flava of the week"), and was very affectionate with her.

I typically have a problem with public displays of affection, but sometimes you have to appreciate it when two people are so in love and shit that they can't help but make out all over the place. Last night, however, was not one of those times.

It was extremely uncomfortable, considering that the guy had his eyes open while kissing his ladyfriend. And also because he kept staring at me while kissing his ladyfriend.

Monday, November 13, 2006

This is what grad school is like.

Our Southern Literature final exam is on Thursday, and Dr. Douchebag gave us the assignment last week. It involves three-pages of schizophrenic babbling from which we are to somehow find a few questions to answer. Here are a few excerpts, and please remember this is word-for-word.

[From the first prompt, in which we are to compare The Ballad of the Sad Cafe and Paris Trout (which Christina was sad to learn is not about a fish who wears a beret).]
"For Ballad, focus upon Amelia Evans re Cousin Lymon, Marvin Macy (and town/cafe's customers). For Paris, focus upon Paris/Hanna vis a vis Harry Seagraves/wife, Lucy, and make social judgments, draw critical conclusions on similarities and CONTRASTS (whenever possible) re how the grotesque elements/conflicts embody the workings of Southern culture. Focus upon the characters (understanding that they impact us grotesquely) and upon how their interactions/clashes alter their worlds/identities (hence ours, too)."
Oh, Dr. D-bag. The mass underlining does less to accentuate the important ideas as much as it makes them lose their relevance. Also, I'm pretty sure you mean for us to contrast the relationships between Paris/Hannah with Carl Bonner and his wife. My two classmates, with whom I had a study session tonight, debated for about ten minutes whether or not Lucy, Seagraves's wife, was alive or dead until we found the one page in the entire novel on which she speaks. And you wonder why I think you're not reading these novels with us.

[From the second prompt, in which we must compare All the Kings Men and Delta Wedding.]
"...consider Jack's and Willie's macho-ism: male's go-it-alone, detached, alienated psyche seeking self-ness and adequate person-hood as a counter-force to stifling socially imposed identity. How to Jack's/Willie's macho stances account for R.P. Warren's 'WAS' [Side note: "Was" refers to a short story in Go Down, Moses, and in this sense Dr. D-bag is using it as shorthand for "a sense of the past."] as combat-able, over-come-able? [More briefly], why isn't Welty's 'WAS' over-come-able by George?"
Over-come-able?! I hope I get extra points if I use the following sentence as a part of my answer: "Willie Stark somewhat invents his past for his political gain, exaggerating his down-homey-ness." (And yes, I do plan on underlining that.) And "macho-ism?" Do you mean "machismo," perhaps? Who gave this man a Ph.D.?

[From the third prompt, concerning Go Down, Moses and Song of Solomon.]
"For IKE, be sure to discuss whether (and HOW) key characters facilitate or block his JOURNEY: CASS, Buck and Buddy [LEDGERS], Sam Fathers, the hunt for the BEAR. For MILKMAN, be sure to assess whether (and HOW) key characters facilitate or block his JOURNEY to a new IDENTITY: Ruth and Macon Dead (mom/dad), PILATE, HAGAR, Circe, and GUITAR (re Seven Days)."
I can only SUPPOSE that perhaps DR. DOUCHEBAG himself FORGETS that Ruth and Macon Dead, who HAPPEN to BE two OF the FIVE MAJOR CHARACTERS in the NOVEL, are MILKMAN'S mother and father and ASSUMED I might ALSO. If ONLY Toni MORRISON could HAVE made THAT more MEMORABLE. THANKS DR. D-BAG FOR BEING HERE FOR US.

It'll be all over in four days. I can't wait.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Poop is better for water-cooler chat.

Last night Lindsay had a housewarming party. I planned to go early, hang out for a while, not get drunk, and then make it home before midnight since I knew I'd have to get up at six to come into work today. Of course, I didn't leave Lakeview until ten, and Julia and I took two buses to get out to Wicker Park. Oh, and I had two glasses of wine before I left my apartment.

I also realized that I have some disability that prohibits me from "mingling" at parties. Instead, I cling to whomever I know and hang out with them. This was at its most extreme last night, when Kristin, Julia, and I sat in the kitchen, away from ninety-percent of the party, and talked about bowel movements, unconsciously making sure that anyone within earshot would avoid us at all costs. And when Lindsay decided to make us mingle, we just all ended up in her room talking (though not about BMs).

I managed to not get too drunk, so I can check that one off the list. I was tipsy enough that when Kristin drove us home I sang and car-danced to "You Gotta Be" by Desiree (song is tiiite).

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Fifteen-minute harp solos are not always the best idea.

Last night Julia and I went to see Joanna Newsom. I was pretty excited about going because I think Joanna Newsom is great and weird and expected some bitchin' harp playing. I'll admit I was a little bummed that the K-Fed concert at the House of Blues turned out to be free. If I didn't already have a ticket to Joanna Newsom I would have definitely gone for at least three songs. I was also really aggravated that no one would go for me. Honestly, what would you have to lose?

Anyway, we got to Logan Square Auditorium as the opener was performing. His name was Bobby Birdman and sounded about as exciting as his dumb name. Granted, I have a low tolerance for opening acts that consist of one guy playing guitar and singing songs I've never heard (*cough*StephenMalkmus*cough*), but I mean, really. I didn't care. Luckily, we got there twenty minutes late and only got to hear BoBird's last song, which is like the Opening Act Best Case Scenario. They should only ever play for thirty minutes.

While standing around, waiting for Joanna Newsom to come out, I noticed how shitty the venue was. It was basically a high school auditorium with a portable metal stage at one end that was raised only about four feet from the floor. When Joanna came out and sat at the back of the stage with a huge fucking harp straddled between her legs, I realized that both the venue and the stage set-up made absolutely no sense, since only the people two feet from the stage could see her.

She opened the set with two songs from her first album, "Bridges and Balloons" and "The Book of Right-On," which are both really, really good. And I was excited for the old stuff. Julia asked me before the show if I thought she would play mostly songs from her new album and I said, "I really hope not." If you're not in the know, her new album, Ys, is just five songs. Five long songs. Surely she wouldn't play mostly stuff from her new album.

And then, after her second song, she said, "I'm going to play this traditional Scottish song, and then my band's going to join me and we're going to play my new album. From start to finish!"

Oh. Fuck.

To make a long story short, I loved/hated the concert. After thirty minutes and having only heard three of her songs (I actually lost count, convinced that the third song was actually her fourth, and then I was pissed when she played the fifth), I was getting very antsy and bored. And then she'd keep singing and I'd think, "This is really pretty." And then after the fourteenth verse I'd want to kill myself all over again. (At one point, I regretted not bring a pen and a pad of paper with me, since I began making mental to-do lists.)

And of course I was standing next to the most obnoxious guy in the venue. Of course. It always happens. This guy decided to remove his leather sandals (offense number one) (they had those STRAPS for your BIG TOES) and dance around. It was very subtle crazy dancing, but he was dancing to harp music. Very slow, soft harp music. If it was an electric harp I could understand, but, No. Don't dance like an asshole to Joanna Newsom.

The set ended and she received the most prompt ovation I've ever seen. I'm not sure if people really thought it was that great, or if they were just relieved that the dude to her right finally stopped his three-minute SAW solo. She came out and played one song from the first album as an encore, but confessed that her voice was "starting to go" and she still had to play a later show.

It was a good show, I guess, but it was rather had to stand there and listen to a harpist play songs that lasted fifteen minutes at a time. I felt like I was in a night class or something and kept wanting a break in between the songs to stretch and grab some snacks.

In a slightly unrelated note, we saw this transexual on the Belmont bus on the way home from the show, and when she got up to get off the bus, she smacked Julia in the face with a plastic bag filled with something, possibly tranny supplies. It was probably the most entertaining things I've seen in my entire life. I love the trannies!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

All I wanna do is do what I wanna do and all I wanna do is blog from work.

I'm stressed. I'm exhausted. I want to write a blog but I can't think of one thing to write about, so you're gonna get this.

1. I forgot to get my absentee ballot so I couldn't vote. At least (hopefully) George Allen has lost (we have to wait on the recount). The Board of Supervisors election back in Westmo' has resulted in the election of our county's former district attorney, who was kicked out of office and disbarred when he was caught at the Washington and Lee Motel in Montross buying cocaine and arranging plea bargains and acquittals. And he's a Democrat. See? Stupidity transcends party lines.

2. Work sucks my balls so hard and I'm not going to write about it because I'd go on for weeks.

3. Julia and I are seeing Joanna Newsom tonight. Thank God, something fun.

4. My SoLit paper is due tomorrow. It has to be no longer than ten pages, which is easy. The problem is that I only have two pages. And I'm going to a show tonight. And my subject, "Shadrach" by William Styron, hasn't been written about before in an academic sense, so there are absolutely no sources for my paper. I'm relying on my own brilliance and The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. (Yes. I'm writing a research paper and using an encyclopedia as a source. I feel like I'm in middle school.)

5. Britney's back, y'all.

6. My next assignment for "The Essay" involves writing a three-page personal essay about a certain dish that I just love. Unfortunately, I don't eat most things because I have issues. Last night, Dr. Asshat asked us, "Does anyone just not like food?" Of course I raised my hand and confessed, "I'm the pickiest eater anyone's ever met." When someone tried to call me on that (Oh, please, girl. You don't eat macaroni and cheese? That's Busch league.), I played the always reliable "I've never eaten an orange" card and that shut people up for about eight seconds. Then my professor tried to make a joke about how crystal meth is only bad the first couple times you try it and then you develop a taste for it. His online ratings mention his "tasteless" jokes, but I don't find them inappropriate as much as I find them annoying. It's not that they're tasteless, it's just that you can only hear so many Schiavo or munchies jokes before they lose their relevance.

7. This week in Too Much Information: last night the Dude Who Formally Looked Like the Front-Half of a Satyr asked me if I "refused the milk as a baby." Taking his chance to continued to Inappropriateness, Dr. Asshat said, "What, are you thinking about writing about breast milk?!" Ex-Satyr said, "Well, I've had lot of field experience."

8. We got two more temps yesterday, which brings the Temp Total to eleven. Check back tomorrow for a link to my new blog, "Temp Overload."

Friday, November 03, 2006


I've decided that the fact that I hate my life only forty percent of the time must be a sign of maturity.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

William Styron: 1925 - 2006

William Styron was my hero: he was born and raised in the Tidewater, was probably the best novelist to come out of Virginia, and is the author of my favorite passage in American literature, which is very dear to my heart:
There were wide barren fields now, a patch of river to the south, the Rappahannock; this was territory that they knew, where one lane, one house or barn, gliding soundlessly past the car's vaultlike silence, only announced another house or lane or barn a few yards farther on, each more familiar as they drew closer to home. This was the Northern Neck, a land of prim pastoral fences, virgin timber, grazing sheep and Anglo-Saxons: these, the last, spoke in slumbrous Elizabethan accents, rose at dawn, went to bed at dusk, and maintained, with Calvinist passion, their traditional intolerance of evil. Most were Presbyterians and Baptists, many were Episcopalians, and all prayed and hunted quail with equal fervor and died healthily of heart failure at an advanced age; destiny had given them a peaceful and unvanquished land to live in, free of railroads and big-city ways and the meretricious lures of the flesh, and when they died they died, for the most part, in contentment, shriven of their moderate, parochial sins. They were bounded by two rivers and the sky, and were as chary of the hinterland as of the deepest heart of Africa. A sturdy and honest curiosity filled their minds, provided the objects of such were not exotic or from the North, and the smell of sea filled their days; exacting in all matters, moral but never harsh, they lived in harmony with nature and called themselves the last Americans.

Please, do yourself a favor and go out and buy a copy of Lie Down in Darkness. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Off the charts!


Last night, in The Essay:

The Satyr Guy showed up without a beard. (I was hoping for a toga at minimum, but the only costume-y thing I got was a fedora, perhaps a nod to Jack Abramoff? I already know he's very liberal, so I was hoping it was ironic, even though he's probably just some d-bag who wears fedoras.) Dr. Asshat (née Dr. Less Crazy) asked him if he shaved for Halloween, and, I swear to God, this is how he answered:

"No... I blew a .065 even though the legal limit is .008. I 'failed' one of the 'field sobriety' tests because it was really cold and I was wearing sandals and I have really bad depth perception so they booked me anyway. I have to go to court tomorrow so I thought this would look better."

[Note to Satyr: perhaps not speaking would be your best defense.]

Dr. Asshat then took the opportunity to proclaim all cops are crooked and racist and admitted that the only time he was arrested was "for a free speech thing" when he called a cop a pig.

THEN (because the douchebaggery can't just end there), Dr. AH decides that since we were reading H. L. Mencken for class, he'd share some passages from "The Sahara of the Bozart," which is the essay where Mencken calls the south a desert of culture and literary merit. (This is also the essay that sparked the Southern Renaissance in literature, by the way). Dr. AH is, in fact, from Richmond (we've already established our Tidewater Virginia roots), so I was hoping there'd be a Southerner at DePaul on my side. Ha! What an idea!

Instead he says to me, "Tyler, do you know what a 'cracker' is?"


Dr. AH told the rest of the class that he grew up in Virginia but would never live there again because "the place has been taken over by crackers." He also loves driving back to visit because Lincoln is on his license plates. (For those of you who aren't aware, people in Illinois get big boners over Lincoln since he was, apparently, the only really good thing to come out of the state until Ditka and Jordan.)

Two for two, y'all. Two for two.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

An Open Letter to Robert Louis Stevenson, or: Fuck It, I'm at least going to enjoy this bullshit.

Here's is how I went with my writing assignment:

It is somewhat difficult, Mr. Stevenson, for me to read your essay, “On Marriage,” and find ideas to which I can relate, considering I’m very much not married. While I’m not presently so keen on settling down and entering into matrimony, I feel that you are perhaps too harsh on the institution.

You begin your essay with an acknowledgement of the benefits of marriage. You write, “[I]t offers to bury forever many aching preoccupations; it is to afford us unfailing and familiar company through life; it opens up a smiling prospect of the blest and passive kind of love, rather than the blessing and active; it is approached not only through the delights of courtship, but by a public performance and repeated legal signatures." Yet immediately following this long passage that seemingly applauds marriage, you confess, “And yet there is probably no other act in a man’s life so hot-headed and foolhardy as this one of marriage.” I will admit that placing your thesis directly after its antecedent makes your persuasive rhetoric effective and very amusing. I think, Mr. Stevenson, that if you were alive to see what marriage has become in modern times, you might be more admittedly open to the institution.

Feminism, Mr. Stevenson, is an institution in itself these days, and the philosophy has certainly evolved since you published your essay. You write, “What! you have had but one life to manage, and have failed so strangely, and now can see nothing wiser than to conjoin with it the management of some one else’s?” I’m afraid that if such a sentence were published in my time, the author’s reputation would feel quite a blow. (We have something called “The Internet,” a concept that would take far too long to explain, that would be a key devise in the feminist-led backlash against you.) Regardless of the public’s opinion of what could be called a misogynist point of view, gender roles have had an extreme progression, which is something you must hear about. It is absolutely normal these days for both a husband and wife to work to support the family unit; in most cases, both must work in order to make enough money to life comfortably. The working woman is a staple of the corporate world, even reaching cultural heights in literature, theatre, and film (a twentieth century marvel that I’m sure you would enjoy immensely). There are several cases where the husband may stay at home, supported by his wife’s wages. Once you overcame what you might find emasculating, you’d find that feminism has, in fact, been favorable for a few men, as well.

The courtship process leading into marriage has also changed greatly since your time. You write, “Times are changed with him who marries; there are no more by-path meadows, where you may innocently linger, but the road lies long and straight and dusty to the grave." It seems like your concern that men rashly end their most productive years too soon, giving up all of their freedom for their wives. Well, sir, you’d be happy to find that in my time, it is generally acceptable for people to avoid marriage well into their thirties. This makes for a much more open period of time where men and women and experiment with each other in hopes to find the perfect mate. The courtship rituals have become exciting routines that I am sure you would find fairly amusing; the neuroses among the single thirtysomethings make for great entertainment.

A third pessimistic view of marriage that you feature in your essay involved the burden of having an extra witness to one’s idiosyncrasies and foibles. “You have wilfully introduced a witness into your life, the scene of these defeats, and can no longer close the mind’s eye upon uncomely passages, but must stand up straight and put a name upon your actions. And your witness is not only the judge, but the victim of your sins; not only can she condemn you to the sharpest penalties, but she must herself share feelingly in their endurance.” I think you’d find glee, however, in how public the institution of marriage has become, especially in celebrity culture. The divorce rate is much higher than in your time – divorces are no longer stigmatic and negative (even the royals are having them!) Celebrity marriages and (the mostly likely eventual) divorces have become a fundamental part of our cultural entertainment. There is no reason to worry yourself on how you behave in front of your wife. Just be glad that in your time, those behaviors were not featured on the front pages of your trusted newspapers!

The institution of marriage has gone through a major change since the publication of your essay, and it will no doubt evolve years after I finish writing mine. I think that if you were alive today, Mr. Stevenson, you would have a softer opinion of marriage. It seems that the institution was quite stodgy and dull in your day, and that you’d find today’s practices much more lively and enjoyable. You would not have to worry about making the wrong choice in marrying someone with whom you were incompatible; a man of your stature and wealth would have no problem obtaining a divorce and having the opportunity to try it all over again until you got it right.

Response paper assignment number six.

True story.

Robert Louis Stevenson's essay "On Marriage" offers a rather idiosyncratic, and some would say pessimistic, view of marriage. In a well-organized counter-essay, challenge two or three points he makes about marriage and try to persuade him to reconsider your position. Address him as "Mr. Stevenson" and "you" throughout your essay, and make sure you include at least some first-person usage when you argue your view of marriage. This assignment does not require you to offer a defense or statement of support for marriage but rather to present an opposing viewpoint of the institution of matrimony.

I'm in the dumbest grad school ever.

Monday, October 30, 2006

This is really about nothing.

Okay. I might be slightly tipsy from one glass of wine (the first in what seems like years), and I might be watching Prison Break with Nicole (which I'm sure will turn out to be the worst hour of television I've seen in years), and I might be eating several of those long, skinny garlic breadsticks and contemplating eating the half-loaf of cibatta bread I have in the cabinet because MMMM CARBS. So?

I just wrote about two paragraphs about being frustrated about work, but I realize that I shouldn't really write about work and bore people with that crap. And also I suddenly got wrapped up in HOW BAD THIS SHOW IS. SERIOUSLY. IT'S CALLED PRISON BREAK AND THEY'VE ALREADY BROKEN OUT. I DON'T GET IT.

I have a paper to write. This isn't lookin' good.

That suit could use more gingham.

For those who are curious (read: pop culture retards) (haha! sike! luv yaz!), this is who I was for Halloween:

Richard Dawson: actor, host of Family Feud, Match Game panelist, sex machine.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Halloween Blues.

I'm going to a Halloween / Birthday party tomorrow night and I have absolutely no idea what to wear as a costume. This is rather depressing since I used to get really excited about Halloween. (Well, to be honest there were only two Halloweens I ever got excited about, but that was because other people were more excited than me and influenced my own excitement.)

After college, I've discovered that Halloween is kind of boring. It's like that period in high school when you're over your town's age limit for trick or treating and instead you have to hang out on the front stoop with your mother and her best friend, giving out Snickers and Twix bars to your neighbors' children because you didn't make any plans because you live in a town of three-hundred people and everyone in your high school is too busy getting stoned and/or pregnant, and you still don't have a driver's license so you can't go anywhere, and your mother is being a BITCH and won't let you watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show on VH1 (and she doesn't even care that it's EDITED FOR TELEVISION and you can't even see nipples because they're BLURRED OUT). The only difference is now I have a driver's license (but no car), I'm totally over The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and I can watch skanky girls walk around wearing Naughty Nurse and Slutty Witch costumes in forty-degree weather.

But anyway, I need a costume for this party and here are my options:

1. Lumberjack
This is the easiest since I have the clothes for it (flannel shirt, puffy down vest, dark jeans, huge utility boots) and a fake mustache. It's so lame, though, and at least two people have said, "Isn't your body type a little ill-fitting for 'lumberjack?'" Okay, okay. I'll be a lumberjack's kid brother.

2. Jeffrey Sebelia
This would be great if I had the energy to dye/spray my hair black and get someone to scribble on my neck with a Sharpie. I'd also have to find some punkier clothes.

3. Laura Bennett
Several people have told me I should be Laura Bennett, and it could work. All I'd need is red lipstick, a sequined dress, and a pillow for a baby bump. While this would, I admit, be hilarious, it'd be too draggy. I've already done Charles Nelson Reilly and Corky St. Clair from Waiting for Guffman, so it's time to butch it up this Halloween.

4. Sid Vicious
I've always wanted to be Sid Vicious because I'm obsessed with Sid and Nancy. It's essentially the same costume as Jeffrey Sebelia, only spikier hair and even less showering.

5. Flavor Flav
God. If only blackface wasn't offensive.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I'll admit it: I'm probably a six.

When I got home from class, Christina (AKA "That's So Raven") alerted me to this anonymous comment that an apparent fan left on yesterday's post:

You already wrote about how horrible it is train people.
Maybe you do need more time to devote to blogging, eating, and living.
Do something interesting soon because we adore you. Don't become last week's blog.

I would be offended, but he/she adores me! And assumes others do as well! Thanks, Anonymous. I needed that.

In a non-related story, I had my writing class tonight, which is getting better since I found out I got a 97 on my exam and an A on my last paper. Also, The Guy Who Looks Like the Front-Half of a Satyr had another delightfully d-bag episode.

My professor teaches a section of the class in Naperville, and some girl in that class came to our section's meeting since she skipped the class last night. She had the misfortune of sitting in Satyr's seat, and when he walked in and sat down next to her he was obviously a little ill-at-ease. (And I've been called "slightly-autistic" twice this week.) When the two girls who normally sit next to the Satyr sat down and mentioned something about being "alright with change," Naperville girl said, "Oh, I'm sorry... Am I sitting in someone's seat? I can move..."

The Satyr said, "Yeeeeah. Do you mind?"

D-bag level: 11.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Quick! I only have an hour to eat lunch, write a blog post, check MySpace, and read Gawker!

Today we got new temps in the office. A whopping eight new people. Which brings the temp total to nine. I think it's a little temp overload (new blog idea: Too Much Temp), but I'm just a service clerk and only do what I'm told.

The downside to new people in the office is that I usually have to train them to do my job, which sucks because I sit there while they do the work (you know how boring it is to watch other people play video games? multiply the boring factor by a thousand). I also give horrible directions and I feel that I can't appropriately teach anyone anything.

I'm also eating lunch at my desk today so I can actually fuck around online, since I don't get to do that during work since someone is shadowing my moves. I miss refreshing the Gawker homepage. It really hurts.

I was also going to use my time today to write the two papers that are due tomorrow. Whoops.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Match Made in Heaven.

Overheard on the elevator:

Girl With Ugg Boots #1: "...So he's really great. Like, he likes all of the same places I do, and, I mean, how often does that happen?"
Girl With Ugg Boots #2: "Oh, I know! Wow, you're lucky!"
Girl With Ugg Boots #1: "I know! And he drives an Audi, too!"
Girl With Ugg Boots #2: "Tee hee - it's like His 'n' Hers!"

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Pop quiz!

How did I embarrass myself at the Lily Allen concert last night?

A. I got really drunk and was dancing so much that I forgot to walk to the bathroom and instead peed my pants.
B. I got into a fight with the bartender over the overpriced PBRs.
C. I forgot to eat dinner and went through a dizzy spell in the middle of Lily Allen's set and then woke up when strangers and bouncers carried me to the back of the club.

The answer, folks, is C, though I would think that A would be a much less embarrassing story (I mean, sometimes you've just got to dance).

I don't know what happened. I wasn't drunk, and I had had food yesterday, I just forgot to eat dinner. I was standing next to the sound booth several feet back from the stage and was enjoying the show, and all of a sudden I got very sweaty and my knees felt funny. Then I had this feeling that I was at home in bed, asleep and dreaming. And then I was being carried out of the bar, and had to stop them to let me grab my coat from the coat check. And it was awful, not because my head hurt (and still does) or that I scraped my knees, but rather because they probably just thought I was a drunk diabetic / liability and needed to get me the hell out of there. After I drank some water I felt a little bit better, and I stood in the back next to the merch table while Lily Allen started her last song, but I realized that everyone was just staring at me and waiting for me to topple over, so I walked out to catch a cab.

It was not my finest moment.

I called my boss last night and left a message saying that I was skipping work today, and I'm glad I did because I still feel weird and sore. I'm looking forward to sitting down and eating all day.

UPDATE: Here's another pop quiz! What did my mom say when I told her this story over the phone?

A. Did you inject anything before the concert?
B. Well, it was your fault so it's understandable why you feel embarrassed.
C. You're not going to be one of those people I see on TV who get caught soliticing thirteen-year-old girls on the Internet, are you?

And the answer: all of the above. I don't know how pedophilia fits in, either, but she said it.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Slow news day.

I have nothing interesting to report. Coincidentally, neither does

Friday, October 13, 2006

To Sir, with Love.

Last night in class Dr. Crazy announced that he had a Master's in Theatre from the University of Michigan, and then performed a dramatic reading of a scene from "The Bear." His idea of a "dramatic reading," however, involves reading a piece of a book aloud and inserting his own words to enhance the audience's experience. Because Faulkner was so fucking dumb, you know, leaving all of that shit out. Thanks, Crazy.

Then we watched a scene from the original film version of All the King's Men - "The scene that made Broderick Crawford famous," (which explains why I hear that name pop up all the time on the street. "Yo, did you see Broderick Crawford in that movie last night? That shit was tiiiite!") - because we can't read a book and not watch the film version. What are we, graduate students? After the movie, Dr. Crazy performed another "dramatic reading" of a Robert Penn Warren poem, stopping every three words to give us his analysis. I'm glad he did, though, because we surely can't explicate a poem. What are we, graduate students? Then we listened to a Peggy Lee song, which Crazy told us represented Jack Burden's (the protagonist of All the King's Men) life philosophy. And I'll admit: it really made me think.

And then we took the quiz. Usually Doc hands out the quiz and we write our answers on our own papers, then return everything back to him. Last night, however, he said to us, "Go ahead and keep the quiz questions. When you grow up and become teachers and teach this amazing book, you can use this quiz. You should thank me for the freebie."

Thank you. I'm totally writing something positive on your evaluation.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Dear Chicago,


This is too much.

My apartment building hasn't turned on our heat yet. If it's too early for heat, it's definitely too early for snow.

If I was in Virginia right now I'd at least be happy that my class would be cancelled tonight. We shut down the state for a few inches.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

What I used to be able to pass off as a bad summer has now potentially turned into a bad life.

Last night my train headed for The Land Of The Emotionally Mature took a sudden detour and stopped at I'm Going To Stand Outside My Apartment Building And Yell At My Mother Over The Phone About How My Life Is Miserable Junction. And I'll tell you one thing: it's not a cute little town.

I attempted to talk to Dr. Less Crazy before class yesterday in hopes to convince him that despite my shitty papers (which, by that point, I still hadn't gotten back and was still only assuming sucked big ol' balls), I'm actually smart! (I promise! Want to talk about Faulkner? I know you want to talk about Faulkner!) I told him that I was concerned about my performance in the class based on how I thought my papers were, and I hoped he'd give me some reassuring idea that I can come out of this class with a good grade.

Instead, he said, "Well, I haven't finished grading them, so why don't we just assume you did fine. And if you didn't, you can come back and talk to me."

And then he goes, "Is this your first quarter in graduate school?" That didn't particularly reassure me, since I was convinced that he was thinking the entire time about how I was a dumbass.

So I left his office just as frustrated as I was five minutes earlier. Then I had to go take a midterm for him, which I think I did well on, but who knows what he wants; he's not really giving me direction.

When I turned in my exam, he fished through the stack of papers to find my quizzes and paper. He kept flipping through them and then stopped; he looked up at me and squinted. "You know, I barely recognize you when you're wearing your glasses." I didn't have a response, since I ALWAYS WEAR MY GLASSES and it made me realize that he has no fucking clue who I am and, therefore, couldn't give two shits about how I do in the class. (This is the professor who is also from Virginia, who talked to me two weeks prior about how beautiful Saluda is (my response: "Isn't that where the regional jail is?") and how he used to eat a lot of oysters when he was a kid.)

After seeing my slightly below-average grade on the paper, I called my mom. Because, for some reason, I call my mom when I just can't take whatever life crisis I'm going through anymore, and usually a fight over something that neither of us have control over helps me get over it. And of course that's what happened. It'd been a while since I'd had to call her like that, and I ended up having a sort of Movie of the Week monologue about school, my job, my social life, my paranoia that nobody likes me, my depressing paycheck, and my homesickness. This all took place, by the way, in front of my apartment building, half a block from a major public boulevard, so I'm sure someone in my neighborhood sat at a window listening to "that crazy guy lose his shit outside."

I wish Judd Hirsch was here to help me figure things out. Do I have to go Lake Forest to find him?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Some people exist for the sole purpose of making you feel better about your own social ineptitude.

There's this dude in my class who I call The Satyr Guy because he has a big beard that makes him look like the front-half of a satyr. And I've noticed that he has this problem where he talks in the same soft, monotone voice when he's both saying something not-funny under his breath and when he's addressing the entire class.

Tonight our professor came in and said, "Hey, is there anything new about Mark Foley?" And when no one offered anything, The Satyr Guy said, "North Korea tested a nuke."

And then there was awkward silence number one.

Then our professor, who recently got over his shingles, started talking about what he did to get over the pain. And it was obviously a joke. Obviously. Because he said, "I discovered if you crush up vicodin, mix it with Sudafed, and then smoke it, you won't feel a thing!"

And replied The Satyr Guy: "Smoking vicodin is really dangerous."

Awkward silence number two. Followed by the loud laugh-exhale of the girl next to me.

Finally, our professor said to the girl in front of him, "Don't worry, shingles isn't the kind of herpes that's contagious." Apparently The Satyr Guy said something that I didn't make out, and the professor said, "What did you say about herpes?"

"Oh. Just that I always think about how one in six Americans herpes. I mean, why do you think they show those advertisements during prime time?"

Awkward silence number three, where everyone starts looking around and counting how many people showed up for class tonight.

At least now no one will remember last week's herpes comment.

Monday, October 09, 2006

I can't help it. I'm a machine.

I just received this email from Megan:
I've made a decision. You're the only boy I'm okay with dancing with. All other boys dance like toddlers with no rhythm. And frankly, that's embarassing to watch.

I'll remember this the next time I try to "get low" and instead "fall on my ass."

Friday, October 06, 2006

Getting my ducks in a row.

While sitting at work yesterday and desperately trying to decide what to do with my life, I came up with a five-part plan. It was rather rash, but I think it's pretty good so far. This is mostly for my own reference, but I figured I could jazz it up with my hilarious C0ates wit for entertainment purposes.

Phase One: Complete Fall 2006 quarter with As.
This might be tricky, since Southern Lit is so fucking terrible and I'm coming closer and closer to the edge of sanity. I see myself three weeks from now finally snapping at Dr. Crazy, screaming about how he's a complete idiot who obviously is not even taking the time to read the books along with us and is instead relying on his fuzzy memory and the coursepack readings. And then I'll tell him that he doesn't know anything about Faulkner, which was apparent last night when he decided to give us a synopsis of every major Faulkner novel. Since I'd read all of the books he described just two years ago(except for The Hamlet, which came at the end of Dr. Cash's Faulkner class and about three books after I had had Too Much Faulkner (hmm...great name for a blog!)), it was painful to hear him make up major plot points. (For example, his synopsis of Sartoris was actually a summary of a section of "An Odor of Verbena," which is found in an entirely different book. He also continually describes Sanctuary as "the porn novel.") Also, the writing class is weird, and I'm pretty sure that the first two papers I turned in were horrible, horrible, horrible. I need to make amends with Dr. Less Crazy so I do better next time.

Phase Two: Electric Boogaloo, with French!
Since most MA programs require a foreign language, it makes more sense to start taking one now while it's free. I was originally going to take Spanish since it's easier and I actually have people here whose first language is Spanish, but DePaul doesn't offer the first Spanish class until next fall. So I'm going to take French again. This, for some reason, made my mother very angry when I told her yesterday. "Why would you waste your free tuition on another language? And WHAT SCHOOLS require a foreign language for an ENGLISH degree?" Part of me wonders what scholastic universe she lives in, but then I remembered she was a math major and now programs computers for submarines and doesn't actually understand the whole concept of humanities. Still, I think she was being pretty stupid for getting mad that I'm taking French, as if I couldn't get enough of it the last time and just need to do it all over again for fun.

Phase Three: GRE Test Extravaganza!
I have a book about the GRE Subject Test in Literature, and my favorite part is where it describes the test as "the worst cocktail party you'll ever attend." Imagine going to your professor's house and trying to impress everyone by convincing them you've read everything that Milton, Dante, Shakespeare, Joyce, and Woolf published. Yeah. So I have to study. Hard. The test is only offered three times a year, so I'm hoping to take it in April and, if I do poorly, I can take it again in November. Also, it's one hundred and thirty dollars, so I have to save up for it. I don't think I'll be buying a new iPod anytime soon, especially since I also have to take the general GRE exam again.

Phase Four: Stalk former professors.
I need three letters of recommendation. Dr. Cash will most certainly write one, but I need to get back into contact with two other professors. I'm trying to figure out to go about this without being weird and awkward. Do I just email them out of the blue two years after I graduated from undergrad? Should I email them now and form fake-email friendships with them? I don't know the rules here. It's possible (though unlikely) that I can finish the writing course with such flair that I could get one from Dr. Less Crazy, which would be good since he'd be familiar with my graduate-level work. This part won't happen for a while, so I have time to figure it out.

Phase Five: Become a hypocrite, apply to UVA for Fall '08.
Yesterday I was listening to all of this music from sophomore year, stuff like Bright Eyes and Azure Ray and Wilco, etc., and I kept remembering driving from Harrisonburg to Charlottesville and how much I enjoyed those trips because of the scenery and the change of location and all that jazz. And I realized something: I'm so very homesick these days, and there's stuff going on at home that I feel like I need to be a part of and it hurts that I can't be there. Also, whenever I have a life-crisis here in Chicago, which is often, I can't figure out how to calm myself down. It's October, it's getting colder, I'm slipping into my annual winter depression, and it sucks because Chicago in October isn't very pretty. I need to be in the mountains right now. I need to see some color. I need autumnal foliage. I need to drive down 81 and 64, chain-smoking three-dollar packs of Camel lights. That's how I chill out.

It makes sense that I apply to UVA, in a way. The school that features, in some way, things I love (strong connection with history, rampant intellectualism, dichotomy of high- and low-brow culture) and hate (mid-Atlantic intellectual snobbery, small mountain town) about the South. (My favorite episode in Lie Down in Darkness, which is in my top five novels ever and is highly recommended, the main character drunkenly stumbles through the grounds, weaving through the KA house and the homecoming football game, the entire time absent-mindedly clutching a Confederate flag. God, it’s good.) Luckily, Charlottesville is a great town; it’s an hour from Harrisonburg, two from DC, and two and a half from Montross. And UVA’s a good school, obviously, and I can deal with the negative aspects of it because, honestly, any school I’m interested in is going to have the same undergraduate Greek- and athletic-based culture, so I’m not going to exclude UVA because of that. And it’s funny – I grew up pretty anti-UVA thanks to my family, but when I told my mother I was planning to apply there, she seemed okay with it. (Free French classes in Chicago = horrible idea. Paying for graduate school at a college she hates that happens to be in the same state = absolutely fine.)

I have no idea if I can actually get into UVA, but I think I have a shot if I do well on the GREs. And I actually do want it, and I think it’ll make me moderately happy. The idea already does, so that’s a good sign.