Monday, October 5, 2009

Super, super, superstar!

A few days shy of New Years Eve 08, I found myself in a conversation with a handsomely bearded fellow. The conversation was sparked upon mention of a popular Electric Six song. I made a joke about how the two of us would go to see Electric Six perform at a local, rundown bar in 10 years …where they would without a doubt play their one big hit. This brought on a laugh and a promise that the first round would be on him.

Ten months later, I was home, glancing through the latest Chicago Reader, next to my handsomely bearded husband.

Me: “Guess who is playing on December 31st …New Years’ Eve?”
Brian: “Hmm …Who?”
Me: “Electric Six.”
Brian: “Really? Where?”
Me: “Double Door …It’ll be our 1 year anniversary ...Granted 9 years early.”

This brought on a laugh …And he still owes me that first round.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What My Husband Does to Make Me Smile

Goofy 'stache: Check!
Silly wig: Check!
Leather jacket w/ chest hair: Check!
Kept this look for me the entire day: Check!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Memo From the Desk of Me

"Writing is like pulling teeth. Out of my dick"

-David Rakoff (from Don't Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I'm A Slugger, Dottie

Last night, while on the phone with Brian, I teased that I will soon write a book titled “Long Distance Marriage: Things I Find Myself Doing While My Husband Is Away,” which would include my newest past time: hitting balls.

With the season of nice weather seemingly here to stay, my friend Mike and I have added a spin on our bi-weekly burrito meet-ups: the batting cages, located just on the outskirts of the city. Mike has been going for years and swears that the small park has changed little since the 70s. Thirteen hits per dollar token and you get to choose what you want to hit: softball, slow, medium and fast.

I had my apprehensions, at first. I haven’t had a bat in my hand since I was a first grade tee ball player, for one season. Contrary to popular (dis)belief, I was a shy child and I often chickened out or refused to participate in any activity that included “all-eyes-on-me” attention. I hated when my grade school teachers would pick students at random. I would sit at my desk, heart pounding in my eardrums, praying silently to the Gods of “do-not-pick-me“. Around the same time, my Mother, in efforts to break me out of my shell signed me up for dance classes. She finally allowed me to quit when I was 12 yrs old and had developed a nervous/anxiety induced skin rash (which has since gone away, thank you very much).

So with my apprehension mixed with my established adult go-to attitude, I entered the batting cages in front of a handful of people … And you know what? Come to find out I’m quite the slugger. My generally pacifist nature aside, I enjoy hitting things with a bat.

After my first time, I left with the triumphant feeling that I had somehow come to terms with my shy past. The slate felt wiped clean of all of those activities that I talked myself out of as a child, the misadventures, bridges never crossed and both skin creams and anti-acids (respectfully).

After I arrived home, I called my husband and explained with great enthusiasm and hand gestures left unseen my newfound aptness with a baseball bat. Brian laughed and his voice took the tone of “that’s the goofy broad I married” (he would then switch to a concerned tone or “please do not harm my goofy broad’s melon” after I told him that I don’t wear a helmet. “Honey, my hair is helmet enough!”). **

Tuesday evening, as Mike and loaded up on tokens and took turns choosing what we wanted to hit amongst the other batter ups, I took notice of a woman who appeared to be on a first date. She seemed nervous and held her bat as though it were a golf club, while her date shouted “Bend your knees!” and “Watch the ball!”. She giggled warily and continued to swing without much might. As she walked out of the cage and I tightened my batting gloves, I offered a bit of advice: “I just think of my bills whenever I take a swing.”

…Of course, the woman gave me a dirty look but I’d like to think that she will heed my advice on any other future dates to the batting cages.

The same night (with my electric and cell bills in mind) I made it up to the medium (which come at you 55 mph) pitch and found out that I can hit curveballs!

With less than 4 weeks left before my husband (finally and officially) moves in, I hope to make it up to fast pitch …And yes, I’ll wear a helmet.

**The “that’s the goofy broad I married” tone is old hat in Brian and I’s marriage.

A Sunday night, in February:

Brian: “How’d burrito go, honey?”
Me: “Great! We went to Milwaukee!”
Brian: “What!?”

A few days after our wedding:

Me: [out of breath] “Hi honey, how are you? I’m just calling to let you know that I’m ok. I know I said that Mike and I were going to go to the Polish museum, today but it’s so nice outside so we decided to go to a forest preserve out past Midway …Well, the walking path was boring so we got on the horse trail and that was boring too so we decided to make our own path … [out of breath] We got lost for nearly 2 hrs but don’t worry! We made it back to the car! I have scratches all up my arms but don’t worry! We‘re going to go get a celebratory burrito!”
Brian: “Honey …What!?”

This past Monday:

Me: “I was sort of bored so I was trying to think if I owned any movies that I haven’t seen yet …So I went through the dreadful DVDs that my Mother has sent me throughout the years and ended up watching a movie with Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher, as US Coast Guards.”
Brian: “What!?”

Monday, April 27, 2009

Something Meets Boy: A Love Story

“Steve’s with Leslie at the Green Mill’s poetry slam…,” Brian said, his eyebrows raised in disbelief, as he hung up the phone.

Less than a hour later, our apartment’s buzzer sounded and I quickly ran across the living room to push “door” to let Steve …and Leslie in.

I noticed Steve’s hair right off the bat. Slightly but noticeably shorter since a couple hours previous.

“I brought her back home, in time,” Steve started explaining as he walked into the living room, Leslie at his side, “Leslie took me to her former work and I got a haircut.”

Me: “Where?”
Steve: “The little Vietnamese place up on the corner.”
Me: “The one with all of the neon?”
Steve: “Yeah!”

Brian laughed, shaking his head.

We all sat in the living room, as Steve continued with the details of his date with Leslie.

Leslie sat across from us and stared straight ahead.

As I’ve explained in previous entries, my husband of nearly two months, has yet to move into our apartment. Six more weeks and counting … So that leaves us with the weekends. Brian comes in Friday morning and catches an evening Metra train out of the city, Sunday so that he can make it to class Monday morning.

This past Sunday, I wasn’t scheduled for my ritual Sunday night burrito w/ my friend Danger. Brian and I had planned for him to take a later train (more time and dinner with my husband!). However, thanks to Steve (Brian’s best friend and a fast friend to me), he had plans within the city and offered to take Brian back to their suburb later that night.

Brian and I opted to walk up the grocery for a few dinner trimmings. As we walked towards the crosswalk, we passed the Salvation Army’s drop box, which is squeezed between the corner gas station and a Dunkin Donuts. I often know when it’s going to rain whenever I pass the box and see bags of donations. Without fail and for the sake of irony, it always rains.

We noticed the mannequin’s head right away.

Brian: “We’ll get that on our way back!”

…And so we did, Brian with a bag of groceries in one hand, my hand in his other and the mannequin’s head nestled into my left shoulder, we continued home in the rain.

A close crop of reddish hair, grey eyes and a failed attempt at glittered lipstick, we set our newly found mannequin’s head on the television set as the cats looked up in wonder.

Me: “What should we name it? Is it a boy or a girl?”
Brian: “We should name it something androgynous. Here honey, look at it from this light, it looks like a boy.”
Me: “I think it’s supposed to be a girl though …”
Brian: “Leslie.”
Me: “Yes, Leslie!”

Soon after our debate, the apartment’s buzzer went off. Steve took the chair by the window, Brian sat on the sofa and I sat across from them with Leslie’s head between my knees and a bottle of “sinful“ nail polish, painting her lips.

Steve explained the Chicago Improv Festival, as we finished dinner. The evening was still young and I wasn’t ready to say bye to my husband.

Steve: “I’m going to go out and give you guys some time before we have to leave.”
Brian: “Steve, where are you going to go?”
Steve: “I’m going to take Leslie out …I’m not sure but we’ll find something.”
Brian: “You’re going to take Leslie out …?”
Me: “You better have her back by curfew …And no kissing!”

As we shut the door, Brian pulled me in close.

Brian: “Honey, Steve is actually taking that head out …Where are they going to go?”
Me: “He said something about the Annoyance Theater …It’s a comedy club, honey …They’ll understand.”

Brian and Steve first met in the 3rd grade. Both were the “new kids” at St. Irene's. Come recess, Brian wandered around. Being “new” meant that the soccer team had already been chosen and Brian wasn’t sure what to do. He noticed another lone kid sitting underneath a nearby tree and decided to walk over to him.

Brian: “Do you want to play tag?”
Steve: “Yeah!”

They’ve been best friends, ever since.

The first time I met Steve, Brian and I had been dating for a few weeks. Steve came over to our apartment the night before and unsuccessfully tried to get us to go out dancing. The next morning, as Brian brushed his teeth and I started coffee, the door buzzer went off. It was Steve.

He was excited and curious by the restaurants on the east side of my neighborhood and was intent on “eating the neighborhood”. I gave him a list of places and eats to try and off he went. At the top of the list was a highly recommended and rated corner spot known for their delicious pho.

As Brian and I stepped out of the shower, my phone’s text alert came from the living room.

Steve: “Is it safe to come back yet?”

Steve barreled up the stairs with a paper bag, in hand. The top list choice had been packed so he had opted to get his pho to go. I fished out a large mixing bowl from my cupboard, as Steve laid out the many accouterments to his pho, including raw beef to be cooked within the hot broth.

Since then, I often share the story of the first time I met my husband’s best friend: He cooked raw beef on my coffee table (in my vegan household).

Me: “Do you need a bigger bowl, Steve?”

Some highlight’s of Steve and Leslie’s date:

-Shortly after Steve left, he passed a Vietnamese hair salon. He decided to stop and see how much a haircut would cost. As the woman told him “$10,” the other ladies in the salon scrunched their noses and giggled at the sight of Leslie. “What is that? It’s scary!” on woman shrieked as Steve took a seat in a salon chair.
-As Steve continued up Broadway, he passed a popular new bar/lounge with outdoor seating. He heard snickers and patrons audibly slack-jawed at the sight of Leslie, in his arms. At one point, someone called out to him, Steve turned around and without breaking his “date” story, casually and quite normally introduced Leslie. People started snapping photos as Steve posed with Leslie. They became very popular. One woman remarked that he must be interested in what matters: the brain and eyes. Steve remarked that Leslie also gives “great head” but not that he would know …He’s a gentleman.
-Steve inquired to his newfound friends where would be a good spot to go …Everyone suggested the Green Mill. As Steve made it up to the Green Mill, the bouncer stopped him for the $6 door fee. “Don’t you mean $12?” Steve joked with the bouncers, who laughed.
-Sunday nights at the Green Mill are devoted to poetry. Open mic turns into a $12 poetry slam competition. Steve sat the bar, Leslie still at his side. “I’ll have one PBR …And a water w/ lime, for the lady.” Leslie wouldn’t drink her water but Steve tipped for two drinks, anyway. It mut have been first date nerves.
-The poetry slam, according to Steve, was fantastic …A lot of talent took the stage and Steve intends to attend and perhaps participate in the future. People were making comments here or there but most seemed to understand the humor. Steve and Leslie had a great time.
-As Steve headed back to Brian and I’s apartment, from the Green Mill, a man passed him and did a double take.

Man: “Oo shit, I thought that was a real person! What’s with that, man?”
Steve: “Oo, this is Leslie …It’s our first date.”
Man: “You a comedian or something?”
Steve: “I work at Walmart.”
Man: “I’m a construction worker.”

As Steve explained his evening out with Leslie, Brian and I shook our heads, our cheeks burning from laughter.

Steve: ‘Guys …That was the best date I’ve been on in a while!”

Thursday, April 23, 2009

And the Cabbie Will Rock ...

I was tired when I stepped into the cab. An understatement upon catching my reflection in the plexi-glass partition between myself and the driver. I was exhausted. Drained. Weary. My eyes burned with every blink and the tightness in my neck seemed to be welding my shoulder blades together (I briefly entertained the thought that the hunchback of Notre Dame/Quasimodo was more due to stress opposed to any physical abnormality).

The better part of my morning and the entirety of my afternoon was spent on Primo’s scheduled vet exam. Primo in tow is the only way I can sanely reason taking a cab anywhere. His insulin supply was near non-existent and I had spent the previous days of the week calling around to various vets near and far. A harrowing experience that is best left un-typed (more for me than you). A game of phone tag that left me grateful for the time I spent within the business and the knowledge I had gained. Primo and I are nearing 4 yrs since he first crashed diabetic. In cat years, we‘re ol‘ pros.

“$149 for a full panel work up? What tests that consist of? Umm hmm ….Ah umm hmm ….Umm hmm …Yeah, he’s already had this, he’s already had that, this is updated and he doesn’t need that for another two years.”

With my cellular daytime minutes already burning, I leveled out the handful of calls with my husband.

Brian: “Honey, you didn’t break Primo’s pancreas.”
Me: “It’s the recession.”
Brian: “Primo’s pancreas was the first to be laid-off!”

As Primo and I sat in the small, ill-lit vet office it was clear that I would be handling my own cat. The assistant excused herself and the vet started in on the exam. The exam that was only needed in order for her to write a script for his pre-existing condition. Much to Primo and I’s relief, she opted to wave taking his temperature and kept any cutesy talk to a minimum.

When all was said and done, Primo’s insulin was ordered and due within 2 days. I was out a quarter of my monthly rent and both Primo and I wanted to hiss at passerby. Per usual when it comes time to see the vet, I spend most of the time apologizing up and down to Primo, with his vindictive green eyes.

“I’m sorry, Prim. I’m so sorry. We’ll be home soon, I promise. I’m so sorry. Go ahead, hate the world. You’ve earned it. I love you, though. Mom is going to figure it all out.”

As the cab pulled into rush hour traffic, I sat in a daze by my own worn reflection. I blinked as I heard something from the front seat.

Me: “What? Sorry.”
Cab Driver: “Beautiful day, no?”
Me: “Oo yes …A beautiful day.”
Cab Driver: “I think it’s going to rain later, though.”
Me: “I bet that’s good for business.”
Cab Driver: “Business? What business?”
Me: “Ah, the rain. I bet it’s good for cabbies.”
Cab Driver: [laugh] “Ah not so much.”

I kept my glance fixated on his Bono-shades in the rearview mirror, trying to find his eyes.

Cab Driver: “It’s not so good business rain or shine but it is a job.”
Me: “That’s true.”
Cab Driver: “I think there is a game, today. Beautiful day for a game. That is good business.”
[we weaved throughout traffic passing Wrigley Field]
Me: “The Sox played last night …The Orioles …in Baltimore. They lost.”
Cab Driver: “Oo ok, the Sox.”
Me: “10-3”
[I stared back at my reflection: Shut up, self.]
Cab Driver: “I am from communist country. I’ve been here for 18 yrs.”
Me: “Oo? You’ve been driving a cab for 18 yrs.?”
[And now for the cabbie reveals his soul to me portion of the trip]
Cab Driver: “No. I’ve been driving a cab for 3 yrs. I’m a musician, you see? I’m a musician and I’m from Romania. In Romania, even with communism they treat their musicians and artists with respect. You can make a bit of money …But in America, it’s the other way around. No respect. No money. You are not under communism but you know …I didn’t mind the communism that much. I made money.”
Me: “Ah, yeah …So why did you move here?”
Cab Driver: “I came here 18 yrs ago to see my favorite band. I never wanted to come here but rock band Van Halen …I wanted to see them. So a friend and I came here to see them play. I’m a classical guitar player.”
Me: “Ah …Yeah, Eddie Van Halen is quite the guitarist.”
Cab Driver: “You know Eddie Van Halen! Yes! He is very good! …So I came here and I never went back …You see all of these shops and restaurants? Wine bars? People spending thousands of dollars in one night and they are all the same.”
Me: “Yeah …”
Cab Driver: “See, I spend money at places that are special. You get a special experience. But this ….It’s all the same. I never wanted to come here.”
Me: “But you wanted to see Van Halen …”
Cab Driver: “Well, yes …I’m a musician and I got all mixed up with the drugs and the drink. Coke. You know what they do? You think it’s just marijuana and you say sure, I’ll have some marijuana but do you know what they do?”
Me: “What’s that?”
Cab Driver: “They put the coke in the marijuana so you think you’re just smoking the marijuana but you get hooked to the coke. That’s what happened to me. I was with this girl. Beautiful …like you. I loved her very much but she got hooked on the coke and she wouldn’t stop.”
[We were hitting every red light]
Primo: “Meow.”
Cab Driver: “I stopped and started driving a cab for money. She didn’t and I said goodbye. It was sad. She was crying but I had to do it.”
Me: “Yeah …I can imagine.”
Cab Driver: “I never wanted to come here but I drive a cab and it’s a job. Americans don’t understand money. My country had a civil war and so did this country but nothing change. America still has the same people in power.”
Me: “Yeah …”
Cab Driver: [holds up hand] “The Jews control the money. There are 5 Jews in charge of all money and that never changes. They get control of everything. They tried in my country and they play theater to Americans and Americans don’t understand. Did we pass Carmen yet?”
Me: “Almost …Next street north.”
[I looked at my reflection …Do I play the Jew-card or not? No, I’m too tired.]
Cab Driver: “Ok, very good.”
Me: “You can pull to the side right here …Thank you very much. I’ll hope for rain, for you.”
Cab Driver: [laughs] “I thank you! Have good day!”

I pulled the strap to Primo’s carrier over my shoulder and pulled out my cell phone, as we made our way home.

“Honey! I just got out of the cab and the cab- Yeah, Primo’s ok, he’s a bit upset but we made it …But honey, the cab driver …”