You know, I realize this now, as I board my train into the city every morning, hop off at LaSalle, and navigate through a mass of people darting about like dense schools of fish, unarguably more put-together than I. People wearing lipstick. People with their hair in beautiful professional updos, sleekly styled bobs, and well-gelled spikes. People with the steady stare of the remarkably awake, people holding travel mugs of coffee they woke up early enough to brew, people without the intricate crinkles of a balled-up makeshift hoodie pillow embedded deeply in their cheek and forehead. People unlike me.

The thing is, I actually consider myself a morning person now. Sort of. If everything’s relative, I am a morning person. No longer the bitchy vampire who will either bite or perish upon waking before noon, since graduating college, I now typically wake up between 6-7:30 AM, regardless of whether I have to work. And I enjoy being awake much of the morning, which is another argument on the side of “probable morning person.”

But no matter how many bio-rhythmic patterns I change as I lunge further into adulthood, I cannot comprehend this sunny-side-up metropolis lousy with gorgeous, polished bastards who look like actual people before 10 AM. What the hell? Where did you shop for your body, because my body is apparently defective. I got a janky one.

For starters, I think I’m part Puli. Where everyone else’s hair seems to be light, dry, and fluffy as a Snuggle bear by 7:30 AM, my hair hangs damp and stuck to my head until I get into the office, whereupon I walk to the women’s washroom, hang out like a creep until it’s vacated, and quickly throw my head under the hand dryer until I hear the click of the door opening. Then I straighten myself up with enormous, blown-out curls standing straight up from my head and try to awkwardly act like I was just chilling next to a hand dryer that happens to be on. Sometimes I throw in an incredulous look at the thing for good measure. “Who did that? Weird…”

This is ridiculous, I realize. Mostly, it is too early for me to think fast and play it off like I was just drying my hands. Especially since my hair is always about one fluff away from a Diana Ross female impersonator at that moment. I’ve also been caught a few times in the act, always to slight nervous laughter from the person who catches me. And, like… shut up. Like, hey there, princess—not all of us wake up to doves and singing mice helping us get ready. You’re lucky I showered.

And shoes. How do people look so put-together with their shoes? How they’ve done it alludes me. Generally, I don’t like wearing shoes that much. I got hippie feet, and I like ‘em. But I think the function of shoes, when necessary, is simply so that I don’t amass an urban collection of glass and cigarette butts on my feet as I meander about. And beyond that, I have a hard time getting myself to put effort into footwear—especially in the morning, when my choice of footwear is solely contingent upon “Is it raining?”

I mean, I do tend to prefer the more attractive shoes to the less attractive shoes, I guess, but as an equal opportunity employer, I generally employ both to do my fancy footwork with an admirable equality, I think. And even my pretty shoes don’t ever actually match what I’m wearing. The hell? They have to match what I’m wearing? They’re on my feet! Madness, and I don’t know how you all put up with this every day.

How is it that some people glide gracefully, eyes sparkling, down the sidewalk and into their jobs while I stare listlessly at the ground, running into wall corners, and sighing audibly as I shuffle along? Also, I’m pretty sure many of the mornings I have a slight limp until I fully wake up. Hunchback is the only way I know before I’ve had my caffeine. Why am I the only one? Damn you bitches not cramming 3 Excedrin down your dry and scratchy preprandial AM throat. How do you do it?

Where have all the cavemen gone?! My people.

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Obsessions Bite.

May 26, 2011

Okay, so here is what’s been going on. Here is what I’ve been thinking about every time I look like I’m listening for the past year. Here is what’s been distracting me from writing during my free time. Here is that comment or anecdote ready to burst from my anxious lips; from my hot, erupting brain. The thing that I’ve been visibly holding back in conversation so much of the time. Here is the thing I find it hardest to admit about myself.

**And I feel the need to put forth such a sensitive, revealing exposure of self as a penitent offering for not writing for so many months. Bless you, both of you, who read this. You shall now be rewarded with a large nugget of scandalous truth.**

Here it is. I, myself—she who is too cool for school, too hip for yo’ lip, too fab to…um…grab (and of course, I quote only myself here)—I am a mostly closeted Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanatic. FANATIC. Like, it’s fallen off into complete pathology.

I say “mostly closeted” because, while I will tell people I enjoy the show and occasionally engage in a little light Buffy chatter with like-minded individuals, I do not generally divulge the degree to which I am involved with this show. Even my darling male companion—he who introduced me to the long-gone television drama—only knows snippets of the reality of my sickness. He has grasped the stalactites and stalagmites of my geekdom where this is concerned, but he’s never seen inside the whole big, scary cave.

*waves from inside the cave*  Hi baby. Don’t judge me, mkay?   *vampire bats fly about over my head*

How did this happen, you may ask? Fair question, fair question.

So, I have resisted watching the show for years. As an awkward-appearance, slightly weird, and overly theatrical teen girl existing outside the skinny popular girl social orbit, when the show originally aired, I never felt drawn to the momentary glimpses I had had of the show’s protagonist. Sarah Michelle Gellar—a beautiful, tiny, perky teen girl (who at least starts out as a cheerleader). A cheerleader. No, please. Cheerleaders have always given me the wig. (Yeah, I see you, other Buffy fans who just enjoyed my use of the word “wig” here.)

You see, without having seen the show, I knew this archetypal girl at school, and…well…to put it delicately, she seemed to me a vile, heinous, Satan-incarnate bitch. And at 14, I was far too busy watching Dawson’s Creek to bother with a show that had the outright over-the-top special effects you see in the first few seasons of Buffy. I mean, come on. The Master looks like they put Mr. Bigglesworth’s head on Dr. Evil’s body.

So I never watched it.

Years later (about a year and three months ago, to be exact), I suddenly find myself as an adult (kind of), mostly living with my darling male companion, and this puts us both in the position of having shared programming for entertainment in the evenings. And hey—he just so happens to have all seven seasons of Buffy on DVD. He asked me if I would watch the first season with him, see if I could get into it (since he had seen the series once before and enjoyed it). And since the dear man had sat through every movie from my collection I could think to inflict upon him, I gladly obliged.

Well, gladly is the wrong word. Truthfully, I just thought it would be sort of unsupportive if I didn’t give it a good old try.

So, over the next few weeks, we watched the first season. Thankfully it is short, because the first season is not exactly the series’ finest work. This, of course, will be up for dispute among other Buffy fans, but I stand by it. The monsters in season one can be silly, the drama can be overplayed, and the special effects are old enough now to be more adorable than scary. However, as Joss Whedon is widely regarded for his winning dialogue, it was at least amusing, and I did really begin a love affair with the primary characters. So we moved on to season two.

Month after month, I watched diligently as Buffy, a character I grew to admire immensely for her integrity and general adorableness; Willow, who had my favorite ‘isms of the entire run; Xander, who I would so have dated in high school; and Giles, who I would so have dated right now (actually, Tara too); went on to defeat the Big Bad in story arch after story arch. Some plot lines were regrettable (*coughTheInitiativecough*), some were really compelling, and some ended up being sort of terrifying. That last season was dark, man.

It took us from February until about October to be finished with all seven seasons, during which I—no joke—became preoccupied enough to start subconsciously scanning a room for wooden pointy things the moment I walked in. That, gentle reader, was the beginning.

Two days after we witnessed the end of this show, to which I had devoted the at-home evenings of my every week, I found myself waking up in cold sweats, walking around with the shakes, hallucinating about vampire babies crawling on my ceiling and rotating their heads to look at me, experiencing unyielding hellmouthless restlessness, anxiety, and depression. General malaise. The Buffy and Angel love theme haunted my dreams. I listened to the Once More with Feeling soundtrack several times for a little bump, but it only barely took the edge off. I found myself feeling isolated and alone without my friends. Not, like, my actual friends. But without Tara and Willow. And Giles. And Oz. And Spike. It was full-blown withdrawal, and I was fairly certain it might injure me to stay that way too long.

And then it hit me like a stake to the heart. Oh my god. I had become a total and complete Buffy nerd; I mean absolutely to the core.

So, in order to alleviate my pain, and now that I had identified what I was, I made the decision to begin the show all over again. All the way back to the beginning. I work at a desk job where I can listen to things on my headphones, so I just started streaming it (intravenously) through my Netflix while I worked. I did this mostly in secret. I had literally just watched the entire series, so I was able to merely listen to it and watch what was going on in my memory with crystal clarity. And oh god, was that a relief. The world was back to normal. Joyce was still mothering. Tara was alive and waiting to be discovered. Giles was still a father figure. Angel’s neck wasn’t all thick and obnoxious. I could watch Faith get stabbed again (she annoyed the crap out of me). For that matter, the Mayor wasn’t a blown-up snake yet. (I love him beyond reason.) All was right.

Until I ran through the entire series again. Second time. This time I got through it in three months. Three months, back-to-back episodes. What a high. So, upon finishing season seven, I experienced the same problem. Sweats. Cravings. The fervent desire to see someone turn to dust after a well-timed pun or quip. But I knew what to do this time.

Season one, episode one—we meet again. I went through the entire series a third time. Three times through the entire series within a matter of a year and a few months and  change. I started noticing crazy, little things I might never have noticed. For instance, nearly all the monsters—if you listen to just the audio—are voiced by the Tasmanian Devil, as far as I can tell. Really. Listen to it. I found plot points I had never noticed before. In fact, I unearthed plot hole after plot hole. I know things no socially functional person should ever really know.

And just this Monday was the day I finished run number three.

Now. I sit here, on my computer, staring at the Netflix page I keep open and waiting on my far left tab. How many days will I wait? How many days will I pretend I’m done?

By the time you read this, dear reader, I wager I am already knee-deep in early high school vampire slayer angst.

It’s far too late for me.

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Okay, kiddies. There is a way to do things, and there is a way not to do things.

On a first date:

Do compliment the other person if you think they look nice.

Don’t arrive late.

Do bring your first date to somewhere unique, preferably where you both have an excellent opportunity to get to know one another’s sassy little personalities with a pretty backdrop.

Don’t, oh…beseech your first date to let you photograph the two of you together so you can win money once you conceive your first child. Mmmkay? It’s in the first chapter of the Creepy Textbook.

See, as you might have heard, Groupon is proposing a new dating service.

Okay. Hmm. Well, I love Groupon–I think their deals rock face, and I enjoy that the company had a spine and rejected Google buying them out, even though I’m sure they were offered absolutely immoral heaps of green. And dating services themselves are…well, not my brand of whiskey, although it bears noting that I do maintain an online dating profile that I visit from time to time. Mostly for the entertainment; I liken it to visiting the zoo a few times a year. Not that I’m dating furries. Or bears. Or cougars. All right, it wasn’t that complex of a metaphor. I digress.

But somehow in combining these two things (deals and dating), Groupon has managed to stir up a big old cocktail of awkward, impersonal, unnatural, and disturbing propositions and make it the concept for a dating site. And more personally disturbing to me—an encouragement to spawn and make Groupon babies.

For real, though. I thought it was a joke at first, since they have such a great sense of humor over there in the Groupoffice. (I assume they do that with all their words.) But, no. They are literally encouraging you to make Groupon babies. They are giving out 2 scholarships a year to couples who can show photographic evidence that their baby was the product of a couple who went out on their first date using Groupon. Groupon spawn. Grouspawn.

(My assumption—and bear with me—is that Groupon’s motivation is creating a terrifying Groupon army that will inevitably snatch up our prized American traditions and culture, ruthlessly homogenizing our youth into an infestation of date-worthy creatures who are only interested in locating suitable mates by their willingness to bond over coupons. Then all our teenagers and twenty/thirty-somethings start breeding lovelessly for cash prizes, terrorizing cities by irritably demanding half-priced fares from only the trendiest establishments. Aggghhhhh! Your fears have been realized, Huxley–It’s the Brave Frugal World!)

Okay. Sometimes I get perhaps too excited. Possibly I’m a little low on blood sugar. Must seek out a lunch of some sort… I have a Groupon in my purse for—aggghhh!  *drops the Groupon and stares in horror*

But seriously, how not-okay is that for a first date? I want you to imagine yourself getting ready to go out with someone you’ve never been out with before. Let’s assume you barely know them, if at all. Your beau arrives for your very first evening together. It’s getting-to-know-you-time. You fish around somewhat for a conversation topic with common ground, he or she takes you out to a dinner they’ve bought a coupon for (possibly ever so slightly tacky on a first date, even for someone thrifty like me, but whatever). And then, once you sit down … they take a picture of the two of you, explaining that it’s just in case you breed? I’d … I mean … I’d just like to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.

You know? Like, eww. Go home, stalker.

Hell, I once didn’t go out on a second date with a guy simply because he brought me a bouquet of store-bought flowers on the first date. Yeah, already way too committed. Let’s keep this light, Prince Charming. Easy there on the crazy-grand romantic gestures, Endless Love.

So I can’t even fathom a relative stranger taking me out with the wink-wink, nudge-nudge anticipation that I’ll be the future mother of his child so that he can win $60,000. I’m sorry. Do what, now?

See, that just sucks the romance right out for me—dating for procreation and cash prizes. I mean, where’s the broken condom strewn haphazardly across a heated bed, post-one-night-stand? Where’s the teary-eyed, secretive peeing on a stick in the ladies’ stall at work? Where’s the shotgun wedding? All wrong! Romance is dead.

[Joke. Yeesh… I was making a point… *tugs at necktie* Someone warm this room up for me. No respect. No respect at all.]

Again, I love and use Groupon, and I myself would like to sire progeny with the best of them some day. But Groupon here has hit a ball to a very weird and undeniable place in our culture’s… outfield. Shut up. That worked, and you know it.

So when did dating become Gattaca? Don’t two crazy kids just meet and hit it off anymore? Just check out the web site for Groupon’s dating service—Grouspawn. There’s a link on the page: “Want a Groupon baby? Visit our dating service.”

Gah! *recoils, hisses* Don’t hit the button! (I suspect it’s a legal agreement to be frugally inseminated.)


You don’t join a dating service to have a baby. You join a dating service to find a mate. And then kids can come later. Want a Groupon baby? It should link to an adoption site.

Furthermore, in a coupon-inspired dating service where the outcome is to have a coupon kid, my imagination assumes you get matched up by how cheap you are, and then you’re given a (very reasonably priced) hotel room for the evening. (In my case, I’d be passing on the gift of life with some broke-ass person who has no true working concept of money, if they were to be my equal.) Go nuts, kids.  Have fun with all the fertilization! Hey, why need a first date be fruitless? Why wait and see whether it pans out enough in the long run to have a Groupon baby? Get knocked up now, save money later! It’s like an ounce of prevention…

So, just. Yeah. NO to all of this. No to you, if you even briefly entertained the thought of proposing Grouspawn to a first date of yours. You’re better off asking him or her over dinner conversation whether they could please scratch your hard-to-reach psoriasis for you than using any progeny-directed line Groupon will feed you here. Bad Groupon! Bad! What are you thinking? Go sit in the corner. Sit in it. Sit.

Not to mention, is it just me, or does “Grouspawn” look too close to “Groupspawn,” which would be a slightly more alien-movie way of saying “the tragic result of a group sexual endeavor”? Because that’s how I read it for the first 5 minutes. Who picks these names?? If someone I barely knew asked whether I wanted to engage in a Grouspawn with them, I’d shoot their eyes full of pepper spray and blow my emergency rape whistle after having groin-punted them into another room.

So, to recap, no. No, no, no.

No. Groupon—no.

No.

Original Chicago Tribune article on Grouspawn.

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Smoking the doily

December 28, 2010

My conversation today with my Darling Male Companion. This amused me. *Ahem*:

Me: Ha! My blog is signed up with RSS feeds so links to my blog appear on random pages, and I get linked to from all kinds of crazy, unrelated things. Like pet sites, travel blogs, etc. Well, I just got linked to off WikiLeaks. Awesome.

DMC: WikiLeaks?  O_O   I assume this means the FBI reads your blog, too.

Me: Lol, right? I’ve gone federal; break out the champagne!

…Maybe I should remove that bit in there about when I shared a doobie with Hilary Clinton and Medvedev next to a decorative pail of yellowcake…

DMC: I assume it’s too late. Erasing it now just makes you look guilty.

Me: What if I changed it to “birthday cake”?

DMC: No good. The mandatory minimum sentence would be for the doobie, not the yellowcake.

Me: Well, changing “doobie” to something like …”doily” would avoid a misdemeanor, but changing “yellowcake” to “birthday cake” eliminates possible treason for exposing government secrets.

Like when Ethel Rosenberg got pinched for her satirical blog, “Chillin’ With the Manhattan Project.”

DMC: …So your story is that you, Clinton, and Medvedev were smoking a doily next to a birthday cake?

Me: Hey, they were crazy times.

Um…this is all true.

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Emptying the Contents

October 22, 2010

Hello dear readers—both of you. My, you’re looking grey. Oh, hell, I’m sorry. I seem to be looking at a mirror. My, I’m looking grey. So. It may have been a little while since I’ve written. I…you know…may have taken a very minor half-year vacation from my brain. Sorry about that. My brain has been full of ick and cobwebs. But, dear friends—both of you—as Halloween is approaching, I thought it was high time to open the old girl up and let the ick and cobwebs out. And sorry for that dank smell.

And to catch you up, I figured I’d let you know about what I’ve been doing lately to feed the figurative piggy bank, which is more often than not jingling with the deep, echoing resonance of lonely coins. Since my overtime has come to a screeching halt, I went searching for odds and ends to fill the financial crannies in my life, and I’ve found, for lack of a more personally amusing phrase, shit I do for money. So that will be coming up in entries to come.

I’ve been digging my heels into living outside of the city, where I newly reside, for the time being. Planning (plotting) for the day when I do get to haul all my beautiful, very inexpensive, thoroughly tacky and jangly collective mass of things back up to Chicago and plant them in a shiny, new apartment, water them, and watch them grow into a beautiful, very inexpensive, thoroughly tacky and jangly home. And the plan is to be doing this with my darling male companion, with whom I am finally moving in—as the kids say these days—“for realsies.” But for right now, he and I are moving in together out in the ‘burbs, and that promises to be lovely also. Just, you know. In the ‘burbs.

In the meantime, life has happened in the last half a year. I turned 25 for the third time. Thank you, thank you. It was an amazing feat, and I was quite stunned myself. That occurrence passed this year peacefully; perhaps with age comes grace. In fact, and for the first time in years, it passed without my sniveling miserably into a wine bottle—cheap and near-empty (the wine bottle, not me)—in a former prom dress and all the costume jewelry I own, lying woefully across my love seat like a dead carcass, still clutching the bottle in my wretched hand. I’ll consider that a win for me. Small favors and all that. And I even got a cupcake cake this year.

So, yes. This year seems to insist on moving on, one day after the other, so I’m going to go out and do things that are post-worthy. I’m going to stop being so damned neglectful; I’m going to start getting my head out of the clouds and get my ass in gear, or possibly get my ass out of the clouds and get my head in gear. Then I’ll get out of my dreams, and into your car, get on the good foot, do the bad thing, play that funky music, do a little dance, make a little love, and start writing more. Because it’s good for me. And also, I suspect, for humanity.

My therapist is now scribbling something on her pad.

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I’m not that kind of girl. Well, not to strangers, anyway. Probably.

So, there I was, searching back through emails I had archived from about a year ago, and I came across something I had received and entirely forgotten about, which really should be shared with the world.

“And the answer is—it is often one of the only redeeming qualities of online dating.”

“Uh, what is ‘foreign guys who know just enough English to make it creepy,’ Alex?”

For sure, because it certainly isn’t worthwhile dates, in my experience. Not by a long shot. The hidden, seldom-shared actual benefit of dating online is the amusement and oddity upon which you’re likely to stumble, not entirely unlike attending the circus. For instance, you don’t want to stay at the circus forever—dear god, the headache. The grotesque freakishness, the garish makeup, the haunting music. But going once in a great while to marvel at the strange, colorful, and unusual can be quite fun.

Likewise, I can’t hang out on the online dating sites too often, because oh my god, does the anonymity of the Internet make otherwise normal people nuttier than squirrel crap. Or complete douche bags. You know, or possibly it’s just that anonymity and a lack of face-to-face social responsibility is just a magnifying glass to qualities that already existed in a person, like flat-out psychosis, a troglodytical disregard for manners, blatant megalomania, abject cowardice, glaring narcissism, (also related) total self-esteem failure, unchecked irascibility, general mean-spiritedness, sexual repression, sexual aggression, hate-mongering xenophobia, and remarkably hyperactive one-upmanship. They all tend to come out and line themselves up on these dating sites like a little psychologically damaged parade, often whacking you in the head with sexual harassment candies.

That being said, one of the only perks I’ve found of having an online dating account with PlentyofFish or OkCupid (with the exception of a precious few genuinely interesting and enjoyable people I’ve met as a result) is the occasional hilarious reply I receive that makes all the other boring, ridiculous, offensive, spambot, attention-starved, obnoxious, downright geriatric, or mass-produced replies seem worth wading through. Unlike my long-winded sentences. Which brings us to the foreign guys I mentioned, who clearly just enter what they want to say into a free direct translation Web site and paste it exactly into their message to you.

I shall lay this here—a response I had gotten a year ago to my PlentyofFish profile (and saved, thankfully). It is unaltered, except that I changed the email and phone number, in case any of you feel compelled to stalk poor Daniel here:

“I am Daniel. I WENT INTO YOUR PROFILE AND I AM VERY TOUCHED. I LIKE YOU AND WILL LIKE TO BE YOUR DATE LEADING TO MARRIAGE VERY SOON.I AM SINGLE AND NEED A COMFORTER.CANT SAY MUCH HERE .PLEASE SEN ME YOUR YAHOO ID WHEN REPLYING BECAUSE I WANT TO CHANCE ON YOUR HANDKERCHIEF. WANT TO TELL YOU MUCH ON YAHOO. MY YAHOO ID IS XXX123@YAHOO.COM.CELLPHONE NUMBER IS +5557770000 YOU CAN CALL ME TOO.KNOW THAT LOVE SHARES NO BOUNDARIES. GOOD MOMENTS.
BYE DANIEL “

Oh, Daniel. Daniel, Daniel, Daniel, Daniel. Thank you for making this all so worthwhile, because that was pure poetry. I adored it. The inexplicable all-caps with the exception of the first sentence, the hasty marriage proposal, the free love advice, the desire for new bedding (he’s in need of a comforter, folks), the enigmatic signoff: “GOOD MOMENTS.” All of it, gorgeous.

I mean, I didn’t actually reply to this. Yeah, if I wanted my handkerchief chanced on, I would march it on down to a fetish club. But his reply did, nonetheless, remind me why I keep my profile on these sites amidst an incessant forum for negativity and degradation.

Complete hilarity.