IKEA art guerrilla warfare

If there are paintings of ugly pink flowers in the IKEA clearance section, I buy them and paint over them with my new black, grey, and red acrylic paints. This modern masterpiece is hanging in my bathroom but when I run out of wall space, I will give them as gifts and raffle them off.

ps I like actual pink flowers.

Tyskarna från Lund - Achtung X-mas

I haven't had a lot of words lately but my thoughts sound kind of like this.


I was the mayor

Two night ago, in my dream, I was the mayor.

And apparently I figured out how to run the city in a blackout because I had no memory of it whatsoever. People in the dream just kept telling me, "You're the mayor!"

Which makes me think that I should write the essay that Sunny wants me to after all - Top Ten Things I Like To Do In A Blackout - and put BECOME THE MAYOR on top.

My sleeping brain is wildly overcompensating for my anxiety of not being very useful right now.

At the end of the dream, I decided to believe what people were saying and walked down the street and introduced myself to someone with a firm handshake, "Mayor Roncker," which I'm taking to be either a) a prophesy that it's time for a career change or b) a sign that on most days I need to do more than read, write, and watch two Karate Kid movies back to back in order to feel productive.


and I'm not usually a fan of Christ imagery

I dare you to find a song more heartbreaking as Johnny Cash's version of Hurt. I remembered this song because his version of Danny Boy (You and your heartfelt covers, Johnny Cash!) came on the iPod which made me think of Mema's funeral in January. The pipes, the pipes are calling lyrics etc.

And then I thought, 'You know what's even more melancholy and touching?' When he manages to siphon all the anger out of a Nine Inch Nails song and makes it sound like just the saddest most beautiful love song. And the next thing you know it's blubber fest 2008 in my kitchen.


pick u pawhole

A part of me wishes that I'd never figured this sign out.

I was driving through Florence, KY with Matthew when we saw it. PICK U PAWHOLE.

Wait, what?

"That sign makes me think I'm fucked up," Matthew said.

Pawhole? PAW-HOLE? Piehole? What's going on here? A crazy-spelled word in a sentenceish formation? And isn't piehole/pawhole kinda rude for a huge Big Boy sign?

"That signs needs to be translated out of Kentucky," I said.

"And into Ohio," he finished.

After I'd said "pick u pawhole pumpkin pie" out loud and to myself thirty or forty times, I decided to send Matthew a pick u pawhole text message. In the interest of time, I left out the spaces and I noticed that it looked funny, almost like real words.

Pick up a whole pumpkin pie.

Damn it!


Prop 8, The Musical

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Thanks, Jane.

minimal Christmas tree

I like this tree much more than most:

(via emmas designblogg)

Scary purple unicorn!

Not so long ago Matthew walked out of Kroger with a stuffed lavender unicorn under his arm.

I was waiting in the car and he presented it to me with a flourish. I squealed like a little girl, named it Corny, carried it around, and later tucked it into bed. Yes, I know that I'm being ridiculous but I DON'T CARE I LIKE UNICORNS DEAL WITH IT. Plus the unicorn joke Matthew and I had with Mary Beth when we were getting to know each other has not yet gotten old.

It started when Mary Beth said to Matthew, "You know that you and Jessica aren't dating and she's in Berlin. You can go out with other people."

(Namely the girl who hit on him, who he'd had a thing for.)

Matthew's A+++ reply was, "But why should I have a horse when I can have a unicorn?"

Mary Beth told me later and I was thrilled. I am that unicorn!


My mom was over and saw it and said, "Jessica. What is that?" in a serious voice.

"It's a unicorn," I answered matter of factly. 


One night I was laying on the couch with Corny propped up on my hip. I must have shifted my weight because Corny tipped forward and fell into my peripheral vision and I jumped. Jumped! And my pulse took off like crazy, and a fear that can only be described as prehistoric rushed through me.

Was there was a tarantula creeping onto my stomach? Or something else with fangs and tons of legs? Or cold-blooded? With a shitload of eyes? Can it at least have an exoskeleton?

Nope, just a soft purple unicorn.


Why wouldn't there be camels backstage?

A month ago the Rockettes rehearsed for a week in Cincinnati. If you, like me,  didn't know the Rockettes still existed and thought that the first batch from the 20s and 30s just petered off and died, well, we were quite wrong. Where the hell have I been? Because the new generations of Rockettes have been at Radio City Music Hall kicking away all this time. I just didn't notice until now

It's fairly hard to miss when you're hired as a runner for their Christmas Spectacular production rehearsals. Nor could I miss the LIVE CAMELS in the show and the 54-foot truck that the camels travel in. I spent a good part of that week sending texts to people that said, "I've got one word for you. Camels."

I watched five minutes of the camels onstage with their handlers. One of them looked totally chill, like it was thinking, "I was made for this," but the other was pissed. Where is my desert? Take me back to my desert.

That rehearsal week in October was tiring: wake at 6am, pick up crew at the hotel at 7 am, drop at arena. Do errands and drive around all day until 1 am, bring crew back to the hotel, go to sleep at 2 am and repeat four hours later. 

But you can't complain about a delirium-inducing schedule when everyone on the production crew is doing it for much longer than a week, with much more responsibility. Suck it up. Wanting to die by Wednesday = unacceptable. When I started getting sick, though, my chest rumbling with each breath, re-pulling the same muscle in my back every time I sneezed, I wanted my blankie.

The upside was that the production coordinator I worked for was totally cool, seriously funny, and so much more overworked than I have ever been that I honestly wanted to make her life easier. If that girl needed a burger, I would have hopped the counter at Wendy's to make it myself. (They didn't let me. I had to stand in line and order one like everyone else.) At least I was in line behind Jonas who I haven't seen since junior high when he used to call me Jessica Bonkers at the pool which made me sooooo mad back then, mad like only a junior high girl can get with much eye rolling, glaring, and secret enjoyment. But I didn't tap Jonas on the shoulder to remind him of how witty we were in 1988. I was on a mission and just wanted that burger.

The night the Rockettes crew loaded out, I picked up bus drivers in shifts at 12:30 and 1:30 am. I live so close to downtown that I could go home, read, hop in the car, and be at the hotel in seven minutes. Then I'd turn around and do it again an hour later. I did the last pickup in my pajamas and my downstairs neighbor probably thinks I'm drug dealer but I'm okay with that. That part of the night, the very end of a long day, was funny because I'd chat with the drivers about our respective tours which invariably led to us knowing some of the same people and then we'd gossip.

The Rockettes were back last week for a run of shows and I got out my jingle bells to work for them again. Just kidding, I don't like jingle bells. I was not happy when a wardrobe person walked through the production office shaking jingle bells.

It was almost as bad as having the iPod and speakers set to only play songs from 1979. How relieved was I when someone lost it and demanded that the iPod be changed, that she was going to officially have a breakdown if she was reminded by one more song of how much 1979 sucked?

SPOTLIGHT: Cathy Hickey

Excuse me while I brag for a minute.

Not about me! About Cathy.

Hi Cathy, what's up, could you be cuter?

I just want to carry you around with me and prop you up and make you say funny stuff that makes us giggle. And then I'll get a perm so I can have hair like you.

But seriously, Cathy needs to be like a mayor or something. Of somewhere. I don't know where. Not in Alaska. Maybe New York or San Francisco. This article just came out in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle about Cathy and the work she does and I'm so dang proud of her.

When I met Cathy, she worked at a credit union on the corner of my street in the East Village. We first said hello to each other on a subway platform where we agreed to meet after Jane told us to be friends and then we went to an art museum. At the museum we developed girl-crushes and sat and jabbered endlessly in the middle of the galleries because we liked each other too much to look at art.

I didn't really understand Cathy's job, all I knew was that her credit union did taxes free for neighborhood residents and I was cashing in on that. One of her colleagues did my paperwork and then looked up to ask, "You really only made a total of THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS last year in Seattle?"

"I worked a lot under the table," I bit my lip and mumbled.

Since then Cathy has worked for different business improvement districts and neighborhood development organizations, moving up and becoming more and more influential and basically kicking a serious amount of ass. Plus she honestly cares. And finished an entire arm of tattoos last week.

That also makes us laugh: I do this potentially punk rock job but have a really nerdy approach and she does this potentially nerdy job but has a really punk rock approach. Yin and yang, baby. Muah. x


apples to bourbon

Two weeks ago I went to Pine Knot, Kentucky with Matthew to visit his grandma Jane.

Have YOU been to Pine Knot? Ever heard of McCreary County? Well, that's too bad.

It's a few skips away from the Tennessee border and features the Daniel Boone National Forest, several burned down barns, and delicious food if you're staying with Grandma Jane.

GJ fried us fish that she'd caught in her front yard pond, taught us a card game (We played five rounds of 500 Rummy. I won. Just want to slip that in there.) and gave us twenty apples from her yard to take home.

Twenty apples is a lot of apples. There is only so much peanut butter that I can smear on twenty apples and I'm not interested in apple pie so I started looking for other apple recipes.

And it's weird how fun that was because until like three seconds ago, I wasn't that into cooking. Sometimes I'd buy cookbooks with the idea that I'd want to know more, that I just needed to be inspired by the pretty pictures or something. But no, I just ignored the books and made more stir-fries, throwing in a different spice now and again. Woo!

Until this apple binge that brought apple zucchini bread, parsnip and apple soup, italian sausage and apple stuffing, and apple and cheese salad made by my undomesticated hands.

It was all good, too, except for the soup, which reminded me of baby food. Matthew asked how it was and I told him, 'Good. If you're five months old.' It was my fault; I didn't puree it enough and didn't use the spices that Roopa recommended. I made another of her soups, a Thai butternut squash number which ruled so hard I wanted to take a bath in it so I'm not hating on a Roopa recipe. I have lived with this girl. She knows how to mix up food REAL GOOD.

Now that I know that cooking can actually be relaxing, that it doesn't have to induce waves of panic and fear, I'm thinking I'll put on my black apron necromance apron and do it sometimes.

Next binge: recipes containing bourbon.

tweet this bitches!

I don't get Twitter.

Maybe I'll get it later. Right now, though? I don't want to be more switched on than I already am. My back hurts from the hours I sit at my computer every day. My brain hurts from the amount of crap I sift through to say what I want / read what I want / learn what I want from the electronic world.

Do I want more information flooding my phone or inbox? No, I want to read a book.

I get irritated every single time Facebook asks me what I'm doing right now. I ignore it except for last week when it was early in the morning and I broadcast to my network, 'Jessica is translating a spanish radiology report and thinks life is super fun.'

I keep my television back in the bedroom, out of the living room, for a reason. I walk into the Verizon store and say I want a phone that doesn't do ANYTHING except make phone calls. Do you know how hard this to get? I don't even like making phone calls. But I make them and I text and then I max out with blogging.

This is why you'd not expect to find me at a tweet-up. Yes, you heard that right. TWEET-UP. It's a live meet-up, for tweeters, I mean, tweeple, people, whatever. People who tweet each other on Twitter.

I went to this tweet-up at a local bar because my cousin Mary Beth tweets the hell out of her iPhone. She follows people and people follow her. Some of the tweets are personal and some are professional. She follows trends in her field - marketing - and networks through twitter. It sounds useful to her.

I went partially a) because she said I'd meet local bloggers but mostly and almost entirely b) because it's one of her things and she is very supportive of me and it would be a nice cousinly thing to do.

Matthew went for the free cookies.

Well, we didn't know there'd be free cookies but that ended up being major. We sucked at tweeting-up. Mary Beth was awesome: mingling, working the crowd, introducing herself to groups of strangers, if you can call someone a stranger when you know details of their daily life through Twitter. But I'm not knocking the tweet-up, it's cool that the tweeters went live.

I'd be somewhere else today if Mary Beth hadn't made me join Friendster. I met Ariel in New York on Friendster. Ariel became an in-person friend after he invited me to see Nancy Sinatra sing in a lounge. We sat in a booth, feeling kind of bad for Nancy who seemed bummed, if not totally drugged up, to still be singing about what her boots were made to do. That song came out in 1966, after all.

Ariel was generous with inviting me to dinners and parties and introducing me to his friends. I met his friends who work in music tour management. I helped Ariel with his application to grad school in Israel, he left for Jerusalem, and I started working on tours. He's a friend I made online who impacted my life FOR REAL.

But I still feel a disconnect with the idea of getting a regular Twitter-style update on what people are doing every second. I don't care what people are doing. Unless it's part of a story with some context or it makes me laugh, it's just another distraction. I have a hard enough time keeping up with the friends I already have.

Maybe tweets spark something for people that I don't understand because I haven't tried. Maybe it'll become a professional necessity for me later. Until 2001, I thought cell phones were frivolous. I don't know.

At the tweet-up last week, Matthew and I ordered drinks from the bar and stationed ourselves next to the cookie tray. One of the organizers came up to us, 'Are you here for the tweet-up? Are you on Twitter?'

Yes and no, I told her. But my cousin is on Twitter, I said, 'And so is he,' gesturing to Matthew. Matthew told her the truth, that he is indeed on Twitter but he doesn't follow anyone and no one follows him. (Takes another bite out of cookie)

This struck both of us as really funny. He is such a lame tweeter. We were already getting drunk. An hour later I was more drunk and talking to a blogger who told me I have to Twitter. I asked her husband if he tweets and he said, 'NO.'

'So you're just here to be supportive? I asked.

'Yes,' he said, taking a gulp of what I'm going to say was a double cocktail.

Matthew joined me at the bar and showed me the message he'd just sent to no one since no one follows him:

Tweet this bitches!

We snorted and started negotiating how long we'd need to sober up before one of us could drive home.


Field trip: Creation Museum

I've been ranting a lot lately so I thought I'd try to say something positive. Try.

I was impressed by the Creation Museum.


It was well thought out. Serious, serious money went into that place. I don't agree with what the museum is teaching but LORD, did the creationists do a slick job trying to convince me of their garbage.

Multi-millions went into it: planetarium, botanical gardens, full-sized theater, huge bookstore, Noah's Cafe, walking tour that takes two hours to go through. It was modeled off a classic natural history museum with statues and flags and big money exhibits. See, we're not provincial at all! kind of vibe.

This is me posing with a dinosaur who's 5,000 years old, not, I don't know, 100 million years old.

This dinosaur was supposedly created by God on Day Six, along with all other land animals including Adam and Eve. They all lived happily and perfectly together without strife until the whole serpent/apple/sin/Fall of Man issue.

I wondered if other people in the museum would cast me and Jocardo looks, if we'd reek of sin and stand out as non-believers. Actually, the museum employees were nice, like so nice you wanted them to chill out a little. The other visitors, however, they knew. We were getting so many head-to-toe check outs, I whispered to Jocardo through gritted teeth, without moving my lips, "I feel like I'm in a bar."

But like he pointed out to me before we went in, for all they know we're in a Christian rock band. No matter how different we look - even if I left my long skirt and hair piece bun bonnet thing at home and don't have eight kids yapping at my feet - we could be Christian rockers. Totally possible.

Here's Jocardo taking a stroll through the morality ghetto. Around the corner, spray painted on a few 2x4s it reads: modern world abandons the Bible, the message being that Scripture abandoned in the culture leads to relative morality, hopelessness, and meaninglessness. Everyone knows that garbage cans and graffiti symbolize a lack of ethics and that the suburbs are riddled with meaning.

After a few hours, Jocardo and I were exhausted, our personal spirituality suffocated. I'd digested the burrito I bought at Noah's Cafe and I was still pissed about the book I leafed through in the bookstore, the one Jocardo kept telling me to put down, the one about how feminism in the church is leading to a lack of obedience by women. Damn straight it is, you idiots.

We sat on a bench in the lobby and decided to do one more thing, go to the Men in White movie. Because the Men in White have the Answers. Oh, how novel.

And I'm so glad we went because that thing was the highlight of the afternoon. No matter how much the movie pretended to re-enact the Flood, we were not expecting the chairs in the theater to shake and actual water to squirt on us. From the ceiling? From the walls? I don't know! All I know is that it was really surprising and that it got in our eyes, a couple times, and that it felt good to laugh.

Kentucky postcard challenge #3

Oh, I forgot to tell you!

#3 got here, too.

Another Yoshitomo Nara painting called "too young to die".

This pissy little girl reminds me a lot of the eight-year-old I saw smoking in Berlin, the one who I couldn't stop staring at because he seemed awfully young to be squinting through a plume of smoke and shooting me dirty looks.

Then again, whatever. Life is complicated and that German third-grader just figured it out kinda early.

I'm not actually surprised that this postcard sailed past the postal division of the Kentucky Values Board, assuming that there is one - not a safe assumption to make since it's just something that Halle and I made up on the phone one day - but no doubt they WOULD let this little smoker through, since Kentucky has a long history as a tobacco-growing state.


People who live in glass houses

My mom sent me an article in August from The Wall Street Journal. Attached to the article was a note she wrote on the back of a raffle ticket, "I thought you'd like this article about the poor people with glass walls + great views + their problems with too much sun! xxoo"

I love it when my mom is sarcastic. And I smiled because if there is one thing my mom likes to do, it's cut out an article and send it to me. She always cuts out the name and date of the newspaper and staples that little rectangle of information to the top of the page. I tried to read this article with an open mind. I wanted to read without scorn or derision but a few minutes in, I didn't care anymore and arched my eyebrows.

People Who Live in Glass Houses: It's Not All Sunshine; Faded Furniture, Nosy Neighbors and Baking Heat Among Gripes proclaimed the headline. A photo of a young woman sitting on a sectional sofa. A wall of windows through which the Hudson River twinkles. She stares, unsmiling, at her laptop screen. It's a sob story!

The sun faded Sara Antani's sofas and made it tough to read her laptop until she installed shades in her Manhattan high-rise.

Poor Sara Antani paid 1.5 million dollars for a glass-walled condo and $20,000 for a sofa and then suffered the indignity of having to wear sunglasses INSIDE. Psst, Sara Antani? That is, like, the epitome of cool.

So she's pissed at having to wear sunglasses in her home, the same home that she might have noticed was lined with glass when she first looked at it. That much glass calls for blinds or roman shades or curtains. Unless you're not into that in which case I'd think you'd understand both the properties of glass and the consequences of such properties. (Flashing your neighbors, fading your furniture, shading your eyes)

Listen, newspaper editor who I'm mad at right now, I know The Wall Street Journal isn't exactly Streetvibes but a millionaire realizing she needs curtains isn't exactly oppressive or newsworthy either. By paragraph three, Sara Antani, who is a 23-year-old grad student, gives in and buys $12,000 motorized shades. Aren't grad students supposed to be donating plasma or taking out crippling loans to get by? Damn!

The article left Sara Antani operating her shades over on the west side and made some more general points about heat transfer and energy costs and how people don't consider these things when going for glass. I hoped, when I read the words "energy costs" that the article would go green and become somehow environmentally aware and not just a really lame human interest story for rich people. I wondered if I would understand such things one day when I eventually bought a piece of new furniture.

Now I do own some new furniture AND I've been too lazy to put up blinds in my living room. And every day the morning and early afternoon sun blasts my red ottoman through two windows. I sit on the couch and type and read and I watch the triangles of light shift across the ottoman and I think about Sara Antani. I still don't feel sorry for her.

IKEA meatball effect

After I picked on Joanna Friberg last week and said that she was too busy gardening and sailing to keep me up on Swedish music, I tried to act Swedish. With the exception of publicly disrobing and casually wandering around in teal-colored underwear, I did everything I could think of: I put The Knife on repeat, I listened to The Mary Onettes, I watched a video by Matthew's favorite Swedish hardcore band, Refused, and I smiled when The Hives came on the iPod. I admired the clean lines of my Poäng chair, I thought a lot about peace and social justice and, of course, I went to IKEA.

Now, IKEA wasn't my idea. Dennis actually asked me if I would go to IKEA with him. I was wary because I didn't need anything from IKEA and the last time I stopped in that store and didn't need anything, I spent six hundred dollars. SIX HUNDRED. And the time before that, when I actually needed something and went with Matthew and his mom, I had a near breakdown in the lighting section because there were too many choices and we'd been there for three hours and my blood sugar had dropped.

"Never mind, I don't care. I don't even want a lamp anymore!"

It might have been worse if I hadn't been on "good" behavior due to my boyfriend's mother's presence. Were it not for Judy, I might have grabbed the long neck of a floor lamp and wept. I'm telling you that it was possible.

This memory flashed through my brain when Dennis asked me to go to IKEA. He added that he'd never been before and I freaked. "You need to have a plan, Dennis!" I said. "You need a catalog! We can't just WALK IN THERE."

He assured me that he had a catalog and knew exactly what he wanted so I decided that it would be a fun field trip. Besides a few random kitchen utensils I could use, this trip would be more about IKEA-mentoring an old friend and feeding my Swedish kick. FEEDING being the word that should stand out in that sentence.

After breezing through the showrooms, I paid him a compliment.

"I admire your approach, Dennis. You're not f**king around."

He stayed on point in the marketplace section so much as to become a mockery of himself. Who wheels around a cart containing only two ice cube trays?

He checked out cabinets and giggled, "Oooh, I love plumbing fixtures!" but was faithful to the ice cube trays. I became alarmed at one point when I looked back to see him standing in the middle of an aisle, bent at the waist, head hanging.

"Hyperventilation," I thought to myself.

I went over to him, "Are you okay?"

His head popped up, "Yeah! Just checking out this scale."

I looked down and he was weighing himself. I laughed nervously.

Finally we got to the art section, the section that's equally a) depressing since it means that people like mass-marketed art that means nothing to them and b) uplifting since it means you're close to the exit. At the last minute, I convinced him to buy a mouse-shaped pillow for his cat, Little Bastard, and we checked out.

And that would have been it had I missed the food the way I did the other times I went to IKEA. This time, however, I noticed the mini Swedish grocery and I bought Swedish bread and that salmon paste that you squeeze out of what looks like a tube of toothpaste. And I bought meatballs.

I made meatballs for dinner that night. And another night. Last Thursday I went to an art opening and was psyched because someone told me there were meatballs in the other room. I went in to find an empty meatball tray. Disappointed, I nibbled zucchini and talked about meatballs. I made meatballs when I got home. I made meatballs for dinner last night and ate the leftovers for breakfast this morning. Thanks IKEA.


Marriage, beyond definition


I'm so sick of the rhetoric surrounding opposition to gay marriage. Guess what? Marriage is already being redefined. It's been reconstructed over and over again and it hadn't, black men and women wouldn't be able to marry and interracial marriage would still be illegal.

If marriage had never been redefined, we wouldn't choose our own partners and it would be arranged by others in the interest of economics and property and politics, never mind romance.

Some of the people who are screaming about homosexuals redefining marriage are the ones who redefined it themselves in 1996 with the Defense of Marriage Act, which said that marriage is only a legal union between one man and one woman and defined spouse as a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.

I was born into a white body that happens to be attracted to men. I don't have to fight to get married, I have the privilege to roll over and dream about my fairy tale ending but that's kinda bullshit.

There is no fairy tale. Grace Kelly was not normal. The royal family of Monaco is fucked. We're all fucked! It's the human condition! The fairy tale is a myth that's being sold to us. And if we buy it, we aren't using our imagination.

I'm allowed to legalize my commitment to another person and reap the benefits of the state, which has its stake in heterosexual marriage. The state is desperately and sadly protecting its interests, its laws, its policies, and its money when it opposes gay marriage. Other countries are not so backward (see: Europe). All the moral quibbling and religious hoo-ha should be arbitrary, outside of American law. What's up, First Amendment? It's exhausting.

So don't tell me that marriage is static and can't evolve because you can be sure that in my wedding there will be no hint of me being "given away" or me wearing some virginal white princess dress which would require a massive suspension of disbelief by anyone who knows me. If I thought I had to trade in my identity, I wouldn't get married. As it is, I just think it means I legalize my commitment to another person, something that anyone should be able to do.

Krak Attack

Jocardo and I stood in line outside Bogart's, waiting. It was 7pm, it was cold, it was dark.

"Doors were at seven, right?" I asked, putting my hands in my pockets and digging my elbows into my body.

I don't remember the last time I saw a show at Bogart's. I was supposed to see N.E.R.D in March but they were canceled by a blizzard. I was probably a teenager the last time I was here.

"You do realize," Jocardo said through clenched teeth, "That we're old enough to be half of these kids' parents?" I did some quick math. Yep, it's true. Had we been super slutty in high school, we could have birthed any one of these kids going to see Girl Talk, an all-ages show.

"The good news," I pointed out, "Is that we don't LOOK old enough to be their parents."

But no amount of leather jacket (both of us) or hair bleach (me) or cute knit hat with bill cocked to the side (him) could prevent us from acting elderly.

"Someone needs to tell that girl to put a coat on, it's too cold for a tank top," we muttered back and forth, "Her mom let her leave the house like that?" Grumble etc.

Matthew found us and we went inside. We bought Guinness and parked ourselves at the back, right above the monitors, a few steps above the floor. Great view. We didn't know who was opening for Girl Talk but Jocardo thought it was a band with "death" in the name so we jumped to the incorrect conclusion that it would involve little white hardcore boys thrashing each other a mosh pit.

What really happened was this: CX Kidtronik took the stage and busted out some industrial-sounding factory-like screeching and gear-grinding noises. Which I don't mind, actually. That kind of intro can go in a lot of directions.

Tchaka Diallo, CX's sidekick and the other half of Krak Attack, made his entrance and the two men pounced around for a minute before exposing the theme of their set: BUTT CRACK.

One image after another of ladies' crack creeping out of their jeans flashed on the large screen. For emphasis, the photos were jiggled up and down because, you know, that's what butts do.

It was kind of funny and we were kind of laughing and making comments like, "Brooklyn is a much quieter place tonight without Krak Attack," and giggling when CX said stuff like, "Fuck you Cincinnati! Thanks for coming out!"

THEN he makes a request for ladies with lowrider jeans to join him on stage. I immediately and unconsciously start pulling my Lee jeans, which aren't lowriders but aren't exactly high-waisted either, up as high as they can go.

Soon several girls go onstage. Young girls, girls I could have parented. Girls I would have made put a coat on because it's cold out. "How old is she?" I think, "She looks 14!" And then a few more are up there. There's a line of them, all booty dancing as professionally as they can.

"Okay," I say, "I'm officially crotchety because this is making me uncomfortable."

Matthew and Jocardo turn away and hide their faces while the crowd closes in behind us.

People move forward, smiling, mouths hanging open, watching CX approach the girls and stick his hand into the backs of their pants as they wiggle and air-fuck harder and harder.

"Okay," I keep making proclamations, "Even if I hadn't gone to Evergreen and worked at the Feminist Press, this would disturb me. This is flat-out disturbing."

"People need to back up," Jocardo says of the crowd who keeps pushing into us for a better view of the stage.

"We've got the prime real estate here," I say.

"Well there's about to be some urban sprawl if these motherfuckers don't get off my ass," he replies.

His reply keeps me laughing just long enough to get me through the rest of the Krak Attack set.

Later I read in XLR8R magazine:

This is CX. He's a maniac, delivering 32 tracks of ass worship so freakin' nuts that it's pointless to compare it to almost anything. Make a list of the weirdest people in hip-hop, punk, and electronic music, put them in a blender, take those bloody body parts and sew 'em back together Frankenstein-style.

That sounds about right.

ps Girl Talk was pretty fun.


Speaking of the cave of sorrows

I joined Facebook two days ago and it is FREAKING. ME. OUT.

People have been telling me - not asking, not suggesting - to join Facebook for a year and I've been totally disinterested until I caved two days ago. Now my email inbox is on fire with alerts as to what everyone is doing and thinking every three and a half minutes.

They are writing on my wall and adding me to their tree and tagging me and doing other things I don't fully understand.

Probably the most twenty-first century Facebook exchange I've had so far is with Brett Berk wherein we talk about Sunny behind her back except it's not really behind her back because I text her, 'Brett and I are talking about you.'

Or I'll be like, 'Brett told me this about you on Facebook,' and she'll be like, 'Sick,' and not in the surfer/snowboard way but in the that is disgusting sort of way and I'll think, 'Yeah.'

Kentucky postcard challenge #2

Right before I moved home, I found the link to the Creation Museum. Gulp.

The Creation Museum website celebrates "creation, evolution, science, dinosaurs, family, and a Christian worldview". A pretty hefty mix if you ask me. The museum is 20 miles from Covington, KY where I'd be living and, according to the museum website, I should PREPARE TO BELIEVE.

Well, how about I pick a few beliefs off that list up there and ignore the rest? I love dinosaurs. Science is cool. Biology class was interesting.

I didn't want to make any assumptions. Assumptions like the museum discredits evolution. Batshit stuff like that. Even though the name Creation Museum pretty much says it all, I investigated. I clicked on "good news" and The Gospel of Jesus Christ popped up in my browser to provide helpful info on how the origin of the world is related to what a sinner I am.

Which would be discouraging -

as discouraging as the idea that biblical history is the key to understanding dinosaurs

and as discouraging as walking through the Cave of Sorrows to see the horrific effects of the Fall of Man

and as discouraging as hearing the sounds of a sin-ravaged world echoing through the room

AND, finally, as discouraging as seeing the sacrificial Lamb on the cross and the hope of redemption, all of which one can do at the Creation Museum up the road -

yes, it'd all be discouraging, if I were someone else.

But that sacrificial lamb-like redemptive hope doesn't really apply to me. My hope springs from an entirely different well. It's quite easy for me to disconnect the Bible and science. Just as I am able to separate church and state. I don't tangle up the threads of theology and philosophy and biology.

I was done getting all worked up about this until Halle's second Kentucky postcard challenge postcard arrived. You may remember that #1 did not make into my sinful fingers. It was too obscene with its f-word.

#2 (which I'll post photos of once I get the dang scanner to work) arrived! It's of a big dinosaur fighting with four little green dinosaurs and I mean they look like they're really going at it. On the back, Halle wrote:

I'll give you three guesses as to how hard this made me laugh. Maybe my postal carrier isn't into the Cave of Sorrows, either.


I just want your music tonight

How I've lived this long without listening to The Knife is inexplicable. I blame Joanna Friberg. As my in to Swedish culture, she needs to tell me these things. I think she owes me more than Ace of Base.

This video was shot in April 2006 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Joanna may very well have been at this concert. Even though she lives outside of the city and MIGHT have been too busy gardening or sailing with Pepe or cooking meatballs or whatever it is that she does, she could have easily called up the bus and asked them to pick her up and bring her to the city to see The Knife.

Joanna told me that's how it works and it makes me love Sweden: The bus doesn't run regularly to her house out in the woods but it's cool because you can just call the bus and it'll come get you. Anyway, The Knife.

I just found another The Knife video that made me vaguely nervous until I just started laughing.


Sexy, sexy bean bags

I'm slowing down but still secretly keeping an eye out for things to buy for my new apartment. Not that I'm acting nearly as compulsive as I was a month ago NOT AT ALL. It's just that when I reflect on what I appreciate about other people's spaces, and by space I mean anything larger than one room because I'm very good at throwing together a room especially when someone gives me a mattress, I know that I want it to be beautiful and comfortable.

I want pillows and blankets and music and booze and tea to be always at hand. Are your feet cold? Here, let me open up my large red ottoman and get you the soft fleecy blanket I liberated from an American Idol's fan package two years ago. Like the American Idol needed it. He had a record deal! His path to Hollywood success was paved not in fleecy blankets but in red carpets. He wouldn't miss it.

Are you thirsty? Feeling weak? I'll brew a mug of detox tea and crack a Bud Light. I believe in the curative powers of both. I've shopped at local stores, particularly ones with sales, and IKEA. I've been on Ebay and Craigslist and most recently, thanks to Mandy, an online auction site where I bid on, and won, a collection of antique glass jars and vases. Matt Sperling asked me about my decorating style and I've decided to call it manic modern gothtique.

I'm now at the point where I'm out of room. Walk in the big open front room which quadruples as kitchen, living room, dining room and DJ booth and there's no less than 13 different places to sit. I offer serious seating options. No one will be forced to stand in my home. This maybe should have, but didn't, keep me from ogling bean bag beds online.

For weeks I considered buying a bean bag bed. I fondly remember the brown bean bag I grew up with and my dad's teaching days, when two of his groovy 70s students hung out in our living room, lounging in the bean bag with their sideburns and fros and hoodies. I was too young to actually remember the groovy student night but the photos look cozy and relaxed and that's what I want.

Then I watched the demonstration video on the bean bag website. The video shows how the bean bag turns into a bed when you take the cover off and this appeals to me. The bean bag bed would be gracious AND clever. Nostalgic, versatile, and useful.

The video, however? WTF, my friends, WTF. The video pretends to be all wholesome and mainstream, the picture of middle America normality with its fireplace TV room clean cut vibe, but it harbors sly smutty undertones. It's amateur porn done badly. Is it ever done any other way?

The two stars of the video are the antithesis of my groovy 70s target audience: a blond in lowrider jeans and her enthusiastic muscle-bound buddy. Look how he cracks up at the beginning of the demonstration. What did she say to him? Perhaps he's laughing at the porn soundtrack the video is set to. Yes, that must be it.

He fluffs and stuffs the bean bag bed like it's an athletic event, like it's a station at the gym. He spins it around for her, muscles rippling. She hops in and leans back, smiling at the camera, knee up, and cocks her head way to the side. She holds the pose and I make a note to self: either never ever do this or do it on a regular basis. Do it even if no one is watching; it's an awesome move.

He brings her a footrest and she slams her legs into it and throws her head back again, still smiling, head still cocked. Who choreographed this? I want a word with them.

He extends a hand from above and she takes it. He lifts her out and she holds and does a TWIRL beneath his arm, a genuine dance move. This commercial is trying to sell romance with their bean bags. This jock and cheerleader are having the time of their lives with their bean bag bed and you can, too. They circle the bean bag and fall into it together, arms around each other. "It's a loveseat!" flashes across the screen. I get it.

Now it's time to make it into a bed, enough of this foreplay. They unzip the cover and she holds it and watches on while he tosses the mattress in circles and lays it out flat. She falls onto it, settling with one arm outstretched above her head and poses. I'm tiring of her insipid smile but whatever, it's still fairly innocently dumb until the next shot, a closeup of a liquid splashing onto the mattress. I understand the rational message: Thank god they got the cover to protect the mattress! That extra 49 bucks sure was worth it!

The less linear part of my brain, however, the part that subconsciously makes associations and draws free-floating conclusions goes further and is pretty sure that the liquid is not supposed to be water. Their dog isn't peeing, their kid isn't doing a science experiment. No, this show is XXX rated and we have reached the climax. The porn music plays and the spurts keep spurting.

Worse is that it totally works. My next thought is that I will buy the mattress cover to protect my investment in case any of my guests have sex on my bean bag bed.


Schwarz, now with more Gökhan

Photo credit: DJ Empirical

good clean fun, a first for both of us

I threw pumpkin in the trash yesterday and felt kind of bad because it had a face so it seemed mean and I had to reason with myself: It's not alive, it's not a person or an animal, it's a vegetable that's already been gutted and knifed. So seriously. Get over it.

Yet? Last week, I wouldn't let it in the house because it scared me. Again, how I've gotten this far through life = a mystery.

I like pumpkins when they've aged and look all elderly and in need of dentures. I think pumpkin is laughing at me, wheezing like an old man through his underbite.

I picked out pumpkin at a patch on Rt. 8 where I went with SOMEONE who looks too cool for a pumpkin patch. We were a couple of the only adults there without kids. Just us and the girl in hooker boots who tripped around, hanging on her man's arm. 'Dang,' I thought, 'Why am I wearing Converse? Why didn't it occur to me to wear my 3 1/2 inch heels and thigh-high stockings? This is such a sexy atmosphere.'

Anyway. We walked through the patch, which had been already largely ravaged - the superior pumpkins piled outside the barn - and made fun of all the sad, gray, and rotting pumpkins. I sat on a pumpkin and posed while a certain someone fixated on apple fritters.

'You've NEVER had an apple fritter?' He was horrified.

So I tried one and guess what? IT'S A DOUGHNUT. I've had doughnuts and I've had apples and now I've had them together so let the healing begin.

Besides the fritters, he was also into the carving. He'd never carved a pumpkin before. As a kid, he was allowed to just draw on the pumpkin with a black marker, I'm guessing because of safety and because pumpkin carving is a sloppy, messy pain in the ass.

As a parent, I'd happily turn to my kids, 'Halloween? I'm sorry, what? You want to dress up like everyone else? I'm sorry I can't hear you. Go do homework.'

I am more than happy to step aside on the carving because a) he's pretty comfortable with a knife, carries a switchblade on a regular basis, and, like, stuck a knife in a guy's leg who tried to steal his wallet yet has never stuck a knife in a stupid squash and b) whatever I carve would probably end badly like when Sara and I tried, six years ago, to carve a pumpkin with a cleft palate but it just looked real smirky.


because apathy is simpy not attractive

I can't blog because I'm waaay behind on several things that must be done today but since it's November 4 and because my friend Matt in LA sent me a photo of Zulu that he took at this Obama gig that he photographed and since Zulu owns the tattoo parlor I went to, oh and because this country has GOT to wake up:

Click here for more videos from Vote For Change

Saul Williams
ps thanks for a) Slam and b) Blackalicious Release Part 1, 2, &3

Click here for more videos from Vote For Change

John C. Reilly addresses race:

Click here for more videos from Vote For Change


all God's creatures blah blah blah

I don't know how so many are getting in my apartment but today I killed five flies and four ladybugs crawling up and down my windows. I wouldn't have even worried about the ladybugs because they don't buzz and therefore don't irritate me except that Matthew told me he was once bitten all over when he slept in a ladybug-infested room.

Then Gail told me that they might be Asian beetles which look like ladybugs and stink when you crush them. I went into my bedroom and found a ladybug/Asian beetle on its back in my bed. It was still and I assumed it was dead. When I slid a paper towel underneath it, however, it started wiggling its little legs which makes me think it was just TAKING A NAP IN MY BED.

Which would have been fine if it were just a ladybug because that would have been almost cute but not if it can bite and/or stink up the sheets. That is totally not cool and I called that ladybug/Asian beetle a bitch to its face.

Understanding Happy Hour

I never understood Happy Hour until the age of 24 when I moved to Seattle and took a job with AmeriCorps. I signed on with Sea Mar Health Center, a clinic in a primarily Latino neighborhood. Hardly anyone I met in Seattle in the next three years seemed to know that this neighborhood existed. It was too south, not cool, and not white. As an AmeriCorps worker I got $350 a week for my "community service" and, at the end of the year, an education award - a few thousand dollars to spend on classes in the future - courtesy of the US Treasury. Thank you, Bill Clinton.

My first position at Sea Mar was as a job trainer, a misguided move on the part of AmeriCorps. The jobs I'd held up to then had been at Indigo Casual Gourmet Cafe, Rocky Rococo Pizza and Pasta, Stub & Herbs Bar and Grille, Don Pablo's Mexican Kitchen, a mental health worker at a halfway house where I played pool and talked shit with people in varying stages of psychosis, and I babysat. Oh, and I'd worked at a pawn shop and a tree farm. I had some different experiences but not a lot of it was professional.

I was used to having pasta sauce and guacamole and griddle grease and baby drool and mulch stains on my clothing and, in fact, I recall showing up to my AmeriCorps interview with a smear of cream cheese on my pants. I was eating in the car because I was running late and I didn't really know what job training was and either my shirt wasn't long enough or my pants were too low but I kept smoothing and yanking the hem down to make sure the tattoo around my navel was hidden and no flesh was exposed.

Regardless, they hired me. Not they: Ben. Ben was my supervisor and he liked calling me his assistant. I barely remember Ben now but I know he was nice to me, middle-aged, Mexican, and had a turtle-like face which broke into wild fits of nervous laughter with regularity. One of Ben's favorite lessons to impart was how to CYA. CYA, CYA, CYA, it was always coming up. Cover Your Ass. He didn't mean this literally, he meant it metaphorically. Always be able to account for your time. Check in even if you think you don't need to so that others know you're working. Keep logs of everything. File it all away: conversations, phone calls, emails, receipts. He had me spend a lot of time filing away his CYA proof of activity.

Our job traiing office wasn't at the clinic. Job training was an extra service that Sea-Mar offered patients and residents of the neighborhood and we were housed apart in one of those business lots where each unit looks like a big storage space with a number over a pull-down garage door. My first week on the job, Ben told me that I needed to be more professional. If I was to teach others how to enter the workforce, I had to set an example.

This would be the first official red flag that I was not the right person for the job. Ben told me that I needed a briefcase and that he was sending me to Dress For Success, a "non-profit organization that provides interview suits, confidence boosts, and career development to low-income women in over 75 cities worldwide."

Once I myself learned how to dress for success, I'd be better qualified to pull up to the trailer park in my mom's old Escort, get out with my bullshit briefcase, and supposedly teach a person older than me how to work. But to even go to Dress For Success, I had to pretend to be a low-income job-seeker. I mean, was my income low? Yes. But I was about five minutes away from scoring a night job bartending which instantly made my income just fine and I wasn't exactly coming from a background of disadvantage. White, middle-class, recently graduated with Liberal Arts degree, driving mom's old car around Seattle. The so-called ghetto I lived in was flowery and pleasant since that Pacific Northwest spittle they call rain keeps rhododendrons and evergreens growing like weeds, even in the hood.

But whatever. I followed Ben's instructions and went to Dress For Success and pretended I was a wannabe secretary. The women at Dress For Success volunteering their time to help the struggling fawned over me and patronized me and called me honey and wished me luck on my interview and gave me heels and hose and a skirt suit and a big can of Aqua Net hairspray. I kept my mouth largely shut. They meant well, but Jesus. The suit was grey with pinstripes and a yellow silk shirt underneath and I decided I wouldn't wear it unless I committed a crime and got caught and had to go to court. Otherwise, no thanks. I would go to Goodwill to find clothes to suit Ben and his CYA.

I went along for about a month until I couldn't take it any longer. I was a charlatan, pretending like I knew something about the professional world, knocking on broken screen doors and sitting on old couches, pulling brochures and papers out of my briefcase and explaining them to my "clients". I wasn't covering my ass, I was baring it and talking a lot of shit straight out of it. I went to my AmeriCorps contact and explained that I needed a transfer to another department in Sea Mar. She hooked me up with Isabel, the health educator who got me talking to people in Spanish about diabetes and teaching sex ed in high schools. I also attended the Seattle Midwifery School to be a doula, or childbirth assistant, and went through a few births with Latino women as their partner and translator.

But until all that happened, when I was still trying not to break my neck walking around in those stupid pumps and trying to open that briefcase with the ease that I'd unzip my backpack, I learned how one feels at the end of a long, exhausting, possibly annoying day of work. I longed for 5 pm and a pint of beer. I went to a Fremont tavern and sat on a stool and ordered a fancy local microbrew and bathed in waves of relief when I took the first draw. I'd pretty much forgotten about this until a few days ago. I haven't been drinking much since the Idol tour ended in September and I hadn't worked until this week when I started pulling 18 hour shifts as a production runner for a show that's rehearsing at the arena in Cincinnati.

The first day was long. The second day was long and felt longer since I'd only slept for 4 hours. We started calling our breaks between shifts "naps". See you after your nap, the production coordinator would say when I left for the night. The third and fourth days on 4 and 5 hours of sleep were fine and maybe even spiked with moments of hilarity but rough because I was getting sick and all I wanted, besides sleep, was a DRANK.

One morning I woke at 6am after going to bed at 2am to a half-empty Bud Light bottle by my bed. Another morning I woke to a cup of sticky residue from the vodka I poured into a glass of apple cider. And I remembered the Seattle tavern where I first learned that booze is a blankie for grown ups.

Watching TV in a Boston hotel

October 2003

I watched television last night - That 70s Show - to see that redhead that people compare me to and decided that it's a compliment after all.

And then some other shit and then the Bachelor and at the end he sat on a bench in a garden at night and said goodbye to the girl who didn't get the rose and she said, "I'm sad" and he said, "I'm sad too," and I said out loud, "I'm sad too, but not for the same reason you guys are. I can't believe I'm watching this, it's sad."


things I did yesterday to avoid writing

1. Watched The Lives of Others.
2. Printed up 79 photos on my Canon iP90.
3. Bought an end table made out of a stop sign and carried it a mile home.
4. Ate all the ice cream in the freezer.
5. Told someone maybe I should just be an accountant. Once I learn math.
6. Started reading a book written by someone who clearly has more discipline than me.


KY postcard challenge #1

I told Halle I was moving to the Kentucky side of the river and she said she'd send me a Barack Obama postcard. "Do you think they'll deliver it?" She asked.

"I don't know," I said. "Let's do a series of tests. After Barack, try the Grand Dragon or whatever the KKK leader is called and maybe the Pope and we'll see who gets through."

The first piece of mail I received at my place was from Halle. Heartwarming. No current resident bullshit or offers on cable installation. That would come later. That first piece of mail was a large envelope containing the Rock Obama mix. The CD was called Ronckytonk Meets Kentucky and I reflected that my name and my new state have a lot of letters in common. Neat. It's like I'm cosmically destined to live here or something.

The website www.covingtonky.com has the same effect on me. Covingtonky! Oh, and the new license plates and the sign on the bridges spanning the Ohio River that welcome you to Kentucky with its slogan: UNBRIDLED SPIRIT. This is all very uplifting to me. I try to work the words unbridled spirit into conversation at least once a day.

So Barack was delivered but it didn't count because he was hidden inside the envelope. A week or two later, Halle leaves a voicemail wanting to know if the postcard that said FUCK in big letters on it made it to my mailbox.

Negative. I called her back, "Kentucky has censored you."

"What!" Halle is pissed. "I loved that postcard."

The postcard which may or may not have been unceremoniously ripped up and tossed into a dumpster where trash and filth belong was by Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara who creates awesomely demented-looking children and said in full, "FUCK! I MISS YOU."

So I kind of feel like the overall message should have outweighed the coarse language in the eyes of the postal carrier. But I'd probably only work for the government for a total of 15 minutes before they would find a reason to fire me, so whatever.


Magic as political activism

October 26, 2003

Joleen went to a workshop at the Open Center on using magic as political activism. It was given by Starhawk and they touched each others' auras a lot and tried to do a spiral dance but she said it was a bit of a fiasco because the room was so full of people.


Waking up in Covington, KY

My kitchen window, Pike St. Covington, KY

Change in scenery

August, 2003
Thoughts upon returning to New York from Juneau, AK


Coworkers bicker (5)
I want to seal my ears with (7)
tape and crazy glue (5)


In the city my brain won't settle
restless distraction
late to work, late home, nothing to show
I have to tell you about my trip to Massachusetts, she said
the light in the trees
I sat and I sang.

I live in the concrete
with nothing concrete
Only words that disappear.
No, I haven't seen that movie.
Yes, I read that book.
What was the plot?


You can have my love for breakfast, my soul for lunch, and what is left of my imagination for a midnight snack.

Possible solutions:

1. Chiropractor
2. Colonic
3. Take up boxing
4. Keep my distance

What we find when we unpack

This week my apartment got turntables, a library card catalog, and a church pew. I'm still waiting on the mannequin head I found on eBay.

A mouse was living in the card catalog before I bought it from a guy on Craigslist so as soon as I clean out the turds, I'm putting random objects in the drawers and ask Matthew to assign them Dewey Decimal numbers.

I also went through my books and found a handbound one that Taryn made for me five years ago. I used it as a journal in 2003 and I took this morning to catch up on what was up with me that year.


Life must be lived forward but as Søren Kierkegaard said and I scribbled on December 31, 2003, it can only be understood backwards.


Chou Chou the bike

"You have to name her," he said.

His bike is Vicki Vale. If my bike rides with Vicki, she needs a name.

I hadn't seen this bike in ten years. She was rusting slowly in a box in my parents' garage while I hauled myself around Minneapolis and Olympia and Seattle on a mountain bike I thought was tougher than this one.

I couldn't even remember what she looked like until I opened the box two weeks ago: nice old black and yellow Centurion frame, Le Mans on the crossbar.

"She's French and she's not a girl, she's a MANS!"

And, I decided, he's gay. I have a gay bike.

He needed a French name. Within minutes, I knew. One of the only things I remember from my high school French class was affectionately calling someone my "little cabbage": mon petit chou chou.


me go boom in the kitchen


who needs a hug?

I'm going to admit something that isn't nice. Sometimes I read blogs just to poke myself in the eye to see if it's still a sensitive area. Yep, it still is.

I'm not completely destructive. I like most of the blogs I read but I do have my mean list. I read them and instead of feeling inspired or educated, I feel inadequate.

I'm not as positive, or as good a friend, or as honest, or as productive, and on and on. I reason with myself:

I don't WANT to kick my heels in the surf (well, I do sometimes) or twirl my skirts in the fields and let salty tears run down my cheeks, mooning over the MAGIC of the universe.

I love magic. I love when magic happens. As long as no one uses the word magic too much. I remember living in Olympia, 12 years ago, when I got tired of being a depressive teenager and took Zoloft for a year. I was moony and earthy and went to drum circles and I strongly suspect that I was bo-ring. Rereading that year's journals = painful. I didn't seem to be thinking anything.

I don't blame Zoloft and I'm not anti-drug; I thank Zoloft for dragging me out of the pit and getting me back to normal, my normal. My normal has highs and lows and ups and downs and sometimes when I'm not moving and shaking, I have a hard time getting off the couch but I accept it.

But lately I've been in a weird place with thinking. I'm thinking too much in some ways and not at all in others. There's a lot I want to do - personally and professionally - now that I'm back in Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky. Technically, I have a lot more control over my days and my time and my thoughts now that I'm off tour and back home.

I should be able to enjoy setting up my new apartment and seeing old friends and my family more and reading and writing but I can't seem to focus. I can't think about anything if the corners of the baseboards in the apartment are grimy. I scrub them and that's great until I look up and notice the chip on the kitchen counter. How could I not notice that chip before? I'm such an IDIOT!

How can I take a hour to read a book when there's a chip on the kitchen counter? And when did I start caring so much about chips? I almost had a heart attack when I couldn't get the deadbolt to work and Matthew had to draw me a bath with essential oils and a linen-scented candle just so I'd breathe properly.

Obsession is one thing. I'm used to obsessing over writing and researching and adventuring, but this? This is annoying. Especially since the apartment, overall, is gorgeous.

So while books are temporarily out, I allow myself a moment to check blogs written by other women who seem all centered and in touch with something that's eluding me. They are very open about their struggles but at the same time give the impression that they're sipping a mug of steaming tea and watching leaves flick in the breeze in a way that I, fueled by two pots of coffee and self-imposed daily deadlines, am not.

Yesterday I only got 80 percent of my to-do list finished and thus fixated on my 20 percent failure. I thought about how many people have told me over the years that I have a calming presence. How mellow and cool I am. Sure, I'm cool, I thought, I'm super dope. Right up until I freak out and have to borrow a switchblade to cut someone.

I sort of tried to explain this to Matthew:

a) When I'm not experiencing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, I have a calming presence. Tons of people think so! Seriously!

b) Sorry you haven't gotten to enjoy that part of my personality much.

and a quick question: c) Does it make me seem more or less neurotic that I'm tired all the time?

I know the answer. More, since I'm not sleeping enough despite being always tired. Yuck.

I tell myself that I don't really like some of the blogs I read but another part of me admits that I'm just jealous. And ungenerous. I imagine that I'd really like the writers in person and that we'd be great friends. As long as they ignore the fact that I'm a bitchy asshole.

This morning I was going to take a few minutes to torture myself by reading a blog from California written by someone who's very open about her journeys and her tears of joy. I was all set to just let that bother me before I hopped in the car to do errands. But I watched a quick video she posted and two things stopped me:



These simple f'ing words. I wanted to react: 'What does that mean? That WHATEVER is okay? That mediocrity is enough?'

Then I thought, 'No, dummy, it means don't be mean to yourself. Quit calling yourself dummy and thinking everything has to be perfect.'

Take a breath, write a blog, slow your roll. Et cetera.


hateful people in love

I was driving Matthew to the library early this morning when we saw three students on a training run outside the college.

"Duh nuh duuuuh!" I started singing.

"Duh nuh DUUUUH!" He followed up.

Gonna Fly Now AKA the Rocky theme song.

"Dang," I said, "I can't believe in all the times I've been in Philadelphia, I've never run up the museum steps pretending to be Rocky."

"Do you really want to be that person?" Matthew asked.

I thought about it.


And "I don't want to be that person from the chemistry.com commercial either, yet apparently I AM."

This commercial was on TV last night and I automatically imitated and mocked it like THESE PEOPLE ARE IDIOTS.

"Um," Matthew said, "You know we act like that, right?"

"Oh my god," I held my forehead, "We do. We totally do. We were hugging in line at Target today."

And at the Richwood flea market last weekend? We walked the aisles with our arms around each others' waists. I bought Amish jam. He bought a switchblade. I stuck my hand in his back pocket and put my chin on his shoulder. We kissed in the parking lot and giggled when an announcement was made for so-and-so to meet by the chicken pen.

"Yeah," Matthew grimaced, "We're those people. We hate us."


fried pickles

I went there, I liked it, and there's no going back.

But do they require 3am, a Kentucky diner with hand-drawn signs on the wall, a hooker in a booth across the room, our feet locked beneath bar stools?

Will fried pickles taste good in broad daylight?


Ask a librarian #1

Question: Is throwing a bed sheet a satisfying expression of frustration?

I'm dating a librarian, a reference librarian.

I've tried to use this to my advantage. Like when I tell a prospective landlord that I'd like to show the apartment to my boyfriend, I say, "He's a librarian and gets off work at 4:00. Can we come by then?"

I DON'T say, "He's also a techno DJ and will be setting up a home studio in the apartment."

See? Spin.

For awhile, when I was a kid, I wanted to be a librarian. I grew out of it when I started taking more of interest in revolutionary war politics and then in natural childbirth, public health administration, book publishing, and music management.

What's up, Attention Deficit Disorder?

I now know that one treatment for ADD could very well be librarianism, assuming that that's a word.

Matthew has pointed out that librarians don't need to know anything except how to find information. Research and information systems are clearly a focus in Library Science degree programs though I had to ask, when I was recently following him around the stacks while he re-shelved books, if he learned a certain technique in school:

Lean the bottom of the book against the rim of the shelf, slide it towards the empty space, and then DOUBLE PUNCH the spine so that it's flush with the other titles.

"Wow," I said, "Was that part of your Master's? Did you do a whole unit on the double punch?"

I don't think I got an answer. I'm pretty sure he just glared at me out of the corner of his eye.

It's kinda thug. For someone in a tie.

But this IS the guy I drove to work after picking him up from the dentist, who, while still under the effects of nitrous oxide (half numb face, sucking air loudly instead of quietly breathing it) managed to belt out every word of Beastie Boys Check Your Head at the top of his lungs.

Matthew finds stuff out whether he's wearing a tie or a t-shirt spotted with dribble.

I'll mention that I wear Narciso Rodriguez perfume and will discover four months later, "Oh! Narciso designs clothing, too!"

And Matthew goes, "Yeah, not only does his perfume have notes of honey flower, orange blossom, and vanilla but he launched his clothing line in 1998 and is the son of Cuban immigrants."

Once he researched ME for a couple hours.

"What'd you get?" I ask.

"Your birth certificate. And information on your ancestral lineage. Stuff like that."

You don't have to ask the librarian a direct question, you can just casually broach a topic. Either way, check exhaustive research off your list because, trust me, it's getting done.

I do have a question for today, though.

When the alarm went off early this morning and you realized you had to go to work even though you feel like shit since you haven't slept much this week, did it help to pick the sheet up off the floor and throw it as hard as you could onto the bed?

I mean, as a kid who got in fights, as someone who's tasted blood, the boy who punched a neo-Nazi in the face for being a racist asshole, did seeing that white sheet float gently down to the bed like a feather make you feel BETTER?

Just curious.

Also, sorry I keep annoying you by asking if you're looking forward to teaching yoga this afternoon. I know you're not really teaching yoga; You're teaching students how to research the topic of their professor's choice, which, today, happens to be yoga.

I just think it's funny to offer to let you bring my yoga pants to the library. We both hate yoga, even though we could both greatly benefit from yoga.

I know I'm gaining a reputation in your circle as a hippie since you suddenly have pita bread and hummus and juices with ingredients like spirulina in your fridge and not just the case of Coke Zero and bottle of salad dressing that were there before.

Regardless, the only yoga class I will ever take is the one we came up with last night: Angry Yoga! With Matthew Cooper.



Roncky, now with more tonk

Isn't it incredible how I managed to insult real homeless people AND my rad boyfriend whose home I'm living in while I look for an apartment?

No, really. No one can believe how sensitive I am! Especially the real homeless people who see me driving through their streets in Matthew's Saab which he lets me use all day after dropping him at work.

Basically, I suck.

And to the man in Over-The-Rhine who looked at me through the passenger window on 12th Street and asked, 'Hey sweetheart, can you give me a ride?' to whom I replied, 'No, I can't,' I'm sorry I pissed you off but did you seriously think that was going to happen?

I suck but I'm not f'ing stupid.

Anyway. I signed a lease today which means I get to stop being manic and that is awesome.

After many distractions - tour, returning home to 75 mph winds, a three-day power outage, and searching like crazy for the home I want - I'm back.

Oh, and ps, yeah, I said rad.

technically homeless, clearly suffering writer's block

You know it's bad when you ask someone to be a personal reference for an apartment and they're like, "Sure. If you update your blog. Otherwise, I don't think you DESERVE that apartment. Blog or stay on the street."

Maybe I'm being dramatic. Lisa didn't exactly threaten me. Just as I didn't exactly threaten to slap the girl who stole my beautiful Covington apartment upside her head if I ever meet her. I've only mentioned that to about a dozen people.


photos of people at American Idol concerts who never thought they'd go to American Idol concerts

Halle Heyman, Albany

Gail and Dave Harju, Minneapolis

Casey Lasso, Chicago

The Librarian, Columbus

Intrigued with flatness

I just read an article from last week's New York Times Magazine about Italian designer Stefano Pilati who said, "There's just something intriguing about air. I'm intrigued by flatness. So I need to refine the air with flatness."

And I'm just curious as to how one goes about that.


Delicate balance

The truth is, sometimes you need to go to museums and look at art and read challenging books and sometimes you need to lay on the couch and drink wine and watch The Girls Next Door marathon on the E! network.


Keep your shoes on

When bus touring you must remember that you're living with (in my case) ten other people in a very small space.You have your own bunk but it's the size of a coffin and you don't have doors, you have curtains, so don't talk on the phone. You're sharing a room with ten people. They may be friends. They may be colleagues. Either way, shut up.

Do not leave open bottles or cups on the kitchen counter. Or large party-sized glass bottles of gin and/or vodka. They will slide off the counter when the bus takes a turn and that is sad.

Clean up after yourself. Whether you are a wildly famous television star who gets 50 lbs of gifts every night from fans or you're a faceless member of the crew, don't leave your stuff laying around. It will be thrown away and you will be cursed, both to your face and behind your back.

After a long day it's perfectly natural to want to kick off your shoes and take a load off. Please be aware that if your feet stink because they've been cooped up in your disgusting shoes all day, someone will notice. Someone will notice, not because they want to notice, but because you've put them in the position of noticing.

See above: tiny living space for lots of people. See: unavoidable situation involving your feet.

I was in the front lounge last night with Neil and Geoff. Neil and I were on the couch talking when I caught a WHIFF. I stopped talking and did a slow motion wave beneath my nose while casting wide-eyed glances towards Geoff's feet which had just lost their Adidas.

I read Neil's mind, "Oh, NO."

We stared at each other, not knowing whether to laugh or cry, and silently rose from the couch. He disappeared into the bathroom to grab the Glade. I found the industrial-strength Ozium in the kitchen cabinet but Neil beat me to it and sprayed the hell out of Geoff's feet beneath the front lounge table.

"Yeah? You have a problem?" Geoff said while tearing his socks off his feet and flinging them at Neil's head.

I shrieked and ducked into the bathroom.

In the bathroom I sensed that something was up on the other side of the door. It was unnaturally, suddenly, quiet.

I peeked out the door and saw Geoff sitting on the floor with a camera. Another bad sign. I yelped and closed the door.

"You can't stay in there all night!" One of them yelled from the other side.

I opened the door again and crept out with my hands cupped around my eyes. I looked through my fingers at them, didn't see anything, turned around to close the door, looked up and screamed.


Looking forward, moving ahead

Cullen Sculpture Garden
The Menil Collection
Houston, TX

meet my boyfriend, KYJELLY (not as bad as it sounds)

While on the subject of Kentucky, I want to ask a question of Mr. Kyle C of Steak 'n Shake number 258.

Is your job so lame and boring that you have to invent names for your customers just to stay awake when they order a strawberry shake and Diet Coke at 1 am?

Because I'll understand that.

I mentioned this receipt to someone and she said, 'Oh yeah, when I was a server I made up names to remember who was who...like...Bald Fat Fuck.'

Wow. When I was a server I would have just called BFF Table Five or something but that just shows how much more polite I was when I was 21 than I am now. I said to her, 'Was Bald Fat Fuck printed up on the receipt?'

No. No, it wasn't.

So when Matthew got his receipt at the Steak 'n Shake in Indianapolis and saw that Kyle C had named him KYJELLY, we got a kick out of it. First and foremost because Matthew was visiting me from Kentucky. Hee.

But moreover, what is the deal with us and Steak 'n Shake? I hadn't been to one in maybe ten years and all of a sudden, it's like our PLACE or something.

It started with our first date which at one point had us driving aimlessly around my parents' neighborhood at 3am wracking our brains for something to do in a place where everything closes.

Except Steak 'n Shake.

And who says you can't totally behave like a teenager even though you're more advanced in age? Who says you can't stand in the parking lot and make inappropriate first date jokes about organ harvesting and then go in and order a shake with two straws?

And make your 60-year-old server go, 'You guys are sooo cute,' and look at her like, 'Yeah we are. We noticed that, too.'

Because you can.

Einstein in the window

Lexington, KY


Waking up to Tropical Storm Fay

It's funny when you're the first person to wake up on the tour bus in Central Florida, driving south, where there are warnings out for tropical storms, tornadoes, and possible floods.

Our driver, Brian, joked, "Wanna take the wheel for awhile? It's a nice open road to practice on."

"Yeah," I said, "Because everyone else evacuates while we drive right into it."

No, really, it's hilarious.



A man crossed the street in front of the bus when was sitting in the front next to our driver Brian and we watched him take his sweet time. If I were crossing four lanes of Philadelphia traffic I might look up once or twice. I would not amble. I would definitely consider the 40,000 pound tour bus barreling my way. But this guy was not worried.

"C'mon pimpstick, go!" Brian said. I started laughing.

The man WAS using a cane and he did not appear to be either terribly old or crippled. He was somewhat pimping.

"I've got to start calling people pimpstick," I thought.

I'm pretty sure I've called someone a pimpsqueak (Matthew) but this is good, too.


I BELONG on the unicorn bus

In what can only be described as a horrible oversight, I don't get to ride on the unicorn bus.

Baltimore cloudgazing and the art of travel

Baltimore, Maryland

It was Monday so the American Visionary Art Museum was out.

I considered the brains and human bodies exhibit at the science center on the harbor but the hundred children running around the lobby turned me crotchety. I wasn't feeling like a kindly spinster; I was the kind who rolls her eyes and wonders why people breed such little hellcats.

"I wish all these KIDS would get out of the children's museum so I could ENJOY MYSELF."

I walked along the waterline, past the sand volleyball court and the trapeze school and up Federal Hill where I settled into the grass at the top. From here I could barely hear the traffic. The red and white striped carousel turned below and the tinkle of carnival music rose and fell, first blotting out the noise of cars then chiming softly, almost inaudibly. The skies were blue with billowy clouds. Past the trees to my left were rows of brick townhouses, the historic district of Baltimore, and to the right downtown and the harbor.


Behind me, on the sidewalk, a woman in an Army shirt followed orders from a guy who made her do sit ups and push ups. "Run down the steps, do fifty jump ropes at the bottom, and run up the hill. Take a breather and do it again."

"I should get a personal trainer," I thought for about five seconds, tops. 

"Or I should not get a personal trainer because I will hate the personal trainer for ordering me around to do more than sit in the grass and stare at clouds."

Having settled the personal trainer issue, I pulled out a book.

I last read The Art of Travel in 2004. That time, I underlined favorite passages. This time I highlighted some of the same words, plus new parts. The first time I read the book, I'd traveled enough to know that trains are my favorite transit and that my brain chemistry alters when a plane takes off.

I know that I won't be a different person just because I'm in a different place, no matter how much I want to be. I've tried that and it doesn't work. There is, however, a a correlation between the expansiveness of thought to the expansiveness of view.

Expansive views can be big: Yosemite's El Capitan, the edge of the Grand Canyon, or Baltimore's Federal Hill. They can be small: a room that's foreign in touch and feel, the sounds leaking under the door from the street outside. The room might be dingy and tiny but it is new and so, therefore, are your thoughts.

Alain de Botton, the author of The Art of Travel, says that large thoughts may require large views and new thoughts, new places.

I thought I connected with the book completely in 2004. This time, though, as I picked through the sections devoted to hotel rooms and airports, I laughed anew. Alain de Botton NAILS IT. From unexpected angles. With pictures! This book was either written for me or I wish I'd written it myself.
Would it be creepy to legally change my name to Alain de Botton? Would I seem like a stalker? Would it be worth it?

Now that I've spent several years touring, living for months in a another hotel room in another city, I want to give this guy a high five more than ever. Or, since he doesn't seem like a high-fiver, just cock my eyebrow and say something extremely witty and dry.