114: the harder they come

When I was a little girl my big dream was to be a famous actress. I was going to be cuter than Shirley Temple, funnier than Carol Burnett, and better looking than Elizabeth Taylor. But after a few school plays, a four year stint ringing handbells, and one unfortunate college piece devoted to my non-existent love life, it suddenly occurred to me that acting might not be within my grasp. I can tell you all sorts of things about Elvis Presley’s snowmobile customized to run on grass, but I’m not particularly adept at slipping into someone else’s life. I’m entirely too self-conscious. Also, I’m a terrible liar, and I always thought that being a good one was key to being a good actor. My new dream is to play bass, so I’ve been listening to Me’Shell Ndegeocello, searching the Internet for Larry Graham mp3’s, and ogling drooly pictures of MCA (Beastie Boys) and Nate Mendel (formerly Sunny Day Real Estate, now Foo Fighters). Ooh honey.

After a week of truly shocking and tragic events, I sped down to Chris Thomas’ Friday night for some much-needed booze, food, and good conversation. Chris’ house is quite amazing, as it sits on a huge grassy parcel inhabited by fruit trees, sunflowers, and crazy dogs. His landlord converted the ruins of a house that used to sit on the land into a sunken garden with benches and plants. It was nice to see something that had been past rehabilitation completely transformed into something beautiful and lovely and different. A few planes flew overhead, and I was so grateful to be in such urroundings on a clear night.

I had the pleasure of meeting Gin Thomas who is, as the French would say, fabulous. She told me all about the house she grew up in, a three-flat on 46th and Michigan with secret passageways and a history of gangsters and all sorts of illicit activity. I was practically drooling, I wanted to go over and check it out. I’m pretty sure her parents wouldn’t have appreciated it, though. Also, I reacquainted myself with Zannah Bradley (hey!) as well as with the yumminess of Tia Maria and half-and-half. The drink reminded me of high school yearbook meetings at a friend’s apartment off Park Avenue. We’d drink pitchers of Midori Sours and other sweet drinks, then gossip about our classmates. Chris’ party was just as fun, albeit with a serious moment when we talked about Tuesday’s events. It felt good to be in a room of people who were coming together both to celebrate and to commemorate.

I took a look at the vacant apartment in Chris’ building, just to have a peek. Chris’ landlord is an old German guy who’s lived all over the place, finally settling in Chicago about 30 years ago. He worked on the property himself, so the apartment was rehabbed with hardware and, in some rooms, wood rescued from other houses also built during the 1870s. There were pocket doors to the bedroom, which was almost as big as my current apartment. It was a great place, but I think Jacinda and I have found the perfect place for us and Isabella the Wonder Chicken-Dog.

It’s in, of all places, Lakeview. For someone who’s been yammering on and on about how much I loved Bucktown (even as I so despised my neighbors), we applied for an apartment nowhere near my current place. It’s in a building managed by a woman named Harriet who likes to gamble on those boats in Indiana, wears false eyelashes and a bouffant wig — maybe (Jacinda’s convinced it’s a wig, I’m not so sure) and calls you “honey” in every other breath. She’s so fabulous. I’m convinced she could be a waitress or a hostess at the Baby Doll Polka Lounge, or Nye’s Polonaise in Minneapolis. She’s so cool. And, considering the landlady at 2023 N. California never showed for three attempted showings, I’m thinking we’re going to be tenants on Belmont. Also, there are dogs galore in the building so Isabella will have playmates. So what if our car-driving friends and loved ones will never be able to park unless they resort to bribery or just removing other vehicles from their hard-won spots? There is a Walgreen’s next door, with a 30 minute limit. But I will shut up about the apartment-to-be, as I do not wish to jinx myself.

Sunday was a blur — meeting Harriet, shopping for Khloe’s engagement present from me, Jeremy, and the other bots in tech support at TAL (vintage champagne — appropriate, no?), and rushing down to Kathy’s. Through it all Jacinda and I yammered, occasionally doubling over and telling each other to shut up, we were laughing so hard. Note to self: buy tape recorder to note funny things she says. I attended services at Trinity UCC with most of the superfriends, a special service in remembrance of last week’s victims, and a reflection. The Rev. Wright made me lose my mind, he was so progressive and funny and totally right-on. As Kathy said afterwards, it wasn’t any extra-crispy special stuff we got — his brilliant reading of Psalm 137 was typical of her sermons, and so unlike anything I’d ever heard.

In all my years of going to church I’ve never been able to get up and clap when I agreed with the priest, which didn’t happen very often (no surprise as there are many things about Catholicism that just don’t jibe with me). But Rev. Wright had this incredible energy and righteousness that I could not take the smile off my face. If there was anything for me to take away from his sermon, it’s that we need to re-examine our relationships with ourselves, with our families, with the world. I’m tempted to tell my parents that I love them every time I talk to them on the phone, or to hug a friend a little harder when I see them. Eventually, I think I’ll get back to normal but I don’t think I want things to be the same.

Yesterday and today were hellish — people were calling in after four days of no trading, customers lost money, and I nearly lost my mind. I had a really difficult caller tonight before I left. I’ve spoken to this guy before and he never seems to remember me. I felt like he was bullying me, and maybe I was taking his complaints too personally, but when you say things like “This software fucking sucks!” I can’t help but feel a little threatened.

I don’t necessarily love my job, but I do take some pride in my company and my co-workers, who rock. I nearly burst into tears after ending the call but instead I pulled my socks up and hung out with Maria and Jolanta’s brand new 12 week old puppy. His name is Spencer. He looks like a little bear, only a little longer. He’s totally brilliant, and so well trained. He sits patiently by the door when he needs to go out, and knows how to shake hands. He, and Maria and Jolanta (who I haven’t seen very much all summer, which is totally my fault), were exactly what I needed right then, right there.

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~ by Jasmine on September 18, 2001.

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