410: iPapi

Yeah, I know that was five weeks ago that I last wrote. Without meaning to, I took the month of August off from writing. I’m like France that way — August comes around and I’m at the seashore, bumbling about like Jacques Tati in Mr. Hulot’s Holiday.

Friday, August 4: Possibly the last summer company party that we’ll ever have. I drive down to the party with Joe & Jacinda, taking Thom along as my date. My co-worker Sean catches a ride, and it is a lovely drive down LSD (that’s Lake Shore Drive, for you non-natives and non-residents) to the owners’ house. The usual picnic fare is served for supper, which is eaten at tables scattered across the lawn. Dusk turns to dark as people drink and eat. The DJ plays disco and old R&B sides while guests drink enough to dance. The night ends with me salsa dancing with a dev from the New York office. And of course, what’s could be lovelier than the iPapi, an idea for an inflatable love doll we had? Not only could you make music with it, you can listen to music on it, as it would also be an inflatable speaker system into which you can plug your iPod.

Saturday, August 5: After months of talking of doing it, Kathy, Adrienne, and I go to the Cascade Drive-In to catch “Talladega Nights”. Totally worth it, though I got us lost on an already long drive out to West Chicago, which may as well be called “As far as you can get from Chicago proper while maintaining the name Chicago, Illinois”. We munched on Popeye’s fried chicken in the comfort of Kathy’s Camry and tripped over small children playing in the walkways when we’d walk to the ladies room or go for a tub of popcorn.

Sunday, August 6: My note for this day read: “I [heart] Will Shortz.” Oh yes — Wordplay at the Landmark. Afterwards, I bought a book of crossword puzzles to work.

Monday, August 7: Clerks II — cute, and occasionally funny.

Wednesday, August 9 – I frighten the ladies next to me with my intensity. Not because I’m yelling or anything, but just because I’m totally focused on making sure that the Sox beat the Yankees in the second game of their three game series. The Yankees won 7 to 6. D’oh!

Thursday, August 10: I go to Sean’s after work for beers and chat. It was a gorgeous cool late summer night. Sean’s back porch is decorated with plants and strings of lights. It’s a makeout-worthy situation, except that Sean is gay, and I don’t know how appropriate (or in my nature) it would be to go out, find a guy, and bring him back to Sean’s place. But wouldn’t that be funny? Sean could rent out his backporch to young couples of various persuasions so they could mack and be macked on in a safe space. Ideal for teens with overbearing parents and people with roommates. Much like Japan’s famed love motels, only without the crazy theme rooms.

Friday, August 11: Damien invited me and some other folks to Fogo de Chao for a belated birthday celebration. Much to my disappointment, I didn’t put it away like I have in meals past at that fine establishment with their fine meats and superfine gaucho servers.

Saturday, August 12: Speaking of meat, Molly and I host a small barbecue at our apartment. Finally dusted off the grill, inherited from Maria. Drove up to Portage Park to buy food at the very reasonably priced A & G Fresh Market — a huge selection of ethnic foods, fresh produce, and a huge butcher and deli counter. Also, the music played over the PA was excellent. I was picking out potatoes while dancing around to Dean Martin. Brilliant.

Sunday, August 13: Hot Chocolate for lunch with Andrew and Rozi, then we went to see Little Miss Sunshine. Note for the day: “Bwa ha ha ha!” Also, Rozi gave me some fashion magazines to read, so I went home to loll on the couch and inspect Glamour for the lastest in lip gloss trends for fall 2006.

Monday, August 14: Kathy and I picked up our packets for the Nike Run Hit Remix 5-mile run we were doing. Something about just being in Niketown made me feel a little more motivated, though I was taken down a peg by all the tiny women milling about me, trilling “XS” or “Do you have a size 0?” when asked their shirt size. I glumly chose a men’s XL. Afterwards, we saw “The Devil Wears Prada” and I thought: “Oh the clothes are kind of ugly at times but I love the bags.” But was it just me, or does Anne Hathaway look like Liza Minnelli?

Wednesday, August 16: Mediabistro workshop with Laurie Scheer, who taught my screenwriting class. In person, she is as vibrant and funny as she was on-line, if not more so. I emerge from the three-hour workshop feeling reinvigorated (and a bit hungry). I send a few texts to Sean S. in New York, but we’ve yet to begin writing again. So Sean, yeah, I’m calling you out. We. Write. NOW.

Thursday, August 17: Okay, so I was nervouse about the Nike run. Not only because I didn’t think I trained well enough, or long enough, but because I had dinner at the Park Grill with Kathy, Adrienne, Will, and Robin (who cheered us on) and was sorely tempted to eat a big burger. I had the fish, drank water and diet coke, and then walked down to the start with my friends. We were among 10,000 people who were going to run a 5 mile route which would be dotted with live musical acts. Local acts got in on the fun, but the main attractions would be Young MC and Digital Underground, with De La Soul headlining the post-race show in the park. The start was slow. I trotted, shuffled, and jogged until I fell into a speed-walk. The Chicago skyline at night in summer is really beautiful, and it’s rare that I can get a view as privileged as I got walking down LSD, past the museum campus and Soldier Field, down into… what appeared to be the parking garage for McCormick Place. But even before that, Young MC was the first big act on the race — a great energetic act to start the evening. After him, Digital Underground! I stopped for the ‘Humpty Dance’ but left when Humpty Hump, having jumped into the crowd to perform, groped up on me when he sang “Hey yo fat girl c’mere are ya ticklish?” and I decided to just move on. That kinda ruined the rest of the night for me. I felt kinda gross, and it was all in fun, but I didn’t feel fun. I just felt fat and slow and wanting to get away. So I did. I jogged. I walked. I shuffled. I moved past the Elvis impersonator (who gave me a “Bless you, mama!” from his mini-stage when I jogged past, cheering for Elvis as I did), the bag-pipers, the *awesome* Taiko drummers, and the local bands who won contests to play the race. Around the aquarium I made friends with a Mexican journalist who was in Chicago as a tourist — she’d volunteered to walk the race, taking pictures for her running friends with their cameras while she walked and soaked in the view. I finished in 1 hour, 45 minutes — I will not even tell you how long it took Will aka “Iron Man” to finish. I know I was one of the last people to finish. But I finished, and look — I even got the (incredibly unflattering) picture to prove it.

Friday, August 18: Motherfucking snakes on a motherfucking plane! Yes, I saw Snakes on a Plane with Foster and Damien on a rainy night. Afterwards, Foster and I traveled north to see Jeremy’s band The Dundrearies. No snakes at the show, but the ladies room was well appointed with all sorts of toiletries and a lovely woman working as an attendant.

Saturday, August 19: Sean (of the makeout porch) had a party. A small party, to be sure, but lovely nonetheless. I stayed too late and, lacking cash walked halfway home. I found myself at the corner of Belmont and Western at 2:00 am, ignoring the hissing of a man in a small car while I waited for the Western bus and tried not to be scared.

Sunday, August 20: Khloé had me over for dinner. Salmon en papillote, green beans, a chocolate bread pudding with homemade custard. Jealous yet? No? Well, you should be.

Monday, August 21: A small dinner cookout for Sarah and Sanjay, Molly’s sister and nephew, who are visiting from Ann Arbor. Sweta the upstairs neighbor visits, as do Jessie and Carla.

Tuesday, August 22: I go to a free preview of Beerfest with Joe and Jacinda. One word: “Bwa hahahahahaha!” Also, Patrick and Will’s birthdays. Patrick, now that you are 25, your quarter life crisis may now begin.

Wednesday, August 23: It begins at 12pm with a text message. Rozi’s been at the hospital since midnight, having gone into labor. I am antsy all day, anticipating the arrival of the baby who I have come to think of as my unofficial niece or nephew. I relay messages to Jacinda, who is dying to know what is going on. I am too, but I don’t want to call Andrew too much. His cell phone battery is probably dying, or he has to field calls from his parents or Rozi’s. I give in around 2:00, and learn that Nathan has arrived. Mom and baby are fine. Later that afternoon, Andrew sends out an e-mail with subject “Arrival at ORD” and it’s official: I am now a Tita somebody.

Thursday, August 24: I’ve been thinking about getting a dog, but hemming and hawing because I am a commitment-phobe. Jessie and Carla bring over Gargo, a little beagle mix they found wandering around near Stanley’s Produce. Garbo is adorable and inquisitive and curious, but I can’t commit to even having her come for a brief visit, let alone being her adoptive mother. Which makes no sense, as she is great: well-behaved and not a howler. So what’s wrong with me?

Friday, August 25: Last day at work before vacation. I tried to tie up loose ends as best I could regarding projects, then scampered off to enjoy the first item of vacation business: visiting Andrew, Rozi, and Nathan at the hospital. There were overpriced, dead flowers in the gift shop, so I forwent buying a gift until, you know, there was something decent to buy, and make my way up. I heard Nathan before I saw him, pushing through a curtain in the family’s (!) room to see Rozi sitting up in bed, and Nathan swaddled in one of those carts they push babies around in at hospitals. He is tiny, wearing a cotton cap, and has red cheeks — he looks just like Andrew, only without the cool eyeglasses. Rozi, I must add, looked great — shiny hair and that glow I can usually approximate with a lot of expensive department store blush. Everybody looked sleep-deprived. Upon being informed that I was their first visitor at the hospital, I did a victory dance. Andrew and I went for food in the cafeteria while Rozi and Nathan had some alone time (read: nursing) in the room. Andrew is, to say the least, overwhelmed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them this calmly happy? Happily calm? We talk about getting the baby home, making sure the baby gets bathed by the night nurse, Andrew’s paternity leave, etc. After dinner, we returned to the room where I got to photograph Andrew feeding Nathan for the first time. I am too excited to weep in sheer happiness.

Saturday, August 26: Kathy nearly bought her dream car, but did not when the dealer would not budge on his asking price. This after a week of good feelings all around — she even got to drive the car out to her mechanic for an inspection! And yet — no. So buffalo wings were in order, and we stopped at a Friday’s on the way home. At home, we were a bit grumpy, and feeling like maybe we shouldn’t stay in to watch television. So Molly, ever the proactive soul, suggested drinks at the Charleston. The Charleston, being the popular neighborhood bar that it is, was crowded, so we slunk to the Artists Cafe and had some pints before a hip-hop show started at 10:00.

Sunday, August 27: I had a space on the Soul of Chicago tour, a private tour of the CTA organized by Tony Coppoletta. Starting at the Wilson stop on the red line, we rode south to 63rd & Ashland on the green line, then to Quincy on the brown/orange/purple line. Southwest to Kedzie on the blue/pink, then back up the red line to end at the Sheridan line. I had no idea so many hipsters were into the CTA. Also, Chicagoist provided snacks so we didn’t starve during the three hour tour. I noticed, though, a lack of diversity among the guests that appeared especially glaring when we were on the south side. How many times do you see a slew of mostly caucasian folks with cameras on the corner of 63rd and Ashland? I didn’t want to appear as though I was on some sort of bullshit pseudo-anthropological safari, but I didn’t want to make it any worse by yelling into a bullhorn “Attention! Pay no attention to the honkies on the corner.”

Monday, August 28: First day of vacation. I spent it at the movies, watching Hilary and Haylie Duff in “Material Girls”. Somehow, admitting that I would do such a thing by putting it in writing makes me feel better.

Tuesday, August 29: Hit the Museum of Contemporary Art, where a farmer’s market is set up in the rain. I buy two bunches of mint, and then realize I have no idea what to do with two bunches of mint.

Wednesday, August 30: Jacinda came over to yak, then we went to Jo-Ann Fabric to look at yarn.

Thursday, August 31: Did nothing. Oh man, do I love vacation. And then I watched what was possibly the dullest VMA’s of all time. Didn’t stop me from recapping them, though.

Friday, September 1: Andrew and Rozi invited me, Jacinda, and Joe over for pizza. When we weren’t poring over the piles of parenting books that have taken over Andrew and Rozi’s apartment, we were holding the baby. Taking pictures of ourselves with the baby. Cooing at the baby. Nathan took everything in stride as we wore ourselves out trying to impress him and making sure that we were his favorite non-parental adult. In that regard, I believe that I am still winning. Boo-ya! Afterwards, I stopped at the Lakeview Broadcasting Company, a new bar in Boystown, for Thom’s birthday party. A cool space, if a bit self-conscious — what good is having a semi-cute girl lounging in a glassed-in library for all to ogle if all she’s going to do is send text messages to her main gay, who is stationed elsewhere in the bar?

Saturday, September 2: Unventful flight to LGA from ORD. The rain in New York is not quite storm level, though it is steady and persistent. I waste $7 on a 1-day Metrocard, as there are no 7-day passes to buy anywhere in the airport. Why is there no Metrocard machine anywhere in the airport? Would the TLC (Taxi & Limousine Commission) throw a hissy if there was one? Hmph. Dad picked me up, and we drove home to College Point, where I got all sullen when my mom began her barrage of questions about my life. It was my own fault, as I am bad about keeping my parents posted on the basics — work, religion, romance (or lack thereof) — and they are so very very nosy.

Sunday, September 3: The parents head up north with my sister Jackie to hit the buffets at the Mohegan Sun. Justin, Patrick, and I, left to our own devices, went to see Beerfest and Idlewild at the local multiplex. The theater was overrun with tired parents of many nations, feeding their small children sugar and salt in all sorts of forms.

Sunday, September 4: Patrick and I went to the West Indian American Carnival. We were not the lone Asians in the crowd, though we did stand out. If not for our skin color then because we, unlike thousands of others, did *not* celebrate our heritage by wearing bikini tops fashioned out of the flags of our homeland. Though who could say what kind of fun would have awaited if we had? The parade was mainly trucks loaded with speakers blasting all manner of Caribbean music, mainly salsa and merengue. Not so much reggae, though most of the people wearing national colors wore Jamaican gear. The flags were really beautiful. Even more beautiful were the long lines of tents and tables offering grilled meat. Jerk chicken. Curried goat. Sorrel and green bottles of Ting. Big plastic bags of herbs and roots and flowers, visible through smoke from large firepits. You could buy squares of many types of meat and seafood on skewers, each drenched in homemade barbecue or hot sauce. Rice and peas. Jamaican patties. Lots of little brown children running around with juice on their faces, dancing to the music or gawking at the grown ladies in their carnival costumes. I saw women who must have been in their fifties dancing down Eastern Parkway wearing what amounted to little more than beaded bikinis, and tall sheaves of feathers and even more beads on their heads. Men on stilts danced frenetically to one truck after another. As it was a week before the primaries, volunteers were out handing out cards and fliers for various candidates. These fliers were most often used to fan overheated cleavages and necks. After the parade, Patrick caught the train home to Queens while I headed uptown to the Ding-Dong Lounge for drinks with my sister Joseline, her boyfriend Phillip, their friend John, and Sean S. We drank beers. We talked about bikes and bike stores. We drank more beer. We had a bucket of chicken from the Kennedy Fried Chicken across the street. There was more beer. Phillip disappeared for a few minutes, which was a cause for concern as he was rather inebriated, then reappeared with an even larger bucket than before. Which we finished. And then I went home to prepare for my side-trip to Philadelphia.

RHCP – Love Rollercoaster; Wilco – I’m the man who loves you; Ramsey Lewis – Dear Prudence; Lily Allen – Smile; The Beatles – Two of Us; The Charlatans – Opportunity; Otis Redding – Day Tripper; Liz Phair – Table for One


~ by Jasmine on September 18, 2006.

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