Monday, August 27, 2007

A common desire...

This week is starting on a good note, mainly because it started in an apartment with running water. The week ended without running water due to the storms which Chicago saw on Thursday but in an attempt to further expand the use of cliches in this collection of essays, there was a definite silver lining in the storm clouds. I realized that even an apartment without water is still a pretty good place to call home.

High points of not having running water for three nights:
-An excuse not to do dishes
-A reminder that I always have a place to crash away from home
-The pudding I ate before I fell asleep, pudding I bought at the store on the way to my old friend Nat's house, pudding I wouldn't have bought had I not made the walk
-When the water finally came back on I had spent so much time wanting and hoping it would come back I finally gave up and sort of forgot about it and slmost gotten used to it
-A return to the futon

The power in my actual apartment didn't go out, the apartments are all connected to a back up generator but the hallways and lobby and streetlights were all dark. I'm not sure why/how this affected the water pipes but since water is included in my monthly rent I wasn't sure where to direct my questions. But I had power, I couldn't complain too much. Lots of people had nothing. On the walk home from work on Thursday the majority of the storm had passed, at least enough that I could walk through the streets and get an eye full of what had happened. The rain had stopped and all that was let was a little wind and a lot of dark buildings. I walked through the Rush & Division area of downtown and to my surprise a lot of bars in this area where still open. They had candles on all the tables and the atmosphere was very quiet and comfortable, a reminder that storms are just one more thing Midwesterners deal with. I don't think any tornadoes touched down in the city but there was a watch all afternoon, but once the rain stopped and the wind calmed life moved on. People weren't about to let the weather get in the way of their plans, including drinking.

The hallways of my building were lit by floodlights all attached to generators which cast crazy and heavy shadows and when mixed with the already old look of the former hotel I live in, a weird Escape From New York vibe was created. I discovered the lack of water at about 10:30pm, too late to find or want to find a place to crash, I was tired so I just went to bed without being able to brush my teeth or even wash my hands. I woke up and packed a tooth brush in my bag, threw on some deodorant, cologne and a fresh shirt and was off to work. The bus stop was full of the same, not once did I feel dirty knowing how many of the people in my neighborhood were going through the same thing. Once I got downtown I expected to see that scene in Batman where the Joker has contaminated all the heath and beauty products and the news casters look like hell during the evening broadcast, and instead it looked like it always does. Nothing looked different. The previous days weather had been near catastrophic and here was the same crowd of people returning to work, time marching on.

That Friday night I was still without water and two days without showering was too much, so I loaded an old snowboard backpack with clothes and my dop kit and then everything came full circle as I walked through Wrigleyville to my old address, my first address, the address with the futon on which I crashed when I first landed in Chicago last October. It is a common desire to want to go home, everyone feels it at some point. But with all the crap and headaches brought by the storm it brought one more reminder that things could be worse. It was a lucid feeling of comfort caused maybe by the contrast of a quiet night after a crazy storm, or maybe it was just the pudding.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Which led me to...

I was doing some research for work tonight which led me to a MySpace page which led to a blog which led to the below video. I've heard this before but I can't remember where, I'm sleepy and should have crashed two hours ago but that's an old story especially since my late (ish) night led me to this song and it was good to hear it again. I've been in a mood for ambient music lately, but maybe more on that later because right now it's past bedtime. It could be the simplicity of the song, the lack of words (very welcome lately) or the current overcast Chicago sky, but I'm looking forward to how this will affect my day tomorrow when I listen to it at work.

Update: The song has been good to me and it's called "Recurring" by Bonobo. It's now mid PM and I've been wearing that song out along with the newest single from Queens of the Stone Age which was featured on All Songs Considered last week. I've heard mixed reviews on Queens' latest album but I personally love it the same way I love Interpol's new album because it's just more music from a great band. Maybe it isn't all great the first listen (though it was for me) but their songs really build momentum for me the more time goes on. Try to find time and give it a listen, but definitely find time to listen to All Songs Considered. The NPR staple is one of the best radio music shows on the air and it's available for free stream for those rare moments when a break from the Current is needed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The cushion is all but gone...

I'm slowly and happily coming to realize what I won't do with my life and what I should abandon. Dreams on which I should give up, ideas I shouldn't bother writing down, fantasies over which I can finally stop dwelling, and it feels pretty fantastic. It's not a pessimistic kind of giving up, it's a realistic kind of giving up. I'm focusing on other aspects of the adult process and it's making me cut the clutter from other areas of my day and from my brain.

The entrance to my office building, like most big buildings in big cities, has meal detectors which need walking through before I get to sit at this computer and type this. There is also an x-ray machine and today the security guy monitoring everyone's bags asked, "Shoes?" as my stuff passed through. I was still a little sleepy as I stood there waiting for my bag (though not groggy, yesterday being the first "X" on the calendar of a sober household) and looked up at him in time to hear, "Are those your shoes?"

After the day job I have to go straight to the night job, and the plan is to walk instead of take the bus (which is actually faster when commuting inside the confines of downtown Chicago at 5pm on a weeknight). To work today I wore a pair of beat up Adidas which have a strange squeak in the left foot but are in no way worth abandoning since they are still comfortable and fit well and for the sake of sentimentality they were the last thing I bought in the Chicago area (Aurora outlet mall) immediately after getting laid off from my first adult job and then moving back to Iowa to work at a diner while exploring the country and sleeping on couches. Those shoes have been the most important part of my post college uniform and I'm sad to say that they're nearing the end of their run (literally because the cushion is all but gone and I can't wear them to run anymore). I looked up at the security guard and said yes, those are my shoes. He was smiling and said, "Big. Twelve?" No, they're actually size thirteen I told him. "Yeah, I was actually gonna guess bigger, but I didn't want to say anything."

It's pretty common for someone to comment on the size of my feet when they see them when people find out how big my feet are. I'm only six feet tall but I've had feet of a person four inches taller than me since I was twelve. It isn't easy finding big shoes when you live in a small town in the Midwest, which makes the random finding of my Adidas even better. As day-to-day routines come and go, things change and usually aren't as good as they used to be. That's not to say they're worse, just different when you add new elements. Starting my hunt for new shoes (and it will be a hunt and definitely not something as simple as walking into Footlocker and finding a new pair, this will require mail order) has prompted me to feel optimistic that I can move on and abandon old ideas, clearing room to concentrate on new stuff. My new shoes won't have the same arches or the same outlet mall back story as my current shoes, just like my new job won't have the allure of the Travel Channel, but knowing that the right options exist in the world as long as I put my glasses on and keep my eyes open it will make it a little easier for me to try on a lot of pairs of shoes.

Sidebar: You know how there's always one urinal a little lower than the others in the men's room? It's for little kids or shorter guys or whatever? Well a meeting was on break earlier today when I needed to use the bathroom so it was crowded and all the normal urinals were occupied. Not a big deal, but I was eaves dropping on two suits who were washing their hands and not really paying attention to the matter at hand or the lower than usual potty and accidentally pissed all over my leg while using the little kid urinal. This doesn't really add to my point about new shoes and limiting your pursuits, I just thought it was funny. Now I'm just sitting here waiting for it to dry.

Monday, August 20, 2007

To the bus stop on time...

The bus was late this morning, real late and everyone was pissed. I wonder if the people who get mad at the late bus are the same people who hate to go to their jobs, because for those people a late bus should be a blessing. Sure, it could lead to your boss getting mad and maybe getting fired but if you don't like your job that should be a good thing. It's easy for me to say, I like my job and I like being late for work so it's the best of both worlds, but the people who always throw a tantrum when public transit doesn't move according to plan seem to always be the kind of people who wake up not wanting to go to the office. It would be refreshing to see a completely packed #22 bus pull up to the stop with no capacity for more riders and hear someone say, "Dammit, I have to wait to get to work," or something less corny but along those lines. Instead it's usually, "I hate my job and since it's the main focus and largest consumer of my time I don't like the majority of my life and this late bus which I have no control over what-so-ever being late gives me one more thing about which I can be pissy," or something along those lines. Again, it's easy for me to say since I work I in an office environment that's more "get the work done at the specific time it needs to be done" job and not the "punch in at the top of the hour and push a pencil and look busy until 5pm" job. Not sure if I'm supposed to use quotes there or not, but I hope it conveys my point, point being people should relax. This is obvious and very cliche but so, so true. Things could be worse.

Even though I was late due to the bus I was excited that I would have been on time if the bus was on time. Usually I show up the the stop late and it doesn't matter if the bus is on time or isn't, I'm late and it's all my fault. I figured today to be the same and was surprised when I made it to the bus stop in time. I had a late night last night which featured the following, not in chronological order:
-a $4 bottle of wine which I feel obligated to buy last Friday and felt I had to get rid of last night by myself
-A girl at Borders reading a comic book which instantly excited me and then it was a killer let down when I found out it wasn't a comic (it had been raining and my glasses had water on them)
-two bottles of beer which I found in the fridge around midnight when I was looking for OJ which I drank telling myself that I need to ease back on the weeknight alcohol so I better get rid of these last two bottles so tomorrow night my fridge will be empty of temptation
-cutting my toenails
-cutting my fingernails
-feeling a huge sense of accomplishment after the toenail/fingernail cutting
-walking to the bookstore and smoking a cigarette, which I don't often do but I had one and only one and with my growing ideas of eliminating temptation I figured I should get rid of it and thought it a waste to just through it away
-chasing a cigarette with a piece of apple Bubblicious
-walking towards my favorite Thai restaurant on Lincoln and then turning myself around while telling myself that I don't need to spend the money, I have food at home, but still spending $7 (about what I would have spent at the restaurant) on one of those frozen but "healthy" Thai meals that comes in a bright plastic bag and found in your grocer's freezer when I only went to the store for orange juice
-enjoying dinner because that bag of frozen Thai was delicious and worth it
-sitting on my grandpa's old couch in my new apartment with the windows open as it rained and rereading part of On the Road which I had been talking about with a friend earlier in the week, all the while a little drunk which may seem very cliche and I can't deny that, I almost didn't include it in this post (essay? article?) but I decided that anyone who wants to thumb their nose at that last sentence can go fuck themselves, this is my story and last night was pretty much perfect, besides most of this stuff didn't happen the way I'm writing it, it says "fictional" at the top of this page and I'm just trying to make this text interesting

It was a night of indulgence and I didn't really earn it but that's how it goes. The DJ on the Current just referred to Minneapolis as a concrete jungle and yesterday's New York Times had a couple of great articles about walking through Manhattan. The day of work has gotten me in the mood for an after work walk, which will probably be interrupted by an after work nap. The problem with a walk is that it reminds me how much I like cooking up a gin and tonic in a plastic cup and walking/wandering Lincoln Park, but alcohol isn't supposed to be in the cards tonight. The problem with the nap is the reminder that naps are always good but naps are only great if taken after mowing the lawn, and I have no lawn.

Chicago is my favorite concrete jungle, especially on rainy days, but each day I miss not having a lawn a little bit more and more and more.

And more to come...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Easy, routine, unavoidable...

I'm not drunk right now though I'm pretty sure I was earlier today, definitely when I first woke up this morning at 7:45 when I opened my eyes to realise that my alarm had not been set and I was rolling out of bed when I should have been rolling out the door. No shave, a very quick iron on the shirt, no coffee or breakfast (not that I eat breakfast anyway but if I were a person who did so today would not have allowed for that). I don't want to sound like a college guy talking up how wasted he was, but if this page is meant to be a chronicle of the day-to-day then last night's impromptu bar visit needs to be documented. It was definitely a mistake, a wake-up call ironically enough of how out of touch I am with my social life. There was that great time when getting drunk on a week night was easy, routine, unavoidable. Last night, however, turned into a shit storm. Think back to college, remember that first time you got drunk when your gen-eds were all done, maybe the first semester of your junior year, you finally have a class schedule consisting of the classes you want to take, not the ones you have to take and a couple weeks into the semester you find yourself at a bar and feeling good but forget that you haven't been drinking much lately and the tolerance is down but the beer flows easy and the next thing you know it's 2am and your standing in line for pizza? That's what last night was, sans pizza, it was like junior year. It was drinking for the sake of socializing and not for the sake of getting drunk and in doing so I lost sight of how drunk I was getting. $1 beers? Jesus, I forgot that bars serve $1 beers.

Notable Things:
-Crushing hard on a girl with glasses (favorite) but after finally talking to her remarking to a friend that it was like talking to a washing machine, meaning there was noise going back and forth but nothing of substance came of it and it was pretty much a waste of time for both of us. I thought the washing machine line was pretty good at the time, but you sort of had to be there.
-Waking up to find an empty yet shredded box of Frosted Mini Wheat's on the floor of my studio. Not sure what happened there.
-A Caribbean cab driver who was in a genuinely good mood who may or may not have been playing steal drum music during my ride down Clark St. after the bar.
-Telling myself as I left the bar that a walk would be good for me and I didn't need to take a cab. That lasted a block and a half.

Course of Events:
Leaving the apartment at 7:15am, going to work, going to Sears to buy a pair of Levis which were reportedly on sale, going to the other work, hearing the suggestion of $1 beers after work, thinking I have too much to do, deciding a couple of beers not only wouldn't hurt but would in fact be good for me, looking at my watch expecting to see 12:15 and seeing 10:27, discovering I was at a Michigan State bar and getting a little mad, getting excited that the Hawkeyes were coming to Chicago in two weeks and then realizing that I'd been spacing off for a good twelve minutes while thinking about this, getting up to leave so that I could be in bed by midnight, "One more round?" seven times, stumbling into my building just shy of 2:00am, eyes open at 7:45am (as much if not a little extra sleep than I get most week nights), hot shower, Claritin, multi vitamin, Advil, an empty #22 bus signaling how late I was, Dunkin Donuts

This morning I had a check from a freelance job sitting on my desk, so apparently I was coherent enough to check the mail last night but it was news to me.

More to come...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Depending on the opposite...

I'm trying something new lately, inspired directly by Seinfeld (the show, not the guy). Remember that episode where George does the opposite of is first impulse? Well, say hello to my new lifestyle. The plan is to avoid initial impulses and sit back. Sort of like an angry husband (or Tawny Kitaen, or however you spell her name) are supposed to count to ten after getting angry, well that's what I'm doing. My first month in a new apartment was spent without cable or internet, which resulted in constantly watching DVDs because God forbid there is a quiet moment. Seinfeld season 5 (or 6, can't remember, whichever one Santa gave me that one Christmas and by Santa I mean Kathy) was heavy in the rotation, hence the new lifestyle and outlook. Meet a girl? I'll hold off on making plans but she's welcome to call me. Hear about a job prospect or a freelance opportunity? I'll submit some clips but if I don't do it today I'll do it tomorrow, and if the job is gone when I get there then so be it, I have enough money coming in to buy High Life, pay rent and pay Comcast (which includes Internet and cable and phone, though I don't own a telephone and haven't had a land line since 2002 but with this phone I'll be able to buzz people into my building from the comforts of the 3rd floor instead of walking down to the lobby to let them in, another move motivated by watching Seinfeld, plus the phone service only cost and extra $7 and hooray for package deals).

Since this is the first post in a long time and I'm in the writing spirit I'd like to say that this will be the first of many new posts, everyday at the least, but to be honest I doubt that will happen. In the spirit of my new opposite-of-my-impulse POV I can honestly say it may be two months before I post again. I thought they would have deleted this blog sight by now, but once again Goulash sneaks under the radar.

By the by, I was watching Mad Men on AMC recently On Demand (digital cable is my heroin) and not only is the main character named Don, but on episode two he ordered Goulash at a swank Manhattan restaurant. I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but I wanted to put that on the table for further investigation.

More to come, maybe, depending on (the opposite) of how I feel.

Why is spell check telling me to capitalize internet? I'm not doing it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Foxworthy Brand Beef Jerky...


I've been gone a little while, four months to be exact but I'm coming out of retirement (wearing the four five) and I'll do my best to keep the Chronicles strong. Boy oh boy do I have some stories for you. I'm going to try to keep things short and sweet and frequent rather than long and few and far between. Lots of random good stuff, for starters...

The reason I came out of retirement today was to share my new foavorite thing in the world: hearing the needle or other distortion from a record palyer while listening io MP3s. The music in question is Cookin' With The Miles Davis Quintet. For those of you who aren't familiar with this sound I hope you hear it one day. Basically it's caused when a record is transferred onto a harddrive and converted into an MP3, that way someone with an extensive record collection can listen to their music on an ipod without rebuying everything. The best perk of this soon to be over high profile internship (inhale) is the amount of music I've bben able to take off of the various harddrives throughout the office, and put nto my own itunes library. That's where this Miles Davis song I'm listening to come from and in the last I've nearly doubled my music, which means now I need an external harddrive but I have some tunes to listen to while search for it. In January, one of my first days at the internship, I got talking to the local content editor about the new Bloc Party CD. He said he really liked it (advanced copy) and I said I was excited to hear it when it came out. Then he told me not to wait and handed me the CD. I bet I listened to it ten times that week, not so much for the music itself but for the advanced availablity of the music.

As I type this I'm at the internship and the same local content editor, a guy whom I've been reading for years even before this internship was an option, is walking around the office offering everyone some Jeff Foxworthy Brand Beef Jerky. Not a bad way to break up the monotony of the midday slowdown.

I'm posting this without spellchecking. Caution, meet wind.

More to come...