Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The True Story of the Storage Facility Full of Free Erotica from Mr. Anderson

So here's a true story that whenever I tell people this, they tell me it is very interesting. So now I will share it with you!

I work at this crazy bookstore that sells weirdo reading material, like books about wrapping Roy Orbison in clingfilm. We sell some kind of sexy stuff to, like arty erotica and sometimes vintage pin-up stuff, and then some stuff that's a little kinky (horse play!) or just like sex positive sex guides and culture books, etc. One day we get an e-mail from some guy who just went under the name John Anderson, which I am convinced is not his real name. He says that he has a storage facility full of sexy reading material that he would like to donate to the store. And he doesn't want money for it. But the catch is that we need to go pick it up,and we'll need a cargo van. So we get the cargo van and we show up and he's just this nice guy, maybe in his later 40's or so and this storage facility is out in the boonies, probably about an hour and half drive outside of Chicago.

We ride an elevator up to his second floor storage room and the place is practically lined with books and magazines and video tapes that we have no idea what's on them. He loads a rolling cart up with books, magazines and video tapes. My co-worker and I roll into the elevator while the guy stays in the storage locker, and the minute the elevator door closes we dig into the stuff, and we see that ther's varying levels of naughtiness. There's vintage cheesecake stuff, fetish magazines, She-Male books, envelopes with sexy trading cards, a bunch of old Eric Stanton-style Bizarre mags, XXX comics and graphic novels, pin-uppy Bunny Yeager-Bettie Page stuff, fetish-y hardcover photo books of latex bondage stuff -- just a whole bunch of stuff. I think some of the stuff he might even have bought from the store where I work. All in all, we pretty much filled up the cargo van. And it wasn't a small van. Just to give you an idea of the size, let it be known that my co-worker had traveled with his band in it on tour, and they had actually converted it for like 5 people to sleep while also housing all their gear.

John Anderson wouldn't tell us why he was getting rid of all this stuff but we had theories. Maybe he had this secret stash of stuff and he also had a wife who he was hiding it from, but she found out and is making him get rid of it. Or he's getting rid of it before she finds out. Another theory is that maybe he was being investigated for something, and he didn't want it known he had this stuff. Not that he had anything in the stash that was illegal. But there were a few books of photography featuring the work  of Jock Sturges. Some of the subjects in Jock Sturges' work are kind of young, if you know what I'm saying. (It's a controversial situation with his work.) Anyway, all we had were theories to work with why Mr. Anderson was just giving us this stuff for free. He wouldn't take any money either, as if he wanted it to be as clean of a break with the stuff as possible. But what's even crazier, and what makes me discount all of those theories is that there was stuff he wouldn't let us have, that he kept in the storage facility. I still wonder what THAT stuff was.

I remember getting all of the stuff back to the store and when I had more of a chance to look thourgh it all, I wrote him an e-mail to thank him, and I asked him if we could at least give him store credit. He never wrote back.

For what it's worth, it's not like a lot of the material was that shocking to me. (Just as an example, at the store when we received another photo book of women urinating in public, I said real blase-like, "Oh yeah, volume 2. Whatever.") But it was shocking to be given this material freely and in such bounty without any exchange of money. When we got it back to the store I found a number of things in it that made me exclaim every time, "Oh my god! This cover would be awesome in an ad!" It took me months to archive everything and do all the research finding how much everything was worth. Even to this day we still have some of the stuff. I think this all happened around 2004 or maybe 2005 or so.

Even now, whenever somebody buys something from this weirdo stash of erotica and porny stuff, we refer to it as the stash from Mr. Anderson, and we always say it like the guys in The Matrix, when they go "MIST-er An-der-son."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Sound of No Hands Clapping

...Also! I hate it when I'm at any sort of live musical performance and they're like "Now audience participation! Clap your hands! Ladies in the house! Clap your hands! Now the men! Now clap your hands!" Clap your hands?! That's bullshit. I will decide when I clap my own fucking hands. In fact, unless I'm doing that sort of standard before and after audience thing you do before and after a performance, I DON'T DO HAND CLAPPING. That's lame. Hand clapping! Who do people think they are with preposterous imperative commands like that? Fucking motivational speakers?! BOOOOO.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Podcast Adventures and the Importance of Cultural Documentation

I just finished the second episode of the Quimby's podcast! I really enjoyed doing all the work on it, from the interviewing the guests, to the digital editing, as well as kinda monologe-y stuff in the introduction and conclusion that was silly and fun, then splicing everything together. I even enjoyed some of the problem solving about the uploading. For the stuff I need a little help with, I have a date with an Apple one-to-one support rep tomorrow to help me, specifically with some questions that have been popping up about configuring the data upload process, mostly in reference to getting the podcast on I-Tunes. (Apple One-to-One, the best $99 I've ever spent ever, ever, ever). I did get the first episode approved/uploaded successfully to I-Tunes already, but I'm intentionally not drawing as much attention to the podcast on I-Tunes until I get all the details the way I want them there. Right now you can listen to the podcast and subscribe to it at for streaming live or downloading individual episodes. You can play it on your I-pod or computer. (The first episode is there to, where I interviewed Margaret Hicks, who wrote a book called Chicago Comedy: A Fairly Serious History.)

So for this second episode, I interviewed the authors of The Beat Cop’s Guide to Chicago Eats (Lake Claremont Press), Sgt. David J. Haynes of the Chicago Police Department and his partner-in-crime, blogger Christopher Garlington. They were fabulously entertaining and did an event for their book at Quimby's about 2 weeks ago. The book has outrageous stories from working cops, Chicago cop lore, recipes and a bunch of other fun stuff. The idea is that all the meals have to be under like $10.00 (or was it 5? I don't remember.) The book talks about all the regions of Chicago and suggests where to go and even comes with coupons. It's a lot of fun.

I was just ruminating about how ever since I can remember, as a kid up through now, I have enjoyed documenting things in written, audio and/or visual form. It might be a transcript of things that happened, it might be a set of photos from an event, or it might be a recording of something. What immediately springs to mind is how when I was a kid, I used to love, love, love recording sill things with my friends on a tape recorder then loving the playback too, mesmorized (and also tickled) by how we could create entertainment just by hitting record; as an adult I would say that hasn't changed much, except that instead of calling it "entertainment," I would upgrade "entertainment" to "art." But for the most part, I feel the same way about recording now: Turn on the record button! The performance and the documentation of it has started! This recording is a document of the moment! Of the event! Of the culture! Of the society! Of a moment in history! A summarization of all of history! Of humanity! At a place in time! As a summization of ALL time until now! A document of what we have evolved to! And as something universal about the human spirit and predicament! And so on! ...I think of when they flash the title of the movie American Movie right after Mark Borchardt says that he funds his movie by maxed out credit cards. The way Americans fund art! Debt! Art! Poverty is the existence of the artist! And so on! The point being, perhaps that what documentation is, at its best, is in some way an encapsulation of something in cultural history. P.S. Am I remembering the opening sequence of American Movie correctly?

In grade school I once recruited fellow classmates to read a transcript I made of a field trip we had taken. The teachers let me and my actors and actresses out of fourth period for a week! Then we performed it for all the other classes. In high school I remember forcing my friends to go out with me and pretend we were aliens documenting our findings (OK, that is pretty nerdy -- especially when I share this fact: I had just read all the Hitchhiker's Guide series). 20 years later, the third issue of my zine Caboose was mostly a transcription of a round table discussion with friends about the sociological intricacies of karaoke, our favorite pastime. And then a few years ago, I took photos of notable things my dad, a veterinarian, has had to surgically remove from animals. In Caboose #7: Britney Spears 101, I reproduced selections from my journal when I was sick. The idea wasto use it as a filter from which to view paralells in popular culture -- since when I was sick, Britney Spears was also making her way through a series of public meltdowns. In fact, just a few days ago I made a video specifically devoted to one evening's activity of Punk Rock Karaoke, which consisted of both video and photos, because I felt like somebody needed to do that before the awesomeness of the evening was swept away to the past. (A recording company that some of their karaoke versions they record and make them into actual karaoke files with graphics and they make their own videos?!! How much more awesome can that be?!!!)

I think it is both enjoyable and important to creatively process things I've watched, heard, read and otherwise consumed.

Isn't that what good journalists do? Just thinking aloud on that one.

Just recently, I had this idea for a recording series: So the Poet Laureat from 1997-2000 was Robert Pinsky. He founded The Favorite Poem Project, which recorded Americans reciting their favorite poems, but the catch was that it had to be a favorite poem you memorized. It couldn't just be someone reading it aloud -- you actually have to have it memorized. And it wasn't necessarily famous people doing it -- it was sort everyday people doing it, like insurance salesman who loves an Ashbery poem, to, among other things, show that Americans were fully capable of enjoying art. And they created this big database of it.

Well, I had an idea that's kind of a take on that. And it's this (stay with me here): I keep ending up in these social situations where I'm talking to someone about something and for whatever reason, they have some spiel that they've memorized from necessary repetitive recitation or just hearing something a  lot. Everybody I know has at least one of these types of things they've memorized, probably you too! Usually it's something you've memorized from some sort of blue collar job you've had -- for me, it's the consignment spiel I go into at work -- "So the 2 things I always tell people when they consign stuff is: 1.) Don't let more than 6 months go by without checking in on your zine or we may assume ownership and 2.) If any of your contact information changes, let us know so we can keep our records updated." I also have spiels I still remember from past jobs, like knife selling: "highly engineered thermo-resin material and made out of 4-40A grade steel!" You get the idea. For some people, whatever it is that they've memorized might not necessarily be work-related, it's just something they hear a lot, and they can deliver it in a super awesome impression which is always awesome. Last night, for example, we had a party and a guest did a hilarious (and spot on) impression of the voice on the intercom at the Village Thrift in her neighborhood. So my idea is to record people doing whatever their memorized spiel is. Everybody's got one. It's a cross between The Favorite Poem Project and Studs Terkel. What would I call it? Thoughts? Anyone? Anyone? Also, do you have something you've memorized and want to be included?

Or perhaps you want to take on this project? I'm pretty overcommitted as it is. I'd be happy record you recording someone else and present it back to you as some sort of statement about our humanity.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Delving Into the Space-Time Continuum Makes Everything Else Seem LAME LAME LAME

So I just finished watching "Altered States" and everything seems anti-climactic after that. Even writing feels anti-climactic (anti-climatc? That's anti-climate? Whatever). So it seems everybody has seen this movie except for me, But in case you haven't, this movie is about about a professor who uses things like sensory deprivation tanks and drugs to investigate the "primal self" and what happens when one regresses to that state. I can't remember why I put this one in the Netflix queue but I think it probably had to do with the fact that numerous people at numerous different times in my life have told me to watch this movie. William Hurt plays an eccentric dude who uses himself as a guinea pig in the experiments and he through the MAGIC of brainwavey-sciencey-electrodes-and-hallucinagenic-blady-bla triggers a method of regressive space-time continuum travel and so on. A little pseudo-science-y but hey, that's why it's science FICTION. If a movie is entertaining enough it will butter up my critical abilities and more than willing to suspend my disbelief. The minute I hear terms like "space-time continuum" or "primordial self" and "hallucinogenic" my outer-limits radar goes up and I'm pulled in.

But then, the movie ended. And it seemed awfully quiet in here.

What it makes me think of is how some type of movie or book or art or piece of music will inspire me while I'm enjoying it but then when it's over, after the credits roll, after the song is over, when there's quiet, everything seems dismal and well, less inspiring.

And then when I force myself to sit down and write about something or work on something, it reminds me how much of a non-flowy style of writing I do -- that is, since I bleed through the things I write (as opposed to sprinting through), editing while I do it and well, not letting it really flow out -- that I am reminded of how much work goes into something that an audience sees, unaware (at least on an immediately conscious level) of all the work that went into the final product.

When I hear that piece of music that inspires me, when I see a comedian that gets me jazzed, I'm not usually thinking about how much work they put into it at the time, but I do think about it later, after the fact, especially when I'm feeling guilty for not making time to work on my own creative projects. I remember hearing some comedian talk about his process of writing and he said something to the effect that the process of sitting down to do the writing is sort of tedious. Who said this? Was it Paul F. Tompkins? It might have been. I have been enjoying his podcast and material and his many appearances on other peoples podcasts and shows.

When we're inspired by some type of performance or recording or art thingy, what we're really seeing is the final product all packaged up. It might look sort of effortless, but we all know somewhere in the back of our heads that it's all practiced and timed and all that, but the best performances LOOK effortless. Or is effortless really the right word? Maybe not -- when you see some people sing they look so impassioned with their heart into it, emoting, that it certainly does not look effortLESS. Perhaps "effortless" is the wrong word. Perhaps "skilled" is a better word? Instead of a performance looking effortless, perhaps it looks "skilled." Whatever.

Different trades and types of performances have different versions of what skilled looks like. It's like how I make no bones about the fact that my typical MO for performing and writing is pretty much that I try really hard to make it seem "nonchalant" (which I suppose is a version of "effortless"). I was talking to someone who wrote a book about Chicago comedy and we agreed that one of the hardest things that standup comedians have to do is make their performance sound nonchalant, which I personally think is a lot harder than someone acting abut something passionately.

The idea of that final presented last draft being the initial thing that an audience encounters reminds me of how when you meet someone, you're encountering that person at that moment in their life, after they've gone through their whole life up to that point, growing, maturing, learning, developing as a person. You don't see all their fuckupness up until that point. I love this idea. I also love the idea that you can meet someone at a particular time in your life and you really get along well, but if you met them earlier than you might not have gotten along as well. I like to think of it as a sorted fated ripeness type of thing, as if to say "I wasn't ready for you yet." That's such a delicious concept to me.

Anyway, people only see the part of you that's matured over many years to that point. So when we read the book, enjoy the movie, meet the person, drink the aging wine, we haven't seen the mistakes, first drafts, bitter youth, hard work that went into the maturation.

Another problem I'm having, and this is a problem that this experience with  "Altered States" seems like a good example of, and that is that I enjoy watching movies, reading literature about, and having discussions that lean towards things that are philosophical and meaning of life-y. That makes the things that are not related to lofty and spacey topics such as that totally dismal. It makes me not want to do things like run errands and work out and do laundry and interact with people who are not into those things. I can see why science-fiction geeky types are totally uninterested in personal hygiene or getting a job. I mean, I'm pretty good about both personal hygiene and having a job, but my point is that once you get your head into the stars it's hard to want to come down into reality about the non-numinous things like flossing and paying bills.

I remember in college I took a class about jewish mysticism. (Sidetone: the class was taught at the campus hillel. The teacher wanted everybody to call him Mickey.) One of the things the professor kept stressing was that one of the things that Jewish mysticism embraces is this notion that the everyday activities like cooking could be mystical. I never understood this. How? If someone could explain to me how to make paying bills and cleaning the kitty litter and configuring the monthly budget mystical I would do a lot more of that. That's the thing: reading spiritually and philosophically engaging material and seeing movies about that kind of stuff makes the rest of life sort of suck. Because everything else seems unimportant. It's like coming in from 40 days of talking to god in the desert and having to go be an office administrative assistant; everything else seems pointless.

The minute a movie I've enjoyed ends and I've exhausted the bonus features on the disc, the house is quiet. It's like I had a big fun party and now all the guests went home, and I have to clean up the mess and it's all quiet. I tend to stay up until the late hours watching all the bonus features because I don't want the movie to end, and watching bonus features is the closest thing to the movie not being over.

Want to come over? Maybe if you're here talking to me about Terrence McKenna and the formation of human consciousness it would make cleaning out the bottom of the toaster a lot more tolerable. 10am? See you then.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Customer Service Admissions

So I just had the best experience with Netflix, which I was not expecting. I had returned The Butterfly Effect probably like a month ago and it never showed up as being returned in our queue, so we didn't get the next movie we were supposed to be getting. And I keep putting off contacting them because I was second guessing myself, thinking that maybe I really didn't return it, and that it was in some DVD case somewhere. I thought maybe it was in the DVD case for The Rockafire Explosion Documentary DVD about the animoanatronic (what the fuck? what is the word I'm looking for here? animatronic?) band that was at Showbiz Pizza -- and well, OK, we actually have 2 DVD copies of that movie because one is scratched and then the other one is the replacement but that one was supposed to be a gift, and then -- oh, just forget it. I know I sent the disc. I remember walking to the mailbox and dropping it in.

The point is I decided to contact Netflix and tell them the disc was mailed. I did this thing where I call customer service on my phone and then put it on the speaker function, so I don't have to cradle my phone on my shoulder (which is impossible to do with a cell phone pretty much -- although I suppose I could put on the hands free device but that means I have to go find that somewhere). So anyway, I put the phone down and let it run with me on speakerphone while on hold and meanwhile, I navigated around on the website trying to find what I'm supposed to find to report the problem. I figure, if I can figure out how to report the problem before they answer than I can just hang up. This seems very smart to me. I am patting myself on my back AS WE SPEAK.

Just as I was getting to the page where you go to report a problem like this, a customer service person came on. I talked to him about the problem and he said he would mark the movie as being lost in the mail. He said that he'll send me the next thing in the mail and that the movie is "Perfume." He asked me if I've ever read  the book of it and I said, "No. Why have you? Is it awesome?"

And he said, "Yeah, it's really good. Both the book and the movie."

"Really? I'm super excited about it. But the other ones I have at home I haven't watched yet, and I've had them for a while. They're sort of holding up the queue. I just need to get over it and send them back."

Then he said, "I know what you mean. I actually have the type of account that you can have 8 at once. So does everybody else here. None of us get all the way through all the movies we have."

I thought this was interesting. First of all, you would think people who work for Netflix would get it free. Secondly, you would think that they just get to bring the DVDs home and not have to have them sent through the mail. Well, maybe they're outsourced at a location that doesn't have the discs on hand. Or something. I guess I just imagined it's like if you work at a library and can hack into your own account and make it so that you don't own any overdue book fines, and you get first dibs on books when they come in and so on.

I love the idea of having somewhat personal conversations in a somewhat impersonal setting, like having an intimate conversation with a customer service representative. I always find that amusing when they do that in movies.

Sometimes I have weird interactions with customer service representatives, like this guy at a magazine distributor that I used to have to call to deal with account stuff regarding the bookstore where I work. The guy would ask me how I was and then I'd reciprocate the question out of typical good manners. But the weird thing was that each time, he's be super earnest and be like, "Thank you so much. Nobody ever asks me how I am." I found this weird. Nobody ever asks him back how he is? I find this hard to believe. I mean, I pretty much work a customer service job and people ask me how I am all the time. Even to the detriment of he conversation. I'll answer the phone at work and the first thing a lot of people say when they call the bookstore is "How are you?" Or sometimes they're strangely casual, and they'll say, "How's it goin'?" This annoys the fuck out of me. I'm not answering the phone for idle chit chat. I have shit to do. So I cut to the chase by not even reciprocating. I just say, "Fine. How can I help you?" Want to know where I learned to do that? Please don't shoot me when I tell you this. For a brief while in my twenties I listened to Dr. Laura. I know, I know, she's crazy. Kind of Republican-y but then also someone who converted into Judaism so she has that sort of devotion that only people who convert INTO something get, all crazy. Is there even a file card in the space-time continuum card catalog for someone with both of those characteristics? I guess I just think "Republican" when really she's conservative, and that doesn't necessarily mean you're necessarily both. But in my world, they're kind of the same.

OK, I have to go check her out on the internet now, because I have no idea what has become of her in the intervening years of me listening to her and now. BRB.

I'm back. Looks like she's on Sirius radio. Isn't that the same network or whatever that Howard Stern is on? Also, it says her show is uncensored. Is she into swearing now? Like maybe she gets mad at people for shacking up and having kids out of wedlock and then swears loudly at them? I did notice she posted a picture of herself on a motorcycle. So maybe there's some swearing. Maybe some spitting too.

Anyway, for a while I got really into listening to her, because she was so aggressive and mean, and I was fascinated with how she would just make fools of people on the phone. It's kind of like eating food that you know is really bad for you but you can't stop, even though you also know it's also sort of disgusting. Like Funyons with Cheese Wiz or peanut butter on a spoon right of the jar or eating 17 Kit Kat bars at once or something. I just had to listen. It's like listening to people argue when when they're in public. I'm all ears. Pretty much anybody emoting or being super mean in public, it's like I have dog ears for that.  Anyway, Dr. Laura would interrupt someone who she felt wasn't getting to the point fast enough and just go, "What would you like to talk to me about today?" Or maybe sometimes she might say, "What did you want to ask me today?" It's kind of condescending and not particularly nurturing but that's the way she is. So that's pretty much what I learned in my twenties: how to use Microsoft Excel and how to cut an otherwise friendly conversation short.

Not the best way to make friends.

The truth is that I actually hate talking on the phone.

But the Netflix guy was nice, and for once I felt quite magnanimous. I was so ecstatic that I actually got what I wanted. And endorphin levels were running high. I was all ready to express my gratitude with joking around with the Netflix guy. Lucky him.

But this nice customer service interaction is not bound to happen with any amount of frequency any time soon. After all, by the time whatever my situation is that results in me calling customer service, there's probably a reason why I didn't call them until now -- now I have something I need to talk to somebody about, so of course I tend to go into stuff all annoyed and confrontational. Just thinking about having to call any customer service for anything is making me all fidgety right at this moment.

So "Perfume" will be here any day. Now I better finish watching the other movies that have been here for 27,000 years: "Word Wars" and "Little Miss Sunshine." Joe even already watched "Little Miss Sunshine" and said I would probably like it, so maybe I really will get around to watching it, now that it has the Mason stamp of approval.

And oh! We saw the "X-Men: First Class" movie. It was good. Oh, origin stories! You rock my world!

But the popcorn at the other theater is better.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Me Doing Monologue Stuff

I'm performing a monologue and improv players are using it to inspire sketches.

A friend of mine, the amazingly talented and hilarious Chrysteena Lairamore is in an improv troop is in an improv troop that's doing a show thats' style is similar to the Armando. And she asked me to participate.

Armadillo, what? Huh? What? So Armando is long form improv format that starts with a storytelling-style monologue. After the monologue, players play improvised scenes inspired by it. And I've been asked to do the monologue.

Well, in Chicago, Armadillo -- I mean Armando -- has mostly been done either co-ed or just by guys. And you know what? It's time for some ladies to take the reins. And have you looked at the Just For Laughs Fest here in Chicago June 14th-19th? Out of 100 comedians on the bill, I can count the amount of females particiapting on MAYBE one hand. So if you're going to any of the events during the fest, balance it out with this alternative, with some talented female players plus me doing monologue.

Here's the info:

What: All-female spin-off of the Reader Recommended 'Tibia Ballerina' Show"
When: Wed, June 15th, show starts at 8pm
Where: Chemically Imbalanced Theater, 1422 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago, IL 60613
The closest public transportation is the Sheridan stop on the CTA Red Line and Irving Park stop on the CTA Brown Line.
Ticket info, I will have Chrysteena jump in here: "People trying to buy tickets in advance should just call and ask about the 8pm Wed Show. Since it's a sort of unofficial show, it's probably not going to be put up on the website." The box office number is 800-838-3006.
Other Helpful details: All shows are BYOB. Also, all shows are BYOLOFCATWPBFL. That's Bring Your Own Lots of Flowers, Candy and Things With Pretty Bows For Liz. Oh, did I say that out loud?
Who else is involved?: Chrysteena Lairamore, Angela McMahon, Leslie Nesbit and Natalie Kossar

Incidentally, if you go to Chemically Imbalanced Theater website, you will see that there's a show called The Book of Liz. That's not me. That's a totally un-related play by David and Amy Sedaris. How nice of them to name their play after me!

See you then!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Metropolis, No Bones About It

OK, so this magazine Meatpaper my husband and I have subscribed to in the past, is asking for submissions about bones. My husband suggested I write a piece about my weird aversion to bones in meat, but I realized that I don't actually have that much to say about them, other than the fact that they sort of gross me out. But then next, as I started to write out it, I realized that it sort of goes deeper -- which actually, is no surprise because, honestly, the human mind is pretty amazing; as one goes further into thoughts about pretty much any topic, the reasons that back up any opinion are pretty, well, detailed.

BUT -- the way that I write about things doesn't tend to really lend itself to typical publications, I think. I don't really do narratives in any sort of traditional sense that lend itself to fiction, and I don't really quite do things that are sort of thesis-y either. 

My style is really more, well, kind of stream-of-consciousnessy-journal-day-by-day style, which after a while plus retrospect, turn into something ovewviewy and thesis-y, but not in a coherent typical essay style. And not even in a hip "creative nonfiction" way either. However, this particular assessment on my own personal writing style is also, as of this moment, based on what I've been thinking about naturally plus what I've been thinking about after having multiple beverages at the Charleston, a few blocks away from my house, after a particularly trying 10 hour work day that included one (1) irate consigner, one (1) hour at the Apple store getting help with my backup drive,  two (2) hours spent sorting the credit card number of the store where I work and unauthorized charges traced to a website in New Jersey, and finally, two (2) hours of monthly e-mail update composition involving other people's too-late-in-the-game event info for the store's subscriber base. Also, a package arrived with overdue postage for $6.25. So I'm just saying that my opinions overviewing my own personal writing style are not exactly, well, um, awesomely articulated I guess, especially after a day that I've just had combined with my efforts to elevate my mood with the aid of deliciously high calorie designer microbeverages. By this I mean that when I got home, my husband Joe accompanied me to the bar down the street, where after 1 Belgian ale + 1 exorbitantly-priced hearty cider, I was announcing things like: "That thing looks like a reel-to-reel on the wall. And also, it looks like a face with a headgear!"

So perhaps this is not the best moment to accurately describe my writing style.

But what I will say is that I don't actually plan on sending piece to Meatpaper; I don't think they'd really be all into it in the way I imagine they're looking for. However, this IS nonetheless, what I think about when I think about my weirdo aversion to bones in meat when I'm eating. I find this last sentence I just wrote particularly funny, because it sounds like I'm trying to do some Raymond Carver thing, like This Is What We Talk About When We Talk About Me And My Aversion to Bones In Meat When I'm Eating and How It Totally Kind of Grosses Me Out or whatever.

So here's what Meatpaper sent out as their call for submissions:

We are collecting short, personal essays for our “Meat Up” Section. The next theme is “bones!”
Do you have a particular predilection for or aversion to bones? Do bones play a significant role in the cuisine of your family or culture? Have you had a compelling encounter with a bone that has made its way into your personal lore? We’d love to hear from you. E-mail your very short essay — 300 words or less — to stories [at] meatpaper [dot] com by July 8, 2011.

Here is what I wrote. I do not think I will send it to them:

I was vegetarian until the day that I met my husband. You know how you always go out to eat a lot when you meet someone new? Well we’d always go out to eat and he would order a hamburger or something like that that was meat-centered. He’d ask me if I wanted a bite and I’d always say no, and I’d ask him if he wanted a bite out of my food and he'd say no. But one day I said yes. And it was on his hamburger. And from then it was a slippery slope.  In fact to this day, when given the chance, he’ll order meat and I’ll often order the vegetarian option.

But, I feel like I’m a vegetarian at heart. And that is because the only meat that I’ll eat is when it’s so far off the bone and totally processed that it looks like fake meat. If it is too close to its animal form then it grosses me out. If it still has skin on it or it’s encasing a bone I mostly can’t go near it. If it’s chicken breast I can’t touch it unless it’s super-processed with chemicals and machines and then made into the shape of a tiny chicken breadstick, but without bones. In fact, the more cartoony the meat is, the higher the liklihood is that I’ll be willing to consume it. The closer real bacon looks to the cartoony Ren and Stimpy-looking vegetarian bacon you get from Morning Star, then the more likely I am to eat it. I can’t stand animal fat, so most bacon is out. The closer something is to being carcinogenic, like charred beef the consistency of a rock instead of medium-rare, the higher the probability is that I'd consider eating that as well.

Where did this come from? Even when I was a kid, before the days of diving into vegetarianism, I was adverse to food made from animals that had bones in it. My mom would make steaks for everybody and I would have to have a hamburger. And as I write this, my cat laying on my lap, and I feel sort of guilty for going back to eating animals. That was years ago. I’ve been with this man who turned me into a carnivore for over a decade.

Maybe I’m scared of death and how gruesome it is, and that’s why I have problems with eating meat that reminds me that it used to be an animal. Bones, blood, skin, guts – is my aversion to that stuff unless it’s in some processed form, does that mean I’m only able to handle my food if it’s been preprocessed and prepared in advance in some way that makes me feel less guilty for eating it?

Do I need something in my life to pre-process things and sugar coat them for me in order for me to consume them? Does that hold true for things besides food? Are there examples of things that I can think of that I need someone to prechew before I can consume them? Or pre-process?

And anyway, it's more than 300 words, so there. And it's sort of cheesy anyway. Meh, those grapes were SO SOUR anyway.

Also! I'm almost done watching the second season of "Dead Like Me." Did anybody in the world watch this show besides me? I wouldn't say that I am obsessed with it because I have not spent time researching anything about it on the interwebs, but I will say this: there is a British guy (character?) on it who looks like a poor man's David Tennant, and I wonder if that was intentional...? One thing that totally interests me is that the main characters meet twice a day practically at their favorite waffle house. I love that. I wish I had a group of friends like that, but I've never been part of a gang like that. Also, I've never been recruited to be a grim reaper, so you know. And also! That's TV! Not real life! HELLO. What I will say though is that I am comforted by the idea of a place being a central spot to be at -- an adult version of Denny's when we were in high school, the place to go and be seen. An Algonquin Table type of group place scene to be part of. But I'm not a regular drinker. And I don't have a bar I frequent to be the where-everbody-knows-your-name type of destination. And also, I've never really had a real group of people that I belong to. I desire all of those things. I will never have it. I have come to terms with that. Well, whatever. There are certain things I will never have. One is an ability to do quick math for tips. Another is an enjoyment in preparing food. And the final one is a group of friends where everybody loves each other and we all go to some bar and hang out and ruffle each others hair and inspire each other with creative endeavors. I have come to terms with all of these things and realize that no life is perfect.

But! I was just thinking about how lucky I am in certain ways, in spite of my sort of my trying day. Joe and I were walking home after our Charleston sojourn which is a few minutes walk from our place. I saw a few bicyclists making their way home. I heard a noisy crowd at another bar that was on our walk home. I saw a few people walking dogs.  I saw my next door neighbor's porch light click off, which means that she was going inside, and I had just missed her, even at that sort-of-but-not-really late hour of 11:30pm on a random Wednesday night. That means she was just outside smoking with her glass of wine. I often see her outside, and we'll chit chat as I sit on my stoop and she stands down on her front porch. Sometimes I join her on her porch for a glass of wine, or sometimes we carry on incredibly intimate conversations from that far away from each other, like probably a good 20 feet away from each other as I'm at my place on my front porch atop the stairs and she's at hers in front of her ground floor apartment. We're pretty much shouting. And even though the only things we have in common are some family-related characteristics (mental illnesses that run in both of our families), we still have these strangely long conversations where we sort of shout across the way, which I kind of like. Also, as I was settling down on the couch about midnight to write this, my roommate came in at his usually hour and gave me a rundown of his adventures for the evening which usually entail people or bands with weird nicknames that I enjoy. He's usually out so late that when he has to get up super early for work the next day it's difficult, so he shaves off time by not showering in the AM and instead showering after work at night, because he's in such a rush in the morning. All of these things remind me that this type of place I live in is a metropolis like Chicago. The houses are close together enough that I can shout to my neighbor to have a conversation, and I see people riding their bikes home from parties and bars and late night grocery errands. It reminds me of what I loved about college, of all things, that people are doing stuff into the PM, reminding me that there's probably someone awake no matter where I'm doing, no matter what the time, and they're doing their thing and I'm doing mine -- the world doesn't just shut down just because the sun goes down. I love, love, love that. Even when I have a shitty day, the city still moves and people still do things, even if they're only separated by one building or one block. Always so much going on. I will never see it all but I am glad it's there. It comforts me.