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Saturday, June 28, 2003

Americana saving the world by dinnertime
You all probably have the funeral in procession for me, assuming that I have proved Columbus wrong and really did drop off the face of the earth, where sea monsters awaited my arrival. That's ok, as long as you invite me...I need to escape from this weird parallel non-sleep life I've been living and I always wanted to do the Huck Finn funeral thing anyway.
There have been nights, now, where my raging insomnia keeps me awake into the wee hours of the morning; transfixed on the single thought that in the painting "American Gothic", the farmer's shirt matches the farmhouse and his wife's dress matches the drapes. This is the only image I can see when I close my eyes; darkness eludes me. This casual and inane observation will not allow my senses to rest, and every night around 3:23 ayy emm I start to frantically consider raiding the nearest fridge for a couple bottles of beer to get myself hungover and ultimately, to sleep. It is my dislike for the taste of alcohol that keeps me from doing this, plus such a deed would weigh heavily on my conscience, so instead I spend tormented hours reading a book of quotes that somehow ended up on my bookshelf ("These are my principles. If you don't like them, I have others."-Groucho Marx) and come up with stupid names I could name future pets (for a dog and a bird, "Woofer and Tweeter").
I tell this tale sleepily every morning to my friends, and I know I am loved when they reply, "Yeah, I found out that ever since 1840, any president that was elected in a year ending with a zero either died in office or had an assisination attempt, so there's hope for Dubya yet." and then ask if we're still going to Charlie's Angels tonight.

Fresh squeezed by melly at 12:29 PM

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I return from Chicago only to find 8 different "Lose Weight- Fast!" pieces of spam mail in my inbox. If anything, I need to gain weight, not lose it. Is there a fancy pill for that, or can I just continue eating candy bars? Because I don't understand how people can't just grasp the concept that to lose weight there is no magic pill, just good 'ole diet and excersise. And it works in reverse, too.
But I digress. I loooved Chicago. I've been there before, back when my second cousin Carol used to live there, but those were always excuses for my dad to go watch a Sox game. This is the first time I've ever been there not doing the tourist thing, but just blending in as best as I could in my knee-high socks and black spandex (which was pretty well, actually, as long as I stayed on Navy Pier--there were over 200 teams playing in this tournament).
Yes, the tournament was held on Navy Pier, in this huge ass room that easily encased 36 volleyball courts as well as a food court, a mini-hospital, a sporting goods equipment store, and at least 20 different vendors of knickknacks off of the streets of Chicago. But the thing that interested me the most was that this was the first time I'd ever witnessed guys playing volleyball competitively. Volleyball is predominently a female sport, yet here were 20 male teams playing in all seriousness. I really had to question the sexual orientation of many of them, though. What straight guy would willingly strap on volleyball uniforms (and all that implies), and spend a beautiful summer day in Chicago in a gym? Plus, most of the player's hair was way too perfect. Maybe they could handle volleyball, but being well-groomed as well? I'm being stereotypical here, but these are my excuses from keeping my distance from a ton of cuties (not because I'm homophobic, but because, well, they wouldn't be interested anyway). But the male teams were fun to watch. While their ball control is severly lacking, they can hit the ball harder than I've ever seen before. So I stayed to watch the mens-18 finals, pitting the Montana team against the Puerto Rican team. It saddened me, truly, that the Montanaians (?) won.
I never made it to the imfamous Pier Ferris Wheel, but I did make it to the lesser-known Bubba Gump restaurant, which is way cooler than the Wheel anyway. Bubba Gump's, is, of course, a shrimp restaurant based off of the movie "Forest Gump", and it was really a fun place to be, especially because I got to waltz up to the front desk and say, "A party of 22 is here. Can ya squeeze us in?" And he did, saying, "Because I'm a quality man, and that's quality."
But my absolute favorite part of Chicago was not the tournament (we placed 5th out of 40 in our age bracket) or Bubba Gump's (although I did enjoy my strawberry lemonade), but rush hour. Rush hour is the absolute best thing about Chicago on a hot summer morning. Why? Becuase you get stuck in traffic jams, enabling you to make friends with all the people in the cars/trucks around you. There was Lou, the elderly truck driver who was the first to oblige us by honking the truck horn (carrying reams of paper, he said). We passed him 4 or five times after that, and he would always be ready for us with a smile out of his window. There was Janet, the lady who (I think) was driving her young kids to daycare before heading to work. I wished her a good day. She said she would, because she had just gotten a new car that was making her happy. I told her "That's quality!" because I, too, have a Toyota Prius, and they not only have good gas mileage but look pretty OK too. There was George, the young Hispanic guy who repeatedly gave us the finger until a cheesy love song came on the radio and we looked at him and he was singing all the words (it must have been on his radio, too.) So we laughed and we laughed and he asked us where we were playing before he got off at the Wisconsin exit. There was the unnamed young female truck driver who started honking her truck horn before we even asked her to (scaring us half to death) because we had kind of built up a reputation in that 15 minutes on that stretch of road. Then, of course, there was the middle aged business man who was talking on his cell phone, smoking a cig, reading a magazine, and attempting to drive his huge-ass SUV at the same time. I yelled over to him, "Hey, buddy, you're a hazard to the road! Keep your mind on driving!" before he rolled up his window in disgust, locking his cig smoke in with him. Serves him right.
I can honestly see myself as a hobo in 10 years, deliberately driving through Chicago rush hour and making new friends on the way. In the off hours, I could play an accordian at Navy Pier for Puerto Rican volleyball teams, and survive off of the tips by eating a constant stream of elephant ears. And I would be happy.

Fresh squeezed by melly at 10:38 AM

Sunday, June 22, 2003

We are sullen because we are the teenage offspring of our coworker parents. We are sullen because our parents expect us to hit it off just because they happen to share office space. All 6 of us stand in a circle, not really saying much.
"Nice day, today."
"Mm-hmm."
"Yeah."
And then the sandal-scuffing on the gravel road continues.
The gravel road leads to The Boss's Cottage, where we are congregating. It's a rambling cottage, full of walls that used to end but now continue due to the countless additions previous owners have added on. The nicest room is the most recent addition; The Boss's contribution to the cottage's history. It's a living room with an entire wall of windows that faces the lake.
The Boss's Daughter and I decide to take a raft onto the lake together. We go to the lake together because we have no one else to talk to and nothing better to do. We take a raft because the bottom of the lake is no more than 5 feet deep, but you sink over your head in the muck and seaweed and leeches if you try to touch down. As we paddle, we try to find common ground.
"You know Bri MacCleod?"
"Yeah. Her dad was playing the bagpipes this morning."
I'm not making an ethnic stereotype joke; Mr. MacCleod really was playing the bagpipes this morning, kilt and all in the middle of church. He was today's "special music", but it was a bit too special for my taste. I like my music to be rythmic and safe, not ear-piercing and jarring. Besides, any instrument that evolved from a sheep bladder can't be good news. I repressed my urge to puncture the bag.
So we paddle and talk, mostly playing the "Do you know 'such-and-such'" game, our backs getting severely burnt. But it's fun. And we water ski later, me for my very first time (I sang Madonna at the top of my lungs as I was skiing, I promise you) and she, pro-like, putting on a mock-striptease for the semi-cute freshman (The Secretary's Son) back on the boat. It was me that ended up revealing the most though, but not on purpose--as I fell off the skis, my top came off. The freshman continued to look at me as I clutched my life jacket tightly to my chest and fished for my top; he lost his cuteness at that point.
I came home to find a hot-air balloon stranded in the nature preserve behind my house not 100 feet away. The people on board screamed for help as they tried to disentangle their basket from the branches, but I just took pictures. There was really nothing else I could do.
It was an odd day, all in all.
I regret to inform you that I'll be offline for the next two days. I'll be in Chicago for the regional volleyball tournament, and then I am done with my season. Done. I am looking forward to being done with this season, but I'll miss actual volleyball for a little while.
Wish me luck!

Fresh squeezed by melly at 8:58 PM