Friday, March 19, 2010

Real Clouds and Fog Machines

Today was a beautiful day, work went by quickly and without incident, and even though I didn't get a seat on the train ride home, I did get a good standing place right next to the door and was so transfixed by the sky that my feet forgot to start hurting. The cloud formations were gorgeous, they were HUGE and fast-moving, it was like watching a pod of airborne whales swimming through the sky. All that blue-grey and gold and cream layered together... breathtaking.

I tried to take some pictures of them from the roof when I got home, as well as of the two seagulls who fly around my neighborhood a lot (not sure what they're doing this far inland, I guess they like Lake Michigan). The birds wouldn't stay in one place long enough for my out-dated digital camera to capture them. I guess if it were me up there, I wouldn't either.

*             *            *

But enough of that. How fun would it be to have a fog machine? I definitely want one, right after I get my first pottery wheel and kiln (my signal to myself that I have "arrived.") Think of all the cool things you could do with a fog machine! I spent a significant chunk of time doing so, and after bothering Alisha with my ideas at work today, I decided she'd endured enough and it's time I torture you lovely people instead...

For example, if I had people staying the night at my house, I would get up early in the morning, make sure the door to my "boudoir" was shut, fill the entire room with fog, and as soon as I heard them stir, open my curtains (to make sure I was back-lit) and throw open the door, standing there in all my bath-robed, messy-haired glory with fog pouring out around me. That one might require a sweet sound system to play either Thus Spake Zarathustra, the theme to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, or something by Alice Cooper.

I would do something similar in the bathroom, but without the groovy tunes. Just go inside, shut the door, wait for the fog machine to work its magic, then flush the toilet conspicuously and stroll out in a rush of smoke like nothing unusual was going on at all.

And think how arguments with boyfriends would be transformed!

Me: You're the one with the face! And you know what else! I can't believe--! And, also you--!
Bf: I never did any such thing, how dare you accuse me?! You know you're wrong this time, seriously!
(I reach back and flip the "On" switch on the fog machine with my foot. Fog begins swirling around me.)
Bf: No, NOT the fog machine again! You're only doing this because you know I'm right!
Me: (fog around my ankles) I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about.
Bf: Oh really. Then why have you turned on the fog machine, hmmm?
Me: (fog around my waist) I'm sorry, I just can't continue this conversation any longer. Not until you've calmed down.
Bf: Turn it off.
Me: (fog up to my neck) I don't know what you're -cough sputter- mean.
(No one moves. I am completely engulfed by the cloud of fog. A long pause. Finally...)
Bf: I know you're still in there.
Me: (invisible inside fog-filled room) Please go away. I've vanished into the mist.

Not to mention it's a fast and easy way to liven up a dull party, to hide when you have to run from the shower to the linen closet when you've forgotten your towel, and for special effects while watching scary movies. Yes sir, fog machine. I'm putting it on my Ultimate Wish List at this very moment.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mini-Skirts, Multi-Colored Soda, and Whiskey: An Update

I was sitting around at work this morning, thinking about how much I like mojitos, and what a shame it is that they're so much trouble to make or more bars would serve them, when it occurred to me: Why don't bars use orange soda in drinks? I mean, I'm sure that somewhere, some bar in the world must use orange soda in something. But what if I opened a bar that specialized in using a wide variety of soda flavors in mixed drinks? Think of the possibilities! Strawberry, grape, raspberry, raspberry ginger ale, kiwi strawberry, the incomparable Egil's Apelsín! This might be the best idea I've had since chocolate gum. No wait, since car-themed karaoke. I tried to think of names for this bar but my brainstorming was cut short by some work junk I had to do, and I didn't get anything much better than "Prism of Delight," which, I think we can all agree, won't do at all.

The last few weeks have been so hectic, with two visitors practically back-to-back, holidays, and the sudden realization that I've got two weeks left at this apartment before I have to decide whether to stay on in Chicago for half of April or if I should just spend the full month in Maryland before my trip. And I still have to buy my ticket! Geeze. I try to breathe through the stress, but all those mounting tasks are still there. At least I'm finally doing my taxes, since it turns out my friend the IT guy is actually a tax accountant by trade and had me bring all my paperwork to the office today to help me sort through it. Woot!

I'm not sick anymore and only the uppermost registers of my voice are still at large. Karin and I successfully sang "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid Saturday night at my Icelandic friends' house during a dinner/youtube party, so it's good to know  that on my car ride to Maryland I will be able to maintain my tradition of singing songs that make others cringe whilst traversing the nation with no one but my little Honda to hear me. I think the vocal thing might be allergies, my room is kind of dusty. And my skin needs help because the weather changed from ridiculously dry to humid at the same time I was pumping my system full of over-the-counter medicine, so I broke out and am nursing it back to clarity. While it's sort of handy having a sensitive system to keep me alert to imbalances, it can be a pain in the name-a-body-part.

One bit of good news about this here body is that, due to the touch-and-go nature of my financial situation in February, I've gone down a dress size. Which means I had to go shopping for new pants. As a general rule, I hate shopping, especially for pants because it takes ages for me to find any that fit, and I usually end up having to get them tailored. However, with friend Karin (self-proclaimed shopaholic) in town, I had the perfect companion to talk me down off the ledge (and by "ledge" I mean the little stool in the dressing room when I can't bear the sight of myself in my underwear under the flourescent lights), navigate through dizzying racks of clothes, and give me honest yet loving answers such horrifying questions as, "Does this make my ass look too skinny?" And thanks to this wonderful shopping fairy (who went WAY above and beyond the call of duty), I discovered that, even though my driver's license may say I'm almost too old for a mini skirt (almost), the dressing room mirror and camera-brandishing Karin seem say otherwise. (I didn't trust the mirror so she took a picture to prove that my thighs seem to have become, suddenly and without warning, worthy of being seen by human eyes in the light of day.) So, this week on pay day I'm marching myself out of the office and north up Michigan Avenue to purchase that short strip of black cloth onto which someone brazenly sewed a zipper and declared it to be an article of clothing. (I know I'm supposed to be saving money, but I haven't bought a thing all winter, and if you can't occasionally treat yourself to a little affirmation in naughty skirt form then what is life?)

In other news, I was successfully introduced to whiskey last week. It was, in fact, IT Buddy who decided it was his duty to baptize me by firewater, and now I don't know how I went this long without it. Although I do need to be careful, it's as if it contains some secret ingredient which flips a switch within me and inflames my already "spirited" temperament. I'll feel normal, normal, a little buzzed, and then suddenly I have this urge to run through the streets shouting something Walt Whitman said about pioneers, or to summon the masses, along with the beasts of the sea and air (you think I'm joking) to join me and "start the revolution," or to sit down for three days without sleeping and write some wildly nonsensical, slightly hallucinogenic and bizarrely accusatory drivel and call it my first novel. Then an hour or two later, it's over and I'm completely back to normal, making embarassed phone calls apologizing for anything I might have said or done while under the influence. It's a little off-putting. Maybe there is a genetic link to the Berserkers that gets activated by whatever it is that makes whiskey what it is. Or maybe I'm crazy, it doesn't matter. However, thanks to Karin's mostly successful attempts to keep me in some state of intoxication at all times for the last four days, I think I've finally learned to pace myself a bit. As Alisha sagely advised, "Do not fear whiskey, just respect it." In that way I imagine it's not unlike peyote. I mean, I wouldn't just walk up to a big pile of peyote, start popping it like tic tacs, and wait for something to happen. Hell no! I won't go near that until an actual, leathery, indigenous desert shaman gazes deep into my soul, says, "You are ready," and gets out the drums and rattle to summon my spirit animals and guide my vision. Similarly, I have learned not to just skip up to a bottle of Jameson and start swigging it like a devil-may-care hobo. Anyway. Whiskey. It has not replaced rum in my heart so much as kicked down the door to a previously undiscovered chamber and set up shop near the right ventricle.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Common Magic

I once sat in my car outside the IHOP in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and listened to a famous musician whose name I no longer remember (I think he may have been in the Grateful Dead at one point or another), talk on the radio about what's wrong with the music industry today. It was a beautiful rant that had the people in the studio applauding by the time he was through. He talked about business destroying the art and things like that. He was wonderful, but what stood out to me the most was when he said something along the lines of, "Music is the most common form of magic there is, it's real and can transform a room full of people in an instant." That stuck with me long after I finally joined my comrades inside the IHOP and pretended to study for final exams over eggs and french toast.

I was thinking about those words again today, since music plays such a huge role in the escapism I employ whilst at my mind-numbingly boring job. I decided that if I could prescribe songs as remedies for ailments or charms desired outcomes, here are some of the ones that I would choose, listed according to their function.

To Smile Involuntarily
Not the exact version I wanted to use, but close enough.
("The Peanut Vendor")

To Feel Sexy While Walking In Public
("Bei Mir Bist Du Schon" performed by Janis Siegel)

For Inspiration Before Going Up Against a Villain Alone

("The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" - Gene Pitney)

For Times of Stress: To Know that Everything is Going to Be All Right

("Run" - Amy MacDonald)

To Let that Special Lady or Gent Know You're About to Dish Out the Goods
("Use Me" - Bill Withers, intro. by Will Ferrell)

To Make Time Slow Down 

See Also: Blood Pressure Reducer; To Dissolve Stress; For Looking Out the Windows of Moving Vehicles; For Slow Walks; To Facilitate Peaceful Bliss; If You Need A Good Cry; For Comfort; To Reduce Inflammation
("You're the One" - The Black Keys)

P.S. Don't forget to donate to help finish Iceland: Future of Hope!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I Miss My Voice

Last week I caught an upper respiratory virus from a certain baby I know (they're germ factories and I shouldn't allow their cuteness to lure me in, but I can't help it). I'm feeling better but lost my voice four days ago and I'm really starting to miss it. I was talking (more like whispering) to the receptionist about this today, how it's starting to get to me because I feel like I can't express myself fully, and I miss singing. Not that I go around belting out show tunes all day long or anything, but I occasionally sing or hum to myself during the day, and I miss that little bit of cheeriness. She told me to, "Just let your soul do your singing for you," and that this will teach me patience. I liked that, so I'm going to just relax and go with it and leave the light on for my voice, whenever she decides to wander home.

Last night I fell asleep on the couch and then finally woke up and stumbled around getting ready to go to bed. My roommate gave me a nighttime cold medicine to help me sleep because I kept coughing, and it knocked me out. This morning when I woke up I was still sedated, in fact I am even as I write this. My train ride was just me sitting and staring, unblinking and almost unseeing, out the window like a zombie. Not even my morning playlist on my iPod could snap me out of it. The only bit of music that penetrated the sedatives was the part of Neil Diamond's "Cracklin' Rosie" when his voice gets low and he sounds really close to the microphone, and he sings, "Oh, I love my rosie child. You got the way to make me happy. You and me we go in style..." It was as if I just noticed that I was listening to music at all when I heard that. It made me blink and I felt the corners of my mouth turn up a little bit. It felt like Neil himself had suddenly leaned down out of the ether to where I was walking on the sidewalk between skyscrapers, looked right into my face and sung that to me. It was kind of a funny feeling. Then the sedative fog dropped back down again.

I've had three cups of sugar-laden coffee, which ordinarily would have me trembling and having heart palpitations, but I'm only just barely awake. No more sleep-inducing cold medicine for me. Although tonight I'm going straight to bed after dinner, I think. Clearly my body needs the rest.

Tomorrow is my last day at this temp assignment, and my IT buddy is going to take me out for a whiskey. I normally don't drink whiskey, but I want to get used to it, and he claims to be quite the whiskey connoisseur so I'll trust him to help me choose a good starting point.

All right, back to work I go.