Monday, December 02, 2019

Pay no attention to the junk piled behind the tree that I didn't notice you could see when I took this picture with my phone

Well hello, long-hibernating tabletop tree that I bought for Shoebox Manor—my first elfin Chicago apartment—and that eventually became our dining-room tree when my ex and I bought our palatial two-tree-accommodating condo. I finally rescued the tree when I liquidated my storage unit this summer, and at last its branches are complete again in their mélange of silver, white and cornflower blue ornaments, ribbons and besequined birds artfully curated to complement our old Wedgewood dining room. The palette doesn’t quite work with my mom’s Rustic Kountree Krafts décor, but I choose to squint and pretend it does. Plus I did a sloppy job perching the birds on the branches so I’ll have to edit some pokey-outy feathered tails at a later date.

I wasn’t really in the mood for Christmas carols, but I found an old Chicago playlist so I decorated the tree to the dulcet—and wistfully nostalgic—tones of Beautiful Day, Ray of Light, Around the World, Bad Romance, Get Lucky, Single Ladies, Whispering Your Name and other regular-rotation players from the soundtrack of my old life. The combination of my Chicago tree and my Chicago tunes put me in a mood I’m not sure I’m ready to be in, but the corner is dusted and vacuumed, the tree is up, and all that’s left to do is figure out where I hid my timer so the lights will automatically be on every night when I go to bed and every morning when I wake up.

Speaking of going to bed ... good night!

Does this smell stinky to you?

I recently got a letter from Kwik Trip saying a car with my license plate was seen driving away without paying for gas at 5:07 am on a weekday in Marshalltown, IA--a faraway city I have never visited. It was written with clumsy English phrasing and asked me to send a credit card number, so I thought it was a scam and ignored it.

Then I got another letter that was very threatening. I was concerned that the sender somehow had my license plate number, name and address, so I sent a message to the Kwik Trip corporate office via its website instead of the contact info on the letters to see if it was legitimately from them--and they promptly responded to say yes, and whoever drove away without paying either had an altered license plate or had stolen one of mine--and *I* needed to file a police report and provide Kwik Trip with layers of proof that it wasn't my car that drove away.

I wrote back using my anger words saying 1) if they don't demand a credit card or up-front payment before letting people pump gas it's their irresponsible corporate practice and therefore their problem, not mine, 2) I have no obligation to spend time calling the police and chasing down paperwork to send them based on unsubstantiated, poorly written accusations, and 3) the burden of proof is on them and they need to send me a photo of my car and license plate at their pump or leave me the fuck alone. They promptly wrote back again to tell me that they had benevolently canceled my "account" and that I "owed" them no money.

So questions: Does this smell stinky? Do you think it's some kind of Kwik Trip corporate scam? Did they illegally obtain my personal and vehicle information? Did they by any definition harass me? Should I call the police on them?

In the mean time: If their stupidly spelled name weren't enough to drive you away, DON'T SHOP AT KWIK TRIP so you can prevent yourselves from being scammed. Fucking assholes.

I have a paper trail and a string of stupidly incriminating emails from Kwik Trip. I'm gonna keep pursuing the issue with the police and the Better Business Bureau and all of Twitter just to be a pain in the ass back at them.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Oklahoma! key dramatis personæ, from the left:

Cord Elam. The moral and emotional core of the Oklahoma! narrative. Basically the lead. Brags that he could eat a gatepost. No homo.

Will Parker. The clumsy—but alarmingly bendy—one who does his press junket splayed out on the floor like a common hussy. Couldn’t count to $50 if his potential marriage depended on it. Minor character at best.

Curly McLain. Sings about corn. Lies about fringe. Someone runs into his knife. Someone runs into his knife one time.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

You can see by our outfits that we are both cowboys

#Oklahoma! #CowboyHats #TheStreetsOfLaredo

You guys!

Three out of four Musketeers tell me I’m awesome and rockin’! The fourth says I’ll die alone, sobbing under a seat in coach. Which is impressive to get all crammed on one so-called “fun” size wrapper.
Anyway, the clear takeaway here is that chocolate loves you back. EAT YOUR FEELINGS! Before you die alone, sobbing under a seat in coach.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Aorta stop eatin' junk food

Dad’s surgery was “smooth and easy” according to the surgeon—who may or may not have been referring to the fact that the hospital shaved my dad from the neck down before they poked him in the aorta—and he’s now recovering/waking up in the recovering/waking up room as we continue to stuff our faces in the waiting room.

You might say he’s on the mendo from his endo. But please don’t. Never say that.

Aorta lern my lines

When you got up at 4:30 and had to pack for a day of sitting in the waiting room at the hospital surgery center and you remembered to bring all the important stuff. So that’s good.
Dad is having what’s literally called a “re-do” on a five-year-old abdominal aortic aneurism surgery that had recently started leaking. Two weeks ago he had an exploratory aortogram—which it turns out does not, unfortunately, involve someone showing up at your door in tap shoes and an aorta outfit to sing Happy Birthday or a Valentine’s Day song—and he’s having the surgery today as the final gala event in his five-day 80th birthday celebration.

To complete the circle, I’m sitting in the waiting room memorizing my lines to Aortahoma!

Sunday, November 03, 2019

SOME dumbass we all know

... has accidentally taken his night psych meds in the morning enough times lately that his mom finally had to make a bunch of big white paste-on labels for his pill containers so he hopefully won’t get so confused again in the future.

We don’t need no stinkin’ musical about dancin’ farmers and cowmen to be basic bitches in boots

But it sure makes a super-cute excuse.


I’m man enough to admit that I’m not LIFTING the 95s—the only unoccupied incline bench just happens to be parked in front of them today.

But I AM proud enough to broadcast that I’m back up to incline-dumbbelling 75s after a summer of injury-induced absence from the gym and from the 90s that I’d been incline-dumbbelling last spring.

And yes, incline-dumbbelling is now a valid gerund. I’m a licensed copywriter and I am hereby verbing it so.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Among my many noteworthy accomplishments today:

I finally got rid of that hideous Monster MalachiteTM square plate and replaced it with a delicately fluted saucer that matches Bitch Kitty’s elegant Velvety VerdigrisTM food bowl.
Now her basement café is just downright fucking classy.


Three of Walmart’s finest ran into my cart in one trip and Iowa-timidated ME into saying Ope and I’m sorry but that’s just an egregious abuse of first-caucus-in-the-nation power.

Also: furnace filters + lightbulbs + non-slip rug pads + cat food-to-poop supplies = a sad, sad afternoon of quiet-desperation adulting

Stabby the Cat doesn’t put up with your excuses on back and shoulders day

He does, however, have a benevolent tolerance for your unruly hair.

Friday, November 01, 2019

My stupid new tie won’t hold an expertly tucked dimple

So my fancy-pants event tonight is all but guaranteed to be a catastrophic sartorial failure.

But I voted early so the republic is saved.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Good night!

So apparently THIS happened

Remember when Ann was caught screaming about being forced to fly coach and sobbing that she’s gonna die alone? I can’t decide if that Ann or this one is the most punchable.

Red: The hoodie of angry men! Black: The T-shirt of ages past!

Jake: The lazy man who’s trying to recast the narrative of his randomly chosen outfit as the banner of an 1832 student-revolutionary rebellion inspired by the cholera death of French Parliamentarian Jean Maximilian Lemarque, a popular anti-royalist and champion of the poor, as depicted in a popular 1980 musical inspired by an 1862 novel by Victor Hugo!

Happy #Hallowmeme!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Nobody thought it would be one of the kids

Nobody probably thought the Boat Crew would last this long, actually.

When four young couples from the same Cedar Rapids Lutheran church rented a houseboat and sailed up and down the Mississippi River for a long weekend in the summer of 1971, nobody probably even thought it was more than a one-time vacation.

But the couples invited more couples and did it again the next summer, and the next. Over time, a few couples came and went, but the tradition lived on summer after summer. Eventually a core group of seven couples emerged, and the Boat Crew was established … and a vital extended family was born.

Unofficially (or officially, depending on your personal opinion) the group’s name was the Mississippi River Marching and Drinking Society. But “Boat Crew” was easier to say. And less complicated to explain to the couples’ children, who were all about the age of the Boat Crew tradition itself.

As lives and careers evolved, many of the couples moved away … but everyone came back summer after summer for what had become an annual gathering of Boat Crew family with bonds as strong as any biological family.

And that family bond extended beyond the relationship between the seven couples; their children often spent the Boat Crew weekends together in one couple’s house, under the probably exhausted watch of two or three weekend-long babysitters.

Naturally, the kids developed a family bond as strong as their parents’. They were unofficial siblings in an extended family network, and they felt confident in the parental love they received from every member of the Boat Crew.

As the summers passed, the Boat Crew bond continued to grow and strengthen, especially over a developing collection of in-jokes, funny stories and traditions that became almost sacred. The most prominent tradition was Joy. It started when one couple brought a large white flag emblazoned with the word Joy in bright colors and displayed it on the ship’s mast. The flag appeared every summer, and eventually it inspired the regular exchanging of Joy-festooned knickknacks, shirts, Christmas ornaments (all collectively over the years described as "Joy shit") and even one summer little bottles of Joy dishwashing soap.

Music—an integral part of the Lutheran church where they all met—was just as important to the Boat Crew. The group contained many talented singers, and as they gathered under the stars with a guitar and a couple bottles of wine each summer, they sang hymns and folk songs and show tunes and whatever else they could think of. Their unofficial anthem was “Beautiful Savior,” which they sang together—in full, glorious harmony—on every gathering.

As the kids grew over the next four decades, the Boat Crew also started convening off-season for confirmations and graduations and weddings and grandchildren and the occasional family tragedy … and the inevitable deaths of the Boat Crew couples’ elderly parents.

And through it all, the Boat Crew became a bit of a statistical anomaly: seven couples who lived into their 50s and 60s and 70s and now 80s … and stayed friends … and stayed married … and stayed alive.

As they started to retire from their jobs and prioritize grandparent obligations over Boat Crew gatherings, the group wasn’t always able to find a summer weekend that all seven couples could attend. And the “boat” part of Boat Crew became a bit of an anachronism; the summer reunions were happening now in Bed and Breakfasts overlooking the Mississippi instead of boats on the Mississippi.

And as they started to navigate the medical infirmities and physical indignities that come with age, the Boat Crew members started to contemplate their own mortality. Never ones to face life with fear or even reverence, they were realistic that eventually they were going to start dying … and they were not above having betting pools over who would go first.

But it never occurred to anyone that the first to die might not be one of the adults.

Robbie (who as an adult called himself Robert but I’d known him since we were toddlers and I could never think of him as anyone but Robbie) was 42, pretty much right in the middle of the range of ages of the Boat Crew kids. He started getting sick seven years ago last summer, but he didn’t think it was much to worry about: just some lower back pain, fatigue and abdominal discomfort. But then the guy behind the Chicago neighborhood deli counter where he went every day told him he looked yellow. And he became painfully constipated. And on a trip home to see his parents in Iowa, he decided to see a doctor.

And that’s where he found out.

Colon cancer.

Stage 4.

Colon cancer patients at stage 4 have an 8-15% chance of being alive five years after diagnosis. And Robbie, forever the optimist, dove right into surgery and chemotherapy while his parents took care of him in their home.

But it quickly became obvious that he was losing the battle. And as he eventually slipped into a coma, his parents—buoyed by the love and calls and texts and emails of Boat Crew members across the country—kept a vigil by his bed.

And six weeks after his diagnosis—six weeks after driving himself and his two cats seven hours from Chicago to his parents’ house, five weeks after walking into the doctor’s office with what he thought were just stomach pains, three weeks after cheering on friends in the Chicago Marathon via Facebook—Robbie drew his last breath, sending waves of shock and devastation throughout his extended Boat Crew family.

Robbie’s father had died of cancer 40 years earlier, before the Boat Crew had been officially established. His widowed mother and the man who eventually became her next husband had been regular Boat Crew members from nearly the beginning.

While she was still single, though, she and Robbie had taken vacations with our family a number of times, often to Adventureland amusement park in Des Moines, Iowa, and once on a Bicentennial road trip to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell and to Washington, D.C., to see pretty much everything else associated with America’s birth.

Robbie and I went to different high schools and colleges, but we eventually both found our ways to Chicago. We kept seeing each other at Boat Crew gatherings, but we’d slowly drifted apart … as had many of the Boat Crew kids as we scattered about the country and built our own families.

Robbie’s parents and mine, of course, had stayed fast Boat Crew friends. And when Robbie was facing the first weeks of his cancer treatments, my parents made a trip to Des Moines to stay with them.

Robbie died eight years ago today. Even though I knew it was inevitable, I was more choked up than I’d expected to be when I got the call. We hadn’t seen each other in probably eight years. And I knew that he was no longer suffering through an excruciating illness. But his death—especially as a Boat Crew kid and not an adult—was a shock to all of us … and an indescribable devastation to his parents. And though nobody in the extended Boat Crew family has died since Robbie did, we are all tacitly preparing ourselves for the next passing.

But for the first time in many years, the entire Boat Crew—along with a handful of Boat Crew kids—dropped everything in their lives and appeared at the funeral. Forever part of the family, we walked in with Robbie’s parents and biological family members and were seated right behind them. And when the congregation sang “Beautiful Savior,” the Boat Crew’s beautiful harmonies rose above the music as if to lift Robbie to whatever awaited him in the afterlife and remind him of the loving extended family he’d been a part of on earth.

His parents asked me to be one of his pall bearers, which I accepted as an honor. Escorting a lifelong friend to his grave is overwhelming—especially when we’re both so young—but I felt giving him a solemn, respectful final journey was the best gift I could give him. He was family, after all.

Old-man shoulder hair: gross

Primer: dry
Paint: grey
Hair: high
Shirt: really bad planning because it has no sleeves and it’s cold out and I’m freezing but with me every day’s a GUN SHOW
Gender: guy

Don’t look now—or don’t even look at me when I try to take your damn picture—but someone we know is 15 years old today

That’s 76 in bitch years.

5 days till #Hallowmeme!

Friday, October 25, 2019

What a dick

Let us never forget this auspicious anniversary of the day our Very Stable Genius with Great and Unmatched Wisdom blithely retweeted at 4:31 am a "rock on" tweet about his "integrity sir" from a supporter named catpenis.

6 days till #Hallowmeme!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Throwback Thursday: American Boyfriends Edition

Fun fact: The house in Grant Wood's American Gothic is a real place that Grant Wood happened upon in his August 1930 wanderings around Iowa. It's in the city of Eldon 120 miles southwest of Cedar Rapids, so Grant Wood had to do some serious wandering to stumble upon it. He made a sketch of the house, painted his sister and his dentist in front of it when he got home to Cedar Rapids, and got a measly $300 when he sold it to the Art Institute of Chicago after entering it in a competition there.

Other fun fact: There's a visitors' center near the house that has an array of calico dresses and overalls you can borrow for keepsake photos, but if your boyfriend at the time is a no-fun stick in the mud you have to resort to getting photos in whatever you happen to be wearing.

Other fun facts: The house is built in the Carpenter Gothic style. The curve-up-to-a-point top of the Gothic window is called an ogive. The 1930 painting (Grant Wood conceived of and completed it in a matter of weeks) is in the Modernist style. You're welcome.

7 days till #Hallowmeme!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Guess who’s now parking at the far end of the lot so nobody will ding his precious new baby

Guess who’s now anthropomorphizing his mighty new car as a helpless infant.

Guess who’s been at the gym for half an hour and already fallen in love seven times.

Guess who just took more than 10 gym selfies in an attempt to find one that’s suitable for public display.

Guess whose super-cute Wolverine shirt keeps riding up over his bloated dad belly like he’s a turgid dirigible.


9 days till #Hallowmeme!

Monday, October 21, 2019

We’re only an hour into our first Oklahoma! rehearsal and after many grueling rounds of auditions and callbacks I’ve already snagged the coveted first chorus solo


One show closes and another opens

And this one has elephant-eye-high corn. And apparently a severed thumb.


When I pay a hella lot of money THAT YOU BARELY NEGOTIATE ON to buy a sexy new Kia Forte 2020 from you [JUST LOOK AT THIS SEXY INTERIOR! CAN YOU BLAME ME FOR BUYING IT? NO, YOU CAN'T.], you owe me two things:

1. A bag to put all the stuff from my old car in when I do a final sweep of its contents. Seriously. Why isn't this a standard thing you do when you sell a car? I can't be the first person ever who needed a small bag for the crap in my glove compartment when I traded in my old car for a new one from you.

2. A final sweep of your own through my old car to find things I overlooked. Like my damn garage-door opener. Seriously. Why isn't this a standard thing you do when you sell a car? I can't be the first person ever who accidentally left a garage-door opener in my old car when I traded it in for a new one from you. And now you have to wait around tonight for me to pick it up after work. How is this efficient for either of us?


10 days till #Hallowmeme!