Dec 21, 2004

the reluctant magician-ess

Well after all of that, I never left my apartment yesterday. I'm going shopping in the morning. It's going to be an abbreviated Christmas as far as gifts go, I'm afraid. And I'm going with my mom, which is better than if I had gone and finished everything weeks ago (like zee gut little Victoria). I haven't been Christmas shopping with my mom in years. She's fun, that mom of mine..
Yesterday I completely psyched myself out of going out of doors, probably from all my blogging (blogging, complaining, same difference) about it.

But, on a magical note, because I hung on to the image of Dr. Zhivago so stongly yesterday, and had it as theme, or a screen saver, if you will (I like to comparing our brains to computers) in the back of my mind all day, I believe I brought Dr. Zhivago up out from the place he normally hybernates, and right on to my tv screen.. Because late last night, I turned on my tv, and there it was, the other version of Dr. Z on channel 11 (on Masterpiece Theater, and in many ways truer to the book, and better visually than the original film).

There is no doubt in my mind that I conjured this to happen.

Dec 20, 2004

get out your gortex snowpants, your wooden hat, your teflon socks..

It is cold. I just watched the news, and Tracy Butler was quite grim in her delivery of the weather segment today. She didn't even crack any jokes with Linda Yu. And the whole report was peppered with phrases like: Unforgiving Arctic Blast.. Minimum Minutes of Exposure, and: Colder Than Hell. The word Death came up a few times, too. And here I have put off my shopping for so long that I have no choice but to go out, and, as Tracy suggested, try to avoid death today. Ok. I'll try. And on days like this I always remember a warning I got from my dentist about not opening my mouth while outside in this degree of cold, as my teeth might develop tiny cracks from the extremes in temperature. Good, good.. All good stuff. But, what can I do? I have to HAVE TO do my shopping today..

I could stick around here in my neighborhood and get everything done in a couple of hours. But, if I go into the Loop I will have something more of a Christmas experience. It might get me in the spirit of the thing. There I could check out Marshall Field's windows, visit Santa and stop at the museum for a little while. But in the Loop, I would also have to deal with the tourists. And, at three-hundred-thousand-million strong, they pose a problem. Traveling in groups of eight or ten, the tourists walk five abreast at minimum, and while holding hands to form human chains, or really, walls of humans. And you just can't get past them. Unless you walk in the street, which is just a different kind of death. And the tourists are way too happy, which only highlights the contrast of my more sour mood. Always singing songs in what I'm guessing is Swedish, or possibly Eskimo, they seem, as an army, totally unbothered by our weather. Which makes them a slow, meandering mass that only serves to completely clog the side walks, as well as bring billions of dollars to the city. They are, dare I say it, downright amused by the weather in Chicago. And that.. that just makes me mad.

Rolf! Was ist das? This kold! Is it not charming-ck?

Ja! It is refreshing! Eigentlich, I feel like a peppermint!

Vhy don't vee remove-it our koats, and valk ahs szlowly ahs possible, und really enjoy-it this kalt vvveather..

Ja! In fahct, lets go get-it zee eis kream kones, und valk directly to zee lake!

Oh, dar-linck, you are fun! Zee lake zhould be frozen zolid by now! It vill be a totally bahr-ren expahnse! Just max-i-mum white, endless und vvvonderful.. like death!

(Rolf laughing sinisterly) See, my little fischen, I too cahn be-it fun, zometimes..

Ah! That's vy I married-it you, you big strongck krokodil..

Ha ha! Oh! Und, vee cahn have-it a snow pic-nic, too, if you are a gut little frauen..

Ja! Das snow pic-nic ist gut! I vill be gut, too!

Gut. Lets go to zee store und build-it our pic-nic right away! Und get zee hell ouht of ze krowds.

Vhatever you vant, Rolf..

Ja? Vhatever? Vhat are you zaying, mein little fleischspeisen*?...

And well.. you get the gist. The language is foreign to me. Still, I'm certain that this is what they're saying. And, don't get me wrong, I am easy to spot in this ridiculous scene, as well. I'm the one running for my life, weaving desperately through the mob of tourists, trying unsuccessfully to get to my next destination without dying. I am the one looking quite like Yuri Zhivago after his trek across Siberia, when I finally do make it into a store. And I'm not alone. I'm just the only one who's not screaming in the streets from the pain, or to beg the visitors to temporarily break their human chains, so that I might please get through. Because of course, I'm trying to protect my teeth from the tiny cracks. And because it's a waste of breath anyway, the tourists.. they never, ever break their chains.

* meat dish

Dec 16, 2004


First of all, I've asked my mom about this one thing that happened in my childhood many, many times. My mom, who takes being the family historian very seriously, who can further provide documentation for those things that happened before she was born, i.e., letters, photographs, ancient bank statements, one hundred year old grocery lists, you name it (and all of it very carefully cataloged by her, in archival quality, acid free paper portfolios), who's done her research, and is the most detail oriented person I've ever known, who remembers everything, like all of our illnesses, and every single article of clothing we've ever worn.. DOES NOT remember the day that she and I watched Rhoda and ate Swiss Miss pudding.

Or, more specifically, the day we went to the grocery store, bought the Swiss Miss and a box of instant cup-o-noodle soup (which, admittedly, was my idea. Cup-o-noodles seemed incredibly fast and fun to me in those days), then came home, then watched Rhoda. And it was the episode where Rhoda got married (with her riding the subway in her wedding dress, and everything) NO. She does not remember this. She even bothered to wrack her brain to remember this. She concedes, though, that she does in fact remember watching Rhoda in general, and furthermore, that she was disappointed in how quickly Rhoda got married to Joe, as my mom felt, it was a much funnier show before she did. But as for the day with the Swiss Miss, and the cup-o-noodles, no, she's sorry, and admits that she doesn't remember every single moment of our lives.

Next item: I have not yet started my Christmas shopping. I have sort of done it on paper, where I've figured out what I'm getting everyone. But for whatever reason, it's just not natural for me to get started with my shopping any earlier than on Christmas eve's eve's eve (and sometimes as late as eve's eve). I work better under pressure. Besides, there is definitely something in the air during the last minute shopping. And I'm not talking about the pure hatred on the part of everyone that's happening in and around the stores right now. I mean the thing at the very last minute. By then there's almost a solidarity: We are all late. Very, very late. You can see it on everyone's faces, as they stand in line to buy the impersonal gift certificates. Everyone is talking to each other if not to themselves, saying, ..yes, yes, I suck, so-and-so is going to kill me.. And there's nothing you can do but get it over with, buy the gift certificates (because there is nothing left in the stores) write the check, or god forbid, hand over the cash. Me? I like receiving gift certificates and I really like receiving the cash. But I digress..

A couple of times over the years, during my last minute shopping, I ran into my brother, J, (who at the time lived a million neighborhoods away from where I live). Both times were at Cost Plus. This is weird because the chances of running into someone in Chicago (especially as far apart as we lived) are kind of slim, let alone twice, let alone both times being at Cost Plus, which is located in neither of our neighborhoods. The first time we were both like, Hey, now how crazy is this, bla-di-bla.. But the second time, which I think was the following year, I had already been at Cost Plus for a while, when I looked up and saw J (looking kind of serious) walking right towards me. I was like, J! No way! What are the chances.. when he immediately stopped this nonsense with saying, Yeah, yeah, I need to talk to you right now. And, behaving as though he thoroughly expected to find me there, he started telling me about some horrendous thing that had just happened to him. At some point we sat down at one of their displays of tables and chairs. No one at Cost Plus seemed to care or notice that we were sitting on their merchandise for half an hour to have a conversation. And I think we both had Starbucks coffees, which made us even bigger pigs, sitting there in the middlle of the store, talking seriously about something, drinking coffees.. I can't remember what his deal was that day. Anyway, J lives in Los Angeles now, so the chances of me running into him at Cost plus in the next couple of days are practically nil. We'll see..

Dec 13, 2004

every time I sit down to blog like an adult..

Something like this happens.

Ok. It was a little crazy there for a minute. But I'm ok. I'm back. All I've been doing is working, sleeping and ordering pizzas. And avoiding everything else. That is, everything else outside of the work-sleep-pizza dynamic (er.. tribunal..). That's why I incorporated a triangle into the design of my business card. Not (as many of my classmates thought) because the triangle is soundest shape for construction bla bla nonsense. No. The triangle is there to represent work-sleep-pizza. That's all. It's a subliminal message about my attitude that I was hoping to get across to potential clients. It sounds terrible, right, I know.. But think about it (God knows I have.. ), at the end of the day, who do you want working for you? Work-Sleep-Pizza? Or Work-going-to-Hawaii-going shopping-have-a-hair-a-appointment-I-need-some-space-it's-not-you-it's-me-reservations-at-the-Plaza-redoing-the-kitchen-I'll-have-to-check-my-palm-pilot-chocolate-martinis-caviar-and-later-eight-hot-pockets-I-stole-this-scarf-from-Hermes-last-year-and-my-lawyer-cut-a-deal-with-the-judge-which-explains-this-tracking-device-around-my-ankle-so-now-I-can't-wear-boots-all-winter-(or-skirts)-can-I-put-you-on-hold-a-tylenol-two-valium-and-a-part-of-a-doughnut (a loaf of bread a carton of milk and a stick of butter* )? (the above loosely based on my downstairs neightbor. I don't really know her. It's just a vibe..) I mean that isn't even a shape. That can't even be translated into a shape unless it had like a thousand points (very prickly!) or was more of some kind of amorphous blob. How are you going to put that on a business card? No. Work-Sleep-Pizza ROCKS, and not just as a lifestyle..

*From Sesame Street. If you don't know what this is you are NOT in your thirties.

Dec 10, 2004

art and science

For some reason this makes me laugh click here.. It appears that the apple has finally lost his mind. And what about the banana? The box of cereal that he is pouring into the bowl has on it the very image that is on the product. Wow.. that is very tricky. I don't think it's possible. And when I look at it mathematically it just doesn't add up:
Given that photo X2 (depicting photo X1) must be taken at the time of X1: time (roughly E=mc2) is divided by X1 over X2 which equals one instant in real time (e.g., a pulse of light: size and position independant of speed and source) over 12 (= RT over 12). This is then divided by (La Principa de Mathematica..) 3.33 (to infinity) which is multiplied by 4.9 (to factoring in leap year) (so: RT over 12 divided by 3.33 x 4.9) which equals 0.0003 (NOT zero).. a very close call. However, in terms of absolutes, the answer of 0.0003 stongly suggests that the photographer and the banana would had to have been in two places at one time (at the same time) to get the result seen here. That is just not possible..

And this.
I love how it claims: It Soaks Children Clean Automatically. Yes. No doubt it does. As it says right on the front of the box, it contains hexachlorophene.. (Ah yes. Bleach. The sixties were a more innocent time. And with much cleaner children to be sure). This must have been perfect after a bad day for mom - to have something truly hospitol strength with which to soak her children clean. Real clean. Once and for all (..automatically). And hey, afterwards there's no need to scrub the bathtub. Infact, why not go ahead and throw the kids and the laundry in there all together? It's brilliant! It saves time.. but just the light colors. Careful, there! Bleach and dark clothes don't mix.. This product also works wonders on carports, boats, and gutters..

And while I'm at it, I love this.
In particular this guy who looks like he could be one of my brothers.
And this is a picture of me.

I don't know how to create a links area on this blog yet, so I'll just put it here: choose tick tock toys..

This above address is responsible for what I've posted here today. I love the imaginaryworld.

Dec 7, 2004

a letter from Mona

Dear frankenmonsterblog,

A few nights ago I went to this party in my building, and discovered almost a year's worth of my Jr Spy Chronicles (with address labels still attached) stacked near the toilet in my neighbor's bathroom. I was shocked. I thought my subscription had run out. And there they were. My happy magazines stolen and left to die right near a toilet. As I wasn't sure what to do, I fixed my hair, went back out and got drunk. And behaved for all practical purposes like I was just a normal guest at this party. Which was not the case because the whole time I was either a) assimilating what I had just discovered, or b) trying to put together some kind of plan. Finally, after an hour or so, I gatherd my thoughts, determined that the coast was clear, grabbed a drink and proceeded back in to the bathroom.

The plan was simple: I double locked the door (that is, both the bolt and the eye-and-hook thing), opened the window, and as quickly as I could I put my year's worth of Jr Spy Chronicles out on the fire escape where I could secretly retrieve them later. Then I closed the window (not an easy window to work with, it's an old building), flushed the toilet (in keeping with the ruse) washed my hands (also part of the ruse, as well as just good sense) and walked casually back out. In an aside, I should mention that it was at this point that I started to genuinely enjoy the party. I even got into a very interesting argument/discourse with an attractive, unattached man about my hair (which he felt was too big, and where I very compellingly explained that he was missing the whole irony of my hair, as it was not meant to be taken seriously so much as it was meant to be retro). But after a while, the thrill of what I'd pulled off waned and the guilt started to nag at me. I thought, What have I done?.. That was kind of petty .. do I want to be that girl? And most of all .. what if he sees the magazines out there on the fire escape..?

So, I returned to the bathroom, locked the door, opened the window. The whole spiel. And I began the now all too familiar process of dealing with these magazines and put them all back where I had found them. But then I thought, wait a second.. these are MY magazines, dammit. And, so, once again, I put the magazines back onto the fire escape. And just for the hell of it, most of his toiletries. And all of his towels. I noticed that his eye drops were prescription, so I left those in the cabinet in case he has an eye infection. Then I got an idea about squeezing out the remainder of the eyedrops and replacing whatever was in the bottle with tap water (from the sink. I'm not evil..). Which I did. But it took a while, as I discovered getting running water into a bottle through a tiny dropper opening is really difficult. Then I took a deep breath and returned to the party, which at that point was hitting a serious lull.

I guess the reason I'm writing you is that I wish to express how deeply I regret that I hadn't known about your establishment before I allowed myself to handle this particular problem on my own.. and while drunk. I found out about frankenmonsterblog the next day, as I'm sure you now recognize me from my letter, I'm certain that it was my neighbor who had employed your team to "get me" in the fashion that they did. If only I'd been aware of my options and had hired frankenmonsterblog to handle this mess in the first place, I might have both my magazines and my dignity right now. So, in closing, I'd just like to say that you got me frankenmonsterblog. You got me good.


Dec 4, 2004

one hour + computer

A few years ago, when I first went back to school, I had my first autocad class. And I remember sitting at my terminal for the first time and being like, How do you turn this computer on? The (poor) girl who sat next to me had to show me things like how to double click my mouse (Barb. Wherever you are, I'm sorry.. ). I cried a lot in that class. Real quietly, though, while trying to hide behind my monitor and my hair. I mention this to remind myself that there was a time when I didn't even have a computer. Because I just managed to spend the better part of two days doing things mostly computer related. Including some editing of this blog. And, you know, I've got other things to do. There's an indesputable time warp that occurs while working on the computer. Whether it's surfing around (hey, I've got a tv for that) to seemingly worthwhile applications like designing. Or editing this blog.. one hour+computer=TEN MINUTES!? WHAT. Where did the day go? My computer doesn't care. Don't play chess against your computer. The computer always wins. Don't get mad at your computer. It can sense this. It gets even. I might as well have layed on the couch for two days and stared into space. Same result. Same impact on my life. Remember what laziness entailed before this computer arrived in a forty five FedEx boxes a couple years ago? For the love of God, Victoria, be a human being.. be lazy like a human being. Be a lazy human being.. Maybe my computer is just waiting for a soul. It's all that's missing. The final piece of the puzzle. Man vs. the machine. It's the block of wood wanting to be a real boy. It's Pinocchio and Frankenstien. It just needs a soul (hey, like some people I know). So, maybe I should stop providing it with one, and ask just who is running this show in the first place? Yes, enough is enough. Listen up you hulk of a piece of plastic with your mess of wires and endless options, it is OVER. Got it? I have dishes, laundry, a cat box.. I have a life. OK. I've got Christmas cards to do. I've got grocery shopping to do. Things to mail. Like my RENT. Back off. You are but one tiny corner of my (life) office area/dining room. Just sit there quietly. Stop micro-managing me. I'm going out-of-doors now. I mean it. I've got my coat. I'm getting the hell away from you. Damn you, you damned computer!

Dec 2, 2004

I am your waitress

It's a scary thing. This do I or don't I have a new job feeling that is building up in me. It's making me nervous, happy, confused, nauseous, hungry and crazy. It's unbelievably important to me. One of the reasons is that the job I have has stressed me out for ten years. The actual work is a only a little stressful. The hours and the fact that I'm not in any way applying what I've learned in school are good reasons to move on. The drunk people. The vomiting people. The people who have lost their minds, wallets, cell phones and purses. All good reasons for me to hope I get that other job. But it's the people who think that the waitress is fair game to grab, hit on, insult, or critique. This is the serious reason. The big, big reason. This is the real reason. It's the people who ask the waitress personal questions knowing that she is in a weird position. She's intruded upon in this manner, but she must pretend not to be rattled. She (and by she I mean me) doesn't always succeed. Hey, wait a minute..She has no right to be upset, you say. She is payed for this afterall. No. She's payed to bring you drinks and to be pleasant. And that's only if you pay her. She is upset by the personal questions being-hit-on-yelled-at-grabbed-touched-body-parts-critiqued etc. She has to surpress this. Sometimes she cries in the bathroom. Sometimes she and the other waitresses gather together and talk about all of this. And it isn't good. Geez, here's a dollar, can't you just shut up and take it? Thank you for the dollar. And yes. She can. She does. That's my point. She still feels all of this, though. Otherwise it would indicate that she's managed to do away with her feelings, and her personal dignity. I know. It happens. All of the time. In all kinds of jobs. The numbing. But, people, if you just behaved yourselves no one would need to lobotomize themselves, or otherwise cut deals with their self esteem just so they can pay their bills. Somehow, I have managed not to be numbed. I'm also not popping valium all night long. I feel these things. I'm as indignant when someone grabs my ass today as I was fifteen years ago. It's not ok. The day that such a presumptious intrusion into my personal space no longer shocks me is the day I've lost something..something healthy about myself. There's no other way to look at it. Again, I know. The waitress has waved her rights. For the money. And, yes, for the money I have put myself in a position that is bad for me. I take full responsibility for what I've elected to do with my life. It would be great, however, if everyone simply behaved like civilized, conscientious human beings. I mean, when I go out and I get drunk, I manage not to grab anyone's ass. I hate HATE it when I'm grabbed inappropriately. And, similarly, I hate it when a customer asks me for my phone number. It's usually less of a question and more like a demand. And it's grossly unfair. If I was out at a club and someone hit on me, I would be free to handle the situation (ignore them, reciprocate, whatever) anyway I want, with everyone being on equal ground. But when I'm at work and someone puts me in the position of rejecting them (on top of all the other things I've got to do), they are making it very difficult for me to do my job. And they know it. How can she say no? How can she reject me right now when she has to be gracious? When I'm giving her money? Oh, but I can. What I usually say is that I am engaged. Then they ask to see my hand (ring). Then I show them my hand (no ring). Then they wonder (out loud) if I'm lying to them. Oh, the ego. Of course I'm lying to you. Now stop putting me in this ridiculous position. I don't say this, but how I wish I could. I used to just say, I'm sorry, no. But that kind of directness comes across as bitchy. Not Victoria the bitch. But me the waitress being a bitch. It gets factored into how well I've done my job that night. Even if this customer doesn't show it, he hates me, now. It's like, now it's personal (yeah, personal, and who's to blame for that?). So that no matter how well I've done my job, how pleasant I've been, I'm likely to be left with no tip. Zero dollars. For not giving out my phone number. That is, for being a bitch. Guys: That's why you never hit on the waitress. You never put someone who is working in that position. Besides, do you really want to go out with someone who's agreeing to go out with you just because she feels cornered into it? Really? The truth is, whenever you hit on women, you should already be getting all kinds of clues from her that she's interested in you before you ask for her phone number. It'll save everyone all kinds of humiliation. And, lets face it, when a woman is interested, it's fairly obvious. It's a subtle exchange that, I guess, is altogether lost on the drunk that hits on a waitress who is obviously not interested. That guy is all out of ideas. He is steps away from paying for companionship. He lost dignity long ago. That is why he is so hostile. He has (all willing participants aside) confused the waitress, who has given him no reason to believe that this is a potentially romantic situation, who's there to make a living, with someone who might play a role in his personal life. That's ridiculous. How did it get there? She showed up to work. She did her job. Now she supposed to give you here number, or else. Or else what ? No tip? Wait. What's going on here? What just happened? So, YES. I'm over it. Done. All that hard work in school has got to pay off eventually. I'm done with vomit, both the proverbial and the literal kind. I'm done with drunkeness (theirs). Dirt. Loss of dignity (theirs and mine). Hollowness. Shallowness. The taking of liberties. The ugly lights at the end. Getting home at five or six in the morning. The constant striking a balance between protecting my personal space and privacy vs. being friendly. Seriously. I'll run around and make sure you've got drinks, cigarettes, cocktail napkins, soda water for the wine on your shirt, I'll get you gum, I'll get you mints, I'll retrieve your girlfriend who has passed in the ladies room, I'll get you matches, I'll search high and low for your cell phone, I'll make your drinks really, really strong, I'll get you a couple of rounds on the house. I'll listen to you. I'll smile. I'll laugh. I'll treat you with respect. I'll wish you a Merry Christmas. I'll be nice to you. I am your waitress. But, God willing, in about a month, I will be done with this being your waitress once and for all.

Nov 29, 2004

an interview with a secret santa

I had a job interview with my sister-in-law today. The position is for a set deigner, which is something I'm trained to do. Sort of. But since I haven't ever worked in my field, I feel insecure about my abilities. I had to muster up an image of myself doing this job. It's a happy image. When she asked me, So, does this sound like something you'd be interested in? I was like, Yes! But, do you think this is something I am capable of doing? Because again, seriously, I have no idea what goes on in the real world. But after she broke it down into little pieces, I felt less intimidated. In fact, I would love to design sets. I almost wish I wasn't so in love with the idea. Because, who knows. Maybe it won't work out! Oh, but a happy design situation. Designing. Not waitressing. In a month. Maybe. She still has to talk to her boss. So, as far as going out and getting real jobs goes, I guess there couldn't have been a cozier situation. I mean, it was my sister-in-law. The chick. You know, the best-best-thing-that-ever-happened-to-my-brother.. My secret-santa (and I'm her secret-santa this year too. Again. Which I'm sure is starting to look a bit suspicious). When I first got there, she showed me around. It's an enormous space. It was rooms and rooms filled with props, and plants, and bolts of fabric, and a thousand carpets, and a million chairs, and mattresses, not to mention entire KITCHENS looking as if they plopped down out of the sky into this otherwise endless concrete studio space. Pretend spaces designed by designers! And way in the back, a mile away, there was a husband and wife team quietly ironing and sewing everything together. Just cameras and wires everywhere. And planks of wood. And fireplaces. It's my dream come true. Assembling these alternate realities. Then tearing them down. Then starting all over. I LOVED IT. I wanted to live there. Right after this tour (which is as close as I've come to getting a tour of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.. still waiting for those tickets.. ) we went into a conference room to sit down and talk. I showed her my portfolio and all of a sudden it was like this Professional Situation. Which is funny because usually we're sitting around at my mother's house smoking and drinking. So, yes, I really want this job. My God. I might be able to finally (drumroll..) quit waitressing. I may very well, at some point in January, get up in the morning (morning!!) to go to work. I'm so nervous. I just don't want to jinx any of this by prematurely discarding any of my insecurities, reservations, self doubts, like some careless all-believing-in-herself-all-filled-with-confidence sort. No, I have a whole month to worry about this.