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Willie's Off-Brand Web Journal: January 18-January 24, 2004

Saturday, January 24, 2004:

This morning, I ordered one of those free tryout hair color packets from Just For Men, so I'll be able to see what my hair would look like as "natural jet black." I'm guessing it'll make me look either like an oily real estate magnate or a futuristic supervillain.

I made a birthday mix for my cousin Caitlin, who needs to be exposed to more music beyond what's on the radio. (I also got her In Time by R.E.M. and Electric Version by the New Pornographers.) So I tried to cram a bunch of songs onto a CD that were smart and creative and interesting while still being accessible to a 15-year-old who was raised on Britney Spears and Counting Crows- I think she'd be terrified by Venetian Snares or the Happy Flowers at this point. I'll work my way up to them. Anyway, here's what I came up with:

1. Starlight Mints: "Submarine #3"
2. Sugar: "If I Can't Change Your Mind"
3. Supergrass: "Alright"
4. Ramones: "I Wanna Be Sedated"
5. The Postal Service: "Such Great Heights"
6. Nick Drake: "Pink Moon"
7. Ladytron: "Play Girl"
8. Radiohead: "No Surprises"
9. Hem: "The Cuckoo"
10. Soul Coughing: "Circles"
11. Idlewild: "Little Discourage"
12. Pernice Brothers: "Weakest Shade of Blue"
13. Hooverphonic: "Renaissance Affair"
14. The Shins: "New Slang"
15. Death Cab for Cutie: "President of What?"
16. Belle & Sebastian: "Legal Man"
17. Buzzcocks: "Ever Fallen in Love?"
18. Fountains of Wayne: "Denise"
19. Moby: "Natural Blues"
20. Flaming Lips: "Waitin' for a Superman"
21. Dead Milkmen: "Punk Rock Girl"
22. Pee Shy: "Mr. Whisper"
23. eels: "Last Stop: This Town"
24. Actual Tigers: "End of May"

I'm thinking of making her another one to supplement this because it's fun to introduce people to new music, so if anyone has any suggestions of essential songs I've missed, let me know. (And no prog rock, thank you. Cole.)

CURRENT MUSIC: The Modern Dance by Pere Ubu.
Hale and hearty.
CURRENT RANDOM DESIRE: I'd like a massage.
10:48 AM.

Doot? | |

Thursday, January 22, 2004:

I'm feeling somewhat better today. Last night, Jen came over to visit Bucky, and she brought along Novi the cockatiel and Gina the severe macaw. Birds make me happy. I'm already well-acquainted with Novi, so she just sat on my shoulder and bent her head forward to indicate that she'd like me to scratch it and not stop, please. Then she fell asleep on her travel cage while I made friends with Gina, who bit my hand really hard at first, but eventually wound up sitting contentedly on my leg, cheerfully shredding a paper towel and eating a little bit of pizza crust that Jen gave her. Gina's a funny little bird. She doesn't talk much, but she can say "cracker" and a number of variations on that word, including "crack" and "crack ho," which is great fun.

This morning, I finally watched the Crooklyn DVD that Erica lent to me. It was an incredibly sweet film that made me feel nostalgic for a time I didn't actually live through; Spike Lee can be really affectionate when he wants to be. Zelda Harris gave an amazing performance, too. It takes a lot for a child actor to agree with me, but man, she was so strong and charming and confident that I totally wanted to be ten years old again so I could be friends with her. (Not that her character would've hung out with me in the first place, but she was really cool.)

At work, Jon held up the book Rosemary's Baby and asked if I'd ever seen that movie. I replied that I hadn't, but I'd always sort of wanted to. A minute later, I realized that I'd actually been thinking of Sophie's Choice, which is something else entirely. Jon and I had to help a crazy woman carry her books out to her car, and as we walked, she informed me that our bookstore needs a smoking section.

And this afternoon, I had nice conversations with Jess and Ben that reminded me yet again how lucky I am to have such wonderful friends who care about me. Tonight, more karaoke at Champps, because Janet felt gypped last time. (Last week, she wanted to perform "Someone to Watch Over Me," which was not available, so she practiced up a couple Linda Ronstadt songs for tonight.) So lots of pleasant things to keep my spirits up, even if the larger problems are still unsolved and lingering.

Sorry for the all-around emo-ness of the past few entries.

CURRENT MUSIC: Return of the Frog Queen by Jeremy Enigk.
Not as high as one might hope.
6:19 PM.

Doot? | |

Tuesday, January 20, 2004:

At work, I suggested to Jon that we leave the lights out in the receiving room all day, and just work by the light of the two flourescent emergency bulbs that glow no matter what, because I didn't feel like dealing with any sort of brightness. (You know how sunlight always feels like an overly gregarious middle-aged woman in the seat next to you on an airplane who persists in attempting to converse with you while you just want to read your book? Well, it does. By the same token, even the flourescent lights in the receiving room today felt like annoyingly chipper flight attendants. Dealing with them would've required a bare minimum of patience and cheerfulness that I simply could not muster.) Jon gamely agreed. So we received books in the dark all day, and ignored the comments from our coworkers who wandered back. To maintain the atmosphere of apocalyptic misery, we listened to nothing but a succession of sad, quiet albums by Godspeed You Black Emperor, Cat Power, Carissa's Wierd, Death Cab for Cutie, Sparklehorse, and the Eels. It was satisfying to maintain that dismal mood.

Naturally, Jon and I wound up talking about the saddest or most unfair things we remember from our respective childhoods. The worst of my memories (not in terms of how disturbing it was, but in terms of how badly it affected me) was when my family had first moved to Michigan. I was four and my brother was two, and one day my mom took us shopping and bought us each a baseball cap with a Sesame Street character on it. My brother got a red cap with Bert and Ernie, which means mine probably had Big Bird, but I don't remember. Anyway, we proudly donned our caps as soon as we got home, and proceeded to run around in the backyard.

Apparently, while we were playing, Tim did something to piss me off, so I yanked his hat off his head and threw it in a huge mud puddle by our oak tree. This is going to sound ridiculously corny, but when I saw Bert and Ernie sitting in the mud, still smiling, with their arms around one another, I felt so ashamed that I started crying and my mom came outside. (I don't remember if Tim cared.) I handed her the hat and asked if she could clean it off, but she just looked really sad and said the hat wasn't washable and we'd just have to throw it away. Sounds dumb, but I hate myself more and more every time I think about that, because that hat was just a nice, sweet gesture of love from my mom to my brother- two people I care about- and I had to fuck it up out of sheer, pointless meanness.

Around 11:00, I went to the post office to send out the jail mail. It was crowded and I had to wait in line, so to kill time, I tried to imagine the meanest thing each individual around me had done in his life, just by looking at him. Like Bruce Willis in Unbreakable, only not boring as sin. And you know what? There were some pretty evil people at the post office today. Not all of them, mind you: some were generally nice people who just got caught in unfortunate circumstances, like the woman who accidentally ran over her best friend's dog, but never told her about it. But the majority of them had some sort of genuine cruelty in their past. It was easy to spot the rapist, and the woman who put cigarette butts out on her infant son's back to punish him for crying too much, but it took me awhile to figure out what the guy with the speech impediment who worked at the passport counter had done. Then I decided that he was once at a World Series game, and an eight-year-old kid in front of him had caught a home run ball, but the guy yanked it out of the kid's mitt. When the kid told his dad what had happened, his dad smacked him and told him not to make up stories, and Passport Guy still has the ball proudly on display in his living room.

I told Jon about this exercise when I got back to the store, and he immediately guessed that the most evil thing the FedEx delivery guy ever did was run up a huge phone sex bill on his mom's credit card.

And now I'm bawling all over my reheated pizza because I'm fucking useless and there's no hope for the world. I hate this. Nothing ever gets better, and yet it keeps going.

The Utica Community Schools newsletter.
5:13 PM.

Doot? | |

Monday, January 19, 2004:

I'm about ten seconds away from hiring a hooker just to come hold me and tell me everything will be okay.

Last night, I went out for coffee and then beer with This Jess and Lorenzo. Just as I was leaving my house, Lorenzo called:

LORENZO: Hey, so I'm at Target and they just shut the lights out on me.
ME: Oh yeah?
LORENZO: Apparently, they close at nine and not ten. So what time were we meeting at Caffe Europa? I wasn't sure what Jessi said.
ME: A quarter after nine.
LORENZO: Ohhh! A quarter after nine! So a quarter to ten, then!
ME: No no- a quarter after nine is 9:15.

God love 'im.

We sat in Caffe Europa for about an hour, trying to ignore the teenage mallrats at the next table, who were hyperventilating with giggles as if the breadsticks on their shared plate were not only made from nitrous oxide, but were wearing Skidz and dancing to "U Can't Touch This." Lorenzo told us about how he was forced to leave Taco Bell earlier because a bearded guy in a long coat kept staring at him. Jess and I bemoaned our fathers' perplexing fondness for Sheryl Crow.

Then we went to Buffalo Wild Wings, who are open until midnight on Sundays and also have a liquor license. I continued my ongoing project of berating Lorenzo until he registers to vote. Jess found her voter registration card in her purse and said, "My God, I'm old!" when she realized it had been three years since she turned 18 and registered. Lorenzo took off at about 10:30 because he had an early class this morning. Jess and I nursed our beers for another hour or so, listening to the amusingly eclectic jukebox selections spinning in the bar ("You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC was followed by "Dancin' on the Ceiling" by Lionel Richie, for instance). I found it horribly depressing that the National Trivia Network found it necessary to broadcast a nationwide message on their bar trivia screens reminding everyone to tip the waitress.

As Jess and I left Buffalo Wild Wings, we passed a guy wearing one of those backpack-based snowblower mechanisms. Jess laughed and said, "In high school, my friend Liz and I followed a guy with one of those jet-packs around a Kroger parking lot, blaring 'Rocket Man' over and over from the car."

It was a nice night.

Whereas today felt entirely hopeless, for no real reason. So I'll just blame Martin Luther King Jr. (Speaking of which, there was a hilariously offensive sign at the Pistons game tonight that read, "I have a dream... that the Pistons will win tonight!")

CURRENT MUSIC: Chutes Too Narrow by the Shins.
"Confidential Companions." Not so much funny as sad, I know. And no, I'm not actually hiring an escort.
TIME: 7:32 PM.

Doot? | |

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