shoegazegirl's diary

shoegazegirl's Diaryland Diary

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Chapter 9: Somebody Help Me Before I Wither Away and Decompose on the Couch

Did I mention my contract job at the magazine ended? The psuedo-unemployment thing (translation: back to full-time freelance writing) can be scary. But not because I don't have a steady source of income. I can live with getting sporadic checks. What worries me are the habits I begin to keep, starting with the fact that, last Monday, I laid on the couch and did nothing but watch the Queen Latifah movie "Last Holiday."

Ah, what to do? I had no assignments and little motivation to do something of worth, say, working out, grocery shopping or even writing in this dear diary. I can't allow myself another sloth-like day like that. I should have at least done something enriching whilst I lay in a cocoon state -- like read a Deepak Chopra book?

I feel like every correspondence I write these days ends with a super-chipper "Happy Holidays!" So, in that spirit, Happy Holidays!

10:48 p.m. - 2006-12-20
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Chapter 8: "Poof!" and "Ala-ca-zam!"

The other day, a co-worker asked me if I had enjoyed the film "The Prestige."
"Oooh," I gushed. "It was pretty much the best movie ever."
"Really? I'm wondering if I'll like it," the co-worker said, a little unemphatically.
"Well, you totally will if you love stories of dueling 19th-century magicians," I replied.

There was a pregnant, awkward pause. My co-worker said he didn't know, actually, how many such stories he's encountered. And he said it in a weirded-out kind of way that would make you think I had said, "You totally will if you love teradactyl hunting in the Gobi Desert."

This all leads me to muse: Why can't people past a certain age (okay, 12?) get into magician shit anymore? Harry Potter fans nonwithstanding, there is a definite lack of enthusiasm for the classic tale of trickery and illusion.

I read Susanna Clarke's "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell," a story about competitive magicians in 18th-century England, cover to cover, nearly non-stop. And then I recommended it to about eight friends, none of whom managed to get through the second chapter. So sad.

For the love of trapdoors, bunnies in hats, levitating women, Chinese rings and "Presto-chango!" let's all take this as a call to action and show magicians a little love.

J.K. Rowling, can I count on you to head a sub-committee?

4:47 p.m. - 2006-12-08
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Chapter 7: Sweatin' to the Coldies

Whoa. I am back from a looong hiatus. I've been bogged down with a work project. Now, if I may speak in dramatic cliches, I have my life back. Yipee!

The one thing I'd like to note is that I sighted a young Japanese man doing aerobics in pink Lycra hot pants and a tight yellow tank top while yelling unintelligibly yesterday. This happened outside, in 20-degree weather, at the corner of Damen and Milwaukee avenues.

First thought: This is on hidden camera, la Borat.
Second thought: Who really cares anyway.
Third thought: I love Chicago.

5:18 p.m. - 2006-12-05
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Chapter 6: Road Rage - A Public Service Announcement

To the impatient driver in the Honda Civic seen at Huron and Wells streets this morning at 10:14 a.m.: Beeping incessantly and cursing at the top of your lungs won't help when traffic is backed up. You only look ridiculous. May I suggest simply putting on the radio, a classical music station, and taking a few deep breaths? Aah, doesn't that feel better?

10:37 p.m. - 2006-09-14
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Chapter 5: Pump Up The Jams

Today is a banner day for two reasons, both musical.

The first is that the new Justin Timberlake CD dropped. I am, against my better judgment, very excited by this. (And I also just wanted to use "dropped" in a sentence.)

The second is that I received the premiere CD by Charlotte Gainsbourg in the mail from my Parisian sister in law. I've already listened to it three times which means I can only be A) obsessed B) bored or C) autistic.

5:17 p.m. - 2006-09-12
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Chapter 4: I'm Lovin' It

A brief break from regular programming to list a few things I'm currently obsessing over.

1. Scott Smith's book, "The Ruins"
2. The New Pornographers
3. Charlotte Gainsbourg and Charlotte Rampling
4. "Nip/Tuck"
5. "Project Runway"
6. Sufjan Stevens
7. Wide belts
8. My mom and dad's slow-cooked BBQ ribs
9. Making lists

6:23 p.m. - 2006-09-11
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Chapter 3: Creepy Dolls and Strawberry Sundaes

Yesterday, I was quite arty. My husband, J, and I went to the Around The Coyote Fall Arts Festival in Bucktown -- it's a hodgepodge of local artist booths, films and performances. Oooh, there was a bonus along the way; we stopped at a rummage sale and I picked up an old Devo record for $1. A fine find, indeed!

Before I ramble on about the Festival, a word on our drive there. We drive a Scion XA, or I should say J drives it because I don't know how to drive stick. (I will learn soon, promise. I've been saying that for one year.) For some reason, J takes the word of those annoying guys on NPR's "Car Talk" as gospel, so has decided that cars need oil changes every once in a blue moon. Translation: every 5,000 miles. So, in the past year we've owned the Scion, he's changed the oil a total of...never. I kind of think that to take good care of a car, one should err on the side of regular oil changes. Alas, J does not agree.

Well, things came full circle when we started the car and a blinking light for "Maintence Required" came on. One look in the car's manual and we saw -- ah-ha! -- the Oil Change Master (me) was right! We are way past due. So, me stifling an "I-told-you-so," and J grunting in annoyance, we pulled over to a service station manned by a guy in his mid-30s that bore a striking resemblance to Scott Baio if Scott Baio was a grease monkey. "What kind of car do you have out there...a Yaris?" he asked. "No, a Scion," J replied. "Same crap," said the ersatz Scott Baio.

I believe we should have been offended, but for some reason, this comment totally cracked me up.

So, the festival: It took place in numerous buildings, the main one being the historic Flat Iron Building, where artists both live and work, so you'll often see well thought-out canvases within feet of the artist's bed, sink and mound of toiletries, which made me meditate more on the artists' morning hygiene than on their skills.

We saw some good art and some bad art. (Yes, I believe you can draw an easy distinction...possibly a topic for a future diary entry?) J, who enjoys some success as a painter, felt re-invigorated by seeing the art and that made me happy.

Afterward, we met some friends, Mick and MT, who was showing at the festival, for ice cream (how sweet and old-fashioned of us, yes?) At my request, we went to Margie's Candies on Western Avenue for strawberry sundaes. If you haven't heard of Margie's, it has a good reputation and is where The Beatles stopped for a treat during one of their tours. So, I had been dying to try it out...because it's my nature to *have to* know any iconic Chicago spot. Guess what? I wasn't missing anything. This place was Creepy.

I don't know when Margie's was established, but let's say the '30s. Nothing had appeared to change since then. There were vinyl booths that somehow smelled of a retirement home, cheap wooden walls that recalled a perv's basement rec room, and a huge glass case in the middle of the room in which the candies (mostly chocolate globs) appeared to date from the Civil War era. Okay, and the real kicker? There were scary-looking dolls for sale -- lots of them. They were aligning the candy case, staring at me with pasty-white porcelain faces and dressed in faded tartan jumpers.

They made me uncomfortable, and I know it was totally unreasonable. So I had to cover up for my nervousness by inventing a scenario...weaving a tale about how the dolls come to life every night and sing and dance around and climb on the ice cream machines. And, telling that story, I made everyone laugh until we all started imagining the dolls as mass murderers with mini knives and fangs and had to leave the store.

2:14 p.m. - 2006-09-10
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Chapter 2: I Loves Me Some Grammar

A brief moment to share a few things you won't see in this diary.

1) Entries written in all small-case. I know this is the cool thing to do in emails and all manner of cyber missives. (It does look cuter, doesn't it? It's like the writer is saying "Hey, I'm a non-agressive, friendly sort and, to prove it, here is my little ol' email written in small caps.) So call me old-fashioned when I say I promise to write using proper grammar...caps, periods, semi-colons (I love them) when needed. I won't launch into the expected spiel about keeping the language pure and all that's rotten in text messenging and emailing abbreviations. But just know that I'm trying to give grammar a little shout-out. Go grammar!

2) Smiley faces or other emoticons. Sure, they're useful in emails to get across a quick sentiment. But, c'mon, aren't they more than a little lame? Enough said.

3) The phrase -- if it can be called such -- "xo." I get e-mails signed this way from friends near-daily. It's good to be loved, yes it is. But when I read it I get a little flashback to my u-rah-rah, don't-we-all-love-each-other college sorority days (they lasted one year until I shamed the entire group by "de-activating"...which makes it sound like I was a programmed robot...which perhaps I was). So, long story short, let's forgo the "xo."

1:01 p.m. - 2006-09-09
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Chapter 1: Fun With Suspenders

Okay, so, I'm fully functioning -- not quite mentally, I'm in a kind of food coma -- but in the online, finally-got-this-diary-off-the-ground sense. Coming to you live from Chicago. Yay!

I have to admit, I struggled with my username for about 30 minutes, trying to be super-creative. First, I had "crepe-girl" as a homage to my love of Paris (or love of my husband, rather, who is from Paris). But I never wound up getting access to that account for whatever reason, which is probably a good thing because when I told my husband my username was crepe-girl, he said, "Don't you think people are going to think it's creep-girl?" And he's probably right.

I settled on "shoegaze girl" because I'm a sucker for nostalgia and am attached to the days -- early '90s -- when shoegazer bands were big. I never really explored why the bands -- Ride, My Bloody Valentine and a thousand other ripoffs, which I rather quite like, don't make fun -- were called shoegazers. But I was once told it was because the band members stared at their feet while performing. I find this practice just fine because I really don't need a show -- none of that slithering around on the ground holding the guitar behind the head, no scissor-kicking wildly during the breakdown -- when I go to a live concert. Just bring on the tunes.

The idea for this journal came because of a writing class I attended last night. It wasn't regular coursework or anything...just a little two-hour ditty to get me pumped to write. I write for a living already -- non-fiction for magazines and newspapers -- but it's not creatively satisfying in the way that I can't let loose my personal ramblings on the pages of major dailies.

So back to this class I attended. It was StoryStudio on Chicago's North Side and, while I was only there for two hours so really can't pass judgment, I'd say it's a worthwhile joint. The teacher -- who I'd rather call a listener or, better yet, a placater, as his job was mainly to sit there and egg us on to write and tell us what "interesting" work we were doing -- was a middle-aged man that I was already quasi-acqainted with due to our work in similar fields. What I enjoyed about this man was his suspenders. He was, let's say, pleasantly plump and I found myself wondering the entire time if the suspenders were to keep his pants up (as is the job of suspenders) or were simply a fashion statement.

I kind of wish suspenders would come back in style. (Were they ever in style?) I'm a fan of accessorizing and just don't think there are enough options for men. So, there we go. Suspenders.

On that note, I'm tired and will get with you tomorrow. Or soon enough.

11:00 p.m. - 2006-09-08
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