Wednesday, February 22, 2006

You want fries with that?

Waiting.Waiting. Waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting. I am always waiting for something. Waiting to be happy. Waiting to have a life (only to realize it is probably half over). Waiting for...? The next thing? Person? Event? Waiting, waiting, when, when, when.
Yesterday I was waiting for a meeting (yes, I'm breaking my anonyminity like Capote's Phillip did last week) to start at a church on Belmont. In the hallway was a new "religious" mural. In big, decorative letters were the words "Jesus Christ". Well, I gasped. I gasped because for a second I thought someone graffittied a swear word on the church wall. Seeing those words reminded me of my stepfather circa 1975. Him yelling "Jesus Christ" was usually followed with something like "...what the hell is going on in here?" or "...who the hell left the door open!" Just when I thought I put my past into perspective, and accepted it, I realized "Jesus Christ" can still make me flinch.

I've been waiting a long time for my childhood to be over.

The summer between 6th grade and 7th grade I somehow got hooked on a soap opera. I don't remember which. There was a big, exciting party going on, with a small fire in a broom closet. So all summer, I knew this fire was getting bigger while everyone yukked it up and danced in their fancy clothes, and I waited on the edge of my seat for them to find out. All summer I waited (you know how soaps are) for them to be destroyed by a secret that was way too out of control for them to stop. This was the same summer we were all waiting for Skylab to fall. There was a huge billion dollar chunk of metal whipping around the earth, and no one knew where or when it would land. We just waited. To pass the time, I drew pictures of it crashing into a mansion, where a party was going on. Disaster-combining, you could say. Would it land in Los Angeles? (Oh, the carnage!) London? (Oh, the damage!) Or would I wake up to a loud noise outside my bedroom window, in the Town of Menasha, Wisconsin, and run screaming in giddy horror? "AAA! SKYLAB! HOW GLAMOROUS! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!"

"Oh please, please, please, let Skylab hit my house" I would pray everyday. I waited all summer, only for it to land in an empty field Down Under, and hurt no one. What a let-down. The soap opera fire wasn't a let-down, though. Wonderful, satisfying day-time TV destruction. "That'll teach ya to not check the closets!"
Waiting, waiting. Waiting in Chicago in the 80's? (the 80's seems to be the theme of this blog) :The Greyhound bus terminal, when it was still on Randolph and Dearborn. It was some how set below street level, like some gigantic scary sunken living room. Riding down the long escalator, I knew I was in for an "eventful" wait, because anyone could sit in the waiting area, and I'm sure you can imagine the types of people there. They really did have those chairs with the built-in TV sets you put quarters in to watch. In the mid-80's, I took the bus up to Wisconsin from there 3 or 4 times. You can see it in the Liz Shue star vehicle, Adventures in Babysitting.

Speaking of movies, it seems Veronica Lake got tired of waiting for her stalled career to get back on track, because she died forgotten, an alcoholic, a waitress in a bar. Did she end up just waiting to die?
What am I waiting for? What am I waiting for now? These days, I spend a lot of time waiting to fall asleep. I spend a lot of time waiting for the empty space in my bed next to me to be filled with someone I love. Or at least with someone who wants to be there. I wait for my body to get thinner and for my clothes to fit (I quit smoking last summer) I wait for the day I stop waiting. I wait for the day I am simply being.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

with sympathy...

So as you may or may not know, they are tearing down some of the El stations on the red and brown lines. I guess to expand them like the "sleek and modern" Addison station. The old stations would have an old fashioned charm if the city of Chicago would ever bother to clean them! Is it too much to ask for them to blast off the 100 years of pigeon shit? The stations are so disgusting. I hold my breath whenever I climb up or down the station stairs so I inhale as little of the birdshit disease fumes as possible.
I was on the red line the other day, and every time I exit the station at Belmont, I remember Halloween night, 1985. I would never recommend riding the train alone on that night, by the way, because of all the creepy people who just stand there in those masks that cover your whole face and head. "Are they looking at me...or not...?"
I used to wear extensions in my hair back then, to add to the full and spiky Robert Smith or Al Jourgensen look (they were my hair idols), and on that night I got one caught going down the stairs and ripped it out. And do I mean ripped. With all those people behind me, there was no time to stop and yell. "AAA! My over-styled fake hair is caught up on sumpin'! Help! Wait! Stop! My punk wiglette! MY PUNK WIGLETTE!" So I just kept going. I imagined this little piece of cut-up wig dangling there with a bobby pin still stuck on it. Oh, the shame! The new wave shame! I was so embarrassed.
When I was on the train that other day, I was also inspired to write about the night in 1986 I was mugged on the train.
I was at my boyfriend Jeff's place watching that horrible, awful movie "Faces of Death" (I cringe to even write that title, because I associate this terrible night with it so much. I also have an irrational fear of "Looking for Mr.Goodbar", because BOTH times I watched it, something REALLY bad happened.) with his roommates, Cathy and Kristin, when I decided foolishly at 4 in the morning to go home. He lived on Pratt by Loyola and I lived at Belmont and Racine. That's a good 40 minute train ride. This was early March, so when the guy with no shirt got on the train at the next stop, I knew it wasn't going to be good. He was with two other guys, and they immediately came up to me asking for money. I was 19 and barely working, so I had none. They didn't believe me, so I turned out all my pockets and emptied my bag to prove it to them. The "leader" said: "My friend has a gun. Do what we say or he'll use it. Where are you going? Belmont? We're going there, too." So I moved slower to have time to think about my escape route when we got to Belmont. Once they saw I didn't have any money, they started taking the things of mine they wanted. Surprisingly, happily, not my shirt. When we get to Belmont, I push my way off the train.
"Where are you going?" the leader said, grabbing my arm. "I'm meeting my boyfriend and his friends!" I said loudly and angrily. "Oh yeah?" he said with interest, as he started to rub my crotch with one hand and my ass with the other. "Oh shit" I think to myself. "I am being mugged by gay rough trade."
Well, I guess one of the other guys was his boyfriend, and he was PISSED he was touching me 'cause he WALLOPED me in the face, knocking me to my knees. "FUCK THIS SHIT" I yell as I escape down the stairs. Gun or no gun, I had enough. I ran into that little Mexican place next to Berlin, where I saw some friends, and told them what had just happened.
"Where did they go?" my friend Brian asked. He was so pissed, he ran after them, not caring it was three against one. They got the upper hand, and hurt him so bad we had to take him to the hospital. I felt like shit. I wanted to crawl into a hole and die.
But the next day, after some of the dust settled, I could see Brian was hurt, but not permanently. He said he was glad he did it, and he would do it again, for me. And someone had even found my bag and brought it to my work. That night, I took the train home. I think that was the night I knew I was my own person, with my own life, away from my parents, and no matter what happened, it was all going to be ok.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

That's Entertainment

I was talking to a client the other day about her experience with the "Penny Marshall Effect". This is a term I created to describe the shock of seeing someone you haven't seen for a while, and how time has "taken it's toll" on their appearance. Meaning, whenever I think of Penny Marshall, I think of her and how cute and perky and smiley she was on her show, "Laverne and Shirley". Then she disappeared for a while after her show was cancelled, to reappear ONLY 5 YEARS LATER to direct "Big". Well, I couldn't believe the change when I saw her doing press for the movie. All droopy and slow talkin'. It was like a medicated version of her former self had melted in the sun. And before you yell "stroke!", you can stop because I just read her IMDB bio and there's nothing in there about an illness, though that would explain a lot. I still love her very much, I was just shocked, is all.
We all come to that place in our life, sooner or later, if we're lucky. Has it happened to you yet? I think I'm on the verge... And believe it or not, this post is about when my boyfriend bought us tickets to The Smiths for my 20th birthday.
I was looking at a photo of Morrissey today and trying to decide when "PME" happened to him. My guess would be 2002. He went from "Freakish Beauty" to "Old Irish Guy". But I was also marveling how his work has been a part of my life for over twenty years. He made being a nerd sexy! I will always think of Bryan, "the one that got away" when I hear "How Soon is Now", and I still will always be jealous of Ron for stealing Brad from me whenever I hear anything from "Hatful of Hollow" because that was their album to drop acid to. (whiney voice) "I wanna trip with Brad!" (pout). Conversely, their old roomate Scott still to this day throws-up blood whenever he hears The Smiths, because they played them 24/7.
So my boyfriend in 1986 was Jeff, and his (our) album was "The Queen is Dead". Sadly, he emulated all the bad things about Morrissey he perceived as "good". He was a vegetarian. He wrote poetry. He was celibate. Yes, my boyfriend was celibate. Yes, it sucked. But we did have good make-out sessions. My rationale was always: "He can't be serious. He's going to say 'Just kidding!' any day now." Me saying that in my head every day kept our relationship going for a good year.
So it took me a week to figure out what to wear. I decided on my roommate Jody's long black flowey skirt, Brad's pointy black patent-leather boots with all those straps, a Jesus t-shirt, 20 million rosaries, black leather motorcycle jacket, and a false black pony tail (because I saw Cerda do it. Yes, I've known him that long) and , of course, huge spikey black hair. And probably Baroni's "Red Diamonds" lipstick. (I cried the day that tube ran dry)
I guess Jeff had to pull my hand off his crotch one too many times, because the night of the show he called to say he "may not be able" to go. I just slammed down the phone. I went anyway. I get to the Aragon Ballroom 15 minutes into the show, and to my horror, everyone is dressed the exact opposite of me: Rebocks, LIGHT blue jeans and over-sized white t-shirts. Ewwwwww. And they were all flailing around like it was some kind of May pole at a Renaissance Fair. "This is The Smiths, not The Styx!" I stay a little bit to watch Moz dance around with those mock protest signs, sing some great songs, and watch sweaty kids dragged off stage, but I felt so out of place I left early. And my crappy relationship just ended. "Fuck you, happy puppet-people! I am outta here! I came here to MOPE, 'cause this is The Smiths, and you MOPE around to it!" Though they were nice to me, I guess.
My friend Mark literally had the exact opposite experience that I had, but that's another story for another time, because it's long and scary and freaky and you won't believe it, but you'll have to 'cause it's TRUE!
I tell this Morrissey story because he will be performing on my 40th birthday in Scotland. I will be in England then with my mom. (Her gift to me) Though she's up for it, I said no to the concert. But I have a feeling I may change my mind. It is my birthday, after all.