Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Between the pages of a Simple Machine.

I went home to Ann Arbor to spend the first days of Passover with my family. I blew into the kitchen Friday afternoon and made Charoset (delicious passover ritual food made of chopped apples nuts and wine), matzo balls, vegetable soup and washed a ton of dishes. Feeling less bad about ditching the hectic kitchen after that flurry of productivity, I fled to Sara's house.

Sara is finding herself at odds with current trends in the cannon of literary theory and I drank tea and listened respectfully ( and somewhat awed, I must admit, finding myself growing suprisingly excited about getting back to the musty old "things themselves"), and tried on shoes she'd decided to get rid of. I was very tired from my early morning train ride from Chicago and eventually dozed off on her sofa after staring sleepily at the Bakhtin reader on her shelf, an indescribably pleasing shade of purple. When I woke up it was rainy and we were late for dinner at my parents house.

We drove in sara's car, navigating circuitously through the burns park neighborhood to avoid being sighted my any Jews returning from synagogue, trangressing the sabbath such as we were. "I can't believe this" I muttered in deep embarrasment as we wound blocks and blocks out of our way to secure a safe parking spot down the street. I told Sara she was the only one who could understand. And she just about is.

After dinner we returned to Sara's and she graciously offered to lend me her car so I could go visit Jorge. Making sure she was set to work productively, I headed out to her parking lot behind the house. It was dark and I backed the car up slowly, very nervous about hitting the truck parked incoveniently at the bend where I had to cut the wheel and guide myself out the driveway. I cleared the truck and breathed a sigh of relief. At that precise moment, I heard a horrible grinding sound and the car stopped with an awful lurch. I got out and discovered, to my horror, that there is a long cement barrier needlessly seperating her driveway from the adjacent one belonging to the house next door. I had driven the car over the median and it was stuck straddling the divide. I guess it made a fair amount of noise and her pajama clad downstairs neighbors quickly appeared to my aid.

"Oh this is bad" Scott observed. "This happened to my friend's car at the gas station last week and she ruined her transmission by bending the axle."


Soon Sara joined us and calmly assured me not to worry. she got in the car and rammed it in reverse humping the right side of the aged Toyota Tercel wagon back on to the right path. The front left wheel remained stuck at the barrier spinning helplessly. None of us could fathom paying for a tow truck. A better solution had to exist. After much debate we decided the best thing to do would be to construct a wedge under the wheel to guide the the car to safety. Using scott's hydraulic jack, we cranked up the car in preparation for the wedge building, but we still lacked obvious materials like planks of wood. I dragged over a cinder block I found by the back porch which we quickly dismissed, for being too solid and foreboding. The rain continued to sprinkle. I leaned on the car feeling monstrously guilty and embarrased. Gazing into the darkened window of her back seat an Idea came to me, which I couldn't bring myself to suggest in complete earnestness. Piled back there were four paper grocery bags of books Sara had been carting around trying to figure out a way to get rid of.

"well, we got all these books" I teased dolefully.
"Haul em out" she ordered.
"you can't be serious."
Books are holy. You can't use them to build a wedge under your muddy car wheel.
"they'll survive."

Out came the books.

Nathaniel West, Albert Camus, a tourists guide to St. Petersburg. I grabbed them by the fistful and handed them down to Sara who was crouching by the tire.
"keep them coming" she instructed.
Shaking my head in disbelief I obeyed. The more I got used to the idea the more funny it became and the more I started to embrace the scenario.
"Oh good, here's some Phillip Roth" I piped with relish "get that sucker in there tight."
The Organic chemistry course packs were especially prime because they were wide and flexible. I stacked the Tennesse Williams and American Short stories, laying them like erudite bricks in a rickety, desecratory wall.

The only book she refused to use was a cookbook.
Good comparative lit doctoral student.
I almost died of love for her right then.

Eventually we were satisfied with our simple machine. We brought the car down and drew in our breaths. Sara climbed into the drivers seat and once again kicked it into reverse. Without so much as a whisper, the wheel took to our book tower and kissed itself over the wall. Problem solved.

Cheering, we collected the books and found that with the exception of one biology text, whose cover was badly ripped, all the books had survived. We wiped them off and piled them back in the bags, returning them to their sad, waylaid, fate.

I bow respectfully before the manifold usefulness of ideas.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Letter from a Young Poet

This morning I recieved an email from the 18 year old son of a high school English teacher with whom I have recently been trying to re establish contact. Responding, with charicturistic brevity to my intitial flare in the dark several weeks back, he mentioned his son was writing poetry and begining to publish. It was difficult for me to conceive of this little fawn-like boy from years past as a semi-adult, a poet nonetheless, and I expressed an intense curiosity to see his writing. Rather than send me drafts himself, Mr. C_____ rerouted our corresondence entirely.

E___ wrote to send me some of his poems, each with a brief contextualization. He said he liked some of the poems I sent to his father last week and that he remembers me from when he was young, remembers that I "was really nice."

It feels nice to be remembered as really nice.

I didn't have time to read the poems just then because I was out the door on my way to work. In the kitchen, slathering peanut butter and raspberry jelly on my ritual breakfast sandwhich (to be eaten at work after microwaving for 20 seconds to un-stale the bread, with a cup of watery office-coffee, ), I began to cry.

When I was 15, Mr. C____ told my father at a parent teacher conference that I was writing some poetry that might be worth looking at. My father, stormy, aloof and mysterious is also a high order man of letters and an incredibly sensitive thinker. When we were young, he spun wild epic stories for us at bedtime, tracking the escapades of a motley retinue of characters: The adventuresome brother and sister Shoopy and Boopy, Inky Raisin, the girl who loved butterflies, Gusto Freeze, the loveable popsicle slurping friend from the north pole, Lapidary the monster made of colored stones. He read to us from the dictionary , wrote us songs and quoted verse.

A number of years ago, while poking around my grandparents' basement, my brother I and melted into giggles on the musty floor when we stumbled upon the mother lode of finds: a little journal titled "Rod's Poetry Corner." To our great dismay, it was blank inside save for a few fantastical doodles of duck like creatures in stovepipe hats.

My father and I have never gotten along, according to my mother, because we are too much alike. Truly, I look exactly like him and unfortunately exhibit some of his fretful, obsessive tendencies. Beyond these observations, and a few others, I can honestly say, I do not know him, and he does not know me. I've always been scared of him. I won't catalogue here every bump in the road of our relationship, it would become a book, just that one particular day that weighs heavily on me after all these years.

I was sitting in the Dining room on the computer, clacking away at something when he approached me and repeating my teacher's words, asked if perhaps I would be willing to share my poetry with him sometime. Peer to peer, poet to poet. Bewildered, I looked up at him full of shock, fear and contrite teenage revenge-lust.

"No dad, I don't think so." I answered quietly, turning my head back to the computer screen.

He didn't say anything, he just walked out of the room. In the 10 years since, the horror of what I did continues to compound, nipping at me with wincing waves. I know I broke my father's heart right then. But, I reasoned in the moment, he had been breaking me all my life. He knows this. He knew it then and in a rare gesture, he attempted to extend himself to me, something I know if painfully difficult for him. The obvious thing to do would be to apologize to him. But where to go from there? To this day, my father has only read two poems I wrote (that I'm aware of), a silly piece of 5th grade melodrama inspired by the book Let the Circle be Unbroken which earned an honorable mention in some minor grade school contest, and a poem I wrote this winter at a bookmaking workshop in the public library with my baby sister.

"Don't your parents know about any of this stuff?" Mr. C_____asked me once, as I sat with him and his wife in their study one afternoon, years and years ago when I drove out to Detroit to visit them.
"Of course not."
"You know Abby," he needled "Your parents weren't always married to eachother."
I think I knew what he was getting at but I wasn't buying.
"Yes they were." I said resolutely.

Because, compared to me, they were.

I'm looking forward to Reading E___'s poems. In an abstract way, I'm also looking forward to the day I can share my writing with my father, because only then could I begin to know him and love him instead of fearing him.

I doubt that day will ever come.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Curry Sweet Potato Suicide Soup

Many people in this part of the world suffer from Seasonal Affect Disorder, meaning, for the most part, owing to a lack of sunshine, they become morbidly depressed in the winter time. My problem, it seems, is an equal opportunity destroyer. My day off started out fine enough but around 5 pm, the sun high in the sky, the air an inviting 75 degress, I found myself, for reasons I can't explain, lying in bed contemplating doom. I stared at the wall blankly for quite some time, sulking about having to be alive, wondering how normal, peaceful people like myself go about obtaining a gun. Incapable of accomplishing any of the actual tasks I needed to do, I became more and more convinced that the only thing I could handle was to cook a nice dinner. Chopping things on a cutting board suddenly struck me as the most mollifying, healing activity in the entire world.

With Herculian effort I rolled out of bed and put on my shoes. I got on my bike and rode up 31st street to the egg store, a little produce mart on Halstead I hadn't visited in a long time. They were experiencing problems with a register and were down to one check out lane. A line of customers snaked all the way through the store, extending to the Bok Choi case in the very back. I'm on the brink of death I thought, I could wait all day, ambling around directionless, dumbly clutching my bag of sweet potatoes and ginger and watching other people shop. One woman picked judiciously through a jumble of green peppers while her children chased eachother around her legs shrieking in a mix of chinese and English. A baby boy cried in his shopping cart seat until placated with a 25 cent bag of cheetos. A man with a hand bastket full of glass bottles of apple juice.

All this, somehow, spoke to me of how hard it is to be alive. grapes in slotted bags, little pearl onions, turnips, living lettuce in plastic domes. My eyes misted tragically.

I ended up making a very nice meal and lay on the sofa, smoking, doing more aimless staring while waiting for Emilio to come home and eat it with me and Heather. The soup came out particularly well and I thought I might share it with you, incase you find yourself in a similarly dark place and needing to cook.

Abbyg.'s Curry Ginger Sweet Potato Suicide Soup

*note: I don't really always follow recipes I kind of concocted this. you should adjust the flavoring to your own tastes. Also, I tend to cook for a large "family" so this will yeild a big pot of soup. Why you'd want to go through the trouble for less is beyond me but cut it in half if you don't need that much

4 med/big sweet potatoes
3-4 cloves of garlic
2 small/med onions
1 little stump fresh ginger
2 tsps. honey
2-ish Tbs curry powder
1-ish Tbs. allspice
1-ish Tbs. cinamon
1 dash cayenne pepper
1 cup vegetable stock (boullion cube is fine)
1/2 cup soy milk
some olive oil
a bunch of water
salt/pepper to taste.

peel and cut up the potatos into big chunks. slice onions, garlic and ginger. in a big pot, sautee the onions in olive oil. add the garlic and ginger, stir a minute or two and then add spices and salt. Add the sweet potato chunks and fill pot with the stock and water until it covers the potatoes. Add the honey. Stir. Cover. Bring to a boil then turn down to simmer. Let cook about 25 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Transfer half or all the soup to a blender and puree in batches. put it back in the pot and stir adding soymilk (if you like) and more water if needed. taste and adjust spices. cook a little while longer on low heat. You could garnish it with a bit of cinnamon or cilantro if you like. I didn't have any cilantro.

Our Blender was fucked up and actually exploded on me while I was blending batch two of the soup. I cursed and almost started crying. As if I needed one more reason to die. Fortunately, Heather helped me clean it up. It looked like a baby had shit all over the kitchen.

Other random stuff I made:

Tumeric Peanut Pilaf

In a rice cooker put in two cups white rice, plus 2-3 cups water. Stir in some salt and a teaspoon or so of Tumeric. When the rice is halfway cooked, pour in some dry roasted peanuts and replace the lid.

Zucchini

1 med onion cut in rings
olive oil
2 large zucchinis cut into half moons
1 TBS.-ish rosemary
Salt and pepper


sautee the onions and add the rosemary, salt, pepper and zucchini. stir and cover, don't let it over cook or it will get soggy.

We ate all this with a bottle of innexpensive Cote Du Rhone. I am hardly a master pairer of food and wine, and besides it was just what I happened to have around but I think it was a lucky combination. As a rule, these Burgundy's are elegant and controlled so there's no wild oak or crazy fruit or sugar to compete with the sweetness of the soup.

An orange and cigarettes for desert.

I Think I'm doing a little better today but I can't be sure.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Beat Me, Shame Me, Abuse Me Lila Gold

First, A few words of Inspiration from a bellicose publishing magnate:

"Life goes on no matter how much midriff you bare,
no matter how much bad art you look at."

As only fate would have it, I happened to answer the phone at work the other day when Lila Gold called for my boss.
"Tell her I'll call her later" she mouthed, waving a frantic hand. "She wants to TALK and I haven't got the time."

But retailing at 10 bucks an hour, I sure did. And 20 minutes later,after my first but hopefully not last conversation with this woman, my mind was completely blown.

Lila Gold is 71 years old and runs a Jewish publishing company by the name of Nightingale Resources.
"We print Non-Text Judaica" she clipped, haughtily adding "Do you care to know what that is?"
"yes,” I answered meekly.
"Well, when people do Jewish books we have to distinguish between texts like bible, Talmud etc. and non texts."
"So novels? You do literature?"
"Why is that the first thing you think of?!" she exploded "Why don't Jews learn their history! Do you read your history? What Jewish books do you read?" she demanded.
I explained my new fascination with Kate Braverman only to be met with
"You need to read your classics first my girl. However, I have to say, I met Cynthia Ozek and I found her very unpleasent. The more I think about it, Philip Roth is a much better Jewish writer."

time out:

Stick a fork in it lady. I've read so much Roth I could puke.
Ear to the ground lady. I'm a 24 year old Jew about as hip as they come and I'm telling YOU that we're making our own Roths right now. (are you out there Shalom Auslander? I'm ashamed our director of programming myopically nixed our bid to get your book signing slated here at Spertus. Once your memoirs are published, he'll live to regret it I know...)

Time in:

I couldn't shake Lila Gold. And I didn't want to shake Lila Gold. The bombast, the vitriol, the abuse she rained on me was so absurd I wanted to stand there on the phone catching every charicaturistic drop.

After mocking me for being unable to spontaneously recall the name of Braverman’s publisher, then embarrasingly confusing Israel Joshua Singer with his more famous younger brother, Issac Batsheva, we managed to push on. I got so far as taking down the area code of her phone number. 718.
"You're in Brooklyn." I noted. "Whereabouts?"
"It used to be called Flatbush but now they call it Midwood. Why? Are you from New York?"
"I used to live in Greenpoint."
"Whatever FOR?! Unless you're Polish!"

When I explained that I used to work at the the Brooklyn Museum, I ran into her hard-nosed wall of immovable old school . I had entered Judge Lila’s court where contempt is the rule of conduct and she bangs her gavel of justice maniacally over her various and sundry rulings on the world at large:

"I've been supporting the Brooklyn Museum for years. My favorite place though really is the (botanical) Gardens."
"Well now that the weathers nice you ought to be able to enjoy that" I suggested benignly.
"Oh Puh-lease! Life goes on no matter how much midriff you bare,
no matter how much bad art you look at. What a sickening episode with the Saatchi collection... *

(She's talking here about the infamous 1999 Sensations exhibition at which Chris Offili's elephant dung madonna prompted Guilliani to threaten revocation of the museums NEA funding...not to worry patrons of the arts, Mayor Bloomberg took care of that anyways a couple years later in his fateful budget unveiling of 2003)*

...The Saatchis never collected art when I lived in London. What a horrific collection. I really feel bad for you. I really pity your generation. So much bad art."

"But that show put the museum on the map. It brought in so many young people." I attempted defensively, wishing I had Arthur Danto and his eloquent art-world pluralism in my corner of the ring.
"And I bet not a single one bought a membership!" She snarled "The young people love FREE events, free concerts in the park where they go and bring a $100 bottle of wine but will they support the arts? no! never! All they do is hang out in bars in the lower east side, where, I might add, I wouldn't send HITLER to live, talking about DUMBO and SHMUMBO and all their terrible art. A shame. Sickening!"

Time out:

yes this conversation is really happening.
You know the worst part of it?
Crazy Lila Gold couldn't be more perspicuitous.

Time In:

Lila wanted to know where and what I studied. I tried to stand up tall and tell her I'm an Art Historian but tall is still small. Lila, a scholar of renaissance and reformation history shrilly informs me that she could walk through Florence blindfolded and know every intimate step of the city. Lila is upset that I'm not a painter because she wants painting back. ("All this conceptual art, I have to wonder, where are the concepts?") and not just painting, but get this, PASTELS. Her massively talented, good friend Jimmy Wright at the Art Institute ("You really have to look him up, you're wasting your education if you don't") is in a PASTELS phase right now.

Apparently it is Lila's dream to underwrite and curate a traveling exhibition of pastels.
"I defy these genius painters to try, just try to work with pastels. Have you ever been to the Jocelyn in Omaha? They have beautiful painting there. They appreciate Pastels."

At this point my eyes are tearing. I'm crouched on the floor with a fist in my mouth shaking my head in awe. My Boss and coworkers are looking at me, amused, horrified. One began calling my name, fabricating an excuse to end this conversation. I waved them on. It dawned on me that perhaps I'm some kind of sick-o with a Lila Gold bondage and domination fetish. If I cut her off, I'd never have the chance to know what she could have spewed next. How on earth did she get any work done at her publishing company if she spent all day on the phone lambasting perfect strangers? One has to wonder.

Before going I managed to eke one compliment out of her. She wanted to know where I was from.
"Ann Arbor Michigan"
"Are your parents accademics or aging hippies?"
"They were too young to be hippies. I guess they're closer to academics."
"Well good for you! I'll tell you this, all the brightest people I've met have been from Michigan."

Oh Lila!

Eventually I had to extricate myself and get back to work.
"Yes, yes, yes. It was nice talking to you, Abby. Tell A_____to call me later though if she doesn't have the time to talk, I understand."

All I can think about now is writing a book about Lila and submitting it, green, smarmy, completely ungrounded in the classics, to Nightingale press. I'm going to go to New York and I'm going to find her. I'm going to sit in her office and soak her up all day. I'll sit there until the sun sets in colors like the welts she'll leave on my tender little ego.

There is no doubt about. I swear to God. This time next year, the art world will be aglow in pastels...

Sunday, April 10, 2005

An Eccentric Famous Author Walks into a Judaica Shop and Asks for Channukah Candles

Minor celebrities live amongst us and every now and then they visit the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies.

It was a little odd when two women walked in to my store last week asking for Channukah Candles. With Passover (the real Jewish Christmas) looming at the end of this month I recently completed an "Anatomy of a Seder Plate" informational card for our largely unaffiliated, uninformed clientelle base and these days am mostly fielding queries about matzah, chametz, miriam and elijah cups, Haggadah's and other Passover related items. Channukah seems distant. With the exception of our finest steel, brass and painted porcelin specimens, the menorahs and dressings have been retired to storage for the season.

I guided the women to a cabinet in the back of the store and began pulling out various boxes of candles. Hand dipped, scented, beeswax, clearence items, what was their fancy? Unconcerned with the price, they grilled me intently about the size. Will this fit in a normal menorah? how do these compare to the manishevitz ones in the orange boxes we used to sell as a fundraiser back in Hebrew School? Somewhat flummoxed I tried to explain that in theory at least, there was some sort of standardization system if only to ensure the candles burnt long enough to be in compliance with Talmudic law (what that time frame is, i couldn't tell you, we'd have to ask my father, the Rabbi).

One of the women was quite thin, in her 50's, with very dark, intense eyes. It became clear these candles were for her and her friend was just helping her shop.

"Get them both" she urged gesturing to the two pricey boxes in her hand "it's for you art."
"You make Menorahs?" I asked
"Well, I'm working on a design for one right now and at this point its all math." she responded in a way at once painfully deliberate and distracted. "I need to make sure the cups can accomodate a standard candle."

The three of us began heading back to the register. Always latching on to conversation with strangers to alleviate the boredom of retail I pressed on amiably.
"What's your medium?" I asked innocently expecting another mosaicist or metal worker.
The bird-like dark eyed woman paused emiting something between a hiccup and a chuckle.
"Actually, my husband and I are making a menorah out marble and a Bison Jaw. Can you get a picture of the shape in your head?"
"I think so" I nodded struggling to conjure up a vision of what this bizarre tex-mex judaica mash-up might look like.
"Do either of you have background in stone working?" I inquired casually, begining to enter the barcodes in the register.
She paused akwardly before delivering the strangest of answers.
"Well, I'm a writer. A Jewish Writer."

I wasn's sure how to respond to this. Perhaps the only other person who could have elegantly used such an answer in this context would have been Moses himself up on mount Sinai. Fortunately, Her friend intergected here.
"She's really quite well known. A wonderful writer, perhaps you've read her work, this is Kate Braverman you have here!"
The name did not register.
"I want to be a Jewish writer" I chirped. "I have an idea for a book but I'm too scared to write it, you know, my family and all..."
"Oh don't worry about that!" Braverman assured me "By the time its written they won't care. That's what I've found."

Right. sure.
"Tell me," she mused spacily, appealing to me flatteringly as some sort of comrad "Do you find that people are unreceptive to your writing as a Jewish woman unless you've had some kind of prim, perfect life?"
This confused me.
"Well what kind of story would that make?" I wondered with a sly grin, silently recalling the opening lines of Anna Karenina where Tolstoy states that all happy families are alike while all unhappy ones are each miserable in a unique way.

As I waited for her credit card to go through I hurridly scribbled my blog and email address on a post-it note and stuck it on her bag.
"I would really love to see a picture of your menorah." I said in complete earnestness.
"But of course!" Braverman nodded enthusiastically. "I'll send you a JPEG."

As soon as they left I immediately googled her name and found that she has written several novels and books of poetry and short fiction. Several of which have won some presigious awards. Entranced I stopped at the Harold Washington on my way home from work and checked out two of them: Lithium for Medea (a novel) and Lullaby for Sinners (poems).
So far I've only had the time to read a few poems, which honestly, are rather good.

I'm preparing to enter the eccentric world of Kate Braverman. And regretting I didn't ask her for her email address when I gave her mine.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Adventures in (attempted) Consuming

For people of means, making major purchases is a smooth and effortless process.

When you are poor you will be thwarted every step of the way.

I woke up Monday morning parched, head splitting and miserable. Sunday night had ended somehwere between three and four in the morning with an old classic: passed out on the ashland bus. I stood with my bike in the bus shelter vaguely wishing I were sober enough to ride the 7 miles home, knowing full well I wasn't. I wondered about the middle aged woman waiting there with me and clumsily offered her a cigarette wishing my spanish were anything more advanced than "quierre una?...si, tengo frio."

Feeling utterly powerless to control the downward spiraling unfoldings of what I suppose could be called a love life, I burst into conciousness that morning determined to wrest action from impotence. You cannot make anyone love you. You cannot make anything make sense but shit if you can't heal your soul by spending some money. This, I decided, was the day I buy a computer.

Pulling jeans over my grimy, slept in underclothes, I left the house with no more than a glass of water in my belly and began peddling furiously up to north michigan avenue. I'd made a hurried call to the apple store to inquire about financing and spoke to a nice man named Derrick. I'd gotten a mile down Archer before pausing under a highway overpass to call him again. I realized I'd left my Student ID (vital for the fake-out education discount, Apple, after all, believes in our minds) at home. Over the rush of highway 55 traffic overheard, Derrick informed me a pay stub would do. through some miracle, I unearthed one in my backpack, a wrinkled one dating from november covered in phone numbers and other ephemera.

I couldn't find anywhere to park my bike outside the apple store and wandered around aimlessly casing the block for some sort of suitable parking meter or something for which I ened up backtracking a block and a half to the burberry store. Once inside I located Derrick who got me set up on a computer applying for the apple credit card. I was promptly denied, which stung, and had I not been in such a manic phase, might have served as some ominous, leveling reminder that I am much too poor to be making this kind of ridiculous investment. Not to be detered, I used the twinkling display G5 to navigate myself to the nearest TCF branch three blocks away, the bank that housed the sum total of my lifes savings, 700 dollars, in a dormant CD account.

Pacing the bank sweaty and hungry, I learned that closing a Michigan account in Illinois was no simple affair. Eventually the Branch Manager invited me into his office. I fidgited nervously thinking what a waste of this important man's time I and my piddly bank account were and tried to compensate by assuring him repeatedly that I was only cashing in to buy a computer not because I'd had anything but excellent experiences with the TCF company. This last year my account limpingly managed to acrue a whopping $1.40 in interest. Closing it before it's maturation date (funnily enough, my birthday) would mean a $25 penalty fee. How true is the old addage that one must have money in order to make money.

Feeling highly eccentric, I ambled back in to the apple store with 6 crisp one hundred dollar bills folded into quarters in my hip pocket and a grubby ATM receipt in my hand, on which I'd scribbled all sorts of hurried calculations. As I debated warranties and memory upgrades with Angee, the delightful woman helping me, this paper served as some sort of mystical codex.

"well, how much do you have to spend?" she asked.
"uh" I said unwrinkling the paper and double checking my addition "$1330."
I'd arrived at this figure after some judicious skin-of-teeth grocery budgeting. I was elated and ashamed.Wave after wave of self-concious eccentricity washed over me. I shifted uneasily in my peeling vinyl boots and glanced wistfully at all the nice people loading up on docks and speakers for their ipod minis.

Angee felt bad for me that I couldn't afford to put out the extra hundred dollars for a printer which would be fully refunded later via rebate. "Bring in the money with your receipt within 14 days and I'll hook it up for you" she said earnestly.
I believe her.

While my RAM was installed I attempted to eat some tupperwared leftovers on the stoop of the historical society but was shooed away by a grumpy proprietor. Of all places, i sought refuge in the American Girls Place store on Rush street, an insane experience in and of itself (blog forthcoming). While I wandered around the gold coast shopping district, my mind kept returning to the simple thought: "I am now the kind of person who owns a computer. And not just a computer, an Apple computer. " I was a Modern Times charlie chaplan exploring the stage set cogs of commodity fetishism. It felt gross, and grosser still, it felt good.

My computer arrived in a glossy, boxy cardboard briefcase. I couldn't bear to ruin the thrill of unpacking it ceremoniously at home so it seemed I was in for still more humiliation and idiocy. No car, no cab money. Just me (hangover now replaced with peculiar adrenaline induced by mild bi-polar disorder and high of having just spent more money than I've ever spent in my whole life), my green bike, and this briefcase. Heading south, he three of us merged with unsteady determination into the rushour traffic on Michigan Avenue. I said a silent thankyou that my mother could not see me, weaving helmetless, around cabs and city buses, the briefcase swinging like a suicidal pendulum bent on self-destruction.

I made it down to school and found myles who thankfully, helped me carry everything home on the bus. My mania lasted just long enough for me to cook dinner for the house and blabber like wound up chattering teeth about my time spent in the American girls store. By the time I actually set up my computer I was following the trajectory of the battery I was attempting to calibrate: wearing down. When I encountered problems downloading limewire I was too wasted to even care and shruggingly, closed it up and settled down with a book. One of those old-fashioned books.

Today I'm convinced that if I were rich and had bought the 14 inch screen, Limewire would download without a hitch. I might be a poor eccentric but money is downright weird.