Sunday, April 29, 2007

Save Net Radio

Contact your congressperson before May 15, 2007 to save internet radio. Sites like Radio Paradise and Somafm are in danger of going off the air. And then my work days would be oh, so sad.

Visit to make your voice heard.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Slidin' it in at the last minute, heels smokin'

That seems to be the theme for this week. This week was a crrrrraaazy week. I burned the candle at both ends and it did indeed give a lovely light. Though, I paid for it dearly. I'm kind of all stuffy and my throat was pretty sore on Friday and Saturday, I still have a bit of a cough but I seem to have gotten over whatever little bug I picked up quite quickly. For a moment there I was certain I had gone and gotten myself bronchitis. Or maybe tuberculousis. I would make such a lovely consumptive.

Addenda: The succeeding paragraphs regarding research and writing and such relate to grant proposals. I know what's going on in my head, sometimes I forget other people don't. :D

So, my week. Last week at work I spent the whole week gathering up secondary data. I didn't know exactly to what end but I kinda had in idea of the purview of what it would be used to support. I acquired a healthy amount of data and was quite pleased with myself right up until a conference call on Friday when I was told, much to my chagrin, that the data I really needed was regional. So made some phone calls and got some really good stuff from the local commerce association. In less than 8 hours I doubled my research pile. Go me.

Now, I had spent all week eating, sleeping, and breathing this research. Many nights last week I spent sitting on my couch with one of those highlighters with the little flags inside. Which, I would like to point out is an invention that TOTALLY ROCKS. (I'm such a geek.) It was a good thing I was on break because I don't know how I would have found time to study and deal with the massive pile of paper I was sorting through. Then, on Saturday, I was going to start writing the statements of need. I spent most of the morning refining some of the earlier sorting for content I had done - before the view-narrowing conference call - and kept putting off starting writing. The sheet my boss had given me with the "tips" for writing the statement contained a rather ominous sentence. "The statement of need is the most important section of the grant." Holy intimidating, batman! Jesus. All I could think was, "this is the most important section and my boss gave it to me. TO ME. Is she crazy?" So I paced, and I agonized. I wrote, and then I deleted. Finally, I decided that maybe just sitting down and writing them was too much to ask of myself after spending so much time with the research. So I started putting up bullet points with the research I was planning on using for each of the grants and points I thought I should make. Before long I had one partly written and one with bullet points and an opening paragraph.

The next day I was a little on the useless side. The next day was the day I posted Locational Dysphoria. And, well, you can imagine that I was a little cloudy-headed. I had planned on going into work and looking up some stuff since my own internet has been bitchy at best lately but I changed my mind and instead got a bunch of errands run. Which brings to me to where I had intended to go when I started the previous paragraph - this week. Monday was a 12 hour day. I came into work a little bit early and started writing right away. Before I knew I had I re-written and completed the one I started writing on Saturday and gotten part of the second bullet-riddled one banged out. I thought I was waaaay behind. I thought we were going to turn them in on Monday and when my boss showed up I was in a state of emergency (which seems to be a condition I work well under anyway - the greater the pressure, the better I perform) and she was floored that I had gotten as much done as I had. After quelling my fears she also gave me a bit of good news. We had planned on writing 5 grants, but we were only going to write 4. And the beauty is that the one we dropped was the one I couldn't really dig up any specific research for. Awesome. So, I spent my week switching gears between where my brain is supposed to be for school and mired in grant-writing.

On Wednesday, the morning I did my Barack Obama post (the first of the two), I woke up at the obscene hour of 3:00am. I have this thing lately where when I get up since it's just as dark at 3:00 as it is at 5:00, I tend not to notice the hour and get up. I have usually made coffee, gone out for a cigarette and have just sat down at the computer with my first cup when I see the time and just decide I might as well stay up. I think I was a bit on the cranky side which might actually go a long way to explain the generally bitchy overtone of the post. But Wednesday, Wednesday was the best day. Seriously. I had a friend from Cleveland coming into Chicago and another friend coming to meet her, I had planned to drive down to meet them both for dinner but I was concerned about costs, and about driving in downtown Chicago by myself, etc. Basically I was a bit worried about how I was going to manage the trip until a lightening bolt hit me - I could take the train! So, I spent Tuesday evening on the Amtrak site checking out the fares and the times the train ran and the next morning I bought my very first state-side train ticket. I was coming into Chicago on the 1:00 train and would be back off to Milwaukee on the 8:05. It's funny, I've taken the train overseas but not at home.

I went to work that morning terribly excited, and struck out at noon for my parent's house. Which is where I parked my car for the afternoon, and my mom had agreed to drive me to the station. Amusingly, Mom has this lovely new red Toyota that Dad bought (and it is the very first car that she has ever had with the title in her name) so that while he was out spending hours at the gym and doing whateverhaveyou else that Mom would have a way to get around - but she never drives it. She was all tweaky-fied when she was driving me to the Amtrak station. She was a little worried for me, I think and I guess so was I - I always get butterflies in my stomach before a new experience like that. Shoulda been in my belly the day I boarded my first plane by myself. Oy! But oh my lord - the train is awesome. I felt so cool. I got to sit and study for my exam the next day. It worked out beautifully. An hour and half of solid studying and then I got to meet up with my friend Beth, who walked over to the Amtrak station from the Wyndham. Which is apparently quite a long walk. We took a cab over to Beth's hotel (I wanted to walk) to meet up with Anna because Beth had gotten a blister on the walk over.

We arrived at very nearly the same time and we were all starving so we walked up to the courtesy desk in the hotel, told them that we were looking for "small, quirky, reasonably priced" and the daughter of the Hot Wheels guy answered us. (What a fast-talker, oh my stars!) She directed us to a Spanish tapas place over on Erie and LaSalle. Which was a fracking fabulous suggestion even if it was delivered at 90mph. The place was perfect. It was good wine, good food, and very good company. After consuming healthy amounts of scallops with saffron rice, marinated mushrooms, goat cheese with pesto, chicken, and clams we decided to walk down to Miracle Mile. Chicago was lovely with a low cloud cover so that little whisps of atmosphere hung around the tops of the tall buildings. It was grey-ish but reasonably warm and the colors weren't quite so washed out in the afternoon light as one would think on such a cloudy day. I always forget how much I love downtown Chicago because it's usually spoiled by the time I get there driving through it. We walked down Michigan Avenue gawking at all the shops and stopped by the river and had a wonderful talk. Then we walked over to the Grand Lux for dessert. We had beignets and crème brulée and these pomegranate champagne drinks. Oh man... talk about sumptuous. Talk about decadent. And then, as soon as we had finished luxuriating in the deliciousness of our indulgences, we had to run back to Beth's hotel, stuff ourselves into a cab, and get me back to the train station. It was a short visit, but it was most certainly sweet.

From the Grand Lux:

I studied more on the train home - but I have to say that I preferred the afternoon commuter train passengers on the way there. There was a gaggle of women near me who were talking quite loud and did not shut up the whole way. Of course, the idea to move never crossed my mind but hey, I was pretty darned tired by that point. May I remind you that I started my day at 3:00am? So yeah, I studied amongst the din. We arrived in Milwaukee at 9:35 and while I could have called any number of people for a ride I resolved to walk. Now, all the people who are mothers (and probably some who aren't) will probably yell at me for walking through the city after dark like that - mine certainly did. But honestly, I rather enjoyed it. I never, ever walk through downtown hardly. I am almost always behind the wheel of a car. And I've come to the conclusion that that is no way to see the world around you. You miss far too much. It probably wasn't a good idea because it was misting/raining a little bit and that may well be what got me sick but it was a nice walk. A long walk - a really long walk. According to google maps, it's about 4 miles. My feet hurt a little bit when I got to my parent's house, I have a bone bruise (but not one on the skin, figure that) on my ass where my big-ass bag with my textbooks in it was hitting, and a real bruise on my shoulder from the same bag. But even with the mist falling in my face, making my shoes squeak... the calm and quiet of the city on a week night was like walking around on a movie set, I so enjoyed it.

Thursday was a blur, I was so tired, but I managed to make it through the day and get a lot more work done. I refined and completed the second grant and got most of the way through the third. By then I was getting a little worried because I hadn't shown any of my work to my boss so I wasn't sure I was even doing it right. I was, in fact, a grant virgin. So I gave her the one I thought I had done my best work on and held my breath. She read. She paused and said, "Now, I'm not reading this for editing, I'm just reading for critique of the work." I said, "Okay." She kept reading. She finished. Then she looked up and said, "This is good, this is really good... this is graduate dissertation level writing Jenn." And really, I still don't believe her. I sometimes wonder if she thinks I need a lot of praise and is blowing sunshine up my butt but... read on.

So I walked out of work a little worried on Thursday. There was still one grant I hadn't even started yet. And it was one I knew was going to be a little tricky. The angle at which I came at my research was a bit different than what I required for this particular grant. So I was kind of going to have to make it work. I thought I'd work on it on Thursday night but when I sat down to write, I just kept staring at the blank spot on the page where it was written in red 14pt font, underlined "Jenn will draft". Uhm, eep. So I putzed again with the research looking to see if I could extract anything I could twist a little bit. I found some stuff, I threw up some bullet points, and called it a night. I was exhausted after all. I laid down to sleep with phrasing rattling around in my head. I get a little obsessive about things sometimes and this was definitely one of those times. Words were roiling in my brain. But I was so tired that when my head hit the pillow, I was unconscious. But I woke up again at 3:00am. So I got up, made coffee, and started writing. I banged that thing out in 2 1/2 hours. By 5:30 it was basically done. I just had a little bit of demographic research to do and then inject into the other grants and it was all over with. So I got to work, I sent off three of the drafts to the office through which we submit these grants and started working on editing the statement I had written that morning and reviewing the others for editing and opened about 6 IE tabs and started googling for the demographics. By 11:30 I was done. And all the office we were working with had to say to me, the only criticism of my work was that I hadn't included enough regional information in one of them. That the national data I had used probably wasn't what they were looking for. That they were probably only going to end up using the first paragraph. And that was the one that I had to spin the data to make work. Not bad for a first timer, I should say. I ducked a luncheon because I could've spent a couple of well-heeled weeks in New York with the bags under my eyes, instead I hung out in the office putzing until my boss got back, talked to the office we were working with, made certain there was nothing more to be done for them and walked out the door at 2:00. I was flying. And floating. And exhausted. And elated. I went home and slept, like a rock, for the next 3 hours.

Friday evening, I decided, was an ideal night to pamper myself. So I walked over to Whole Foods, got myself a little baby french loaf, an avacado, a clove of garlic, a couple of lovely heirloom tomatoes, a bunch of grapes, and a bottle of wine. I roasted the clove of garlic, made a little dish of olive oil and this freaking fantasic balsamic vinegar I bought at one of the foo-foo stores in the mall in a funny little post-christmas cheapie grab bag, and made myself a lovely meal of french bread dipped in the oil and vinegar, spread with the roasted garlic and avacado and topped with tomatoes and ate a WHOLE LOT of grapes. I enjoyed my dinner slowly, leisurely, drank a couple of glasses of wine, read and then had a loooooong warm bath with salts.

Saturday night, on the other hand, I spent in a most unusual place. A girlfriend of mine, Abby, who is just the cutest thing and the last bastion of theatre-i-ness I have left in my little world, was having a 007 "Goldfinger" birthday party at The Safe House. I haven't been in there in many, many moons. I believe the last time was at least 7 years ago for a work birthday function. It's not someplace anybody could usually drag me, kicking and screaming into but there I was. Drinking a slightly warm cosmo with a girl entirely covered in golden sparkles. But there were cute boys in tuxes, and a guy wearing a wetsuit with waterwings and a dildo shoved in his pants so I guess that sort of made up for it. And we escaped fairly quickly, I only had to stay for one overpriced lukewarm drink. We then went over to Trocadero where we met up with my friend Tim's friend Jen - who is adorable. Anyone who's ever watched the Homestar Runner Teen Girl Squad cartoons would be terribly amused by her. She does the best Teen Girl Squad voice like, evar. So we hung out there for a while, had a HORRIBLE gateau. I said it that night and I'll type it out now - the thing was so hard we needed a spade to eat it. After that we went over to Cafe Hollander to meet up with Tim's equally adorable friend Katie. I actually got to have girl talk. (I never really, technically get girl talk - girl talk with my gay boys doesn't exactly count.) I'll say this though, the power of group girl thinking is nothing to be triffled with. It is both powerful and dangerous. I am very glad I did not commit a drunken act of text messaging. I almost let myself get carried away with the conversation. Never let drunken bitching translate into action. It can only end badly.

Well, that pretty much brings things up to date. Here I sit, making a blog post to break up the monotony of working on a PowerPoint presentation for a project for one of my classes. A class that I will miss on Tuesday because tomorow night I drive up to Wisconsin Rapids with my co-workers for a symposium. Should be interesting. And I have a new dress to wear. I'll have to make someone take a picture for you all.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Moment of Retraction is Humbling

So this little tirade I went on yesterday... I wake up this morning and the new story is that the gunman sent a tape to NBC between his first and second murderous rampage. And my first thought is, "oh, crap." And I just asked if people thought that because my classroom was noisily ignorant of the campus-wide moment of silence, that the people of VT's feelings might have been hurt. Maybe I shouldn't have said that last thing. Boing Boing is calling it Cho's "Multimedia Manifesto".

I still think Obama should have given the people who contributed to his campaign what they paid for on Monday, that hasn't changed. But my vitriol seemed to spill over in an unseemly sort of way and for that I'm sorry. Somehow this package story makes everything feel so much worse. It adds a dimension of vanity that's currently making me queasy.

Thusly, I would like to retract the following statements:

  1. "Barack Obama ruthlessly soldiered on in his campaign of terror despite the horrors of this morning's events"

  2. But I will always fail to see how "observing a moment of silence" or stopping whatever you're doing in order to appear solemn and in solidarity makes very much difference at all to the people suffering on the other side of the country.

  3. the president of the college requested that we observe one of these "moments of silence", I was in class at the time and there was no silence at all in there. Do you think the people of Virginia Tech were hurt?

Please forgive me my moment of obnoxiousness, when I get a on yarn sometimes I follow it a little too far. As I did manage to mention I feel for the people who are currently directly suffering under the weight of Monday's events. And light of the recent development I would like to deepen that sentiment and extend my deepest condolences and my heartfelt sympathy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Moment of Silence is Golden

Okay, so as it turns out, I'm a heartless bitch.

At the end of last week the work folks announced that they had reduced-price tickets to see Barack Obama at the Milwaukee Theater on Monday night. Curious to see what the man is all about, I happily bopped down and bought a couple and found a willing companion.

Now, we all know the story that broke on Monday. It was all over NPR, it was all over everywhere. I don't watch TV (especially CNN since it turned into Access Hollywood), but I know there was a constant loop of "Disaster!" that kept the networks abuzz all day and night. (Even Boing Boing was a-light with long-ass post after long-ass post) Still, I had work to do and while I feel for the poor souls at Virginia Tech, I didn't really have time to pay the story much mind.

As the day drew to a close and I grew weary of staring at the project I've been working on for like, the last week and half, I tore myself away from my desk, sauntered over to my companion's office and we struck out in search of dinner. By the way, just in case anybody is wondering... I do NOT highly recommend the cuisine at Bar Louie. Worst salad I've had in an ice age. Non-stop disco iceberg and faaaaaar too much dressing. Also, the waitress kinda sucked.

After dinner, we took a nice stroll downtown, walking from Water St. to the Milwaukee Theater. The sun was setting and that funny pink building was ablaze with the sun's fading light, the river looked less disgusting than usual, and the air felt almost warm. We approached the Theater and were waved through with our fabulous "white tickets". (Seriously, it was funny... we approached the ticket-takers and every time we walked up they'd say "White tickets? White tickets, go on through." I felt like a VIP. And I should. Because I am.) We found a seat and spent the next hour scoping cute politico boys (and trust me, there were some hot numbers out there - from a hipster in a Value Village tee to a bearded campaign-ite in a suit the place was hopping), attempting to identify prominent Milwaukee figures, and generally behaving as Statler & Waldorf from The Muppet Show.

We waited and waited, watching the turkey-necked channel 12 newscaster prepare for the start of the show, endured Willy Hines's singing children (okay, okay... brief concession... Hines's little boy is pretty damned cute), and watched as Mayor Barrett prostrated himself with his ringing endorsement of Obama. "He's from Illinois, he's a young senator, with a young family, so you can see why I'd like him." (Oh... I can, can I? Please to explain what that's got to do with you, old man? Has anyone mentioned to you that your hair is nearly white? And grow back your mustache, your crazy Tom Selleck look amused me during the campaign.) He mentioned that in observance of the recent tragedy, that Obama had considered canceling his appearance.

Now, I don't understand this. After waiting for an hour to see him - and the front rows were full, you know those folks got there early so there were others waiting longer than us - Obama spoke for maybe... maybe 20 minutes. I consider that kind of thoughtless and such a maneuver. Oh, and did I mention that the $ we forked over for the priviledge of hearing him went directly to his campaign? So, explain to me what the political implications would have been in taking a moment to acknowledge the pain the people of Blacksburg, a moment of silence, and then continuing on as normal? Do you really think the local news would be reporting "Barack Obama ruthlessly soldiered on in his campaign of terror despite the horrors of this morning's events"? I mean, I don't put anything past the local news in their undying quest for stupidity in reporting, but c'mon. I fail to understand what one thing had to do with the other thing. Fine, leverage the tragedy a little bit to take some time to talk about your stance on violence and gun control. That I understand. But to cut short your commitment to helping the voting public who specifically in this instance helped pay for future endeavors of this nature to understand who you are and what your values are, I think, is contrary to your purpose. He talked about how usually during these types of appearances there were flashing video screens and loud music designed to get the audience pumped up. Fine, trim it down to basics. Appear before a ginormous American flag (hell, swath yourself in it for all I care - oh, and by the by - he did appear before a ginormous American flag), have children sing the national anthem (check), quote Dr. King (yep, check, that one too), do what ya gotta do but but do it for more than 20 minutes. Dammit.

Cho Seung-Hui did something terrible. Yes, I know. It is terrible. I do feel for the staff, students, residents of Blacksburg, the family of the staff and students who lost their lives. I truly do. But I will always fail to see how "observing a moment of silence" or stopping whatever you're doing in order to appear solemn and in solidarity makes very much difference at all to the people suffering on the other side of the country.

So I guess I'm heartless. At noon yesterday, the president of the college requested that we observe one of these "moments of silence", I was in class at the time and there was no silence at all in there. Do you think the people of Virginia Tech were hurt?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Locational Dysphoria

I know, I know... it's been a while since I was here. Again, the world is a very busy place and I right along with it in that very fashion. Never enough hours in the day.

I come here to share with you a very unusual feeling that I am having. Right now, at this very moment, I feel a stranger in my own land. Here I sit, in my little apartment that I scarcely saw fit to leave yesterday and many days before when evening fell and it was time to leave my desk and venture here, home. It feels familiar, and yet, it doesn't. Like a house sitter. Neither appraising nor critical, everything simply is as it is. As though I had nothing to do with the placement of things.

I did not sleep here last night.

I slept someplace else.

In a dark room, with warm air flowing across my face, a nest of comforters upon the dark-sheeted bed. A door just behind like a headboard- tiny points of light streaming through, the light of the hallway beyond.

At first I felt over-elaborate. Like a Rococo statue in the middle of an urban park. Teams of angels trumpeting down about my shoulders, streams of ribbons and flowing cloth, arm held aloft to the heavens. Eyes up-cast. Park benches of plain plank, covered in graffiti at my feet. Girls in tight jeans and many pigtails secured by brightly-colored plastic bubbles laughing in warm sun.

Yes, I felt... fancy. In my new little shoes nestled in cocoa-colored carpet and my $35 t-shirt. There was a girl sitting next to me, she came with us and stayed for a while until a cab carried her to some unknown destination. We spoke of our cats. They spoke of work. I watched as his eyes darted back and forth between her face and mine.

She has very white skin and those large, clear eyes that protrude slightly. As though taking in the world were too much for them from behind the architecture of the ocular cavities, they needed a front-row seat. She wore a white thermal tee and jeans, her hair swirled around into a low ponytail. When she laughed I thought, this girl has brothers. Her teeth are strong and she is possessed of an animated smile, all pink and white. I don't know what time it was when she left. I never can seem to find the clocks in other people's apartments. They're never where I expect them to be.

After she left we watched a movie, his body stretched out across mine, the bones of his shoulder blade pressing against my bottom left rib. Then he moved across from me, our eyes meeting and catching each other, playing tag, talking as unconsciously and freely as our stomachs seem to do. I spoke, haltingly describing some of my previous evening's happenings, muddling through the story despite a feeling in the pit of my stomach that I was saying the wrong things. As though he expected an undesired conclusion, he watched me from behind black-rimmed glasses.

Later, in the dark, an unexplained grin spread across his face. I'm still left wondering. It was a broad, cheshire-cat-ish grin. What was he smiling about?

Now, four hours later I still feel out of sorts. Discombobulated. I know it will pass and that everything will start to feel like mine again eventually but it's so unusual. And accompanied with an antsy-ness, a feeling of not knowing what to do with myself, like I left something important behind. I was totally unable to read the paper I bought before I crossed into this alien territory. This sort of dysphoria seems to be a theme lately. I do so wonder what it means.