Wednesday, April 30, 2008

homegrown day three: teenagers with minivans ...

so tonight was 'experimental tuesday' at the blue crab.
'can you actually eat crabs there?" jcrew asked, when i tried to coax her to go.
'you can probably get crabs there,' i said. [three's company theme song ensues to representing double entrendre.]

the thing with the blue crab is that it used to be a west end bar that closed at 1 a.m., let you take a to-go bloody mary, and was called 'the midway.' now it is a bar in the same location, that has a host of regulars who want to watch tv land, drink mich golden lite and segue into some cribbage. they don't want to watch some woman in mom jeans have hot flashes all over a cello. and they definitley expressed this to the 21 year old florence henderson lookalike who was bouncing at the door.

"what are you, like 120 pounds?" i asked dave mehling, who is unfortunately performing friday night at the twins bar while a lot of people will be at luce. luckily, he's bouncing at the main club thursday if you really want to see him. and you should. he's one of those young smarties who make you wish you read in high school.
"130," he said and went on to talk a lot about testosterone build up and how it makes you want to punch assholes who refuse to pay a cover at their neighborhood bar.

"i always come here," the guy said. "i never have to pay a cover. i didn't even know there was a band?"
his friends heckled him from the street: "so you go to a strip club and the girls are ugly ... do you ask for a refund?"

inside, things were remarkable. after i've decided whether or not i like something i like to give it jcrew treatment. would my favorite friend like it? or would she die laughing in the ladies room, cavorting and snorting, and demand we move on to curly's? here, the latter rings true. lights reflecting blue and red and shadows. everyone in the first three rows has their head bowed reverantly. it's like a prayer vigil or a coma. they are too similar.

"blah blah blah whales humping," chuck's fannie says. "remind me of that phrase [for when i write about this.]"

me? i'm thinking of musical interludes between depeche mode songs. i don't not like it. i do wonder if, based on the bobbing heads and dull-eyed fans, i'm going to wake up with a desire to sell amway or march in a scientology parade. this music should come out of a machine sold by sharper image. but it is very relaxing. and it's makers are pretty passionate. i feel my own face going slack and move out of the first row just as a line of drool snakes down the front of my shirt.

i like to start the night with this statement to my bartender: hi. i plan to drink too much tonight. is it okay for me to leave my car in your parking lot over night?

on this occasion she says yes. encourages me to drink until my liver slides out of my left pant leg. we get a ride home from some guy in a minivan, who i assume is sober. we take corners on two wheels. i'm clutching chuck, his pants are as filled as with shit as they could be if he actally soiled himself but didn't. we skim his block, but our ride drives six more out of the way.

"we could have gotten out there," terrified chuck says pointing.
"i feel like starbuck," i reference battlestar galactica. "the further away from earth, the bigger headache i get."

we get home safely with four days and one brunch to go of my favorite duluth holiday.
"i feel like i'm a drunk on buggs bunny," chuck said. he has the hiccups.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

homegrown days one and two: the fun shackle ...

so it is the end of day two of homegrown, and all i have to show for it is an orange wristband that suggests a level of fun i've not yet acheived. my social secretary did a piss-poor job of clearing my calendar, and so these early days of the festival have me catching blanched out pieces here and there.

i got to luce for new band night late on sunday, tired, hungry, spent from regenerating the internal organs i'd sacrificed on saturday night. i was so distracted by being at the holy birth-place of tuna caliente and veggie nuggets that i could hardly look at the dreadlocked bass player rocking in celebratory circles on stage.

i took one of those inane cell phone photos to prove to myself later that i'd been there. ordered my food, avoided eye contact with other humans, and finished the night at walgreens in the crayola aisle.

today i skulked the outskirts of a room at the playground, where photos of homegrowns past are hanging. this was a lot like attending burly burlesque's graduation party -- minus the sheet cake and letter jacket -- as this local artist was easily the most-photographed person from the 2007 tour.

i got my wrist band, though. or my fun shackle. this neon orange accessory promises to bring me a lot of laughs as the week goes on. at first i balked at wearing it for a consecutive week. that can't be hygenic, right? my dirty arm, touching that pristine plastic product? then i remember that last year after homegrown i refused to take it off until i had a night that matched saturday's finale on my personal funometer. i think it ended up disintegrating before i was forced to tear into the sucker with my teeth. a week should be no problem.

so i missed open mic night. i got to carmody as haus meeting was loading an accordian into the trunk of a car.

nights in: 2
bands appreciated: .5
meals originating from pizza luce: 2
times i've stood outside a film fest that i was not able to attend: 1
drinks consumed: 1
times chuck has had enough homegrown fun that he finds it acceptible for me to watch both 'the bachelor' and 'the hills' without headphones while he is on the same couch: 2, but i only took him up on it once
days left in my fun shackle: 5

Monday, April 28, 2008

its not unbearable ...

this past week i tapped into my inner stephen king movie-watcher, found that with the right combination of bike helmet and sunglasses i can ride undetected among people who don't know me anyway, and i began shooting videos of things. this week is homegrown, so expect a week of asdklja;kj posts time-stamped at about 4 a.m.

pork tenderloin: ha! open package. be careful not to get pork goo on fingers. dump pork in shallow cooking pan. scrub hands until at least chaffe, if not bleed. make meat be 160 degrees, like it says on the package. ENJOY with foccacia from great harvest bread store and leftover asiago cheese from when you made foccacia!


homemade mashed potatos: respond "with skins." "no such thing as too much garlic" and "the more butter the better."
dramatically seared green beans: this is one chuck gleaned from vegetarian times. so crunchy. sometime spicy. so good, and the whole house smells like peanut oil.

colin meloy sings morrissey: in a crowded burrito union, after a few chester creek pale ales, you can mistake this american-singer-who-sounds-irish as morrissey. particularly if you haven't listened to morrissey lately. i'm in love with colin meloy's version of "everyday is like sunday." as for my friend the punk rock girl, the consumate morrissey fan, she laughed during the first song and handed my ipod back to me with this take: "it's not unbearable."

"cache" 2005: a family begins receiving anonymous video tapes: two hours of surveillence from in front of their house; the man's childhood home; an apartment in a different part of town. the man ties the intrusion to someone he wronged when he was six. long stretches of unchanging scenary and infuriating conversations that last too long and say the wrong thing. just when you're lulled to drooling boredom, something horrible happens. like "funny games," the end is a sort of punchline. and like "funny games" it's much better in retrospect than while you are watching it.

"the dead zone" 1983: stephen king, david cronenberg and christopher walken collide in this creepy movie about a man who has the power to predict fires, find long lost mothers and sniff out dirty politicians after he rams his VW bug into a milk truck and goes into a 5-year coma -- during which his randy girlfriend 'cleaves to another man' according to comatose's mother. this movie's most titilating death-scene involves a serial killer impaling himself, via throat, on an opened scissors. eventually old comatose saves the world.

"pet semetary" 1989: know what is terrifying? psychotic toddlers who cut into an achilles tendon with dr. dad's scalpal with the ease of breaking into a baked potato.

"get drunk and date": this is a post by georgia hardstark about why it is important to drink on first dates was a fun read and became relevant later in the day when fannie and i talked about the exact same thing in reference to the fact that she has a first date on a sunday, which makes the words mimosa and bloody mary very, very important.

"frenemy territory": because i cannot not link to mentions of "the hills" in actual leee-turature, here is an essay from the new yorker by nancy franklin. "i think people watch it mostly to figure out why they're watching it," she writes. i'm not sure why i watch it, so maybe she's right.

battlestar galactica recap: every saturday ian spiegelman of gawker recaps the previous night's episode of battlestar galactica. i never think it's not funny when he refers to adama as "miami vice." my favorite snippit from this week: Chief Fatty Q. Workingstiff: "I settled! I settled for that freak! Those dull fracking eyes!" You are a mechanic with a studio apartment and you want to get the hotties? It's space, fatboy. Not Long Island.

"the hills: a new roommate":

* when heidi refers to audrina's ex as justin bobby during the awkward 'girls night' at the bar, does that mean she watches episodes of 'the hills' ? because that nickname was borne long after heidi had been banished to relationship vacation from lauren? oh heidi, its like you just wore a dave matthew's band t'shirt to a dave matthew's band concert. what's next? singing your own song on some upcoming karaoke night?

* audrina goes to dinner with justin, gives him the old flirty flirty ... i guess time heals all 'oh-my-boyfriend-is-making-out-with-another-woman-at-a-party-i-invited-him-to-again-this-week' wounds. as long as audrina is alive, there will be lifetime movie fodder. in five years she's going to be calling herself ginny and working as a waitress in some small town pie shoppe in nevada.

* so stephen returns next episode. lauren treats boys like boxes of old clothes, pulling them out of the closet when she's bored and wondering if they now, finally, the laguna surfer boy goes with these shoes.

"the paper: change is necessary:"

* does amanda have a hickey?
* i firmly believe that amanda and alex will end up at prom together -- their night plotted on color coded post it notes months in advance. ackward negotiations of second base will ensue.
* giana, who's eye rolls should have their own reality show, will be in her second trimester by the second semester.
* i've never wanted a waffle cone so bad in my life.

"the bachelor: meet the parents episode":

* how does matt the bachelor not know lorenzo lamas? don't tell me the snake eater trilogy didn't make it across the pond.
* shayne bought her leppard-skin mom a a leppard-skinned house, yet no mere home can contain the bosoms of this woman.
* wait. shayne used to be a brunette? a brunette who did backandsprings?

* i'm as surprised as you are that chelsea's family lives in house and not in the upstairs of a pizza hut.
* i decided i've mistaken her shyness and youth for trashiness.

* noelle is adorable. i think he sent her home because he can safely assume she won't go all sniper on him after the jilting. the other women? hard to say.

* risky play amanda, with the fake parents ploy. but oh my god. best bachelor moment ever. i knew i liked that girl.

* chelsea looks like a pretty severe russian gymnast during the rose ceremony.

"battlestar galactica: the episode where everyone is bleeding from the mouth": this week's 'not a cylon' award goes to baltar's harem. i'm pretty sure that most of them are not cylons. everyone else is fair game. including callie -- who as much as i want her to be gone for good -- maybe be rehatching in a goo bath as we speak.

* in trying to figure out what adama is reading to laura roslin -- perhaps an earth-bound publication? -- i found a small cult of people who consider these two the meg ryan and billy crystal of deep space.

other tv thoughts: um. that's stephen from laguna beach on one tree hill. i get confused when my reality tv steps into my very obvious and blatant fiction. then on gossip girl someone mentioned brody jenner's name. this is creeping me out.

* also, i didn't understand two jokes on last week's episode of "two and a half men." couldn't even visualize what sort of deviant act they were referencing. possible my prudey metamorphesis has cranked up a notch?


with another friend who has moved, i made a super inaccurate chart indicating the states my friends have moved to in the past eight years. i'm sure i forgot someone. i'm also sure that i cannot point to florida and tell you where miami or tampa are. bear with my approximations.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

dragon force has left the building ...

the thing with guitar hero is that it worms its way into your head until you can't listen to "talk dirty to me" without toggling away at the air. "when you were young" is on my running mix, which means i am tapping away in beginner mode on the treadie imagining lines of red, green and yellow streaming toward me.

we went to a going away party for my friend fng last night at o'gilby's. at 2 a.m., we went to his yet not-packed apartment and he unloaded almost an entire case of leinies on us. we walked home. by the time i woke today at 3 p.m., fng had apparently packed, uploaded more than a dozen photos -- including some from an afterbar -- and moved himself 2 hours south, according to his facebook status.

youth. you can't beat it.

anyway, here fng goes apeshit on a pool stick to "dragon force" from the guitar hero III soundtrack.

'stof from christa pista on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

he's a cowboy ...

he's a cowboy ... from christa pista on Vimeo.

Friday, April 25, 2008

synthetic plastics ...

i stepped outside for my early-morning weather update yesterday and it was hot on the deck. like oppressive hot. i climbed back into bed at 12:30 p.m. "ugh..." i said. "its pretty hot."

sun shinging through tin foil covered windows. and chuck has to cram nice weather into an hour and a half -- he had to work. he damn-near put his foot on my throat until i promised i'd at least read the new yorker on the deck.

but i had tivo shows to watch. things to read. nice days suck. there is so much expectation. here we are in duluth, where we could have 14 nice days between now and halloween. but all i want to do is sit inside. i want options.

this is why i hate nice days.

rainy days are like kids in basic math. when they succeed, it is a great thing that no one expected. ice cream sundaes. people celebrate, throw a parade. when they fail ... well, hell, you expected them to fail. sunny days are like AP english. they have to write great essays and screw the captain of the debate team. sunny days are terrible.

but then i went for a run and almost got mauled by three deer and was giggling and cooing on london road. and then i realized deer are like duluth's version of cockraoches, so i should stop being so thrilled at this display of nature.


so i'm on my way to target and i take the rare glance of my face in the rear view mirror and what i'm seeing is that this thing ... natural sunlight ... is exposing a colony of grey hair in my head. not one quaint old-age post-it note. no. a fucking notebook of grey hair. i'm yanking the fuckers.

ripping that shit out of my head. placing them on my running pants, my car seat, i'm starting to look like i just hugged a super old cat. i'm dialing 411 and trying to get my guy david from shear katz on the line. someone has to fix this. stat. he doesn't have an opening until thursday unless i want to turn around and get there RIGHT NOW! i can't, so i have to live as a senior citizen for another day. fffffuccck.

reason number 48 to hate sunny days: age revealed via hair.

so target was fun. i got a pair of sunglasses and ran into beegee. we talked about the first ammendment and i had one of those weird moments where someone makes it look like having kids isn't awful because these children aren't assholes. weeeee!


i went to a large sports store to buy a bike helmet.

me: "do you have adult bike helmets?
worker: "yes, they are right here."
me: "okay, thanks."
worker: "if you need anything, just ask!"
[to another guy who is closer]
me: is this one size fits all?
guy: no.
me: okay. will this fit me?
guy: we used to have different sizes but we don't anymore.
me: okay. do you think this will fit me.
guy: i don't know where the other sizes went.
guy: probably. [wanders away.]


in retrospect, i'm not sure we talked about what i wanted with my hair, specifically. although, i'm not sure i cared too much. i know he wanted me to go darker, which is fine. gwen stefani blonde doesn't work for me, we know this. but when i said i wanted red-red, i meant a red found in nature, like close to my natural version, not something found in synthetic plastics.

and i'm not going to lie.
i do not hate this. i look a little punk rock. but with converse shoes and a hoodie ... this will be a great homegrown look for next week.
"did you get permission to do this?" david asked. he means from my boyfriend.
"wha?" i said. really? people do that. i just assume chuck doesn't care what i look like. i'm actually positive he doesn't.


then chuck and i made dinner, went to starfire lounge and it was super fun.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

in the car on the way home from cub foods ...

me: this song totally reminds me of roller skating in my basement. i swear that all i did in 1983 is come home from school, attach a pair of tin adjustable roller skates to my tennis shoes, plug in my boom box and skate in circles listening to KROC FM.
chuck: is this phil collins?
me: yes.
chuck: ... or genesis?
me: yes.
chuck: i just remember that tall guy, the one with the beard ...
me: mike?
chuck: from mike and the mechanics?
me: living years.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

not with this hangnail ...

it rained on me. a lot. but look at that fresh air biker girl glow.

i was going to postpone day one of my new life as a 'person who rides her bike everywhere.' it was a little chilly and a lot windy, and there are still all these hills taunting my retired male soccer player thighs. but less than a mile into my short half-assed quasimoto immitation of a run i started wondering why i was wearing a stocking cap. and a few blocks later i hawked a pretty meaty luggie and took off my sweatshirt. and that's when i knew that it wasn't too cold and it wasn't too windy and that these were gateway excuses leading to: yowch, i have cramps and ride my bike? not with this hangnail.

today, bydammit, would be the day i turn into 'a person who rides her bike everywhere.' or else seven weeks would pass, then four months, and all of a sudden i'd instead be 'a person who keeps an unused bike in the back hallway.' and while i seemingly am a person who likes to take paper money and set it free in the wild, i hated thinking i'd pay 175 dollars per perch on that cushioned cattle-skull shaped seat.

so i went out riding.

at my first stop, i spent fifteen minutes trying to understand how to fasten my ride to a new age bike rack. when i last owned a bike, it was still possible to just chain your front wheel to a stump. things are more complicated now. they tell me this technique is basically a 'take one free' sign for anyone with a wrench, 3 spare minutes and an open space in the bed of their pickup truck. but i felt confident and boy scouty in the weave of my lock, and left my bike unintended for a half hour before my psychic tendencies cawed like a smoke detector. i walked outside, and lifted my bike right off the thing i thought i'd attached it to. the lock coiled around the frame like a severed tendon. i'd done nothing more than create the illusion that my bike was locked up.

i ran into the norwegian wonder who asked if i'd gotten a helmet yet. i kicked a rock, stammered and said no. she looked at me like i'd just told her that norway had given itself to sweden as a s√łttende mai gift. i bet she is a real good mom. then my friend dojo told me about the guy who got 97 stitches in his skull and all the while 'brain bucket, brain bucket, brain bucket' was repeating and rerepeating in my head. i started wishing starbucks sold grande helmets.

and then it started to rain. and rain and rain and rain. and soon i couldn't wait it out any longer. the norwegian wonder offered me a ride home; chuck texted to see if i was stranded. "once you're wet, you're wet," dojo reasoned. i am a blogger, i rationalized, a blogger who sometimes does things just to write about it later. so i did like 'a person who rides her bike everywhere' would do, and i rode a few miles home.

it was pretty nice. refreshing even. i did get wet. i'm sure that if my front tire had flung a puffy earth worm in my face, like i half expected, my career as a 'person who rides her bike everywhere' would have ended with me in a taxi and the shiny blue giant cypress in the bushes.

Monday, April 21, 2008

the horrors of a 7 a.m. sunrise ...

this past week i bought radishes with a shelf-life of 24 hours and a bike that has already grown tiresome. also, chuck fashioned a sleep-cave for us by putting tin foil over the windows to shield our resting eyes from the horrors of a 7 a.m. sunrise. god love a man who's deep respect for sleep matches my own. i was sure if i ever found one, he'd have to be in a coma.

honest tea: morraccan mint: never in my years of drinking have i tasted something so cold. minty, with honey. if this were liquor, i'd be using the back of betty ford pamphlets for scribbling drunken poetry about this stuff.


oregano and asiago focaccia [via]: the ingredients alone made my grocery bag smell a stoner's toothbrush. frankly, i can't believe it turned out. but more importantly, i can't believe we didn't wrap it up when we were done eating and about six inches of it turned to pumice stone.

lemon-rosemary butter cookies [via]: oh my. the first bite i was like ... whoa, there's the rosemary. after my taste buds acclimated to herbs, it was good stuff.

fresh pea soup with tarragon [via] peas and tarragon, who knew? best neon-colored food i've tried. i garnished with radishes, just like the magazine said.

chester creek cafe: i had the salmon platter, which was a slab of smoked salmon, an onion relish featuring a curiously pink onion and caper mix; pickles; boursin cheese; greens and crostini. the perfect meal for someone who likes to mix and match ... it was like units -- that modular clothing line from the 1980s where your tube top could be a skirt or headband or belt.

i also had a strawberry cream italian soda. it was ridiculous with whip cream.

chuck had three tiny crab rolls with this spicy tamarind ketchup that tasted really good on my salmon. he always gets the best sauces. proportion-wise, though? probably like calling the cheeto silt under your fingernails dinner.

"christine" (1983): boy meets car. boy falls in love with car. car gets jealous of boy's girlfriend and kills the boys who bully the boy. this movie, like most released in the early 80s and about the late 70s is funnier than it ever could have intended to be.

"i was told there'd be cake" by sloane crosley: this book isn't bad, but it isn't good either. it just is. most of the essays are about as quirky as your mom after two glasses of wine at a distant cousin's wedding dance, putting her hand over her mouth and gasping about the 'sh-' word. sloane crosley is scared she will suffer an untimely death and whoever cleans out her apartment will find her stash of toy ponies. ... this is not really the stuff of shocking hilarity.

it's almost quaint in its lack of risk-taking. crosley comes across as a sweet, self-depreciating, smart and witty -- but a far cry from david sedaris or sarah vowell, two writers her style was linked to in blurbs. [i should know better than to be fooled by blurbs. i know how they happen ... yet meghan daum's seal of approval did prompt me to buy this as her book of essays 'my misspent youth' remains one of my favorite book.] 'i was told there'd be cake' it is heavy handed in the PR department: this is a woman who is not going to make enemies with this book of essays. and honestly, she comes across as very likeable. i'd read her blog.

some essays are better: the story of her first job; how she is a sushi-loving vegetarian -- this one is filled with the sort of punny humor i enjoy. being a bridesmaid for a woman she no longer knows -- also a good story that falls flat in the end. but most of the rest felt almost-something: almost funny; almost zany; almost irreverent ... like a woman who buys leppard-print undies while on a 'girls shopping weekend' but then hides then in a drawer beneath her cashmiere twinsets.

i wonder, as a person who writes things, if it is in bad form to dis a publicist's book of essays? maybe i'll try to find out someday.

roger ebert feature i have some dim recollections of watching 'at the movies' when i was a tot. i found it simultaneously boring [too much talky talky] and enthralling [movie clips!] this feature on roger ebert was a good trip down fifth-place north west memory lane.

"the bachelor, london calling": what would happen if abc banned wine on the set of the bachelor? all of these women seem to have a perma wine glow and dull sauced eyes. would anyone fall in love? would anyone feeeeeeel anything?

* chelsea pulls out an unprecedented manuever by offering up suite-style intimacies -- before she's in the all-important second-to-final slumber party round. now what are they going to do on the next date?
* this week marks a turnaround in my feelings about shayne lamas: nicely played, young one. who knew that pulling out a blush brush and lipliner on the ski hill would completely change my impression of her? plus, now i think she looks like a carebear? i may want her to win.
* okay. i was a little done with robin and marshana by the end of this episode -- so kudos, matt. although i'm more done with chelsea than robin. although robin's french kiss-off is exactly the kind of thing she's holding onto right now and saying "i really won in the end."

"the hills: girls night out": does anyone remember that day i said spencer would bang a girl with an accent? i'm getting hints of brit from the girl he is doing shots with at s bar. everytime she says "shauts" i consider buying hoop earrings and setting up a a special fortune teller table at the head of the lakes fair.
* scenes involving whitney's new job stress me out more than when i worked for a steamrolling janet reno look alike who thought i was a lesbian at that nonprofit organization.
* kudos to heidi for the term "relationship vacation." it's cute, it's clever and it gives serious conversations a bit of a kicky hilarity. i wonder if lauren and heidi are also on a relationship vacation?

"the paper": thank you, mtv. i'll gladly follow this collection of geeks through a year at their award-winning student newspaper. that little inner-office romance that is probably making everyone in america barf ... yeah. love it. i'll watch them text message all day long. and that andrea zuckerman character is a perfect antagonist.

"battlestar galactica": so now that the centurions can think and feel, does that mean they'll begin falling and love and dating? because i can only imagine that centurions in the throws of robot passion would sound a lot like the clanging in the alley on recycling day.

i'm not ready to discuss who i think the twelfth cylon is yet, but i am ready to say who it is not: it is NOT starbuck. you heard it here first. it's also, obviously, not callie -- who was long overdue in being sent out the airlock. she has always been one steaming clothes iron from a canadian public service announcement about child abuse.

"why are you so domesticated today? oh. is it because you're ovulating?"
-- chuck, when i offered to make him breakfast

"the other jeans were tighter and made my butt look cuter. but i'm not sure that girls go for the cowboy look."
-- my landlord, after storming a sale at the gap

Sunday, April 20, 2008

well it's my earth day, too, yeah ...

"farmer's market opens today ... it's an earth day thing," i told chuck. "i wonder if there will be actual food, or if it will be just a bunch of guys with beards sitting around in a tent going apeshit on ukes?"

"all i know is there will be a may pole," chuck predicted.

sure enough, when i walked past on my way to buy myself the ultimate early earth day gift, the acoustic version of 'here comes the sun' was more overpowering than the edible air surrounding burrito union. i snorted.

oh, duluth. you are more predictable than the perminantly schnockered college boys who live across the street.

i went with the recommendation of blog friend feisty, and got a shiny blue giant cypress. i also considered the opinion of blogger spro -- who referred to me as an urban hipster, but i believe meant urbane dipster, who suggested a breezer. this was a bit too expensive, and they are not distributed in this backwoods, off the beaten kayak-path part of the state.

i ran into my friends jcat and fng at the store.
"i haven't riden a bike since like eighth grade," i confessed.
"you know what they say," jcat philosophized. "it's like riding a bike."

i rode my shiny blue giant cypress right out of stewart's parking lot and cruised into the heart of the city despite the rain and chill, still feeling a bit unsteady. picturing the damage a bus could do to my head, trying to remember anything i may have ever known about shifting gears. my last bike was a blue schwin 10-speed. both brother pista and i were allowed to bike to st. pius and part of the route involved crossing a two-lane highway. it occurs to me now that my parents were probably trying to thin the herd.

duluth is hilly. one block's worth and i managed to lose my footing, clank the gears and tumble from the seat. hills 1, christa 0. it's going to be a long summer. i'm going to need a helmet, if not shin guards. then i tested a few more hills and learned what it would feel like to have your heart and lungs pinned to a clothes line, drip drying in the middle of august. when i got home, i had a stripe of mud on my backpack. oh yeah. i forgot that sort of thing happens.

so all day long i've been running downstairs to look at my new bike. and there it is, cute as heck. there is a 10-year-old deep inside who wants someone, anyone, to watch me ride it down the street.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

voices in my head ...

i woke up with the song 'shake down' by bob seger in my head. i just assumed that chuck's alarm clock had gotten jostled, and the dial landed on the beverly hills cop II radio station. he says this didn't happen.

maybe it's because i was really getting into walgreen's radio the other night. or maybe it's because some local just got busted with 45 grams of cocaine and certainly if a person has 45 grams of cocaine-cocaine, there must have been some exposed chest hair and bob seger going on.

whatevs. all i know is that it is going to be a long day filled with trumpets and saxophones.

Friday, April 18, 2008

best day ever ...

we left the apartment with a plan to just go where the wind took us. the wind took us to ski hut, first. i want a bike. i would like to bike everywhere except target this summer [death trap] and a) minimize my 'carbon footprint' b) save gas money; c) do an experiment.

i told the salesman i want a) something between 250-350 dollars; b) something i can ride on roads, but maybe take on a trail if the spirt moves me. c) the spirit won't move me. i'm not going to bike recreationally because i value my pelvic region in a nonhurting state, i like to run and i have inline skate. soon i will either won the hardrock xc or the trek 7100 ... depending on which one my split personality writes a check for.


we cut down through some neighborhoods, hungry, and decided to hit coney island on superior street.

here's a dichotomy: coney island on first street is, according ot the health department, one of the cleanest restaurants in duluth. a little retro ... marcia brady booths, but you aren't going to die if you like lick one. the coney island on superior street? there's a sign on the door that mentions this shop is anti pan handling. and you way want to commit pan handling crimes when you enter.

i got a coney. chuck got a polish with coney sauce. we split fries. we told the cashier our order four times. this place was dirty. chuck was afraid to use the bathroom, but fine with eating the food. this says a lot about his intestinal fortitude.

"i just don't want to write a blog post about how i crapped my pants on the DTA [bus]," he said.
"it wasn't that i thought the food was bad. i didn't trust the person serving us," he said.

but it was when he mentioned purina dog food -- after we'd eaten -- that i finally had to tell him to zip it.


we wandered down to canal park. the infamous crib, which is a local landmark that washed up last spring, moved about a mile during the storm and ended up beached in this tourist area.

it's weird enough to think that a week ago we were getting our glasses sprayed by wicked waves. to think of this structure moving this far is kind of amazing. we played for awhile.


if you've ever traveled on foot with chuck, you know it is a little like walking a puppy you can bring into a bike store. instead of peeing on everything, he wants to photograph every little thing of nature that ever just combusted into place. gi joe action figure laying face down on the sidewalk? fifteen minutes later, you can return to your walk. oh! guy riding a weird bike? see you in ten minutes. as luck would have it ... i think this shit is cute as hell.


we tried to decide between valentinos [4 blocks away] and chester creek [a mile and a half] away and went with the later. by the time we got there we were starving. we grabbed menus and on our way to the booth, a cook called to chuck from the kitchen.

"chuuuuuuck!" he cried.

we learned they were trying their new menu tonight. chuck got a recommendation: the crab rolls, his kitchen friend told him.

i got a smoked salmon, he went with the recommendation.

when chucks food came out, it looked like this:

yes. that is sauce taking up half his plate. while good. amazing even, this meal was smalllllllllll. a place like chester creek that serves regular sized portions just gave him kibbles in the guise of a small plate entre.


on the way home, we walked through chester creek. came out at burrito union, where chuck bought an actual meal -- a one fisted fat capitalist.

later we went back to burrito union for drinks. i had a mango margarita, a ginger margarita and we played "hey, that looks like a character from battlestar galactica" bingo. i saw laura roslin and gaius baltar. i tried to get photos, but stopped because i felt like a pervert.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

most popular girl at the post office ...

this year i let a woman in stirup pants do my taxes. my paperwork is barely complicated: i'm a single renter who drops things off at goodwill, then roars off into the night without claiming a receipt, lest they put a face to the woman without a lint brush who obviously lets her cat sleep in the goodwill clothes pile.

pretty much any jackhole who has ever touched a texas instrument could do my taxes ... except this number transposing, minus-sign fearing jackhole.

me, unblinking in the face of the irs's steel-grey humorless eyes.
"excuse me, sir, but it looks like you owe me one meeeeeeeeelion dollars," i try to kid.
cut to me writing haikus about jesus in a prison cell.

i did not, however, have ole stirup pants e-file them. i let her idiot-proof them into fool-safe bundles so that i wouldn't miss out on that april fifteenth thrill. you know how i feel about hordes of rabid procrastinators, frothing and seizuring and gathered in the name of chaos.

as a sign that my maturity level has in the past year begun to tickle personal lifetime world record, i took my taxes to the post office at 7 p.m., rather than drag racing through neighborhoods at 11:55 p.m. [i've also started brushing my teeth every night before bed.]

i'm not sure if its because i am dating a postal clerk, or if i've just recently become deeply interested in postal service literature, somehow i knew that our main post office no longer sells stamps from a vending machine in the lobby. and if your post office does ... you might want to head there right now with your sock full of nickles because this convenience is going the way of ... well, mail. luckily the ATM at wells fargo -- comparatively archaic -- was willing to sell me a sheet of stamps for just a two dollar markup.

as the one person with a sheet of stamps at an otherwise stampless post office, i was basically tripping over the flower petals they were throwing at my dainty little responsible toes. two for the soccer mom [i thought they always had stamps squirreled away in their clutch handbag?], and one for man who stood in the lobby and spat the obvious, albeit fruitless, question:


to which i wondered:


another woman and i negotiated with the mail scale, trying to figure out how many stamps to put on our envelopes. the scale was hard steel with divots marking off the ounces. the sort of thing a caveman would have barked at with laughter before melting it into bullets. the scale told us nothing, so we pasted stamps all over our envelopes like they were scratch and sniff stickers and these documents were our trapper keepers. all the while, people were shoving dollar bills at me and snatching stamps.

"dude," i said to the girl. "the IRS is going to laugh so hard when they see these."

i almost went back with another sheet, a card table, a tin can and a dream.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

jessica, we hardly knew ya ...

the entire duplex, nay, this entire plot of land smells like waffles. delicious, butter-soaked waffles with pools of maple syrup so deep that you can check your pores in each mini square reflection. i stopped outside of chuck's downstairs neighbor's apartment, huffing at her door like a syrup addict, trying to coat my brain in that smell. that smell.

jessica makes lots of smells: banana bread, garlicy red sauces, meat, cake. and really, that's about the extent of what i know about this neighbor by proxy. i've only met her once, and that was to say: hey. heard you're moving. are ya sellin' yer couch? as i peered over the railing of the deck. she's not selling, but she's willing to broker a deal involving a book case. meh. who needs another book case.

one time, in the midst of a dire bread-baking emergency, i almost knocked on her door and asked to borrow her sifter. smells like that, she would have to have a sifter. chuck's fared hardly better. they've had two conversations. and occasionally he has accidentally received pieces of her mail. outside of her car and off the premises, neither of us would recognize her. however, we created a mii that looks like her. as much as any composite sketch resembles anyone.

it's strange that i haven't really met her. i tend to meet the neighbors. the professor from the duplex on superior street and i occasionally chatted about books. an old neighbor sat on my couch drinking a bloody mary and hallucinating from a bad batch of mushrooms. when he abandoned his cat, i took it in for a few days before i tracked down a new owner. i took ruby's rabid dogs for a walk and called the police when i heard her boyfriend try to kill her. i never cared when biggie and sneaks played loverboy at 4 a.m. ... i was just glad that this time, they made the walk home from the pio without passing out in the back of a stranger's pickup truck.

i know just a handful of facts and a few things we've made up about jessica: she ...

*generates one small bag of garbage per week
*works a regular 9-5 shift, rarely wearing high heels
*occasionally urinates around 4 a.m. in a very unobtrusive way
*leaves town on the weekends
*doesn't use the washer or dryer, meaning i can unabashedly send bras down the shoot like i'm dishing out tootsie rolls in the christmas city of the north parade
*is unfettered by my repeated playings of "when you were young" at the beginner level on 'guitar hero' ...
*... and chuck's 'family guy' marathons, back-to-back-to-back nasally versions of that theme song
*talks on the phone for hours at a time, an indescernable murmurred coo that we assumed was reserved for her mother.
*has a jesus fish and supports our troops

"maybe she has a podcast," i suggested a few months ago.
[chuck googled her; she doesn't seem to.]
"maybe she reads books onto a tape for blind people," i've said.

a whole life has been invented around these small cues. we think jessica is deeply religious and her brother is in iraq. she probably cans and doesn't recycle or seem to need to. likely, she is completely wholesome and very close to her family. and that she's probably not a podcaster. probably.

Monday, April 14, 2008

two twinkies and a bag of cheetos ...

last week involved blowing all the chips in my socialization cache. my longest run was from the couch to the stove when the hot water for my annie's mac boiled. [this is not behavior endorced by the grandma's half-marathon training committee.] i've made a plan to be the most pedestrian version of myself possible this week: looking forward to picking up the contact lenses i ordered, returning a pair of $10 jeans that are too short, watching a new episode of "one tree hill" and eating foods found in nature. weee!

"the darjeeling limited" (2007): this is exactly the kind of movie that i think is hilarious, although don't ask me what the hell it was about. i only know that three brothers are on a spiritual journey. i like when a scene is exploding with funny, but you have to look for it: adrian brody carrying a pet poisonous snake in a box decorated with a skull and cross bones; or adrian brody going off to pray by himself and a child is standing next to him pointing a gun at him. it all goes back to the movie "dirty rotton scoundrals" when steve martin is running around chanting "oklahoma, oklahoma, oklahoma!" while whaling on pots and pans -- the day i saw that was the day i realized exactly what would define humor for the rest of my life.

"cujo" 1983: oh holy night. family dog turns into mangy rabid psycho killer, first weening the world of bad bud light drinkers and then haunting jonathon from 'who's the boss' and his mother. completely frightful. however, these two were stuck in the pinto for one dog attack too many. i need more scene changes.

"the thing": it would take a lot of special circumstances to get to me watch a 1982 science fiction movie set in anarctica, where the "bad guy" is a "bad thing" that defies description. but this was a decent hour and a half of my life, incorporating some of my worst fears: being trapped somewhere and not knowing who you can trust. as the movie goes on, the death scenes become more elaborate and more disgusting -- a head walks out of a room on its own -- and start to look choreographed by david cronenberg, who will hopefully be charged with directing the movie of my life.

"family plan" (2005): have you ever noticed that movies that are heavy on 'madcap misadventures' and doused in 'escapades' always have a soundtrack that is heavy on oboe? what is it about an oboe that screams: hilarity ensues!

this hallmark movie features tori spelling as a climber at a cookie company that is heavily family orientated. during a meeting with the head of the company, she claims to have a husband and child and then must hire an actor to play the former, borrow her friend's daughter to play the latter. this charade lasts through at least 14 oboe reed changes, right up until the moment the songs slow down and ta-da, she and the prostitute fall in love. too too cute.

(2007): tivo is absolutely busting with vapid two-star tori spelling movies for me to fill my days with. in this one, tori plays a poor young unrealized artist who, after serving champaign at her exboyfriend's art show, scurries off to the woods to house sit for some frank guy who's creepy about his coin collection. tori falls in love with the rugged blue collar, who seduces her in a very sudden and aggressive way that stunned me until i was watching the oxygen channel. i can't lie. i didn't get the ending at all. something about tori being afraid of the wrong person.

you know, tori spelling really is the valerie bertinelli of our generation. she really nails these hangover flicks.

"the bachelor, london calling": the thing you don't consider going into this show is that sometimes people have bad taste in other people. so, when matt gave chelsea a rose during the group date, you have to just remember that maybe he wants someone whose primary characteristic is that she can belch the rhinestone stud right off her manicure and who may eventually run off to be a roadie for motley crue. and then he sent holly home?

*i still like robin, regardless of what every other viewer and bachelorette says.
*ashlee tanked on one-on-one time. unfortunate. i liked her. well, i liked her hair. her exit song made her seem a bit of a country western cartoon of herself.
*kelly should be on that tia tequila show instead. faced with the fact she had nothing to say, she did a last ditch flashing? stay classy, kelly.

sometime i'm going to count how many times the word "feel" is said in a single episode: ie 'i feeeeel like' and 'i definitely have feeeeeeelings for matt.'

"the hills": oh boy. lauren and heidi are embroiled in the most passive aggressively manipulative relationship ever. the sexual tension is thickening. if there was a playground involved, these two would be beating the shit out of each other, then making out behind the big toy. lauren invites spencer's sister to her birthday party; heidi has one of those awkward drunk 'letsbefriends' conversations with audrina.

i think audrina is two twinkies and a bag of cheetos from becoming a one of those background characters that lauren banishes from the frame and doesn't even get her name flashed on the screen.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

geek prom ...

i am a half-assed starbuck from battlestar galactica ... without dogtags ... or blonde hair ... or whiskey ... who realized too late in dressing that my backward tanktop should have been grey and that the words "very sexy" on my vs bra hardly lent any credability. purple (right), however, is princess leia if princess leia had gone to prom on planet alderaan, before planet alderaan blew up.

i need to work on my schtick.

bad cat, here, succeeded with her version of the battlestar galactica outfit. everytime i saw her i, i felt like a failure. the other mistake i made: not eating before i went.

after reading her blog for a very long time, i finally met my new bff babbleon. she was rich in photos of her dog lilo and clove cigarettes.

purple came in third place in the talent show.

i don't know these girls, but they were wearing pantsuits and the one on the right had on roller skates. i had some serious costume envy. from now on, i'll be on wheels for every duluth holiday -- not just halloween.

i like to take photos of chuck taking photos of arty things.

it was best to preface the trip to this cave by saying: we're going to go hang out in the beaver dam. and then winking.

hmm ... the sea.

this is perhaps the best photo i've ever taken in my life.

bad cat also had a glowing red spine, which means she is a cylon! later c-freak gave me a cigar that i used to give my outfit a bonus that bad cat hadn't thought about. granted, i don't think she was specifically starbuck. but i felt better about my weak costume, which i'd probably just wear on day of the week.

i don't know these two ... actually i don't know a lot of the people in these photos. but these two specifically asked me to take their picture. click.

jay-mac can never remember my name. we got in a fight the last time we hung out. i said some things. he said some things ... we set our differences aside for geek prom. right after i reminded him that he couldn't afford to hate me since i'd be supplying him with smokes for the rest of the night.

i kept wondering where lumpy g was hiding. then i saw him gaming on the second floor.

a faction of the kiss army stuck his tongue out at me.

here is ick-nay. we were all clamoring for shots of the geek streak.

i spent all night giving this guy quizical looks until he took off his mask. then i knew who he was.

from left: purple, cdean, babbleon and me.

the night ended at luce. vinnie and the stardusters, hungry and exhausted. chuck and i pigged out on pizza by the slice and decided we were funned out. we heard "duluth" playing in the background as we waited for our cab. we fell asleep watching battlestar galactica.