Wednesday, May 31, 2006

secrets at an art gallery near you

Postsecret is going to be here on Friday! I'm so there.
I have two days of school left and then a concert on Saturday. Time to start the job search! Every place I pass lately I think "I could work there..." I imagine myself working in Home Depots and libraries and Whole Foods and REI, and I know I'd probably hate most of those to some degree. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

beary interesting...

First off, everybody should check out my friend Raquel's blog, because she is awesome and writes wonderful critiques of films and books and music, many of which I've never heard of. Also, she has some excellent links in her last post. I highly recommend the hate mail and the pulp covers of literary works :-)
This weekend is the International Man of Leather contest in Chicago. Being in our leather-laden neighborhood (two bars and the Leather Archives and Museum right around the corner), we've been seeing quite a few leather daddies running around the neighborhood, on public transpotation, etc., which is cool. The bus stop is right by the bars, and those places were hoppin' last night! As we were waiting for our bus, this man who I can only assume was a bear (a very hairy gay man; I'm not sure if that title entails anything but hair, although it might) came up and asked me for directions. He was easily the most hairy person I've ever seen in my life, although granted I also don't see a lot of men walking around in open leather vests so perhaps it's more common than I'd think... But anyway, I thought he was wearing a shirt, that's how much hair he had. Anna and I spent the rest of the night debating whether some of the hair was enhanced by some outside influence (like steriods or, as I suggested, gluing hair onto yourself) or whether people could just naturally be that hairy. Please note that I'm not trying to make fun of him, per se; he seemed nice enough, and I was impressed by his willingness to take the bus looking so unorthodox. It was just... intense. Well, live and learn.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

i can't think of a title

It's finally warm, and now I fear that it will become humid and nasty before I really have time to enjoy the warmth. The weather here is really fucked-up in general, most of the time it's not the most pleasant place to live. But anyway...
We went and saw Michelle Tea read at Quimby's (the zine store) this week. She read part of the end of her new book, "Rose of No-Man's Land" and she was totally cute and funny. Anna got her to sign her water-stained Bookman's copy of "Valencia" and she put stars and hearts and exclamation points on it.
My bike is not working well. I don't think I ever wrote about it, but I got a new (used) red roadbike a few weeks back, and I was so excited because it rides so much better than my crappy Target bikes... And now it's malfunctioning. I need to take it in sometime and get them to look at it. The chain and the pedals are too connected or something, if I stop pedaling then I have to pedal fast to make up the slack before it works again. I can ride, but not too fast (the chain out-distances my pedaling) and it's jerky. It's very hard to constantly pedal, I never realized before.
Anyway, I guess I don't have much else to say. I'm essentially done with school, I have two concerts left and about two hours of class a day and in a week it will be over. Then, reality... or something.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

back to the drawing board

I was going to make seitan this morning so I could use it for dinner tonight, but I just realized I don't have anywhere near enough wheat gluten :-( No good. But I made something new last night that ended up being unexpectedly good, so I'm posting the recipe for that instead. It was rather unimaginatively labeled "Lentil Curry" and is apparently a british-style curry. Kind of sweet but delicious.
Lentil Curry
1 1/2 cups lentils (it called for red but I used brown)
salt (approximately 1 tsp)
black pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
1-2 onions
1-2 cloves garlic
vegetable oil
1 sweet apple
1 tbs curry powder
1 tsp or so lemon juice
1 can baked beans (I used 15 oz, it called for 8)
4-inch piece of cucumber

Cook the lentils until soft in water with the salt, pepper, and bay leaf. (Use 4-5 cups of water per cup of beans, so maybe 7 cups total). Drain. Meanwhile, saute the chopped onion, garlic, and apple in some oil. When they are all soft (I recommend perhaps adding the apple a bit later, but I like my onions as soft as possible so I cook them forever), add the curry powder and cook for two more minutes. Combine the lentils, onion/garlic/apple mixture, baked beans, cucumber, and lemon juice and cook until everything is warmed up. Serve over rice or noodles.

Monday, May 22, 2006

muppet mania

You Are Scooter

Brainy and knowledgable, you are the perfect sidekick.
You're always willing to lend a helping hand.
In any big event or party, you're the one who keeps things going.
"15 seconds to showtime!"

Sunday, May 21, 2006

we have this love/hate thing going on

I had an extremely frustrating trip to the library today. It's sad, because I really truly appreciate what the Chicago Public Library does for the neighborhoods here,and I think they have incredibly admirable library goals in terms of their committment to interactive and helpful stuff. But... I can never find anything I'm looking for there. I'll look a book up a few days in advance and it will say it's on the shelf, then I show up at the big downtown library and it's not where it's supposed to be. I think I've maybe checked two books out there, simply because what I'm looking for is always missing. Today I was looking for Judith Butler's "Gender Trouble" because I wanted to look at it for something I'm writing soon; there were supposed to be THREE copies there, and there were, in reality, none. So I went and asked the information lady if I was in the wrong place, because their system of organization is a little confusing to me. She told me to look on the reshelving carts, and it was again absent. This is when she filled me in on the system of returns they have there.
Apparently, whenever any book is returned it goes straight to the third floor and into a giant bin, three and a half feet deep and five feet long. They don't move these bins to the sorting area until they're full. She told me it can take upwards of two weeks just for that step. Only then are they sorted and sent to be reshelved.
I mean, who thought of that?! You can't get what you want unless it's been turned in like a month prior to your desired date of checkout, and things that aren't on the shelf are listed as being avalaible. Grrr.

Friday, May 19, 2006

no one thinks it's weird that we have to buy clean water, and that's how I know we're going to hell

Nothing really major has happened lately, so I'll take my cue from Erica and write some little things.
There seems to be a lot of wildlife around for this being a city, mostly birds and squirrels but still. I saw a pair of cardinals on my way across campus the other day, and I got all excited because I've never seen a female cardinal before and because my great-grandmother loved cardinals and seeing them always makes me think of her, and then when I turned around with this big goofy grin on my face there was this girl I barely know there. I tried to explain why I was so happy so early in the morning but I don't think I communicated it very well. Also this week I saw a bunch of geese swimming around in Lake Michigan, and they would periodically flip upside-down to get plants from underwater and then topple over backwards and right themselves again. I don't know if that's typical goose behavior, but it looks really funny, like they're just overbalancing again and again. It distracted me from practicing for five full minutes, and then on and off until they left. My last bird encounter has been with this white duck that's been kind of hanging around the music school. I've seen it several times, I think it's the same one. Yesterday when I walked out of a rehearsal, it was peeking through the window next to the door that leads outside. It looks like the duck from those car insurance commercials, "afflack" or whatever. Anyway, it was pretty weird, like it was just waiting for us all to come out.
Today I have no school, so I have a laundry list of things to do (which incidentally includes laundry :-) I'm going to try very hard right now to once-and-for-all finish the cookbook zine that's been sitting, almost completed, on my dinig room table for about 6 months. So... If you want a copy, let me know and preferably send me an address, because I'm a flake and lose them all every time.
The weather here has been annoying, literally going from sun to cloudburst to sun in a matter of minutes. It makes it hard to plan. The temperature can change dramatically from when I leave to when I come back, and you never know what it will be like. The weatehr reports are useless.
Okay, I'm going to shower and the zine the early hours of the day away.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

i'm in the mood

for survey taking. sorry, y'all.

1. How tall are you barefoot?
about 5'6". my driver's license might say differently

2. Have you ever smoked?
too often... not as much as i used to. on;y when drunk and vulnerable

3. Do you own a gun?
are you fucking kidding me?

4. Rehab?

5. Do you get nervous before "meeting the parents"?
i love anna's parents, although i was a little afraid her mom would call me out when i met her.

6. What do you think of hot dogs?

why is there no 7? i like 7.

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning?
coffee with soy milk. dairy grosses me out.

9. Do you do push-ups?
i have buff-looking arms, but it's an illusion

10. Have you ever done ecstasy?
no. i'm almost a drug virgin

11. Are you vegan?
i was, but cheese is the devil

12. Do you like painkillers?
only for those annoying lingering almost-headaches. i use blue cohosh for cramps, which is my other big pain source, and as long as i use it in tincture form on a fullish stomach it seems to work fine

13. What is your secret weapon to lure in the opposite sex?
this seems like a silly question in so many ways. i lure no one, and least of all the opposite sex

14. Do you own a knife?
yes, on my keychain. it's mostly used for peeling oranges, and once last year a teacher of mine used it to cut the cords on some annoying cutains that were interfering with out class watching a movie

15. Do you have ADD?
no, but it would be nice to have an excuse for my attention deficits

16. Birthday?
Dec. 2

17. Top 3 thoughts at this exact moment:

1) i wish i was magically asleep

2) what am i going to do with my life?

3) i hate allergies

18. Name the last 3 things you have bought?
1) beer

2) wine

3) pants (brown cords that won't be very good for the summer)

19. Name five drinks you regularly drink.

1) coffee

2) water

3) beer

4) oj

5) wine

20. What time did you wake up today? about 10, a record late day

21. Current hair?
short but not short enough. i want it to just be gone, and maybe an abnormal color. i sick of normality

22. Current worry?
the future, holy shit

23. Current hate?

24. Favorite place to be?
riding my newish bike

25. Least favorite place to be?

26. Place you want to go?
canada. and south america. and south chicago. and everywhere.

27. Do you own slippers?
yes, nice wool slippers which anna's mom sent me

28. Where do you think you'll be in 10 years?
who in god's name knows? i could be anywhere

29. Do you burn or tan?
burn. and then tan, but only on my upper body. the lower stays pasty white

30. Last thing you ate?
a goat cheese tomatoe sesame bagel

31. Would you be a pirate?

32. Last nightmare?
i've been having these really repetitive annoying dreams lately where i argue with someone about something nonimportant (like the color of my sandals) for hours

33. What song do you sing in the shower?
i haven't done that since preadolescence

34. What did you fear was going to get you at night as a child?
the critters and tremors mosters from the stupid movies

35. What's in your pockets right now?
none now, usually chapstick and nail clippers

36. Last thing that made you laugh?
i can't remember.

37. Best bed sheets you had as a child?
i had flowerey pink lacy ones which i loved

38. Worst injury you've ever had?
i've never been injured too badly... i had a neck cyst in high school, which should have slowed me down but didn't

40. How many TVs do you have in your house?

41. Who is your loudest friend?
erica, or maybe anastasia

42. Who is your most silent friend?
me? i don't know.

43. Does someone have a crush on you?
who the hell knows? probably not :-(

45. What is your favorite book?
constantly changing

46. What is your favorite candy?
caramel, maybe

47. What song do/did you want played at your wedding?
boo weddings! not pachebel's canon, that's for damn sure

48. What song do you want played at your funeral?
something happy. maybe that song, "the pony and the princess." it has a line that says "shake your ass around my casket."

49. What were you doing 12AM last night?
i think i was actually in bed by 12...yesterday was rather long and emotional for no real reasons...

50. Do you like the pain associated with Tattoos?
i've never had a tattoo, mostly because i can never think of anything good enough to ahve permanently inscribed on my body. but part of me really wants to. any suggestions?

Friday, May 12, 2006

rural cowboy

I just wanted to recommend a blog post Anna wrote about "Brokeback Mountain," which we finally saw this week. I love the movie for saying so much but hardly really saying any of it, about the potential realities of rural gay existance and sex and mistakes. A book I read earlier this winter had a lot to say about the marginalization of rural gay life, and I think a lot of that was reflected in people's reactions to this particular movie. Except for specific formulations (living-in-the-country-with-a-big-house) urban people tend to look down on rural life, and queer people are no exception to this rule. The book I read ("In a Queer Time and Place" by Judith Halberstam) talked specifically about Brandon Teena and how the setting of rural Nebraska not only played a role in his murder but was also misunderstood in that role by many many academics with an urban-centric viewpoint. Brandon chose to live in a rural town (instead of Lincoln, a more urban center) because it offered queer possibilities to him that he wouldn't have in a bigger city. He moved to rural Nebraska to escape persecution and scutiny, but academics look at what happened and say, "Oh, he was killed by those rednecks. He should have moved to the big city, gotten some help or something." Anyway, so it's interesting to look at the rural's role in "Brokeback" and examine my own thoughts about setting and plot.
But anyway, Anna says a lot of what I thought very eloquently and humorously, so you should just read her review. But here's my favorite part:
"In an effort to promote "tolerance," many critics have applied the law of universality to the film. "This is a love story, people! Not a gay story." Yes it is! It's a goddamn gay love story. If you can't see the blatantly gay issues that ensconce this movie, then don't review it. The fact that Jack and Ennis are "victims of circumstance" is a moot point when you consider that homophobia, fear, and denial are the main circumstances they can't seem to overcome."

"You must be Mozart's sister"

I think every musician has a list of the strangest and/or most horrible gigs that they've played. My strangest until last night was probably the queer hippie birthday party I played in Washington state where everybody, men, women, and children, were dressed as fairies and my quartet played Ravel outside on a windy day next to a firepit with salmon cooking over it. It wasn't bad (it was actually quite fun, and the salmon was delicious!), but it was a fairly odd experience. I don't know if last night can compare, but it was strange in an entirely different way.
We were playing an all-Mozart gig for Europe Day (it's the year of the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth, hence the music choice), sponsored by the Austrian consulate but attended by a lot of fancy-schmancy people from all different parts of Europe. It was on the top floor of the Aon tower, which is apparently the third-tallest building in Chicago. We were on the 80th floor! It was the longest elevator ride I've ever taken, and my ears were popping the whole way. When we got up there, they did indeed have 18th century costumes for us, complete with white fluffy wigs (!). My costume consisted of a very long blue velvet skirt, and shirt with lace-trimmed flow-y sleeves and two bustle-like things that hung over the sides. Plus, of course, the wig, which would become more and more annoying as my curls kept falling onto my instrument as I played and my head became roughly 20 degrees warmer than the rest of my body. But anyway, I guess that's the most exciting part of things. Other details were more like any old gig, with people drinking way too much and trying to talk to our piano player as he was playing and everyone in general talking so loudly that we couldn't hear each other at all. But hey, it's money, and the costumes make for a good story. I'm hoping to get pictures soon and post them here.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


A while ago, I filled out a survey here and got back a painting that was supposed to represent my personality. I liked my painting and thought it was kind of neat. End of story, right? But a week or two later, I got the following email, supposedly from myself and with the subject line "We Have Moved":

Dear Ammie,

I am writing to us from my new home in the Painterbot database. I seem to fit in here, and things are going well so far. Our hosts say they like us because I am outgoing and easy going . Well, thats all for now. I will write more once I get settled in.

- talk to you soon


What is that? I don't know what purpose it surved, except to give me an early morning set of creepy chills.

Tomorrow, I'm playing a gig for somebody (the Austrian Consulate? I'm not clear on the details) where apparently we are going to wear period 18th-century clothing and play nothing but Mozart. I don't know if that's creepy, but it is certainly strange.

Here's my painting:

5 questions

From Lauren's journal, here are my five questions:

1. What do you think of Chicago's personality as a city?
I think Chicago is a very no-nonsense place. You have to be careful around her, but as long as you keep your shit together you get along okay. It's really a midwestern place to me, that kind of stereotyped no-beating-around-the-bush idea I had about this whole region before I moved here.

2. I'm trying to figure out the difference between Hollywood movies where male characters dress as women for a laugh, and drag queens. I feel like the first one is a little misogynistic because the men are supposedly stooping to an inferior, weaker level, and the second one is more of a radical critiquing performance? I don't know. What are your thoughts?
Hmmm. Well, first you have to consider audience: The hollywood version is directed towards straight people, and drag queens are first and formost performing for a gay male audience. The intent in those two performances (culturally sanctioned and fairly specific performance techniques for drag queens and comedic value based on power displacement and physical gags for the actors) are fairly divergent, although there is some overlap. I just read a whole book about how queer culture gets siphoned into mainstream consumption and then diluted almost beyond recognition, and I think that drag queen camp is a great example of that.
However, I think a lot of the time we laugh at men in movies dressing as women because they are having a really hard time doing "woman" things (putting on makeup, shoes, walking funny, etc.). Isn't recognizing that physically appearing as a woman is difficult but very related to your ability to accessorize kind of a radical statement? It's definitely a recognition of the performative nature of gender presentation, even if it's been diluted by its transfer to the mainstream.
Whew! I wish you could know how much I deleted from this post. Shows you what you get when you ask me about drag, I guess.
(I guess you're more or less right about the misogyny, although I think that's generally pretty subtexted. I don't know if people would believe that that's why they are laughing, but it's definitely part of what's going on. Which is why there are tons of movies about men dressing as women and relatively few about women dressing as men: we're uncomfortable with that power switch.)

3. What new behaviors does spring awaken in you?
Well, I usually get motivated to take better care of myself (exercise, eat lots of fruits and veggies, etc.) It also makes me want to go shopping.

4. If Anna were an animal, what do you think she would be and why?
I think she would maybe be a koala bear. I have this sneaking suspicion that we've actually had this conversation before and I'm not remembering what we said, but oh well :-) Anyway, I think she's super cute and would have a great time just wandering around in the trees all day.

5. What was your worst job?
Tough one. My first paper route was pretty hellish: I walked like three miles a day for it laden down with my paper bag, plus I had to spend hours every month trying to collect from people who weren't home, all for very little money. I spent a lot of time calculating exactly how much I made for every paper I threw (something like 50 cents, if I recall correctly). Yeah, that was probably my worst one. Thanks god it was first and is long over!

Monday, May 08, 2006

like goodness under your feet

A great weekend, full of thrift stores and mole enchiladas (which I must get a recipe for!) and more bike riding and beers at Cunneen's, is over. Unfortunately, I can't sleep AT ALL. Which is, incidentally, one of the worst feelings that I have regularly. Grrrr.

Friday, May 05, 2006

stella marie, you're my star

I went on my first bike of the year this morning. The statistics: left at 7:05, returned at 8:40; temperature maybe around 50?; rode from the 6400 block to approximately the 1800 block, or about 2/3 of the way to downtown; estimated mileage 10 miles. I rode down the lakefront trail, which is this lovely paved off-the-road trail that runs from about a mile from my house to the southside, about 16 (?) miles long total. One of my major realizations this morning was that this trail, which runs between the lake and Lake Shore Drive (LSD, hahaha. You always see Craigslist missed connections about "seeing the hottie in the red car on LSD this morning" and I am always confused for a second.), is that at 7:30 LSD is absolutely filled with honking smelly cars and you're generally a lot closer to that than to the lake. Still pretty nice, though. The sun was behind clouds as I headed south, and the lake was this pale blue with yellowy clouds above it, and then the sun emerged shortly after I turned around and shone on my back the whole way home, which felt really nice. I saw a bunch of geese picking grass out of a golf course lawn, a man fishing, and a totem pole carved by a man from British Columbia. The only downside is that my ass hurts like you wouldn't believe, and I'll probably be wicked sore later today. But hooray for bikes!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

a tiny bitchfest

It's 8:12, and I should really be studying for my midterm at 10. But, this test and this class encompasses many things that I've grown to truly hate about formal education, so I feel a need to take a break and talk about it a little bit. I'm taking this class in orchestral bowing, which has had a few interesting insights but for the most part has consisted of analyzing to death things that any decent orchestral player does instinctively (Thing I Hate #1: analyzing things that I feel don't need to be analyzed). I know this is for the benefit of the non-string players in the class (mostly conducting and music ed majors), but I dislike being used as a guinea pig to demonstrate bowings that I know before we even try them will sound stupid (consider that Thing I Hate #2). But anyway, our tests always consist of his handing us an exact copy of the test the week before it's going to happen, usually a sheet basically direstly out of the book that he wrote for the class, which we fill out, memorize, and regurgitate back at the next class. That's definitely Thing I Hate #3: Vomit Education. It's pointless, annoying, and time consuming, and really I'd rather be learning something useful, thanks. Grrr.
Anyway, back to memorizing the ideal speed for sautille bowing, at least according to my teacher.