Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dinner, Tuesday September 30, 2008

Today I've gone a little lowbrow with a variation on the slow cooker Italian beef that replicates the stuff you get at stands all over Chicago. I'm using pork and hot banana peppers instead of beef and pepperoncinis and I have a lovely loaf of pain beaucaire from Companion Bakery to go alongside. For a side I prepared a spinach salad with tomato; sea salt and pepper croutons; and honey dijon dressing. Circumstances weren't particularly conducive to taking photographic evidence.

A thousand thundering thrills await me/Facing insurmountable odds gratefully/The female of the species is more deadly than the male

Ah, the life of leisure. I'm unexpectedly already feeling a little antsy because of my time off, all three and a half days of it. Now that I think about it, I haven't had four days off in a row since the end of May, 2007. Fuck, I haven't had three days off in a row since then. And maybe three times in that period I had two days off together. No wonder I don't know what to do with myself. Jesus, what kind of life was that? No wonder I was miserable. I should add that I had accumulated almost two weeks of vacation, but I had a manager who took it as a personal affront if any of her staff actually requested said vacation.

Even though I'm still relieved and happy to be away from that job, I had a moment in the grocery store today where I was suddenly struck with a burst of anxiety and my stomach flipped and I thought, "Oh shit! I don't have a fucking job." But I pushed through it. I'm counting on the universe to take care of me, as it always has.

Before the grocery store, I hit another thrift store in the quest for fodder for my latest idea. I was only mildly successful, but it's better than nothing. On the other hand, on my quest to own enough serving bowls and platters to last a year if suddenly I don't feel like washing them, I found another melmac confetti handled bowl (the other one is in the blog archives somewhere -- a lovely burnt orange color) for a ridiculously cheap price. Maybe because I'm so steeped in the look of mid-century design, these bowls seem timelessly beautiful to me. They would not look out of place in, say, a store like Design Within Reach (most absurdly untrue store name ever, by the way) with a price tag of $100+. My point is, how can anyone discard these things? Oh well, my gain. Today's Aztec melmac confetti bowl (again, made in St. Louis - a plus!):

I have a penchant for vintage men's coats and jackets. I'm not a delicate flower and often the best vintage women's coats and jackets are teeny with very narrow shoulders (that's not to say I don't have a fabulous collection of vintage women's outerwear that fits me, because I do), so I like to wear a man's coat or three. Particularly leather and suede ones. It's taken me a bit to come around to embracing the 70s style, but it's been looking better and better (I blame Swingtown) and today, I couldn't resist it. I think I've been pretty clear in the past that I'm a rather thrifty gal -- I've never spent extravagant amounts of money on clothing (except maybe the occasional pair of boots and even then my idea of extravagant isn't the same as most) or anything else, though I have recently splurged a little on my iPod and mobile, and maybe a teeny bit on upgrading my laptop. Anyway, my point is, I was willing to buy this jacket for a whole $16. I know that doesn't sound like much, but I dislike spending more than $5 per item at thrift stores. Anyway, unbeknownst to me, outerwear was half off and I got it for $8! Behold the shiny caramel leather goodness:

It's in perfect condition; no tears, or stains or threadbare seams. What's not showing is the zip out fuzzy plaid lining. Oooooh, I can't wait to wear it!

I'm going to start photographing dinners again, since I have time and the inclination to cook. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I slept through the night got through to the dawn/I flipped a switch the light went on/I got out of bed I put some clothes on/Its a pretty good day

I woke up with another idea yesterday and the idea demanded a trip to the thrift store. Since we were in St. Charles to visit my mom, we stopped at a Goodwill out that way. Sadly, the store was sorely lacking in the product I was seeking but I did manage to find a couple of other things.

I adore the preppy vintage straw and leather handbags and this little beauty was too good and too cheap to pass up. It's about 10 inches wide and 6 inches high. Really adorable. It's too late in the season to use it now, but it'll be handy in the spring.

This bag isn't particularly adorable, but I need a bag for my laptop and ephemera and I thought I'd buy something at the thrift store and embellish, perhaps. Even as is, it's soft and roomy so it'll work. Any ideas on embellishments? Maybe I'll paint some designs on...

I can't get enough mid-century melmac and other kitchenware and even though I already have a similar one of these (in green) I could never turn down this, especially as it was one thin dollar. It would cost you about $20 or more to get one off of eBay. It's turquoise, it's melmac and it was manufactured in St. Louis.

And something I forgot to photograph a while ago is the Jack and Jill magazine from September 1957. Michael bought it for me while we were shopping at Red Lead for paper and other odds and ends. I really haven't even looked through it, but I'm sure there's some good collage fodder in there.

Another episode of Emotional Rescue on the books today, and I'm really happy with the result. I got a great call today. As I was playing the new James Bond theme by Jack White and Alicia Keyes, a woman called to ask what it was. Her response, "This is fucking AWESOME." It's fantastic to know you've played something that someone really, really enjoys. Earlier a man called to tell me my playing of an old Genesis song actually brought some tears to his eyes.

So, a good day thus far.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

If I told you what it takes to reach the highest high/You'd laugh and say nothing's that simple

Je suis libre!

Today marks the first day of my liberation from Big Coffee. I woke up this morning at 5 am, unable to go back to sleep. Since, for the nonce, my time is my own, I got up a half hour later. I don't have to be well-rested -- I don't have to go to work today or tomorrow or the next day.

After working the last six days in a row for a total of 43 or 44 hours, I should be more tired, and I probably am. I was too sleepy last night to stay up like a rebellious child so instead I got up in the chilly pre-dawn light with no plan for the morning. So here I sit, half watching "Fringe."

I didn't know how the last day would be. My extreme relief and happiness to be done with this job seemed to override any sadness I was feeling about losing my daily contact with Michael and Marta. By happy circumstance (Michael insists it was not kindness on our manager's part) the three of us were working together for several hours, both of them leaving before me. I was prone to the sudden hugging of each of them which seemed to stifle the emotion that was trying to bubble up. When it came time for them to go I was okay. I choked back some tears and went back to work. Luckily, I suppose, my last two hours of working were extraordinarily busy and a little frantic. The vultures were circling as customers flocked in to clutch and claw at the free things we were offering. A memory that will not leave me yearning to work retail again any time soon. As I walked out that door for the last time I did not feel one tinge of regret; just relief.

I woke up on Friday morning with a new jewelry idea in my head, the first time that's happened in nearly a year. I hope this is the beginning of being able to recapture that part of myself.

And here's the song that's been reverberating in my head all week.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

And I hope you remember when it comes around/The gentle release of letting me down/And the way that it felt/

To be high on yourself/Blindly running into the new

Oh my, how things have changed since I last wrote.

After a less than satisfactory conversation with my boss-to-be in Illinois wherein she made it quite clear that she was unwillingly shoehorning me into her staff, and upon further reflection, the idea of moving to that store seemed pretty much like a nightmare. A really good alternate plan to keep Michael, Marta and I together was derailed almost as quickly as it was conceived. It was more stressful, I think, than never having had the plan at all. And so the week came to an end with me feeling anxious and panicked about the future.

Friday night I pushed down all those feelings and did actually enjoy myself at the Royale, DJing out on the patio. Saturday dawned (literally; I couldn't sleep) as the same old same old. I woke with a tight knot in my stomach and a tension I couldn't ignore any longer. Springing it on him out of nowhere, I blurted out to Steve that I needed to quit my job and that I would do what I needed to do to make sure we could pay for our insurance, etc. He was dubious at first (and may still be) but he agreed and I felt the first inklings of relief. Next I had to ask for some safety net money from a third party and that wasn't quite as easy as I'd hoped, but it wasn't terrible.

Knowing I was working with the boss the next morning, I had to deliver the news. As it was, I'd only be giving one week's notice which bothered me, but it couldn't be helped. (And did I mention that at this point I was swallowing the L-Theanines like candy?) I'm not used to quitting jobs -- I've only quit two, really, and only one as a bonafide adult. Surprisingly, he took it quite well, quite impassively, almost as if he was expecting it.

It took about half of the workday Sunday before I felt the weight start to lift off my shoulders, but lift it did and the giddiness ensued. I can't tell you how I'm looking forward to not being exhausted and achy and full of mysterious cuts and bruises (there are lots of sharp edges in that store) at the end of every day. I can't wait to cook something elaborate. I can't wait to sleep past 4am. I can't wait for my artist side to come back to me.

And otherwise in my life, the theme of transition seems to be pervasive. Relationships are shifting and changing, new alliances are forming and, mostly, all seems well. The radio show is going well; I'm very energized by it and loving music again.

But one more 4am wake up call awaits me tomorrow and Friday holds an eight hour workday. After that? I'm one free motherfrakker.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

You got a heart so big/It could crush this town/And I can't hold out forever/Even walls fall down

Things have happened, tears have been shed, worries have only begun, entrances have been approached, even some fun has been had.

We found out our new store assignments this week. I will be in Illinois (my third choice) at a mall store. The best thing is that this store apparently has a reputation as "the gayest ********* ever". How bad could that be, right? Of course, there will be giant, giant hole in my daily work life as Michael and I will not be together. And hence the tears. I really don't want to think about it. It's been threatened so many times in the last several months and now it is irrevocably going to happen and I'm not sure how I'm going to deal.

Tuesday night was an event for the radio station and I went along blithely, drinking myself into oblivion so I didn't have to think about the facts of the new store, separation and whatever else. I appeared to have a great time (and I did, really) listening to Roy and John one-up each other at the DJ booth and laughing uproariously at rather juvenile jokes ("Baffled by Tits" anyone?). Unfortunately, I woke up at 3:00 a.m. with a tight ball of anxiety living in my chest and stomach and spent the next few hours tossing and turning and imagining the worst scenarios about, oh, everything. Adding to that day's stress was the informal coffee meeting about the potential job. Of course, I WANT it. I will be devastated if I don't get it. And we don't even know if it exists yet. Sigh.

Anyway, the anxiety continued at work and clearly looking distraught I kept getting asked if I was okay, which always triggers the waterworks. I did my best to hold it in until I got home, finally, and collapsed in a numb heap, cheered by a little chatting that was entirely too short-lived to lift me out of the funk. When Steve arrived home he was rather surprised to see me in the dark, TV off, staring into space. A little Googling later and he was out to fetch me some 'natural Xanax' in the form of L-Theanine. Oh, and some spaghetti and meatballs from Mangia. Whether it was the carbs or the amino acids, I felt immensely better after and slept well. Today was like a completely new start and I felt 100 times better. I'm sure that's owed as much to the Theanine as the much better night's sleep. And perhaps also because I wasn't hungover. That helped a lot too.

Aack, that's enough navel gazing.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The words of love in whispers/And the axe of love in screams/I wish that I could push a button/And talk in the past and not the present tense

Yes, I am a big fat liar. I've spent my computer time of the last couple weeks doing anything but writing down my every useless thought for consumption by the masses (ha!).

Excuse #1: I've worked a lot and at hours I'm not particularly fond of, which means I've been working closing and evening shifts too much. I had a honeymoon week with the new guy, which quickly devolved into anxiety and panic when things took a nasty turn. Because we're short staffed, I've hardly worked with Michael at all, which absolutely doesn't help the state of my working mind. Thank goodness he can bear to come to the store when he's not working and visit me or we'd barely see each other. We can't even hang outside of work because when he's not working, I am, or vice versa. It sucks. We also found out the store is closing on September 26 and we've had to scramble and pick locations we want to transfer to. I don't even want to talk about that. Too. Much. Anxiety.

Excuse #2: Because I feel it's time I get back to my previous career path, such as it is, I've spent a good deal of time online, searching, sending, begging. You know the routine. Since my lack of (and, to be honest, disdain for) networking skills always comes back to bite me in the ass, I'm really trying to reach out this time and ask for help from my friends in the working world. After sending out a gazillion blind inquiries to no avail, it becomes clear that personal recommendations and the like are the real ways to get employed.

Update: It's working! I'm to make an appointment for a coffee date to discuss a possible position! Oh to be a grown up.

Excuse #3: Having a bit of a social life beyond my own head. A novel idea, I know! I joined Dana and Roy at Mangia last Friday evening for drinks and conversation (joined by Steve eventually). Feeling rather giddy after an afternoon of conversation with friends, I ended up drinking perhaps too much and demanding, over and over, that we walk down the street and smoke the hookah at the hookah bar. I think Roy was ready to clap his hand over my mouth, but he was polite and let me ramble on annoyingly and endlessly. For what it's worth, I did offer my sober apologies the next day when I blushed, remembering my nattering on.

On Tuesday night Steve and I headed to the Aimee Mann/Squeeze show at the Pageant. Unbelievably, I've never seen either and I was really looking forward to the show. I would not say I'm an Aimee Mann fanatic, but I am a Magnolia Soundtrack/Bachelor No. 2 fanatic. I couldn't love those two records more and, in general, I find her sour, dour hyper-intelligence very appealing. She did not disappoint, though I must say there was very little sourness. She was nearly chipper. She smiled, even laughed once or twice. And she sounded incredible, as did her band. Her solo performance of "Cigarettes and Red Vines" was a goosebump moment -- who knew that song was about director Paul Thomas Anderson? She relied heavily on her new album, though she pulled some of my favorite stuff from the Magnolia era. At one point she even brought Glenn Tilbrook out to play and sing on a song they had collaborated on. It was clear the affection they have for one another -- he seemed truly delighted to be there and she to have him.

Like nearly every music fixated person of my generation, I had a Squeeze phase, listening to Singles 45 and Under obsessively. Over the years, those songs have stayed with me as favorites, have a place in my iPod, and remain fresh sounding. I did fear a bit of the dreaded "reunion" pallor over the show but that notion was quickly dispelled. Difford and Tilbrook burst onto the stage, along with a smashing band and proceeded to charm, thrill and entertain an eager audience. Chris Difford just seemed fit to bursting to be on stage. Glenn had an expression of joy that didn't disappear once. Despite the trio of idiotic women who bumped, spilled and broke glass next to us, it was a joyous, sing along at the top of your lungs show. Oh, and Aimee Mann wears white cotton hipsters and I think Glenn Tilbrook goes commando.

Excuse #4: My radio show! I'm spending much more time listening to music than I had been in the past several months. I'm so excited about my show (and don't want to think about what a real job might mean to it) and I'm constantly thinking of things I want to play, ways to connect songs and artists and, really, just hearing more. I'm feeling more myself, like I've recovered a really important piece of my identity: Cat the radio DJ.

Excuse #5: I've acquired a Scottish correspondent (albeit via Yorkshire), a fellow with whom I share much music, movie, television and more in common. As a fellow Battlestar Galactica fanatic, he's a keeper. It's been fun throwing each other musical suggestions and learning that Top Gear, indeed, can be amusing even if I care nothing for ridiculously expensive sports cars. He's adorably British and as anyone who knows me well knows, I have a weakness for Brits.

So there you go. I haven't been slacking.