JULY 2003

Thursday, July 31, 2003
Yesterday as I was driving around doing errands, I saw a gray-haired older woman, maybe in her 70s, riding around on a mint green and white Vespa. She had a big smile on her face, which may have been because of something she was thinking about, but I'm guessing it was because it was a nice day out and she was on a cool little Italian scooter. I watched her ride by and realized that I probably just saw myself at 70.

Today I made a blueberry pie and shared it with all of my neighbors. It came out surprisingly well -- some even called it fantastic -- and now I am thinking that if this writing/video/teaching/music thing doesn't work out, I could maybe open a little pie shop and make pies all day. People like pie.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003
The other day I realized that it's almost August and I haven't been to the beach once this summer! So after a quick workout and a fast meeting this morning, I threw some towels and a book in my car and drove to Lake Michigan. And it was great! I sat in the sun and walked in the water and had some shaved ice with watermelon syrup and just did nothing.

When I got home, I realized that I was sitting with the sun to one side of me, so one half of my body is a little sunburned. It looks a little funny, but I don't burn too badly, and I figure it will fade in a day or two. And after seeing all the signs for fresh blueberries on the ride back, I now want to go make a blueberry pie.

Sunday, July 27, 2003
I finished reading Douglas Coupland's All Families are Psychotic (it's a novel) a few days ago, and I'm both slightly disappointed and not in the least bit surprised. See, I used to really like Douglas Coupland. I loved Generation X in college, probably because it came along at just the right time for me. I also liked Shampoo Planet and Life After God a lot, and I thought Microserfs was one of the best things I had ever read (it probably still is). Then he started to get heavy-handed. I thought Miss Wyoming was just okay, and I thought Girlfriend in a Coma was lame. (Note to self: Never name anything after a Smiths song.) So with this new one, he's writing on the theme of family dysfunction, which a lot of authors seem to be doing these days. It wasn't bad, but it was just so overt that it wasn't even believable. I think the theme was handled much better by Jonathan Franzen in The Corrections, and I guess I knew that going in, but I'm still hanging on to the hope that Douglas Coupland is still going to write books I really enjoy. (Similarly, I buy every REM album the day it comes out, and I haven't really liked one since like 1992.) Overall? Not bad, but read Microserfs and The Corrections and give a good long listen to Document first.

Thursday, July 24, 2003
I am so totally captivated by the Coldplay video for The Scientist. I know it's just a simple backwards playback, but it's just so unbelievably cool to me. I can't change the channel when it's on. If you haven't seen it, VH1 has been playing it at around 10ish in the morning. Really cool.

Okay, I'm a little drunk right now. Not too horrible, but a few glasses of wine's worth. Nice.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Pittsburgh was fun but thoroughly exhausting. I think I need a few more days to recover. I've been ready to take a nap all day for the past two days.

Tonight, like last Tuesday night, I watched Queer Eye for the Straight Guy on Bravo, and I seriously think it's my new favorite show. If you haven't seen it, here's a quick synopsis: the producers find some schlep of a straight guy who can't dress right or decorate his house well or pick a good haircut or a good bottle of wine, and then these five gay guys descend on him and make his home look less dorm-y, fix his hair, get him some non-ugly clothes, and teach him how to prepare an impressive meal so the woman in his life will find him more attractive. It seems simple enough, but I swear it's the funniest thing on tv. I especially like Carson, the gay fashion expert, because he is so superduper fabulous. I want him to come to my house and take me shopping and pick out some cool new clothes for me. And I want the other guys to come along too, so I can get a spiffy new haircut and a fun new couch and learn how to properly prepare and serve foie gras. And they'd take me to a day spa to get me all properly exfoliated, and they'd paint my walls all kinds of vibrant colors, and together we'd clean out my closets. Frankly, I think that all of this attention may be wasted on straight guys, because I think that everything the Fab Five (which is what the gay troupe is called) teaches them will be forgotten in one week tops. I think that the producers of this show need to make a spin-off: Queer Eye for the Straight Gal Who Just Wants to Hang Out With Some Cool Men Who Aren't Ruled by Testosterone Alone and Be Treated Like a Queen (But Not That Kind of Queen).

Wednesday, July 16, 2003
Everyone says that Pittsburgh is a cool city, but the suburbs are boring as all hell. I guess you can say that about any city's suburbs, though. My hotel room was supposed to have a data jack in it, but when I got in, all I saw was an extra phone jack on the lamp. So I went to the desk and asked where the data jack was. And the guy was like, it's on the lamp. And I was like, that's a phone jack and I can't plug my ethernet cable into it. And he was like, yeah, it's a data jack, you can dial into AOL using that. And I was like, umm, okay, but that's not a data jack, that's a phone jack and I don't use AOL because I'm not a chump (you dumbass, and who the hell travels with a spare phone cable?). And he was like, well, that's it. And then his manager pokes out from behind and tells me there's a complimentary DSL line in the lobby behind me that I can hook into my laptop if I have one. I would have said something like, no, I have a tower and a CRT monitor with me, but I figured I had bugged them enough. I asked her if there was a wireless hotspot, and she just kind of looked at me funny, like I had asked her where the petting zoo is. So I said thanks and walked toward where she said the DSL line was. At least I can check my email.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003
Haven't had all that much to say lately. The other day I realized that summer was half over, and that while I've gotten a lot accomplished and made some good side money, I haven't really relaxed much. I haven't even been to the beach yet, which is so not like me. And then this past weekend, I didn't even feel like driving anywhere, so I put on my bathing suit and sat in the backyard and read and didn't talk to anyone or answer my phone or anything. And it was great.

I'm off to Pittsburgh tomorrow to work on my summer project. I've never been to Pittsburgh, but at least three people who I've told about my trip all immediately let me know that in Pittsburgh, the plural for "you" is "yuns" (or "yins," but I think that's just differences in the accents of the people who told me this). Isn't that place known for anything else? I'll try to find out, but I'll mostly be hanging out with people who collect dishes. I'm not sure that they're the party type, but you never know.

Sunday, July 13, 2003
The more I think about 28 Days Later, the more I like it. Sure, it has its flaws: a grainy picture because the digital stock it was shot on breaks up in the cinematic throw, some cheesy special effects, and one or two plot twists that seemed a little too convenient. But on the whole, I thought it was really effective and poignant social commentary and almost like an updated Lord of the Flies. I also liked how the story wasn't full of crap explaining a premise that was pretty easy to get; instead of going through a boring half hour of what's-this-virus, the story got going almost immediately. Very recommended, especially if you're sick of annoying bootyshakin' summer flicks.

Wednesday, July 9, 2003
I just got back from my favorite ice cream shop. It's a little out of the way, but I go there because they have a really good variety, including this local ice cream called Superman. I'm not sure what it tastes like, exactly, but it's red and yellow and blue swirl, and it's insanely bright. Kids like it because of the color, and there are frequently lots of little kids at the place with half-eaten Superman cones and blue mouths. The woman in line ahead of me ordered a small Superman cone for her son. She then turned to me and told me that she hates it when he eats the Superman ice cream because it has so much dye in it, and when he eats it, he poops and pees all those colors. Umm...thanks.

Tuesday, July 8, 2003
Hey batter. Chicago was fun but so incredibly hot. How hot? Well, about 95 degrees and superhumid. So hot that I was at the Taste of Chicago and didn't want to eat anything. Me! Not wanting to eat anything when there's anything and everything to eat! (If you know me or know anything about how much I like to eat, you know that this is horribly out of character for me.) I ate a slice of wild boar meatloaf (tasty!) but didn't enjoy it as much as I normally would. Then I decided it was too hot to put anything else in my body besides water, which is what we spent way too many tickets on. Wow. That's hot.

The highlight of the weekend (aside from seeing my family, of course -- hi mom!) was going to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field and watching a great game that went down to the last out. Wrigley is cool in that it's so old and not centered around selling overpriced burgers or getting you to pay five bucks for a ride on a ferris wheel behind centerfield. It's built for watching baseball, and I don't think there's a bad seat in the place. There are even good seats outside the stadium; there are bleacher-type seats on top of the buildings that overlook the outfield, so you can see the whole game without actually being in the park. Anyway, I've been to games at several different ballparks, but now I can say I've been to the big three, those being Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, and Wrigley. Yeah, Shea Stadium isn't any great shakes, but go Mets anyway.

Thursday, July 3, 2003
An interview with me, by me.

So Amy, how are things?
Eh. I've been better. I'm still pissed off about the whole landlord thing, but I'll get over it.

Yes, that landlord incident is quite unfortunate. How does that make you feel?
Well, it makes me feel taken advantage of. On the one hand, it really bothers me when I let people do that to me. It makes me think that I don't stand up for myself enough. On the other hand, I'm glad to be done with her. She's really not worth my time and energy, and I've spent enough of those on her already.

(Laughing) You sound like you're talking about an ex-girlfriend.
Umm...yeah, but I don't date women. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just not my thing.

Right. Anyway, what were we talking about? Oh, right. We were talking about you. How are things?
You already asked that.

So I did. Okay, then. How is your new apartment?
Nice, actually. Still a little dust that I need to keep on top of, and I haven't unpacked my CDs yet, but it's nice and quiet and bat-free.

Oh right, the bats. What ever happened with them?
They're still in the old house, which is right across from my new place, so when a bat starts flying around and the guy who moved in there runs out and his son is all scared and stuff, I'm just going to sit on my porch and laugh. Maybe I'll even smoke a cigar, just for dramatic effect.

You know, good girls don't smoke cigars. Someone might think you're replacing something else with that cigar.
(Sighs) Sometimes a cigar is just...

(Interrupts) ...a cigar?

But sometimes it's not.
In this case, it is. Now drop it.

Sorry, sorry. So what are you doing for the holiday weekend?
Glad you asked. I'm driving to O'Hare in the morning to pick up my family, and we're spending the weekend in Chicago.

Ah, the windy city.
Yes, that's where I'm going.

Will you see Oprah?
Umm...probably not. She doesn't work weekends.

Too bad. I like her. Isn't she running for senate or something?
You're thinking of Jerry Springer.

Right, Jerry Springer.

Right. are things?
Listen, I have to go pack.

So do I. I mean you. I mean us.
You're pretty strange.

I know you are, but what am I?
(Rolls eyes. Closes laptop.)

Tuesday, July 1, 2003
My Former Landlord is a Queen Bitch from the Deepest, Darkest Depths of the Underworld: An Essay by Scoop
It's been 30 days since I moved, and I finally -- finally -- got my security deposit back today from my former landlord. Not at all to my surprise, she totally gouged me on so-called "damages," including some stuff that wouldn't hold up in court. (I read up on landlord-tenant law because I figured she'd pull some of this stuff.)

For example, it's illegal in the state of Michigan to deduct anything out of a security deposit for cleaning, but she charged me for cleaning the stove. Jesus fucking Christ on a bike, I lived there for almost four years, and she lived there for almost ten before that. The stove will be a little dirty, dumbass. Don't put this all on me -- especially when it's clearly stated that using a security deposit for cleaning charges is illegal.

It's also clearly stated that a security deposit may only be used for actual damages, yet she charged me for the time it took her to look for things. Example: I broke a lamp fixture and am more than willing to pay for the replacement. I broke it; I should pay for it. I am not, however, keen on paying for the time it took her to shop for a replacement, but -- guess what -- she charged me for her time, and she told me with a real bullshit condescending attitude, "I cost $25 an hour." Oh fuck you, you pathetic middle-aged bag. (Okay, I didn't tell her that, but seriously, I have twice as much education as this woman and unlike her, I have a fucking job, which is maybe why I don't feel the need to artificially pump up my self-worth in front of people who couldn't care less or -- whisper it! -- think I'm an ass.)

After some deliberation and consultation with friends, I have decided to just eat my losses, let it go, and be the bigger person here. (Believe me when I tell you that I am totally fucking tempted to gouge her twice as bad.) When it's split between my former roommate and me, it only amounts to $75 a piece -- a fair amount of money, especially to my former roommate, who is a college student and could use the cash, but not worth the hassle to sue her, even though I could do so for twice my security deposit plus court damages. But it kills me that she thinks she can take advantage, and does take advantage, of people this way. I do, however, believe in karma and you-get-what-you-give and poetic justice and all that, so I am patiently waiting for the day when she either gets run down by a truck, dumped by her husband (how does he live with her? she's a raving bitch!), or diagnosed with liver cancer. It'll happen.

(Incidentally, I am not going to put her name in a public space such as this one, but if you rent or plan on renting in Kalamazoo, she owns other properties. I'd be happy to tell you her name if you email me. That way, you won't have to deal with crap like this. Fuckin' bitchbag.)

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