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Posts in: May 2005

Trauma

I couldn’t have been more than seven years old when my father burst into the bedroom that my sister and I shared, waking us both from a sound sleep with the noise and sudden brightness of the kitchen lights. “Come on out here, children,” he said lightly. Though raised for 13 years in the backwoods of eastern Kentucky, my dad had lost most of his accent, but he still has certain bizarre affectations you don’t often hear in suburban Chicago.

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Things I Learn While Shopping at the Grocery Store: An Ongoing Struggle — Self-Checkout

Most grocery stores that have leaped into the 21st century have what’s called self-checkout, a marvelous new technology wherein you check yourself out, scanning the items, weighing the fruits and vegetables, inserting the credit cards, et cetera. Since it’s a new, imperfect technology, most stores also have a human monitor for the self-checkout, sitting in this raised desk that looks over the entire self-checkout area, not unlike a lifeguard station.

I’ve used the self-checkout at grocery stores in Chicago, and it’s very easy-to-use and handy because usually when I go to the grocery store, I buy a pack of gum and some coffee. I’m not buying dinner for ten, and in my experience, Chicagoans are terrified of the self-checkouts and avoid them like the plague. You never have to wait for the self-checkout, which is why I use them.

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Actors

It’s pretty well known that I fucking hate actors. When I was in high school, I used to act a bit. I was on the speech team. Performing was an interesting thing, but I always—for the most part—hated actors. It’s all part of the weird self-hate thing that I have, and I’ll argue that that was when it was at its worst: I enjoyed performing because, even though I wasn’t any good, I felt like it was an opportunity to try to “be” somebody else, which was satisfying since I disliked myself so intensely. But at the same time, I hated everybody around me—sometimes openly, usually secretly—and I’d be one of those “mysterious” actors who sat in a corner, brooding, while the rest of the people were shrieking at each other to demand attention.

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Roots

Note: This was originally posted in the form of a comment at a blog I stumbled upon thanks to Google.

I first discovered the miracle of the boner in fifth grade. I had no idea what made it start, I had no idea how to make it go away. It would either just hang limply or suddenly stand at attention. Who was I supposed to talk to about this? I told my friend Mike, who had a sister in high school and consequently was pretty knowledgeable about sex.

“It’s a stiffy,” Mike said. “I get ’em, too. You’re supposed to stick them in girls’ pussies.”

“They let you do that?” I wondered.

“My sister does, all the time,” Mike replied matter-of-factly.

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Motherfuckers on the Sidewalk

Today, I was walking along a somewhat narrow sidewalk in Century City. Now, this sidewalk wasn’t as bad as a lot of the ones in Hollywood, where you can barely squeeze two people across. There was easily enough space for four people to walk side-by-side comfortably. But here’s a little thing about sidewalk etiquette: when you’re in a group walking four-wide, and the sidewalk can only fit four people, your entire group consists of big fucking douchebags. This only changes if you, seeing somebody coming from the opposite direction (or being aware enough to know people are approaching you from behind), make room for the other pedestrians.

Having been in LA for several weeks and accustomed myself to the self-absorbed nature of this town, I’ve pretty much gotten used to this kind of thing. It’s not quite as annoying as people who very slowly merge into lefthand turn lanes and make me miss a green light, but it’s pretty irritating. Here’s how I’d handle it back in Chicago: as I approached the person nearest me, I’d slam into them with my shoulder, intentionally whacking them a little harder than necessary. I’m not sure this is a “Chicago thing,” per se. I’m just not a very nice person, and I believe very strongly in certain types of human decency.

But here’s how I’ve handled it here so far: I shy away and walk in the grass, or stand around like an idiot and wait for them to pass me, then resume my walk. This has happened to me almost every time I’ve been out walking (which hasn’t been often, thanks to this sprawling horror of a city), but why do I shy away from being as rude (ruder?) to them as they are to me? Because of the Columbia College mantra: “When you’re in LA, don’t piss anyone off, because they could be your boss someday.”

Back to today: I was walking, fresh cup of coffee in tow, to my car, when in the opposite direction came a four-wide group of yuppies eating ice cream and having an enjoyable conversation about, I assume, money and the virtues of capitalism. As I approached, the person on the end nearest me looked away from the conversation, looked right at me—directly into my eyes, even—then turned back to the conversation. He didn’t move or swerve to avoid me; no, I ended up in the grass, again, in order to avoid him and not spill my coffee.

I stood there for a moment, my “Hulk smash”-style rage boiling. I turned around and looked at their backs as they continued to walk in that “la-de-da, I’m so great” way, and I made a decision: fuck every single one of them. I’m sick of being a less-than-nothing toad. If, someday, I’m a candidate for a job and I happen to run into a guy that I smashed into and spilled both coffee and ice cream on, and he recalls the incident and refuses to hire me—fuck him, because I don’t want to work with people like that anyway.

More importantly, that led me to the decision that I’ll be who I am, because being that person is way better than being the monkey-boy to some fucking tan surfer dude. Will it lose me jobs? I don’t think so. You know why? Three cubicles away from me, the assistant to a lawyer sits there and screams at his boss all day long (his boss screams back). He is who he is, and he’s making a living, and they have a mutual respect for one another because the lawyer wants to be a ball-buster but the assistant will not allow his balls to be so thoroughly decimated.

So there you have it: I’ll bottom out in a year and return to Chicago.

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