Thursday, May 29, 2008

Brief Recap, in Quote Form

Anne, at the Hermitage: That's the thing about splendor. It just requires so much UPKEEP.

Me: Who are all the screaming drunks in green hats?
Tamara: The police.

Anne: I want to take your picture!
Hana: Oh, excellent, because this is the first time I've matched my eye makeup to my handbag, and I want it captured.

Later, Anne stages a photoshoot with Hana and I in the men's bathroom in a bar called Fidel. Fidel is next door to the bar called Datcha, which is celebrating its fourth anniversary. We stand outside drinking beers we don't ever remember ordering or paying for -- they just appeared.

We talk to Welsh, Finnish, British, American, Russian people who are all living interesting lives -- journalists, musicians, translators -- Jennifer seems to know everyone.

Fans -- there are fans who come and speak to her in the street -- and they all know she is leaving soon. They press email addresses on slips of paper into her palms.

Drunk, in the gypsy cab (preferred method of transportation in St. Petersburgh), Jennifer laments: How will people in Syracuse know how important I am?

We think they'll know. Darlings, the woman has a famousness about her.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Quotes from the last few days

Me: So, what day is it?
Anne: Sunday.
Me: So tomorrow's Saturday, right?
Anne: Um. . . no.


Joanna: You americans do cookies and brownies well, but biscuits terribly.
Me: What defines a biscuit, exactly?
Joanna: Well, it's made of biscuit!


Misha: Our cat is the father of 8!


Anne, in the Vienna airport, after examining the perplexing rock vending machine (one euro per rock!): I bet you wish you were blogging right now.


I blame her for talking me out of bringing my laptop.

But we are in Russia! I can see onion domes out the window. I have already had my chilled vodka shot with a pickle chaser -- and there's another one being poured now. We are listening to a Russian girl folk rock band.

celebratory shots
Jennifer will be playing her last Ska Jazz Review show on Friday -- she is moving to Syracuse for grad school -- and it should be a blowout. And we will be there.

Life is amazing and rich. Dosvedanya, Bitches.

View from the window

Friday, May 23, 2008

This moment may be the best one

I'm going on vacation -- I'm leaving tomorrow -- London, St. Petersburg, Geneva, Amsterdam -- and right this second I'm beyond happy because I am no longer on call -- I don't have to think about work for 2 and a half weeks. Oh, bliss.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Communist Red

So, I have this kind of adorable, bleach-blonde, kewpie doll quirkfest of a hairdresser named Ally. Perpetually sweet, tattooed, clad in DIY punk ("this t-shirt is an homage to Andy Warhol. I drew the scars myself. I have one at home where I made eyelets out of cigarette burns."), she is charming and probably dangerous for me.

Today she was not herself -- turns out she broke up with her boyfriend, of whom she has tattoos -- serious stuff.

So, I guess I was feeling like I wanted to please her -- cheer her a bit -- and, well, cheer me, and I guess, be punk rock for my post-soviet adventure -- but when she said, "You're going to Russia? We've got to give you Communist Red Highlights!" I agreed.

Hoooo boy, I'm punk rock.

Communist Red

Saturday, May 17, 2008

While trip planning

Me: i'm excited
I haven't been to london since 95

Anne: aw
yeah, I hardly know it at all

me: i hardly remembs
that's um
13 (choke) years ago?
am I making that up???
to be twenty

Anne: your math is horrible. it's only been a few years
like 4 maybe

me: like two

Anne: I was talking today about 18 year olds... being born in 1990. omg. And I'm OK with the fact that they are 18 and I'm not, but being born in 1990???? NOT OK


Anne: at all
I was pubescent it 1990
and you were born???
I could be your mother
and you're 18!!!

me: I babysat you
you were a baby
and now you're in college

Anne: fuck

me: drunk

Friday, May 09, 2008

That Story

Okay, so this is a contender for that story. I don't think anyone has actually told that story yet, but somehow I feel like the whole thing has escalated to point where no tall tale will ever, in our minds, fit the bill. So just a suggestion, not a proud, flourishing entry.

Exhibit A: Johnny (AKA, Jonathan, Johnny T., JT Santos)

Johnny T is one of those friends who is not just your friend, but a fixture in your life. JT and I go back, oh, nigh upon eleven years or so. A good third of our lives have been spent as cohorts. A good number of bartenders in the city of Chicago still give me free drinks when I walk in because I'm Johnny's sister. (Or at least that is what we spent many years claiming.)

Johnny is a Character. He and I mesh at a cosmic level -- in the places where we are broken, the places where we are both utterly normal and absolutely outcast.

JT will perhaps not be pleased to see the following in print, but he won't deny it: boy is a ladies' man, gains pleasure from stoking the fires of sexual desire, has always been one to compulsively ensure that everyone in the room wants to sleep with him. This is also where we mesh well: I have no desire to sleep with him. Our friendship has benefited from this, much like how my relationship with my dad benefitted from financial independence -- we have to find other common ground and build our relationship from there.

There's plenty of ground. Fandom of various bands, sick sense of humor, and, in our early late twenties, we had similar self-destructive interests.

Right. But which story is this?

We've got plenty of "that time we" stories -- we enjoy telling them to each other over beers, boring our friends and family while we indulge one another. This one I like because it involves The Media.

Or rather, Paper! The printed kind. Old school. (My "story" stories seem to have this in common.) The Chicago Reader. Johnny was a roamer, a train-taker, a walker; one of those guys on the train at noon in tight jeans, a tattered blazer with a popped collar, a satchel with a notebook and a book of Raymond Carver stories, and giant headphones clamped to his head. He regularly consumed the Reader in coffee shops.

The first part he always read, before the 5,000 word articles on local politics or the indepth guide to local shows, before Savage Love or the ironic indy cartoons -- he always read Missed Connections first.

Because he was pretty sure that, inevitably, one of these days, all this roaming and looking deep in the presence of all these hipster slips of girls with their thrift store dresses and funky haircuts would pay off. He just knew, at some point, he would find himself in there.

He would mentally catalog, in fact, the moments: That girl in the green cardigan and the headband on the Blue Line may have caught his eye as she looked up from her copy of Atlas Shrugged. Was that girl in the ironic tshirt and painted on jeans at the bar tipping her glass to him?

Enter Antagonism

So, right, closest friends do share these things -- confide in the quiet drunk hours of a late late night. As he did me, explain this compulsion and faith that He Would Be Noticed.

I suppose, in retrospect, we were Jock Friends at this time, because my plan was pretty much hatched immediately.

It was 2002, I think, and the Indiana University Hoosier basketball team was In The Playoffs -- which is, pretty much, the only time we would have cared -- but we wanted to take in a game among shouting fans in a beer-soaked sports bar. Cheering! Fandom!

We picked a bar that would be jock-ish, but not so crowded that we would have to stake out a table early in the day in order to sit. We just weren't that dedicated.

Jonathan immediately began to flirt with the waitress, a curly-headed blonde with a no-bullshit attitude who pretty much blew him off completely, aside from the obligatory delivery of the tall boy and mini pizza.

Indiana lost. We went home drunk.

Which is kinda neither here nor there, just a setup for what happened next.

Because it was almost

April Fool's Day

So, March madness leads to the day I realized you can place a Missed Connections ad for free. On the Internets. (Before it was even called the Internets -- oh, the olden days.)

And so I filled out the form:

You were at Sluggers for the Indiana game. I served you an Old Style and a pizza with sausage and onions. Was that girl your girlfriend? Maybe you'd like to share a pizza with me sometime.

And promptly forgot all about it.

Two weeks later, the ad runs in the paper.

Have I mentioned I forgot all about it?

Until I get a phone call.

"Rebecca! I'm in the missed connections!"

I thought about telling him. At that very moment -- I even felt bad, until he said, "I always knew this would happen."

Eh, maybe we'll see where this goes.

There was a party that week. I don't remember what we were celebrating, but I had a lot of parties in that apartment. I suppose that's a reminiscence for another day.

I was in the kitchen, probably administering an alcoholic beverage, when Sarah ran in to tell me -- "Johnny was in the missed connections! Did you hear this?"

Maybe, too, I was a bad friend when I said, "Actually. . . "

By the end of the evening, Johnny was the only one who missed that particular connection.

This went on.

For a couple of weeks. The ad ran in the paper again, and Jonathan ruminated on it. He savored his moment and imagined every possible outcome. He talked idly about it often.

I started to get concerned -- why had I been so specific? I mean, a random girl on the train can stay a random girl on the train. A waitress will still be serving beers in the same place this week and next week. That's her job. She can't escape into the anonymity of the crowd.

There was a massive heat wave that April. Suddenly, inexplicably, we had 90 degree weather. I had no air conditioning, unfortunately.

One sticky, hungover Saturday afternoon, we pulled out the futon and were lying side-by-side, not touching, rather lying there maximizing sweaty surface area and trying to cool off.

I was nodding off when Johnny said, "The thing is, she said, 'let's share a pizza sometime.' I'm just not sure I'd like to date a girl who would say 'let's share a pizza sometime.'"

Well, this was that moment.

I said, "Well, have you thought that maybe. . . it wasn't well. . . what if it wasn't real?"


There was a moment where he stared at the ceiling and then he turned to me.

I gave that half-apologetic smile.


Johnny is my brother for a reason.

The reason is this:

He laughed. He cackled and hollered and he said, "I can't believe it. You got me. You pulled the perfect hoax. I can't believe you told me. I would have definitely worked this for longer."

I just couldn't let him go back and confront the poor curly haired blonde.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Hey Everybody! (In which I write about non-battlestar-galatcia-related topics)

So, right.

That thing I do for money has been wresting control of that thing I call my life lately, so less write-y and more anxiet-y.

But ladies and gents, there is a light at the end of le tunnel! It's called "I'm going to leave the country on May 24."

Of course, then, I couldn't find my passport -- but, the US managed to turn one around for me in a mere week. Now, on to getting that vital other document -- my Russian Visa.

I'm finally


Going to Russia (assuming they issue my Visa, dear Gods of the consulate, please say yes).

In the meantime, shaking off the existential angst of those eternal questions of life: How will I live after I've loved and lost? What if no one comes to my party? What if I can't get my hair cut before I leave the country?

When will I ever write that dang story?

Speaking of that dang story -- I will address a little of the storied past of my career.

So, I stumbled into PR from a short-lived and low-paid gig in public radio (glamour, a bit, money, fame, big city life, not so much).

I answered an advertisement (in the paper, of all things. Remember that? Made of paper?) and it said something about stuffing envelopes (which really doesn't happen that much anymore, now that the digital has edged paper out of the picture).

I went in, and I interviewed first with my perky, blond, young colleague-to-be, who, while literally looking around herself from her perch in the conference room (lest someone overhear) leaned over to deliver a conspiratorial whisper about Judi, the boss: "She's kind of a yeller."

Not like old yeller, peeps -- like full on bellows, high pitched screams, ranging from strident insistence to hysterical anger. Mostly about irrational details.

Certainly don't need to go into said irrational details - but let me provide you two illustrative ones:


She hired me based upon the results of a writing test. Not the kind wherein you write something and your writing is judged.


A handwriting test.

Granted, I do have a lovely hand -- but the computer she paid to analyze my handwriting said I would be hard working, meek, and easily manipulated. No joke. She actually pointed that out to me at one point during my six-month tenure, saying that she was disappointed that I did not turn out as this handwriting test had indicated I would.

I would like to suggest that perhaps the fine art of graphology, based upon this experience, is the highest grade of straight-up, pure bullshit. Cuz, me = easily manipulated? Perhaps. Meek? Never.


When I finally resigned after six tortured months, after six (6) colleagues were hired and quit (several after a single day, two after a single week), she announced to me that she wanted to kill herself. I have to say, as a twenty-nothing with zero experience, I was good, but not THAT good.

At this moment, you may be screaming to me: POINT! DOES THIS STORY HAVE A POINT!

I guess the moral of the story is -- It. could. be. worse.