Monthly Archives: July 2010

Who Your Name Is

So last night was the concert with Chuck Berry and, as rumored, Nelly. It was pretty great. It was in Kiener Plaza so the crowd was tiny, and there was no beer so everyone was freakishly well-behaved. Apparently, going to the show means I’m now a volunteer for the Democratic National Convention? I didn’t find that out until this morning. That’s cool.

They didn’t point out the DNC selection committee but I’m pretty sure I spotted some of them. There were these three couples who were so good-looking and perfectly polished that Justin remarked, “They’re clearly not from around here.” The girls’ shoes gave it away. The guys were all the same height, same build, and had their sleeves rolled up to the exact same length, like they mastered this look together in a class at Yale. I wanted to whisper to Justin, “They look like that cafeteria table full of vampires in Twilight,” but Justin is a pop culture vacuum and sometimes I get baited into explaining totally stupid things like they’re important.

Thanks to Joe, I know we were on the news. J’s in red, I’m in black:

I would show you the clip but I’m chomping my gum in it like a psychopath. Also, try to imagine all those older people around us singing “Hot in Herre”, because that happened.

I didn’t cry but there were a few parts where I really missed my dad:

1. “Maybelline”

2. Mike Shannon. He’s the voice of the Cardinals and therefore, he was my dad’s eyes when watching baseball. Unexpected.

3. Nelly’s latest song. It’s about a breakup, but the bridge goes, “If you ever loved somebody put your hands up/ And now they’re gone and you wish you could give them everything.” If he sang that line one more time, I would’ve burst into tears.

My favorite moments:

1. Mayor Slay loses Mike Shannon

2. Chuck’s daughter wailing on the harmonica like a boss

3. No set list – Chuck just kept saying, “You call ’em, we’ll play ’em.”

4. Chuck forgets part of a song and blasts random chords, grinning

5. So the world’s greatest rock and roll legend is playing onstage and half the audience becomes enthralled with bouncing around a beach ball

6. A teeny tiny adorable hunched-over old lady hobbled onstage to dance with Chuck Berry

7. Awesomely inappropriate sing-a-longs to “Ding-A-Ling” and “Country Grammar”.

8. “St. Louis, y’all. You may not like us but you will respect us.”

9. Running into RØB, Coolhand, Switchblade and Jason’s mom.

10. My FAVORITE BOOTYJAM OF ALL TIME, “Shake Ya Tailfeather”. YES. OH HELL YES.

If the Democratic National Convention comes to St. Louis, Justin and I decided to rent out our loft and parking spot for like $1,000 and crash at my mom’s.

Did you guys know it’s been 10 years since “Country Grammar” came out? And did you know that 50 years ago, my mom worked in a shoe factory next door to where I’ll be living downtown? And my new next-door neighbor makes the world’s best milkshakes at the Washington Avenue Post? Fun facts. I’m so sleepy today!

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Filed under Adventures, Almost Famous, Ew Politics Ew

With No Particular Place To Go

I’m going to see a free Chuck Berry show tonight, downtown. The last time I saw Chuck Berry was at Blueberry Hill in 2002 with Kevin and my boyfriend at the time.

That week, my dad was in the hospital – either for a vein replacement or a toe amputation; I can’t remember which. I handled those first few surgeries terribly, though considering how desensitized I am now, my reaction was probably normal. I worried. I cried. I felt helpless. Rather that being upset in quick, healthy spurts – a technique I’ve mastered – it was always on the forefront of my mind and weighing in my heart.

My dad loved Chuck Berry. He loved rock ‘n roll in general, especially the Rolling Stones. He even played guitar in a band in the 60’s – the Crestones. So of course he loved Chuck Berry. He was excited that I was going, and it made me sad that he couldn’t.

I had a VERY chunky flip phone that shot fuzzy videos back then. This was before it was normal to hold your phone up at a concert. So I spent much of the concert with my phone at my side and my finger on the record button. I was probably terrified of getting arrested. (I used to be a 24/7 nervous wreck.)

Edited to Add: Now that I really think about it, I didn’t have that phone yet. I don’t think phones shot video til 2004 or so. I remember now that I called myself – either with my ex’s phone or my own – and left a bunch of 3-minute voicemails of Chuck singing and playing. The fuzzy Chuck Berry image I’m remembering is a picture I took that night with a cheap Walgreens free-film-for-life camera. However, I did still think I was going to get in serious trouble.

The next day I took my phone to the hospital, and he held it up to his ear and listened to all my recordings, beaming.

I would do that for him again, if he was still here now. With a better phone. Maybe even a camera. In fact, I would’ve called him so he could listen to the whole show with me. The fact that I can’t makes me so incredibly sad. And it makes me realize that things like this are going to hurt me for a very long time. In a lot of ways, the pain isn’t going away – it’s only starting to appear.

To cope, though, I keep reminding myself that Chuck Berry is doing this to help bring the Democratic Convention to St. Louis in 2012, literally a few blocks away from the loft. I’m probably Liberal (I avoid politics too much to be sure) but my dad was a raging Republican. I’m not sure if his love of Chuck Berry would conquer his love of Rush Limbaugh.

So if I feel like crying tonight (which I probably won’t – it’s Chuck Berry for pete’s sake), I’ll remember that my dad would be so angry and ashamed of me if he heard that I cried in front of a bunch of those damn awful Democrats.

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The Year Without – Update #9

I know my goal was to not pig out this month, but truthfully… I knew that whenever this happened, whatever goal I had would fly out the window. But while I pigged out during his last painful weeks and pigged out on Erin’s mac and cheese, there were also at least 3 or 4 days where I didn’t eat at all. So maybe it balances out? Today might be one of those days, actually. Out of nowhere, I really, really miss him today. I think I’ve been handling this abnormally well, but today is one of those days where the grief feels normal. And normal grief? Is awful.

Not sure what next month’s goal will be. I’ve been drinking my feelings a little bit (especially since I learned Scandalous Rachel is back at her parents’, too. We’ve literally been partying like it’s 1999). So I might do no booze again. Or working out every day, again. Or maybe no TV. Or maybe nothing, because I’ll also have to deal with his birthday and his funeral and spreading his ashes and a certain family member who likes to yell at my mom, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up any resolution with all that going on. Maybe I should just go the Frank and Erik route and STAY POSITIVE.

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The Year Without – Update #9

I know my goal was to not pig out this month, but truthfully… I knew that whenever this happened, whatever goal I had would fly out the window. But while I pigged out during his last painful weeks and pigged out on Erin’s mac and cheese, there were also at least 3 or 4 days where I didn’t eat at all. So maybe it balances out? Today might be one of those days, actually. Out of nowhere, I really, really miss him today. I think I’ve been handling this abnormally well, but today is one of those days where the grief feels normal. And normal grief? Is awful.

Not sure what next month’s goal will be. I’ve been drinking my feelings a little bit (especially since I learned Scandalous Rachel is back at her parents’, too. We’ve literally been partying like it’s 1999). So I might do no booze again. Or working out every day, again. Or maybe no TV. Or maybe nothing, because I’ll also have to deal with his birthday and his funeral and spreading his ashes and a certain family member who likes to yell at my mom, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up any resolution with all that going on. Maybe I should just go the Frank and Erik route and STAY POSITIVE.

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Smartjohn

Erin’s comment the other day (and this recently-discovered AMAZING 1996 article about Mira Sorvino) reminded me of something hilarious that happened in London. One of my friends in the dorms was this guy that we called SmartJohn because he had the most intimidating vocabulary. (One time during a good-natured argument, Macie said, “Shut up John! Gimme that dictionary; I’m gonna look up some big words to yell at you.”)

SmartJohn also had a backpack full of gadgets before it was cool to have gadgets. He was the first person I knew with a GPS (and this was before the iPod even, so we were like WHAT). He had a palm pilot with a teeny tiny keyboard that you folded into thirds. During Big Friday, I heard him mumble something about getting a close-up just before he whipped this 2-foot camera lens out of thin air like David Blaine.

One night we were eating a late dinner, and we were all excited to have food from Festus.* John had this grilled chicken sandwich and fries. Sometimes dudes just look pumped to eat their food, you know? John was literally licking his lips. He even hyped himself up for a good minute before he decided to dig in.

As he chewed, his face instantly fell. He looked up, horrified. But rather than, “This is gross,” or “This tastes like shit,” he yelled out with an angry ptew:

“ITS APPEARANCE IS ENTIRELY DECEIVING!”

And I laughed. So hard. I chortled vigorously.

*Longest footnote ever: Festus was my main man. He had a special grill in the corner of the cafeteria, and people would line up for miles and wait forever to eat his burgers and pizzas.

The first night at the dorms, I noticed that he kept asking his boss for a quick break to grab water, and the boss was blatantly ignoring him. So I ran outside, bought him a bottled water, and secretly gave it to him when it was my turn.

For the rest of the semester, any time he spotted me at the end of the line, he would yell out in his musical, possibly-Haitian voice, “Ste-Pha-Nie! What will you have?” I’d yell out my order (almost always a pizza), and by the time I got to the front of the line, it would be ready.

After the Tooth Incident where I couldn’t eat solid food for a week, I insisted on making my first meal a Festus pizza. This segues perfectly into a story about this girl we called “Donkey Butt”, but I’ll save that for another day. God, I miss London.

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Back to Cleaning The Basem-AAAGGGHHH

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Crossing Paths

My neighbor Rachel has this black cat named Mina who used to hang out with me on my back porch all of the time. She’s an outdoor cat and is the type of feline who acts as happy to see you as a dog. Any time I was outside reading or smoking, she would jump in my lap, kiss my nose and demand a head scratch.

She always seemed to know when I was sad, too. If I was crying about Brian or stressed about school, she would appear out of nowhere with a snuggle, mewing as if to say, “It’s okay. I’m here now.”

She even stopped by on the last night I lived in this house, a little over five years ago. I’ve only seen her once since then. We have coyotes and even a hawk in our neighborhood, and I used to hear animal fights in the distance every night. So I assumed that she wouldn’t last too long out in those woods.

However, last Friday I had called Jen to tell her about my dad’s worsening condition. We had put him on hopsice almost two weeks prior, but because that circle of friends was preparing for a wedding, I didn’t tell anyone. But a week after the wedding, I felt like it was time to let her know.

I could barely say the h-word without choking up, and as she comforted me while I tearfully explained the situation, I heard a rustling in the flowers next to the porch.

Then, for the first time in five years, “Mew.”

And before I could look up to confirm it, Mina was in my lap, rubbing her cheek against my cheek, and pushing the phone away from my ear with her paw the way she used to, demanding all of my attention. “It’s okay now. You don’t need anyone else. I’ll take it from here.”

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