Saturday, June 30, 2007

The family (minus Julie), at an Elks Club Lodge somewhere in Wisconsin, for a wedding. I have over 40 cousins and I can't make it to all the weddings, so I pretty much stopped going to all of them. But Sherry and Allie were going to drive up from Chicago together (Mom and Dad flew straight there) and I thought it would be fun to go with them.

An hour into the drive, though, behind the wheel, still stuck in Chicago traffic, with everyone listening to their separate ipods, I wasn't so sure. I sort of felt like a sitcom dad on a family trip. One that doesn't understand why everyone isn't overflowing with good old-fashioned family togetherness. One that gets cranky himself, as his ass goes numb and his back gets sore, and no one understands his 1950's Dad burdens.

Luckily, earbuds eventually came out of ears and we talked, going over the usual old stories. Laughing about old family trips and old family fights. Talking about changes and "isn't it weird that"s. "Isn't it weird that Holden is dead." "Isn't it weird that we'll probably never go into Grandma Anne's farm house again." "Isn't it weird that we're older."

It was nice. Totally worth waiting in traffic for.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Over lunch, Allard talks about a bris he attended the night before. This leads to a nuanced discussion of the pros and cons of circumcision, using Nate's sleeve as a visual aid.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Feeling a little burnt out lately, so it's nice that I have some opportunities to get away coming up.

This weekend I'm driving up to Wisconsin with Sherry and Allie for a wedding. It'll be nice to nice to spend some time with my two youngest sisters. Then, for the 4th, Julie is coming out to Chicago with her husband and two sons.

After that, I'm heading off for my annual cabin weekend with some friends. Here's an anticipatory e-mail exchange.

Nick: So, dudes, pretty exciting about the new pontoon boat, eh? I am going to try and learn the ropes this weekend, but it is imperative we don't maroon it in the shallows. I will be the first one to use it on my own, so please don't make me regret it.
Me: "[hand slowly reaches for steering wheel]"
Hansen: "[places ballsac gingerly on handrails]"
Trupe: "[softly weeps over Meador's bloated, seaweed-strewn corpse]"
Me: "[makes a nonsensical but somehow convincing argument for not notifying the police]"
Meador: "[releases methane as Hansen pokes at swollen abdomen]"

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Watched Sarah perform in Mortified. It's a hilarious show where people read embarrassing entries from their real teenage diaries.

Sarah: [reading] "I'm writing in different colors because I'm in love!"

You can just barely see Sarah there on-stage in this picture. I sat at the bar, the closest seat I could get in the packed-to-the-gills Green Mill.

It's been a big week for Sarah. ComedySportz hired her. She'll begin performing in those shows after five weeks of Monday through Thursday rehearsals.

Sarah: I'm not going to see you much in July.
Me: Well, we'll have fun in August then.

And her Mortified set killed. A highlight in an overall very funny show.

Afterwards she came back to find me at the bar. We looked at the blurry pictures I'd taken.

Me: In this one, if you zoom in, it kind of looks like you're looking right at me.
Sarah: I saw you. You were standing over there, right?
Me: No, I was sitting right here.
Sarah: Oh. I was looking at the wrong person, then.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Poland took this picture of me from his basement in Michigan.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The snowball effect of looking at something gross on-line.

Someone says, "Oh gross." Then someone else comes over and says, "What?" The next person asks, "What are you guys look at?" Soon, everyone else notices a crowd is gathering.

In this case it's pictures of a guy who lost hundreds of pounds, leaving him with literally sheets of extra skin hanging off his body.

Woody: He's like a human flying squirrel.
Nate: His whole body looks like balls.
Me: How could he exercise with all that flapping skin?
Poland: He pulls it back into a ponytail.
Steve-o: He'd be amazing at an apple orchard [starts miming picking apples and and putting them into a hip satchel made of his own skin].

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sarah got out her headshots for a special by-invite-only audition for ComedySportz tonight.

Her headshot looks nothing like her.

A couple times a year I remind myself that I should get headshots. I go back and forth between thinking that would be ridiculous and thinking it's ridiculous that I don't already have them. My current excuse for not getting them is that I would like to lose more(/some) weight.

Maybe I should just use Sarah's headshots.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

This blog is a little over a month from being done. I'm looking forward to using the blog vacation time I've accrued.

Blog Project End Date: August 6.

Friday, June 22, 2007

For some reason there's a life-size cardboard stand-up of the Rock in the office. It's been here as long as I've worked here. No one knows who it belongs to.

Today, a long series of events led to us removing the head so we could put our own heads on the Rock's body. Actually, Lacy (in the office doing some recording for a potential project) was the one that did the dirty work of cutting the head off.

Here's Poland as the Rock.

Chris was the only person in the office who seemed truly upset by the Rock's decapitation.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Went to Waveland Park to watch Jellyvision's softball game against the Runs. To meet the league gender requirements, Jellyvision had to enlist several women, like Thea, that don't work in the office to play on the team. Apparently, it's a struggle every week to make sure there will be enough women at the game.

Thea: [via her blog] I play catcher. I like to think it's because I'm the epitome of team spirit, the mascot, not just because I'm the least-skilled player on the field...I mean, I know I'm the least-skilled player on the field, but I've got so much heart I had to buy a new bra to accommodate the extra lump on my chest. I stand at my post behind the plate, and try to lighten the mood with my random non sequiturs. Most teams enjoy it, or at least silently question why there's a silly loony bin candidate standing behind them talking to herself.

I watched the game sitting next to Allard's nine year old son, who said, "Don't be surprised if they get slaughtered. It tends to happen."

The game started off well, with Jellyvision taking an early lead. Things quickly took a turn for the worse, though. Final score: Jellyvision (6) The Runs (24).

Afterward, the umpire came up to the Jellyvision team and told them they're "the most fun team in the league," and that he'd love to play with them sometime down the road.

Steve-o: Do you know any women?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Last night I took Tom to the Lakeshore Theater to see stand-up by Janeane Garofalo and Patton Oswalt. It was a belated birthday present (although not as belated as last year, only about two weeks late instead of three months... I am a slightly less bad friend than a year ago).

Tom came to the show straight from his last "baby class" with Steph. Their baby is due in August.

Tom: The classes were kind of a waste. There's nothing we hadn't already learned from doing research on-line. Basically, we just watched a bunch of disgusting birth videos that were obviously shot in the 80s.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


And yes, I do take too many pictures of myself in the bathroom at work.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Amanda Lee's brother is moving to Baltimore, so she brought a box of Chinese soup spoons he was getting rid of into the office.

Amanda Lee: Take as many as you want. I already have 60.

Also, Evan brought in a cake shaped like a hamburger.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day.

Dad once said to me, "The secret is to find something you like and that you're good at, and then turn that into your career."

He told me this at Disney-MGM Studios while we sat in the audience for the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hansen: I had my first real-life spit take this week. I was drinking from a bottle of water while one of our wealthier senior partners was talking about this new jet he bought. Someone asked, "How much are jets going for these days?" He said, " 11.3." He said it so casually that I just spit water right out of my mouth. I couldn't stop myself. A week earlier the same guy was talking about a vacation he took to Cabo with his family and when someone asked how much he spent, he said, "37."

Friday, June 15, 2007

Jack Attack stories.

Each You Don't Know Jack game ends with a Jack Attack question, which is basically, words and phrases floating across a screen, and when two of them match (according to a clue), you hit a button. It is possibly the most fun question time, but also sometimes the hardest to write.

1. Sarah was playing this week's Jack Attack, which involves matching up people with their secret identity (Clark Kent is Superman, etc), when it came out that she had never heard of Deep Throat.

Me: Really? Deep Throat? The Watergate informant? You didn't know that?
Sarah: 5 out of 10 people wouldn't know that.
Me: Call someone. Anyone.

So Sarah sent out ten text messages asking people if they'd heard of Deep Throat. And when she was done, I realized she was upset.

Sarah: You didn't need to make me feel stupid.
Me: You're not stupid. It just surprised me. There are lots of things I don't know that I probably should. Everyone has weird gaps in their knowledge.
Sarah: It feels like you're trying to make me feel stupid.

I apologized and re-apologized. Every time she started to feel better, her phone would beep letting her know that she had another text message from someone who had heard of Deep Throat.

2. If I can't come up with a seventh (and final) pairing for a Jack Attack, I ask people around the office for suggestions. On the rare occasion that that doesn't work, I e-mail a couple friends and see if they have any ideas.

Me: Quick, I need non-superheroes that have secret identities. Like Deep Throat. Go!

These are the answers I get.

Hansen: Okay... legal cases where the plaintiff was seeking relief on a mechanic's lien and the defendant improperly filed the lien with the County Recorder's Office. Go!
Trupe: Interactive activities where the learner practices how to make scrambled, folded, and round fast food eggs. Go!
Nick: Well-written plays with a 3 to 1 female to male ratio and a cast size that is expandable to 30. Go!
Young: Guys, quit busting Arnie's balls and make an Access database that can compare the telephones numbers from one spreadsheet to another that lists them according to the switches providing service. Then worry about the callback you aren't getting for the audition you killed on yesterday.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The air conditioning went out at work. Or partially went out. It was working on one side of the office, but not the other.

This led to everyone walking around the office guesstimating exactly how warm or cool it was in each area. "It's like, 73 here, but it's got to be 85 over here." This went on for some time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Amanda needed a phone number from me, and after giving it to her I jokingly added, "You should call my mother, too."

Amanda replied, "Give me her number and I will."

I did and she did. What I thought would be a quick and funny phone call turned into a very long conversation. Amanda asked questions like, "How do you feel about having a son in the arts," and, "Don't you think it's time he settled down and got married?"

I never heard Mom's half of the conversation, but, at one point, while nodding, listening to my mom answer, Amanda looked at me and mouthed, "She really loves you."

Later in the day I got an email from Mom. "Hope I didn't embarrass you too much by anything I might have said to Amanda. It's awful nice to hear how talented you are from your boss. I smiled all the way home from Toledo."

In the postscript she wrote, "Being famous isn't the most important thing. . . being happy is much more important. . . I don't know if Amanda would agree. We are very proud of you and happy that you really like your job."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sherry officially lives in Chicago now. Sarah and I had dinner with her on Saturday and then she came and watched Whirled News Tonight. It was a great time.

I'd be lying if I said I completely understand Sherry's job. She lives in Chicago but works in Texas during the week. I told Sherry that Young has a theory that she's a spy. Sherry laughed, but neither confirmed nor denied it.

After some pestering by me, she agreed to be on the blog.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Allard had this delivered to work today.

Gabe: Someone having a midlife crisis?
Allard: It's my giant old-man skateboard.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The second episode of my podcast, Premisey, is up. You can find it (and subscribe to it) on iTunes. Or you can just listen to it by clicking on the link to the right. Subscribing is better, though.

People who have appeared on this blog that you can hear the voices of on the podcast: me, Sarah, Young, Nick, Meador, Hansen, Alex, Megan, Lacy and Joe.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Last night, before our Diplomat Motel show, Meador told us that today he's giving a speech at the graduation ceremony at the school where he teaches.

Meador: I'm a little underprepared, so I'm nervous.
Me: Are you opening with a joke?
Meador: I've got a couple ideas. I'm sure it'll be hot in the auditorium so I might start with, "I came in here earlier this morning and it was pretty cold, so I went and cranked up the boiler. You're welcome."

As I've mentioned before, this is Meador's last year teaching. He's been accepted to nursing school.

Me: How many years have you taught?
Meador: Four years.
Me: So the length of a high school education.
Meador: Yep. I'm graduating too.
Me: Do you think you'll get choked up?
Meador: I cry at all rites of passage.

Friday, June 08, 2007

1. Sarah got free tickets to Wednesday's White Sox versus Yankees game from someone at work, so I went with her and her roommate, Tim. They were good seats, 13th row. A higher-up from Sarah's job was sitting a few rows behind us.

Sarah: He couldn't believe I had better seats than him. He asked me how I got them. I told him I got them from Brad. He was like, "I'm going to have to talk to Brad." There goes my free seats connection.

2. On Thursday, Jellyvision's softball team finally played against the undefeated Cleats First.

Me: How was the game?
Henry: It was the best loss I've ever been a part of. The best 11 to 2 loss.
Allard: Those women were very intimidating.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I took a picture of Woody cracking Amanda's back and wrote a little post about it. I also wrote about a funny conversation Amanda and I had later in the day. As usual, I ran it by Amanda to make sure it was okay to put on-line.

Amanda: I'm sorry. I have to veto it. We're doing a lot of outbound sales now and potential clients are going to be googling the company and me. I have to seem like a role-model for a while. Or at least try to hide the fact that I'm not. Sorry. [beat] Maybe you could blog about this. What I just said. About me trying to hide the fact that I'm not a role-model. That's pretty interesting.

Here's part of what I originally wrote.

Amanda: When are you going to be famous? You're going to be famous someday, right?
Me: I don't know that I will. I sort of think I won't.
Amanda: That's too bad.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Apparently, everyone I know is in Europe this summer.

This postcard from Mary (from Amsterdam) came in to the Jellyvision office this week.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Job # 10: Temp

I remember moving to Chicago straight out of grad school and thinking things were going to be much easier than they were. I thought I'd get a job easily, not one that I loved or what I'd be doing forever, but something good and high paying, immediately. Instead, I spent months temping a little, but mostly sitting in the tiny apartment I shared with N at the time, depressed, waiting for the temp agencies to call me.

It was at this time that I got seriously addicted to playing "The Sims." It's a "life simulation" computer game. You have little people, and you build them houses, and you make sure they feed themselves and sleep and make friends and go to work. I'd get up in the morning, get on my computer, and usher my simulated people through their daily lives, until they had lots of nice things, friends and promising careers. I'm sure you can fill in the other half: I had no money, few friends and no job.

Monday, June 04, 2007

During this morning's weekly company meeting Amanda said, "I'd like to take a moment to recognize all the hard work Jarecki has been doing lately. If we had promotions here, Jarecki would get one."

Sunday, June 03, 2007

When I put the job titles after the names of most of the people I write about on this blog, I could easily include "/Improviser." Many of them are something-slash-improvisers, even though the majority of them, myself included make little to no money improvising. And most of them get a little crestfallen when I ask them for their official job description. They often have day jobs they are neither excited about nor proud of.

Months back when I e-mailed my friend, Carrie, asking her for her job title, she responded, "as an exercise in self-fulfilling prophesy, i tell people that i'm an actor/writer rather than my official day job title of executive assistant. the very first time i did that, it turned out that i was talking with a producer for a small production company in Chicago. the next week, she called me with an an audition. ever since then, when people ask what i do for a living, i do not hesitate to tell them that i am an actor/writer. we are what we say we are."

I labeled her as an "Executive Assistant" on the blog. That's the whole bit, the joke, of this Year of Working blog.

I've had jobs that I hated and jobs that I was embarrassed about. I've had so many labels that would make me sad when I glanced down to read them printed out over my heart. In college I could say, "I'm going back to school soon," then after college I could say, "I'm just out of college, still figuring things out." But eventually I was too old to say those things. And I never felt comfortable calling myself an improviser or writer, even though I spent so much time doing those things.

Sometimes, "This job isn't who I am," isn't enough. Sometimes you want to say, "This job isn't even really my job."

I never feel far away from that and I worry that I could easily end up back there.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Allie's volleyball team has been touring Europe, playing games, and my parents spent the last week following them through Munich, Salzburg and Prague.

Mom: [via e-mail] gunten tag! BOTH OF OUR FLIGHTS WERE ON TIME AND DID NOT HAVE ANY DELAYS: SOME OF THE KEYS ARE DIFFERENT ON THEIR KEYBOARD AND IN DIFFERENT PLACES! neither of us slePT much and are pretty tired right now. we got here about 10 am their time. we are waiting for the team to get back from practice and then we are heading to SALSBURG: I AM NOT SURE WHICH KEY IS CHANGING TO CAPS BUT I HAVE DEFINITELY BEEN HITTING IT! THE Z IS WHERE THE Y SHOULD BE TOO: I AM TOO TIRED TO FIGURE OUT WHY I AM GETTING : INSTEAD OF PERIODS:

Friday, June 01, 2007

Talked to Tyler (Legal Assistant) a bit at a party. He works in a law office.

Tyler: It's one of those things where if they didn't like me so much I probably wouldn't be working there. Because I'm not very good at my job. But I make people laugh.

Tyler's boss doesn't know how to use the internet so he has Tyler order boxes of wine for him on-line a couple times a week. From each box, he gives a bottle to Tyler.

Tyler: We're talking... 300... 400 dollar bottles of wine. Over the last three years he's given me a lot of expensive wine. But he doesn't know that I'm drinking it straight out of the bottle while playing 'Halo.'

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