Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Finally got around to using my work insurance to get a physical.
Doctor: According to the Weight/Height chart, you are... [traces finger along line]... "obese."
Me: Obese? Huh.
The doctor then went on to explain how our bodies are elaborate chemistry sets and how office lifestyle is very contrary to what our bodies were designed for. Then again, I've been living the office lifestyle for years, even when I wasn't working in an office.
When I got back to work, I immediately announced, "I am officially obese." This led to laughter, debate and then everyone looking themselves up on an online ideal body weight chart.
Amanda: This is messed up. What color were you on the chart?
Me: Whatever color obese is. What color is obese?
Nate: It says I need to put on weight.
Michelle: I think this just goes to show there needs to be a weight name beyond obese.
Chris: Well, there's morbidly obese.
Me: I'm going to start referring to that as "mo' bese."
Later in the day Amanda called me into her office.
Amanda: Wrap your fingers around your wrist. Do they...
Me: They overlap.
Amanda: Oh no, so you're not even...
Me: I'm not even big boned. I can't even say that.
Amanda: Arnie, I'm trying. I'm trying to find a way that you're not obese.
Me: I just am.
Amanda: It's crazy.
Monday, July 30, 2007
I was recently interviewed for a Chicago suburbs magazine called 'Beep.' The reporter did a web search for "long distance Chicago" and my blog(s) came up. It's an article about long distance relationships with a few blurbs thrown in from me.
Sarah: You are now the official spokesperson for our relationship.
I'm usually a little wary of being interviewed, since being horribly misquoted is the standard from my experience. But this one turned out okay.
The article touches on both of my long distance relationships, the one that worked out and the one that didn't. The one that didn't (in the long run, anyway) was with N.
A few weeks back, I sent N my yearly, "just checking in, no need to write back if you're not ready to write back" e-mail. I was curious to hear how's she's doing and whether she was able to graduate despite her mounting medical bills. I was hoping to hear that she's accepted a teaching position somewhere.
I haven't heard back from her.
The 'Beep' article refers to me as having been "devastated" at one point and "finding love again" at another. Both of those things are true, certainly, no question, but a little melodramatically worded for my taste. But that speaks more to my own stoicism, I guess, than to any journalistic inaccuracy.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Last night was the semifinals of the Cagematch of the Fallen Teams at iO. James Jackson played against Maude. It was close. Going purely by audience vote, Maude actually beat us by one vote. There are two judges, though, each with 15 points to give away, and they both voted for us.
So, James Jackson goes on to the final round next Saturday at midnight against Sandbox Democracy, a team that started at the theater during the same schedule as us, oh so many years ago.
Here's a candid photo I took of one of the judges, at the bar after the show.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
I walk by the dry cleaners every night when I come home, and sometimes Kevin's cage is in the front window. I usually stop and say, "Hi Kevin," and look at him for a bit.
I've started thinking about the fact that he wasn't abandoned as I'd first assumed, but that he'd tried to escape and was brought back. And I know, logically, that he's a domesticated bird and can't survive out on his own, but I remember a time when I worked at a dry cleaners, and how happy I was to eventually get out.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Bits and pieces.
1. Trupe: [looking at menu] Do you think it’s okay if I order something that’s $12?
Wonak: You don’t have to check with me for every little thing.
Trupe: You’re the CFO of this marriage.
Wonak: A $2 difference isn’t going to ruin us.
Trupe: [laughing] I’m trying to save this company!
2. Earlier this summer, NIck was trying to get Meador to apply for a teaching position at his school.
Nick: The school is looking for a Biology teacher for next year - wanna give this teaching thing one last go? I'll be your Ham Radio Club co-head if you want.
Meador: It would be great to work with you, Nico, but I'm committed to nursing school right now.
Nick: Okay, needle time. We could coach baseball together! Oh, and your son, Trent, would be able to attend the school. And we would both buy large TVs and watch them during the summers!!!
3. I knew a guy named Shaun in Arizona. We're not really in touch anymore, but I read his blog sometimes, and I think he reads mine. Reading his blog reminds me of being trapped (in Arizona and in shitty jobs) and feeling like I would never get out. He's had some tough breaks, and, by his own admission, is a bit plagued by his own negativity.
He recently blogged about buying vanity license plates for his car. He bought plates that read, "FAILURE." He wrote on his blog, "I have a fear of failure, so one way of fighting fear is to embrace it."
Two weeks later his plates were stolen.
4. Young: My job title has changed three times since you started this blog. My latest one is Provisioner. I pretty much do exactly the same job as before.
His commercial still hasn't aired.
5. Mom: [via e-mail] A quick Ty story. . . close to Matt & Julie's house is the airport and there was a helicopter. Julie told Ty it was an Army helicopter. Ty thought that she said it was an Arnie helicopter so he named the other one a Ty helicopter.
6. I periodically get e-mails from ex-Jellyvisioner, Mary, saying, "I've decided to make a point of being better about staying in contact with my friends. We should have lunch." Each time I write back, "Let's do it," and then never hear back from her.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
From the limited view through the TV, Poland's basement office looks pretty spare. The only decoration visible is a gold record hanging on the wall over his shoulder.
During the late '80s early '90s Poland was in L.A. with his band, Lost Luggage. He describes their sound as, "Like the Smiths meets something even gayer than the Smiths." Apparently things never really took off for Lost Luggage, although they did get songs placed in several movies. 'Kingpin.' 'PCU.' 'Bikini Island.'
During that time he got to know the Gin Blossoms.
Poland: [via IM] I think we had the same publishing co. as the Blossoms, and we used to play gigs together. Then they got famous and we kept buying generic beer. I played drums for the Gin Blossoms for part of their tour when their drummer fell down and cut his hand open on a beer bottle. They gave the gold record to me 'cuz apparently I helped them sell 500,000 copies of "New Miserable Experience." Because people always notice the drums at a concert.
Me: Didn't they ask you to play with them again not so long ago?
Poland: Not really. I saw them about 6 months ago at a show in Battle Creek, and they said I should sit in. I didn't. But I drank their beer backstage.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Sarah's own blog, loosely patterned after my own, is also coming to an end soon. Originally titled, 'Chicago to Boston' it changed to 'Chicago to Boston to Chicago' when she moved back early.
Sarah: [looking at this picture of her first entry] Aw man. I was so nervous and excited then.
I think it's been tough on Sarah that the move to Boston didn't prove to be the great life-changing opportunity she'd expected. Still, she seems to have bounced back. ComedySportz is going well, and she's circling in on that new career she'd announced she'd figure out by the end of the summer. She'd prefer to keep the details of this potential career path private for now, though.
Sarah: I don't know how I'm going to end my blog.
Me: Don't worry about it. I don't know how mine is going to end either. Probably something boring.
Sarah: What if Amanda called you into her office and fired you?
Me: That would be hilarious. It would be terrible for me, but awesome for the blog.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
What has Otis been up to since being cut from the iO schedule? Mostly not much, to be honest.
The original plan was to still meet every Tuesday, but most of our Tuesday meetings end up getting canceled because not enough of us can make it. You know, the usual post-iO story.
Still, when we do meet, like we did tonight, it's fun, and we usually end up making some kind of video for the Otis website. Plus, Joe made a steady-cam out of PVC pipe. How many cut teams have done that?
Monday, July 23, 2007
Nate is back at work after a weekend at the Montreal Comedy Festival. Paul Provenza (Stand Up Comedian/Actor) recently saw Nate's two person sketch show and invited them to open for a show he was putting together for the festival.
Nate: We basically got back-doored into the festival.
The show they performed in also included the Kids in the Hall and Mr. Show.
Nate: I met the Kids in the Hall. I can pretty much die now.
Me: That's amazing. Did you do any...like... networking?
Nate: No. No. I don't know how to do that. I'm not good at that stuff.
Me: I'm not good at that stuff either.
Nate: There was this one other guy there, a new guy like us, and he was really good at it. All about that stuff. Right after his set he went up to every famous person in the room and asked, "Hey, what did you think?" And they were like, "Yeah, it was funny." By the next day he had put up quotes from all of them on his MySpace page. "So and so is funny. - Dave Foley."
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Mom sent me this track suit shirt from Dad's basketball camp. It's pretty awesome, although I'm not sure when I'd wear it.
I have more or less consistently been going to the gym. About twice a week, nothing crazy, just some basic cardio stuff. I'm still easing into it, even now, six months in. I stopped weighing myself, because numbers-wise, I haven't lost any weight, but I do seem to have lost at least a little width.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Tom and Steph's son, Sam (Newborn), was born last weekend.
Tom: [via e-mail] A week ago, Steph was trying cases in front of
judges downtown and I was writing advertising copy. Today Steph's
changing diapers and watching The Today Show, and I'm buying nursing
bras and asking if they have Vaseline is a squeeze tube rather than a
jar, because who has time to dip Vaseline out of a jar? Life changes
Today I went to see the new family in person. The lights were dimmed. Soft music was playing. Everyone smiled and watched the baby sleep.
Tom: This is what we do now.
Me: This might be the most relaxing space I've been in in months.
Maybe I caught them at a good moment, but Tom and Steph seemed very relaxed and in control.
Tom: When we first came home from the hospital, we had Sam in his carrier, and we set it down on the kitchen island. We stood there staring at him, and then we just both started bawling. Tears streaming down our faces. "What are we supposed to do now?" [laughing] The next three days we were just bawling on and off all the time. "My son! This is my SON!"
Friday, July 20, 2007
The place where Sarah's working during the day seems to be going through a little downsizing. This translates into some kind of free food item every Friday as someone else leaves. Pizza party. Cake in the kitchen. Giant cookie.
Sarah: [via IM] Oof, I ate too much 'fired cookie.'
Me: You should take a picture for my blog.
Sarah: Uh, no. That would be too creepy. I could take a picture of the cookie pizza.
Me: That's what I meant. Not of people being fired.
Sarah: I could get the President to put a person from AP in a choke hold and pose for a picture. Would that be ok?
Me: If you can make it look candid.
Here Sarah and her friend Ryan (Temp Administrative Assistant) eat the last bit of going away cookie. Both will still have jobs on Monday.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
With under three weeks left, this might be a good time to do a Yearly (in Pictures) Blog Performance Review. Close the door behind you and have a seat.
First off, I think we went into this year knowing that it wouldn't be as successful as the year before. A blog about working isn't as naturally compelling as a blog about getting over a break-up. No surprise there. We continue to stand by the decision to branch off into new territory. 'Another Year in Pictures Following the Break-Up' would have been a mistake.
Dealing with this year on it's own terms, the idea that work is it's own kind of relationship was, forgive the pun, workable. It got the job done. Some of the entries strained for a significance that just wasn't there, while others were a bit sentimental, but overall things zipped along, sticking mostly to the theme without getting too restricted by it.
The biggest flaw has maybe been the fact that the job itself, the job at Jellyvision, is a good one. Wouldn't this blog have been so much better if it was a shitty job? Occasionally complaining about having a great job just comes off as insincere or spoiled, especially when a lot of people are reading this in cramped cubicles, trying to distract themselves from jobs they hate, wondering if this is the day they get fired for spending too much time on the internet. Sure, even great jobs can be a grind at times (can "turn into McDonalds"), but don't expect the kind of sympathy for that you'd get for having an engagement fall apart.
Okay. Enough about that.
Overall, good work. We came in every day (even weekends) and punched the clock. We took pictures, we wrote words, we posted links. We kept things on track and on schedule. And (until today) we did a good job of not writing in first person plural.
I know this blog project is almost over, but hopefully we can work together again someday on something else. We'd like that very much.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
I asked Shane to send me a picture from his editing job out in the suburbs. That's him in the doorway at the end of the hallway.
Shane: [via e-mail] I wanted to convey the size of the building, although this doesn't even begin to make it clear.
This is all kind of irrelevant now, because as of today Shane is back at Jellyvision. He's been rehired to work on a new project here.
I asked him how his last day at the other company went.
Shane: It was bittersweet. One girl made me a cake. The fact that I couldn't eat it owing to the fact that I react badly to strawberries in no way diminished the beauty of the gesture. They were nice people, and they seemed genuinely sad to see me go. However, I didn't regret it.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
I took this picture a couple years back, before Grandma Anne moved into the nursing home.
I gave her a call today.
Me: I hear you have a boyfriend.
Grandma: Who told you that?
Me: Uh... I don't remember.
Grandma: Well, he comes by three times a day and likes to tell people that I'm his girlfriend.
Me: Three times a day. He must really like you.
Grandma: I think it's too much. But if it makes him happy...
Grandma and this man, Walter, dated briefly more than fifty years ago before she married my Grandpa Ralph.
Grandma: I really don't remember too much about it. But he does.
Me: Sometimes it's nice to have a little company. Nothing wrong with that.
Grandma: He's nice. He's a Catholic and gives me the blessing every night.
Me: What does that mean?
Grandma: He's a deacon.
Grandma: Who'd of thought? At my age.
Supposedly Grandpa Paul has started seeing someone, himself. Maybe seeing someone isn't the right expression. He's begun going out to lunch with a woman named Lou Ann.
Grandma: It's probably nice for him to have someone to talk to.
Monday, July 16, 2007
There are few actual enclosed offices here. There are a few tiny private casitas in the back, including this one, which is thought to be cursed.
Just like being the drummer for Spinal Tap, or taking the Defense Against the Dark Arts position at Hogwarts, whoever works in this casita is not long for the company. Three different people have called it home during the short time I've worked here. They're all gone.
It is currently empty.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Job #13: Charter School Teacher (cont.)
As I mentioned before, when I started teaching at the charter school, there were only three teachers returning from the year before. Not a good sign, but the administration promised, "We're going to do everything we can to keep everybody this year."
I took this picture of the World History Teacher at the end of the year. He's reading an e-mail from the administration telling all the teachers they have to reapply for their jobs. And they'd be notified mid-summer whether their reapplication had been accepted or not.
As the final days of the school year ticked by, the students, most with unstable home lives (if they had home lives at all) would ask, "Are you going to be here next year?"
"I don't know yet, " I lied.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Steve is back from four months performing on a cruise ship. After doing the Whirled News show tonight, we grabbed some food at a nearby diner.
Steve: Do you think they accept... [dramatically pulling bill out of wallet] Egyptian money?
He told stories about the highs of traveling through Europe and the lows of living on a cruise ship.
Steve: I'm not sure what I'll do next. I could get by for two months on what I saved if I have to. I was talking to my mother and the first thing she said was that I should try to get my old office job back. That would be totally against the whole point.
We went out for drinks and I bought a few rounds, refusing payment.
Steve: At least let me give you this.
Me: I'm not taking your Egyptian money. You should keep that.
Steve: [fanning out several Egyptian bills] Oh, I've got plenty.
Friday, July 13, 2007
I was too nervous to go knocking on doors, asking about the missing bird, but I did realized that I could go into the dry cleaner downstairs (next to the Chamber of Commerce) to ask questions under the pretense of bringing in dirty clothes (I brought the tie I wore to my cousin's wedding. You may have noticed the spot on it in the picture). The guy who runs the place is very nice and always remembers my name. Sadly, I never remember his.
Me: Do you know anything about the bird that was out in the back area last week?
Dry Cleaning Guy: Yes, he's mine. My baby. [bringing cage with bird in it from back of store] A woman found him a few blocks over. He opened the cage himself, with his beak, and flew away. I couldn't catch him. He's done it before, crazy bird. But he's home now, aren't you?
Me: What's his name?
Dry Cleaning Guy: His name is Kevin.
Me: Hey Kevin.
Case closed. Mystery solved.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Someone in New York came to this site by googling, "Has anyone been killled for working with Vector Cutco?" Ominous.
Job #6: Cutco (cont.)
Here's how Cutco works. You are encouraged to sell knives to your family and friends, making a small commission off each sale. You get paid $10 or $15 for each presentation you make (assuming they fit certain criteria) whether you sell anything or not.
My plan was to give as many presentations as possible, not sell any knives, and clean up on the presentation fee. I actually encouraged people not to buy the knives.
Me: Look, they're expensive. I get $10 no matter what.
Sympathetic Family Member: I feel like I should buy something.
Me: My commission is very small. You'd have to buy a lot of stuff for me to make more than the $10 I'm already making.
Sympathetic Family Member: I want to help you out. I'll buy something. What's the cheapest thing you sell?
Me: Well... the paring knife.
I sold a lot of paring knives.
During my final meeting with my Cutco Team Leader, he put the squeeze on me.
Team Leader: [looking at my list of presentations] So, do all these people you gave presentations to fit within the criteria?
Me: ... they should.
Team Leader: All the right age? All married couples?
Me: Well, maybe one or two were a little younger. And a couple of the parents are divorced, I guess.
Team Leader: [tapping on calculater] Mm-hmm... we're going to have to take those off. [sighing] Look... I'm going to have to go through and check up on all of these. I'm not saying you're lying, but I need to make sure you did these presentations. That's going to take a while. Can't pay you until that's all settled.
Team Leader: Or... I could just cut you a check myself. For say... [doing balancing scales gesture with hands]... half? My own checkbook. Then I'd just add your sales numbers to mine. Take over the responsibility myself, in case something doesn't add up.
I took the check.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Chris and H have broken up. Again.
I asked Chris if their relationship had been a job, what kind of job would it have been.
Chris: It was a lot like waiting tables for someone who wasn't sure what they wanted to order.
He seems to be doing okay, not as sad as he was last time they broke up (no plans to head out into the desert). He posted a 'Men Seeking Women' ad on Craigslist and already has a date lined up.
Woody: You found a girl on Craigslist?
Jarecki: For how much?
His Craigslist ad was titled, "Attractive, Partially Damaged Male in Search of Rebound - 29." Within a day it's already been flagged by Craigslist users and deleted from the site.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Working from home today to avoid the heat in the air-conditionless office.
I've used a little of this time to thoroughly investigate the back stairs area. The bird is gone. I hate to say it, but I haven't seen it since I returned from Indiana.
Maybe it's flown away. Or maybe, hopefully, someone else took it in.
Sarah: [via IM] Or it's dead and someone found the body and disposed of it.
Me: Or that.
I'm determined to find out what happened. Partly because I made a big deal out of solving this mystery, and partly because I feel guilty and worried. I guess a real detective would hit the bricks, knock on doors and ask questions. I don't know any of my neighbors, though, and I'm generally nervous about approaching strangers.
Maybe I'll post a sign asking for information with my e-mail address and phone number. Well... with my e-mail address.
Monday, July 09, 2007
Amanda: [via office-wide e-mail] "No, it's not hell. Literally, at least. It's just very hot. And that's because the building's air conditioning units were stolen this week. Which would be comical if it weren't so suckatociously hot in here now."
Apparently the theft has been taking place over the last week or so, with the thieves coming back and taking more tubing each night.
Evan: [via his blog] "It turns out all the copper was stolen and sold for scrap. Let's see. Copper's going for $3.15/pound… 100 pounds… that's $315. The cost to replace four air conditioning systems this size is going to be well over $10,000. Someone should come up with a crime efficiency table. This might be the least efficient caper ever."
The temperature is in the 90s outside. And not much lower inside.
Amanda: "Insert Smellyvision joke here."
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Hansen: The pontoon really takes things to the next level.
We usually do the cabin trip in August, but this year we did it early, since Nick and his wife will be expecting their second child in August. They'll be too busy for much of anything after that.
Nick: Thanks for adjusting your schedules, guys. It's nice to do it early. It's one of my favorite weekends of the year, but it usually has this "it's the end of summer" feeling to it, which always makes me sad.
Like any vacation, by the end we were ready to come home, restless and cranky. But that first hour on the pontoon, a beer in my hand and the wind in my hair, I remember thinking, "I could stay here forever."
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Friday, July 06, 2007
Blueberry Island again. The yearly cabin trip with some friends.
Meador likes to build games he's seen at parties, using PVC pipe. This year he brought a game that involves tossing golf balls tied together by a rope at horizontal poles.
None of us know the true name of the game, but have come up with several of our own (most of them based on the fact that the hanging balls sort of look like testicles). Dangle Balls. Sling Sacs. Battle Sacs. Drape Nuts.
Since the set is homemade, the balls frequently break from the ropes ("sac-cident") and need to be repaired by Meador.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Julie: Driving into town, seeing the buildings and the lake, you think, "Why would anyone not want to live here?"
Matt: People are outside, walking around, riding bikes. Back home, you ride your bike and people look at you weird.
Me: It's not always like this. Pretty soon you just focus on how hard it is to park.
Today we did touristy things. Millennium Park. Taste of Chicago. Navy Pier. It was a long day and a lot of walking. Ty and Will were very well behaved until near the end, when I tried to take a family picture and Ty refused.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Julie and her husband, Matt, brought Ty and Will to Chicago for the 4th. Sherry, Sarah and I hung out with them at the Lincoln Park Zoo. We saw monkeys and lions but everyone, myself included, seemed most amazed by the giant rabbit in the kiddie area. That rabbit is huge!
Afterward we all went to the Rainforest Cafe. Ty seemed equally intrigued and frightened of the animatronic animals.
Julie: Will charges into anything. He doesn't get frightened. But Ty is a pretty nervous child. On our drive up here, he said to Matt, "Slow down, Dad. You're going too fast."
Most of the meal was spent fixated on the giant elephant, which would occasionally move and let out a pre-recorded elephant noises.
Julie: You should have seen Ty when you were in the bathroom. He got all nervous and said, "Where's Arnie?" Sarah tried to help and said, "He's in the bathroom." But Matt immediately said, "Oh no! He's in the jungle!"
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
A pet bird is living in the back stairwell behind my apartment. Or, it would seem, a bird that was once a pet.
Young and I think it's the same bird that used to live in a cage on one of the porches below us. The cage is gone now, but the bird is still around, clutching a railing, sad and confused.
I've been saying lately that I'd like to solve a mystery and I guess this is it. Theory: Our neighbors moved, abandoning the bird. That's all I've got.
Sarah: Are you blogging about the bird? Are you going to blog about the fact that you haven't done anything to help it?
Me: I'm going to solve the mystery.
Sarah: You haven't done anything yet.
Monday, July 02, 2007
We've had the same magazines in the bathroom at work for a very long time. I have read and reread them.
Entertainment Weekly's Summer Movie Preview. Discover Magazine's Top 100 Science Stories of 2006. Wired Magazine reporting on YouTube and the 'lonelygirl15' phenomenon. MAD Magazine's take on Grey's Anatomy ("Groin's Monotony").
In the bathroom at home I've been reading an anthology of movie criticism from the silent film era to today. In 1915 Hugo Munsterberg in an essay about "photoplays" wrote, "It is not the dangerous knowledge which must be avoided, but it is the trivializing influence of a steady contact with things which are not worth knowing."
For better or worse, most of my life has been about a steady contact with things that are not worth knowing.
Sunday, July 01, 2007
On our way out of town, we ran into Grandpa Paul at his usual breakfast spot when he's in Wisconsin, the Olympic Cafe.
Grandpa: Well, I survived the wedding.
He was in good spirits last night, playing cards at the reception and telling jokes.
Grandpa: This joke's a little dirty, but I you're all old enough. When does a woman lose her sexual drive? After she cuts the cake. [laughs] That's a good one, I think.
At one point during the reception he came up to me and asked, "Where's your girlfriend?"
I replied, "She's in Chicago."
"Is she rich?"
"No. She's not rich."
"Then get rid of her!" he said, and walked off.