What Do You Doodle?

The best job I've ever had was the summer I worked a gelato stand in Kalamazoo. I had just graduated from high school and was living in my first apartment. I had a very old, very beautiful Schwinn (since stolen in Chicago) that I would ride to work. I would often eat peanut buttery gelato for lunch, because that peanut butter swirl added a lot of extra protein. For dessert I might have the raspberry tiramisu gelato with some hot fudge added. Since then I almost never eat sweets because I'm pretty sure I used up my lifetime supply of insulin. Surprisingly, the ice cream was not the number one reason this job was the greatest, it's that I worked alone and spent most of the day sketching and writing while listening to whatever stack of music I had brought from home that morning. Some of the ideas I came up with that summer fueled my writing in college for the next four years. Also, I probably ate my body weight in free ice cream. 

A few months ago I was approached by a dude at karaoke who started our conversation by asking me my major. It's been about six years since that has happened and while I guess I am old enough now to see that as a compliment, I was also grossed out because that meant I was being hit on by someone that I could have babysat for. I informed him that I was no longer in college but that I had a writing degree which prompted him to say, "So you work as a writer." Adorable. He was pretty sure that his School of the Art Institute degree in photography would get him a photography job right out of college. I miss those disillusioned days of art school when everyone thought their day job would be their creative careers. I was not willing to crush the baby photographer's dream in the smoky haze of the VFW, I believe years 24-28 will take of that sufficiently. 

Last week my Uncle Keith passed away. He was an incredibly talented woodturner who practiced his craft diligently for six decades, was a founding member of the American Association of Woodturners, and taught free classes to anyone interested in learning the art. He did not make his living as a woodturner but he did not let his day job define his life and he never stopped attending to what he loved to do. Throughout my time in southern Illinois last week I found myself continually impressed and inspired by that part of his life. I spent so many post-college years trying to figure out how to come up with a career that would fulfill all of my interests and creative life. I came up with some weird solutions, started applying for grad schools, and then stopped this November. I realized that what I really want to do is a lot of little creative things. I want to have time to work on my podcast, to start a screenplay project with a friend and fellow writer, I want to take odd little freelance projects, I want to start banjo lessons (wildcard!), I want to spend a Sunday afternoon writing this blog and not worrying about Monday morning. None of this is to say that I hate my job, I actually find it very entertaining, but I have given up on the idea that I will have the kind of career that is straightforward, "I do this, so I am this." The other day I was having a conversation with someone who was lamenting how much she hates asking and being asked the question "So, what do you do?" I suggested that we instead start asking, "So, what do you doodle?" I promise you that the answer will be so much more insightful. 


Staggers and the Jags

My grandfather had a saying, "Don't let your alligator mouth overload your hummingbird ass." I consider this to be a really good rule...that I never follow. When I was younger I used to have a terrible temper, I come by this honestly from my mom's side of the family. My three uncles, Gibson, Dennis, and Stephen, are ruddy-faced, quick with a joke, love whiskey first and beer second, but if they get their Irish up the party stops real fast. I somewhat notoriously lost my temper in fifth grade when I got into a fight with a boy who started a fight with my boyfriend. Some would later say I was trying to break up said fight (me), but I went about with all the rage my 11-year-old body could muster. I even took off my jacket as though I worried about blood splatters. 

There are about three bars in my neighborhood that I orbit around. I will confess that I am territorial and protective of each of them. These are the places where if I stop in for a drink I will likely know several people also hanging out or working behind the bar. There is a gnarly phenomenon amongst certain groups of Midwestern men in which they are so completely disrespectful to women it is unbelievable. Therein is the thing that makes me lose my temper these days in big, hot, profanity laden displays of fury. The list of skirmishes is long but here are three of my favorites from the last six months: When a dude told me that "Jolene" is a shitty song while I was singing it at my karaoke spot. When a dude asked if the chair next to me was taken and when I said yes he sat down anyway. When a dude said about me and a friend, "I don't know why these bitches are being so fucking stupid." That last one was a doozy and ended with him trying to sit in down at our table at which point I pulled the chair out from under him and kind of threw it...temper. In each of these cases the sense of entitlement is what kills me and they seem genuinely surprised when they get called out for acting like an utter dick weed. 

These men and the ladies they roll with (who seem to lack some sense of solidarity with their fellow females and no sense of how to dress in a seasonally appropriate way) have steadily taken over the neighborhood on the weekends. It used to be that they had the toehold on Bucktown and we all resolved to not to go north of North Ave. Well having ventured north of Division on a weekend for the first time in a long time, let me confirm that the Lincoln Park army has taken Wicker Park. I don't pretend to think that I'm not a part of gentrification albeit an earlier wave. But you know what I didn't do when I moved to the neighborhood, I didn't start calling the old Ukrainian women bitches and I didn't throw things at them from my moving car. Last night after leaving one of my three bars (the only one north of Division) I was waiting to cross an intersection with my friend Megan when she was hit in the chest with something thrown from a passing car. It's like it happened in slow motion, I saw the blur of the object, heard the thwack of something hitting her down coat, and then it landed at her feet. A chicken bone. Someone hit her with a chicken bone. They may have won the battle but we can win the war if we start throwing entire rotisserie chickens at any asshole wearing Ed Hardy. Follow me and my tiny fists of fury.