music crush #2445

coming up on the third weekend of our friend kate’s curated series, method to madness, at links hall in chicago. attended performances last weekend with gina and laura, but I suspect this wkend will be better in part due to chris salveter’s (aka judson claiborne) participation.

… sorry, I had originally put a video of him playing live here– there are a few fan videos on youtube— but, oddly, when I try to embed and then play them, I get a message saying they’re no longer available. weird and annoying.

identities I’ve inhabited

aka, “work” I’ve done. my own little ad hoc eenventory. some for-pay, some not so much.

extraordinaire, some would say. man, I really miss some of those kids sometimes– grownups with kids of their own now, surely– and wonder where they are now. hedi and shawni especially. such awesome kids.

gopher for a machine parts design company.
summer job in the motor city doncha know. I carpooled with the administrative assistant in the cadillac her husband had bought her. it had very cushy seats and floated so over the road, I felt perpetually nauseated. we listened to bad FM, and then at the office I pretty much made coffee and can’t even remember anything else. it was a sea of drafting tables manned by crusty old michigan guys and young fellas from slavic countries who drove lurid sports cars with “for sale” signs in the window.

food service.
during college I held a string of minimum wage, tipless, glamorless countergirl food jobs (never been the waitress type). favorite was the now defunct drakes sandwich shop. yes, I am a former drakette, it’s true. I rocked the blue smock.

editorial assistant for a literary journal.
I was all about poetry in those days, and checking out the literary world. ultimately, it wasn’t really an identity I wanted to inhabit fully. have I ever found one I did? now there is the real question. but in the end I didn’t feel concretely productive enough doing this work.

field sales rep for a college textbook publisher.
my territory was the south bay area, running as far south as san luis obispo. liked the adventuring around and getting to see california. didn’t so much like lugging the textbooks or wishing I were one of the students again or cold calling on adjunct community college instructors who felt compelled to tell me what a disservice I was doing their students by hawking unnecessary new editions. didn’t like working out of my home and feeling immensely isolated in a new state far from the world I knew, surrounded by apartment complexes and freeways. lasted all of about five minutes, but it got me out to cali, which at the time was a very good thing.

oh you know. receptionist, file clerk, peon, the newspaper that lines the bottom of the birdcage.

video production assistant.
I worked for a guy who had done some documentary work for pbs. his current gigs were videoke!, making home videos for people who liked karaoke. the client, clearly, was a japanese company. shockingly, it never took off. but for a little while I got to run around carrying tapes and getting people to sign releases and fetching coffee. so glamorous.

barista/nightclub busser.
opposite ends of the clock, but these constituted my livelihood, such as it was, for a little while there. I had crushes on boys in bands. I wore striped tights and bustiers. it was silly and larky and dark and kinda dumb.

software technical support/client services.
this thread lasted awhile. I’m good at communicating with people and also solving problems. I did this kind of work in a few different states, moving around with my husband at the time for his chef work opportunities.

web development.
did this one for several years, both full time and as a contractor. messed myself up with taxes as a contractor, incidentally– wouldn’t recommend it. worked with some lovely teams of people in some really great, smart environments. lived through bubbles and layoffs. there’s a lot in here I’m glossing over in the interests of overview. anyway, hit a point where the only path forward seemed to be project management, and my heart just wasn’t in it. then I went to grad school and let my skillz get all obsolete, dangit.

publication designer.
did letterpress work and digital page design through the center for the book in iowa. loved this work, actually, maybe more than a lot of others– felt like it fleshed out and gave soul to the kinds of things I’d been doing with the web– but I also got intimidated by how deeply people inhabited this professional space– book people are Book People. and I just could never really make that wholehearted a leap. I’ve always been a generalist, glossing several different angles and rejoicing in the connections between them. I don’t feel finished with this one, but I’ll have to find my way along it in my own way.

I held this position twice, once for a pretty hip restaurant and once for a food co-op/bakehouse. I did both breads and desserts. tough work, especially on the standing stems. I like baking, love it, really, but in the end I didn’t love it enough to be serious about it longterm.

college course instructor.
as a grad student for eight years (count ’em) I taught literature to undergrads and writing and teaching writing to preservice teachers. in some ways teaching was the hardest work I’ve ever done. it certainly caused me to do some deep, personal evaluation.

research assistant.
worked closely with my advisor on an array of interconnected projects: subsequent editions of an awesome textbook she wrote on writing fieldwork, a web site for teachers and fieldworkers, courses she taught on related subjects. she was incredibly generous with her mind, experience, time, heart, and insights. she was way more than an advisor– she was a dear friend and a colleague and taught me a lot about the real work we can do in this world. I miss her, even though I’m happier out of academia.

phone registerer for a national standardized testing company.
uh huh. had a lil breakdown when I decided to abandon my phd. took awhile to get myself back up to breathing status. this is what I did in the interval. kept myself sane collecting amazing names.

project manager: new products and web resources for a wallcoverings company.
oh look, ended up a project manager after all. ;) this is now. I wear a slew of hats. sometimes I really really miss working in the ethos of a bunch of techie geeks. the design world is a new culture for me. not always 100% sure it’s a complete fit, but, obviously, what has ever been? on the good days I’m learning a lot about sourcing materials and vendors for making concrete things and the juggling act that is project management. I’m primarily responsible for digging the company web site out of a state of languishment and developing a secure site for distributors. so I have some good projects and good experiences. and also I work with some really lovely friends, which any way you cut it is a gift.

life as a gas-guzzler

who’s driving this thing, anyway??

oh, right. it’s me.

so what’s with all the swerves and cul-de-sacs?

I’ve heard that some people actually call up triple-A ahead of time and get triptiks so they know where all the construction is so they can avoid it. I’ve heard that some people actually, yknow, plan their course. like, rather than meandering.

then there are some of us who drive without insurance (tho not me anymore, thankyouverymuch) and plow into ditches.

some of us go yee-hawing off the paved highways at top speeds and earn glorious views for their daring.

some of us putter along the dark forest track with the lowbeams on.

some make a habit of zooming up the parking lane and cutting in front of others without signalling even.

me, the road that winds out behind is an interesting, curvy one– but sometimes I have real concerns about the course ahead.

sometimes it’s good just to get out and walk, literally. george agrees.


awesomeness of note:

1. Best Letter Ever From A Nephew.
this is a few years old and moved with me from the fridge in iowa to the fridge in chicago. it’s a photocopy of a school assignment my sister randomly found one day in her kid’s backpack. it reads: “In February we are writing about someone who is close to our heart. My Aunt Sara is close to my heart. She makes me happy when I’m sad. She sometimes goes to HMC with us. She loves to wear the earrings that my mom made for her. She is my favorite aunt. She loves me and I love me and I love her. She is like a hero to me. I love my Aunt Sara.” I think one day I will have to make another copy of both sides and frame them for myself.

2. my friend masha’s arrestingly beautiful little girls. this photo just replaced the equally adorable one from last year.

3. birthday card from maggie & heal, captioned: “Miss Q.P. Urkheimer” and on the back: “brained her fiance after failing to pick up an easy spare at Glover’s Lanes, Poxville, Kansas, 1936”; inside heal has written, “Right before our California reception, I checked out a whole shelf of etiquette books from the library so I could cram. Now I’m kicking myself, because I can’t remember whether ‘Send card featuring a neglected murderess as heartfelt birthday greeting’ was on the ‘Do’ side of the page or the ‘Don’t’.”

4. really intricate christmas card from een, which I could stare at all day, reproduction of “The Creatrix” by Mark Ryden, oil on canvas. it’s got dinosaurs and a woolly mammoth and a little spaceman in a spacesuit and a beehive with a clock in it and an undersea santa claus with four arms and countless other delicious things to feast one’s eyes upon.

5. awesome giant bunny birthday card, also from een, which kind of reminds me of donnie darko in a wonderful way.

6. little valentine card which showed up in my mailbox along with the most delectable chocolate chip cookie ever a couple of years back from maggie & heal; it reads: “It’s true! It’s true! We think you’re NIFTY! And we’re thrilled to be your pals. And we thought you might like one of these. xo, Heal & Maggie”

7. photo of me with maggie & heal’s cat, guy crowder, with whom I shared a real bond, mailed to me after he left them for elysian fields with the assistance of kitty aids, poor fella.

8. little page torn out of tiny notebook: “DEEP THOUGHT about LIFE. Our drum: >BANG<. Another drum: >BONG<. We must all DANCE to the MUSIC of our own DRUM. But what if our own drum is BROKEN or we are hearing someone ELSE’S DRUM by mistake?” and I’ve got a rotten sense of rhythm to begin with.
sidenote: maggie & heal bought my iowa house. before and throughout this transaction, I used to go over to their house, often on the spur of the moment, and play dictionary and boggle and write letters longhand and eat delicious food and just generally feel, I dunno, kind of like the best sort of family. they’re both gorgeous, warm, generous people and wonderful writers and a big part of the iowa that still holds my heart. living here in the city where everyone’s always got about a zillion things scheduled, I really really miss that slow time I shared with them– it hits me at odd hours, about six times a week.


sounds like my bathroom radiator is in labor.

of course you know what that means: iron baby to be friends with marzipan baby. just be careful which one you bite.

there is no marzipan prince…

so tonight I ate the marzipan frog.

the googley eyes put me off for a bit, but finally I turned it away from me and attacked from the rear, as it were.

as luck would have it, one of the frosting eyes quickly fell off, so I removed the other as well and set to with relish.

deeeeeelicious! inside there was some sort of proper raspberry cream. believe you me, that was one confection done right.

and now I am working on hatching a marzipan baby. woo! just imagine all the cute little marzipan outfits.

lucky girl x a million + various

(coda: I realize it might seem absurd to call oneself “girl” past a certain point; however, yesterday josue, while reviewing custom mural procedures with tammy and me referred to us as “you girls” not once but twice, and if you knew josue, you’d know this could only be taken endearingly, so I herewith consider myself vindicated)

1. this birthday far, FAR exceeded any possible expectations– comments and even posts and emails and facebook superwall thingamajigs of all kinds from all over reminding me of this insanely beautiful network I have of treasures called friends. bless me, my heart swells near to bursting, really. “thank you” feels insufficient to the task.

2. walked into work to a toasted sesame bagel with cream cheese and superjuice from tammy. moments later gina appeared with a bunch of roses. 10 minutes later a singing train of pals led by laura and gina with giant raspberry danish and marzipan frog. barely a blink later I was taken out for lunch by most awesome work friend crew. visit to the new building in the afternoon, which I hadn’t seen since it was empty and echoing warehouse space, and now it’s all built out, nearly complete, with carpeting and furniture and all– and new products a gorgeous, sunshiney space with delightful new spacious modular furniture– wheeeeee!!! after work quickie photoshoot drink with the ladies, treat of the lovely miss darcie, who somehow eluded frog-kissing documentation, and then off to most delectable french dinner at mon ami gabi with the world’s best brother in law. whew! whatta wonderful whirl. somewhere in there I think I did about five minutes’ worth of work. ;)

3. I had a thought about creative work and its sanity-inducing powers– it sounds obvious, but the key really is to keep doing it. there’s this phenomenon where you make something, and it gives you pleasure, and you look at it– you turn it around in your hand and maybe marvel at some kind of thing that moved through you to make this little bit of wonder and you walk away from it and return to it and admire it a little more– and gradually the pleasure seeps out of it, and the only cure is to get right back out and make something new. that’s how it works. for me, at least. it’s pretty delicious, actually, as long as I don’t get too hung up on the object, fretting it this way or that, identifying with or critiquing or excessively investing in it, and instead remember to reinject myself back into the flow of the process, to surrender to it, to swim.

4. please forgive my occasional existential whinges in this space. it is, for good or ill, an online journal, among other things. occasionally I turn a corner and see what I’ve gone on about and am chagrined at my own smallness and think, boy, I could really stand to get out in the world and do something for somebody else and quit my privileged whitegirl bellyaching. there. I’ve said it first, now you don’t have to. ;)

5. I’m embarrassed to admit false alarm about apparently I did pay my renewal fee back before christmas. I don’t know how this fact eluded me, but I’m going to officially chalk it up to Holiday Haze. thank you to the thoughtful and perceptive friend who actually checked whois info and pointed out to me the 2009 renewal date. there is no emoticon expressive enough to convey my sheepishness. but hey! woo! another year of navelgazer. maybe I’ll actually do something with the ol’ site. don’t hold yer breath, tho. and, now, just to be clear: this here’s not navelgazer– I know these online things are confusing, so I’m going to flog this poor hoorse and point out how this is versus, which is my very own domain, purchased in the eons-ago dawn of the interwebs, on which I pretty much posted my dreams for a bunch of years. then there’s the blogger-hosted lint,, to which I moved said dream-cataloging a coupla years back. and then there’s flickr for the snaps. so virtually these days there’s really not much of anything on since I quit paying to host a whole lot of images and text archives and whatnot in that space, being cheap, and actually these days there’s no way to see all that ancient stuff except through the wayback machine— but someday I think I may find the energy to put it back out there in some form. though, really, I have a host of good intentions, few of which ever see actual light of day, so probably not.

6. laura’s uncle maya isn’t feeling so hot– please wish some wellness in his direction. thanks.

7. xo.

birthday eve

this time last year I was f-f-f-freakin’ out. which is not so much the case tonight.

41 doesn’t feel quite the hurdle that 40 did. and I’m feeling rather more established, or heading-in-that-direction, in my life here and now than I did at this time a year ago. so that’s all good. but I’m still battling the blues. the counselor says she’s impressed, that I’m doing well on the heels of romantic disappointment and so on– and I hear that– I know I’m doing the right sorts of work to help myself be well and proceed forward (I even have car insurance, woo! ;) ). but I said to her I dunno, I’m just tired of doing the work. and she said, what do you want, that the world should do it for you? that roses should tumble from the heavens? (well, not in those exact words, and, no, she’s not a jewish grandmother, but that’s the gist) and I said, no, I know, no… but there was something else– it eluded me in the mortification of how I imagined I’d sounded, and it just came clear to me tonight– I’m tired of doing the work and still feeling crappy. I’m tired of this heavy heavy heart. it feels as if I get short-lived vacations from it (the joy of coffee with a friend, the ebullience of falling in love), but here I am, back again with this dang clunker. and so tonight I think: maybe some sort of elemental lightening is in order for this organ in my forty-first year. we shall have to see about this.

in other news, tomorrow expires. I hadn’t really planned to let it lapse, but the current state of the bank account dictates it– so rather than going begging, I’m calling it the natural end of an era and letting this be okay. and it is okay.

everything is okay and is going to be okay.

still, if you have a moment, please do this for me: send me a little story about your favorite birthday. you know you have one. dredge it up. I’ve got two, actually– the one with the fishing down the laundry chute and the one with the blizzard 21st birthday surprise party orchestrated by my awesome brother. there was a time I loved birthdays and would play the beatles “birthday” for myself full-blast first thing in the morning. I’d kind of like to get back there again.

cueing up the white album for the a.m…