The Unfortunate Annual Transient

This is my sojourn from Seattle back to the Midwestern motherland. Speckled enamel coffee cups, humidity, fireflies and confronting my addiction to change. Where will this one lead...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Back in St. Louis

I've moved again. Hopefully at least the city won't change for a while. My accommodation aren't exactly enviable – a 4x10 three-walled art studio where I sleep on the floor – I love living in the city. I live right next to Blueberry Hill. I can hear the drum circle faintly from my bathroom. Riddle's hosts excellent free live music seven days a week, two blocks from my door. And there are three MetroLink stops within a 15-minute walk…can't complain too much. Except that it would be great to have a small market nearby. Since the time change, I have to bike or walk to the store after dark, and it would be great to have a small, local place to grab wine, garlic and tampons within a few minutes stroll. Can't have everything though.

I have to say, however, I've really been impressed and delighted moving back to the St. Louis City area (I am technically a County resident, by about two blocks). I haven't lived here since 2001, and really didn't venture out here when I would come to visit. But this city has really pulled itself up by its bootstraps. Is it Portland or Seattle? Or Boston? No. But I don't remember systems of urban bike paths six years ago. Once-crumbling historical districts with red brick row houses are undergoing major rehabilitation and encouraging new, young residents, restaurants and the arts. People live downtown. People talk about sustainable food sources and promoting local wine varietals. Not everyone of course, but some do, and that matters. Neighborhood associations get together and promote small civic projects like parks repair or street art. Urban development seemed like a joke ten years ago. But obviously, people were thinking and committing themselves to making St. Louis a better community, and I have to say, it is. Still a lot of work to come, no doubt. Outer ring suburbs still control the largest tax base, city schools are flailing, and, as I know personally, people are still gun-shy about taking public transportation. But its coming around. Its got a struggling little hip-vibe…like a neighborhood dive bar. And everybody loves a dive bar.

Here are a couple of my favorite STL sites:

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I move, and almost didn't move (from a pole)

I'm moving to St. Louis. I did the math, and it is cheaper and more reasonable for me to move out of my dad's rural abode, and live carlessly, in urban St. Louis, than it is for me to buy a car and afford to commute into downtown. Honestly, I don't mind. I lived without a car for six months in Seattle, and actually enjoyed it. And working for the public transit system here in St. Louis...I'm just supporting the family business. While I will be squatting in the three-walled "art studio" part of a one-bedroom apartment (my new theme song...ain't no bed smaaaallll-enough!), I will be living on one of the best street in America. And most importantly, hopefully I will get some of that zest for life back. I miss the energy of a city. Where young people, however hopelessly cynical and broke, still believe their futures will juxtapose someplace wonderful and grand.

Oh, and funny story: a week ago, I was walking to my Metro stop in Shiloh, and a thirty-something year old guy with Down Syndrome asked me if I wanted to see a magic trick. I did a quick scan to see if another train was coming round the bend (the signal that the stationed train would be leaving soon), and there wasn't one, so I said sure. I expected him to whip out some of those novelty hoops or some cards or something. Instead, he said, you have to put your hands behind your back. I was carrying a bag at the time, so I put one behind my back. He circled behind me, and I expected him to put something in my hands, like a hidden quarter or something. He then asks me to put both hands behind my back, and I see, out of the corner of my eye, that he is drawing a longish rope out of his pocket.

Lightbulb moment: this guy wants to tie me up.

I assess my options: let this guy tie me up, or cordially decline having my hands tied together at a Metro stop. I go for the latter, claiming that I "unfortunately don't have time to be tied up" because I have to catch a train. He disappointedly obliges. I find out later, at work, that this guy managed to tie a woman to a pole the day before. She was remarkably good-natured about it, calling it in mostly as a "by the way...". But geez. I think about this later: no matter how optimistic are my liberal tendencies, I probably shouldn't let any stranger tie me to a bus stop pole. Unless it's Johnny Depp. Lesson for the ages.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Back to blogging, turtles and spraying that stuff

For a while I was blogging on MySpace, but the formatting is uncomfortable and visual aesthetics are akin to a Wal-Mart dressing room, so it’s back to Blogspot. The only thing that I don’t like about Blogspot is it’s ability to know it's me before I've logged in. Because it’s linked to Gmail, it automatically loads my blog when I type in the main page’s URL, even when I’ve logged out of my email account. Just another one of Google’s beautifully hegemonic detailing.

I watched part of The Sarah Silverman Program last night. First time, and the jury’s still out. Something not quite funny about that woman. Probably her nasal-drag voice and her gopher face.

I ran over a turtle last night. And it was horrible. I have run over raccoons and harried squirrels and recently witnessed the Look of Impending Death on a young possum, and it didn’t bother me. Circle of life, dust to dust, Bambi to road splat, etc. I was on I-55/70E, right near the I-64 split, in post-work traffic. There are a lot of cars on the road. And I saw him…a box turtle. Just a little guy. And he was trucking it. He was pumping his little turtle legs as fast as he could. You could see the look of determination about him. He was going to make it! He had gotten past one lane of traffic, and only had two more to go. And I saw him plowing forward as fast and as hard as he could and I thought, oh God buddy. I’m so sorry. I know you are trying really, really hard…but you’re not going to make it.

Thump, and he met his Maker under the tires of my Volvo station wagon.

And I thought to myself, “Man, what were you thinking? Didn’t you see those giant, buzzing and vibrating, smelly-hot metal beasts barreling down this road? Aren’t they going approximately 2000 times faster than your sense of perspective can even comprehend? What is so great about what’s over there, that you would step out of the grass and into a patch of cigarette butts and broken glass and go for what you must realize is in impossible crossing?"

See, when some retard squirrel darts across the street (or worse, runs away and then BACK into traffic), I don’t feel sorry for it. It’s fast. Probably faster than my wagon. It made a miscalculation, and now its Stupid genes are no longer available to propagate squirrel idiocy on this earth. But the turtle…that turtle was trying to get somewhere. He was huffing it. I seriously wondered what could have made such a perilous journey seem worth it to him.

I got a little weepy-eyed and said a prayer that hed have plenty of lettuce and bugs when he got where he was going.

So here’s to all the little determined turtles I know. You may end up wedged in the treads of a proverbial Goodyear, but at least you’re going for it.

And finally – and unrelatedly - I love this quote. Whether he’s kind of an idiot, or just simply honest, or both:

"I've seen this on TV a lot and I'm excited to be part of it. I've always wanted to spray whatever that stuff is all over the place."

- Rockies’ right-fielder Matt Holliday, whose team won the NL Wild Card by beating the Phillies in the 13th, on how awesome it is to spray that stuff.

Friday, June 22, 2007


My father wants an iPhone. He is convinced that this magical device will solve all of our entertainment disadvantages at the farm (i.e. no cable, internet, TV). I don't what he is exactly imagining...I think the two of us crowded together on lawn chairs on the decks staring at tiny-screened episodes of Deadliest Catch. He thinks that since he was one of the original owners of a 17-pound $900 1989 bag phone, he is forever gets to cut in line to the forefront of technological purchasing.

He asked for an iPod for Father's Day, which I publically flat-out refused to get him. He even made a list of all the artists he wants on said iPod. Apparently he thinks these songs appear mythically upon desire, like blowing out your candles and having a fucking unicorn trot up to your 7th birthday party. In addition to the fact that I cannot afford an iPod myself, if I could, I require that the iPod giftee know what an mp4 is. Just one of my irrational woman-rules! My dad + iPod = Courtney spending hours uploading CDs onto her laptop and then downloading them onto his little $400 irritant. Sorry Pops, if a Sony Walkman is good enough for your daughter, then AM/FM radio is good enough for you.

But, I got to go to Soulard Farmer's Market today after job training. Apricots, green tomatoes, slick lettuce, green beans and an excellent $2 bowl of red beans and rice. Wonderful.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I have a job. For three weeks. My bank accounts bows in adulation. He was pretty sure we were on a one-way scenic tour up shit's creek and credit card debt.

But (wa-waa!) said job does involve a nearly two-hour commute. I can and will use public transportation for part of that, but that's a long ass time hustling around. And my first attempts at scoring an apartment near civilization were thrwarted. I suppose I should be grateful however. Puts off the inevitable decision of "where do I want to be" and puts the focus back on "what radio station can I pick up from the deck while I'm playing bags?".

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Enough of that happy noise

Today is much better. Whether it's because I my moods are very susceptible to distraction (they are) or because I've got good people around reminding of the bigger picture (I do), today is better. I already miss Chicago - I woke up specifically thinking of honking silver Taurus waving red, white and blue Puerto Rican flags - but it is a gorgeous time to be unemployed and living in rural Illinois. It's dry, but the early wheat is being harvested already, leaving behind perfect, lonely golden bales of hay in the fields. The corn is already chest high, and from a distance, a cool, mossy green. It waves on the fields below in patterns like TV when you were a kind and pressed your nose against the glass and watched the colors move underneath your eyelashes in shallow, lingering runs.

Tomorrow we go sailing, and tonight I'm buying a baseball in the hopes of getting my dad to toss it around with me. I like the rhythm of tossing things. Maybe I'll have my moment of inspiration during one of these sessions...see a better formed path towards somewhere unfurl in my mind.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Good morning, life!

Monday morning, 11am.

I am 27.
I am unemployed.
I am sitting in my underwear reading blogs.
I am eating a ham and cheese sandwich.
I am sitting in the apartment of the guy who broke up with me at 4am at my birthday BBQ last weekend, whose futon I crashed last night because I don't own a car.
I have developed half-actualized anxiety about an upcoming apocalypse, and reading current events makes me want to drink heavily, preferably before bed.

Good crap, when did this happen?