Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I'm going to Ohio to visit my family this weekend. I'm very excited.

That is not why I posted this picture.

This is the first picture I ever took with my Canon PowerShot S50. I took it on July 15, 2004.

Today, I think I might have broken my camera. This is not good.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Starting a new job can be tough, no matter how awesome the place or friendly the co-workers. I remember when I started Jellyvision it took me a while to not feel lonely in a crowd despite many efforts to welcome me.

Shane has started working at Jellyvision this week. I guess he's the new new writer. If you look at this picture carefully you can see him in the far back right. He's the one quietly watching the Dance Dance Revolution competition from his desk.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Despite being a die-hard Sox fan, the girl got a deal on some great tickets to the Cubs game so we went to Wrigley Field along with Trupe and Wonak. She was on her best behavior, cheering when the Cubs did well, although, whenever I asked who she was rooting for she'd respond, "baseball."

It was a great game. The Cubs won, which seems like a rarity anymore.

Girl: I don't think I've ever been to a Cubs game where they've lost.
Me: Really? What if you were somehow a lucky charm for the Cubs?
Girl: That would be HORRIBLE.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

I took this picture several weeks back when at the Blackhawks game. It was then that Meador first mentioned that he and his girlfriend were breaking up. I haven't had a chance to see him much since then, except for the occasional e-mail.

Me: How are you doing?
Meador: Good. Not great.

Today, though, we went to the theater and saw a crappy movie double-feature. First we saw X-Men 3 ("If I could have any mutant power I'd love to get something that involved flying, but I'd probably end up with the power to clean up messes"), then we snuck into the Da Vinci Code ("I'm going to get a tattoo of Tautou punching an asteroid").

Meador: You know what, this is the most fun I've had in a while.
Me: Me too.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Alex: Hey, here's an idea, why don't you look like you forgive me in this picture?

Apparently Alex has gotten in a little trouble with his girlfriend over my recent magician post.

Megan: I'm not really mad at him, I am just teaching him a valuable lesson which is... always tell trashy girls hitting on you that you have a girlfriend. He never gives me cause to be mad so I am enjoying this quintessential female moment of making my boyfriend grovel. It is a right of passage really.

Friday, May 26, 2006

A beautiful day in Chicago. Everyone is outside enjoying the warm weather.

Fuzz falls from the trees, filling the air, and covering the ground in what looks like cottony snow drifts.

Current temperature in Arizona: a million degrees.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Chris brought a slightly beat up puppet in to work today. His girlfriend thinks it's ugly and wants it out of the apartment.

Chris: I'm pretty much doing whatever she says right now. I thought Jellyvision would make a good home for it.
Thea: What's it called?
Chris: I don't know. It doesn't have a name.
Me: How about Madison Moore?

Chris used the rod attached to the puppet's hand to make it cross itself, as if giving the sign for invisibility. The name Madison Moore seems to work equally well for a vampire pimp and a one-eyed girl puppet with pigtails.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The girl and I were the last people to leave Mark's going-away party Saturday night, much later than we'd planned to stay out.

"We should get some kind of prize," the girl said.

Mark replied, "Hold on," and grabbed this Oscar-looking trophy. "I had to accept this at an award ceremony a long time ago for a girl I had a crush on. I never got around to giving it to her and I've been carrying it with me ever since. You two should take it."

So, now the girl and I are Best First Nighters, 2001.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I love television. Sure, most of it's crap, but when done well, I enjoy nothing more than a good serialized story. Still, when May hits I'm glad that most of my shows will be done for a while, and I won't have to keep up with quite so much television.

The same goes for this blog. With less than a month left, I'll be sad to see it go, but I'm also ready for a break. A hiatus, at least.

I get asked a lot how it's going to end. I don't know. Nick suggests it should end with me selling the ring.

If this were a television show, it would probably end like most season finales, with either a cliffhanger or a wedding. Maybe N would be getting married. That would be a nice ending. As she walks out of the church, and bubbles fill the air, she drops her cane. She's cured! No more MS!

And there would be a slightly bittersweet but mostly hopeful music montage of all the people who have appeared on the blog this year. Josh and Andrea raising Josh's brother in Arizona. Brett feeling a kick from Natasha's belly. My parents share an appetizer sampler platter at Cheddars. The Teenage Prayers and the 1900s play a double bill. Meador gets a tattoo of a centaur punching an asteroid. Bella, the cat who might have diabetes, eats bravely from a cat dish. Grandma Anne coldcocks Uncle Kenny and jumps on a riding lawnmower with Wentworth Miller to make her escape. Zach the Nad changes his IM handle to something more reasonable. Everyone lives where they want to live.

As the music swells, I step out of my apartment building and past the Mini Flea (which is packed with customers) and look up as a plane flies by. I smile. It's a good day. I cough a little into my handkerchief (I don't have a handkerchief, but go with it). I look at it. There is blood.

BOOM! Cliffhanger! See you in the fall.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Mark moved to Chicago from Arizona around the same time that I did last fall. Since then I've probably seen him four or five times. Now he's moving to New York to get his PhD and live with his girlfriend, Jessica. He had a going away party over the weekend.

Some Guy: I can't believe it. You're moving!
Mark: Yes. Yes. I'm tired of hearing people say it.
Me: You're staying!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Kate is moving back to Chicago from New York to live with her boyfriend, Shad. Young and I helped them move furniture into their new apartment.

Kate: We're going to need to prop that door open somehow.
Shad: We can use the bungee cord.
Kate: I've got some twine I can use to tie it open.
Shad: Why would you use that when I have bungee cord? What do you have against bungee? Every time I suggest bungee she decides to use some weird other thing.

[as Kate tied an elaborate knot of twine to keep the door open]
Me: Do you really have a problem with bungee?
Kate: No, but it's just sort of become a thing.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

While Mom and Allie did some shopping, Dad and I wandered up and down Michigan Avenue looking for something to do. Dad wanted to take the boat tour ("That way we can learn something"), but they were sold out.

At the Gap, I noticed that Dad was looking at socks next to Wentworth Miller, of TV's Prison Break.

GAP Worker: Yeah, he comes in here most mornings. If you ask me, I'd be much more excited if Jack Bauer came into the store.

When I told Allie about it later she asked, "Does he really have those tattoos on his arms?"

Friday, May 19, 2006

My parents and Allie are in Chicago, visiting. They stopped by Jellyvision to see where I work and later had dinner with the girl. It was strange that everyone who met each other knew each other via the blog. Mom said, "this is Amanda's office, isn't it?" Later Amanda said, "And you like... Applebee's?" On our way to meeting the girl for dinner Mom couldn't stop bringing up the Shitbox joke.

Mom: Do some people not like it when they're on your blog?
Me: I feel like most people don't like it. You don't like it.
Allie: I like it. I'm like, "Cool. I did something interesting."

After dinner we went to the Hidden Cove for karaoke (Dad: I do a mean Glenn Campbell) but it was too early for it to start, so we called it an early night. Everyone was tired and Dad wanted to get back to the hotel because the car was "making a noise."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I took this picture at the Chicago Improv Festival afterparty a few weeks back. Two girls from an out-of-town sketch group started talking to Alex. Alex has a girlfriend but seemed to innocently enjoy the attention.

As Glynn put it, "You know you're not going to buy anything, but sometimes it's nice to run a credit check."

Alex: If I had been trying to pick them up I would have experienced the greatest cock-block of all time. Magic! This magician came around and started doing magic tricks. And the thing is, I love magic. And these were actually pretty good tricks. But he just kept doing them. The girls were paying less attention with each new trick. He should have just done a couple tricks and tried to have a conversation. After seven tricks he just gave up and left.

A week later, Alex ran into the magician again, trying to pick up girls with the same tricks.

Alex: Part of his shtick was, "I learned magic so I wouldn't have to be good in social situations." I said, "That's funny, because for me it was pretty much the opposite."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I continue to get a steady stream of people coming to my site looking for Drake Bell. "Drake Bell recovery pictures." "Pictures of Drake Bell's mom." "Drake Bell with mustache." Apparently my life and Drake Bell's life are not entirely dissimilar.

I've also started to get a number of hits from people looking for the upcoming romantic comedy "The Break Up." And then, of course, there are searches both strange ("picture of a metaphor for nursing") and oddly accurate ("boring my friends with my breakup").

My recent favorite, though, is not all that weird or funny, just, "a year since the breakup, arnie." It's the comma that I like, as if turning the phrase into a valediction at the end of a letter. Sincerely, yours truly, a year since the breakup, arnie.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

In case you're worried that I wasn't a good son on Mother's Day, I got cards to Mom and Grandma in the mail well in advance (for once).

Also, Allie (home for summer break) did the legwork (and took this picture), but it was my idea to get Mom this carnation.

"From: Secret Admirer"

Monday, May 15, 2006

Nick brought Jane to the James Jackson brunch. When she started getting fussy he pulled some pictures out of his wallet. "She likes looking at pictures of herself," he explained.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Made calls to Grandma Anne and Mom today.

Grandma: Kenny took me to the house so I could get some of my clothes. They're not doing a very good job with the lawn. I guess it's not my business anymore. I'll probably never go back there again.

I took this picture at Grandma's farm house back in August. It's two pictures of my mom.

Mom and Grandma Anne have had a strained relationship over the last few years, largely due to Kenny, but lately Mom has jumped back into the fray to help make Grandma's living situation as nice as possible.

The latest battle is letting Grandma have any kind of money of her own. She has plenty of money in the bank, but Kenny will only let her have $15 of it. So there she sits in a nursing home room with only $15 to spend on anything for who knows how long.

Mom: I was out there for a meeting with Kenny last week and I mentioned that the nursing home has little bank accounts for the patients. I said it in front of the doctor and shamed Kenny into opening one for Grandma. He opened a $50 account for her. I went back the next day to check that he'd actually done it. I put another $50 of my money in there and told her it was for her birthday. So now she has a little something.

It seems to me that mothers and grandmothers are people who are always slipping a few dollars (or religious trinkets) into your pocket or suitcase, saying, "shhh, just take it" or often, without you even knowing it, like a guardian angel with a five dollar bill. The idea of mothers and grandmothers doing this for each other is both wonderful and sad.

Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

A reunion brunch with my old improv team, James Jackson. It wasn't until I had almost finished eating my omelet that I realized it was an All You Can Eat and Drink brunch.

Why yes, I WILL have another mimosa. And bring back the menus, please.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Strange work day. Amanda and I rented a van and drove out to Ikea to buy new desks for the office. Ikea is doing some remodeling. The caution tape made furniture displays look like crime scenes.

Me: [looking over the rail from the third floor] I'm not afraid of heights but I do get a weird vertigo feeling sometimes.
Amanda: My father told me that people are afraid of heights because they're secretly worried they'll jump. I don't have that problem because I'm not suicidal.
Me: But I'm not suicidal either.
Amanda: No, apparently you are.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

But what would come up if someone (say, any ex-girlfriend) were to google my name? Thanks to my work bio at Jellyvision, the first thing that comes up is, "Arnie _______ is bad for you."

A page or two in, this blog comes up as well. In fact, I'm fairly certain at least two women from my past have left comments on the site. Neither left any kind of contact information, though, probably because they know that I am bad for them.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

In high school and college I remember Tom and I always planned to move to different cities every couple years, constantly moving on to new parts of the country. As I got older, though, I started to see the subtle pessimism of that idea, assuming that no place would make me happy enough to stay.

I went off to grad school in Arizona. Tom went off to grad school in Minneapolis. Tom found that Minneapolis felt like home. Later, Chicago felt like home for me.

Tom: I don't know if Chicago is that place for me. I miss Minneapolis. Steph loves Minneapolis, but it's too far from home. Someday we'll either end up back in Minneapolis or Ohio. Ohio would be okay, but it would be a solitary life. Me, my home, my family... that's it. Either way, we're not moving anytime soon.

The good news is... Tom found his missing 'D' CDs. "They were in a shoebox."

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Coming home from work yesterday, I saw police tape blocking off a seemingly empty patch of sidewalk next to my building. Then I realized that there was a possum perched on a fence in the middle of it. No police officers, no animal control people, not even any gawkers, besides the girl and me. Just a wild animal and some police tape.

The girl said, "When an animal comes out like this in the day, it means it's about to die."

It just sat there like the world's most pitiful King Kong.

"What's going on?" an exceptionally happy man asked after crossing the street.

"A possum."

"Well what do you know," he said, smiling, and then stepped into the adult video store.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Allie sent me a My Space message which read, "i was talking to my coaches today about how i was going to go see one of your shows and they were like 'wait, your brother does what? that's weird because you aren't funny and neither are your parents.' ha and they are right. i don't know where you got it from. if we didn't look alike i would guess you were adopted."

But the next day she posted this picture to her blog of what it would look like if we swapped eyebrows. And I think it's pretty damn funny.

And I can't wait for her to visit.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Over dinner, Meador made the mistake of letting Nick get a hold of his blackberry. Nick immediately sent a text message to a random person in Meador's phone book, using Quick Reply sentences. "Can't talk. Where are you?" Luckily, Nick refrained from also using the Quick Reply "I love you."

(I keep going back and forth between thinking an "I love you" text message Quick Reply is ridiculous and thinking it makes total sense.)

Trupe: This is like the time Nick got in your Netflix queue and messed it up.
Meador: I didn't realize he'd done that until I got 'Tango and Cash' in the mail.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

I called Grandma Anne today to wish her a happy 83rd birthday. Things seem to be a bit better. She's in a bigger room now, out of the Alzheimer's unit. Julie and Sherry visited her and took her out to lunch. She also played bingo.

Grandma: I won a little bag of chips. I gave them to Julie's little boy.
Me: That was your prize. You should have kept it.
Grandma: Oh hell, he needed 'em more than I did.

We talked a while longer and then it seemed like time to get off the phone. "Well," I said, "I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday. I should get going. I love you. I'm going to try to come out and visit some time soon. And I'll call soon too. It was good talking to you."

There was a long pause and I wasn't sure if I should hang up, because she hadn't responded. Finally she said, "Those were good times... when I would come over and you were little. They went by so fast."

Friday, May 05, 2006

Amanda's mother came into the office yesterday. Amanda seemed happy to see her but also a little trepidatious. Rightfully so, because everyone immediately started trying to get embarrassing stories out of her.

"Mom," Amanda yelled, "Get in here. Get in my office. Sit down. Mom, sit down!"

When Amanda caught me taking this picture through the window she started screaming, "NO NO NO!"

That's when everyone started chanting, "Let her out! Let her out!"

Amanda's mother burst out of the office with a big smile on her face and said, "I don't know if I should tell this story, but this one time in preschool..."

Amanda grabbed her mother by both arms, "Mom!" she said, looking her straight in the eyes. "Mom! I'm the president!"

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A friend recently confided in me that he and his long-time live-in girlfriend were breaking up. He wondered if I could give him some advice on "logistics." The idea that I've become a break-up expert is strange to me, but I was willing to help in whatever way I could. Luckily, they decided to try to work things out and my services are no longer needed.

Meanwhile, Mary has moved in with her boyfriend after dating him for one month. Her lease was up, so she decided to jump in. "When I tell you these things," she said, "I can sense you judging me."

"I'm skeptical," I replied. "But I hope it works out. And if it doesn't work out, you'll be okay. And if it does, it's a storybook romance, right?"

I've been thinking about leases and love. I wonder how many relationships end because the lease is up? I mean literally. For N and I it came down to, the lease is up at the end of June, do we sign up for another year together? The answer was no. I don't think either of us were one hundred percent certain that we wouldn't have been able to make another year work, but the chances were slim. And if we were going to lose each other, we didn't want to lose our security deposit too.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Went out for a few drinks after Otis rehearsal last night. We ended up talking about weird things that had made us cry.

Joe was screening a Nova video at the school where he teaches and that made him cry.

Marc (left) claimed that he almost never cries, and certainly not at movies. "One day, though, a picture sent me on, like, an all-day crying jag," he said, laughing.

"What was the picture of?" Joe asked.

"An ex-girlfriend. Her brother had taken it and given it to me. She was on the phone in the kitchen, sitting in this weird, uncomfortable position. There was this Quaker Oats can behind her. She had the biggest smile on her face. And I knew that I was the one she was talking to. I saw that picture and I was all mwuh-huh-huh-huh."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

My recent post about Marla's husband and his bike accident was picked up by a French blog about blogs. I translated the entry using Babelfish and this is, more or less, what it says:

"The photograph published this Saturday on A Year In Pictures Following The Station-wagon-Up, the photoblog of unknown American, Arnie, struck me. A young woman brown, pensive, with a dress color leopard, the head on side, posed on the shoulder of his/her husband, face, the marked face, an inflated and closed eye, cap behind."

I heard once that the French have a saying, "to translate is to betray." Of course, they say it in French.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Make no mistake, I have a uni-brow. Growing up I just lived with it. In college I started shaving the middle part, always nervous that I was going to slip and slice an eyeball open.

Recently I was talked into getting my eyebrow(s) waxed. It was terrifying, not because it was particularly painful, but because I didn't know how far the woman was going to go. We talked briefly beforehand and she put me at ease ("I don't like overdone eyebrows either, we'll keep things simple and natural-looking") but as soon as things got started there was wax on the sides and above and she didn't say she was going to put wax there... is she going to wax me down to two weird lines?

In the end it looks fine, and no one has really noticed, except for my boss, Amanda, who can sniff out a reason to make fun of someone from a mile away.

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