Saturday, February 25, 2012

Conor - The Bright Side

Things I can do with my newly opened schedule, now that I've been fired -
   Play more Pokemon
   Always be ready to watch the Wire, should the mood ever strike my unreliable roommate, Caitlin
   Learn how to paint
   Devote more time to perfecting my beard
   I've never been terribly great at cartwheeling. Maybe I'll get better at cartwheeling.
   A shit ton of laundry.
   Look angrily at Pickleman's from a distance

Things that I don't need that hopefully having no income will finally inspire me to stop paying for
  Monster energy drinks
  Chocolate chip cookies
  Room, board

Things one boss said
  Hey don't worry about getting your eight to twelve shift covered, you're right, we did give that to you at the last second after you very clearly asked what you needed to get covered for this weekend, so yeah, just cover your midnight to close shift and you'll be fine

Things the other boss said
  Where are you? What? You're fired.

How I feel about being fired
  Pretty Bitter

Things I'm determined not to do, despite being told explicitly to do
   Give them back their t-shirts

  The Police

My next 4 weekends, in chronological order
  Ultimate Tournament
  The biggest party of the weekend
  Seeing Radiohead
  Spring Break

While all of this will be so cool and I'm super excited about the next month in my life
  I wish I still had a job

Thursday, February 23, 2012

To My Big Brother

by Brendan Cavanagh

While Dad demonstrates for the rest of us
the black-and-blue beauty
of his favorite leather belt,
now gripped tightly by bone-white knuckles,
the one which normally holds up his corduroys
six days out of the week,
unless, of course, he uses it
to bind Mom to the rigid hardwood bed frame and to coerce her
into once again bearing the fruits of his Casanovian prowess;

Grandma sings hymns in the shower
to repent for missing Mass the last four Sundays
because she was too busy caring for Grandpa,
whose emaciated frame lies pale gray
on the living-room couch,
emitting wet, rattling coughs
between drags on an endless chain of cigarettes;

Our dog naps serenely underneath the porch
(I imagine he doesn’t enjoy cigarettes
as much as Grandpa does),
nursing the festering scab and flesh-colored band-aid
that now mark where once was the perpetually-wagging tail
that he succeeded in sinking his fangs into
after going mad from five days of nothing
but the lingering crumbs of an empty kibble bowl;

Our sister fucks a stranger
in the back of his gun-metal black Mercedes
so that she will at last have enough cash
to buy our littlest brother cough medicine
(he hasn’t slept or stopped crying in nights,
and his forehead is hotter than the makeshift fire
we huddle around feeding
with barrels of unpaid bills every night),
and she hopes to still have enough for a pint of whiskey
to get her through back-to-back shifts
at the diner on the other side of town
(hopefully she’ll overdo it again
like she did when she was a cashier at the mall,
and blackout so she can forget all of this);

Between twin candles flanked
by linen curtains in the front window
of the warm, brick house across the street I can see
smiling and satisfied faces encircling
a steaming turkey and not one, but two bottles of rich, red wine,
where the only unbuckled belts lie flaccid and tame
between the belt loops of pants fit to burst
clean off ever-expanding bellies,
and a dog chases his golden tail
in an oblivion of dead leaves
which the family raked laughing
just before their mother called them to dinner;

I’m writing this letter to you,
begging you to come back home so you can scare away
these monsters that won’t stay in the closet anymore.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


So it's 1:15 in the morning, and I'm desperately swimming through Sleigh Bells songs, trying to find something that will rock my fucking shit. My music sensors are too tender right now, perhaps I've been resting on my library's laurels this month, and now my ears are in heat and dying to hear something that fulfills this hungry silence.

I haven't showered today. I drank grape soda yesterday and ate jalapeno chips, which I double-dated with a shitty chicken slider and some slimy barbecue brisket. I woke up sick, with a leaky nose and mouth slogged full of mucus. I got up at two today and went over to the tenant union, dripping from the nose and mouth, to talk to some lady who told me to check Craigslist. I had a microwaved egg and bacon and melty cheesy Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich and Papa John's pizza for food. I then had a ham salad (mayo, sugar and tomatoes) sandwich and a peanut butter and jelly wrap, which was overall the color of dead people's skin. I slept through my class today because, hell, I edit enough already. I had some warm Pibb Xtra to wash it down and I left my toothbrush somewhere over the weekend. Blare that damn Sleigh Bells. 

I wrote an essay for my creative writing class about my family and it sucked. I took a law test last week and completely forgot to implement Strict Scrutiny. I think my belly's getting bigger, probably because I've stopped working out, probably because I'm sick and looking for an excuse like "I'm sick." I have canker sores in my mouth, and they taste awful. I'm tired of Final Fantasy XIII-2 because I feel like it's worthless to play. Brian's handling most of that by himself now. Sorry Brian.

I haven't touched a piano or a cat since January. I forget what my dog even looks like. I haven't changed my sheets at all because they feel the same every time. I'm toiling my way through Mad Men while keeping pace with The Walking Dead {You Gotta March!} and waiting to start Firefly. I haven't felt fresh since I came home from Rend Lake. Rend Lake is great you guys.

Favorite places —

Butler Elementary, Springfield, Ill. -- This is so weird and I feel like such a traitor even acknowledging it as a great place. But simply put, this is where my friends and I spent most of our time loafing in Springfield, and therein lies the value. The place itself is not amazing. A really average elementary school, with a hint of antiquity. Across the street there's Sno-Bizz, which sounds really good right about now. As opposed to the muck in my chest.

Owen Marsh Elementary, Springfield, Ill. -- While we're on it, this is where I loafed by myself throughout my entire life. Owen Marsh is my stem, my origin, my foster parent of thought. I would be a different dude if I grew up anywhere else. I played baseball in its backyard field Schlitt Park, climbed trees, broke down a Pac-Man arcade machine by the generic factory lying just beyond its wake, and formed most of my friends within its walls. I run there when I go running. I sit there and I look at it and I try to think things, thinking that if I think enough things while looking at the building, it will know that I mean to thank it, and it will nod in appreciation. Owen Marsh, less conventional than its lesser cross-town rival, is shaped like a pair of glasses, with to circular classroom areas bridged by a tiny gymnasium.

I think she's saying, "Here, have this world."

Undetermined place in Champaign-Urbana, Ill. -- I don't have a go to spot yet. No building I climb atop to go and think. I guess if I had to choose a spot right now it'd be the Illini Media building, but that's such a reminder of difficult higher learning and my industrious work life that I don't know if I can feel relaxed when I go there, which is a thing. I'd like to say the Communications Library, but I only really go there when I have a huge test ready to destroy me that I have to study against. We'll see. Two more years here, I'm sure I'll find a nice niche for me. I like the campus as a whole, like, the whole campus is abso-worthy of being on this list. But, I'd like to narrow it down. Perhaps if Carrie was here (she's not) we could go to that bookstore in downtown Champaign, but seeing as how it's real cold always nowadays, I don't feel any urge to take my goopy ass out there alone on a bus.

North Beach, Racine, Wis. -- I don't have any real recent memories of this place, but this was "the beach" when I was little. If we were going to "the beach," it meant we were going here. Lake Michigan kissing against this otherwise shitty-but-quaint Wisconsin town (that I might actually like if I were to visit today) provided my relief when I went to visit (ALL) the grandparents up north. We could go to the beach and dig holes and hit water after six feet and not care at all that one of the biggest lakes in America was staring us in the face because we were 12 years old. I always loved a visit to the beach, and it showed me Wisconsin's nonfarmy side, which is small. About the size of Lake Michigan, in fact.

That sand is as Wisconsiny as cows eating grass. It's funny, despite how alike all beaches look, I can tell this one's North.

Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill. -- This is a small campus, or at least the portion I'm familiar with is small enough to lump into one without specifying. Summer after senior year was the one summer since my post-sixth-grade summer that I didn't go to Augustana for a week for church camp. I went back last year, and finally the campus was familiar to me. I've stayed in Ericson dorms for about four weeks out of my life, and walked the Slough Path as many times as Augie students have this semester. Maybe more. Leadership Lab, and thus Augie, was my first preview of a college lifestyle. When I say "college lifestyle," I'm referring to the freedom from parents and self-accountability, and not the excessive drinking. The place screams summer, and I associate it with feeling free, and connected with God, which can't hurt.

Don't be fooled by this pretty picture; the Slough Path is disgusting. Side note: I love it.

Millennium Park, Chicago, Ill. -- This was my favorite place in the world for a while. And I've been there twice. Once this past September, another time in September of my 8th grade year when my dad took me to Chicago with him on a business trip. That's when I fell in love. It was hot, and there was water on the ground, and in the middle of the industrium that is Chicago, these two towers were spitting water out and I was walking around barefooted and I just felt happy. It was the most psychologically pleasing park I had ever seen. Going back there this year was awesome. I want to go there sometime when it's hot and spend a whole day there. Then drink a bunch and cry for my dead youth.

A world without shoes... One can dream.

Rend Lake Resort, Ill. -- This place. God bless this place. Rend Lake sits out there alone in southern Illinois with the stoical presence of a wolf, breathing and respirating February air, nurturing without boasting its wildlife. Even with dead trees lining the lake, it's so beautiful and so lifelike. I go here one weekend a year every February, and have since my 8th grade year. Each year at Windjammer, I sit on the back balcony, marveling at its graceful shape and picturesque warmth. The sun hangs in the sky just where it wants to be, channeling God's eyes to lay upon it with admiration. And I feel like God and I are both looking at the lake, admiring it, too in love to say a word. I soak up its placid splendor by taking some time with Rend Lake during the dance. I go out into the crisp but providing night air and take time to really think about myself and what I'm doing with my life. For some reason or another it seems I always need to around this time. Last year I spent it thinking how crazy I was about a particular person who happened to not be there that year. This year I spent it thinking how crazy it was that I was with that person, who was waiting inside. She didn't ask where I went. She understands the whole concept completely. Rend Lake is like a friend I can talk about anything to. I love it as such.

Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis. -- I've already written about my love affair with Green Bay, and specifically Lambeau Field. But still, there's never enough to be said. I feel home at Lambeau, I feel warm at Lambeau even when it's not warm, I feel wanted at Lambeau, I feel loved at Lambeau and I feel like I love those around me, even though I don't know them. I feel community unlike at any other place. It's bigger and more united. And at Lambeau Field, the gods walk the earth. They will sign your hat if you're polite enough and catch them at a good enough time. The surrounding area pays homage to the place, and those who filled its hallowed grounds. You never feel out of place, and you feel as though every sight is important. I wrote that the security staff were more like aunts and uncles than anything else, and I miss my extended family. How cool it would be to see a game there. Yeah, I've never even been.

The crowd you see isn't watching a game. They're saying thanks.

Observe the above picture. This is from the Return to Titletown, a post-Super Bowl celebration in Green Bay. It's 19 below, the season's over, the quota met, and these fans aren't ready to stop giving. I've never been as cold as I was, gloveless on the aluminum bleachers in that wind. Nor have I ever felt like I was in as perfect a place. Within life, we create our own joys. This was our joy: of loving a football team and having experienced it reach the fullest of its potential. To celebrate by coming together with the sole purpose of sharing ecstasy was to glorify the core difference between humans and animals — the love of the game.

The problem with loving places is that you don't want to leave them. Same with people I guess. So when a weekend at Rend Lake with my LYO family comes to a close, it's only natural that I feel a little bit like binging on gross and turning myself into a total wad.

--Eliot Sill

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What are you looking forward to?

Tomorrow I am looking forward to an international union party at club Viper in central Stockholm. Everyone is supposed to wear white and I have a hip flask.

This weekend I am looking forward to going to Kiruna in northern Sweden to see the Northern lights and dogsled and shit.

Next month I am looking forward to a visit from my sister and hopefully my boyfriend. I really want to show people form home this amazing city through more than my amateur photos.

This summer I am looking forward to living with my girl Natasha, learning to cook and watching the olympics.

Next year I'm looking forward to being an upperclassmen and having an apartment with the A-Team (Carrie and Rachel). Come on over for our variety of theme nights: beef and eggs night, Mary Kate and Ashley movie night, etc.

In two years I am looking forward to being 21 and finally being able to go to bars without looking over my shoulder and constantly being kicked out.

After college I am looking forward to moving somewhere awesome and for the first time in my life, getting off the damn conveyor belt.

In ten years I'm looking forward to  looking like I'm 21 so I can finally stop getting questioned at bars. (This is just a prediction, but let's be honest, I'm probably right).

In 20 years I am looking forward to being able to call the music of my youth "classic rock" and having really pretentious conversations about music with people 20 years younger than me.

In 50 years I'm looking forward to being dead because I'm going to go out like a rock star in a fiery car accident with a bunch of strippers and drugs in the back at the age of 40.

Nick - Resting On My Laurels

"Let me have men about me that are fat;
Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o' nights.
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous."

-Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

It's somewhat ironic that Shakespeare would have Caesar warn against content men, considering he's the first person that comes to mind when I think of the phrase "resting on one's laurels."

A few people have been calling me "New Nick" this week because I changed my hair / glasses / attitude. Which is funny and clever; and let's be honest, I love attention. But pretty soon this joke will die like every running joke dies, and all the better.

I change up when I start to get too comfortable. Too bored, even. Like when I cut my long hair, or that other time. Because if I've gone long enough without learning something new, without changing up, then I'm doing something wrong. Resting on my laurels is bad for me.

One time I told somebody that everything ends, and they got really upset; I'd like to amend that statement. Everything changes.

One of the best compliments I ever received was from Friday Conor, who told me, "you do what you do, and you stick to it."

There's an apparent contradiction here, but really it makes perfect sense. Living in the moment and doing what you do is all you are; what you've done in the past, and what you say you're going to do in the future are things that people see about you, but they don't make you who you are. They're just words and memories.

I like learning and trying and changing; that's who I am.

"It don't matter that some fool say he different, 'cause the things that make you different is what you really do, what you really go through." - D'Angelo Barksdale, The Wire


Monday, February 20, 2012

Robert - Fixing Words

Some words were incorrectly done. They somehow gained acceptance in the English language over time, but they do not fit the things they describe. For example, "tits" are not a girl's breasts, or in the context that it's used, nipply mountains of desire. Tits really are tiny dots, such as those made by a bored pencil in a boring notebook. Somehow or other, our culture has convinced itself that tits are the fleshy projections of a female's upper torso. Nope. I'm not having it. In addition to "tits," I'm here to fix some more words that were improperly assigned in the English language.

1. Clandestine. I got this word by typing "word" into the Labels box and getting the tag "The Word Clandestine." I don't know. But it got me to thinking. First, that I didn't know what clandestine meant. It means to keep something secret because it's illicit. Ohhhh no. I don't think so. Not anymore, it doesn't. To be "clandestine" is to be something of a heavenly quality. Think about it. I can't hear the word clandestine without either hearing it in a deep voice that I assume to be Poseidon's or visualizing rays of light beaming out from the emboldened word. Clandestine is the nature of the gods. And that is nothing to keep secret. Take that, The Word Clandestine.

2. Éclat. Nope. This is wrong. Éclat is not a sensational or brilliant scene. An éclat is a disgusting dish of vegetables involving things like avocados and eggplant. Would you like an éclat platter? Éclno!

3. Trope. Ah. Something to rinse off my palate after that disgusting éclat. This tray of tropes looks amazing. How do these common figures of speech taste? Like bite-sized clumps of almond, coated thickly in milk chocolate. And holy shit, some of these have caramel in them. I love tropes.

4. Vicissitude. I will agree at least that there is an unwelcome change occurring, because I certainly do not welcome these life-threatening slashes across my chest made by this sword. That is what vicissitudes now are. Vicissitude is too sharp of a word to be something as broad as "change." Listen to that. Vvvv. Agressive start. Someone's getting hurt somehow. Sissss hissing snake yikes that's scary. Tude. That sounds like "feud" and people get hurt in those. The combination of Vs and Ss work well to smelt a sharp, deadly blade, one that causes those deep, blood-letting vicissitudes all along your body.

5. Glib. Glib is snot. Let's face it. When you describe someone as glib, you're putting on a façade. You're telling people that you find someone to be fluent or talkative, but insincere. What you really mean is that they're snot. Actual snot. You think that that person is a disgusting glob of mucus dripping over the earth. The dictionary backs me up here. It's telling me that "glib" comes from the German "glibberig," which means "slimy." I'm not surprised. Don't beat around the bush here; call the spade a spade. Let's stop calling snot insincere and start calling it snot. Okay, guys? Okay. Now let's get to Frindle-ing.